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Chapter 3: the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the policies of the great powers

Kamuran GÜRÜN*
The Armenian File

 .…à€àle="text-align: juÿ×SChapter 3: the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the policies of the great powers208Gynt-weight: bold;">CHAPTER THREE

The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the policies of the great powers

1. The Ottoman Empire until the imperial reform edict

The history of the Ottoman Empire can be divided into four parts: its rise, its Golden Age, its decline and its fall. It is generally accepted that the period of decline began in 1579, with the death of Sokullu Mehmet Pasha, and that the fall began in 1699 with the treaty of Karlowitz.

By the policies of the great powers we mean the policies followed during the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire. During the Golden Age there was no state greater than the Ottoman Empire, and even in the period of decline, Britain and Russia were only in the background. Even after 1699, it was another seventy-five years before the European powers became stronger than the Ottoman Empire, and were able to make their influence felt, when the treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca was signed in 1774.

After this treaty, the Ottoman Empire bade farewell to its grandeur and might, replaced by Russia and Austria on the European scene. Initially only those two powers had a policy with regard to the Ottoman Empire, but after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Britain and France followed suit. In 1870, immediately after its uniffication, Germany came to be included in this group, and the fate of the Ottoman Empire virtually depended on the decisions of these five powers.

Within this historical development, although its seeds were sown earlier, the Armenian question was raised as a European issue at the Berlin Congress (1878).

Now we shall try to examine the condition of the Armenians within and without the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire.

We have previously stated that the Ottomans finally annexed in 1517 the area that had belonged to the old Cilicia kingdom, that although Sultan Selim I defeated Shah Ismail in Chaldiran in 1514 and entered Tabriz, the war having continued after his death, the truce was established only on 28 May 1555. The occupation of Georgia occurred in 1578 under the reign of Murat III. However, wars between the Ottomans and the Safavids continued after this date until the Kasri Sirin Treaty was signed under Murat IV in 1639.

Wars with Iran took place after 1639, in 1723—7, 1730—7, and 1743—6. But ultimately the frontiers established by the Kasri Sirin Treaty remained.

This frontier was almost the present-day border between Turkey and Iran, with Erivan staying in Iran. In 1639, the Khanate of Crimea was legally under Ottoman rule, as well as the Black Sea shores and Georgia. The Russians had started to enter Caucasia towards the end of the 16th century by advancing towards the river Terek after dissolving the khanate of Astrakhan in 1556.

Theoretically the Caspian shores of Transcaucasia belonged to Iran, but the area of Azerbaijan was more in the sphere of influence of the Ottoman Empire.

Some of the Turco-Iranian wars took place in the geographical area called Armenia. However, Armenians living in the area are not mentioned, either in Ottoman or Iranian history. It is only recorded in Armenian history that during the 1603—4 wars, Shah Abbas transferred Armenians of Erivan and Julfa to the interior of Iran.[1]

As to the Ottoman Empire, it is known that Mehmet II, the Conqueror, brought the Armenian bishop Hovakim from Bursa to Istanbul and gave him the title of Armenian Patriarch. Earlier, in 1453, after the conquest of Istanbul, Gennadius II was brought to the Orthodox Patriarchate, whereby two Patriarchates were established in Istanbul. The Patriarchate was the sole authority in the Armenian community, not only in religious matters, but in personal and family matters as well. The Patriarch had the authority to inflict both ecclesiastical and civil penalties on his people; he could imprison or exile clergy at will, and though the consent of the government was necessary to imprison or exile laymen, such firmans (imperial decrees) were generally easily obtained.

Those who believed in the dual nature of Christ were under the Orthodox Patriarchate. The Monophysites, on the other hand, comprising the Armenian, Syrian Jacobite, Coptic, and Abyssinian communities, while retaining their own autocephalous hierarchies, were made subject to the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate.

Although the Catholicates of Sis and Akdamar were superior from the point of view of religious hierarchy, the Istanbul Patriarchate had considerably more authority from a legal point of view. The Catholicate of Etchmiadzin, in Iran, could not have its presence felt in the Ottoman Empire.

The Armenians were leading a normal life in the Ottoman Empire, without any reason to complain. ‘From the day that the patriarchate and a strong Armenian colony were established at Constantinople, that city gradually became the real center of Armenian ecclesiastical and national life. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the Armenians of Constantinople were numbered upward of 150,000, the largest Armenian community in the world.’[2] And there was no state which was interested in this community.

Although the frontiers of Kasri Sirin were not changed despite the subsequent Turco-Iranian wars, and although there was no situation of interest for the Armenians living in Caucasia, the intention of the Russians to advance to southern Caucasia indicated that the future was ripe for new developments.

Russia for the first time invaded the khanate of Kuba, to the north of Baku, by transferring soldiers from the area of the Caspian Sea during the 1723—7 Ottoman-Iranian wars. However, the death of Peter the Great put an end to this.

In 1768 a war broke out between the Ottoman Empire and Russia, because of events in Poland. During this war, which ended with the defeat of the Turks on the western front and with the Kuchuk Kaynarca truce in 1774, Russians came to southern Caucasia for the first time through the Darial pass. In collaboration with the Georgian forces, they conquered Kutaisi and besieged Poti. Another branch of the Russian army went on to Ahiska through the Koura pass.[3]

The Kuchuk Kaynarca Truce gave the area of Kabartay, to the south of Caucasia, to the Russians, and it also included a clause which gave the Russians the right to protect Christians living in Turkey. (We do not report the clauses concerning the western borders, as they are outside our topic of discussion.)

After this truce, Russia followed a policy of invading the Ottoman Empire piece by piece, and the aim of protecting Christians increasingly gained importance.

In 1783, Russia made a pact with the Eastern Georgian princes, and thus brought them under its patronage. In 1787, Catherine the Great and Joseph II, the Austrian Emperor, met in the city of Kerson in the Crimea, and discussed the division of the Ottoman Empire between them. According to this plan, known as the ‘Greek Scheme’, an independent Orthodox state, ‘Dacia’, would be established in Moldavia-Wallachia and Bessarabia; the area between the Dnieper and Bug rivers would be given to Russia; Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina would be given to Austria; the Mora peninsula, Crete and Cyprus would be given to the Republic of Venice; in the event of the conquest of Istanbul, the Empire of Byzantium would be restored as an independent state.[4]

The Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia on 13 August 1787, because of this and similar events. Austria was allied with Russia. The war ended on 9 January 1792, with the truce of Yash, without any frontier changes.

After the Iranians attacked Tiflis in 1795, Russia invaded the southeastern Caucasus, Kuba, Baku, Derbent, Shirvan, and the Karabagh principalities, but took its armies back after Chatherine the Great died and Paul became Tsar.

Russia annexed Georgia in 1801.

In 1806 another war broke out between the Ottomans and the Russians, because of the Moldavia-Wallachia events. The Bucharest Pact in 1812 gave the area of Rion, to the west of Souram in the Caucasus, to the Russians. In 1813, by the Treaty of Butistan between Iran and Russia, Russia annexed the coast of the Caspian Sea.

Abbas Mirza, Shah of Iran, wanted to annul this treaty. The subsequent war ended on 18 February 1828 with the Turkmenchai Pact, and Iran, in addition to the region she had lost in 1813, was forced to abandon the khanates of Erivan and Nahjivan to Russia. Thus, the present-day Russian-Iranian border was established. Armenian volunteers fought in this war with the Russians.

The Armenians living under Iranian rule in southern Caucasus were thus brought under Russian domination. The Catholicate of Etchmiadzin was also now part of the Russian Empire.

In 1828, Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, which was in difficulty because of the Greek rebellion, started with the instigation and help of the Russians. The war, which began on 26 April, was fought on two fronts; General Paskevitch’s forces, which were freed of their engagement after the Turkmenchai Pact, attacked from the east. During this war, the Russian armies advanced up to Erzurum.

The Truce of Adrianople, signed on 14 September 1829, gave, on the eastern frontier, all the forts (Anapa, Poti), as well as Ahiska, Ahilkelek, and the areas of Akchur, to Russia, and the Ottoman Empire thus recognized that Georgia was now under Russian rule.

With this truce the entire Caucasus became part of the Russian Empire. The Armenians living in the area, who were well incited and had welcomed the Russians with open arms in their advance towards Erzurum, opted for living under Russian rule when peace was established. The Muslims living in the area left to the Russians in turn opted for living under the Ottomans. Thus, about 100,000 Armenians went to Russia from Erzurum and Alashkird.‘...many thousands of Armenians...were settled in the newly incorporated regions of Erevan, Akhakkalaki and Akhaltzikhe. The Erevan province, later the core of S.S .R. Armenia, had at this period a majority of Turkish Muslims.’[6]

After the truce of Turkmenchai, the Tsar had proclaimed the khanates of Erivan and Nahjivan as an Armenian province, and the entire population as ‘Russian’. At that time, the Armenians were hoping that the province would become independent, and that the Tsar would assume the title of ‘King of Armenia’ just as he was ‘King of Poland’. These hopes did not last long. In 1849 Caucasia was divided in two, with an administrative reorganization. The province of Georgia and the Caspian province were established. The former province of Armenia was brought under the jurisdiction of the Georgian province. This arrangement lasted for only four years. The Muslims of Caucasia did not want to live under Russian rule, and started a struggle under the leadership of Sheik Shamil. After this, Prince Vorontsov was appointed regent in 1844 to Caucasia, which was reunited, to establish order in the region.

Vorontsov considered it more useful to form small provinces in Caucasia, and formed first the provinces of Kutais, Tiflis, Shemakh and Derbent. These provinces were further subdivided. The majority of the Armenian community was within the province of Tiflis. After a while, Vorontsov formed the province of Erivan, which corresponded to the former province of Armenia. In later years, the borders and names of these provinces underwent some changes.[7]

After the Pact of Adrianople, the Ottoman Empire was struggling with the Mehmet Ali rebellion and could not contain it.

While this struggle was continuing, Sultan Mahmut II had died, and Abdulmejid ascended the throne on 1 July 1839. On 3 November, 1839, Foreign Minister Reshid Pasha read a firman in Gulhane Park, in which various reforms were announced:’... It is necessary to formulate new laws for the satisfactory administration of our great state and country. The main points of these necessary laws are, to ensure the right to life, honour, and property, to establish the collecting of taxes, to fix procedures for the recruiting of soldiers and the duration of military service.’

The Constitutional Reforms envisaged were aimed at establishing a just tax system, strongly punishing bribery, making the courts public, abolishing unjust punishment, and reducing military service to 4—5 years. In addition, the Sultan declared that the reorganization would be applied to all subjects of the state, without distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims.

It can be said that the first positive result of the Constitutional Reforms became apparent in Lebanon.

Lebanon, all along, was a region administered in a manner reminiscent of the old feudal system. The population was comprised of Muslims and Christians. The Muslims, who had very few Sunnis among them, were formed by small sects, such as the Druses, the Mutvhalis, the Nusairiye, and the Ismailiye. The Christians were formed by the Maronites, the Greek Malocites and the Greek Catholics. The main two groups were the Druses and the Maronites.

The ‘mukataa’ system was prevalent in Lebanon. The ‘mukataa’ was a system which consisted of leaving the farming of taxes to contractors through a kind of auction. The contractor would reserve one eighth of the collected taxes to himself, and the rest would be given to the governor of the region. This system was practised in areas outside the ‘Timar’ system (small military fief). Because the contractors in Lebanon were invariably members of the local nobility, they had been treating the local people like slaves for centuries.

From the beginning of the 17th century, two families became prominent, and they were the ones chosen to rule the feudality. The most renowned of them was the Ma’n o?ullari and the other was the Shihabi family. From the beginning of the 18th century, the Shihabis ruled the feudality. Mir Beshir Omer, who was the Governor of Lebanon during the Mehmet Ali rebellion, was dismissed from office in 1840, when the Egypt problem was solved, and his nephew, Beshir Ibni Kasim, was appointed in his place.

Before the Egyptian events, the annual tax paid by Lebanon to the Treasury was 2,650 purses of gold. During the invasion, Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt had increased this sum to 6,550 purses. After Ottoman rule was established, the new Governor appointed to Lebanon reduced this amount to 3,500 purses. Nevertheless, the local people wanted a return to the original amount, but, the treasury being empty, this could not be granted. This situation led to the revolt of the Muslim Druses.

On the other hand, as Governor Mehmet Selim Pasha abolished the ‘mukataa’ system within the framework of the Constitutional Reforms Edict, and instituted direct collection of taxes, the Christian collectors rebelled, as they were convinced that this new system would diminish their influence and authority.

Thus, in 1840, the Druses and the Maronites rebelled, and this rebellion gave rise to conflicts between the two groups.

Under these circumstances, France, as the protector of the Catholics, and Britain who supported France, interfered at the level of the Babiali (the Sublime Porte, the Turkish Government), and consequently Mustapha Nuri Pasha was sent to Lebanon in 1840 with unlimited authority to deal with the situation.

Mustapha Nuri Pasha dismissed Governor Beshir and divided Lebanon into two districts, one Druse, the other Maronite, responsible to the Governor of Lebanon in Saida. He also reinstituted the ‘mukataa’ system. However, this preventive measure was not effective because the population was not separated in a distinct manner, and the conflicts and the interference of foreign powers continued.

In 1843 Mustapha Nuri Pasha was called back, and was replaced by Admiral Halil Rifat Pasha. Rifat Pasha, too, concentrated on the matter of demarcating the boundaries of the Druse and Maronite districts, and established Ministries in areas where the population was heterogeneous. (The Minister was the person who would direct the collecting of the minority’s taxes, instead of its being managed by the collectors of the majority.)

However, the preventive measures were, once again, unsuccessful, owing to the conflicts within the population, on the one hand, and the provocation of the Christian population by the French Consul on the other, and 1843 was marked by constant incidents.

The Lebanon events have no relation to the Armenian question, but they constitute the first occasion on which France, Britain, Russia, and Austria interfered to promote reforms for the religious minorities.

As the Lebanon topic was being taken temporarily off the agenda in 1846, the question of the ‘Holy Places’ was appearing.

The ‘Holy Places’ are the church and the cave of Bethlehem in Jerusalem where Christ was born, Christ’s tomb and its church, and other such places. White various Christian sects had the right of worship here, the Catholics had been given the right, during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, to keep the keys, and to maintain the ‘Holy Places’. Later, this right was given in 1634 to the Orthodox Church, as a result of some disagreements with France. From this date, the matter became a source of disputes between the two Churches. These disputes had nothing to do with either Muslims or the Ottoman Empire, but because Jerusalem was within the Empire, the Empire was indirectly involved with them.

In 1853, Catholics had been granted a right to repair the Bethlehem Church. This provoked an objection by the Orthodox Church and consequently by Russia, its protector. France, too, had been requesting the return of the rights previously belonging to Catholics. The Babiali decided, after having had a Commission investigate the situation, to have Muslims perform the services which the two churches could not share between them.

At this point, the Tsar sent Admiral Prince Menchikov, Commander of the Baltic Fleet, General-Governor of Finland, Minister of Marine, to Istanbul on a special mission. Menchikov, who arrived at Istanbul on 28 February 1853, gave an ultimatum to the Babiali, demanding that the question of the ‘Holy Places’ be resolved as soon as possible to the advantage of Russia, and that a sound and irreversible guarantee be given to Russia on the privileges of the Orthodox Church. It is known that the real intention of Russia was to divide the Ottoman Empire, which she considered the Sick Man of Europe, and that she had proposed this scheme to Sir Hamilton Seymour, the British Ambassador in St Petersburg. (The documents concerning this matter were later published by the British.)

The Babiali refused this demand, which would have meant the official acceptance of Russian protection of the Orthodox subjects. On 21 May, Menchikov leifi Istanbul, along with the Russian Embassy staff, and declared that diplomatic relations between the Ottoman Empire and Russia were broken off.

This incident eventually led to the Crimean War. We do not dwell on details irrelevant to our topic, but there is a subject which should be mentioned. It is reported in various Western sources that there were some clauses in the agreement signed by the Ottomans, the British, and the French against Russia on 12 March 1854, stating that Turkey would be granting certain rights to its Christian subjects. There is no such clause in the text of the agreement.

We want to mention only the eastern front of the war, which began with the entry of the Russians into Moldavia-Wallachia on 3 July 1853, and then moved to the Crimea.

After the Ottoman Empire declared war on 4 October 1853, Abdulkerim Pasha attacked, in the east, in the direction of Ahiska and Gumru, but, having been defeated at Gumru on 14 October, retreated to Arpachay. As he could not take a hold in the battle of Bashgedikler on 1 February, he retreated to Kars, which the Russians besieged.

Subsequently, the war offensives on the eastern front were limited to the siege of Kars. Alexander II, who ascended the throne after Nicholas I died on 2 March 1855, wanted to put an end to the war, especially after Sebastopol fell on 9 September. He declared a general attack on Kars on 29 September, in order to have won a victory. Although the 15,000 Turks inflicted over 7,000 losses on the 40,000 Russians, Kars surrendered on 28 November 1855, because of famine.

In order to put an end to the war, a protocol was signed on 1 February 1856. The fourth article of this protocol showed that the sovereignty of the Sultan and his state’s administrative integrity would constitute one of the bases for peace. The Sultan would automatically confirm the guarantee he had given with regard to the legal equality with Muslims of Christians living as Ottoman subjects.

A ceasefire was declared after a decision to have the peace conference meet in Paris in three weeks.

On 18 February 1856, the Babiali declared the Imperial Reform Edict, which confirmed the decrees of the Gulhane Edict. The main decrees of the Reform Edict are as follows.

1. The carrying out of reforms will introduce a new and auspicious era, as the external situation is strengthened through the endeavours and assistance of the allies.

2. The inviolability of the right to life, property, and honour granted to every subject without disciminating on the basis of religion or sect, according to the Gulhane edict, is repeated and confirmed.

3. Privileges given since the reign of Mehmet II, the Conqueror, to non-Muslim communities, have been retained, along with spiritual immunities.

4. Special assemblies will be formed by the Patriarchates under the supervision of the government, to reconcile these privileges and immunities with the new conditions and needs. The decisions of these assemblies will be submitted to the Babiali, and will become definite by the approval of the government.

5. The election procedure of the Patriarchs will be revised, and spiritual leaders such as the patriarchs, the Catholic, Greek, and Armenian bishops, and the rabbis to be appointed for life will take an oath of loyalty to the State.

6. The favours and revenues given by the congregations to their spiritual leaders will be abolished, and they will receive salaries instead.

7. Congregational matters will be transferred to assemblies comprised of spiritual and secular members.

8. Although the restoration of public places belonging to the congregations, such as schools, hospitals, cemeteries, will not be prevented if they are in accordance with their original form, to build them anew will be contingent on permission granted by the government.

9. In homogeneous areas inhabited by the congregation of one sect, outward and public worship will be permitted.

10. All sects, regardless of their size, will equally enjoy religious freedom.

11. Every expression and discriminating words, stating that a certain congregation is held in an inferior position to another congregation because of differences of religion, language, and race, will be for ever removed from official correspondences.

12. The usage of such expressions by officials and the people will be officially forbidden.

13. No one will be forced to change his religion.

14. Every subject can be a government official, regardless of his race or sect.

15. Every individual having the necessary legal competence and qualifications will obtain the right to enter the Military and the Civil Servants’ School, regardless of his religion.

16. The establishment of schools for non-Muslims will be permitted, on condition that they are supervised and inspected by an Education Assembly, a heterogeneous body, which would also supervise and establish their programme, and appoint their instructors.

17. Mixed courts will be established for commercial and murder cases occurring between Muslims and non-Muslims, or exclusively among non-Muslims, and the trials will be public.

18. Cases such as inheritance disagreements occurring among non-Muslims can be transferred, by request of the interested parties, to the Patriarchs and spiritual assemblies.

19. Laws exclusively concerning commerce and murder cases will be codified as soon as possible, and will be translated and published in various languages spoken in the Ottoman Empire.

20. Prisons will be reformed to reconcile the requirements of justice with human rights.

21. All treatments such as corporal punishment, torment, and torture have been abolished; officials who, in spite of this, engage in torture, or have others engage in torture, will be punished as required in accordance with articles to be included in the Criminal Law.

22. Legal equality being dependent on equality of duties, non-Muslims will be obliged, like Muslims, to do their military service. They will have the right to actively perform their duty, as well as the right to acquit themselves of their duty by paying the necessary sum.

23. A corollary regulation with regard to the method of employment of non-Muslims in the army will be published as soon as possible. (Two main possibilities have been proposed. Although there were some who suggested establishing a battalion for every sect, it was ultimately preferred to form mixed batallions.)

24. Regulations will be compiled to ensure the fair election of Muslim and non-Muslim members of the province and district assemblies, and to ensure that fraudulent elections do not occur.

25. Subsequent to procedural arrangements with the Powers, foreigners will be granted the right to possess property in Turkey, on condition that they conform to the laws to which the local people are subject.

26. The system of employing an intermediary in collecting public revenue (iltizam) will be abolished, and taxes will be directly collected by the State.

27. The application of the law compiled after the reforms, concerning the budget known as ‘the book of annual incomes and expenses’, will be given serious attention

28. Regular payment of salaries will begin.

29. In matters concerning all the subjects of the State, the spiritual leader of every congregation, along with its official appointed for one year by the government, will participate in the negotiations of ‘Meclis-i Valay-i Ahkam-i Adliyye’, a law court established in 1837 to deal with cases of high officials.

30. The members of this court will speak freely during the discussions, and the content of their speech will never be used against them.

31. Regulations concerning the prevention of bribery will be applied without exception to all officials.[8]

The Ottoman Empire wanted to prove that the Reform Edict was prepared with her own initiative, by publishing it before the Paris Conference. Moreover, it was explicitly stated in the Peace Agreement signed on 30 March 1856 that communicating this edict to foreign states by no means gave the right to those states to interfere with the internal affairs of the Ottoman Empire. But this was only to save appearances. In actuality the right to protect Christians was given to all the powers, instead of only Russia.

It cannot be stated that the Reform Edict satisfled non-Muslims.

The most important rights given to non-Muslims to please Europe, were their opportunity to enter civil and military schools, and to become civil servants, the possibility to transfer their inheritance cases to Patriarchates, the publishing of murder and commerce laws in the languages of the minorities, contrary to the official language principle, the representation of all congregations with two representatives from each, at the higher court, and finally, the extending of the right to property to foreigners. Among these, the right given to Patriarchates to administer justice, even if limited, was an infringement of the judiciary sovereignty of the State.

There are many regulations in the Reform Edict, to the advantage, as well as to the disadvantage of the non-Muslim minorities. The obligation to do one’s military service, the reexamination of religious privileges and exemptions granted since the reign of Mehmet II, the Conqueror, the abolition of arbitrary fees exacted by priests all along from their congregations, and giving salaries, instead, to priests, and the obligation of all spiritual leaders to take the oath of devotion, were to the disadvantage of non-Muslims.

For this reason, Muslims as well as non-Muslims were against the Reform Edict. The ones who were afflicted the most were the priests, who after having plundered for centuries, to use Engelhardt’s term, now had their income reduced with the abolition of the favours and revenues demanded from the congregations. As for the common folk, who were now freed from being robbed, they were displeased by the military service obligation. For, from the beginning of Ottoman history, it had been the Muslims, and especially the Turks, who had shed their blood, while non-Muslims lived comfortably by themselves. For this reason, it is even said that, after the Babiali firman was read, and when it was being put into the satin pouch, the Bishop of Izmir said: ‘Let us pray to God, that this firman is never taken out of that pouch.’ The Orthodox Church attempted to portray the reexamination of privileges as interference by the Government in the affairs of the Patriarchate, even as its attempt to abölish them. Undoubtedly the ‘favours and revenues’ question had a great deal to do with the Church’s attempt to engage in negative propaganda through the newspapers, to open the way for possible European intervention.”[9]

In this manner, after the Paris Truce, the four powers (Russia, Britain, France, Austria) began to intervene, on the pretext of protecting religious minorities.

The first such intervention took place because of new conflicts in Lebanon on 27 May 1860. Approximately 500 Maronites had attacked a Druse village, and Sait Bey from the Janbulat family led the Druses and attacked the Maronites; thus, the conflict spread. The Ottoman Empire immediately sent Minister of Foreign Affairs Ketchejizade Fouat Bey to Lebanon to implement the necessary measures. As France attempted military inter vention, other powers intervened, and a protocol was signed on 3 August 1860 between the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain, Austria, and Russia, with the aim of jointly sending soldiers to help Turkey and to facilitate the implementation of reforms. The French sent a force of 6,000 soldiers, while the others sent warships. Thus, 5 French, 5 British, 2 Russian, and 1 Austrian ship arrived at Beirut.

Because Ketchejizade Fouat Bey had taken all the necessary measures before the French soldiers came, their arrival was only a show of force.

The Lebanon question was solved on 9 July 1861, with the organization of the country as a privileged and independent district.

We have included this topic, irrelevant to our subject, as an example of how the great powers understood the Reform Edict.

These events occurring until 1856 show that, until then, Russia and other powers were not interested in the Armenian community within the Empire, that Russia aimed at having a say in the Empire by having the Ottoman Orthodox minority under her absolute protection, to ensure the superiority of the Greek Orthodox Church and consequently of the National Russian Church. French interest lay in the Catholics.

While these events were occurring, various changes were happening within the Armenian community, in the order established since 1461, and consequently some discontent was becoming apparent.

This community constitutes the very life of Turkey, for the Turks, long accustomed to rule rather than serve, have relinquished to them all branches of industry. Hence the Armenians are the bankers, merchants, mechanics, and traders of all sorts in Turkey.

Besides, there exists a congeniality and community of interest between them and the Musulmans. For, being originally from the same region, they were alike in their habits and feelings; therefore, easily assimilating themselves to their conquerors, they gained their confidence, and became and still are the most influential of all the rayahs. There is not a pasha, or a grandee, who is not indebted to them, either pecuniarily, or for his promotion, and the humblest peasant owes them the value of the very seed he sows; so that without them the Osmanlis could not survive a single day.

This is a fact so well attested, that Russia, with the design of undermining Turkey, always endeavoured to gain over this part of the population, and in 1828, when she took possession of Erzeroum, she enticed the Armenians of that place to acts of violence and revenge against the Turks, so that when the Russians retired, the Armenians were obliged to emigrate with them.[10]

These statements, attesting to the fact that the community had a certain place within Ottoman society, and that it led a normal life, were published in 1857.

It is nevertheless useful to examine in an overview how and why this discontent came about.

We have noted the attempts of the Vatican to bring the Gregorian Church under its sphere of influence during the rule of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, and the transferring of the Catholicate from Sis to Etchmiadzin to avoid falling under the influence of the Catholic Church.

While there was no organic link between the Churches, many Gregorian Armenians were being drawn, or went, into the Catholic religion. In the beginning, these individuals did not sever their links with the Gregorian Church, and were using a given church for speciffic reasons. For example, they were going to the Catholic Church to confess, while this practice was not accepted by the Gregorians. But as, in the course of time, the number of Catholics increased, the Armenian Patriarch felt it neccessary to take sides.

The Mekhitarists, who played an important role in the consciousness of Armenian nationalism, had been founded by a priest converted to Catholicism.

Mekhitar was born towards the end of the 17th century, in Sivas.... He became a monk at the early age of fifteen.... He became a priest when he was twenty years old.... Soon he was preoccupied by an idea which he later tried to resolve, and he began his attempt to unify the Roman Church and the Armenian Patriarchate. In 1700 he left his native land with a few disciples, with the aim of founding a congregation whose difficult task was to bring the education necessary to Armenia. After he stayed for a while in Constantinople, where he published his first books,... was forced to leave, and chose as a meeting place with his companians, the city of Modon, then under Venetian rule.... Because of an invasion by the Turks, the congregation was obliged to leave, and arrived in Venice in 1715. In 1717, the Senate conceded for ever the island of St. Lazarus to Mekhitar and his companions.... The conquest of Italy by general Bonaparte called in question once again the existence of the congregation, for a decree had abolished all the convents. Saint-Lazarus escaped this measure, by transforming itself into an Armenian Academy, which was facilitated by the scientiffic direction given to the works of the order’s members. Since this period, the Armenian Academy of Saint Lazarus of Venice has continued to exist and to develop along with the order itself.[11]

When the number of Catholic Armenians increased, despite the efforts of the Armenian Patriarch, the Armenian Catholics were recognized as a separate community for the first time on 27 February 1830, through the efforts of the French Ambassador, and Hagopos Chukuryan was appointed Patriarch of this community on 22 December 1831. The Patriarchate, which was established in the beginning at Adana, was later transferred to Istanbul.

We have mentioned the activities of the missionaries. Although missionaries claimed that they were not having anybody change their religion or sect, the number in the Ottoman Empire who were converting to the Protestant faith was increasing. This time, because of the insistence of the British Ambassador, despite the objections of the Russian Embassy and the Armenian Patriarchate, the Protestant Armenians became a separate community in 1859.

Another source of discontent of the Armenian Patriarchate, which witnessed the gradual erosion of its community, were developments, which appeared especially after the Constitutional Reforms, in the organization of the Gregorian Armenian community. We will approach this subject by summarizing an article by Migirdich B. Dadian, because, in our opinion, we can follow these developments best through the writings of an Armenian author.

This religious leader with the title of Patriarch is not only the spiritual leader of the community, but its secular leader as well. He was given this religious authority, like all the bishops and archbishops of the Armenian Church, by the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin. Approximately 50 regions were under the jurisdiction of the Istanbul Centre. Before the reorganization in 1860, the Patriarch could at will dismiss the Bishops he had appointed. He could annul their status as bishop, which they were given by the Catholicos, as well as take away their right to administer their areas. He even had the right to shave off their beards.

As the responsible chief, answerable to the Babiali, he was responsible to ensure the collection of the land tax. Among his duties was to resolve various disputes as a judge.

This dual authority could have produced useful, advantageous results in the absence of opposition by an adverse power. However, there was in Istanbul an Assembly, selected from among the Armenian aristocracy, called the ‘National Council’. This assembly was a constant source of intrigues and disputes.

This situation continued until 1839, without a major problem other than a few complaints.

In 1844, during the time of Patriarch Matheos Chuhajiyan, the structure of the National Council was transformed. It was decided that it should be comprised of 30 members, 16 of whom were to be selected from among the nobility and 14 from professional associations. The Patriarch would choose those representing the professional associations. Another change came about in 1847. It was decided that two councils should be formed, one dealing with religious matters, the other with remaining matters, and that the members of the Council should be elected. These principles became effective through a firman of the Sultan on March 9, 1847. This was a blow to the noble class.

When Matheos left the Patriarchate in 1848, Agob Serobian, who had previously been the Patriarch, replaced him despite the opposition of the nobility.

The Reform Edict of 1856 was decreed during Serobian’s rule. Upon the declaration of the firman, the Armenians wanted to abolish oppression by the nobility, by drawing up a new ‘National Regulation’. In 1859, as the Council dealing with religious matters was being reselected, the majority of nobles were not included. The new Council formed a Commission to prepare a regulation. The activities of this Commission severed further the relations between the nobility and the other group. As a result of disputes, Gevorg Kerestejiyan, the Patriarch, was forced to resign. The election of Sergis Kuyumjiyan, who replaced him, gave rise to serious conflicts. Finally the Council accepted the draft regulation on May 24, 1860, and presented it to the Babiali. The Babiali ratified it with some minor changesi, with a firman on March 17, 1863, and made it effective.[12]

This information, which we have summarized from Dadian, is in agreement with Ottoman records, and as a matter of fact was included in the same way in all the sources relating to this subject. The conclusion of Dadian’s article is of particular interest. We shall quote it below. The point to be emphasized is that the Armenians had no problem with the State, that they could administer their internal affairs almost independently, without the Government intervening in the decisions they took concerning themselves, and that all this was taking place without the interest or the support of any foreign country.

More than a hundred years have passed since the article was written in 1867. Today, in various countries in the world Armenian communities of varying size are living. Not one of these communities has freedom to this extent. It is obvious that the privileges present in the Ottoman Empire were nothing less than a landless autonomy. A landless nation’s autonomy was a practice unheard-of in international law, and these opportunities were officially given by the Babiali to the Armenian community, at a time when no state was interested in them, and there was no such subject as the ‘Armenian Question’. As a matter of fact, these very privileges opened the way to the emergence of this question.

Dadian’s article ends with the following statements:

We have thus reported the changes undergone by this important Armenian sector subject to the Sultan’s laws. With the approval of the Government, this community was provided with a constitution, whose main principle was the sovereignty of the people, and favourable initiatives were taken to revive national education.

In these attempts at reform, the cooperation of the clergy was apparent, but it was not extensive. In many cases it remained detached from, or stranger to, the developments which were strengthening the nation. While everything around it was in motion, it was motionless. Consequently, the influence it previously had, without ever having to impose it, was now diminished. The new generation is not consenting to being directed by the clergy with the same docility, and does not go under its authority of its own accord, as previous generations had done.... Armenians... along with the Christian creeds, maintained their language, customs, and traditions, and did not lose their identity within the society they were living in, as was the case with many other communities.... East Asia commerce is in their hands, they travel continuously and have extensive contacts. They can well be an intermediary between Asia and Europe, if the expression is appropriate, the spreaders of Western civilization.”

Such is the opinion of an Armenian living outside the Ottoman Empire about the situation of Armenians in the Empire, an opinion published in 1867, in a newspaper in France. It is necessary to keep this in mind, while evaluating subsequent events.

The statement which calls for attention here is the observation that the Church was distant from, or stranger to, the developing thoughts and events. It is not difficult to consider this as a polite statement, and to recognize that the Church did not actually want these developments.

The ‘Armenian National Regulation’ made effective in 1863 had 99 paragraphs. An Assembly of 140 members was established; 20 members were to be selected from among the Istanbul priests, 40 members from the provinces, and 80 members from Istanbul.

The former 14-member religious assembly and the 20-member political assembly were maintained, but the regulation that their election be made by the national assembly was new.

The election of the Patriarch, too, had to be performed by the national assembly. While the Religious Assembly could nominate candidates, the National Assembly had the right to appoint a Patriarch from outside the candidates. The appointment of the Patriarch would be definitive with a firman.

The regulation also stated that the election of the Patriarch of Jerusalem was to be made by the National Assembly.

The ‘Armenian National Regulation’ constituted a change, not from the vantage point of the condition of Armenians within the state, but concerning the authority of the Patriarch. It did not consider this authority as absolute any more, but rather, meant the sharing of this authority between the Patriarch and the Armenian nation.

‘Dadian’s statements concerning the subject of culture are also worth quoting:

The first newspaper written in Armenian was published in 1859. After the ‘Armenian National Regulation’ was published, the number of newspapers increased. We should nevertheless confess that, while the press gained in importance, it did not fulfil the duty expected of it. However, there was no obstacle to restrain it, nor outside pressure to influence it. While some newspapers chose to defend the Church by giving priority to religious subjects, others began to shake the foundations of national faith, and did not hide any more their inclination towards Protestant ideas.... Between 1839 and 1866 the number of daily newspapers in Istanbul reached 14. Even in Van, which was the most remote province, a newspaper was published.

In Istanbul Armenian books were being printed during the 17th century. Mekhitar had printed his first books at the beginning of the 18th century in Istanbul. When an Armenian printing office in Marseilles was closed by Louis XIV,[13] Armenians had no complaint about the freedom of press in the Ottoman Empire, and this freedom was increasing.

These developments were laying the foundations of a serious problem for the Gregorian Church. On the one hand, the Armenian nation was converting to other churches, and Catholic and Protestant ‘Armenian nations’ were emerging within the Empire, and on the other hand, part of the authority of the Gregorian Church was being transferred from the Patriarch to the Armenian nation. The Patriarch had no power to turn over to someone else the authority and privileges given to him through firmans. While the Babiali did not object to this situation, if the climate of freedom developing in the country were to bring about a situation which would not require having different status because of belonging to different religions, then these rights transferred to the people would be abolished, and the Patriarch would remain only as a religious leader.

In addition, the ambition of Russia to destroy the Ottoman Empire, to restore Byzantium by taking Istanbul, had become apparent. If this possibility were to be realized, then the independent character and existence of the Gregorian Church might be abolished, and Russia, which was much more powerful than Byzantium, might achieve what Byzantium was unable to do, namely, to incorporate the Gregorian Church.

Under these circumstances, something had to be done for the Church to be able to exist, to maintain its influence, and to regain the privileges it had lost. Pastermadjian commented:

As far as the Armenian nation is concerned, its aspirations, as they were expressed by the national movement in the second half of the 19th century, could aim at neither the establishment of an independent Armenia, nor the annexation of Turkish Armenia by the Empire of the Czars. It was in fact evident that Czarist Russia was opposed to the creation of an Armenian State, because such a State would have been an inevitable attraction for the Armenian subjects of the Empire, and would have reinforced, by its very existence, the aspirations of the peoples of Transcaucasia for greater autonomy. As for the annexation of Turkish Armenia by Russia, its result would have been the extending to this region of the policy of gradual russiffication of the allogeneous peoples, which was the policy of the czarist government. Such an annexation would have therefore constituted a serious danger for preserving the Armenian cultural patrimony.[14]

The only hope for the survival of the Church was the establishment of an autonomous Armenia bound to the Ottoman Empire. The constitution of this autonomous Armenia was ready anyway. The only thing that remained to be done was to demarcate the borders of an area. From 1856 on, this idea became more and more expressed. Patriarch Hrimyan was its most outspoken advocate.

Undoubtedly this idea was shared by the Church of Etchmiadzin, and was even spread by it. For, after the Turkmenchai Truce was signed, the Catholicos, who was hoping to become the ruler of an independent Armenia, had been disillusioned. To examine the developments in Russia will be useful in comparing the condition of Armenians in these two countries. We quote M. Varandian and E. Aknouni:

The secular yoke of Muslims (Turks and Persians) was a terrible burden for the Armenian populations. Nevertheless, these populations were not losing their hope of a future resurrection. And, besides, the whole of Armenia was not enslaved and condemned to a dismal and eternal silence. There were some mountainous regions, — Zeitoun, Sassoun, Karabagh, etc. — which had been able to keep a semi-independence and where the spirit of rebellion was manifesting itself from time to time through audacious unexpected attacks against the foreign despots. At the beginning of the 18th century, some insurrections broke out in the vast region of Karabagh, in Persian Armenia. An Armenian Prince endowed with rare fighting abilities, David-Bek, led the movement and won brilliant victories. The struggle continued for many years. It was a perpetual guerrilla-type action with the aim of driving the Muslims out of the country.

An important fact was encouraging the Armenians and was pushing them to the most brutal adventures. To the North, the great Christian Power, Russia, had expressed its project of descending towards Caucasia, and was assuming the role of protecting the small Christian communities. The despots of Turkey and Persia were beginning to tremble in front of the new colossus and Armenian expectations were growing.

It is only at the beginning of the 19th century that the armies of the Czar arrived at Transcaucasian Armenia, and little by little conquered vast regions there. In 1826—27, after a bloody war, Russia took two large Armenian provinces, Erivan and Nahjivan, from Persia. The entire Armenian population, headed by the Patriarch Nerses Ashtarak, participated actively in this liberation war.

A Russian Armenia was created. There is no need to dwell on the regime instituted by Czarist Russia. For approximately a century, Russian Armenians complained on many occasions of the crimes of this regime. Nevertheless, the changing of the yoke brought some relief to the Armenian populations, who, under the new regime, enjoyed a relative guarantee of their life and property. This minimum security was sufficient for the Armenians to engage in first-rate activity in Caucasia, to give free scope to their aptitudes in the fleld of commerce, industry, and intellectual life in the main centres: Tiflis, Baku, as well as in the provinces. Schools are being established here and there, books and periodicals are published.[15]

.... And when, at the beginning of the 19th century, the gigantic struggle against very powerful Mohammedanism began, the Armenian Church, although it had suffered so much, rushed into the conflict, relying upon Etchmiadzin.

And it is then that the Russian army, representing the Russian people’s anger against Muslim domination, went towards Caucasia.

The Armenians took upon themselves to guide [themi in this country bathed with their sweat and which was unknown to the ruler of the future.

In Georgia, it was the nobility, bellicose by nature, which created the movement; in Armenia, it was the clergy. And it was the most valiant Armenian fighter of the time, Nerses Ashtarak, who was at the same time the most capable politican, who headed the movement. Regiments of Armenian volunteers appeared. Nerses, enraptured, made the following speech to his troops, in 1826:

‘The hour of the deliverance of the country of Ararat and of the Armenian people has come; Etchmiadzin can recover its former independence. Rise and rebel, brave Armenians! Shake off the Persian yoke, have old Ararat leap for joy, bathe your fatherland with blood, and you shall live for ever free and independent!
‘The time has come!
‘Forward! Now or never!’

Nerses was enraptured by promises, either official, or secret, coming from Petersburg in regard to the independence of the Armenian provinces of Ararat, which were filling up with Armenian refugees coming from the neighbouring regions belonging to Persia. Independent Armenian provinces, a free Church, Etchmiadzin saved from the Mohammedan yoke, how glorious all this appeared, how captivating was this delusion!

But as their domination was solidly established, when the monarchical government no more needed either the Armenian clergy or the popular forces to crush the Mohammedans, the wind changed and one started to hear completely different speeches, and soon even threats.[16]

It is mainly after 1863, after the insurrection of Poland, which was so audacious but so little successful — a new attempt of liberation by the generation which grew up after the movement of 1830 — that the policy of russiffication of the enslaved nations was born.... 500 Armenian schools in Caucasia were closed, and thus, 200,000 children from both sexes who were being educated, were thrown into the Street.... Acts of an inconceivable tyranny happened then: threats, the whip and the bastinado were begun.[17]

On page 72 of Aknouni’s book, the following statement is made:

The obligatory study of the Armenian language had been for a long time abolished from Gymnasiums and state schools, for, according to Russian statesmen, an Armenian has only two obligations in this world: 1) to learn the Russian language; 2) to hate his mother tongue. And these two obligations are considered equally indispensable.

We have quoted above from two different books. The authors of these two books are Armenian. There is a difference of twelve years between their dates of publication.

In Russia, by the decree of the Tsar dated 11 March 1836, a regulation known as Polijenia, concerning the administration of the Catholicate was accepted.

Through this law, the Catholicos could have authority only in spiritual matters, this authority would be checked by a Synod Assembly, a representative of the Government would be present in this Assembly, and no decision could be taken without the approval of this representative. The Catholicos could correspond with churches in other countries only through the intermediary of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The election of the Catholicos would be made in Etchmiadzin by choosing between two candidates selected by representatives coming from other countries too. This choice would be made by the Tsar himself.

There was no question of the Catholicos or the other bishops having any kind of authority or privilege in secular matters.

It is possible that Etchmiadzin, facing an increasing russiffication policy, and very severe measures against the Armenian nationalistic movement, was convinced, as we have stated above, that one day it would be altogether abolished, and thus attempted to persuade the Istanbul Patriarchate to establish an autonomous Armenia in the Ottoman Empire.

Such a thought was not in opposition to the interests of Russia.

We have thus brought the subject to the policies of the great powers.

2. The policies of the great powers

The policies of the great powers have not been established on a day-to-day basis, and they have not followed a fixed and uniform direction. Because it is impossible to set down in writing these policies one by one within the chronological development of historical events, we will attempt to summarize them as a whole, by looking at the period until the establishment of the Republic in Turkey.

We stated previously that the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire coincided with the Karlowitz Pact of 1699. This pact opened the way for dispossessing the Ottoman Empire, for the first time, of large areas of land. Moreover, it was during this period that Russia began to make its presence felt in Europe.

At the beginning of the 18th century, the main power in Europe was, of course, the Austrian Empire. After the second siege of Vienna, Austria, who had not been able to achieve much with regard to the Ottomans for over two centuries, and had been dispossessed of many lands, now followed the policy of regaining the countries she had lost, which either belonged to her or were subject to her. Hungary, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Serbia were among these countries. Whenever it was possible, Austria allied herself with Russia, in order to reach this goal. Russia took part in the war which ended with Karlowitz in 1699. Austria expanded her Empire following the 1716—18 war. As the Ottoman State declared war on Russia in 1736, Austria entered the conflict in 1737 to gain more lands through this war. However, Russia and Austria having lost the war, she had to return the lands she had gained by the Pasarovcha Pact of 1718.

Austria did not take part in the Russian War of 1768—74. But as Russia started descending towards the Balkans, she became concerned and felt the need to intervene to bring the war to an end.

Because Russia, too, felt that she would not be left alone in the Balkans, she decided to ally with Austria, and Austria then entered the Ottoman-Russian war of 1787. Austria was not successful in this war, either, and gained nothing when peace was declared in 1792 with the Zishtovi Treaty. This was the last war between the two countries, until both empires came to an end after the First World War. From this date on, Austria was concerned by Russia’s expansion in the Balkans, and engaged in alliances with France, Britain, and Prussia.

When the German Empire was founded in 1870, Austria followed a policy parallel to Germany’s, and Germany was the spokesman of this group.

At the beginning of the 18th century, Britain was busy attempting to destroy the French and Spanish hegemonies, and to establish its independent empire at the expense of these states. For Britain, struggling with France, Russia was a state which could put pressure on France and its ally, Prussia. For this reason, Britain made various pacts with Russia. The most signifficant was signed in 1755. ‘With this pact, Russia would give 55,000 soldiers to Britain. When the troops were to go outside the Russian borders, Britain would pay £500,000 sterling per year to Russia, and when they stayed in Russia, she would pay £100,000 sterling per year.... The two states signed a non-aggression pact in 1776; when Catherine the Great was sending the Baltic Fleet to Turkish waters during the 1768—74 war, she was renting boats from Britain, and the British Admiral Samuel Greigh was the commandant of the fleet which destroyed the Ottoman Fleet in the Tcheshme harbour.’[18]

Britain became interested in the Ottoman Empire after the Kuchuk Kaynarja Treaty of 1774.

When the Ottoman-Russian War started in 1787, William Pitt, who headed the British Government, realized for the first time that the continuous advance of Russia towards the south would enable Russia to become a strong power in the Black Sea, and constitute a danger to Britain. He thus felt the need to support the Ottoman Empire against Russia. This policy, started by Pitt in 1783, continued without change for a century, until Gladstone became Prime Minister. Pitt succeeded in persuading Austria to leave the alliance with Russia during the Ottoman-Russian War of 1787—92, and began to put pressure on Russia, with the help of Prussia after the French Revolution, and went so far as to decide to enter the war in order to end it and to ensure the return of Odessa. In the event, Britain did not enter the war, owing to disagreements within the government, and Russia was forced to end the war.

From this time until 1814 there was almost continuous war between Britain and France. Because of this, Britain supported Russia in the Russian-Ottoman war of 1806, and even sent its fleet into the Marmara Sea, despite its policy, in order not to remain alone against France. But when Russia and France made an agreement at Tilsit in 1807, the Ottoman-British friendship was restored. When the Congress of Vienna met in 1814, Britain attempted to have the Ottoman borders guaranteed by the Congress, but despite the support of the Austrian Chancellor Metternich, who was beginning to be concerned by the Russian danger, Tsar Alexander did not accede.

During the Greek rebellion, Britain supported Greece. Nevertheless, it would be an error to see this attitude of the British Prime Minister Canning as an alliance with Russia. Canning was convinced that Greece would sooner or later win her independence, and it would be preferable that Greece owe this to Britain, instead of to Russia, for Britain would then acquire a friendly country in the Mediterranean.

Britain remained a spectator of the 1828—30 Ottoman-Russian war which started during this rebellion. However, Britain and Austria were seriously worried when Moldavia-Wallachia became subject to Russian rule. Britain became even more concerned when Russia began to settle in Caucasia, for this might mean a preparation to advance towards India.

It is for this reason that Britain did not accept the suggestion made by Nicholas I, Tsar of Russia, to the British Ambassador in 1853: ‘Well, we have here a sick man, a very sick man; it would be, I tell you frankly, a great misfortune if, one of these days, we were to lose him, especially before the necessary arrangements had been made.’[19] Britain was on the side of the Ottoman Empire during the Crimean War. It is known that Russia offered Crete and Egypt to Britain, and wanted for herself Moldavia—Wallachia, Serbia, and Bulgaria.

Russia, who came defeated out of the Crimean War, felt the necessity to turn now to the east, to Asia, and after having completed the conquest of Siberia by taking Viadivostock, began to conquer Turkistan. These conquests in Asia, especially the occupation of Turkistan, naturally constituted a danger for Britain’s Empire of India.

The 1860s were the years of unification of Italy and Germany in Europe, and the years when Russia increased its policy of Pan-Slavism, which was begun after Russia invaded Poland in 1863.

The Ottoman Empire was alone in the 1877—8 war, and signed the Ayastefanos (San Stefano) Pact, whose stipulations were hard on the Ottomans. However, both Austria and Britain objected to this pact. As Bismarck joined them, the Berlin Congress was held and the Berlin Treaty was signed. As a result of this agreement, most of Russia’s gains were taken away.

After the Berlin Congress, there was a major change in British policy.

Gladstone, who became Prime Minister for the second time in 1880, changed the policy which had been followed for a century, which Pitt had initiated, and put an end to protecting the administrative integrity of the Ottoman Empire. We have mentioned that the religious factors and Gladstone’s conformist point of view as well as his hostility towards Muslims played an important role in this change of policy.

Russia, who turned once more towards the Far East after the Berlin Congress, started again to compete with Britain in Asia, and returned to a friendly policy concerning the Ottoman Empire. But this did not last very long either. When Russia was defeated in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, Britain and Russia made an agreement in 1907, about their spheres of influence in Asia. Subsequently Britain began scheming to divide the Ottoman Empire with France and Russia, and this aim was achieved during the First World War.

The close relations of the Ottoman Empire with France began, except for the time of Suleiman the Magnificent, under the reign of Napoleon. After Napoleon’s unsuccessful Egyptian campaign, France had helped the Ottomans against Russia; however, after the Vienna Congress, France for some time was no longer in a position to play a significant role in European politics.

France began her policy of expanding in Africa by invading Algeria in 1830. After this date, she began to attribute more importance to the subject of protecting Catholics within the Ottoman Empire, and played the main role in the incident of the ‘Holy Places’ which eventually led to the Crimean War.

Napoleon III, who acted with the Ottoman Empire during the Crimean War, had been unable after 1856 to concentrate on other matters, because he had been struggling unsuccessfully with Germany and Italy, who were attempting to achieve unification after 1856, and he suffered a blow following his defeat by Germany in 1870. While France participated in the Berlin Congress, she did not play a significant role.

France, who was the cradle of philosophies of freedom and independence after the Revolution, had been closed to such thoughts in the period starting with Napoleon until 1870. She assumed this role once again after the Third Republic was proclaimed, and became a refuge for various classes in various countries, and those struggling against the State in the Ottoman Empire.

France, who did not forget the defeat by Germany, began to get close to Russia, who had left the 1878 Berlin Congress offended at Germany. She also resolved her conflicts with Britain. After the ‘Entente Cordiale’ had been established, and the relations between Russia and Britain were also improved, these three powers shared the same opinion concerning the Ottoman Empire, and France played an active role in the projects about dividing the Empire.

Germany entered the European scene with the Versailles Treaty in 1870. Although Prussia had played an active role until then in various matters, it had never possessed the weight of a unifled Germany, and had often remained in Austria’s shadow. After 1870, Germany became the strongest and most feared country of Europe. After the alliance with Austria and Italy, when Europe was divided into two groups, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, there was no subject left in which Germany did not have a say.

Germany, who started her colonization drive after this date, saw the Ottoman Empire as a country which she could easily influence. The reason why she supported the Ottoman State during the Berlin Congress, and offended her ally Russia, was because she did not want the Empire to disintegrate before she could obtain some rights. As a matter of fact, Ottoman-German relations became closer. Nevertheless, Germany was to take part in the projects carried out by Russia, France and England to divide the Ottoman Empire into spheres of influence, and to claim her share. It is certain that the Ottoman Empire, which entered the First World War as Germany’s ally, would have come under the absolute authority of Germany, if Germany had come victorious out of the war.

We come finally to Russia. We stated previously that Russia made her presence felt, starting with Peter the Great (1682—1725). It is recognized that Peter the Great fixed three goals for Russia: to expand to the Baltic shores and to the Black Sea, and to take Poland. When Peter died, only one of these goals had been attained: the Baltic shores had been taken from Sweden through the Nishtad treaty. Although Russia took possession of the Azak castle in 1699, she had to return it to the Ottomans in 1714. The culmination of this policy established by Peter, fell to the lot of Catherine the Great (1762—96). Under her rule, Poland was divided between Austria and Prussia, and was wiped out from the European map; after the Kuchuk Kaynaria Treaty of 1774, the Ottoman-Russian border was pushed up to the Dniester river, the khanate of Crimea came under Russian jurisdiction to be annexed shortly after, and Russia settled on the northern shores of the Black Sea, ready to descend towards the south, from Caucasia on one side, from the Balkans on the other.

The goal of Russia to descend to the warm seas is a subject recognized by all, but it is less well known that two directions were chosen to achieve this goal. The first was to reach the Mediterranean through the Straits, the other was to reach India by taking advantage of water routes. Projects and plans of this second direction were accepted during the reign of Tsarina Anna (1730—40) in 1734, and Krillov was entrusted with the realization of the plan. After this plan was put into effect, Russia decided to advance in the two directions, and chose as a principle to focus on one direction temporarily, if there proved to be difficulties in the other direction. This plan, which was made in 1734, projected taking the regions of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Badakhshan. Badakhshan is an area within the borders of Afghanistan, and Russia had to wait until the 1980s to obtain this region.

It is possible to summarize the policy of Russia, since the reign of Peter the Great, concerning the Ottoman Empire: to expand Russia, at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, to restore Byzantium by taking Istanbul, and to make the Tsar the undisputed leader of the Orthodox world. After Peter the Great, the Tsars never forgot this policy; the more successful included Catherine ii (1762—96), Nicholas’ (1825—55) and Alexander II (1855—81).

Russia, until the reign of Catherine the Great, was far from having the power to struggle alone with the Ottoman Empire. However, the Kuchuk Kaynarca Treaty of 1774 demonstrated that Russia was now able to cause the collapse of the Ottoman Empire without the help of another country. But, from this date on, the other European countries made it apparent that they would not allow the Ottoman Empire to be absorbed by Russia, thus enabling Russia to become an uncontrollable power. It is for this reason that Russia began to make preliminary projects for distribution with the other powers, as she was getting ready for another attack. The offer made to Austria in the 1787 war, and to Britain in the 1853 war, are examples of this.

The main opportunity Russia had to attack the Ottoman Empire was to provoke and support the various Orthodox communities within the Empire to rebel, and then to declare war on the pretext of protecting them. The Serbian rebellion of 1806 was the source of the Russian war which started that year. The Greek rebellion gave rise to the 1828 war. The ‘Holy Places’ issue started the 1853 Crimean War. The 1877 war started with the Herzegovina revolt.

From 1774 on, Russia considered herself as the sole representative of the Orthodox and Slav subjects of the Ottoman Empire, and in the case of an insurrection or rebellion, considered immediate intervention as natural. However, Austria, who had lost some areas to Italy as the unification of Italy was being realized, wanted, from 1870 on, to invade Bosnia-Herzegovina, and became interested in Slays because of the existence of a substantial Slav element within her Empire. Russia, keeping this in mind, succeeded, as the three emperors (Alexander II, Kaiser Wilhelm and Franz-Josef) met in 1875, in having the non-intervention principle accepted in the event of a possible rebellion of Christian elements of the Ottoman Empire. The aim of ‘non-intervention’ is to avoid helping the Ottoman Empire to crush the rebellion. However, when the rebellion which started in Herzegovina in 1875 and spread to Bulgaria and Serbia in 1876 was crushed by the Ottomans, Russia intervened on the side of the rebels, and the 1877 war started.

Russia obtained from the Ottoman Empire, through the Berlin Treaty, the maximum of what the other powers would accept. Rumania, Bulgaria, and Serbia obtained autonomy and later independence. It was obvious that after this Russia would have no opportunity to obtain more land.

We have thus summarized the policies followed by the Powers concerning the Ottoman Empire. It is now necessary to examine the place of the Armenians within this framework.

In the 1870s the Armenians were not yet included in the policies of either Russia or the other powers. Even the Armenian authors of that time do not mention the existence of any dispute between the Armenian community and the Ottoman government.

The interest of Russia, which was closely following the rebellion of the non-Muslim subjects in the Ottoman Empire, and of Austria, which adopted the same policy after 1870, lay mainly in the Slavic elements. No one was interested in the Armenians, who were living in their country without any complaint. These years coincide in Russia with the period when Pan-Slavism was at its strongest, when liberation movements were brutally crushed, and when the rights of the Armenians in Russian Armenia were taken away from them. The clearest proof of this is that when the Patriarch asked to be allowed to take part in the Conference of Ambassadors gathered in Tophane to discuss the subject of the 1876 Balkan rebellions, he was told that the meeting had nothing to do with the Armenians. We shall return to this subject later.

Until this date, the interest of Russia in the Armenians had been limited to taking advantage of them on the eastern front during the wars with the Ottomans. This cooperation started during the Iran war which ended with the Turkmenchai truce, and continued in the 1828 Ottoman war, and to some extent in the 1853—6 war.

From the 1870s on, the Armenians began to seek the aid of the European powers, for the reasons we have stated above. These attempts were made by the Patriarchate (and Etchmiadzin) and the clergy.

It must be accepted that they were successful, and the ‘Armenian question’ appeared at the Berlin Congress. However, the factor which played a role in the emergence of this question, rather than the Armenians’ attempts, was the fact that the political conjuncture necessitated taking advantage of them.

As a matter of fact, after the Berlin Congress, almost the entire Balkans (except for Rumelia, which would be lost in the Balkan war), were separated from the Ottoman Empire, and these regions could no longer be used as an excuse to declare war on the Ottoman Empire. Besides, Russia realized that the Balkans would not constitute a passage for her advance to the Mediterranean, and later saw that these countries, whom she actively helped to gain their independence, did not remain grateful to her.

Then she recognized that in the East only the Erzurum-Iskenderun axis remained to permit her descent to the south, and thought of taking advantage of the Armenians to obtain this axis. For this reason, she was to turn to the Armenian question especially after the Berlin Congress.

With this intention, Russia, just as she did in the Balkans, attempted to create incidents in Armenia, so that she could then interfere. She not only took advantage of the Armenian Church, but supported the revolutionary committees which were formed.
The Liberal Party and its leader Gladstone, who came to power in Britain after the Berlin Congress, were the main supporters of Russia in this matter, and appeared as the sole custodian of the Armenian question and almost as the tool of Russia’s foreign policy.

However, as Russia realized that Britain had the aim of actually granting independence to Armenia, and she engaged once again in a power struggle with Britain in Asia, she ceased being interested in the Armenians, even started to oppose their ideas of independence, and followed the same policy with the Ottomans.

As was the case with Greek independence, the British were hoping that if an independent Armenia was established, they would have first of all a country grateful to them, and thus create a buffer state which would prevent the descent of Russia to the south. While Russia abandoned its support of the revolutionary committees, this time, France and Britain continued this support.

Russia, after being defeated by Japan in 1905, and having made an agreement with Britain concerning Asia, completely put aside the question of Armenian independence, and started its policy of dividing the Ottoman Empire into spheres of influence, which would later result in the dismemberment of the Empire. During the First World War which started in this climate, she went to the distribution agreement with the Sykes—Picot treaty.

Within these political developments, the Armenians would be nothing more than a tool, a means, and independence and autonomy would remain only as their wishes and dreams. The only ones who did not see this truth were the Armenians and especially the Armenian Church.

3. From the reform edict to the Berlin Congress

Now we can examine events in the Ottoman Empire until 1878. The struggle, from the 1856 Reform Edict on, among the Armenians and with which the Patriarchate too was involved, continued after the Armenian nation’s regulation was accepted in 1863. However, this internal strife was confined to Istanbul, and there was no apparent discontent in Anatolia. Moreover, there were no known complaints to foreign countries in these matters.

Actually there was a revolt in Zeitun in 1862. But this, as we shall explain later, had entirely different causes, involving non-Armenian elements and being due to the feudal system which prevailed i various regions in the east of the country.

This situation started to change after Migirdich Hrimyan was elected Patriarch in 1869.

Pasdermadjian states that ‘On the eve of the 1877—78 Russian-Ottoman War, the situation of Armenians in Turkish Armenia was as difficult and even worse than that of Serbians in Bosnia, or that of Bulgarians in Roumelia and Macedonia.’ Later he writes: ‘Until 1876, the Turkish policy, although it favored the Kurds in Armenia, did not have a real anti-Armenian character. The often tragic situation of Armenians came from their position as subject people, and the general conditions of the Empire, rather than from a concerted action of the government. In fact, the interventions of Constantinople in Armenian matters during the last decades were chiefly characterized by the concern to protect the independence of the Armenian Church over against the attempts of assimilation coming from the Catholic or the Orthodox side.’[20]

Pasdermadjian, just as he does not deem it necessary to state the extent of the influence of the Ottoman Empire in the 1870s in Bosnia-Herzegovina and even in Bulgaria, does not mention whether the condition of the Muslims, either in Europe or in Anatolia, was better than the condition of the Armenians.

During this period, the fall of the Empire was almost declared by the government with the Reform Edict, and the necessity of implementing definite measures as soon as possible was created. The sufferings were the same for every subject, and were even worse for the Muslims who could not benefit from the protection of a foreign country, and who did not have anyone to whom they could voice their complaints. It was a fact that banditry was prevalent in the east. But were the victims of the brigands only non-Muslim and especially Armenians? It must be remembered that Armenians and Greeks, too, had their own bands of brigands, and these would only attack Muslims. Consequently, Muslims were being attacked from two sides, by Muslim and non-Muslim brigands. Moreover, one must not forget that the Armenians, who were complaining so much of these conditions, were the richest sector of the population, having the largest opportunities.

According to the well-known book of Marcel Leart[21] if the numbers are correct, 141 of 166 exporters in Anatolia were Armenian, 12 were of other origin, and only 13 were Turks; 6,800 of 9,800 shop-owners and craftsmen were Armenians, 2,550 were Turks; out of 150 exporters, 127 were Armenians and 23 were Turks; of 153 industrialists, 130 were Armenians and 20 were Turks; of 37 bankers, 32 were Armenians. In the region which they call Turkish Armenia, they had in total 803 schools, 2,088 teachers, and 81,226 students.

The Armenian Church began to portray the Armenians, after Hrimyan became Patriarch, as a society moaning under continuous cruelty and torture, when the Armenians should be having at most as much right to complain as the Muslim majority, about the general administration of the country and the lack of order.

At this point it may be useful to examine Hrimyan’s personality.

After the Guihane reforms of 1839, and especially the Reform Edict, the main concern of the Patriarchate was the decline in its rights and privileges. Patriarch Matheos Chuhajiyan had resigned in 1848 for this reason. In 1858, he was elected the Etchmiadzin Catholicos. In the same year, Gevorg Kerestejiyan was brought to the Istanbul Patriarchate. Kerestejiyan resigned in 1860 because of the disagreements which appeared when the Armenian nation’s regulation was being prepared. Armenian newspapers of the period reported that his resignation was due to his opposition to the regulation.[22] In 1866, Kerestejiyan succeeded Chuhajiyan and became Catholicos of Etchmiadzin.

In 1869, Hrimyan became the Istanbul Patriarch. In 1885, he was to become the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin. As Hrimyan resigned, and left the Patriarchate, Nerses Varjabetyan replaced him. To a large extent, this Patriarch was under the influence of Hrimyan; it is even claimed that some of his actions were due to Hrimyan’s pressure. Nerses Varjabetyan was a candidate in the election of the Catholicos in Etchmiadzin in 1884, but the Tsar did not approve his election and consequently he did not become Catholicos.

In contrast, the candidacies of Chuhajiyan, Kerestejiyan, and Hrimyan were approved by the Tsar, who also approved the candidacy of Matheos Izmirliyan to the Catholicate. Izmirliyan had been the Istanbul Patriarch between 1894 and 1896, and was brought once again to the Patriarchate in 1908. Consequently, he left the Patriarchate in the same year and went to Etchmiadzin where he became the Catholicos after Hrimyan.

It is obvious that the Tsar acted only in the direction which was most beneficial to Russian interests in his approval of the Catholicos. It is therefore necessary to assume that those who could transfer to Etchmiadzin from Istanbul were serving the interests of the Tsar and Russian national interests.

Although the interests of the Armenian Church did not always coincide with those of Russia, at times they did coincide.

While Russia maintained the influence of Etchmiadzin within Russia at a minimum, she saw the continuation of this influence outside Russia as advantageous. At this point there was understanding with the Church. The Istanbul Patriarchate, especially, was.far from satisfied at the decline of its authority.

The Armenian Church was aware that Russia did not want an independent Armenia. The Russians were also aware that the Armenian Church knew this, and that they wanted autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. Russia had realized that the other powers would not allow the invasion of the area called Armenia, and for this reason saw advantage in giving autonomy to this region, which inevitably would come under her jurisdiction.

The Armenian Church and Russia were concious that if conditions were to improve in the Empire after the attempted reforms, the complaints which the Armenians made in the 1870s about administrative malfunctions could not be made any longer. After the declaration of the Constitutional Government, when the Armenians were included in the Constitutional Assembly, there would be even less excuse for complaint. Under these circumstances there was a sense of urgency; something had to be done as soon as possible. (The abolition of the Constitutional Government was a source of joy for the Armenian Church.)

The authority of the Patriarchate had to be strengthened, the interest of the great powers had to be secured in order to gain independence, and their intervention had to be obtained. And this necessitated above all a continuous voicing of complaints. In all these matters, the interest of the Armenian Church coincided with that of Russia. Hrimyan was the individual who made the most significant contribution.

Hrimyan was born in 1820 in Van, and visited Etchmiadzin and Ararat in 1841. Later he came to Istanbul and became a teacher. The years in which he started teaching coincided with the period when Chuhajiyan was the Patriarch. In 1854 Hrimyan joined the Church. During the time he was in Istanbul, he undoubtedly observed the problems of the Patriarchate. After he joined the Church he was appointed to Van. Later, he was sent to Mush. It is useful to remember that during this time, first Chuhajiyan, then Kerestejiyan was Catholicos in Etchmiadzin, and both of them resigned because the authority of the Patriarchate was declining. Hrimyan started printing two newspapers in Van and Mush, entitled The Eagle of Van and The Eagle of Mush, and began to focus on the theme of the Armenians’ plight in eastern Anatolia. In 1869 he was elected Patriarch when he was only forty-nine years old, and had joined the Church only fifteen years earlier. It is not difficult to accept that he was elected because he knew of the problems of the Church, and tried to solve them. The Catholicos Kerestejiyan might also have used his influence in this election.

As soon as he became Patriarch, Hrimyan brought the condition of the eastern provinces to the agenda of the National Patriarchate Assembly. He demanded in circulars he sent to all the bishops that they inform him of matters which could constitute a complaint. A memorandum based on these reports was submitted to the Grand Vizier in February 1872. The government formed a Commission, which had an equal number of Muslim and Christian members, to investigate these complaints.

Hrimyan had also brought the subject of changing the Armenian National Regulation to the National Assembly; his aim was to expand the jurisdiction of the Patriarchy, to reduce the number of representatives in the National Assembly from 140 to 50 and to have the members who were not of the clergy elected in equal numbers from Istanbul and the provinces.[23] But all his efforts met the opposition of the political assembly. The representatives from Istanbul and the provinces in the National Assembly began to quarrel. Hrimyan resigned in 1873, as he realized that the Assemblies did not follow him, and that he could not impose on them what he wanted. He was replaced by Nerses Varjabedyan.

Although the new Patriarch was not of the same opinion as Hrimyan, Hrimyan and his supporters continued their activities.

When the 1875 rebellion in Herzegovina spread, and the great powers intervened, demanding the implementation of reforms in this area, the Armenian Church became convinced that, by taking advantage of the situation, it could obtain autonomy for the eastern provinces. A group headed by Hrimyan, and including Izmirliyan who later was to become Patriarch, increased their pressure on Nerses. Finally, Nerses felt the obligation to act with them.

When it became known that a conference was to be held in Istanbul to discuss the events in Herzegovina and Bulgaria, a memorandum prepared by Izmirliyan, requesting that the problems of Armenians, too, be included in this conference, was sent to all the great powers in September 1876. Etchmiadzin supported these complaints by doing its share at the level of the Tsar. Actually the complaints were about isolated incidents, and the requests consisted of matters which the Babiali was already attempting to put into effect, such as the implementation of the decisions taken by the Babiali and the specially formed commission concerning the land administration, exempting the properties of the Church from taxation, the establishment of a commission in the Babiali in which representatives of the Patriarchate would take part, and which would prosecute cases of injustice and investigate matters communicated by the Patriarchate.

The Patriarch Nerses was also contacting the Embassies in Istanbul and trying to attract their attention to the Armenian question. A meeting he had with the British Ambassador is of great significance. Henry Elliot, the British Ambassador, wrote as follows in the report he sent on 7 December 1876 to the Foreign Office:

Yesterday the Armenian Patriarch paid me a visit. He expressed the hope, in the name of the large Christian community of which he is the leader, that the Conference would put pressure on the Babiali, that the privileges that are to be granted to the provinces which have revolted against the Empire also be granted to the provinces which remained calm, but which deserve equal treatment.

I replied with caution. I told him that the object of the Conference was to ensure order in provinces which have rebelled, and which endanger the overall peace, and that I did not think that it would handle the topic of the overall administration of the Ottoman Empire.

The Patriarch replied that his nation was very upset, and that if a rebellion was necessary to attract the interest of the European powers, then there was no difficulty in starting such an action.[24]

The Tophane Conference met in such an atmosphere, on 23 December 1876, to discuss the Herzegovina and Bulgaria events. On the same day the First Constitutional Government was proclaimed in the Ottoman Empire.

Despite all these efforts the Tophane Conference did not deal with the Armenian question.

The proclamation of the constitutional government was very well received inside as well as outside the country. All the non-Muslims expressed their joy in an honest fashion. But, after a while, the Armenian Church came to the conclusion that the constitutional government would work to its disadvantage, that if the situation and the administration of the country were to improve, then it would have to abandon its hope for autonomy. It set its hopes on a Russo-Ottoman War.

Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 24 April 1877, as no decision was taken either during the Tophane Conference or in the diplomatic contacts initiated after the Conference was over.

An interesting point which showed the attitude of the Armenian community and Church was that, as the proclamation of war was being read in the Constitutional Assembly, the Armenian delegates applauded it enthusiastically.[25]

Moreover, when the Sultan asked that the non-Muslim subjects, too, do their patriotic duty, on 7 December 1877, the Armenian National Assembly took the decision, as requested by the Patriarch, that the Armenian nation be enlisted and participate in the war.[26] However, after Plevne fell on 10 December, the National Assembly met again on 18 December, and, in spite of the Patriarch, annulled the previous decision.[27]

It thus becomes apparent that the Russian Tsar had good reason for not approving of Nerses, and refusing his candidacy to the Catholicate.

Another point that becomes apparent is that the Armenians were not willing to become subject to Russian rule, and that they were willing to fight along with the Ottomans to prevent this. But, as Plevne fell, and it became clear that the Ottoman Empire was going to lose the war, and that some of the eastern provinces would then be relinquished to Russia, the Patriarch got closer to Russia, with the thought that the only way of gaining anything would be through Russia.

Thus, as the 1877—8 war was ending, the Armenian question was becoming a European question. Before studying this development, however, it is necessary to deal with the subject of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire.

4. The population question

The Armenian population is not really part of our subject. During the periods that we are studying, the Armenian population in the entire world was only 3 million. Naturally, the numbers living in the Ottoman Empire were fewer—especially if, as Armenian sources indicate, there was a massive and continuous emigration of Armenians from the eastern regions to Russia after the 1829 Edirne Truce.

However, the Armenians who came to the Berlin Congress with the hope of establishing an autonomous Armenia in the eastern provinces felt the necessity to prove that the Armenian population of the region was more than the Muslim population so that their request could be considered justifiable. Thus they gave figures, knowing no limit to exaggeration, just as they have done in every matter. Their version of the Armenian population, which did not coincide with the records of the Ottoman Empire, or those of other states, was not taken seriously at the Berlin Congress or later. All the powers were in a position to be informed of the actual Armenian population through their own means.

It is obvious that the figures sent by the Patriarchate to Berlin were not taken seriously even by the Armenians themselves.
However, later, when it was a question of engaging in propaganda against the Ottoman Empire, the great powers, and especially Britain, saw no inconvenience in accepting these figures which they knew to be erroneous, and stating that the difference from the actual figures corresponded to the population massacred by the Turks.

It is necessary, for this reason, to examine the subject of the Armenian population. Let us look at Armenian, Western, and Ottoman records in turn. We shall draw conclusions later.

(a) Armenian sources

Generally, Armenian sources give the figures provided by the Patriarchate. Contemporary Armenian authors prefer to give the figures reported by others, instead of submitting a figure themselves.

Hovannisian reports that the Armenian population in Turkey before 1914 was less than 2 million but more than 1.5 million.[28]
Pasdermadjian states that, in 1914, there were 4,100,000 Armenians in the world, 2,100,000 in the Ottoman Empire, 1,700,000 in Russia.[29]

Jacques de Morgan (we include him among the Armenian authors as he obtained his figures from Chobandjian) reports that in 1914 there were 2,380,000 Armenians in Turkey, that in the world there were 4,160,000, and that even if the population had declined as a result of recent events, it would still be around 3 million.[30]

Marcel Leart's book was published in 1913[31] One would assume that he is French, but he was fact an Armenian. We learn this from the letters sent by M. N. Moditchian to Toynbee on 17 February 1916. This correspondence coincides with the period when Toynbee was looking for documents for the Blue Book.[32] The real name of leart was Krikor Zohrap. On pp. 59-60 of his book, Leart gives the Armenian population of Turkey for the years 1882 and 1912, and states that these figures were provided by the patriarchate. The figure for 1882 are as follows:

Van 400,000
Bitlis 250,000
Diyarbekir 150,000
Erzurum 280,000
Elaziz 270,000
Sivas 280,000
Adana 280,000
Aleppo (Antep, Urfa, Kilis, Marash) 100,000
Trabzon 120,000
Bursa 60,000
Aydin 50,000
Ankara, Kastamonu, Konya 120,000
Syria, Beirut, Musul, Baghdad and Basra 40,000
District of Izmir 65,000
Istanbul and its surroundings 135,000
Edirne 50,000
The rest of European Turkey 10,000
Total for Turkey

The population figures for six provinces in 1912, given by Leart and again attributed to the Patriarchate, are as follows:

Total Turks Armenians
Erzurum 630,000 240,000 215,000
Van 350,000 47,000 185,000
Bitlis 382,000 40,000 180,000
Harput 450,000 102,000 168,000
Diyarbekir 296,000 45,000 105,000
Sivas 507,000 192,000 165,000
2,615,000 666,000 1,018,000

We have been unable to find the documents in which the Patriarchate gave these statistics, but we have found the statistics it gave to the British Ambassador in 1880 and 1881. In these statistics, the Patriarch gave the total Armenian population in 1880 in the eastern provinces as 658,000. Later, the Patriarch rectified the figure he gave for Sivas, and this total increased to 805,745. If one is to pay attention to Leart’s list, this figure increases for the same date to 1,630,000; it is hard to imagine that the Patriarch could have thought of increasing these figures more than two-fold two years later, when even the 1880 figures were doubted by the British. Moreover, we have the figures submitted by the Patriarch in 1881. We shall give them below. For this reason, it is possible that the above list was a statistic prepared by Leart in 1913, at the suggestion of the Patriarch, in order to spread confusion.

Leart, or rather, Zohrap, tried to prove that the Patriarchate reports were even less, and with this intention translated the chapter on ‘The tax levied on non-Muslim subjects in lieu of military service ‘on pp. 413 and 414 of the yearbook of the Ottoman Empire for the year 1298 (1882). His translation (p. 64) is as follows:

When we reexamine the net returns of this tax for the years 1292, 1293, 1294, we obtain the following figures:

Year 1292 (1876) 416,720 T.L.
Year 1293 (1877) 542,200 T.L.
Year 1294 (1878) 542,390 T.L.

By taking into account the fact that in the past three years, the return of this tax had been more than the average of the other years. due to the circulation of paper-money, we had to accept, as the eventual return for this year, the sum of 462,870 T.L. [Turkish liras].

If we evaluate the male non-Muslim population of the Ottoman Empire at a minimum of 4,000,000, the return of this tax should be at least double what it produces today.

When we look at the original text, we see that, first of all, it mentions, not the circulation of paper-money, but the rumour that it will be removed from the market, and it is stated that the taxes which were not paid because of these rumours had been paid. While this passage was erroneously translated, the statement ‘if the non-Muslim male population was at least 4,000,000, the military conscription tax to be collected from them, would be the amount shown above’, was translated in a way to give it a totally different meaning. As Marcel Leart came from Istanbul, it is difficult to accept that he had a limited knowledge of Turkish.

A similar point can be found on p. 10 of his book. It is stated in a footnote that Lynch gives the Armenian population of Aleppo, Adana, Trabzon, Erzerum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Elaziz and Sivas as 1,058,000.

However, the figures given by Lynch are as follows:

The six provinces 387,746
The rest of Asian Turkey 751,500
European Turkey 186,000

Lynch gives the figure for the whole of Asian Turkey as 1,139,246. Among the non-Armenian foreign authors, Cuinet gives the highest figure for Asian Turkey. The figure he gives for Aleppo, Adana and Trabzon is 193,999. When we add this to the figures Lynch gave for the six provinces, we come up with 581,745.

Because we were unable to determine whether the statistics in this book attributed to the Patriarchate were in fact provided by the Patriarchate, we do not include them in our analysis below.

As for the figures that were given by the Patriarchate, we have determined them in the following way.

The figure given by the Patriarchate at the Berlin Congress for the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire was 3,000,000;[33] the figure given for the Armenian population in the provinces of Erzerum, Van, Bitlis, Sivas and Diyarbekir was 2,000,000, and for the Turkish population it was 1,000,000.[34]

An Armenian clerical writer (Vahan Vardapet in an Armenian newspaper published in Constantinople, the Djeridei Sharkieh, dated 3/15 December 1886), who appears not to err on the side of exaggeration, has placed the entire Gregorian population, that is the great bulk of his countrymen in Turkey, at 1,263,900 souls. It is reasonable to suppose that the Armenian subjects of the Sultan number upwards of one and a half millions.[35]

The Patriarch sent some statistics to the British Ambassador about the population in the eastern provinces, for the first time, on 24 June 1880.36 Later, he rectified the Sivas figures, and sent another letter on 10 September 1880.[37] Meanwhile, Odian Efendi from the Patriarchate gave a note containing some statistics to Sir Charles Dilke from the Foreign Office in London, in the month of July of the same year.[38] On 20 October 1881, the Patriarch sent new statistics to the British Ambassador.[39]

We shall now show these statistics in tabulated form. But let us first report some observations made by the British Embassy concerning these statistics. Major Trotter wrote as follows in a memorandum he prepared for the British Ambassador on 7 September 1880:

I would, however, beg to call your Excellency’s special attention to the discordant results of (3), (4), and (5), aft of which have been supplied at various times, directly or indirectly, from the Armenian Patriarchate. When such large discrepancies are apparent in these three Armenian estimates of the Armenian population, it is perfectly evident that still less reliance can be placed on the corresponding estimates of the Mahommedan population (vide (15) and (18), Tables C and D).40

The numbers in parentheses refer to the columns in the statistics lists. We shall give them as we examine the provinces.
More significant than this is the memorandum presented by Major Trotter to his Ambassador on 15 February 1882:

At a meeting last autumn of the Armenian Assemble Nationale, M. Sdepan Papazian, the reputed author of the statistical Tables presented to the Berlin Conference, made a violent attack on the Patriarch for having communicated statistical Tables to the Embassies without having previously consulted the National Assembly, in consequence of which the enormous divergence between the Berlin and the more recent Patriarchal figures had attracted attention, and called forth remarks tending to show the untrustworthiness of both sets of figures.

The Berlin compilation, by a glaringly unfair manipulation of official figures, tried to prove that, according to the said figures, the Armenian population of Erzerum and Van (including Bitlis and Hekkari) amounted to 1,150,000 souls. I have subsequently shown that, in all probability, the real number does not exceed 450,000: while the Patriarchal figures supplied to the Embassy in 1880 gave 373,500 Armenians, plus 85,000 Nestorians.[41]

It is my belief that the discrepancy between the figures given at various times, as well as the two observations made by Major Trotter, the expert on population in the British Embassy, show to what extent the figures submitted by the Patriarchate should be taken seriously.

Now we shall present the figures submitted by the Patriarchate, adding to these the figures given by Marcel Leart, in one table. During that period, the object was to prove that the Armenians were in a majority in relation to the Turks, and for this reason the statistics included figures for the Turkish population. In the list below we shall give only the figures for the Armenian population; the Turkish flgures will be given later, under the provinces.

The Armenian population in six provinces (including Catholics and Protestants), according to the Patriarchate, was:

215,177 111,000 128,478 280,000 215,000
Van 1,150,000 184,000 133,859 400,000 185,000
Bitlis 164,508 252,500 130,460 250,000 180,000
Diyarbekir 88,000 150,000 105,000
Elaziz 155,000 107,059 270,000 168,000
Sivas 199,245 243,515
280,000 165,000

(a) in the statistics submitted to the Berlin Congress.
(b) The flgures given to Sir Charles Dilke (FO. 424/106/200)
(c) The Patriarch’s list 424/106/273, with the Sivas correction (424/107/135).
(d) The Patriarch’s list (FO. 424/132/46).
(e) and (f) Marcel Leart’s lists.

It is apparent that there is no possibility of taking these lists seriously.

(b) Foreign sources

Ludovic de Constenson gives the 1913 Armenian population in the world as 3,100,000, in Turkey as 1,400,000, in Russia as 1,550,000.[42]

Viconte de Coursons states in his book that he has used Cuinet’s figures, which we give below.[43]

Christopher Walker states that before the First World War there were 1,500,000-2,000,000 Armenians in Turkey.[44]

H. F. Tozer, quoting Ravenstein, writes that in 1877 there were 700,000 Armenians in Asian Turkey.[45]

Clair Price reports the Armenian population in Turkey prior to the war as 1,000,000.[46]

Alexander Powell asserts that the Armenian population in the world does not exceed 3,000,000, that in Turkey there were 1,500,000 Armenians, and in Russia 1,000,000.[47]

Lynch examined the question of the Armenian population in a detailed manner. We shall see the figures he gives for the provinces when we come to study the provinces. He gives the general Armenian population in the following table:[48]

The Armenian plateau (Russian and Turkish Provinces) 906,984
Caucasia and the rest of Transcaucasia 450,000
Astrakhan, Bessarabia 75,600
The rest of Turkish Asia 751,500
European Turkey 186,000
Iranian Azerbaidjan 28,890
Colony of Julfa and the rest of Iran 4,110
Bulgaria, Eastern Roumelia 5,010
Roumania 8,070
Austria 1,230

Lynch states on p. II/409 of his book that the population of the Armenian plateau in Turkey is 387,746 and the Armenian population of the Empire 1,325,246.

Among foreign sources, the one who has researched the population of the Ottoman Empire most thoroughly is, without any doubt, Vital Cuinet. In the foreword to his book he writes: ‘The work which we present today, to the public in general, is a compilation of statistic notes gathered on the spot, during various trips of exploration we have undertaken in the last twelve years.’[49] It is known that Cuinet undertook these travels in the name and on behalf of the Debt Commission.

Leaving the detailed figures Cuinet gives for the provinces to be examined later, we shall now look at the figures he gives for the population of Anatolian Turkey:

Muslim 14,856,118
Other Christians 1,285,853
Jewish 123,947
Other foreigners 170,822

The Gregorian, Protestant, and Catholic Armenians are included in the Armenian population.

Cuinet’s figures appear in the French Yellow Book, and this shows the extent to which the French recognize these figures as offlcial.[50]

In the 1910 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the world Armenian population is given as 2,900,000, and the Armenian population in Turkey as 1,500,000. (In the 1953 edition of the same work, the population of Armenians in Turkey is given as 2,500,550 for the same year. The article in the 1910 edition was written by a Briton, and the article in the 1953 edition was written by an Armenian.)

(c) Ottoman sources

It was repeatedly claimed that no census, in the modern sense, had been taken in the Ottoman Empire, and therefore the figures given by the Babiali were erroneous and imaginary.

Actually, this was not the case. When Sultan Abduihamid received the new American Ambassador in 1886, the Ambassador mentioned the last census taken in America, and its advantages. The Sultan expressed his interest in the subject, and asked the Ambassador whether he would help to establish such an organization in Turkey. As the Ambassador gave a positive answer, the preparations for a census were undertaken with the Ambassador’s help. Details of this subject will be found in Kemal Karpat’s article.[51] The results of this census were published in 1893. It is recognized that the results of the census are reliable, because everybody was given identity papers during the census, and from that date on it was impossible to engage in any occupation without these papers. However, the census was not taken as it is taken today, by requiring everybody to stay at home and going from one house to the next, but by asking the head of every household and by filling in a card for every member of the household. When these cards were being filled in, the muhtars (headmen of a quarter or a village) were present.

The first president of the Statistics Bureau, founded in 1892, and which published the census results, was a Jew named Fethi Franko, and he was replaced by an Armenian named Migirdich Shinabyan. Shinabyan held this position between 1897 and 1903, and he was replaced by an American named Robert, who held the post until 1908.

After the census was taken, the new births and deaths were recorded through the census offices established in every district, and thus the recording of population changes became possible.

We give below the figures given by the Ottoman authorities concerning the distribution of the population, as recorded by Prof. Kemal Karpat:

1893 1905 1914
12,587,137 15,508,753 15,044,846
Greek 2,332,191 2,823,063 1,729,738
Gregorian Armenian
1,001,465 1,031,708 1,161,169
Catholic Armenian 89,040 67,838
Protestant 36,268 52,485 65,844
Greek Catholic 29,749 62,468
Jewish 184,106 253,435 187,073
Latin 18,240 20,496 24,845
Syriac 36,985 54,750
Ancient Syriac 4,133
Chaldean 2,371 13,211
Jacobite 1,024 6,932
Maronite 28,738 47,406
Samaritan 262 164
Nestorian 8,091
Yazidi 2,927 6,957
Gypsy 3,153 16,470 11,169
Druse 7,385
Cossack 1,792 1,006
Bulgarian 817,835 761,530
Serbian 1
26,042 82
Foreigner 235,983 197,760
Roman Catholic 149,786
Monophysite 32,598
17,388,562 20,884,630 18,520,016

It is apparent that the Greek, as well as the Catholic Armenians are included in the 1893 Catholic population figures. It can be accepted that all the Protestants were Armenian. Consequently, the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire is:

in 1893 1,157,519 (30,000 Catholics have been considered Greek.)
in 1905 1,173,233
in 1914 1,294,851

If we are to summarize the figures we have given above from three different groups of sources, the Armenian population in Turkey is, according to:

Patriarchate 1,780,000—3,000,000
Jacques de Morgan 2,380,000
Pasdermadjian 2,100,000
Hovannisian 1,500,000—2,000,000
Vahan Vardapet 1,263,000
Constenson 1,400,000
Walker 1,500,000-2,000,000
Ravenstein 760,000 (Asian Turkey)
Clair Price 1,500,000
A. Powell 1,500,000
Lynch 1,325,000
Cuinet 1,475,000 (Asian Turkey)
Encyclopaedia Brittannica) 1,500,000
Ottoman Empire 1,160,000-1,300,000

The fact that the Patriarchate did not repeat the 3,000,000 figure it gave to the Berlin Congress, but reduced it to 1,780,000, is significant. It is understood that the Patriarch spoke without reflection, thinking that autonomy was going to be obtained anyway, but that he did not repeat this figure, and even gave a figure under 2,000,000, when he saw that autonomy was not going to materialize, and he thought of the subject of taxes. Nevertheless, we shall see below that the figures given by the Patriarch for the six provinces too are quite exaggerated. It is also useful to remember that the Patriarch, who said he was basing his figures on the records of the Patriarchate, never revealed these records. Moreover, it is obvious that Catholic and Protestant Armenians would not be included in the Patriarchate records.

The Patriarchate figures being what they are, we can leave aside the Armenian sources who follow the Patriarchate, and Walker, who is obviously the standard-bearer of the Armenians. Besides, the figures given by Vahan Vardapet, member of the Patriarchate, clearly contradict them.

Western sources give figures between 1,300,000 and 1,500,000. However, among them Lynch, to some extent, and Cuinet have done serious research. Cuinet’s figure, when Istanbul is included, can be accepted as 1,500,000.

The Ottoman statistics give, for the same date of 1896, the figure of 1,160,000. As the census was not taken by requiring individuals to stay at home, and by going from one house to the next, if we are to accept the number of Armenians who were not included in the census, for tax evasion reasons, as around 150,000, the Ottoman figure for 1896 is approximately

If we are to take into account the fact that Cuinet’s research was based on information obtained from local Churches, that these Churches continually tended to exaggerate, and if we remember that Vahan Vardapet gave the figure 1,300,000, then we can assume that this exaggeration was also reflected in Cuinet’s computations. Moreover, Cuinet’s statistics were before the 1894—6 revolts. Armenian authors are agreed that, following these revolts, hundreds of thousands of Armenians emigrated from the Ottoman Empire.

Under these circumstances, we can accept that the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire in 1896 was approximately 1,300,000.

What is important for the Armenian question is, not so much the total population, but rather, the Armenian population in the eastern provinces where the Armenians wanted to establish an autonomous Armenia.

At the Berlin Congress, the Armenians had shown the borders of the country which would be administered by them as bounded by the Russia— Iran border in the east; in the west, by a line extending from Tirebolou on the Black Sea coast to the point where the Kizil Chubuk stream joins the Euphrates; and in the south by a line extending from the Euphrates to the Bitlis stream from the south of lake Van to the Iran border.[52]

According to the administrative division of the period, Tirebolou was a district centre. The six provinces, again according to the administrative division of the period, are Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Elaziz, and Sivas. These provinces, according to the present-day administrative division, correspond to the provinces of Erzurum, Erzincan, Agri, Van, Hakkari, Bingol, Sivas, Amasya, and Tokat, and to the region of Shebin Karahisar to the south of Giresoun.

The Patriarchate, in the statistics it prepared for the purpose of proving that Armenians were in a majority in the provinces, counted all the Christians as Armenians, but when it came to counting the Muslims, it counted only the Turks. Moreover, it did not adhere to the provincial borders, and in some cases drew a border in the districts. Although it attempted in this way to confuse the foreign powers, it did not obtain any result, not because of the inaccuracy of the statistics, but because of the policies of the great powers that we have mentioned previously.

However, because these figures which were asserted then are also used today, it is necessary to examine them in detail.

Let us take a look at the letter sent by the Patriarch Nerses, on 24 June 1880, to the British Ambassador:

At a time when the question of reforms concerning Armenia, subject of the third collective note submitted to the Sublime Porte, is being discussed, I thought that your Excellency would be pleased to have at your disposal serious statistical documents. The previous censuses of the population have been done on the basis of number of houses; this method is absolutely erroneous, as the number of inhabitants of every household are by no means identical, and depend on whether the houses are occupied by Christians or Muslims. According to Muslim traditions, different families cann ot live in the same house; in Armenian customs, however, children and brothers, after as well as before their marriage, continue to live together. As a result, while one must count at most three to eight inhabitants in a Muslim house, we can count twelve to sixty in an Armenian house.

Only a census bated on the number of individuals can produce a reliable result. The enclosed table, which includes only the censuses of the six Armenian provinces, properly so called, (there are besides, one million Armenians in the rest of Asian Turkey), has been prepared in such a way as to put the Christian population not above the actual figures, but below them. This will enable your Excellency to get a clear idea of the actual situation and of the proportion of the various elements which it is necessary to protect.

If we admit that we can, which is in fact erroneous, consider all the nomads as Muslims, the Christian population is still by far the largest; as for the Muslim population, properly so called, it does not even constitute one third of the total.

I consider it unnecessary to call the attention of your Excellency to the reflections which the study of these statistics calls forth; I realize how much your Excellency is already inclined in favour of the Armenian cause, which is the one of humanity and justice.

I beg your Excellency to accept my thanks for the past, and for the future, my respect, etc.[53]

This letter, which explains Turkish and Armenian customs and practices, and which claims that an Armenian household may contain as many as sixty people, is a document which must be viewed from beginning to end with extreme caution.

But the following reply given by the Patriarch on 10 September 1880 to the Ambassador, as he pointed out the discrepancies in the figures, especially concerning the Sivas province, is even more significant:

I hasten to reply to the legitimate observations in your letter dated the sixth of this month, concerning the Table of the mixed population of the Sivas province which I had the honour of presenting to your Excellency.

While drawing up this Table, your Excellency, I only considered the Armenian part of this province, such as Sivas, Divrik, and the vicinity; I omitted, in consequence, all the south-eastern districts (sanjaks), which are not part of Armenia, such as for example, Tokat (Armenian Gomana), Derende, Gurun, Tonous, Azizie; the latter has recently been included in the Sivas province.[54]

The Ambassador had this answer examined in the registry office of the Embassy, and a memorandum prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel C. W. Wilson for the Ambassador is enclosed in the same document in the British archives. Wilson wrote:

The letter of the Armenian Patriarch shows a great lack of knowledge concerning the local realities of the population of the province of Sivas and the Christian population. For example, Darende, Gurun, Tonous, and Azizie are stated to be sanjaks (subdivisions of a province). Whereas, three of them are kazas (sub-divisions of a sanjak) and one of them is only a nahiye (subdivision of a kaza). Moreover, it is also stated that Azizie has recently been included with Sivas, which is totally inaccurate.

After these documents, quoted here to show the manner in which the Patriarchate worked and its intentions, let us now turn to the population distribution in the six provinces, by looking at the information in our sources.

(d) The province of Erzurum

Lynch writes that the population of Erzurum in 1827 was 130,000, and that 24,000 were Armenian; that after the 1829 Russian occupation, Armenians, too, left as the Russians were withdrawing; that the 1835 population of Erzurum fell to 15,000, that there were 120 Armenian families left among them, and that at the time of his visit to Erzurum (after 1896), the population was 40,000, of which 10,500 were Armenian.[55]

It is obvious that the subject is the central kaza of Erzurum. He gives the population of the province as 544,502 on p. II/412 of his book, the Armenian population as 106,768.

The Armenian Patriarch, in his letter dated 24 June 1880, gives the population of the province as 270,000, and the Armenians as 111,000. In 1881, he increases this figure to 128,478. The figure given in Britain is 215,177.

Cuinet records the Armenian population as 134,967 in a total population of 645,702.

It was shown in an estimate of the Ottomans in 1890 that the total population was 555,159, the non-Muslim population being 113,488, and that the British Consul C. Lloyd agreed with this estimate.56 As it is known that according to the Ottomans there were 3,356, according to Cuinet 3,725, according to the Patriarch 5,000 insignificant non-Muslim elements, excluding the Armenians, then if we count their average total as 4,000, the Armenian population was 109,488.

The Ottomans made another estimate in 1895, through a control commission sent to the region as part of the reform programme. We also find this estimate in the same British document. It gives the population of the province as 669,717 and the non-Muslim population as 123,935. When we exclude, as in the above, 4,000 from these figures, we obtain 119,935 as the Armenian population.

Among the British documents, there are other estimates made by Major Trotter.[57] However, these were given cumulatively for the provinces of Erzurum, Van and Bitlis (excluding Siirt). Consequently, we shall examine these estimates cumulatively, after having recorded the separate estimates for the Van and Bitlis provinces.

We can now tabulate the various estimates made for Erzerum between 1880 and 1893: (Other elements are also included in the totals besides the Turkish and Armenian figures.)

Estimate made by Muslim Armenian
Year of estimate
The Patriarch 351,990 215,177 582,879
1880 Britain
The Patriarch 120,000 111,000 270,000 1880
The Patriarch 196,269 128,478 337,767
Ottomans 441,671 109,488 555,159 1890
1893 census 444,548 109,838 559,055 1890s
Cuinet 500,782 134,967
Ottomans 545,782
Lynch 428,495 106,768 544,502 c. 1896

(e) The province of Van

Lynch gives the general population as 197,873, and the Armenian population as 75,644 at the time of his travels, in 1896.[58]

The figure given by the Patriarch for 1880 is cumulative with the province of Bitlis. In 1881 he gave the 133,859 figure. The figure given in Britain was 184,000.

Among a total population of 430,000, Cuinet gives the Muslim population as 241,000 and the Armenian population as 79,998. The 1890 Ottoman estimate is 282,582 Muslims and 135,912 non-Muslims. As there were approximately 80,000 Nestorians in this province, the Armenian population was, then, 55,912. The estimate of Consul Lloyd was 115,000 Muslims and 155,988 non-Muslims. If we subtract from this figure the 80,000 Nestorians, then the Armenian population was 75,000.

According to the 1893 Ottoman census, the population of the province was 119,860. There were 59,412 Muslims and 60,448 Armenians. The Nestorians seem to have been excluded from this census.

The Ottomans’ 1895 estimate was 207,028 Muslims, and 101,204 non-Muslims. When we subtract the Nestorian population, there were then 11,204 Armenians. It is apparent that in this estimate there was a confusion between Nestorians and Muslims. For this reason, it will be better not to include this last estimate in our list.

The summary of the Van province is then

Estimate made by Muslim Armenian Total
Year of estimate
The Patriarch 120,000 184,000 384,363 1880 Britain
The Patriarch 113,586 133,859 337,611
Ottomans 282,582 55,912 418,494 1890
Consul Lloyd 115,000 75,988 270,988 1890
Cuinet 241,000 79,998 430,000 1892
1893 census 119,860 60,448 180,308 1890s
Lynch 52,229 75,644 127,873 c. 1896

(f) The province of Bitlis

Lynch writes that the population of the province in 1814 was 12,000, half of which was Armenian; that in 1838 it was between 15 and 18,000, one third of which was Armenian; that in 1868 there were 4,000 families, 1,500 of which were Christian; and during his travels there were 27,673 Muslims, 16,089 Armenians, and 342 Assyrians.[59]

The Patriarch gives a cumulative figure for Van and Bitlis in 1880. The figure he gives in 1881 for Bitlis only is 130,460 Armenians. The figure given in Britian is 164,508. According to the Patriarch, there are no non-Muslims, other than Armenians. However, there were in Bitlis approximately 10,000 non-Muslims other than Armenians. We have subtracted 10,000 from the Ottomans’ 1890 and 1895 estimates and Consul Lloyd’s 1890 estimate in preparing the figures below:

Estimate made by Muslim Armenian
Year of estimate
The Patriarch 88,388 164,508 253,226 1880 Britain
The Patriarch 21,121 130,460 151,581 1881
Ottomans 167,054 99,944 276,998
Lloyd 166,794 111,082 287,876 1890
Cuinet 254,000 131,390 398,625 1892
1893 census 167,054 102,856 276,998 1890s
Ottomans 352,713 116,874 479,587 1895
Lynch 145,454 97,184 242,980 c. 1896

Although the sanjak of Siirt was previously within Diyarbekir, in 1880 it became part of Bitlis. Siirt is not included in the Bitlis figures of the Patriarch’s estimate.

Major Trotter has included Siirt in Diyarbekir in the cumulative comparisons.

The figures accepted by Major Trotter for Siirt are:

Muslim 47,098
Christian 23,678
(Armenian) (22,450)
Total 70,776

If we subtract these figures from the Bitlis totals, and add them to the Diyarbekir figures, the general totals will not change, but the comparison ‘vill be easier.

We obtain the following table for Bitlis after the subtraction. We can include the figures given by the Patriarch and Lynch, as they give their figures excluding Siirt.

Estimate made by Muslim Armenian
Year of estimate
The Patriarch 88,388 164,508 253,226 1880 Britain
The Patriarch 21,121 130,460 151,581 1881
Ottomans 119,956 77,494 206,222 1890
Lloyd 119,696 88,632
217,100 1890
Cuinet 206,902 108,940 327,849
1893 census 119,956 80,406 206,222
Ottomans 305,615 94,424 408,811
Lynch 145,454 97,184 242,980 c. 1896

We mentioned above that the Patriarch gave a cumulative figure for Van and Bitlis in 1880. Now, as we have established the other figures for Van and Bitlis, we can add these, and make a cumulative table including the 1880 figures of the Patriarch.

Cumulative population for the Van and Bitlis provinces:

Estimate made by Muslim
Armenian Total
Year of estimate
The Patriarch 208,388 348,508 537,589 1880 Britain
The Patriarch 151,500 252,500 489,000 1880
The Patriarch 134,407 264,319 489,192 1881
Ottomans 402,538 133,406 624,716 1890
Lloyd 234,696 164,620 488,088 1890
Cuinet 447,902 168,938 757,849 1892
1893 census 239,816 140,854 386,530 1890s
Ottomans 1895
Lynch 197,683 172,828 370,853 c. 1896

We mentioned above that Major Trotter had given some other figures, but that these were cumulative for the provinces of Erzurum, Van and Bitlis (excluding Siirt). Now, by counting cumulatively also the figures which we have given for these three provinces, and including Major Trotter’s cumulative figures, we can arrive at the table below.

Cumulative population for Erzurum, Van and Bitlis (excluding Siirt) provinces:

Estimate made by Muslim Armenian
Year of estimate
Consul Taylor 724,700 290,500 1,130,400 1869 (a)
Berlin project 528,000 1,150,000 1,700,000 1878 (b)
Patriarchate 560,378 563,685 1,120,468 1880 (c)
Patriarchate 280,000 363,500 758,000 1881 (d)
Patriarchate 330,676 392,797 862,959 1881 (d)
Vahan Vardabet 440,500 1879 (e)
Ottomans 844,209
242,894 1,179,875 1890
Consul Lloyd 676,367 274,108 1,043,247 1890
Cuinet 948,684 323,905 1,403,551 1892
1893 census 734,364 250,692
Ottomans 1895
Lynch 626,178 279,596 915,355 c. 1896

It is necessary to give some information about the other figures provided by the British. (a) Taylor was Consul in Erzurum and Diyarbekir, and the figures he obtained were taken from the Blue Book Turkey 15 (1877). (b) Distributed by the Patriarchate at the Berlin Congress. (c) Given to Sir Charles Dilke in July 1880. (d) Given by the Patriarch to the British Consul in 1880 and 1881, and included above. Major Trotter excluded the Alawis and the Poschas from the Erzurum figures. (e) Given by Vahan Vardabet, an agent in the services of the Patriarchate, to Major Trotter.

The differences in the four sets of figures which are given sequentially by the Patriarchate, together with the differences between these figures and the other estimates, speak for themselves. Above, the numbers (3,4,5) which Major Trotter refers to in his letter to the British Ambassador are the three separate estimates of the Patriarchate.

(g) The province of Diyarbekir

We have compiled the list below by adding the figures we have subtracted from Bitlis (to be able to compare them with the figures of the Patriarch and Major Trotter) to the figures for Diyarbekir. The additions have been made to the figures given by Cuinet and Consul Lloyd, to the Ottomans’ 1890 and 1895 estimates, and to the 1893 census. The others were already given with the additions. Lynch did not give the population of Diyarbekir as a province.

Diyarbekir is not included in the list given by the Patriarchate in and in its 1881 list.

Estimate made by Muslim Armenian
Year of estimate
Patriarch 145,000 88,800 293,800 1880
Ottoman 328,000 76,958 416,082
Ottoman 287,672 79,320 383,220 1890
Lloyd 351,682 90,034 541,580 1890
Cuinet 384,742 101,579 542,238
1893 census 336,689 83,047 438,740
Ottoman 425,351 86,202 532,781 1895

(h) The province of Elaziz

We present below the corresponding figures:

Estimate made by
Muslim Armenian
Total Year of estimate
125,000 158,000 300,000 1880
Patriarch 172,584 107,059 280,163 1881
Ottoman 300,194 74,158 374,352 1890
205,353 81,155 286,508 1890
Cuinet 505,446 69,718 575,314 1892
1893 census 300,188 79,974 381,346 1890s
Ottoman 494,881 84,422 579,303 1895
Lynch 182,000 93,000 276,756 c. 1896

(i) The province of Sivas

The figures we have are as follows:

Estimate made by Muslim
Year of estimate
Patriarch 388,218 199,245 605,063 1880
Patriarch 694,425 243,515
945,081 1881
Ottoman 735,489
116,712 892,201 1890
Cuinet 859,514 170,433 1,086,015 1892
1893 census 766,558 118,191
926,671 1890s
Ottoman 801,630 131,361
971,981 1895

(j) Total Armenian population

These are the six provinces. However, the Patriarch also included Halep, for some reason. Therefore we give the figures for the province of Halep:

Estimate made by Muslim Armenian Total
Year of estimate
Patriarch 135,000 90,000 342,500 1880
Cuinet 792,449 37,999 995,758
1893 census 684,599 61,489 787,714 1890s

Now, if we summarize the Armenian population of the six provinces, we obtain the following table. (We have taken the highest of the estimates made by the Patriarch and the Ottomans. In the other estimates, we have shown both the highest and the lowest figures.)

Ottoman Highest Lowest
Erzurum 215,177 121,935 134,967 (Cuinet) 106,768 (Lynch)
Van, Bitlis 348,500 140,854 168,938 (Cuinet) 164,620 (Lloyd)
Diyarbekir 88,800 86,202 101,579 (Cuinet) 90,034 (Lloyd)
Elaziz 158,000 84,422 93,000 (Lynch) 69,718 (Cuinet)
Sivas 243,515 131,361 170,433 (Cuinet) 170,433 (Cuinet)
Total 1,053,992 564,774 668,917 601,573

The mean of the highest and the lowest figures from the other sources is 635,245.

In view of the explanation given above about the figures of the Patriarchate, we can conclude that the Armenian population of the six provinces for the years 1895—6 was between 565,000 and 635,000.

As we can compute the general Armenian population of Turkey as 1,300,000, we can accept the Armenian population outside the six provinces as between 665,000 and 735,000.

If this population we have given for the years 1895—6 had been able to increase at a normal rate, it would naturally have attained a higher figure. However, owing to the emigration which occurred after the 1895—6 revolts, upon which all Armenian writers agree, the fact that this emigration increased after the Balkan wars, and the population living in the areas which Turkey lost between 1896 and 1914, the population in 1914 remained around 1,300,000.

We present below the provinces and independent sanjaks which, according to the official Ottoman statistics, had an Armenian population of at least 1,000 in 1914:

Province of Istanbul 84,093
Province of Edirne 19,888
Province of Adana 57,686
Province of Aydin 20,766
Province of Halep 49,486
Province of Ankara 53,957
Province of Beirut 5,288
Province of Bitlis 119,132
Province of Bursa 61,191
Province of Katamonu 8,959
Province of Diyarbekir 73,226
Province of Erzurum 136,618
Province of Konya 13,225
Province of Elaziz 87,864
Province of Sivas 151,674
Province of Syria 2,533
Province of Trabzon 40,237
Province of Van 67,792
Sanjak of Bolou 2,972
Sanjak of Janik 28,576
Sanjak of Eskishehir 8,807
Sanjak of Izmit 57,789
Sanjak of Jerusalem 3,043
Sanjak of Kayseri 52,192
Sanjak of Kalei Sultaniye (Chanakkale) 2,541
Sanjak of Kara Hisari Sahip 7,448
Sanjak of Karasi (Balikesir) 8,704
Sanjak of Kutahya 4,548
Sanjak of Marash 38,433
Sanjak of Nigde 5,705
Sanjak of Urfa 18,370

Places having a population less than 1,000 are the Sanjaks of Antalya (630), Ichili (341), Menteshe (12), Chatalja (842), and Zor (283). When these are added to the above figures, we obtain a total Armenian population of 1,294,851, which is 6.9 per cent of the total population of the State of 18,520,016.

5. The 1877—8 Russian war and the Berlin Congress

This war that began on 24 April was the shortest war between Ottomans and Russians, and the one with the hardest consequences. It is for this reason that it was recorded in Ottoman history as the 93 disaster, using the Muslim calendar.
With the declaration of war, Russian armies attacked under the command of Loris Melikof, of Armenian origin, on the eastern front. Before the commander of the eastern front, Ghazi Ahmet Mukhtar Pasha, had made the necessary military arrangements, Bayazit, which was defenceless, was invaded by the Russians on 30 April and Ardakhan fell on 17 May.

The Russian forces engaged in the first battle with the forces of Ahmet Mukhtar Pasha on 21 June, and retreated. The battle in Zivin, too, was won by Ahmet Mukhtar Pasha. After a short waiting period, on 24 August Ahmet Mukhtar Pasha attacked the Russian forces, who were attempting to block the road between Kars and Erzurum, won the battle of Gedikier, and forced the Russians to retreat. The battle of Yahniler, which started with a counter-attack by the Russians on 2 October, ended with the victory of the Turks after three days. However, Russian forces who attacked again on 15 November from Alajadagh could not be stopped this time. Ahmet Mukhtar Pasha was forced to retreat to Erzurum, and Kars fell on 18th November.

The Russians advanced up to Erzurum, but Erzurum resisted until the end of the war, and the Russian soldiers entered the city only eight days after the truce. Likewise, Batum was opened to the Russians only after the truce, according to the stipulation of the truce.

On the western front, the war ended on 31 January 1878 with the truce made in Edirne, as the Ottomans requested peace after Plevne fell and the road to Istanbul was opened to the Russians. The terms of peace were established in Ayastefanos (Yeshilkeuy). There was no clause in the truce concerning Armenians.

Whatever happened, happened between 31 January, when the Edirne Truce was signed, and 3 March, when the Ayastefanos (San Stefano) Treaty was signed.

It is known that Armenians engaged in extensive activities after the 18 December meeting where they annulled the decision to take part in the war. We can summarize the activities they engaged in as follows.[60]

It is understood that the Istanbul Patriarchate sent a letter of complaint to the Foreign Minister of each of the great powers before the end of the war, and that the Russian Armenians asked the Russian government to help the Armenians in Turkey.

When the war ended with the Edirne Truce, it was decided in a secret meeting held by the Armenian National Assembly that a memorandum should be sent to the Etchmiadzin Catholicate, to be submitted to the Tsar. According to Esat Uras, who cites an Armenian author named Saruhan, a request based on three possibilities was made to the Tsar: (1) that the regions up to the Euphrates be united with Ararat, and that they be part of Russia; (2) if no land annexation is to take place, then the privileges to be given to the Bulgarian nation be given also to the Armenian nation; (3) that the occupied lands be not vacated until the reform to be made is completed. (We have not found such information in the sources we have obtained. Because the annexation of the eastern provinces to Russia was not in the interest of the Armenians, we can assume that it was aimed at strengthening the second and third requests which were essential.)

It was also decided in the Armenian Assembly that a delegation should be sent to the Edirne Pact talks, and that a petition should be given to the Tsar and the Russian Prime Minister. It was requested in this petition, dated 1/13 February 1878, which is said to be included in Leo’s book entitled Documents of the Armenian question (Tiflis, 1916), that the rights granted to the Christians in Roumelia be also given to them. It is apparent that the Catholicos did not approve of the subject of annexing the eastern provinces to Russia, and even of the request made to the Russians; this is reasonable because of the general conduct of the Armenian Church.

Despite all these efforts, an article about the Armenians could not be obtained in the Edirne Truce agreement.

When the peace talks started in Ayastefanos, the Patriarch, again not to be left out, went to the Russian headquarters and personally requested from Archduke Nicholas that a paragraph concerning Armenians be included in the pact. (Although it is recorded in all Armenian sources that it was requested that the headquarters of Archduke Nicholas intervene, it is not mentioned that the Patriarch himself went to the headquarters to make the request.)

This time the Armenian Church was successful in its efforts, since the 16th paragraph provided that improvements and reforms required by local needs should be implemented in areas inhabited by the Armenians, that their security should be guaranteed, and that the evacuation by the Russian army of the territories which it occupied in Armenia, and which were to be returned to Turkey, should not begin until these measures had been put into effect.[61]

The Armenians did not obtain autonomy through this article. If the article that stipulated that the evacuation of the provinces was dependent upon reforms had not been changed in the Berlin Congress, then maybe it would not have been possible to take back, besides Batum, Kars, and Ardakhan, the areas up to Erzurum which were under Russian occupation, and then the Armenians living in those provinces might have fallen under Russian rule. Whether they would have been pleased with such a situation is another matter.

Even Russia did not think that the Ayastefanos Treaty would remain as it was signed. Actually, the signed document was called ‘Mukaddemat-i Sulhiyye’, a preliminary peace agreement.

As soon as the terms of this agreement were made public, Austria and Britain objected to it, with France naturally joining them. Finally, it was decided on Bismarck’s initiative that a new congress should meet in Berlin. The Congress met on 13 June, and the Berlin Treaty was signed on 13 July.

The Armenians did not remain idle between 3 March, when the Ayastefanos Treaty was signed, and 13 June, when the Berlin Congress met.

On 17 March, the Patriarch paid a visit to the British Consul in Istanbul. We summarize below the telegram sent by the British Consul Layard, which reports the statements made by the Patriarch during this visit, and his request that the Ottoman authorities should not hear of it.[62]

The Patriarch stated that last year they had had nothing to complain of in the Turkish administration, that they had preferred to remain under Ottoman rule instead of becoming part of Russia, and that they had even decided to go to war. However, after the Russian victory became certain, and moreover, it became known that some of the eastern provinces would be given to Russia, the situation changed. He stated that now the Armenians were very angry towards him, because he had previously adopted an anti-Russian stand, and that they might even stone him. (This report of Layard is sufficient to destroy all the Armenian claims, and the statements of the Patriarch must constitute a sufficient confession.)

The Patriarch, continuing his remarks, stated that the Armenians were determined to pursue their rights, that they demanded the same laws as the other Christian communities, that if they could not obtain these demands through the intervention of Europe, then they would turn to Russia, and that they would continue their agitation until their annexation by Russia, and he requested patronage for the establishment of an autonomous Armenia.

During this meeting, Layard asked the Patriarch what he meant by ‘Armenia’. According to the Patriarch, ‘Armenia’ would include the pashaliks of Van and Sivas, most of Diyarbekir, and the old kingdom of Cilicia. As Layard stated that the overwhelming majority of the population of the region was Muslim, the Patriarch agreed, but stated that the Muslims, too, were not pleased with the present administration, and for this reason they would prefer a Christian government. As Layard expressed his doubt about the feasibility of such a project, the Patriarch asserted that if the rightful demands of Armenians went unheeded, then the whole area in question would rebel against the Turkish administration, and would be annexed by Russia.

This very important document clearly reveals Armenian intentions. Obviously, in view of these declarations made by Patriarch Nerses, it is unnecessary to look for other explanations for the Armenian rebellions that started later.

In his report, which we have summarized, Layard also mentioned the existence of serious intrigues which drove the Armenians to adopt such a stance, that an autonomous Armenia would sooner or later fall into the hands of Russia, and that if Russia were to have borders with Syria, this would not be in England’s interest.

In his second report,[63] Layard stated that an Armenian who had held an important position in the Babiali had told him confldentially that the prominent leaders of the Armenian community were preparing a constitution for an autonomous Armenian province which they would present at Berlin, and that if their demands were not accepted, then they were determined to continue their agitation until they were accepted.

As a matter of fact, the Armenians did bring such a document to the Congress. Consequently. there is no reason to doubt that the second part of the warning, that is the rebellions, which cost many lives, were already being planned at that time.

The Patriarchate did not undertake these initiatives only in Istanbul. It also made efforts at the level of the great powers which were to participate in the Berlin Congress. The former Patriarch Hrimyan and Archbishop Horen Narbey were sent with the same intention to Paris and London, and Horen Narbey went to Russia and was received by the Tsar.

The former representative of the khedivate of Egypt, Noubar Pasha (the father of Noubar Pasha who presided over the Armenian delegations during the Sevres and Lausanne talks), was also a member of this delegation at least during the meetings in France, for he paid a visit to the British Consul in Paris, Lord Lyons, with the delegation.[64]

When the Berlin Congress met, the Patriarch, too, wanted to go to Berlin. When he was not allowed to go, Hrimyan and Narbey, who were still in Europe, went to Berlin on 13 June. This delegation submitted to the Congress the proposals which they had prepared for the establishment in Turkey of an Armenia. The text of these proposals has been included in various sources.[65] We present here the text as translated into Turkish by Esat Uras:

The organization proposals for the Armenia of Turkey submitted to the Berlin Congress by the delegation of Armenian representatives.


According to the enclosed map, Ottoman Armenia includes the provinces of Erzerum and Van, the northern part of Diyarbekir, that is the northern part of the sanjak of Harput, and in the west by taking the Euphrates as the border, the sanjak of Ergani, the northern parts of Siirt — which form the Turkish part of Great Armenia — and the harbour of Rize which lies between Trabzon and Batum, and which is necessary for commerce and export.

Armenia shall be administered by an Armenian vali [governor of a province] appointed by the Babiali, on condition that this appointment be approved by the guarantor countries, and the Vali shall reside in Erzurum.

The governor shall possess all the authority of the executive powers, shall be responsible for keeping order within the entire province, shall ensure the collection of taxes, and shall appoint the administration officers under his responsibility. He shall select and appoint the judges, shall convene the general assembly and preside over it, and shall look after the administrative branches of the province.

The governor-general, who shall be appointed for a period of five years, may be removed from his position during these five years only by agreement with the guarantor countries.

The province shall have a central administrative assembly which shall be presided over by the governor-general. Its members shall include: 1) Director of Finances, 2) Director of Public Works, 3) a judicial consultant, 4) Commander of Public Security, 5) Inspector of Christian schools, 6) Muslim Inspector. This latter shall be appointed by the governor-general with the approval of the Cadi.

The province shall be divided into sanjaks, which shall be further divided into kazas. The governors of the sanjaks and the kaymakams [the head officials of the kazas] shall be appointed by the governor-general. They shall represent the governor-general in the administrative divisions of the province. Advisors who shall be appointed by the governor-general shall help them in administrative matters.


Because the maintenance of order and public security shall be the responsibility of the province, only 20 per cent of the general revenues of the province shall be given every year to the State Treasury.

After the necessary allowance has been reserved from the remaining income of the province, for the civil service, the judicial organization, the gendarmerie, and the militia, the remaining sum shall be allocated in the following way: 80 per cent for the building and maintenance of roads and public utility works; 20 per cent for the construction, repair, and maintenance of schools; after the allowance has been reserved for institutions of higher education, the remaining portion shall be distributed to Christian and Muslim schools, in proportion to the number of members of every sect in every city.


A religious court leader shall be appointed by the Sultan, to inspect all the religious courts within the province. Canonical law courts shall only deal with cases among Muslims.

All legal, commerce, and murder cases shall be dealt with in regular courts, whether they have occurred among Christians, or between Muslims and Christians. These courts shall be formed of three judges one of which shall be president.

The governor-general shall appoint the judges and the president of these courts. Petty offences shall be handled by the head officials of the counties and the advisors. The organization of regular and religious courts, their jurisprudence and authority, shall be established by special statutes and regulations. Legal codes and criminal law shall be established according to the most recent legal principles in Europe.


Absolute freedom shall be granted for religions and sects.

The administration of religious institutions and the employment of priests shall be the responsibility of every subdistrict.


The provincial public security force shall be formed by: 1) the gendarmerie, 2) the volunteer body. The volunteer soldiers shall be Armenians and individuals who have lived in the province for at least five years. Kurds, Circassians, and other nomadic tribes shall be excluded from this organization.

The gendarmerie shall be responsible for keeping order and maintaining it within the entire province.

The gendarmerie shall be headed by a commander appointed by the governor-general with the approval of the commander of the provincial military forces and the gendarmerie shall immediately be brought under his orders.

The volunteer soldiers shall be under the command of the commander of the provincial military forces and shall have the duty of helping the gendarmerie. The police force shall be composed of four thousand armed soldiers, and the Ottoman government shall not have the authority to send them, as in the case of other soldiers, to fortified areas of the province.


The general assembly shall be formed in the following way:

Each county shall have two representatives, from each community, chosen by the Christian and Muslim inhabitants. These representatives shall meet in the centre of the sanjak and shall elect two representatives from each community, one representing the Muslim, and the other representing the Armenian community. They shall elect and be elected in an equal manner:

1. Those who are at least 25 years old, and have an income, or those inhabitants of the province who pay any amount of direct taxes.

2. Spiritual leaders and priests belonging to various creeds.

3. Teachers and lecturers.

Each leader of congregations belonging to recognized religions (one from each sect) shall be members of the assembly.

The assembly shall meet once a year in the provincial capital and shall examine the budget of the province, and establish the setting and distribution of taxes. The governor-general shall submit each year a report about the fiscal matters of the province to the assembly. The procedure for the setting and distribution of taxes shall be altered with the aim of increasing the wealth of the inhabitants of the province.

Every five years, the governor-general and the assembly shall fix together the amount of money to be given to the Babiali, in accordance with the above articles.


Within three months of signing the Protocol, an international commission shall be formed by the guarantor countries to supervise the paragraphs of this regulation which will be put into effect.

[A schedule was added, showing the population:]

The provinces of Erzurum and Van are excluded from the areas which were decided to be given to Russia in the Ayastefanos Pact. The densely populated centres of these provinces are: Baybourt, Erzinjan, Malazgirt, Mush, Bitlis, and Van. The population has been reported as 2,066,000. When we subtract from this figure the population of areas which have been relinquished to Russia, which is 366,000, we obtain the figure of 1,700,000.

The distribution of this population in various communities is:

Armenian 1,150,000
Turk 400,000
Nomadic Kurd 80,000
Zazas or Dimbiliks having their own dialects 35,000
The Yazidis who worship the sun, who have their own dialects, and who are for the most part nomads 13,000
Nomadic Gypsies 3,000
Greeks and Jews 5,000
Assyrians 14,000

There are 109 churches in these two provinces.

The densely populated centres of the northern part of Diyarbekir, that is the eastern part of the sanjak of Harput (the beginning of the border is the west bank of the Euphrates), the sanjak of Ergani, and the northern part of the sanjak of Siirt, are: Harput, Eghin, Chimishkezek, Palu, and Siirt. The population of this region is:

According to the official yearbook 664,300
Less the number to remain in
the province

Its distribution according to the various communities:

Armenian 180,000
Turk 130,000
Nomadic Kurds 40,000
Zazas 2,300
Yazidis 2,000
Assyrians, Chaldonians 8,000

There are 48 churches in this province.

                                                             General List
Provinces Armenian Turk Kurd
Assyrian Zaza 
Erzurum, Van 1,150,000 400,000 80,000 5,000
14,000 35,000 13,000
The northern part of Diyarbekir 180,000 130,000
8,000 2,000 2,000
  1,330,000 530,000 120,000 5,000 22,000 37,000 

There are 3,000 Gypsies in Erzurum and Van.

Armenian 1,330,000
Turk 530,000
Kurd 120,000
Other 82,000

The Patriarch visited the British Consul in Istanbul again on 30 July. After having stated that they had submitted their proposals to the Congress, he asked for British support.[66]

The fact that the request of the Armenians was not handled at the Berlin Congress in the way and to the extent that they had wished was due to the attitude ofthe British. On 4 June 1878, an agreement of two paragraphs had been made between the British Consul Mr Layard and the Ottoman Foreign Minister Saffet Pasha. According to the first article of this agreement, in the event of a Russian attempt to invade some areas of Anatolia other than the sanjaks of Batum, Kars, and Ardakhan, Britain would provide the Turks with military aid, and the Turks would engage in reforms in the eastern provinces. Meanwhile, Cyprus was left to be occupied by the British, to facilitate the military aid which Britain would be providing. According to the second article, the ratifications of the agreement would be exchanged in a month.

Through this agreement, Britain took on the responsibility of guaranteeing the implementation of reforms that would benefit the Armenians. Because of this agreement, Russia followed a policy of not advocating reforms, and even of hindering them, with the aim that the Armenians would be disappointed in the British, and would then turn towards Russia.

The request of the Armenians was examined at the Berlin Congress for the first time on 4 July 1878. (The Conference lasted for thirty-one days, and during this time twenty sessions were held.) However, the discussion did not start with the Armenian request, but with a proposal by the British delegate Lord Salisbury asking that the 16th article of Ayastefanos be modified, and that the stipulation that the evacuation be dependent upon the reforms be annulled.

More discussions took place on 6 July, and on 8 July a new text replacing the 16th article of Ayastefanos was accepted.

This new text, which was the 61st article of the Berlin Congress, stated: ‘The Babiali engages itself to put into effect, without delay, the reforms and reorganization needed by the Armenians, due to the local conditions of the provinces which they inhabit, and to protect their security and peace against the Kurds and the Circassians. It shall report the preventive measures it will be taking on this subject to the powers, as the need arises, and the powers shall supervise the application of these measures.’

According to the Berlin Treaty, Russia would keep, in the east, the sanjaks of Batum, Kars, and Ardakhan, but would return the sanjak of Bayazit; moreover, it was decreed that the fortifications of Batum, which was to become a free harbour, would be demolished. In addition the area of Kotur was relinquished to Iran.

The 62nd paragraph of the Berlin Treaty is worth remembering. This paragraph decreed that freedom to worship and to belong to a sect would continue absolutely, that changing one’s religion or sect would not entail a change in other rights, that anyone, regardless of his religion or sect, could be a witness in court, and that the Consuls in the Ottoman Empire would have the right to officially protect religious institutions and charities.

It is clear that the Armenians would also take advantage of this decree.

The Patriarch paid another visit to the British Consul on 10 July. We do not think he was aware of the situation in Berlin, considering the limited means of communication of that time. During his visit, the Patriarch stated that the Armenians had been unable to persuade the Congress to accept their proposals, and requested that, at least, an article should be included in the agreement, that they would benefit from the protection of foreign powers when the need arose.[67]

In spite of all their efforts, the Armenians left the Berlin Congress without having obtained the autonomy of Armenia. According to a rumour, as the delegation left Berlin it made a protest, and stated that its request had gone unheeded because the Armenians were a peaceful nation, that this was a good lesson for them, and that they would return having learned their lesson.

Armenian autonomy was not obtained at Berlin. However, the Armenian question was established in international politics as the last question concerning non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire and while the Congress was still continuing, a Russian wing was formed among the Istanbul Armenians.
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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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