Armenian Constantinople

Richard G. Hovannisian, Simon Payaslian

Quick Overview

From early antiquity, the Armenian people developed a rich and distinctive culture on the great highland plateau extending from eastern Asia Minor to the Caucasus. On that crossroad, they interacted on many levels with civilizations of the Orient and Occident. The Armenian community in Constantinople, dating back to the fourth century, contributed to the cultural and material development of the imperial city, the City of Constantine—Kostandnupolis or Bolis, today’s Istanbul.

Constantinople served as a major cultural center for Armenians, as Byzantine, Arab, Seljuk, Mongol, and Mamluk invaders battled across their homeland for regional hegemony, compelling Armenians in growing numbers to migrate westward to the Byzantine Empire or being forced to do so by the Byzantine rulers in furtherance of their imperial objectives.

Under Ottoman rule, Armenians in the capital registered impressive cultural and economic achievements despite their legal status as second-class citizens, and they witnessed an enlightenment and cultural reawakening in all spheres of literature and arts led by such intellectuals as Bedros Turian, Hagop Baronian, Srpuhi Diusap, Zabel Yesayan, Rupen Sevag, Taniel Varoujan, and Siamanto, the last three falling victim to the genocidal policies of the Young Turk regime. The military and economic decline of the Ottoman Empire, however, caused severe tensions between Turks and Armenians, further exacerbated by strains in international relations. The Armenian massacres of 1894-96 and 1909 culminated in the Armenian Genocide beginning in 1915 during World War I. Still, the Armenian community in Istanbul today and Armenians across the world remain the beneficiaries of the rich cultural legacy inherited from the generations of the Armenian enlightenment.

The UCLA conference series, “Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces,” is organized by the Holder of the Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History with the purpose of exploring and illuminating the historical, political, cultural, religious, social, and economic legacy of a people rooted for millennia on the Armenian highland.

Armenian Constantinople is the ninth of the conference proceedings to be published. Scholars from various disciplines offer the story of the Armenian presence in Constantinople across the centuries until the early decades of the twentieth century. Other publications in this series include Van/Vaspurakan; Baghesh/Bitlis and Taron/Mush; Tsopk/Kharpert; Sebastia/Sivas and Lesser Armenia; Karin/Erzerum; Tigranakert/Diarbekir and Edessa/Urfa; Armenian Cilicia; and Armenian Pontus.


Richard G. Hovannisian

Richard G. Hovannisian (1932-2023) was past holder of the Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. A native of California, he received his B.A. and M.A. in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and Ph.D. in history from UCLA. A member of the UCLA faculty since the 1960s, he organized both the undergraduate and graduate programs in Armenian history and served as the Associate Director of UCLA's Center for Near Eastern Studies from 1978 to 1995. Professor Hovannisian is a Guggenheim Fellow and has received many honors for his scholarship, civic activities, and advancement of Armenian studies. He is a founder and six-time president of the Society for Armenian Studies and has published thirty books and numerous scholarly articles, including 5 volumes on the Armenian Genocide and 15 volumes by Mazda Publishers on historic Armenian cities and provinces.

Simon Payaslian

Simon Payaslian is Charles K. and Elizabeth M. Kenosian Professor of Modern Armenian History and Literature at Boston University. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science (Wayne State University, 1992) and a Ph.D. in Armenian History (UCLA, 2003). He is the author of four books:"United States Policy toward the Armenian Question and the Armenian Genocide" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); "The Armenian Genocide, 1915-1923: A Handbook for Students and Teachers" (ACF, 2001); "International Political Economy: Conflict and Cooperation in the Global System" (coauthored with Frederic S. Pearson) (McGraw-Hill, 1999; Chinese translation, Peking University Press, 2006); and "U.S. Foreign Economic and Military Aid: The Reagan and Bush Administrations" (Univ. Press of America, 1996). He has written articles and book chapters on U.S. foreign policy, international human rights, the United Nations and the developing nations, the Kurdish question, and the Armenian Genocide. His articles include: After Recognition, Armenian Forum 2 (Winter 2001); "The Inter-American Human Rights System: Charismatic Values and Regional Integration," Journal of the Third World Spectrum 4 (Spring 1997); and "The United Nations and the Developing Countries in the 1990s," University of Detroit Mercy Law Review 73 (Spring 1996). His forthcoming book, History of Armenia, surveys Armenian history from the origins to the present.

List of Maps and Illustrations

1. Armenian Constantinople.
Richard G. Hovannisian and Simon Payaslian

2. Constantinople and Early Armenian Literature.
Robert W. Thomson

3. Byzantine Emperor Philippikos-Vardanes:
Monothelete Policy and Caucasian Diplomacy.
Mikaël Nichanian

4. Armenian Elites in Constantinople:
Emperor Basil and Patriarch Photius.
Manea Erna Shirinian

5. Patterns of Contact and Communication:
Constantinople and Armenia, 860-976.
Tim Greenwood

6. Intersection of Society, Culture, and Religion: The Constantinople Style and Armenian Identity.
Ronald T. Marchese and Marlene R. Breu

7. The Armenian Bible of 1623 and the Merchant Communities of Constantinople and New Julfa.
Ina Baghdiantz McCabe

8. Cyrus Hamlin and American Education for Armenians in Constantinople.
Barbara Merguerian

9. The Armenian Community of Constantinople in the Late Ottoman Empire.
Ohannes Kiliçdagi

10. Three Literary Views of Armenian Constantinople and Its Inhabitants.
Victoria Rowe

11. The Balian Dynasty of Architects.
Sarkis Balmanoukian

12. The Musical World of Armenians in Constantinople.
Lucina Agbabian Hubbard

13 . Daniel Varoujan and Literary Heathenism.
Souren Danielyan

14 . The Voice of Kostan Zarian: Before and After the Catastrophe.
Vartan Matiossian

15 . The Ottoman Empire and the Armenian Intelligentsia in Constantinople, 1908-1915.
Robert Krikorian

16 . The Armenian Revolutionary Federation in Constantinople, 1908-1914.
Dikran Kaligian

17. La Renaissance and the Aftermath of World War.I.
Hervé Georgelin
18. Redefining Armenian Literary Identity in Istanbul.
Peter Cowe

19. From Constantinople to Erevan: The Odyssey of Vahram Papazian.
Robert H. Hewsen

20. The Armenian Oral Tradition in Istanbul.
Verjiné Svazlian

21. The French Connection: Peter Sourian and Constantinople.
David Stephen Calonne


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