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The Stuation of the Armenians in Turkey up the Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-1878 Esat URAS*
OTTOMAN ARCHIVES YILDIZ COLLECTION THE ARMENIAN QUESTION II-POLITICAL DVELOPMENTS AFTER THE TALOR? INCIDENTS
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After the conquest of Istanbul, Sultan Mehmet, entirely on his own initiative, brought Hovakim, the spiritual head of the Armenians in Bursa, to Istanbul and established an Armenian Patriarchate administered by the Armenians alongside that administered by the Greeks.
The duty of the patriarch was to supervise the religious and social aspects of the millet, investigate complaints, administer the lands and properties belonging to the millet and collect taxes. Hovakim’s official title was “Patriarch of the Armenians of all Turkey”. Later, the Istanbul Patriarchs began to play an important role in political affairs. The Patriarchate was recognized by foreigners as a national and political institution and, as we shall see later, the Armenian question emerged mainly as a result of the activities of the Istanbul Patriarchate.
The Armenians who followed Hovakim to Istanbul settled in various parts of the city, such as Kumkap?, Yenikap?, Samatya, Narl?kap?, Edirnekap? and Balat Kap?s?, otherwise known as the Karagümrük odalar?, the Malta odalar?, the Çar?amba odalar?, the Ayakap? the Kömürcü odalar? and the Ah?rkap? odalar?. When Kefe was captured by the Ottoman army in 1475 a number of Armenians were brought to Istanbul and settled in Salma Tomruk and Edirnekap?.
In 1479 Sultan Mehmet transferred the Armenian population of Karaman to Istanbul and settled them in Samatya. Until the 19th century the firmans issued by the Istanbul Patriarchate bore the official title “Patriarch of the six congregatations”. Before this, Sultan Selim I had brought a number of Armenian crallsmen to Istanbul from Tabriz following his Çald?ran campaign. In the three and a half centuries between the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror and that of Mahmud II there was no interference whatsoever in the religious or social affairs of the Christians in general and the Armenians in particular. The communities possessed their own law-courts and prisons. They could inflict corporal punishment and sentence to exile.
Until the Nizamname-i Millet-i Ermeniyan (Constitution of the Armenian Community) of 1860, the Patriarch possessed powers, based on his authority deriving from his status as Catholicos, to dismiss spiritual leaders, forbid the performance of religious rites, divest of priestly office, and even to have beards shaven. Certain individuals were responsible to the sublime Porte for the cofrection of taxes, for giving legal and penal decisions in court, for performing marriage ceremonies and for ordering individual corporal punishment.
The Ottoman Armenians lived tranquil and contented lives in Turkey, engaging mainly in commerce and industry. Their exemption from military service led to a steady increase in the Armenian population, and their social life showed continual development.
According to Varandian: “The Turkish Armenian as much more advanced and much freer with regard to his national culture, language, history and literature than his Russian counterpart. At the beginning of the 19th century the idea of an Armenian nation was quite unknown in Europe. The Europeans knew only the Armenians of Istanbul They tended to look upon the Armenians as merchants scattered around the world, thinking only of their own profit, and resembling the Jews as homeless wanderers without permanent home or country”
In the 19th century Turkey the Armenians led a very comfortable life engaged in commerce and arts and crafts. They were also to be found in state employment, as, for example, the Dadyan family during the reign of Selim III, and the Duz O?ullar?, Balyan family, and Kazaz Artin under Mahmut II. At the beginning of the present century the Armenian elite, known as the Amira, a wealthy urban aristocracy of bankers, merchants and government servants, played a very important role in the development of Armenian society. They founded schools, printing-houses and libraries, and at the same time sent a number of young Armenians to European schools and universities for further education or vocational training. The Armenians under Russian administration enjoyed none of these opportunities. But such activity was later to prove to Turkey’s disadvantage.
Again according to Varandian: “Turkish administration was weak and ineffcient. Ambitious, well-educated Armenians could not ignore the rise of other nations and communities. While the Catholicos Nerses and other Caucasion leaders were fighting against the Persians, the Armenians in Turkey preferred to exploit the peace and prosperity bequeathed by the sick man of Europe. They saw the Greeks, who had been their neighbours for centuries, struggling to liberate themselves from Turkish oppression, and they themselves began to take a first few timid steps”
In 1839 Sultan Abdul Mecit proclaimed the Hatt-i ?erif of Gülhane, an imperial edict declaring the equality of all Ottoman subjects regardless of race or religion and guaranteeing security of life and property for all. Discrimination between Moslems and Christians was abolished. The Islahat Ferman? (Reform Edict) of 1856 confirmed the privileges granted to the Patriarchs. The edict of 1839 had opened the way for the development of the Armenian millet, and, under the veil of equality, a class war began among the Armenians themselves, with the middle-class merchant rebelling against the Amira in an attempt to break their influence in millet affairs.
The Mekhitarist-Mudaian School was founded in Paris, and it was here that many of the young Armenians who were later to lead the Armenian movement were given an education that comprised training not only in cultural but also in political leadership. The graduates were later to apply, in a more radical manner, the conclusions reached by the Western revolutionaries and to act as advanceguards of their nation.
During the Tanzimat or “period of reform” the revival of Armenia was confined to a very slow progress in the fields of literature and education. In 1717 a priest, Mekhitar of Sivas, founded a national Armenian association at San Lazzaro in Venice, and the Catholic Mekhitarists began to exert great influence on the Armenians known as Gregorian who followed the true Armenian faith. Those trained in their institutions were to engage in work of great importance.
According to Saruhan: “The movement was led, not by the ordinary people, but by young intellectuals who had graduated from the Usküdar College or Galatasaray Lycée in Istanbul, the Mekhitarist institutions in Paris and Venice and the Gabriel Ayvazovski (Oriental) School in Paris. In 1846 a group of these intellectuals founded a nationalist association, to which young Gregorian and Catholic Armenians also belonged. A very important role in the movement was played by Protestant missionaries (Armenian Bible Society). Some of the young members had witnessed the French revolution of 1848, and on 21 October 1853 these founded an “Education Committee” which opened new schools and prepared curricula and regulations. It was this committee that drew up the Armenian Constitution.
In this connection it would be useful to touch upon Gregorian-Catholic Armenian relations and the rise of Catholicism.
As we have already pointed out, the Armenians had rejected the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon and insisted upon the “single nature” of Christ. These Armenians were known as “Gregorian”. At the same time, Catholic propaganda began to be propagated among the Armenians in Turkey. This first appeared in 1641 at the time of the transfer of the Patriarchate from Samatya to Kumkap?. A Latin priest by the name of Father Clement Galano gathered the Armenian children in Galata and gave them lessons. This met with an angry reaction from the Istanbul Armenians and Galano and his colleagues were obliged to flee the country. In 1688 Catholic priests settled in Tercan, Hasankale, Gümü?hane, Kars, Ispir, Bayburt and Trabzon and began to engage in propagandizing. In 1701-1702 a number of Armenians accepted Roman Catholicism; but, as the Catholic priests had no official status, marriage and burial rites were performed by the Armenian priests while confession and religious services were performed by the Catholics.
In 1810 the Armenian Catholics presented five proposals to the Patriarchate, declaring that if these were accepted they were prepared to join the Armenian Gregorian church. The iniative proved abortive, the Gregorian church refusing to accept two of the basic proposals:
1. That the name of the Armenian Catholicoi who had fought against the Popes should not be read during the religious service.
2. That the Synod of Chalcedon should not be anathematized and excommunicated during the conferring of religious degrees.
The Pope sent a bishop to the Catholic Armenians, upon which the Orthodox Armenians, seeing this as boding ill for the future, endeavoured to unite in an effort to halt the spread of Catholicism. This, too, proved abortive. In 1819 liturgical objects and ecclesiastical ornaments were discovered in the house of Duzyan, the Minister of the Mint. Discussions were begun between Armenian leaders headed by the Patriarch and the leaders of the Catholics, and union once again appeared on the agenda. The Gregorian Armenians objected, claiming that this lay outside the bounds of the Patriarch’s authority.
In any case, the proposal of union was accepted only by the Venetians, being rejected by the Armenians from Lebanon, Ankara and other places.
This was followed by a long series of provocations, incitements and conflict, until finally in 1830 and upon French intervention, the Armenian Catholics were accepted as an offical millet by Sultan Mahmut II and an Armenian bishop by the name of Andon Nuridjian appointed the first Catholic Marhasa. The fact that Andon Nuridjan was of Austrian nationality made official government recognition impossible, and finally, on 22 December 1831, a priest by the name of Hapogos Chukurian was appointed Catholic Armenian Patriarch. The seat of the Patriarchate was centred first in Adana and then in the Zimmar Monastery on Mount Lebanon. In 1866 the Catholic bishop Andon Hassun was chosen Zimmar Catholic Patriarch. For some time there was great deal of conflict and confusion, but finally the offices of Bishop and Patriarch were united and the seat of the Catholic Patriarchate was centred in Istanbul.
The Protestant Representation: In 1828 a group of American missionaries began attempts to convert the Armenians to Protestantism. These missionaries settled in Istanbul and Izmir where they opened free schools for the children, public evening classes, and places of worship. They had the Bible translated into the vernacular and freely distributed.
In 1846 an Istanbul Protestant Congregation Executive Committee was set up under the chairmanship of Abraham Utudjan with the support and encouragement of the British Embassy. A decree of 1850 granted them the right to elect a millet reisi (head of the millet) and accorded official reognition to the Protestant millet. Their leaders were officialy known as Milletvekili (representative of the millet.)
NATIONAL CONSTITUTION OF THE ARMENIANS IN THE TURKISH EMPIRE
The administration of the religious and social affairs of the Armenian community and all matters relating to schools and associations was entrusted by firman to the Patriarchates.
The constitution finally drawn up after lengthy discussion and argument in general assemblies held in the Patriarchate in 1857, 1859 and 1860, included articles of great importance and advantage for the Armenian community.
An imperial edict of 29 December 1841 confirmed the establishment of an elected council of twenty-seven tradesmen in control of community affairs, but this lasted for only a short time. On 25 November 1842 Asdvazadur was dismissed from the Patriarchate and succeeded by the Izmir Marhasa Mateos Chubukjian, who ordered the resumption of the interrupted political relations between the Armenians in Turkey and the Catholicos in Etchmniadzin as well as the mention of the name of the Catholicos in church.
In 1847 two assemblies were held in the Patriarchate. The first consisted of fourteen members of the clergy while the second had twenty members, ten amira and ten artisans.
In 1850 a committe was set up to draft a constitution. After delays caused by a number of different reasons the draft was finally sanctioned by the government on 29 March 1862. This was, in effect, the beginning of a new era in the political and social conditions of the Armenians in Turkey, and was of great importance in demonstrating the favourable attitude adopted by the Ottoman government towards them.
Below is quoted the full text of the Armenian National Constitution together with the Introductory Letter of the Sublime Porte and the Report the National Committee and the Committee of the Government:
The Armenian National Constitution
The Sublime Porte,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
To the Prudent Representative of the Patriarch (Locum Tenens)
PRUDENT AND DEAR SIR - The Imperial Firman concerning reforms requires that each community shall take into consideration within a given time the privileges and prerogatives which it enjoys, and, after due counsel, shall decide upon the reforms which are in accordance with the circumstances, the civilisation and the learning of the present time. It shall present a list of such reforms to the Sublime Porte in order that the authority and rights granted to the spiritual heads of each community may be placed in harmony with the position and new conditions secured to each community. In accordance with these behests, the outlines of the Constitution for the Armenian nation have been prepared by a Committee composed of certain honorable persons. But at the same time it has been considered appropriate that the ecclesiastical members of the General Assembly and the delegates of the different Quarters should select by a majority of votes a Committee of seven, to whose consideration the abovementioned project should be submitted. We therefore beg you to despatch within a few days the summons to hold the election of that Committee, and to direct that the Committee shall meet at the sublime Porte the Committee and functionary appointed specially for this purpose. We beg you also to send us the names of the seven persons thus elected.
1862, Feb. 14 (Old style).
Armenia (Signature) ALI
Document Presented to the Sublime Porte by the National Committee and the Committee of the Government
To the Sublime Porte, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Imperial Government has frm ancient times granted to the different nations under its righteous protection privileges and prerogatives for their religious liberty and the special administration of their internal affairs.
These prerogatives are in their principles uniform for all nations, but they are at the same time adapted to the particular religious regulations and customs of each nationality. And each nationality has used and enjoyed them according to its peculiar manners and customs.
The Armenion nation, like other nations, has had to this day a Patriarch, who has been acknowledged by the Government as the President of the Patriarchal Administration, the representative of the nation, and the medium of the execution of Imperial Orders and who from ancient times has been elected from the ecclesiastical body by a General Assembly, composed of individuals representing the different classes of the nation.
The Patriarch in his office, which is to preside over the nation and to watch over its interests, has never been exempt from the influence and supervision of the nation, exerted over him through the General Assembly: The proof of this is that the Patriarch has always invited and convoked the General Assembly, and has applied to that Assembly for a decision when a question has been raised by orders of the Sumblime Porte.
The Armenian nation about two years ago begged of the Imperial Government to have two Assemblies established in the Patriarchate under the presidency of the Patriarch, one religious, the other political, that they might be participators in and auxiliaries of the office of the Patriarch, and that any deviation on the part of the nation from its ancient regulations and customs, both religious and political, might be prevented.
When these assemblies were estalished it became necessary to organise other Councils for the administration of the minor affairs of the nation.
But as the authority and duties of each national officer were not deffinitely defined, it was evident that these efforts to improve the state of affairs in the nation would be the occasion of continual misunderstanding in the different branches of the National Admnistration, as well as between that administration and the nation. This naturally would be the cause of many irregularities in the execution of justice for all concerned, and of confusion and disputes in the National Admnistration.
With the object of doing away with the causes of such confusion and dissension, and with the nuisance of the undue claims of different parties, the Imperial Government, with its paternal solicitude for all its subjects, deems it necessary to organise a National Mixed Committee in order to prepare a Constitution in accordance with the peculiar religious and political customs and long established manners.
Now that Mixed Committee considers it proper according to the outline of the Consitution presented for confirmation to the Sublime Porte:
I. That the office of the Patriarch as the medium between the nation and the Sublime Porte should remain as it was in the old system;
II. That the organisation of the General Assembly should be reformed. The national delegates, instead of being elected by the Esnafs (Artisans) - since the condition of the Esnafs is no longer what it used to be - should be elected by the Committees of churches, that is, by different quarters, in a way that perhaps will be more regular and lawful than the one adopted by the Greeks.
And as Armenians living in the interior of the country rightly complain that they are altogether deprived of participation in the deliberations and decisions of the Patriarchate, a number of the delegates should be elected by the provinces to be added to the number of the delegates of the quarters or section of Constantinople. The ecclesiastical members, twenty of them, should be elected by the clergy in Constantinople, so that the total number of the members of the General Assembly be 140; their term of office should last ten years, and once in every two years the tenth part should be changed, and new elections take place.
The General Assembly should nominate both the Patriarch and the members of the two Assemblies working under his presidency and should have the supervision of their acts,
III. The administration of religious affairs should belong to the Religious Assembly, the administration of Political affairs to the Political Assembly, and that of mixed affairs to the Mixed Assembly, which shall consist of the other two Assemblies together,
IV. The Religious and Political Assemblies should manage through the Sectional and other Councils all national affairs of the church communities (that is to say, the people of different sections or quarters) under their jurisdiction, and the affairs of the churches, schools, hospitals, monasteries, and other similar national institutions.
V. The center of the adimistration should be the National Patriarchate. The Patriarch, as the Official Head of the Patriarchate, should preside both over the General Assembly and over the two National Assemblies, and he should under the inspection of the Genaral Assembly manage all the affairs concerning the nation directly or indirectly,
VI. The administration of provincial communities should be connected with the Central Administration. The Metropolitans should preside over local assemblies which should be organized in the same way as those in Constantinople, and they should be the managers of those local assemblies,
VII. The Provincial Assemblies should be responsible to the Central Administration. Each one of the Councils of this Central administration should be responsible to the Assembly to which it belongs. The National Assemblies should be responsible to the General Assemblies, the Patriarch responsible on the one hand to the Imperial Government and on the other to the nation (through the General Assembly),
VIII. And, inasmuch as the Imperial Goverment considers the Patriarch as the natural medium for the execution of the orders given by it to the nation, and at the same time considers him as the head of the National Administration, and it is to him that it addresses its question, if the Government should command the Patriarch to give his opinion on the question asked, the Patriarch should act according to the decision of the Assemblies under his presidency; but, if he be ordered to communicate to the Government the opinion of the nation, then he should convoke the General Assembly and communicate to the Government the final decision of that Assembly.
IX. The National Administration has three kinds of obligations. First towards the Imperial Government: that is to preserve the nation in perfectly loyal subjection and to secure to the nation in general and to individuals in particular the preservation of their rights and privileges on the part of the Government. The second obligation is to the nation: to treat it in true compassion and in a paternal way. The third is to the see of Edgmiatsin,* to act in accordance with the religious regulations and laws of the Armenian Church.
These are the features in the Constitution which the Mixed Committee considers desirable. These features are approved by the other Committee which was organised according to the orders of your Excefrency, in order to present to the Sublime Porte on behalf of the nation their observations on the Constituton.
Signatures of the members of the Committee of the Sublime Porte - Stephanos, Archbishop of Nicomedia, Representative, of the Patriarch Elect of Constantinople, three Armenian ecclesiastics, and eight notables. Signatures of the members of the National Committee, seven notables.
ORDINANCE OF THE SUBLIME PORTE
To the Prudent Representative of the Patriarch Elect of Constantinople.
The Constitution drawn up by the Committee formed at the Sublime Porte for the reforms of the condition and administration of the Armenian Patriarchate, after having undergone certain modifications concerning secular affairs only, was presented to His Imperial Majesty, and, having been approved by His Imperial Majesty, the Imperial Decree, making a law of the features contained in it, was issued to be handed to your Beatitude.
In enclosing to you the above-mentioned Constitution, we commission you to superintend the perfect execution of those features according to the high will of the August Emperor.
1863, March 17.
The privileges granted by the Ottoman Empire to its non-Mohammedan subjects are in their principles equal for all, but the mode of their execution veries according to the requirements of the particular customs of each nationality.
The Armenian patriarch is the head of his nation, and in particular circumstances the medium of the execution of the orders of the Government. There is, however, in the Patriarchate a Religious Assembly for religious affairs and a Political Assembly for political affairs. In case of necessity these two Assemblies unite and form the Mixed Assembly. Both the Patriarch and the members of these Assemblies are elected in a General Assembly composed of the honourable men of the nation.
As the office and duties of the above Assemblies and the mode of their formation are not deffined by sufficient rules and for this reason different inconveniences and special difficulties in the formation of the General Assembly have been noticed.
As each community is bound according to the new Imperial Edict (Hatti Humayun 6/18 Feb. 1856) to examine within a given time its rights and privileges, and after due deliberation to present to the Sublime Porte the reforms required by the present state of things and the progress of civilisation of our times, As it is necessary to harmonise the authority and power granted to the religious chief of each nationality with the new condition and system secured to each community.
A Committee of some honourable persons of the nation was organised, which Committee prepared for the nation the fofrowing Constitution.
ARMENIAN NATIONAL CONSTITUTION
1. Each individual has obligations towards the nation. The nation, in its turn, has obligations towards each individual. Again, each individual and the nation have their respective rights over one another. Hence the nation and its constituents are bound together by mutual duties, so that the duty of the one is the right of the other.
2. It is the duty of each member of the nation to share according to his means in the expenses of the nation, and to submit to its decision. These duties of the individual are the rights of the nation.
3. The duties of the nation are to care for the moral, intellectual, and material wants of its members, to preserve intact the creed and traditions of the Armenian church, to diffuse equally the knowledge necessary to all men among the children of both sexes and of all classes, to watch over the prosperity of national institutions, to increase the national income in any possible lawful way and wisely to administer the national expenses, to improve the condition of those who have devoted themselves for life to the service of the nation and to secure their future, to provide for the needy, peaceably to adjust the disputes that may arise among the members of the nation - in a word, to labour with self - denial for the progress of the nation. These obligations on the part of the nation are the rights of it members.
4. The authority which is appointed to represent the nation and to supervise and administer the regular performance of these mutual obligations is called the National Administration. To this body is committed by especial permission of the Ottoman Goverment and by virtue of the Constitution, the care of the internal affairs of the Armenians of Turkey.
5. In order that the Administration may be national it should be representative.
6. The foundation of this Representative Administration is the principle of rights and duties, which is the principle of justice. Its strength is to be found in the plurality of voices, which is the principle of legality.
The Central National Administration
I. The Patriarch of Constantinople
His Election and Resignation
Article 1.- The Patriarch of Constantinople is the President of all the National Assemblies and the representative of their executive authority, and in particular circumstances he is the medium of the execution of the orders of the Ottoman Goverment. Hence the person to be elected as Patriarch should be a man worthy of the conffidence and respect of the whole nation, and he should possess all the qualiffications and dignity required by his position. He should belong to that class of bishops who have always been considered as candidates for the office. At the same time he should be worthy of the perfect confidence of the Government, an Ottoman subject beginning at least with his father and above thirty-five years of age.
Article 2.- In case of vacancy of the Patriarchal Throne, in consequence of the death or resignation of the Patriarch, or from any other cause, the Political and Religious Assemblies meet and elect a Representative (locum tenens), and request the Sublime Porte to confirm their choice.
The General Assembly elects the Patriarch, but the Religious and Political Assemblies have the right by a list of candidates to express their opinion in regard to the merits of the candidates.
The election of the Patriarch will take place in the following manner: In the first place the Representative (locum tenens) prepares a list of all the bishops within Ottoman territory, indicating opposite each name their qualifications in the sense of the first article, and presents it to the Religious Assembly. The Religious Assembly convokes a general meeting of ecclesiastics and prepares a list of candidates by secret ballot - that is, each member present writes on a slip of paper the names of all the bishops that he does not consider unfit from a religious point of view. A list of these names is prepared in the order of the number of votes received by each.
The Representative present this list to the Political Assembly. This Assembly, after an investigation into the political merits of the persons indicated, elects by a majority of votes five candidates and presents this list to the General Assembly.
At the same time the first list prepared by the General Religious Assembly should be hung in the hall of the General Assembly. The General Assembly, after learning from these two last the opinions of the competent Assemblies concerning the religious and political qualifications of the candidates, elects the Patriarch by secret ballot and by a majority of the votes.
The General Assembly may give its votes to a person outside the last presented by the Political Assembly, but the name of that person must have been indicated in the list prepared by the General Assembly of the ecclesiastics. No one can be elected whose name is not on that list.
If no majority of votes can be obtained on the first ballot the names of those two who have received the largest number of votes are announced by the Representative to the General Assembly, and the second ballot should be on those two names. For this second ballot those of the national deputies who cannot be present may forward their votes in a sealed and signed letter addressed to the Assembly, or to the Representative, or to the Chairman of the General Assembly.
The counting of votes is done by the officers of the General Assembly in the presence of four ecclesiastical and four lay members of the Assembly who act as inspectors. In case after a second ballot the two candidates receive the same number of votes, then one of them is elected by lot.
Article 3.- After the election a report is prepared, signed by all those present, and it is presented to the Sublime Porte by the Representative, and the election of the Patriarch is confirmed according to the ancient custom by an Imperial edict.
Article 4.- The General Assembly sends a written invitation to the person elected as Patriarch if he be present in the capital, or a special delegate if he be out of Constantinople. On receiving this invitation the newly-elected Patriarch comes to the Patriarchate, and in the Cathedral, in the presence of the General Assembly, takes a solemn oath in the following words: “Before God and in the presence of this National Assembly I publicly vow to remain faithful to the Government and to my nation, and faithfully to see to the maintenance of the National Constitution” Herewith the office of the Representative comes to an end. Upon the invitation of the Sublime Porte the new Patriarch is admitted to the presence of His Majesty the Sultan, his office is formally confirmed, and he visits the Sublime Porte to announce it.
Article 5.- Should the Patriarch act contrary to the rules of the Constitution he is liable to impeachment.
Article 6.- Only the General Assembly and the Political and Religious Assemblies have the right to bring a charge against the Patriarch. The accusing or protesting Assembly, with the permission of the Sublime Porte, asks the Patriarch to convoke the General Assembly.
Should the Patriarch refuse to do so, this fact again is reported to the Sublime Porte, which then issues a permit for the General Assembly to hold a sitting under the Presidency of the oldest bishop in Constantinople.
The General Assembly chooses five of its ecclesiastical and five lay members to constitute a Committee of ten, among whom, however, there shall be none of those who have accused or protested. This Committee, after investigating the charges, gives a report to the General Assembly which decides the question by a secret vote. The documents containing this decision should be signed by all who have voted favour of this decision. If the resignation of the Patriarch be thus decided upon, the two Chairmen of the two Assemblies, accompanied by the presiding bishop wait upon the Patriarch and present to him this document. The patriarch on learning the will of the nation is bound to resign. If however, he do not agree to resign, the matter is reported to the Sublime Porte, which deposes the Patriarch.
Article 7.- The ex-Patriarch after his abdication becomes like one of the diocesan bishops, and the necessary steps will be taken for him by the Mixed Assembly.
Office and Obligations
Article 8.- The duties of the Patriarch are to act according to the principles of the Consitution and to watch diligently over the exact execution of all its points.
The Patriarch refers all business that comes before him to the Assembly to which it belongs for investigation and decision. The takrirs and other official papers of the Patriarch cannot be valid and admissible if they be not also sealed and signed by the Assembly that has given the decision. If there be any urgent business for the consideration of which it might be impossible to await the day of the meeting of the Assembly, or even to convoke an extraordinary meeting, the Patriarch may do what is necessary, taking the responsibility upon himself. But he is bound to make a due record of what he may have done and to present it for confirmation in its next meeting to the Assembly under the jurisdiction of which the case may come.
Article 9.- The Patriarch before signing any papers containing the decisions of the General assembly taken in his absence may make his observations concerning them and submit the case to a second consideration, but after this revision he is bound to sign those papers if he does not find there anything contrary to the requirements of the Consitution.
Article 10.-The Patriarch may propose to the competent Assembly or Council the dismissal of any ecclesiactic, teacher agent of a chucrh, monastery, school, or hospital who has not accordance with the principles of the Constitution.
Article 11.- The Patriarch himself has no right to dissolve and change the Religious and Political Assemblies and the Councils belonging to them, but, if he notice in any of them conduct contrary to the Constitution, first he demands an explanation of the Chairman of the Assembly or the Council. The second time he warns him, but the third time he applies to the General Assembly if the accused be one of the National Assemblies, or to the Political Assembly if he be one of the Councils and, giving his reasons, he proposes the dissolution of the accused Council or Assembly.
Article 12.- The Patriarch having a salary appointed to him from the National Treasury provides himself for the internal expenses of the Patriarchate.
II. The Bureau of the Patriarchate
Article 13.- There will be a Bureau at the Patriarchate for all necessary national documents. This bureau will be divided into three departments:
I. The department of correspondence for the documents sent by the Patriarchate and for those recived there.
II. The department of registration, to arrange the papers belonging to the National Assemblies and Councils.
III. The department of census, to record births, marriages, and deaths. From the last department are issued the papers needed for travelling or other personal transactions: also certificates for births, marriages, and deaths.
Article 14.- The Patriarchal Bureau will have a chief who is responsible for all its transactions. The Political Assembly elects him and the Patriarch nominates him. This chief is also the Secretary of the General Assembly.
It is his duty to see that every year he be supplied with copies of the records of births and deaths both in Constantinople and in the provinces, which records he shall have inscribed in the books of the general census of the Patriarchal Bureau. He should be well versed in the Armenian language, and practised in the French and Turkish languages.
Article 15.- This Bureau will have a sufficient number of 22 Secretaries. These Secretaries also must be well acquainted with the Armenian language, and every one must posses all the necessary qualiffications for his position. Each Secretary is responsible in his department to the Assembly or Council to which he belongs. All of them are responsible to the Chief of the Bureau.
Article 16.- All papers issued at the office of the census must be confirmed by the Patriarchal seal and by the signature of the Chief of the Bureau.
III. The Patriarch of Jerusalem
Article 17.- The Patriarch of Jerusalem occupies for life the Chair of St. James. He is at the same time the manager of all the holy places belonging to the Armenians in Jerusalem, and the President of the brotherhood of the Monastery of St. James.
It is his duty to act in accordance with the regulations of the Monastery of Jerusalem, and to watch over the faithful execution of those regulations.
Article 18.- In case the Patriarch of Jerusalem act contrary in the regulations of his Monastery he will be liable to have a charge brought against him.
Article 19.- A charge can be brought against the Patriarch either by the brotherhood of the Monastery, or by the Religious and political Assemblies of Constantinople.
In such a case the General Assembly is convoked, and, if after an investigation the charge should appear well founded, the General Assembly in accordance with the sixth article concerning the Patriarch of Constantinople, will act as the case rewuires either by sending an admonition to the Patriarch, or by compelling him to abandon his office, when his office will be given over to a Representative whom the General Assembly shall elect from amongst the brotherhood by a secret vote.
Article 20.- In case of the death of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the brotherhood elects one of its members as Representative, and he is confirmed by the National Assemblies.
Article 21.- The Patriarch of Jerusalem is elected by the National Assemblies of Constantinople, but the brotherhood has the right to express its opinion in regard to the merits of candidates. Immediately after the death of the Patriarch, the Representative convokes a general meeting of the brotherhood. This meeting prepares a list of names, just as this as done by the General Religious Assembly of Constantinople for the election of the Patriarch of Constantinople, but the list prepared by the brotherhood should contain at least seven names. This list is signed by the brotherhood and sent to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Article 22.- The person to be elected as Patriarch of Jerusalem should be at least thirty-five years of age, born an Ottoman subject, and a bishop or doctor(vardapet) belonging to the brotherhood, and not separated from it. Persons who, by the consent of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, have been employed by the Assemblies of Constantinople in some national office are not to be considered as having been separated from the brotherhood.
Article 23.-The Mixed Assembly, composed of the Religious and Political Assemblies, examines the merits of the persons indicated in the above-mentioned list, and, choosing three candidates, presents their names to the General Assembly. The list sent by the brotherhood should be kept hung in the hail of the General Assembly.
Taking into consideration the opinions expressed both by the brotherhood and by the two National Assemblies, the General Assembly elects by secret vote, and by the majority of votes, the one whom it regards as the worthiest in respect of learning as well as of good character.
In the General Assembly no votes should be given for any person whose name is not indicated in the list presented by the brotherhood.
IV. National Religious Assembly
Article 24.- The Religious Assembly consists of fourteen worthy ecclesiastics, who should be at lest thirty years old and ordained at least five years ago.
Article 25.- The General Religious Assembly by a secret vote elects three times the number of the members of the National Assembly and signs this list and presents it to the National General Assembly.
The General Assembly by a secret vote elects out of this list the members of the Religious Assembly. The report is presented by the Patriarch to the Sublime Porte, and the members of the Religious Assembly thus elected are confirmed by Imperial edict.
Article 26.-The Religious Assembly is dissolved in a body once in two years, at the end of April, and is reelected in the beginning of May. The members of this Assembly cannot be reelected immediately, but only after the lapse of two years.
Article 27.- When there are as many as three members of this Assembly wanting, either in consequence of resignation or from some other cause, others are elected by the General Assembly to take three places, but until this election shall have taken place the majority of the whole number is to rule.
Article 28.- The Religious Assembly undertakes the general inspection of all the religious affairs of the nation. Its duties are to develop in the nation the religious sentiment, to preserve intact the profession and traditions of the Armenian Church, to promote the good order of churches and ecclesiastics, and to try to improve the present condition of ecclesiastics, and to secure the welfare of their future. It should visit from time to time the national schools and supervise the teaching of the Christian doctrines, in order to educate worthy and active doctors (vardapets) and priests, and when investigating any religious disputes that may arise in the nation, it should decide them according to the laws of the Church.
Article 29.- When the Religious Assembly cannot itself decide a purely religious question, it convokes all the bishops in Constantinople, the preachers of all the churches, the head priests, and if necessary the Metropolitans of the dioceses in the vicinity, to a General Religious Assembly. Should this General Assembly consider the question beyond its juristiction, then the question is referred to the Oecumenical Katholikos (at Edgmiatsin).
Article 30.- All kinds of reports of the Religious Assembly should always be signed by the majority of its members.
Article 31.- The authorisation for ordaining vardapets, whether in Constantinople or in the provinces, is given by the National Religious Assembly. The authorisation for ordaining priests in Constantinople is also given by the same Religious Assembly, and in the provinces by the local Religious Assemblies.
Article 32.- No authorisation for ordaining a new priest is granted until the priests of the church and the Council of the quarter send a written application urging the necessity of such authorisation.
Article 33.- The Religious Assembly elects the preachers (vardapets) for the churches in Constantinople as well as their head priests, and the Patriarch nominates them.
Article 34.-All elections in the Religious Assembly are by secret ballot.
Article 35.- The Religious Assembly should prepare a set of rules with the object of improving the present condition of ecclesiastics, and of securing their future welfare, so that they may perform gratuitously their spiritual affairs.
V. The Political Assembly
Article 36.- The Political Assembly consists of twenty laymen well acquainted with the national affairs and with the laws of the Government.
Article 37.- The members of the Political Assembly are elected by the General Assembly by secret ballot and by a majority of 22 votes, and the report having been presented to the Sublime Porte by the Patriarch they are confirmed in their office by an Imperial edict.
Article 38.- The Political Assembly is dissolved once in two years at the end of April, and the reelection takes place in the beginning of May. The members of this Assembly may be reelected after the lapse of two years, and, though for the first two years they cannot be candidates for the Political Assembly, still they may be employed in any other national office.
Article 39.- If any member of the Political Assembly shall have been absent from the sittings three times successively without sending a written explanation, a letter is sent to him by the Chairman of the Assembly asking for an explanation of his absence. If no answer be received he is notified by a second letter that in case of his absence at the next sitting he will be considered as having resigned.
Article 40.- When there are as many as three members wanting in the Political Asembly either in consequence of resignation or from some other cause, others are elected by the General Assembly to take their places, but until this election shall have taken place the majority of the whole number is to rule.
Article 41.- The Political Assembly undertakes the general superintendence of the political affairs of the nation. Its duties are to promote the good order and progress of the nation, to examine carefully any useful projects presented to its consideration by the Councils under fits inspection and to facilitate their execution.
Article 42.-The Political Assembly refers the questions presented for its consideration to the Councils to which they belong, and it is only after having heard the opinion of those Councils that it can take action. And though it has the right ot refuse for good reasons the decision taken by any of these Councils, yet it cannot by itself make a differentarrangement in regard to the case in question, but it should once more refer it to the same Council. Neither can the Political Assembly change or dissolve any of the National Councils so long as they do not act contrary to the fundamental principles of the Constitution. But in case of a default of this kind the Assembly demands in the first instance an explanation from the chairman of the Council in question. The second time it sends a written warning, and on the third occasion it may change the members of the Council, provided always that it shall explain in its biennial report to the General Assembly its reasons for so doing.
Article 43.- Should the Political Assembly consider the solution of any question presented to its consideration beyond its jurisdiction, it refers such question to General Assembly.
VI. Councils and Committees Organised by the Political Assembly
Article 44.- The political Assembly should organise four Councils for educational, economical, and judicial affairs, and for the inspection of monasteries, and three Committees for financial administration. The term of office of the members of these Councils and Committees is two years, but half of their numbers must be changed at the end of each year. The President of the Judicial Council is the vicar of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
1. The Educational Council
Article 45.- The Educational Council consists of seven well-educated laymen. Its object is the general inspection of the education of the nation. Its duties are to promote good order in the national schools, to help the Societies that have for their object the promotion of the education of both sexes, to improve the condition of teachers and to care for their future, to raise well-qualified teachers and to encourage the preparation of good text-books.
The Educational Council gives certificates to those students who have finished their course in a national school.
It selects the text-books and holds annual examinations. But the supervision of the religious instruction belongs to the Religious Assembly, which Assembly selects the text books for religious learning and the teachers, holds examinations and distributes certificates.
2. The Economical Council
Article 46.- This Council is to consist of seven well-qualified laymen whom the Political Assembly elects by a plurality of votes.
It is to this Council that belongs the general inspection of the financial administration of all national institutions in Constantinople and their properties. It is its duty to watch over the interests of these institutions.
It is its duty to see that each national estate is provided with the proper title-deed. Copies of the title-deeds of all national real estates in the provinces should be kept in the Bureau of the Patriarchate. No selling or buying of national property is allowed without the knowledge of this Council and without the consent of the Political Assembly and the confirmation of such consent by the seal of the Patriarch.
In Constantinople and in its vicinity no national building can be constructed or repaired without the knowledge of this Council and without the consent of the Political Assembly.
It is also the duty of this Council to inspect the financial administration of the Committees on finances, on wills, and on the Hospital, and to examine at certain times the books of the Councils of different quarters, and present a report to the Political Assembly.
Two months before the beginning of a new year it should ascertain from the Committee on finances the incomes and expenses for the coming year, prepare a budget, and present it to the Political Assembly.
3. The Judicial Council
Article 47.- The Judicial Council is composed of eight persons versed in law, married, and at least forty years of age, four of whom should be ecclesiastics, and the other four laymen.
The vicar of the Patriarch is the President of the Judicial Council, and all the members are elected by the Mixed Assembly by the plurality of votes. Tile function of this Council is to settle family disputes, and to examine and decide any questions referred to it for solution by the Sublime Porte.
In case the Judicial Council should consider any question beyond its capacity, then, according to the nature of the question, it recommends that it should be referred to the Political or to the Mixed Assembly. Should any person protest against the decision taken by this Council, the question is examined again by one of the above-mentioned Assemblies as the case may require.
4. Council for Monasteries
Article 48.-The monasteries are the property of the nation. Hence the supervision and control of their administration and the management of their finance belong to the nation.
Inasmuch as it is necessary for each monastery to have its own particular regulations, the Mixed Assembly, consisting of the Political and Religious Assemblies of the Central Administration, with due consideration of the opinions of the brotherhood of each monastery, and of the opinions of the Council for Monasteries, prepares a set of rules and present it to the General Assembly for conffirmation. The fundamental principles for such rules are:
I. The special management of each monastery belongs to its brotherhood, but the right of the general superintendence of them all belongs to the Central Administration, of which the Council for Monasteries is the executive body.
II. The Abbot of each monastery is elected by its brotherhood, and is confirmed by the Patriarch with the consent of the Mixed Assembly of the Central Administration. The person to be elected Abbot should be over thirty years of age, a vardapet (doctor), and a subject of the Ottoman Empire.
III. All monasteries are obliged to promote the moral improvement of the nation. Hence each one, according to its capacity, should have a seminary, a library, a printing office, a hospital, and other similar useful establishments.
The Council for Monasteries is composed of seven persons elected by the Political Assembly by plurality of votes.
Its functions and duties are to superinted the execution of the rules of each monastery, to ascertain the revenues and the expenditure, and to arrange and regulate it all.
This Council elects from the brotherhood of each monastery the managers of the affairs of the monastery. These should perform their duties under the presidency of the Abbot and in accordance with the rules of the monastery, and at stated times should give an account of their doigns to the Council for Monasteries.
5. The Committee of Finance
Article 49.- The Committee on finance consists of seven persons versed in financial affairs, who are elected by the Political Assembly by plurality of votes. Its function is the administration of the National Central Treasury.
The revenues of this Treasury are the general national taxes, the incomes of the Bureau of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the donations or wills to the nation without the specification of a place. Its expenditure consists of the usual expenses of the Patriarchate and its Bureau, the pecuniary aids granted to the national institutions under the immediate care of the Central Admi??istration, and to needy quarters, and other casual expenses. The Committee collects the revenues and dispenses the expenditure with the knowledge of the Council for the general administration of finance and with the consent of the Political Assembly.
It is its duty to keep the accounts of the Treasury according to the strictest rules of book keeping, and periodically to present the budget to the Council of the general administration of finance, which Council, after the necessary examination of it, communicates such budget to the Political Assembly.
6. The Committee on Wills
Article 50.- The Committee on wills consists of seven persons - three ecclesiastics and four laymen - elected by the Mixed Assembly by plurality of votes.
Its function is the management of wills in favour of the nation. Its duties are to superintend the execution of the wills in strict accordance with the object and intention of the makers of the wills.
Special rules for the guidance of this Committee should be prepared by the Mixed Assembly with the aid of this same Committee and the General Committee for finance, and they are to be confirmed by the General Assembly.
This Committee on wills should periodically present its accounts to the General Council of Finance, which Council, after the necessary examination, should communicate its report to the Political Assembly.
Article 51.- The Trustees of the Hospital shall be nine persons elected by the Political Assembly by plurality of votes. Two of these persons should be physicians furnished with diplomas. The duties of these trustees are to manage the National Hospital, its estates and revenues and to administer it with these incomes and with the aids received from the Central Treasury.
This establishment should contain four departments one for the care of the sick who are poor, the second for helpless old men, the third for the insane, the fourth for the education of orphans.
The arrangements and administration of this establishment should always be managed according to medical and hygienic laws.
These trustees are responsible to the General Council of Finances for the financial management of this establishment, and to the Educational Council for the educational department of it and they should furnish periodically an account the these Councils.
VII. Councils of Quarters
Article 52.- These Councils consist of five to twelve members according to the locality. Their duties are the management of the affairs of their quarter, the care of the church and schools, the care of the poor and the investigation and settlement of disputes that may rise among their people.
Article 53.- Each quarter should have a treasury under the management of its Council. The income of this treasury is derived from the tax paid by the people of the quarter, the revenues of the church and lthe school, gifts or wills. It expenses are the expenses of the school and aid given to the poor. These Councils should keep a regular register of all births, marriages, and deaths in their respective quarters.
Article 54.- These Councils are directly responsible to the different Central Councils for their different departments. For the management of schools they are responsible to the Educational Council, for financial affairs to the Council of Finances, for judiciary affairs to the Judiciary Council. They should furnish periodically an account to each one of these Councils.
Article 55.- These Councils are elected by the people of the quarters, and whosoever shall not be deprived (according to the 67th Article of the Constitution) of the right of voting can take part in their election.
Article 56.- The rules to guide these Councils are to be prepared by the Political and Religious Assambles.
The office of these Councils lasts four years. They are changed in the beginning of the fifih year, and their members may be immediately candidates for re-election.
VII. The National General Assembly Its Organisation and Its Duties
Article 57.-The National General Assembly is composed of 140 deputies, of whom
I. One-seventh, that is twenty, are ecclesiastical deputies elected by the ecciesiastics in Constantinople.
II. Two-sevenths, that is forty, are deputies from the provinces.
III. Four-sevenths, that is eighty, are deputies elected by the different quarters in Constantinople.
Article 58.- The members of the Religious and Political Assemblies attend the sittings of the General Assembly, but if they are not elected deputies they have no vote in the General Assembly.
Article 59.- The General Assembly can have no sitting if the majority of its members, that is at least seventy-one persons, be not present.
Article 60.-The functions of the General Assembly are to elect the Patriarchs, to participate in the election of the Katholikos, to elect the chief functionaries of the nation and the members of the Religious and Political Assemblies; to oversee the administration of the National Councils, to settle questions which belong to these Councils but are considered beyond their capacity, and to preserve the National Constitution intact.
Article 61.- The General Assembly will have a sitting:
I. Once in two years, according to the old custom, in the latter part of the month of April, to hear the biennial report of the national Administration, to examine the general account of revenues and expenditures managed by financial functionaries, to elect new members for the Religious and Political Assemblies, to settle the national taxation for the next two years.
These biennial sittings should close within two months. The members of the National Administrative Assemblies who are at the same time deputies in the General Assembly can take part in the discussions in these sittings, but cannot vote in any question except those of taxation and election.
II. To participate in the election of the Katholikos,
III. To elect the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem,
IV. To settle any discord between the Patriarch and the Political or Religious Assemblies. In such cases the parties in discord may take part in the discussions in the General Assembly, but can give no votes,
V. To revise the National Constitution,
Finally, for any question the decision of which belongs to the General Assembly. But in case of such extraordinary sittings notice is given to the Sublime Porte and its consent is previously obtained.
Article 62.- The Patriarch convokes the General Assembly with the consent of the Political or of the Religious Assembly, or even at the request of the majority of the members of the General Assembly. But before convoking such an extraordinary sitting the reasons for it should be explained to the Sublime Porte and its consent obtained.
The Election of Ecclesiastical Deputies
Article 63.- All the ecciesiastics in Constantinople, at the invitation of the Patriarch, come together in a certain place, and by secret voting and by the majority of votes elect the ecclesiastical members of the National General Assembly from bishops, vardapets, and priests; but the candidates should not be holding any officc in the provinces. They should be at least thirty years of age, ordained at least five years ago and under no accusation.
Article 64.- The office of the ecclesiastical deputies lasts ten years, and once in two years the fifth part of them is changed. This fifth part is changed by lot during the first eight years. All those who have ceased to be members either by lot or at the end of the ten years may be reelected immediately. The Election of Lay Deputies - Qualiffications for Candidates and Election
Article 65.-The national tax and personal merits are considered the basis of the right of being electors. In order to have the right of an elector a person should pay annually at least seventy-five piasters as national tax.
Those whose personal merits entitle them to be electors are persons employed in Government bureaux and in other Government offices, physicians with diplomas, authors of useful books, school teachers, persons who have rendered some valuable service to the nation.
Article 66.- Persons who are twenty-five years of age are entitled to be electors, provided they be Ottoman subjects.
Article 67.- The following are deprived of their
I. Those convicted of a crime, who, according to the penal laws of the country, are considered as morally dead.
II. Persons who have been condemned by some National Council for fraud in the administration of national affairs and who have been deprived by a decision of one of these Councils of their right to hold any national office.
III. Those who are undergoing a corrective punishment by the Courts of the Government and whose term is not yet finished.
IV. The insane whose complete recovery is not legally confirmed.
Article 68.- Candidates are all those members of the nation who have attained their thirtieth year, are Ottoman subjects acquainted with the laws of the country and with national affairs, and who are not deprived of their right according to the 67th Article of the Constitution.
But at least seven of the eighty deputies to be elected by the different quarters in Constantinople should be persons holding a certain rank.
The Manner of Election
Article 69.- The National Political and Religious Assemblies, with the Chairmen of different Councils, hold a sitting once every two years, in the first part of the month of February, to prepare the list of the deputies to be elected by the quarters of Constantinople and by the provinces, and with the aid of the general census kept in the Bureau of the patriarchate they decide the number of deputies to be elected by each quarter or by each province, taking as their basis for the quarters in Constantinople the number of the electors, and for the provinces the number of the inhabitants. The number of deputies thus decided upon should be communicated by the Patriarch to each quarter or province.
The office of the deputies lasts ten years, and once in two years the fifth part of the deputies elected by the quarters of Constantinople and by the provinces is changed; the election of this fifth part should take place once in two years by the quarters or by the provinces alternately.
The turn of this alternation should be decided by lot during the first eight years, on condition that in case the number of electors in a quarter or the number of the population in a province is diminished or increased, the number of the deputies to be elected by the quarter or the province in question should be diminished or increased proportionately. Those who are to take the places of the deputies deceased or resigned should be elected every year two months before the beginning of a new year.
The deputies of the quarters should be elected by the inhabitants of Constantinople. But the deputies of the provinces should be elected by the General Assembly of each province.
Article 70.- The deputies of the quarters or of the provinces need not necessarily be the inhabitants of the same quarter or of the same province, provided they live in Constantinople, are well acquainted with the national affairs of the quarter or of the province they represent, and have, by their love for their nation, by their honesty and justice, deserved the esteem and confidence of their electors.
The national deputies are not regarded in the General Assembly as the deputies of any particular locality, but as the deputies of the nation, all enjoying the same equal rights.
Article 71.-The Patriarch sends a communication to every quarter in Constantinople, in the month of February, in regard to the one-fifth of the deputies to be elected by them every two years, giving notice of the number of the deputies to be elected by each one, and reminding them of the qualifications of electors and candidates.
On receiving this communication, the Councils in the quarters undertake the election of the deputies, but during the process of the election the preacher of the quarter, or in his absence the head of the priests, will preside, and from three to six honourable inhabitants of the place are added to the number of the Council.
The Electoral Council thus formed ascertains the number of those who have the right of election in their quarter, prepares in alphabetical order a list of electors, and causes it to be hung for eight days in the Council hail, which is to be kept open during all this time.
The Electoral Council, in order to facilitate the decision of electors, prepares a list of candidates in three times the number required, and causes this list also to be hung in the Council hail; the electors, however, are in no way bound to follow this list. In the provinces the members of the Provincial General Assemblies are elected in the same way.
Article 72.- A week after the list of electors has been exposed, on a Sunday morning after service the voting is begun in the Council hail in the following manner.
The President of the Council of the quarter, the list of electors in hand, cails upon the electors in turn, who, after having signed their names in the list of electors, write on a piece of paper as many names as there are deputies required, one under the other, indicating before every name the surname, residence, and profession, fold the paper, and drop it in the box that is prepared especially for this purpose. But if the electors for some reason or other cannot personally come to the Council hail, they send their votes enclosed in a letter, which they should sign.
Article 73.- Voting is secret, so the voters should write their papers alone, so that no one else can see the names they write.
Article 74.- The voting should close the same day i that it begins. No elector who does not present his vote that day has any right to protest afterwards.
Article 75.- No one can vote in two quarters at the same time.
Article 76.- If the quarters and dioceses that are united for election are near each other, then the electors come together for voting. But if they are far from each other each quarter or diocesse holds its own voting, and then the results of the votes of the two parties are united.
Article 77.- After the voting is over, the same day and in the same sitting, in the presence of the Council of the quarter the box is opened, and the votes are counted by officers specially appointed for this purpose and sufficient in number for the number of voters.
Should any discrepancy be discovered, and should the Council of the quarter have any suspicion of fraud, a second ballot is appointed to be held on some other day before the next Sunday.
In the same way, if the required number of deputies be not obtained the first time, a second ballot is held for the rest some other day.
Article 78.- If it so happen that one of the voters has written on his paper more names than are required, the superfiuous names are to be rejected. In the same way are to be rejected all papers where the names are not written one under the other.
Article 79.-Those are elected as deputies who have received the largest number of votes exceeding half the number of the voters, and if two persons have received the same number of votes the older one is to be elected.
Article 80.- If no majority he obtained on the first ballot, the Council of the quarter announces the names of the two persons who have obtained, the largest number of votes, and the second ballot should be on those two names.
Article 81.- The Council of each quarter presents to the Patriarch the names of those who have been elected deputies in its quarter in an especial report, in which should be exactlpy indicated the names of those elected, their surnames, residence, profession, and all the circumstances of the election.
The Patriarch present this report to the Political Assembly, which examines it and verifies the qualiffications of those elected.
After that the Patriarch announces officially to every one of the deputies his legal election, and invites them to hold a sitting of the General Assembly on a certain day.
Article 82.- The General Assembly in its first site ting hears the reports examined by the Political Assembly, and confirms the elections and declares the General Assembly legally organised.
The General Assembly can begin its meetings when the majority of the deputies of Constantinople are elected without awaiting the end of the provincial elections, the results of which will be meanwhile communicated to Constantinople.
Article 83.- If a deputy be elected by several quarters or provinces he himself decides which of the elections he shall accept, and, in case he decline to decide, the General Assembly decides by lot.
Article 84.- The list of the deputies should be hung in the hali of the General Assembly made out in alphabetical order, and before each name should be indicated resignation, death, and anything else that may happen. This list should be revised once in two years.
General Laws for Assemblies and Councils
Article 85.- Every Assembly and Council will have its officers, that is a Chairman, a Secretary, and sometimes also a second Chairman and a second Secretary. All these, of course, should be elected from the members of the Assembly. These officers are elected only for one year, but they may be reelected.
Article 86.- No meeting can be without the presence of the majority.
Article 87.- A question should be put to vote only after it has been thoroughly examined and discussed, and all decisions should be taken by plurality of voices. In case of a tie, should the President be present the decision will depend upon his vote, and, if absent, it will depend upon the vote of the Chairman.
Article 88.- In order to arrive at a decision in regard to a question discussed in the Mixed Assembly, each of the two Assemblies should vote separately. If the majority of both have arrived at the same decision, then the question is settled. But if the decisions be different, it is considered as difference of opinion, and consequently the final settiement of the question is referred to the General Assembly.
In order that the Mixed Assembly may have a legal meeting the majority of both assemblies should be present.
Article 89.- Invitations should be sent to the members from the Patriarchate at least six days before the day of the meeting.
Article 90.- Every member of the nation who is of age and capable of earning money is bound to participate in the national expenditure by paying a tax. This tax is annual, and the basis of its distribution is the capacity of the individual.
Article 91.- There are two kinds of national taxes - one general, for general expenses and collected by the Patriarchate for the National Central Treasury, the other special, for the special expenses of each quarter, and collected by the Councils of the quarters for their private treasuries.
Article 92.- The distribution and manner of collection of the general taxes for Constantinople are settled by the Political Assembly and confirmed by the General Assembly. But the special taxes are arranged by the Council of each quarter. In the same way are managed the provincial general taxes and the special taxes for eacl locality.
Article 93.- The General Assembly will decide and the Sublime Porte will confirm the manner of distribution and cofrection of the tax which the provinces have thus far been paying to the Treasury of the Patriarchate.
National Provincial Administration
Article 94.- The Metropolitan is the president of Provincial Assemblies and has their executive power under his control. His duty is to see that the Constitution is preserved in the provinces.
Article 95.- The Metropolitan cannot reside in monasteries and thus be far from the place of his office, but he will live in the official residence of the Metropolitan, where the Provincial Assemblies also hold their meetings.
When a Metropolitan is at the same time an abbot he can carry on the two offices simultaneously if the monastery be only one day’s journey from the metropolis, paying occasional visits to the monastery, but if the distance be more than one day’s journey, he should appoint a representative in the monastery, and he himself should reside in the city. In case of need, however, he can visit any part of his diocese.
Article 96.- Every quarter in the provinces should have in the same way as those in Constantinople its Council, its treasury, and its officers.
In the metropolis there should be Political and Religious Assemblies, and under the direction of the Political Assembly there should be a provincial Treasury; there should be also a provincial Bueau, where should be kept all the census books of all the people of the diocese.
Article 97.- The election of the Metropolitan is carried on in the Provincial General Assembly in the same way as the Patriarchs, and the report of the election is sent to the Patriarch by the Mixed Assembly. The Patriarch, with the consent of the Mixed Assembly of the National Central Administration, confirms the election and gives due notice of it to the Sublime Porte in order to obtain official authorisation.
Article 98.- The Provincial Assemblies are to be organised on the same plan as those of the Central Administration and have the same functions and duties. But the number of the members of the Provincial Assemblies will be fixed once for all according to the proportion of the inhabitants of each province.
Until the national taxation be fixed in the provinces, the electors of the Provincial General Assembly should be only those who belong to the first, second, and third clases of tax-payers to the Government. And the manner of the organisation of these Assemblies will be decided according to the population of each diocese by the Central Administration after due consultation with Metropolitans.
Revision of the Constitution
Article 99.-The fundamental principles of the National Constitution are unchangeable. But if experience should make it desirable to modify certain points the General Assembly will, five years after the forming of the Constitution, organise a Committee of Revision. This Committee shall consist of twenty members - three from the Political Assembly, three from the Religious Assembly, two from each of the four Councils, and besides these six from the General Assembly or outsiders. This Committee shall report the necessary changes, which, after being ratified by the General Assembly, shall be presented to the Sublime Porte and put in force according to the Imperial edict.
The legal powers and authority with which the Armenians and the Armenian Patriarch were endowed by this decree were comparable to those enjoyed by the Katholicos, the highest Armenian ecclesiastical authority in Russia.
Law Relating to the Catholicos of the Russian Armenians (Pologenia)
After the religious centre of the Armenian church in Echmiadzin passed into the hands of the Russians the priviliges of the Armenian Catholicoi were curtailed and their influence over Armenian culture and religion restricted. In 1836, during Ohannes period of office as Catholicos, a law known as Pologenia was passed confirming this tendency.
According to this law, the Armenian Catholicos was recognized by Russia as the Catholicos of all Armenians, and was elected in the church at Etchmiadzin by representatives of the Armenian communities in all the various countries. The choice, however, had to be ratified by the Tsar.
The authority of the Catholicos was strictly confined to religious matters, and even on these matters he was obliged to consult a synod composed of eight members chosen by the Catholicos and ratified by the Tsar. The Catholicos was the head of the Synod, which had the duty of supervising all religious matters. The government was represented in the Synod by an official known as the Chinovnik or Procuror. Neither the Catholicos nor the Synod could take any steps without the knowledge and approval of this government representative. This amounted to open government intervention in Armenian religious affairs. Etchmiadzin and all the national institutions were full of government spies who incited the various members of the Synod one against the other, with the result that the choice of Catholicos actually lay in the hands of the government.
Russian interference was strong and systematic. According to the Pologenial law the duties and powers of the Catholicos and the Synod were confined to the following:
1. Supervision of the Armenian churches, monasteries, schools and other institutions in Russia.
2. The issue of orders concerning those wishing to enter the ecclesiastical profession and, if necessary, their dismissal.
3. The solution of difficult marital questions.
4. Care and custody of the widows and orphans of ecclesiastics.
5. Submission to the Minister of the Interior of lists of the names of priests or officials in charge of churches, monasteries and schools, and of deaths and marriages of same.
6. Inspection of religious leaders in charge of religious departments or regions and, if necessary, punishment of same.
7. Submission to the Tsar of the names of the two candidates for the position of Catholicos.
8. Responsibility for ensuring the presence of a procuror at meetings of the Synod.
9. Administration of religious regions through marhasas.
The Pologenia was drafted by a committee composed of the military commander Peputians, Professor Azkin, the principal of the Nersesian School in Tiflis and Archbishop Serop, the Armenian Marhasa in Tiflis, and ratified by another committee composed of Rozin, the Governor-General of the Caucasus, the Catholicos Hovhanes, and General Paskevitch.The articles in the Pologenia relating to the Procuror are as follows:
Article 45.- Meetings of the Etchmiadzin Synod must be attended by a Pro curor. This official should be chosen by the Senate from among the officials in recepit of a salary from the state and with a good knowledge of both Russian and Armenian.
Article 46.-The Procuror of the Etchmiadzin Synod of the Gregorian Armenians should act in accordance with the articles in the laws and regulations governing the duties of procurors in general.
This official will supervise cases, examine the articles presented to the Synod and be present at the election of the Etch?niadzin Patriarch. Details of the law-cases are to be submitted for inspection to the Ministry of Justice and details of other business to the Ministry of the Interior. He should inform the Governors of Caucasia and Georgia of the affairs of the Gregorian Armenians related to the Etchmiadzin Synod.
In 1903, in spite of this law, Russia confiscated all lands and property belonging to the Armenian churches and schools in Russia and handed them over to the Ministries of Education and Agriculture. It was only on discovering that these lands and property were by no means as valuable as they had expected that they decided to hand them back to the Armenians.
From the first emergence of the Armenian question the most effective weapon used by the Armenians to arouse the Christian world against the Ottoman State was their exposure, purely because of their Christian faith, to oppression, harassment and massacre. Their own criminal activities and mutinies were always concealed behind this propaganda screen, and yet, as many Christian writers bore witness, of all the various states in the world the Ottoman State was the only one to respect religious freedom.
Elisée Reclus: “The Turkish state has never interfered in the private life of the individual. Turkey, indeed, is far more advanced than the most progressive states of Western Europe from the point of view of the freedom and independence of the masses of the people.”
Ubicini is of the same opinion: “As for freedom of conscience, the established religion in Turkey displays a tolerance that is rarely found applied to minority religions in the Christian states”
The well-known Rumanian professor N. Iorga: “At the end of the 18th century the Polish traveller Mikoscha declares that “the Turks show the Armenians much more respect and consideration than they show to any other community. The Armenians are allowed much greater freedom of religion by the Turks than by the Greeks”
The powers and privileges granted the Armenians by this constitution, instead of being employed for future progress, were allowed to become the source of the most tragic developments, with the Patriarchs taking advantage of their freedom to engage in political and nationalist activity. This constitution appeared after the Syrian events of 1860 and the statute of Lebanon, and constituted the first step towards Armenian autonomy. The Armenians believed that if the European intervention following the events in the Lebanon was to intensify it would be very much to their own advantage.
The weekly discussions in the millet Assembly were followed by hundreds of listeners, and this was observed with satisfaction by the Sublime Porte. The first meeting was held on 25 August 1860 with 120 members before an audience of 60 journalists, teachers and leaders of the Armenian community. An Armenian writer lists the following advantages to the Armenians:
1.It was a step towards the acceptance of Western civilization and ways of life.
2. A number of schools and cultural institutions were opened in both Istanbul and the provinces.
3. It led to progress in the development of Armenian language and literature.
4. A greater number of newspapers and periodicals were published.
5. It accustomed Armenians to elections and political activity.
6. The powers of the clergy were circumscribed.
7. It granted the Armenians the power of collective complaint and judicial action.
8. It ensured the union of Catholic, Protestant and Gregorian Armenians in times of emergency.
9. It aroused a revolutionary spirit and placed the Armenian question firmly on the agenda.
The same writer goes on to say “Some Armenians regarded the constitution as a catastrophe for the Armenian people”, and asks if they were not, perhaps, justified in his view.
Saruhan: “The Armenians lived for more than half a century with this National Constitution as an important national institution. All internal, national and religious affairs were dealt in accordance with this constitution. This law was sanctioned and ratified by the Ottoman government. Once furnished with this constitution they began to work towards the achievement of autonomy. The one led to the other.
In 1866 charges levelled against the leader of the Armenian church in Erzurum led to conflict between the temporal and spiritual assemblies leading to the resignation of the Patriarch Tatakian. After protracted struggles, he was succeeded by Khriman, who was already well-known to the Armenians in both Turkey and Russia.
Topchian gives the following account:
“Popular movements made their first appearance in the years 1840-1850. Their aim was to. incite the ordinary people to rebel against their superiors, and Khrimian was to be found with the local youth in the vanguard of the strugile. When Khrimian arrived from Mu? to take up his post in the Istanbul Patriarchate he brought with him the Armenian question, which was thus transferred from Istanbul to Europe. From that time on it was to him that the complaints of the Armenian National Assembly were addressed, and the newspapers became the media of their promulgation.
When Khrimian, who had left Mu? to the cries of “Never forget us!”, arrived in the Patriarchate, Armenian demands and complaints began to be brought before the National Assembly for discussion. On his arrival in Istanbul Khriman resolved to work towards the achievement of two basic aims:
1. The re-examination of the National Canstitution and its emendation in accordance with the desires and requirements of the provinces,
2. The bringing to the attention of the Armenian community, the assembly and the goverment of the idea of Armenia.
In one of his speeches to the National Armenian Assembly he declared: “I am the symbol of a suffering Armenia. I know the manner in which my ancestors appealed to the government for remedy. But I shall engage in a more effective, a more bitter struggle.”
Encouraged by Khrimian, complaints began to pour in from every quarter to be read out in the Assembly. The more prudent regarded this as a dangerous procedure, and when they found it impossible to make their opinions heard they refused to remain in the Assembly. Finally, after protracted debate, it was decided to continue with the discussion of the reports. These were coftected in the 1870 assembly and the various complaints and events classified. Work on the preparation of a muht?ra (note or memorandum) continued from 1870 to 1871, and this muht?ra was fully discussed before being submitted to the government.
The complaints may be summarized as follows:
1. Illegal proceedures in the collection of taxes,
2. Abuses indulged in by government servants,
3. The rejection of Christian testimony in the lawcourts and a number of other abuses.
These constituted the first part of the muht?ra. The second half contained suggestions for the correction of these abuses:
1. That the traditional military exemption tax should be abolished and replaced by compulsory military service. In this way we too should gain honour and respect and be able to prove our equal right with the Muslims to shed our blood for our country.
2. That farming of taxes should be replaced by direct collection under government control.
3. That societies should be established for lending money against security of income and property.
4. Independent, competent inspectors should be sent to the various provinces to get in touch with all the people and gather information concerning the general conditions prevailing.
5. The Düstur (code of laws) should be translated for the provinces.
6. All civil, commercial and criminal cases should be heard according to the laws in the nizamiye (civil), not in the ?eriat (religious) courts.
7. The Kurds and, more recently, the Caucasians were the cause of great depredations in the provinces, at the same time causing damage to the state treasury and refusing military service, whereas the other inhabitants were unarmed and paid taxes to the state. Either the arms of the Kurds and Caucasians should be collected or arms distributed to the rest of the population.
Apart from these it was also proposed that the constitution, referred to in the muht?ra as the National Constitutional Law, should also be applied to the provinces and education extended to a large degree to the provincial regions. The muht?ra received the Patriarch Khrimian’s approval and on 18 February 1872 was submitted to the office of the Grand Vizier. The Government set up a commission composed of equal numbers of Muslims and non-Muslims with a brief to punish those causing the conditions referred to in the muht?ra, to put forward proposals for future action and to consider the various requests. In 1871 another representation was made to the government on this subject.
It proved impossible to enforce the national Constitutional Law as originally desired. The need was continually expressed for changes to be made in the basic articles and this need for change was stressed at every meeting of the assembly. Khrimian insisted that this constitution had been drawn up in accordance with European principle and that a constitution based on such an outlook could never be of service in improving the condition of the Armenian people. He therefore proposed that a commission should be set up to undertake a thorough revision of the constitution on this basis. The problem proceeded through a number of stages during Khrimian’s period of office. On the one hand attempts were being made to revise the constitution while on the other hand conflict arose on the question of the number of members to be appointed to the commission. At the same time Khrimian had various rules and regulations drawn up for the provinces. The number of members appointed to the theological and lay committees were quite disproportionate. It was because of this basis that the Patriarch Nerses Varjabedian and Mateos Izmirlian were later to enter the theological committee.
Khrimian’s real aim was to divide the work of the assembly between Istanbul and the provinces, to increase the authority of the Patriarchate and, as it was very diffcult to find 140 members, to reduce the number to 50. Of these only ten would be from the clergy, half of the others being from Istanbul and half from the provinces.
Khrimian’s influence over the assembly increased day by day. On one occasion he declared that “If the powers and authority of the Patriarch were not increased he would find it impossible to continue with his duties, and that he himself, if he so desired, would take decisions on behalf of the assembly”. Khrimian was engaged for a considerable time in discussions on this subject. The political committee opposed Khrimian and stirred the people up against him. His opponents included Mateos ?zmirlian. The provincial Armenians were on Khrimian’s side and some of them, on hearing, of the struggle between Khrimian and the political committee, attempted to win the favour of the Patriarch by assaulting the committee members.
Finally, in August 1873, Khrimian, unable to achieve the ends he had pursued as Patriarch, decided to resign. This move was opposed by the çorbac?s (Armenian leaders), bankers, sarrafs (money lenders) and government servants, in other words by reasonable people who wished to remain linked to Turkey and were unwilling to see the community dragged into adventurism. These were attacked by the other side as government agents, spies, traitors and cosmopolitans.
In the end, the muht?ra was once more examined by a committee under the chairmanship of Nerses Varjabedian, and a addition made to this muht?ra to the effect that the Armenian leaders in the provinces were exploiting the people in order to extend and perpetuate their own influence and that they were working in collusion with government servants.
Nerses Varjabedian accepted the post of deputy Patriarch for twenty-one days on condition that a new Patriarch should immediately be chosen, and in 1873, at a meeting of the national assembly, he handed in his resignation.
Khrimian had a very high standing among the provincial Armenians, but this was countered by the very high respect in which Varjabedian was held by the Armenians of Istanbul, and his reputation for resolution and initiative led to his election as Patriarch by 60 of the 64 members of the assembly (1874-1884).
Nerses immediately entered upon a radical revision of the constitution, entrusting Dr. Rusinian with the drafting of an internal constitution for the National Assembly. This constitution was practically identical with the internal constitution of the French parliament. He also regulated the budget and the state of the Akhtamar Catholicosate.
The muht?ra concerning atrocities once more made its appearance during the Patriarchate of Nerses. At this time Turkey was passing through a crisis that threatened its very existence. Revolts had broken out in Thrace and Bosnia - Herzegovina and had spread to Bulgaria. Taking advantage of these favourable circumstances Nerses Varjabedian collaborated with Simon Maksud bey and Bishop Khoren Narbey to attract the attention of the Ottoman government more effectively towards the Armenian question. The European states were pressing the Ottoman government to take urgent measures to deal with the Bosnia Herzegovina crisis and to introduce immediate reform. Meanwhile, Abdul Hamid had ascended the Ottoman throne and had proclaimed the Constitution. The Armenian muht?ra was published, together with a manifesto addressed by the Patriarch to the Armenian community.During the conference held in Istanbul in 1876 to consider the Bulgarian question, Varjabedian presented to Lord Salisbury, the British envoy, a report showing that pressure had been brought to bear by Khrimian on the Armenians in Turkey, but this move proved abortive as the conference was not concerned witd the Armenian question. The Armenians were faced with two alternatives:
1) to remain associated with the Turks and the Ottoman government, or 2) to follow the example of the other Christian communities in trying to involve the European states in their affairs. The whole future of the Armenian community depended on which alternative was chosen.
Review of the Reform Question up to the 1877-78 Ottoman-Russian War
The first general movement towards internal reform on the part of the Ottoman government began during the reign of Mahmut II, to culminate in the proclamation by Sultan Abdul Mecid of the Hatt-? Humayun of Gülhane (Imperial Edict) in 1839. The aim of this edict was to bring the Muslim and Christian subjects of the Empire closer together and to ensure a more modern and civilized way of life. After the end of the Crimean War (1855), England, France and Austria, who had been allies of the Ottoman Empire in the campaign, began work on the peace treaty to be signed with the Russians. It was proposed that an article should be included concerning “the freedom of the Christian subjects of the Ottoman Empire”, but the idea was abandoned on the grounds that this had already been guaranteed by variousfirmans and that in Turkey freedom was enjoyed by all races and religions. An item, however, was finally included that “no Ottoman subject should be liable to persecution on religious grounds”. The Reform Edict was proclaimed in conjunction with the Treaty of Paris in 1856, and the government endeavoured with all the powers at its disposal to put this firman into effect. Nevertheless, in 1859 the European governments made another approach to the Ottoman government on the subject of reform.
Before the Crimean war, Russia had been following a policy of protective influence as regards the Christians in Turkey. This influence was drastically reduced during the Crimean War and attempts in this direction lay for some time in abeyance. Once the war was over, steps were immediately begun in the same direction with Russia demanding general or local reforms for the non-Moslem elements in Turkey. It gave particular attention to the Slays in the Balkans to whom it offered protection against the cruel oppression of the Ottoman government and insisted on the establishment of a third conimission to examine the situation and take the necessary measures. Although the Ottoman government responded by carrying out an inspection of the region and laying the basis for an effective reform, Russian insistence remained firm. Complaints and petitions continued to arrive from Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and these were gradually transformed into rebellion and mutiny. In 1856 a Vilayet Kanunu (Provincial Law) was passed on the basis of French law giving the provinces greater independence of the central government and ensuring the participation in the administration as elected representatives of the people, Moslems and non-Moslems alike.
Before the Congress of Paris Gorchakov stated that “the religious communites (millets) in Turkey could not form independent nations, that they nowhere took the form of a nation and that there was no movement anywhere in this direction. It was therefore essential that they should be converted into nations by establishing their own religious and social foundations!’
In 1867 Russia issued a note demanding that “the interests of the non-Moslems should be distinguished from those of the Moslems”. They insisted that the acceptance and application of principles of equality could never be realised in Turkey. The attention of the other states was therefore drawn to the question of reform demands put forward for the introduction of a decentralised local administration. Although Austria proposed that a conference should be held to consider these problems the idea was subsequently abandoned. Differences in outlook appeared in the proposals put forward by the French and Russian governments and England remained neutral. It was obvious that the Christian millet, Russia proposed to protect, was that of the Slays in the Balkans. In any case, Russia had already presented a detafied note on the subject of the Balkan Christians to the European powers demanding:
1. the dvision of Ottoman territories in Europe on the basis of nationality,
2. the determination of administrative attitudes,
3. judicial re-organization,
4. military reform,
5. financial reform,
6. educational reform,
7. general reform.
At the same it was proposed that this re-organization and reform should be carried out under the control and supervision of the European governments and not left to the Ottoman government alone.
The proposals put forward by the Russian government under the heading of decentralisation had from the very beginning been aimed at the disintegration of the Ottoman State. In expounding his Eastern policy in 1868 Prince Gorchakov had employed the slogan “Ou autonomie ou anatomie”, in other words, “either the Christians should be granted autonomy or the Ottoman State should be carved up”.
The Ottoman government approached the problem with good will. Laws were passed to meet the real requirements of the country and a Council of State, a third of whose members and officials were non-Muslims, was set up to carry out investigations into the suitability of European laws in the Turkish context and their possible acceptance. In 1858 an Armenian, Krikor Agaton, was for the first time appointed Minister of Public Works.
France, apart from acting as the protector of the Catholics in Turkey, also offered protection to the Christians in general. In 1860 the Druse incident in Lebanon together with the events in Damascus served asjustification for the establishment of autonomy in Lebanon. Immediately afterwards attention was directed towards Zeitun, and in order that the autonomy established in the Lebanon should also be applied to this territory, Prince Leon arrived in Zeitun, where be had the people draw up a petition addressed to Napoleon III, which he took back with him to Paris. This individual called himself Leon Lusinian, and claimed to be a member of the royal Armenian dynasty, a close friend of Napoleon III and kin to several other European rulers. He also claimed to have engaged in discussions with Napoleon and Palmerston on the recovery of Clicia horn the Turks. On his death in Milan in 1876 the Armenians of Istanbul donated 4,000 liras for the education and upbringing of the children of “the last member of the royal family”. In the petition mentioned above, reference was made to the oppression suffered by the inhabitants of Zeitun under the Turkish administration and a request made that the autonomy applied to Lebanon should be extended to their own country under the administration of an Armenian prince. On receipt of this petition, Napoleon forwarded it to the French ambassador in Istanbul. In this petition Leon had stated that the inhabitants of this region of the Toros Mts. were capable of bearing 70,000 weapons.
Rebellion broke out in Zeitun, and a long and bitter struggle was only brought to an end by an appeal addressed to Napoleon III by the Catholic Patriacrh in ?stanbul.
Saruhan gives the following account of the Prince Leon episode:
“A person by the name of Prince Leon arrived in Zeitun from Hachin and incited the local in-habitants to draw up a petition to Napoleon III which he took with him to Paris. The petition contained an account of the wrongs and injustices to which they were exposed. They begged that a state of autonomy similar to that enjoyed by Lebanon should be applied to Zeitun under the rule of an Armenian prince. This upstart adventurer adopted the title Ishan and gave himself very great airs. He claimed to be the friend of Napoleon and to have discussed with Napoleon and Palmerston the recovery of the province of Cilicia from the Turks.” This Leon, the cause of the events in Zeitun in 1862, died in Milan in 1876. His wife Antonia Lozzi also died in Milan in the September of the same yeat The Secolo, a Milanese newspaper, gave the following account of her circumnstances:
“The Princess Lusinian left six, utterly destitute children. Her eldest son, Mardien, was placed in a poor-house and her two daughters in another poor-house, while the three other sons were employed by an Italian by the name of Merlini. A French journalist wrote an article on the subject, with the result, that the Armenians of Istanbul cofrected 3-4 thousand liras for the upkeep and education of these children of the last Armenian monarch”
Leo gives the following account of the episode:
“Girardin and V. Langlois wrote a number of articles on the events in Zeitun. The spiritual leaders of the Armenians who were, and had always been, the masters and governors of the fate of the Armenian people and wielded great influence in the administration of the region, appealed to Napoleon, who was persuaded to support the application to this small country town of the same status of autonomy as had been applied to Lebonon.But is was necessary that these, like the Maronite Christians, should belong to the Catholic church. This policy constituted the keystone of French policy in the East. The problem arose of converting the in-habitants of Zeitun to Catholicism. But here, as always in Armenian history, the monster of Armenian bigotry and fanaticism once more reared its head and prevented such a move. Their bigotry was so intense that even in the fourth century the Armenians chose to be Gregorians rather than ordinary Christians. Ever since that time the Gregorian priests had exploited and oppressed the Armenian people for their own advantage, employing the Gregorian church as the basis for the ruthless exploitation of the Armenian people.
The same thing was repeated in Zeitun, where the common people found themselves at the mercy of Gregorian priests on the one hand and the Catholic priests on the other. The Gregorians were the victors and Napoleon forgot the whole question.
Two political initiatives had ended in failure, but this meant little. The Armenians had been filed with great aspirations and had learned to knock with stubborn insistence on the doors of European diplomats”
After the Franco-Prussian war of 1871, Russia found the field open and began once more to pursue a panslavist policy. For the moment they approached the Porte only on behalf of the Bulgarians, Montenegrins and Serbs. On 30 December 1875 The Austrian Foreign Minister, Count Julius Andrassy presented a memorandum to the other states on behalf of Austria, Germany and Russia proposing close scrutiny of the reform question and the establishment of a mixed commission of Muslims and Christians for this purpose. This in spite of the fact that just a month previously, in November, 1875, the Ottoman goverment had issued a firman dealing with reform. In May 1876 the French and German consuls in Salonica were assassinated. Thereupon the Russian and Austrian governments followed the German in announcing that they would request the immediate application of essential reforms and that if this request was not complied with they would resort to force. Subsequently, with the co-operation of England and France, they proposed the granting of a measure of autonomy to the vilayets, as put forward in the Russian memorandum of 1867, and decided to hold a conference of ambassadors in Istanbul to consider the matter.
Meanwhile Abdul Aziz had been deposed, Sultan Murad had been removed from the throne on the grounds of illness and had been succeeded by Abdul Hamid II. The Constitution was proclaimed for the first time during this conference, and was followed by the general conviction that the rule of law had begun.
In the Patriarchate General Council of June 1876, both the lay and clerical members handed in their resignations at the end of their legal period of office. Simon Maksud was succeeded as chairman by Sahak Abro, Garabed Shabad was elected vice-chairman, Sebuh Maksud deputy vice-chairman, Ohannes Boyajian secretary and Archbishop Khoren Mekhitarian spitiral leader of the assembly. Meanwhile, Russian volunteers, together with local gangs furnished with weapons, ammunition and money and incited by Pan-Slav propagandists, began hostilities in Montenegro and Serbia.
At first the Armenians appeared to welcome the proclamation of the Constitution, but after a short time, realising that the time had come to bid farewell to any ideas of autonomy or independence and that there was no possibility of achieving their aims under a strong, constitutional Turkish administration, they seized every opportunity of exploiting the situation. Complaints were put forward alleging brutal treatment and forced conversions, and the meetings of the Assembly were from now on almost entirely devoted to discussions and the preparation of memoranda on this subject.
According to Saruhan:
“Several items were added to the memorandum drawn up by Khrimian in 1876 and presented to the office of the Grand Vizier. This memorandum was the work of Izmirlian, one of the leaders of the Armenian cause and future Catholicos. The Patriarch and the Millet Assembly were convinced that in the event of autonomy being granted to the Bulgarinas and Serbs, the situation could be effectively exploited to their own advantage.”
The Patriarch was in continual consultation with the various ambassadors, while private, unofficial Armenian organizations were also active. In 1876 the Patriarh had an interview with the English ambassador Sir Henry Elliot, who wrote a very interesting letter on the subject, describing how the Patriarch had told him that the Armenians did not intend to insist at the Conference of Ambassadors that privileges should be granted only to the population of the province that had actually rebelled, and that he hoped that the other provinces that were now at peace would not be excluded.
Sir Henry replied that the restoration of peace in the rebellious provinces was the task of the Conference of Ambassadors and that the Ottoman government was under no obligation to establish an Administrative Plan for all the provinces. The Patriarch thereupon replied that if, in order to attract the attention of the world to the Armenian problem it was necessary to incite, rebellion and mutiny, there would be no diffcult in doing so.
At the same time a memorandum was handed to the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Derby, expressing the Armenian point of view. This memorandum was on the following lines:
“In Asia, on the frontiers of the civilized world, in a country that was once the cradle of humanity and progress, at a time when the hour has struck for the forgotten Christians of the East, there is a people awaiting a hearing before the court of justice of the Great Powers.
If the backwardness, injustice and barbarousness that has prevailed here for five hudred years is now gradually opening up to freedom of conscience, justice and true progress, the people of Armenia, who have groaned beneath the same yoke, should not be excluded. Armenia is not begging for grace or favour, it is demanding its rights. Like every other country that has played its part in the work of humanity and progress, Armenia asks England to ensure proper respect for its legitimate rights, an end to its suffrings, and freedom for its development.
The Western nations, aware of our calamities and aspirations, will hold out a helping hand. That is the hope of all Armenians. When the Muslims from Arabia penetrated into the very heart of Europe waving the banner of the Prophet, the Armenians, crushed beneath the continuous onslaught of their barbarian neighbours, lacked the strength to oppose the oncoming waves of destruction. The Turks brought their armies into Armenia, as they were later to bring them into Byzantium. Since then, Armenia, wounded, crushed, under threat of complete extinction, has had only one thought. To work for the establishment of an Armenian nation, to preserve in as pure a form as possible the Christian faith they received from their fathers, and to await the day of freedom when they will at last be granted, justice and equality.
There are, at the present time, four million Armenians in Turkey. Before the Ottoman invasion there was probably twice that number. Engaged in agriculture and commerce and paying the heaviest taxes, displaying goodwill, affability, love of hard work and a religious tolerance rare in this part of the world, the Armenians have always endeavoured to live in harmony with people of different races and religious beliefs.
The Armenians place respect for the law above all else. They will never engage in armed revolt, because, with their characteristic prudence and foresight, they are convinced that, unless supported in such an enterprise by a powerful state, such action will bring, not freedom, but calamity, and collapse. It has always been the policy of the Armenians, whose condition at the present day we well know, to seek justice and equality by legal means - unfortunately, to no avail. Crushed beneath brutal forces and surrounded on all sides by hatred and religious fanaticism, the Armenians, though greatly reduced in numbers after so many years of enslavement, are more united than ever. Surviving until now by the blood of their martyrs, expending all their strength and determination in the service of their religion, attempting to preserves their national culture by means of the few fragments they have managed to save from the hands of the destroyers of their books and libraries, the Armenians find themselves, after so many years of servitude, confronted with the light of European progress. It was the first ray of light to strike their half-opened eyes, and it was along this path that they are now determined to advance.
Clearly discerning the qualities and virtues of the Armenian people, Mehmed, the Conqueror of Istanbul, granted them certain rights and privileges, leaving the administration of their estates, their churches and their national property in the hands of individuals chosen by the Patriarch. The Administariton of this group led, as a result of corruption or, at least, certain difficulties, to a more or less desperate situation. In order to prevent the recurrence of such a state of affairs the community has prepared, over the last fifteen years, a constitution that would provide a model of law and administration.
This constitution was, after a few changes, ratified by the Sultan, and the Armenian communty, at the cost of great self-sacrifice, self-denial and a bitter struggle with the enemies surrounding them, produced the necessary resources to found and administer churches, hospitals and, above all, the schools to which they give such great importance. Following the example of the Armenians in the Turkish capital, they devoted a part of the funds they had succeeded in rescuing from the clutches of their oppressors, to the development of schools. The results of so much efford and self-sacrifice were not, however, as great as they had hoped. Surrounded by reactionary and barbarous Turks, Kurds and Afshars, the Armenians have survived up to the present day under all kinds of oppression and hostility. Their barbarous neighbours, gaining their livelihood from looting and extortion, are permitted to continue in their evil ways by the tolerant attitude taken by the local authorities, who even assist and encourage them in their crimes. Not a day passes without the illtreatment and harassment of the peaceful, hard-working Armenian population, without their suffering attacks on their religion, their freedom, their honour and their property. Their lands are torn from them, their churches and holy places desecrated, their wives and children forced to change their religion, their houses burnt over their heads and their people robbed, raped and massacred.
The Circassians have joined the Turks, Kurds and Afshars in setting up a local despotism in several regions, the local authorities remaining powerless while, under their very eyes, they extort exorbitant taxes, thrust their noses into the most private and intimate affairs of the Christians, destroy their produce on the most trivial and meaningless pretexts, burn the villages and drive out the population at sword-point or under threat of rifle-fire. In Armenia, anarchy is a permanent feature. The local authorities rarely disturb these blood-thirsty criminals, closing their ears to the complaints of the oppressed.
Encouraged by their systematic exemption from punishment, these now perpetrate new crimes with renewed vigour. Only the Muslims have the right to carry arms, with the result that these 88 wandering tribes, paying no taxes and recognizing no law, employ their weapons, with the full knowledge of the authorities and under their very eyes, as their only real means of livelihood. If an Armenian should take the matter to court, he can hope for justice only if he is defended by Muslim witnesses. As a Muslim dare not act in opposition to the Qur’an, he cannot be expected to bear witness against a fellow-Muslim on behalf of a Christian. This is the source of all injutice. Today, in Armenia, there are nearly a million Kurds, Afshars and Circassians who live idle lives, without engaging in any trade or useful activity, at the expense of the hardworking farmer. Crushed beneath the oppression of these organized bands of murderers, exposed to the apathy and indifference and reactionary attitudes of the Turkish valis, the Armenians have no alternative butto appeal for help to the Patriarch of Constantinople. On the occurrence of an atrocity of this kind - and the continued perpetration of these atrocities cannot but give rise to feelings of hopelessness and despair - the Patriarch attempts to draw the attention of the Sublime Porte, which sometimes completely ignores the appeal, sometimes orders that an investigation should be carried out by its own officials, or even by the very vali accused of criminal negligence and apathy. It is easy to guess the results of an investigation undertaken under such circumstances. Sometimes the signatories of the complaint are forced, under threats from the officials whose names were mentioned in the report, to submit a second petition withdrawing their former complaints. Christians who have the insolence and temerity to make such a complaint will be very lucky indeed if they can escape without punishment!..
The events we have touched upon here are confirmed by reliable witnesses, by the published minutes of the community councils, and even by documents produced by Turkish officials. Each of these acts in contravention of the most basic human principles is recorded in files carefully preserved in the Armenian Patriarchate. The headings alone would make up an enormous volume. The events mentioned are also confirmed by two important reports published by the General Council on 11 April 1872 and 17 September 1876. No matter how devoted the Armenians may be to work and progress it is obvious that little can be achieved in such abnormal circumstances.
And now the Ottoman government administration, which the Sultan himself in his Hatt-? Humayun described as arbitrary and despotic, has no hesitation in placing obstacles in the way of the work and effort of the population in these provinces. But the Armenians, at the cost of great self-sacrifice, determination and persistance, and without help from any foreign country, have introduced into their schools a European system of education, thus successfully achieving an honourable place in the arts and sciences, as well as in trade and commerce. For thirty years now, young Armenians have benefited from the products of civilization in America and the principal European centres. It can now be said that in this so much coveted region of Asia, all the factors required to bring about a great blossoming of civilization in the very near future have been gathered in its bosom. The Armenians have the right to reap the benefits of their initiative and enterprise in this region of the old world in which they have acted out their magnificent history and whose soil they have watered with the sweat of their brows.
If Europe truly and sincerely desires to dispel the darkness and barbarism in which more than twenty million people of various races are submerged, they will find by their side a people who will volunteer all their strength and ability in their efforts to achieve this worthy aim. This has always been the hope of all Armenians who have followed with keen interest and close attention the efforts made by Europe to ameliorate the condition of the Eastern Christians. But it is with boundless grief and a growing sense of fear and dread that we see all attention directed towards the Christians in European Turkey. No importance whatever is given to the far more serious complaints of Anatolian Armenians groaning under the yoke of an obnoxious administration. The Christians in European Turkey are regarded as the only victims of Muslim backwardness and indifference. If the Western Powers have no intention of remedying the evils to which the Armenians are exposed, neither the memorandum of the Patriarch nor the note with the seven principles is capable of revealing the sufferings of the people he leads. The sufferings of the Armenians cannot be cured by a mere petition.
To work by diplomatic or other means for the amelioration of the condition of the Christians in Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina and the satisfaction of their aspirations, while completely ignoring the Christians of Anatolia, is merely to transfer the areas of oppression elsewhere and to remove the conflagration to a more remote region.
In rejoicing over the skilful removal of a part of European Turkey from Muslim domination and the reduction in the power wielded by the Turkish government in the Rumelian provinces, one tends to forget that the perpetrators of the atrocities in Bulgaria and other regions will now migrate to Asia with hatred and detestation of the Christians in their hearts. Is not this rancour and hostility something to be feared and dreaded by all the followers of Christ? As they continue their activities unimpeded, what crimes will they not wreak on this unarmed, defenceless people?
As for the government, with its power and prestige reduced, even in the eyes of the Muslims, its treasury exhausted and its resources limited, how can it ever hope to implement any reforms that could bring about a radical change in the condition of the Anatolian Christians? The Ottoman government, in spite of all the goodwill shown towards it, will never be able to take the necessary measures to develop its agriculture, and thus increase its revenues and provide its tax-payers with some comfort and relief. The Armenians refuse to accept at their face value the promises of reform made by the Ottoman government. Ever since the Hatt-? Humayun of 18 February 1856 the Ottoman government has been extremely liberal in such promises. But even if it were really sincere in its desire to implement the reforms suggested by the Powers, national habits are so ingrained in the administration that even if not entirely impossible, any action of this kind is highly unlikely at any time in the reasonably near future. All such enterprises will always come up against obstacles created by ignorance and superstition. Furthermore, the most influential Ottoman statesmen who hold the fate of the Empire in their hands are so convinced of their superiority over the Christians in both the moral and intellectual spheres that they could never be persuaded to put their signature to any document attesting the equality of all Ottoman subjects, and many of them would, indeed, vehemently oppose such a move. The measures that are now being considered concerning our fellows in suffering and calamity in the province of Rumelia will further exacerbate the situation of the mass of Armenians in Anatolia. If Christian Europe sincerely desires the political and spiritual liberation of their fellow-Christians in the East they must avoid creating such obvious injustices and inequalities.
In submitting this summary of their memorandum to the Great Powers, the Armenians dare to hope that their cause will not be utterly neglected or ignored.
The series of complaints that had begun during Khrimian’s period of office as Patriarch reached the height of intensity with the rise of unrest among the Christians in Thrace. Examination, however, of the reports of brutal treatment and oppression presented to the Sublime Porte and various European goverments will show that most of the incidents referred to are no more than routine matters of public order. The Patriarch siezed upon the most trivial incidents, sending the most exaggerated accounts of these to the Ottoman government while at the same time presenting a memorandum to the representatives of the European governments in which these incidents were transformed into events of great political signifficance.
The memorandum listed the following grievances:
1. The apathy and negligence of the provincial administrators in the enforcement of law and order, and the abuses and corruption in the exercise of their powers.
2. The provincial government assemblies were composed of privileged self-seekers and opportunists.
3. The provincial Armenians were exposed to the insults and attacks of fanatical Muslims.
4. That forced labour should not be employed in public works and money unlawfully extorted.
5. Unlawful force and compulsion should not be employed in road construction.
6. That the people should not be compelled to pay tithes in cash in response to the illegal demands of tax farmers.
7. That produce grown in one’s own house or garden for family subsistence should not be included in the calculation of tithes.
8. That farmers themselves should not be compelled to transport tithes to the tax-farmer’s depot.
9. That crops should not be left to rot under the rain owing to the late arrival of the tax farmer and that tithes should be calculated in accordance with the price of sound grain.
10. That farmers should not be compelled to offer bed and board to the tax-farmer and his men.
11. That, as often in Erzurum, taxes should not be levied on yokes of oxen.
12. That Armenian peasants should not be compelled to pay extra taxes known as ?ahnal?k and ölçek (1/4 of a bushel)
13. That the share due for payment by deceased persons, refugees and deserters should not be included in the military service exemption tax.
14. That the income and property taxes should not be unfairly distributed with the greater share of the burden falling upon the Armenian farmers.
15. That Armenian farmers should not be forced to sell their tools and implements to meet taxation, and that they should not be exposed to beating and imprisonment.
16. That women and illegitimate children should not be forcibly converted to Mohammedanism.
17. That crimes such as abduction, theft and murder remained unpunished because of the refusal to accept the testimony of non-Muslims in the law-courts.
18. That an end should be put to the depredations and torture inflicted by the Kurds, the mountain tribes, the Circassianss and derebeys (feudal chiefs) of Turkish extraction on the Armenian population. After putting forward the above grievances, the report suggests seven measures to be taken for the solution of this problem in accordance with the terms of the report of April 1872:
1. The enforcement of the terms of the memorandum on the problem of landed property, approved as being in accordance with law and justice by the commission set up by the Imperial Divan (Council).
2. That church property should be exempt from taxation.
3. That indivuals such as Shah Hüseyin O?lu, Kaykelan O?lu Aziz, Abdulfettah Bey and Abdullah, Agha of Kangal, should be punished by law for acts of cruelty and injustice concerning which complaints had been presented by the local inhabitants.
4. That a commission should be established in the Sublime Porte and that the members of this commision, together with individuals sent by the Patriarch, should tour Anatolia to investigate and punish acts of cruelty and injustice.
5. That a permanent mixed commission should be established in the Sublime Porte under the chairmanship of the secretary for religious sects.
6. That investigations should be made in connection with matters submitted by the Patriarchate and the necessary measures taken by order of the Office of the Grand Vizier.
7. That the testimony of Christians should not be rejected in the law-courts.
The chairman of the committee responsible for the composition of this report was the future Patriarch and Catholicos, Mateos Izmirlian. Complaints were recieved from all quarters as a result of the initiative taken by the Patriarchate and the communications sent out to the various vilayets or provinces. The movement received Russian backing.
At the same time the Armenians in Russia petitioned the Russian government requesting its intervention on behalf of the Armenians in Turkey. In 1876 a delegation of Armenians headed by Gurju Dimitri, the mayor of Tiflis, presented to the Governor-General of Tiflis, the Grand Duke Michael Nicholaievich, the following petition to be forward ed to the Tsar:
“To His Imperial Majesty
We, the Armenian inhabitants of Tiflis, who live in comfort and tranquillity under the benevolent ad ministration of your exalted government, motivated by the humane feeling that is one of the indispen sable requirements of the Christian faith, feel we cannot remain indifferent to the miseries experienc ed by our compatriots living on the other side of the border, to the injustices to which both they are ex posed both as individuals and as a community in religious and family life, and to the attacks perpetrated on the virtue of their women and girls.
Knowing the benevolence shown by our beloved Majesty and the whole, Russian people towards Christians of Turkish nationality, we are sure that our Emperor will lead the way in offering protection to our brothers in race and religion. The Christian love of justice has encouraged us to be so bold as to present to your Imperial Majesty’s attention the wretched state of our brothers in race and religion and to beg for your intervention.
We appeal to your grace and benevolence towards the non-Muslims in Turkey and towards the Armenians exposed to Muslim cruelty and oppression. Intervention in this matter and if necessary the settlement of the problem is dependent upon your Majesty’s approval and approbation.”
The petition, presented to the Tsar by the governor-general, was enthusiastically welcomed by the leaders of the Armenians in Turkey, and by the Patriarch in particular.
In 1876, a note on the Armenian moves was sent to the Foreign office by the British ambassador in Istanbul, who observed that there was growing discontent among the Armenians, and that a leading member of the community had voiced his conviction that although the main responsibility for the discontent lay with the Sublime Porte, yet the agitations and unrest were no doubt instigated by Russian propaganda, which was particularly effective in swaying the minds of ordinary folk, the enlightened being firmly anti-Russian.
The report sent by JC. Taylor, British consul in Erzurum, in 1869, runs as follows:
“Everwhere throughout these districts I found the Armenians bitter in their complaints against the Turkish Government, at the same time that they were unreserved in their praises of Russia, openly avowing their determination to emigrate. This bias is owing, as already stated, to the constant hostile teaching of their clergy; at the same time, ample cause for discontent, as has already been shown further back, is afforded by the really wretched system of Turkish provincial administration, the unequal imposition of taxes, scandalous method of levying them and the tithes, persistent denial or miscarriage of justice, and practical disavowal of the Christians’ claim to be treated with the same consideration and respect as their equals among Moslems. But experience has taught me that which candour and strict impartiality compel me to state, that the subordinate officers of the local Government are aided and abetted in their disgraceful proceedings or encouraged in persistent indifference to crying wrongs, as well by the criminal assistance as wilful apathy or silence of the Armenian Medjliss members, ostensibly elected by the suffrages of their co-religionists to guard their interest. Unfortunately then, as the evillies as much with the Christians as the Turks, under existing regulations there is no remedy for it, and there can be none till the local authorities really see for themselves that the Porte’s orders are really carried out and to open the way for the introduction of a higher class of people for such employments. As it is, no man of wealth, influence, or character will accept a seat in any one of the Councils; he will not waste time in attending to offical duties in a place where he has to put up with the contumely and impertinent insults of the Moslem members, all which are patiently borne by the fawning and obsequious Christians whose living depends upon this appointment. And even were a man of character and ability to accept a nomination at the hands of his community, the Pasha, with whom in fact the fate of such elections lie, as he has the power of rejection, would always prefer a needy, pliant member to one whose riches and position would place him beyond the reach of his menaces or influence. The interests of the community are consequently intrusted to speculators accustomed to the atmosphere of the Serai in their capacity of revenue farmers or Seraffs, who in such positions have, in addition to their own disgusting servility, all the chicanery and vices of Turkish officials, acquired a dangerous influence, either as the partners or creditors of the chief provincial officers. Such an influence might be meritorious and useful if exercised in the interests of justice and duty, but it becomes a downright evil when practised, as it always is, for their own beneffit or that of their partners in corruption, and scarcely ever for their brethren. The claims of the poor are either neglected or betrayed, and those of the rich depend upon the amount of their presents or degree of their sycophancy. The Armenian clergy and head men, on their part, purposely ignoring the villainous conduct of their Medjliss members representing the repeated failures of justice that inevitably result as due to the fanaticism or imbecility of a Government determined to ignore all just claims, exaggerate actual facts; the more readily to induce their dependants to adopt the disloyal views they propagate. As they pursue such intrigues, apparently unchecked and with the secret approval of Russian agents, wavering members, formerly content with or resigns ed to their lot, openly express disaffection and traitorous ideas.
Some of the reasons educated Armenians give to account for this Russian feeling among their countrymen are well expressed in a letter I lately received from one of the most intelligent Armenians in the capital. I am obliged to state that as far as my experience goes, his views are not groundless. While English and French Agents support by all legitimate means the efforts of their missionaries and complaints of proselytes, the Armenians are left to fight their battles through the interested elders or corrupt Medjliss members of their creed, and are thus perforce driven to seek protection from a Power that does everything to gain their sympathy. The inhabitants of the Erzeroum Vilayet, as being closer to and more in contact with Russia, more especially the borderers, partake in a greater degree of this feeling than those living in the remoter districts of Diarbekr and Kharpoot, where it is comparatively confined to the Armenian agriculturists; but here in Erzeroum, I do not believe that one of the members of the higher moneyed classes does not in a greater or lesser degree heartily share such sentiments, while most of them, though Turkish subjects, are supplied with Russian passports. The traffic in such documents, carried on as secretly as possible, is well known and widely disseminated; no large town in my district being free from these pseudo-Russians.
The exaggerated pretensions, overbearing conduct, and ostentatious display of the Russian Consul in his relations with the local authorities, in which it is needless to say other Consuls do not indulge, coupled with him, tends, among an ignorant people, to give a false value to his particular importance or rather to that of the country he represents, which by still further strengthening their belief that no other Power than Russia is so able or wiling to help them, makes them eager to apply to him in their differences and to acquire documents that to them appear claims to the interference of a foreign Power in their behalf. That the intriguing meddling conduct of the Russian Consul is approved, I may state that, although in disfavour with the Embassy at Constantinople, he is supported by the authorities in the Caucasus, to whose diplomatic Chancery at Tiflis he is directly subordinate.
In spite of the proclamation of the Constitution by the Ottoman government the conference of ambassadors continued with its discussions, together with work on a project for Bulgarian autonomy and another project for the autonomy of Bosnia-Herzogovina.
The question of the Slays in Thrace led to the outbreak of war with Rusia. The ambassadorial conference proved abortive. The Patriarch Varjabedian presented a petition to Sultan Abdulhamid. Discussions continued on this subject in the Armenian national assembly. Preparations for rebellion were gradually begun, but it appeared advisable to await the result of the war before taking action.
The Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-78; The Congress of Berlin
At around the end of the Ottoman-Russian war, the Armenian Assembly, meeting in secret session under the leadership of the Patriarch Nerses and Izmirlian, decided to send a memorandum to the Etchmiadzin Catholicosate be forwarded to the Tsar. This memorandum contained the following requests on behalf of the Armenians in Turkey:
1. That the territory as far as the Euphrates should not be restored to the Turks, but should be united with the province of Ararat and form a part of the Tsar’s dominions.
2. If what we have heard is true that there is no question of annexation of territory, then the same privileges accorded to Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people should also be granted by your Imperial Majesty to the Armenian people.
3. If the occupied territory is to be vacated, firm security should be obtained from the government on the question of reform, and the territory should not be vacated by the Russian soldiers until the introduction and full enforcement of these reforms. These reforms should be based on the following principles:
a) That a majority of the officials responsible for public order should be chosen from among the Armenians,
b) That Armenians should receive regular military training, and
c) That the Kurds and Circassians should leave their mountain strongholds and settle in the towns, and should not, for a certain prescribed period, be enrolled in the gendarmerie.
4. Armenians should be employed in government service, and, particularly in this area, governors and mayors should be chosen from among the Armenians. Only after the acceptance and enforcement of these principles should the troops of His Imperial Majesty be withdrawn.
At the same time, the Armenian national assembly decided to send a commission to Edirne and, in a top secret meeting, to present a petition to the Tsar Alexander II and his prime minister Gorchakov. The petition presented to the Emperor ran as follows:
To The Emperor Alexander II Your Imperial Majesty, We beg you to accept the appreciation, respect and administration of the spiritual leaders of the Turkish Armenians, together with their most devout and fervent congratulations on the occasion of the victory won by the troops of your glorious Empire, and that you should accept these congratulations as an expression of the aims and aspirations of the Armenian people as a whole.
Your Majesty, by your arms you have conquered a nation renowned for its heroism and valour. By this victory you have won new honour and glory throughout the world. Your arms have been victorious in both Europe and Asia. Your soldiers and commanders have spilt their sacred blood, as they did once before in Bulgaria, in the motherland of the Armenians, in an Armenia tempered by the tears and sufferings of the Armenian people.
Your Majesty, your promises were extended to all. Your protection should also be thus extended. The Armenians possess the same rights as the other non-Muslims peoples of Turkey. The avoidance of selfish interest is the noblest characteristic of a heroic potentate magnified and exalted by Almighty God. Yes, most Glorious Sovereign, now, when the fate of our co-religionists is being decided, we Armenians beg your exalted protection. We too have suffered cruel oppression, we too have been beset by brutal barbarians, we too to have been flung into a remote corner of Europe, and remain more helpless, more incapable of expressing our suffering and woes than the other Christian peoples.
What we now hope for, and what we are now so bold as to request, is that the form of administration granted to the Christians in Thrace should also be granted to the Armenians. The cries torn from our hearts would thus be heard and our miseries ended. Your Majesty, we cannot conceive it possible that we should be deceived in our faith and trust in you.
We beg you to accept our most profound respect and dedication,
Your most exalted Majesty’s most humble and faithful servant Patriach Nerses Varjabedian The Armenian Pastriarchate-Istanbul
1-13 February 1878 (Nine bishops)
To Prince Gorchakov
We the undersigned, as spiritual leaders of the Turkish Armenian millet, enclose a petition addressed to His Majesty the Emperor and beg you to forward this to his august presence.
At a time when great changes are taking place in the East, we hope and trust that you will not find it a matter for astonishment that the Armenians of Turkey should place their hopes in the illustrious Russian Emperor who has won great and glorious victories in Europe and Asia, and in a great public servant like yourself, who for a quarter of a century has distinguished himself in the excellent administration of his country.
We, Armenians, have no wish to draw up once again a full list of the wrongs and injustices that we have suffered. It is, however, undeniable that whatever ills the other Christian peoples have suffered, the Armenians have suffered these twofold. They are beleaguered by non-Armenians and enemies who consistently remain indifferent to their sufferings. These are now convinced that the Armenians have been abandoned to their fate, but the Armenians are well aware that large numbers of their compatriots live under Russian administration and that the holy office of Etchmiadzin enjoys the protection of the Russian Emperor. The Armenians are convinced that they will be able to enjoy the protection granted to other Christians and that special laws and regulations relating to them will be issued and enforced in Turkey. If the Armenians fail to receive this protection they will be exposed to even greater dangers.
We trust that your noble and generous wisdom and foresight that has always agreed so well with the desires of your glorious sovereign, will allow you to present this question to the attention and approval of His Imperial Majesty. We raise our voices in appeal to the person who has drawn his sword from its sheath in defence of the Eastern Christians. We ask only to be treated in the same way as our brothers in Thrace. In Turkey lives a people bound to its homeland of Armenia. To establish an administration for themselves there would be an easy task. All we desire is to live in Armenia under our own rule, free from the oppression of another state, where we can preserve our homeland and our temples.
The Armenians possess all the means for living and developing under the protection of our saviour, His Majesty the Emperor. There are as great administrators among the Armenians as among the Turks. Education is more widely disseminated among the Armenians than among the Turks. If it is claimed that they lack the adminstrative ability to rule themselves it is perfectly possible to establish, as in Thrace, a form of administration by which this may be ensured.
This request for Armenian independence is based on valid reasons and factors. We have, therefore, no hesitation in presenting this to Your Excellency as the most important means for our salvation.
Will our voice be heard? If only, Your Excellency, you could perceive the boundless gratitude in our own hearts, and in the heart of every member of the Armenian nation. We remain proud to be the humble Christian servants of your exalted person.
1-3 February 1878
Nerses Varjabedian Nine Bishops
Peace was expected daily. There was very little time. One copy of the petition was sent to Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich and another to Ignatiev at Edirne. Other copies were sent to Bishop Khoren Narbey and to the former Patriarch Khrimian to be forwarded to the Tsar through Etchmiadzin. At the same time Izmirlian set out for Etchmiadzin to consult the Catholicos on this question and to discuss some points in person.
The Grand Duke Nicholas took the two petitions from the Armenian bishops and sent them to the Emperor Alexander in St. Petersburg. In any case, the Emperor had already been made familiar with the background to the Armenian question through a petition prepared by Kirkor Arzuni on behalf of the Caucasian Armenians presented to the Governor-General of the Caucasus and sent on to St. Petersburg. The Emperor thereupon gave orders to Ignatiev that the Armenian question should be taken into consideration during the peace negotiations and an article inserted that would relieve the situation of the Armenians. The Patriarchate had prepared a memorandum outlining the demands of the Armenians which had been used as a basis for Lebanese autonomy and had been presented to the government. It was at this time that Armenians who had formerly been friendly with the Turks now turned toward the Russians.
The strategy pursused by the Patriarch Nerses Varjabedian has been summed up as follows: “To show gratitude to the Russians while ensuring English material and moral assistance for the Armenians.”
It would be useful to examine in detail the initatives taken by the Istanbul Armenians together with the Catholicos Keork IV: Saruhan gives the following account:
“The leaders of the Istanbul Armenians regarded it as absolutely essential that the Catholicos Keork IV should intervene in the Armenian question and that either he himself or a delegation should forward the Armenian petition first to the Russian Tsar and then to the representatives of the European powers. The task of persuading the Catholicos to undertake this was entrusted to Bishop Mateos Izmirlian, who was to leave as soon as possible for Ecthmiadzin.
In his letter of 4 February 1878 the Patriarch Nerses gave the Catholicos the following information regarding lzmirlian. “His Holiness will set forth the desires of all our compatriots, both clerical and lay. We hope and trust that both Bishop Mateos and the two envoys accompanying him (Khrimian and Narbey) will find favour with Your High Holines.” The war had just ended and regular communications between Istanbul and Caucasia had not yet been restored. The only road was via Odessa and Poti. Realising that his arrival would be delayed, Izmirlian sent a letter to Bishop Vahram, Manguni, a close friend and conffidant of the Catholicos. Nerses, in another letter dated 12 February, asked the Catholicos to appeal first to the Tsar or, if this should prove impossible, to the Congress of Ambassadors.
The Catholicos Keork IV felt no hostility towards Russia, but bishop Manguni, by whom he was very much influenced, was definitely hostile, and Izmirlian thus endeavoured to bring as much influence as possible to bear upon him. In a letter to Manguni dated 13 February 1878 he writes:
“Nothing is so effective as the passage of time. Time can alter many things. We must bow to the requirements imposed by changing conditions. We must change our old modes of conduct. Our traditional prudence and foresight impel us now to appeal to the Tsar. Today, following the loss of a large and important part of its territory, Turkey lies prostrate at his feet. We must sieze this opportunity of taking possession of the Asiatic territories. Even if Turkey remains in that section of the Empire, it will remain there as a humble vassal of Russia. We are undoubtedly dependent on Russian assistance. We must therefore endeavour to attract is favour and sympathy, and to bring forward the Armenian question now so that we can become masters of our own country when the problem of Asiatic Turkey once more emerges, as it most certainly will, if not in the immediate, at least in the very near future.”
Izmirlian was in Etchmiadzin by the begining of March and made his first approach to Vahram Manguni. In view of the Catholicos Keork’s illness, Manguni suggested that Izmirlian should present the appeals and petitions to the Catholicos through himself as intermediary and that he should receive the reply in the same way. Izmirlian rejected this offer of mediation and appealed to the Catholicos through Bishop Bedros, suggesting that the Catholicos, in spite of his illness, should perform, ill as he was, his duties as Catholicos in attempting to solve what was a matter of life and death for the Armenian people. He was received by the Catholicos, but neither this interview nor any of the interviews that followed produced any result. Izmirlian returned to Istanbul at the beginning of April having accomplished nothing and gave a full account of his failure. Old acquaintances of the Catholicos appealed directly to him and attempted to explain the real truth of the situation.
One of these, Dr. Servichen, explained the view-point of the Istanbul Armenians in a letter addressed to the Catholicos dated 12 April 1878.
“I believe that I know the sentiments and attitudes of Your Holiness as well as Your Holiness knows my humble self. Unfortunately, the distance that separates us prevents my being fully familiar with your own situation, and Your Holiness is also unaware of the changes that have taken place here since you left us. Therefore, I feel obliged to forward to your honourable self an account of the action that has been undertaken here or that is about to be taken.
Following the failure of the steps taken by Re?it, Ali and Fuad Pashas at the suggestion of England and France, and the inability of the state to revive its former power and influence, the only recourse for the various groups ils to disperse and seek their own solution. That ils the present situation.
You well know that I and people like me have always endeavoured to convince a State of the necessity for the strengthening of the Asiatic provinces for the advancement of Armenian interests. The Turks also share this view. But even although they may be of the same opinion they have neither the strength nor the power to do anything about it. What should be done in the context of the present actions and activities? Nations such as the Bulgarians, the Greeks and the Bosnians are bringing out their own problems. What action should we Armenians take? Past experience proves that the only possible way of uniting with them is to reject Islamic nationality. This is the source of the Armenian problem. Conditions and circumstances, not we Armenians, have produced this problem.
We have appealed to the victorious power with whom we are so closely acquainted and whose future line of conduct is also so well known to us, in our attempt to preserve the national traditions we so dearly cherish, and which include the religion, language and memories of our forefathers and ancestors, and have petitioned assitance in endowing our nation with constitutional status.
As you are well aware, we wish to become neither Turks nor Russians. We are Armenian, and we wish to remain Armenian.
We have always worked, and will continue to work, in the interests of the Armenian nation. Even if all our efforts should prove futile, at least no one can accuse us of having failed to perform our duty as Armenians. Even if we should err, our action should be treated with forbearance.
Your Holiness suspects us of selling ourselves and our nation. This is by no means the case. There may be potential buyers, but there are no sellers. May it not be that you err with regard to our line of action? And yet how is this possible when our aim is so well known to you?
You are aware that at the moment there is no Turkish government in existence. For the Armenians there are only the Kurds and their cruel depredations. It is a question either of the establishment or the extinction of a nation. The situation being as it is, inactivity on our part would be a terrible crime and a terrible sin.
If you, who have been appointed to shed the light of the spirit upon us and form a centre for all friends of our nation and your Holy Office of the memories and traditions of our forefathers, should fail to support us, then you would be failing in your duty. What are you afraid of? We are all mortal. We have all come into this world to do our duty. We shall end our lives in the performance of our duty. That is my own conviction and belief, and I believe that there is no disagreement between us on this point.
Know then, Your Holiness, that we have applied for the political future of our nation not only to Russia but also to the English, the Germans, the French and the whole of Europe. Whoever is with us is our Mend. We have never surrendered to anyone and never will. We seek a protector in our helplessness and misery. We will work with anyone who is capable of combining his own interests with the interests of the Armenian people. Our only leading principle is the interests of Armenia. I am convinced that this also holds true for yourself. So that is what we have done and what we intend to do. It remains for your to lend you sanction and approval.”
Your Holiness’ Humble Servant and Dr. Servichen
Tumaian writes as follows:
“On seeing no mention of even the name of Armenia in the Peace Treaty - the Armenians had suffered severe losses on the battlefield - the Partriarch, entirely on his own initiative, went to the Russian army headquarters at Ayastefanos and asked the Grand Duke Nicholas to include an article concerning the Armenians. The Grand Duke informed him that he had arrived too late and that the Peace Treaty was to be signed the next day. Count Ignatiev and Baron Nelidoff gave sympathetic support to the Patriarch’s request and the Grand Duke Nicholas finally told Count Igantiev to compose an article on the Armenian question. The Igantiev article constituted article 16 in the Ayastefanos (San Stefano) agreement.”
The next day, when the Ottoman delegates met the Grand Duke Nicholas in the house of the Armenian Dadian, they were amazed at being asked by the Russians to consider a new article on the Armenians, and objected that the Armenian question was not under discussion. The Grand Duke replied that special instructions had been received from the Tsar, and the Ottoman delegates were obliged to accept. The article ran as follows:
“As the withdrawal of the Russian troops from those parts of Armenia now under their occupation and the return of those territories to the administration of the Sublime Porte may give rise to conflicts injurious to the friendly relations between our two governments, the Sublime Porte engages to carry out, without loss of time, the reforms and re-organization demanded by local interests in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians and to ensure the security of the Armenians against the depredations of the Kurds and Circassians.”
This article in the peace agreement failed to satisfy the Armenians, who were striving towards complete autonomy, but a certain amount of satisfaction was later derived from the fact that the Ottoman government had entered into an engagement regarding Armenia and that relations had been forged with the Tsar.
From the very beginning the Armenians had had higher expectations. The assistance offered to the Russian army by the Caucasian Armenians andthe use made of Armenian commanders in the Russian army had raised their hopes. The memory was particularly strong of the Armenians who had served in the Russian army in 1826-28 in the time of Nerses Ashdarakesi. Instead of complete independence they received only this article.
Actually, this treaty secured the Armenians a considerable political advantage in so far as this article gave them the honour of being included in an international treaty. Thus the date of this treaty, 3 March 1878, marks an important milestone for the Armenians.
The Treaty of Ayastefanos includes three basic principles:
1. that a state of Armenia actually exists,
2. that this state is in urgent need of reform and re-organization,
3. that the security of the Armenians is threatened by the Kurds and Circassians.
The necessary measures to be taken are outlined together with the condition “without delay”.
The treaty made it quite clear that the parts of Armenia occupied by the Russians were to remain in Russian hands until the necessary reforms were carried out. In other words, certain parts of Armenia were to be annexed to Russia, while the other parts were to remain under Russian occupation on the pretext of “supervision of the reform measures”. That this was the attitude of the Russians was openly stated at the Congress of Berlin by Count Shouvalov, the Russian Ambassador in London. If the article had remained in this form, concerning as it did only the Russian and Ottoman governments, Russia would have retained permament control of the area.
The Treaty of Ayastefanos placed the Armenians under Russian protection. If Armenia had been left to Russia would things have turned out any better? Russia clearly showed that it would have given a very cool welcome to a free or reformed Armenia. This did not, however, prevent the Armenians from continuing their activity. Izmirlian went to Etchmiadzin, while Bishop Khoren Narbey went to St Petersburg, taking with him the project for an independent Armenia that had been prepared in Istanbul, and made contacts with senior Russian political circles.
The above-mentioned project contained the following:
1. A Governor-General will be appointed to Armenia and this Governer-General will belong to the Gregorian sect.
2. The governors, kaymakams and mayors will also be chosen from from among Armenians of the Gregorian sect and their appointment will be approved by the Sublime Porte.
3. The maintenance of law and order in the province will be entrusted to Armenians, and the gendarmerie will be composed entirely of Armenians.
4. The judicial system well be based on Christian principle and the judges will be Armenian. There will be no religious courts, cadis or similar religious officials.
5. Kurdish derebeys will be removed and the privileges granted to Kurds and derebeys will be rescinded.
6. The levy and collection of taxes will be re-organized on a just basis.
7. Laws relating to property, the pious foundations and other tax laws will be revised and deeds drawn up anew.
8. All weapons belonging to Turks in Armenia will be collected.
9. A new law will be drawn up for the administration of Armenia and this law will be enforced after ratiffication by Russia.
10. The restoration of independence in Zeitun will be guaranteed.
It was also requested that Russian soldiers should not be withdrawn from Armenia until these demands had been granted.
Great hopes were laid on this project, which had been prepared by both lay and clerical assemblies in the Armenian Patriarchate. Russian diplomats also gave assurances that the terms of this project would be put into effect. Khoren Narbey intended to have the Armenian general Loris Melikov appointed Governor-General of Armenia. His real aim was to follow Loris Melikov’s advice to “abandon hope for the upper section. That is necessary for us. You should do something lower down. We shall help you there”, thus facilitating the Russian occupation of Armenia and preparing the way for an occupation of Cilicia.
After the Treaty of Ayastefanos the Grand Duke Nicholas visited Sultan Abdul Hamid in Istanbul and was given Beylerbeyil Saray as his residence. The Patriarch Nerses Varjabedian visited him on the pretext of the Easter festival in order to thank him for his help and sympathy for the Armenians, had presented him with a memorandum on the subject of Armenian independence. He also dwelt on the barbarity to which the Armenian peasants would be exposed after the withdrawal of the Russian troops.
An account of the intrigues that lay behind the inclusion in the Treaty of Ayastefanos of article 16 relating to the Armenians and the various stages through which these passed is given in the following passage from Saruhan:
“The more reasonable members who made up the majority of the Armenian National Assembly met in the Galata Armenian school on Friday, 21 November 1877 and drew up a memorandum to be presented through the good offices of the Etchmiadzin Catholicos, the spiritual leader of all the Armenians. It was decided that a commission should be chosen from among the church members to convey this memorandum to the Catholicos but when it transpired that Nerses Vartabet Partigamian was to go to Etchmiadzin they decided that it was he who should be entrusted with the mission.
In addition to this the following requests were addressed to the Catholicos:
“Your Holiness should send an effcient, highranking member of the clerical assembly with a good knowledge of languages to the peace conference that will be meeting in the near future to put forward these as his own views in the assembly of European representatives as head of the Armenian mulct. The delegate attending the conference should present the 2nd and 3rd sections of the above proposals in writing to the Congress of Ambassadors, with the titles and phrases relating to the monarch replaced by the words “to the grace and favour of the European states and for the consideration and approval of the European governments”. The delegate should conduct negotiations on behalf of the Catholicos with the cabinets and assemblies of the Great Powers, and more particularly with the governments of England, France and Prussia whose support has been won through our national assembly in ?stanbul. The important task of presenting the question to the meeting of ambassadors was entrusted to the Catholicos.”
As Nerses Varjabedian was suspected of being on the side of the government, Khrimian called a meeting of all the bishops at his house in Kuzguncuk in 1877. After prolonged debate he declared that “the policy pursued by Nerses was unacceptable and that the should be replaced by someone with a more modern approach”, proposing Izmirlian as the new Patriarch. Nerses found Khrimian’s strictures fully justified, declaring that he would perform whatever duty his country required him, but asked the assembled bishops to come to his assistance. He subsequently completely changed his attitude under the influence of the new policy introduced by Khrimian and thereafter pursued the Armenian problem with all his strength and ability. In January at the same time as the Sublime Porte was sending representatives to Edirne to come to a decision regarding the first conditions of the peace treaty, the Patriarch Nerses was presenting a memorandum to Kevork V Ruschuklian, the deputy marhasa in Edirne. Ruschuklian gives the following account of how it all began:
“I was obliged to pay a courtesy call on the Grand Duke Nicholas and Count Ignatiev. While I was awaiting a suitable opportunity, Girov, the former Russian consul in Plovdiv and a Mend of the Armenians who had played an important role in Bulgarian affairs, arrived in Edirne as assistant to the Russian ambassador. I asked him to act as intermediary in procuring me an interview with Count Ignatiev and to help me in obtaining information regarding the situation in Armenia. Girov accepted my proposal, introducing me to Count Ignatiev the following evening and acting as my interpreter. At the same time he told the Count that we could meet in secret. I first of all prayed for the continuing felicity of the Russian Emperor, who had declared war who had succeeded, by the grace of God, in saving not only the Christians of Bulgaria but also the Armenians, a Christian people inhabiting the East who were no less wretched and destitute than the Bulgarians and had been no less exposed to brutality and torture. ‘I have heard: I continued, ‘that the Russian armies have occupied certain parts of Armenia, such as Kars and Erzurum. As all my information is obtained from Istanbul I know nothing of the situation of our brothers in Armenia. It is essential that I should procure information on this subject!
The Count replied: ‘The Russian army has advanced as far as Erzurum and occupied that region, bringing freedom to that part of Armenia. Nevertheless, the Armenian millet and the larger part of Armenia will never be able to attain the independence achieved by the Bulgarians. As the Armenians do not themselves occupy Armenia it inevitably remains a dead letter. For three years I have worked as the defender and representative of the Armenian people. Let’s leave aside the fact that the provincial Armenians are wretched, apathetic and dispersed. Even the enlightened and hard-working Armenians of Istanbul, Nubar Pasha included, placed obstacles in the path of my work and wellmeaning endeavours. But don’t worry. You are Turkish citizens. Begin your preparations now, with good hope for the future, for the day when you will gain your independence through knowledge and learning, civilized behaviour, spiritual and material means, internal organization and sound policy. I am always wiling to support your Patriarch. Let him not wait. Let him start work immediately. The time is ripe.’
On 20 January 1878 I informed the Patriarch of what Count Ignatiev had said and the orders he had given me. At the same time I informed him that my meeting with Ignatiev had been realised through our old and sincere friend Girov, and I asked him, if he approved of the steps I had taken and the relations I had established on behalf of the oppressed and unjustly treated people of Armenia, to let me know as soon as possible so that I should not let this opportunity slip.
To what did the Patriarch Nerses owe his success, or was he aided by a lucky coincidence? That remains a mystery. But ten days after the arrival of his letter Stepan Aslanian Pasha and Hobannes Nurian Efendi were sent by the Sublime Porte on a special mission under the orders of Saffet and Server Pashas. This mission was concerned with the transport of sick Turkish soldiers to Istanbul. But at the same time these two persons were sent to me with a recommendation letter from the Patriarch dated 31 January 1878 to act as advisers on the Armenian question. We told them of our interview with Count Ignatiev and its results, while they informed us of the account given by the Holy Patriarch to the Russian Ambassador and the Grand Duke Nicholas of the injustice and misery suffered by the Armenians and of their desire to arouse the sympathy of the Russian Emperor, adding that only through his help and assistance could the Armenians attain, as an independent Armenian nation, the freedom already achieved by the Bulgarinas.
As ten days had now passed since the Patriarch had been informed by report of the situation. I decided to strengthen my relations with the Russian delegation without waiting for a reply. On the recommendation of our Mend M. Girov and the approval of Count Ignatiev I had another audience with the Grand Duke Nicholas, in the course of which I requested that a responsible official should be sent to be present at the service to be held in church the following day in accordance with Russian usage and custom, at which prayers would be said for the health of the Emperor and for the souls of the Russian soldiers killed in battle.
The Ambassador, Count Ignatiev, who knew the reason for my audience with the Grand Duke, and Count Nelidov, the Ambassador in Istanbul, were also present and a heated discussion in Russian took place between the three men. The Grand Duke then replied to my invitation by saying, ‘I am very pleased to receive this invitation from the Armenian people. They have always shown great sympathy and affection for our soldiers. They have opened up their houses to them and assisted them in many ways. I feel both love and respect for the Armenians. I should like to be present personally at this service in your church. But we are at war, and it would be better if no definite date was set. Postpone the service for a time. I myself shall decide on the date and inform you of the matter? I thanked him for this reply and withdrew from his presence.
I informed my worthy associates of this news and the promise I had received from the Grand Duke. It was essential that they should be introduced to Count Ignatiev before the Grand Duke came to the church, but this would be rather difficult as they could go nowhere without the knowledge and approval of Saffet and Server Pashas. However, in spite of all their vigilance, we succeeded one night in secretly introducing Nurian Efendi to Count Ignatiev and, describing the miseries and injustice to which the Armenian people were exposed, we begged the Russian Emperor’s sympathy. We remained for some time with Count Ignatiev. He said that he would further our cause by arranging an audience with the Grand Duke, and told us that we should return two days later at the same time bringing Stepan Pasha with us. This we did, arriving at the appointed time accompanied by Stepan Pasha. ‘I have talked to the Grand Duke: he said to us, and your cause has achieved a certain success. We are in touch with the Emperor. I hope that the matter will be approved by the Emperor in two or three days. Pray God to assist you? We were very excited at the news and filled with hope and, begging once more that the Emperor might extend his pity to the Armenian people we returned well pleased. I immediately sent news of the result of this interview to Patriarch Nerses by Russian courier and received a letter of thanks in return.
The Grand Duke attended our chucrh, as he had promised, on 8 February, accompanied by Count Ignatiev, Count Nicholas and sixteen generals and high-ranking officials. The service of thanks and good wishes passed off in good order. After the service, I invited him to the marhashane (the residence of the marhasa). Stepan Aslanian Pasha and Hohannes Nurian Efendi were also present. Saffet Pasha had refused permission for them to attend the church service. The talk centred on the Armenian people and their unjust treatment. The Grand Duke asked a number of questions on the geographic situation of Armenia and the state of the inhabitants I felt I lacked the necessary knowledge to answer. This offered me the opportunity of introducing Stepan Aslanian Pasha and Nurian Efendi, so I immediately informed the Grand Duke that ‘full and accurate answers could be given His Highness’ question by two leaders of the Armenian Assembly that were there with Saffet Pasha and that if he wished they would attend him immediately’, ‘Yes, I should very much like to see them: the Grand Duke replied, ‘Let them come?, and immediately sent one of his aides de-camp to Saffet Pasha’s house. Our friends were waiting there ready for news form us. Saffet Pasha did not oppose the Grand Duke’s order and allowed them to go. The interview lasted half an hour. They, too, asked for the independence of Armenia. As the Grand Duke was leaving I again begged him not to forget the wrteched and oppressed Armenian people. ‘Neither I nor my brother,’ he said shaking my hand, ‘wiil ever forget them?
The next day I went to Count Ignatiev to express my gretitude and asked him to arrange an audience for me with the Grand Duke. The day and hour were decided. We were received at the appointed time. Again Count Ignatiev and Count Nelidov were in attendance. I expressed the thanks of the Armenian people, whose hearts were filled with hope and affection for the Russian government, for the great love and favour that had been shown them.
‘I am much gratiffied by the Armenians’ expression of love and affection,’ the Grand Duke said, respect-fully shaking my hand. ‘I have informed my brother the Emperor by telegram of my satisfaction and of my having been so warmly received neither by the Greeks nor any of the other nations. I shall be leaving in a few days time for Ayastefanos and there I shall be in closer touch with your Patriarch at Kumkap?. Write to your Patriarch. Your hopes and endeavours will not be in vain. You can feel confident. I am in touch with my brother?
These semi-official contacts raised our hopes and we returned in good spirits. Two days later I was summoned by Count Ignatiev. I immediately went to him. ‘Congratulations,’ he said, ‘Things are going well. We have received the Tsar’s approval. Your affair is to be included in the Russo-Turkish agreement. You should prepare a memorandum for the Grand Duke stating the desires and demands of the Armenians?
There was a third person in addition to Stepan Aslanian Pasha and Nurian Efendi who in spite of his delicate position performed a great service to the national cause and was particularty influential in having article 16 included in the Ayastefanos Treaty. This was Foreign Secretary Sergis Hamamjian, who had been appointed assistant to the Foreign Minister Saffet Pasha and Sadullah Bey, the Ambassador to Berlin.
At that time the eyes of all Istanbul, from, the greatest to the least, were fixed upon the Russians, who were about decide the fate of Turkey. They were fully expecting them to grant the independence of Armenia. In other words, they expected for themselves the conditions that had been granted to European Turkey. Everyone, great and small alike, was working towards this end”
In addition to the envoys sent to Edirne, congratulations were sent to the victorious Russian Emperor on behalf of the Armenian people. The Patriarchate prepared a number of different projects to be applied in accordance with the situation that had developed. One of these was based on the type of independence granted to Lebanon.
During the negotations on the Edirne agreement, two of the representatives there present petitioned Count Ignatiev, through Kevork Vartabet Rusehuklian, for the creation of an independent Armenia composed of the provinces of Van, Mu?, Erzurum, Diyarbak?r and other regions. Ignatiev informed them of the good news that the following had been included as article 16:
“As the same maladministration and oppression as existed in European Turkey are also to be observed in the Asian provinces, the Ottoman Sultan and the Russian Tsar have decided to grant complete independence to regions inhabited by the Armenians immediately adjacent to the Caucasion provinces (Erzurum, Mu?, Van, Diyarbak?r, Sivas, etc.) and to introduce the necessary changes in the laws governing the provinces.”
This request met with objections from the Turkish delegation. They openly declared that they could not accept Armenian independence without the approval of the Sultan and expressed their astonishment at a demand for the independence of an integral part of Anatolia. They immediately summoned the deputy marhasa and asked him for an explanation.
Ruschuklian, rather disingenuously, declared that the Armenians were not playthings in the hands of the Russians. Russia had attempted the same thing before, but the Armenians were content with the administration under which they had lived for five hundred years.
On Ignatiev’s insistence that this was the desire of the Emperor, the Ottoman representatives were finally obliged to accept its inclusion in the Treaty of Ayastefanos (San Stefeno).
The Grand Duke arrived in Ayastefanos, where he stayed in the house of Dadian Arakel By. Here he was begged by Dadian’s daughter to include the article concerning the Armenians.
At Ayastefanos, the Armenian point of view was defended by Bishop Khoren Narbey. After two weeks’ activity by the side of Count Ignatiev he succeeded, thanks to his personal and private relationship, in procuring the acceptance of article 16.
England disapproved of the Ayastefanos Treaty, feeling that it greatly increased Russian influence in Eastern Anatolia, and insisted that an agreement concerning the situation in the East was not a subject to be decided between the Russian and Ottoman government, but should have previously been discussed by the states participating in the Congress of Paris. Having received a grant of six million pounds from the House of Commons, Lord Beaconsfield sent the British fleet to the Bosphorus and a section of the Indian Army to Malta. For a time war between Russia and England appeared imminent. Russia, however, partly from exhaustion, partly from its uncertainty concerning Austria’s friendship or neutrality, yielded to England’s demand that the Treaty of Ayastefanos should be referred to the Congress of Berlin.
* ie. Etchmiadzin. The spelling occurs in the English translation of the text quoted in Lynch, op. cit., II, 446-467.
 M. Varandian, Origins of the Armenian Movement, Geneva, 1914 (Armenian).
 ibid, vol. 2, p. 238.
 Saruhan, The Armenian National Assembly, Tiflis, 1912, p. 5-12 (Armenian).
 Tarih-i Ahmet Lutfi, vol. 22, p. 185-191.
 The Tanzimat-? Hayriye (Hatt-i Humayun of Gülhane, 1839) established equality before the law, security of life and property and the preservation of honour for all Ottoman subjects. The Reform Firman of 1856 contained very important items concerning the non-Moslem communities. See Appendix.
 N. Iorga, Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches, vol. 5, p. 606.
 K. Ozanian The Historical Mission of the Armenians, 1919 (Armenian).
 Saruhan, The Ottoman Armenians and the National Constitution, 1860-1910, (Armenian).
 Migirdich Khrimian played a very important role in Armenian history. Born in Van in 1820, he was Patriarch of Istanbul from 1869 to 1873 and became Catholicos in 1893 at the age of 72. He died in 1907 at the age of 87. He was educated by his uncle and became a teacher at the age of 20. He married on his mother’s insistence but his wife died very shortly after their marriage. After visiting various parts of Northern Iran, Caucasia and the Etchmiadzin region he settled in Istanbul. He became vartabet of the Akhtamar Monastery in 1854 at the age of 34 and soon became renowned for his impassioned sermons. In Van he published a periodical entitled The Van Eaglein which he appealed to the younger generation to engage in strugle and revolution. In Mu? he produced a similar periodical The Mu? Eagle. He defended the Armenian Cause at the Congress of Berlin.
 Topchian, op. cit.
 M. Varandian, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 49.
 ibid., vol. 2, p. 71.
 Zeitun Past and Present, 1900 (Armenian).
 For more details see the section on the Zeitun Mutiny.
 Saruhan, Revue de Constantinople, 1878 p. 94 (Armenian).
 Leo, The Ideology of the Armenian Revolution, Paris, 1935, vol.1 (Armenian).
 Saruhan The Armenian Question and the Armenian National Assembly, Tiflis, 1912 (Armenian).
 Blue Book. Turkey, 1877.
 This was prepared in Istanbul in September 1876 and submitted to the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Derby, by Seth A. Apkar on behalf of the Armenians.
 The Istanbul Patriarch was chosen by the General Assembly and presided over the Executive Council. He acted as intermediary between the state and the people. The General Assembly was elected by popular vote and consisted of 140 members. It was divided into groups, the one dealing with ecclesiastical affairs and the other with various secular matters. There was a similar assembly in each of the provinces.
 Blue Book, Turkey, N. 1, 1877.
 ibid., N. 16.
 Saruhan, The Armenian Question and the Armenian National Assembly, p. 261-262 (Armenian).
 Leo, Documents on the Armenian Question, Tiflis 1915, p. 56-58 (Armenian).
 Bishop Khoren Narbey, whose real name was Khoren Kalfalan, was a Mekhitarist who played a very important role in the Armenian Question.
 M. Varandian, op. cit., vol. 2.
 Saruhan, op. cit., p. 321.
 i.e. Russia.
 Tumaian, A History of the Eastern Question, vol. 2.
 ibid., p. 256.
 Leo, op. cit., p. 61.
 Saruhan, op. cit.
 ibid., p. 259-280.
 Leo, op. cit.; also see the Ramik newspaper published in Fiibe, 1907.
- OTTOMAN ARCHIVES YILDIZ COLLECTION THE ARMENIAN QUESTION II-POLITICAL DVELOPMENTS AFTER THE TALOR? INCIDENTS
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