Brief Presentation Of The Armenian Community


The oldest findings prove the presence of Armenians on the present territory of Romania, more precisely in Moldavia, in an inscription on a tombstone in Cetatea Alba, dated 967 AD. The Hungarian chroniclers Simon Kesay and Thuroczi recorded that, under Duke Geza and King Stephen (997-1038), a large number of Armenians settled in the kingdom, together with poles, Greeks, and Spaniards, and that they were given special privileges and even noble titles.The most important document, that can even be considered a "birth certificate" for the Armenians in this area is the "hrisov" (princely edict), dated 30 July 1401, in which Prince Alexandru cel Bun (Alexander the Good, 1400-1431) agrees that an Armenian bishop be named head of the church in Suceava, the capital of Moldavia. This original document can be found in the Armenian Episcopal Archives in Lvov.A capital event in the existence of the Armenians in Transylvania is the foundation of Armenopolis, near Gherla, in 1700. Armenians had been living there since 1672; with the approval of Emperor Leopold I (1657-1705), they built up this Armenian town, sending to Vienna 25,000 guilders in exchange for the Imperial permission. Armenopolis was built on the land bought by Armenians, using the project of architect Alexanian. The second Armenian city was Elisabetopolis (now Dumbraveni), inhabited by an Armenian community since 1658. By Imperial Decree, in 1799, these two Armenian cities became "free royal cities". By that time, there were other Armenian communities in Transylvania, e.g. in Frumoasa, Sibiu, Oradea, Bistrita, Targu-Secuiesc, or Sfantu-Gheorghe, which had, beside the mayor, an Elders' Coucil, chosen by the inhabitants. The Armenian communities had their own courts, that used the First Armenian Code, that of Makhitar Gosh from the 13th century.The list of Armenian personalities from Romania is very long: from the Moldavian Princes Garabet Ioan Potcoava (1592) and Ion Voda the Armenian (1572-1574) to Petru Vartic, Chancellor of Prince Petru Rares. Petru Armeanu was a diplomat under the rule of Mihai Viteazu. Manuc Bei Mirzaian, Prince of Moldo-Wallachia; Vasile Misir, a member of Parliament from 1901 to 1908; economist and minister Grigore Trancu-Iasi; generals Iacob Zadig, Mihail Cerchez, and Hovhannes Czecz, who was the commander of the revolutionary army in Transylvania in 1849; writer and literary critic Garabet Ibraileanu; music critic Emanoil Ciomac; art critic and famous art collector Krikor Zambaccian; historian and orientalist H. Dj. Siruni; composers Carol Mikuli, Matei Socor, and Mihail Jora; painters Simon Hollosy, Nutzi Aconz, Abgar Baltazar, and Hrandt Avakian; cartoonist Cik Damadian; sculptor Ioana Kasargian; philosophers Vasile Conta and Aram Frenkian; brothers Arsavir Acterian, a writer, and Haig Acterian, a director; doctor Ana Aslan, a member of the Academy; mathematician, sociologist, and politician Spiru Haret; para-psychologist Levon Mirahorian, and many others.The Romanian Armenians' Union was founded on 25 January 1919, in order to assist the Armenians who took refuge in Romania from the Ottoman Empire, after the 1915 Genocide. Grigore Trancu-Iasi was elected its first President.

by Mihai Stepan-Cazazian