Crimea, Armenian Cities, and the Genoese Quarantine

So, we are in Crimea, in Caffa – the homeland of our old friend, the builder Khachatur, who left his autograph on the wall of the Kyiv Saint Sophia Cathedral in 1206. However, before becoming Caffa, the city was called Ardavda, Theodosia, Caffa, Kefe, and again – Theodosia.

The fortress built on Quarantine Hill a century and a half after Khachatur, is called Genoese.

In the seriously argued and well-illustrated book “Monuments of Armenian Settlements” (Published by “Ayastran, 1987”) by M.Peshtmaljyan, who devoted his life to research, we read: “The largest Armenian settlement in Crimea formed in ancient Caffa (Theodosia) in the Middle Ages. In 1475, 46 thousand Armenians lived here, which constituted 65% of the population.

The city had dozens of Armenian churches, of which 7 have survived. The oldest (of the surviving) is the Church of Surb Sarkis. Its walls are adorned with numerous khachkars, including a khachkar dated to the 8th century.

And there: “Armenian old-timers lived in Caffa itself, while newly arriving Armenian poor had to settle outside the city limits. Thus, in the 13th-14th centuries on the seashore, east of the Genoese fortress, an Armenian settlement was formed. In the middle of the 14th century, it was surrounded by a defensive wall to protect against Tatar raids.

From this settlement, the defensive wall Ayots berd and four small churches have survived to this day. The space between the Armenian churches was filled with Armenian houses, which have not survived. In recent centuries, the area of the Armenian settlement has been called Quarantine”. Quarantine – who would have thought, right!

Now let’s turn to the scientific article “Armenian Quarters of Medieval Cities of Ukraine XIV – XVIII centuries” by Lviv researcher Ya. Dashkevich (Historical-philological Journal of the Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR, No. 2, 1987), where he describes the system of similar building: “In some cities (Kyiv, Lviv, Stanislav, and others) there were two [Armenian] quarters – one within the fortified city and beyond its walls.

Armenian urban quarters usually occupied the space between the fortifications (where there were Armenian, by the name, defensive structures) and the city center, and one, narrower, side could adjoin the city market.

The Armenian square, if it existed in the colony, never formed the geometric center of the block, but shifted towards the administrative-economic center of the city (Kamenetz, Yazlovets), subject to the conditions of the terrain (in Kamenetz, the square is on an elevation; in Yazlovets, on the contrary, at the bottom of the gorge). The blocks located within the fortified city, in terms of the nature and density of the building, were, in turn, of two types.

With noticeable territorial restrictions (for example, in Lviv), the block consisted of one or two fairly long, but not the entire length of the fortified city, parallel streets, and one or two lanes with a single dominant – the church.”

So, from the above and the photos published by Peshtmaldzhyan, it becomes clear that in Kafa there is an Armenian “typical development” with the churches of Hovhannes Mkrtich (John the Baptist), Surb Sargis (St. Sargis), Grigor Lusavorich (Gregory the Illuminator), Surb Stepanos (St. Stepanos), Hovhannes Astvatsaban (John the Theologian), Surb Arakelots (Holy Apostles) and Surb Gevorg (St. George), which are connected by Armenian blocks and surrounded by a fortress, and the ruins of the fortress wall are called Ayots berd, or in translation – Armenian Fortress.

— And what do the Genoese have to do with it? – you ask. Not at all, if you do not take into account the fact that the flag of the Genoese Republic was a copy of the banner of the Cilician Armenian kingdom, and as if the fortification structure that grew out of the hill had an Armenian name Քարանծին, Karantzin (Born from the stones [of the hill]), and “in Genoese” it became Quarantine.

But the most interesting contribution to understanding the situation was made by A.L. Yakobson with his research “Crimea in the middle of the century” (M., 1973): “… the same drawing decor is characteristic of the Tatar mosque and madrasa, and the Armenian or Greek temple, and the Jewish synagogue; we even encounter it in the Genoese construction inscriptions, decorated with “Crimean-Seljuk ornamentation” (in fact, of Armenian origin); especially interesting in this regard is the inscription on the tower of Consul Judiche in 1392 in Soldaia”.

Wow! Thanks to the generalization of a thoughtful researcher, we finally understand that as a result of the traditional usurious cabals and conspiracies already taken over after Cilicia also the thoroughly Armenian Genoa, Judiche and his fellow tribesmen this time carried out a raiding capture of Crimea. But as always they did not create, but exploited Armenian capital and production potential. Turns out slightly Marxian, but he, excuse me, is not Aleut.

During the Soviet era, Karantin truly became a state reserve where regular archaeological excavations were conducted. However, in the era of independence, it became the subject of land seizure by Crimean Tatars, against whom Ayots Berd was erected in its time. What a twist of history! As stated in March 2007 by the mayor of Simferopol, Gennady Babenko, to the UNIAN agency, “Tatar seizures in Crimea are a well-organized business project.” And whose project it is becomes clear from the political position of the Tatar opposition and the recent statement by the President of Turkey R. Erdogan that the Turkish Republic will never recognize the annexation of Crimea to Russia.

According to newspaper publications, they have seized about 25,000-30,000 hectares of Crimean lands. When in August 2008 the mayor of Feodosia V. Shcheiderov suddenly died, the first blogger on the news discussion forum, nicknamed Ural, wrote: “He did not love the Cr. Tatars… and tried not to let us into Feodosia” (stylistics preserved – L.A.), and another added: “Sharik was killed for the war with Grin, for the lands of Karantin or he knew too much.”

Maybe he was not killed, but really died of a heart attack. Or not. But the fact that a state reserve with invaluable archaeological potential for studying antiquity will become a suburb of the Turkish khanate tomorrow is nothing other than a murder of memory.

Because it’s no secret to any historian that the ethnic unit “Crimean Tatars” are the same “Tatars” as the Azeris – “Caucasian Tatars” until the first quarter of the XX century. These are Turks, ordinary Turks.

And their main contribution to the history of Crimea is raids, mass murders, robberies and slave trade. But today they are the sufferers of the “Stalinist regime” and holders of the third state language of the Crimean Republic. So, to forget about them and unwind, let’s head Northwest.

“Without any exaggeration, one can claim,” wrote the remarkable Slavist and archaeographer Ivan Linnichenko, “that the most celebrated trade centers of Southern Russia, which are Lviv, Lutsk, Kamyanets-Podilsky, owe their wealth, grandeur, and significance largely to the Armenians in particular.

Indeed, thanks to this agile people, capable of all kinds of cultural endeavors, the trade centers of Southern Russia became mediators between the traders of the East and West.

Knowing the eastern way of life, mastering eastern languages, being well acquainted with the communication routes in the East, endowed with courage, good at handling weapons – qualities necessary for undertaking dangerous journeys through the countries of the East populated by bandit tribes – the Armenians have long since engaged in overland trade between the West and the East.

Taking this into account, the Polish kings, following each other, affirmed the rights of Armenian merchants, granting them new privileges. Faced with a mass departure of Armenians from Podolia due to forced conversion to Catholicism, Polish King Jan Sobieski tried to expand their privileges.

In a charter dated June 6, 1685, he affirmed that “we must recognize the goodwill, courage, and bravery shown by the people of the Armenian nation in defending Kamyanets, Yazlovets, and Lviv, as well as other border fortresses, over several centuries.”

However, it all started with the fact that “in the year of our Lord 1060, when [the kingdom of] Ani came under the rule of foreigners, – as the prominent historian and philologist Minas Bzhishkyan wrote in 1820, – many people of Ani and the surrounding Armenians, united, left Armenia and began to migrate to Poland and Moldavia.

In the year 1062, Prince Theodore invited them to settle in the capital of the Podolia country – Kamyanets”. What followed was, as usual, according to the ancient scenario: the creation of a fortress typical for Armenian fortification, which, as in most ancient Armenian settlements in the world, invariably reproduced the mountainous landscape and had Armenian gates.

“Armenian gates” are generally the key to understanding the development of cities in the world, where in any ancient layer they are invariably present in the ruins of excavations or in a mutilated and paraphrased name.

And in the walls of Kamyanets in this case, out of nowhere, a thriving city sprang up with four magnificent churches, in one of which there was an organ and a golden and silver-decorated icon of the Mother of God from Ani was kept. A school with Venetian glass in the windows and a ceramic-tiled floor was built, as well as a city theater that started with a school drama club.

Hospitals, scriptoriums, later – printing houses, clubs, and international fairs were rebuilt. Workshops for potters, gunsmiths, soap makers, tanners, shoemakers, and furriers grew and expanded for export purposes. Mills and bakeries were in operation.

Armenian jewelers from Kamyanets, who, like their Van colleagues, made not only beautiful jewelry but also luxurious horse harnesses and expensive weapons, were especially renowned.

One of the most demanded and respected specialties in the Middle Ages, pharmacy, apart from the production of medicines, included skills in creating cosmetics, perfumes, liqueurs, vodka, sweets and candies and was represented, for example, in Lviv, by the names of Armenian pharmacists Pavlo Abrahamovich, Mykhailo Aksentovich, Anton Glushkevich, Kasper Yuzefovich, Teodor Torosevich, and others.

In 1857, the grandson of the latter completes the construction of a gas plant, and the city of Lviv gets street lighting. The director of the plant is appointed Lviv Armenian Adam Teodorovich, who later founded the Polish Chemical Society. At the same time, one of the serious articles of Kamyanets’ export was the Armenian book.

Irina Gayuk notes: “One gets the feeling that there was no aspect of life where Armenians did not leave their mark. At the same time, there were areas where Armenians dominated – gunsmithing and jewelry, silk production and products from it, carpet weaving, embroidery with gold and silver, tanning (especially saffian, cordovan, and suede). And all this, as a rule, was combined with active trade activity.

Armenians of Lviv and the western Ukrainian region held leading positions in the Levantine trade of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and also played an important role in diplomacy and translation.”

It’s hard to call the items of craft what are in fact works of art and are kept in the Museum of Armenian Culture in Lviv and other museums-keepers of collections of Armenian culture of the vast area of Poland, Podolia, Crimea, Moldavia, Wallachia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and other Armenian habitation centers.

Whether it’s porcelain and faience products, wooden furniture or carpets, church monstrances or icons, book covers or weapons, embroidered clothes or shoes – it’s always characterized by high craftsmanship and a powerful aesthetic message. And this in itself characterizes the extremely high level of the people’s culture! And its culture in general.

In Kamyanets lived and created Armenian writers, literary translators, scribes, miniature artists, and historians who played an important role in the development of the culture of Polish Armenians.

Among them, one should mention the authors of the precious “Kamyanets Chronicle” Ter-Ovanes, his sons and grandson: ter Oxent, ter Grigor and ter Akop, as well as the author of the “History of the Khotyn War” Ovanes and the author of Armenian-Latin and Latin-Armenian dictionaries Stepanos Roshku with his rich scientific heritage.

Self-government was established at the level of spiritual and civil courts, that is, the Armenian Magistrate, which existed in most Armenian settlements of Podolia and Moldavia.

When the older brother of the great artist, the archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Diocese of Feodosia Gabriel Aivazovsky, visited Kamyanets in 1863, there were still preserved tombstones with ancient Armenian inscriptions.

One of the first patrons of the Armenians in these lands is considered to be the founder of the Polish royal dynasty Jagiellon, Władysław II Jagiełło (1351-1434), who achieved a brilliant victory at Grunwald over a thirty-thousand-strong army gathered from all over Europe, the then “ISIS” – just as barbarians and killers, but with a seemingly opposite marking of “crusaders”.

Obviously, the courage of the local Armenians and two Armenian cavalry regiments from Kyiv and other Slavic lands played a certain role in Władysław’s high opinion of this people. But in addition to this, one cannot fail to consider that the name Jagiełło is actually an ethnonym of an Armenian.

In any case, there were enough Armenians with a sense of humor in his entourage. Because only they could name the son, born from the seventeen-year-old Sonka Golshanskaya and the seventy-year-old Władysław, Varnenchik.

After all, Varn/en/chig is nothing more than “scrap” (literally – “last effort”), and the parents could hardly foresee the death of the prince under Varna thirty years later. Although what is there last effort: Władysław died at the age of 83 from pneumonia, caught while “listening to a nightingale in the night forest”. Who else is capable of such heroic deeds at an age when others do not get off the bench? An Armenian. And don’t argue.

According to the testimony of the prominent figure of the Polish Reformation, Jan Lasitsky, “trade caravans of the Commonwealth were mostly led by Armenians. The caravan leader was endowed with great power.

When the caravan passed through Turkish possessions, the leader gained unlimited rights over his subordinates. As long as the journey went through countries under the rule of the crescent, he had almost unlimited rights over the entire expedition, as if a ship captain at sea”.

According to the agreement of 1585 between the Poles and the Ottomans, the information about which is preserved in the court acts of the Lviv main court, the property of deceased Polish subjects was transferred for storage to the caravan leader, he had the right to resolve disputes arising in the caravan. And there was no case where the “captain” exceeded his powers or cheated.

Honorary Doctor of Russian History, ethnographer Alexandra Efimenko wrote: “Eastern goods were transported to Lviv, Zamość, Warsaw, Vilnius, Kiev through Podolia.

This way Poland, Lithuania, and even Muscovy were supplied with expensive eastern fabrics, shawls and carpets, Damask sabers, bows and arrows, saddles, etc., horse gear, saffiano, wines, groceries, fragrances and soaps – in short, almost everything that constituted comfort and luxury of the then lifestyle.

It is therefore not surprising that Eastern merchants of different nationalities willingly settled on this border, and since they encountered great patronage on the part of the Polish state, they also settled in solid colonies.

But neither the Jews nor the Greeks – no one has grafted themselves onto Podolia like the Armenians. Kamyanets became their second Etchmiadzin, and all Armenians, thrown out by political storms from their old homeland, found a new one on the beautiful Podolia.

Eventually, all the eastern trade ended up in their hands; but for that, they always paid the region with warm attachment”.

But even earlier, the Polish historian and geographer of the Renaissance era, Maciej Miechowita (Matei Mechovsky) (1457-1523), in his book “Treatise on the Two Sarmatians”, published in Krakow in 1577, speaking of Kamyanets and Lviv Armenians, writes:

“Armenians were very experienced traders, they carried their goods to Caffa, Constantinople, Egyptian Alexandria, Algiers, and Indian countries”. And it is clear that in all of Podolia, the positions of both the main and ordinary interpreters were monopolized by Armenians.

The catholicos of all Armenians, Melkisetek, who died in Kamyanets on March 18, 1627, was buried in a local church. In the chronicle of the learned philosopher and linguist Stepanos Roshi (1670-1739), we read:

“… Buried in the wall of the church of the Annunciation of the Holy Mother of God, consecrated by him, according to his will.” The grave of the catholicos was located at the north wall of the church, where a bas-relief was embedded, which at the end of the last century was still in place, but then disappeared, and some gravestones were used to pave the path to the church. But there are no Turks in Kamyanets.

Even after the catastrophic fire of 1602, when “the bells of Armenian churches melted from the heat”, 900 Armenian stone houses and community institutions burnt down completely, the Armenians of Kamyanets-Podolsky did not give up on the ashes, but started to rebuild it.

However, both fires and construction have authors. True, in the first case they usually remain anonymous, but are easily identified by the historical events that follow them.

They are like the kiss of the mafia, signaling their readiness for destruction. Like a call from Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, ready to reprint yesterday’s newspapers. The history of great fires, like the history of wars, is the history of invasions of guilds of slackers and untalented people on the guilds of talents and workaholics.

And the goal of the SLU is to numerically and materially weaken the TT using centuries-old tried and tested methods. Strip, set on fire, turn into beggars, spread rumors, sow discord, lay eggs of locusts, plague bacilli, deprive of authority and property. And later – to destroy the remains of bodies and buildings, to kill memory.

This is their method. While the victims are alive, they can be made to work for themselves as silent hired performers – so as to return to their previous lazy, but now secure state.

And after death to appropriate their discoveries, fame, and places in encyclopedias. Sometimes the sequence of operations changes, but the items are observed sacredly. This is a centuries-old incredibly effective and unholy technology for absorbing everything: wealth, glory, place in history.

So soon after the fire, the Turks came rushing. Then the plague struck, taking 30,000 lives of Kamyanets population. Then – again the Turks, who settled in the weakened city for almost 30 years and provoked a wave of Armenian emigration to Plovdiv and Burgas.

After the expulsion of the Turks, something softer, but of the same kind happened: an unprecedented influx of locusts throughout Podolia. And the last “Egyptian execution” – a hard onslaught of the papal throne, finally determined to convert Armenians to Catholicism.

On August 12, 1666, the Papal representative and activist of the Order of Regular Clerics of Divine Providence Pidu, who had already succeeded in transferring one of the Lviv Armenian churches to the Jesuits, and Lviv Bishop N. Torosovich, together with a crowd of other members of the Order imposing Catholicism, arrived in Kamenets and demanded that the Armenian priests perform the liturgy “according to the Catholic rite”, including in Latin. Hearing about this, the outraged townspeople took to the streets led by the head of the Armenian magistrate. And that was a force. After lengthy negotiations, the frightened Papal delegates agreed to await the king’s decision.

The Armenians, understandably, gathered 2000 zlotys, valuable gifts, and in turn delegated two Armenian judges to Warsaw. However, they were received in Warsaw not by King Jan Kazimir, whose zlotys were still minted with VAN. HAER. REX at the end of the title, but by the queen, an unprecedented intriguer of those times Maria Luisa, from whom they hardly got rid of in Paris.

Maria Luisa, who became Ludovika for better positioning in the Polish environment, who sent her previous husband, King of Poland and Lithuania Władysław IV, to the other world, but managed to get papal permission to marry the late brother.

She solemnly sat on the throne longer than each of the real kings – her husbands. And to her, imagine, come poor Armenians with all their gifts and requests to preserve national identity.

Corruption is when you take a bribe and satisfy a request. But the Polish queen from Paris was neither a Frenchwoman nor a corrupt woman: she took the gifts, but not so much that she did not satisfy the request, she gave her blessing to an unprecedented Catholic attack on the Armenians.

She even sent Pidu a letter expressing joy about the success of the started business, and Chancellor Przhimovsky offered the Kamenets Armenians in writing to “immediately accept all corrections necessary for holy union with the Roman Church… as all other Armenian cities of Poland did.”

And the Papal envoys together with their students immediately begin to make changes in the church books in accordance with the Catholic faith in Kamenets. On October 1, 1666, the Armenian priests of Kamenets accepted the union and served the liturgy according to the Catholic rite.

But since the Armenians managed to trick here, continuing to attend services according to the Armenian custom in other, not separated by the Jesuits, Armenian churches of Podolia, the commander of the fortress issued a decree banning the Armenians from leaving Kamenets on holiday and pre-holiday days. And soon allowed the entrance of Jews.

So, the Kamenets Armenians waited for weekdays and quietly left for other cities or moved to their Yazlovets relatives, who had not yet been affected by Jesuit persecution. In 1691.

In Paris, a map of Kamenets was published, which you see at the top – and you cannot help but notice that of all the Armenian there is only one Armenian church indicated. Calvinist Janusz Radziwill looked into the water when in the Privilege of December 10, 1615, he allowed the Armenians to “build houses and acquire property in order to attract more Armenians to the city”.

And further: “Therefore, we give our consent: not only those who have long moved to our city, but also those who are to come, have the right to buy lands, build houses and enjoy all freedoms and privileges.

We provide Armenians with pastures between Patsov and the Red spring, from the miller’s pasture to the pond itself on one side, and on the other side the fields from the Kshivoudsk canal to the place where our breads end.

And at the same time, we order our governors not to dare to harm and damage these places. We also allow them [the Armenians], to have their special guild and in judicial matters similar to Armenians in Kamenets, both in spiritual and secular, legal and criminal cases, with the right of appeal, when they will sue each other. At the same time, we provide a house for legal proceedings.

With this privilege, we exempt their houses from taxes and order that none of our servants dare to oppress them in trade matters, therefore we appoint free places for Armenians in the markets, so they would be spared from encroachments of Jews and other people.

We allow them to have their taverns, free and not taxed, not to perform compulsory work in the city, not to give any gifts. But we take them under our jurisdiction, and when they will be sued, appeals from their court to our castle government should come”.

Faced with the dilemma of preserving national identity or a relatively peaceful life, many wealthy Armenian entrepreneurs converted to Catholicism, acquired noble titles, bought estates, and moved to their villages.

The famous 19th century historian A.Y. Rolle notes that “in the vicinity of Kamenets, there was no noble family in whose veins the blood of an Armenian would not flow”. The Augustinovichi, Bernatovich, Stefanovich, Piramovich, Nikorovich, Boloz-Antonevich, Zachariashevichi and many, many other exotic names for us – but these are all Armenians, forced to play by the rules of the country that sheltered them!

A country where, according to the famous Polish romantic poet Vincent Pol, “Armenians came before the reign of Piasts and settled in this land earlier than Poles. Settling in Polesie and Pokutye, they brought there devotion and hard work.

They built cities…” In the Armenian Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kamenets-Podolsky, representatives of the higher clergy and respected, usually the most affluent, Armenians of the city were buried.

Here is a visual description of the temple given in 1850-1856: “…besides the tombs of the president of the city Jan Chaikovsky and the Armenian lawyer Nikolai Chaikovsky with his wife in the gallery of the cathedral, on the left there was a monument of black marble, on which in golden letters was inscribed:

‘Here is buried Archdeacon Nikolay Bogdanovich, 1796’. Also, there were tombstones of Nikolai Matusevich (1770) and Advisor Voyceh Shatbei (1787). Armenians were also owners of suburban farms and manor houses. Archival sources of the early 19th century name the surnames V. Oslanovich, E. Shagin, K. Chaikovsky, I. Dekarpelevich, V. Shadbei and others, whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers owned these farms since the 17th century”.

After the partition of Poland at the end of the 18th century, the profession of a surveyor became in high demand. And what do you think? According to the funds of the Kamenets-Podolsky Reserve, Armenians Misyurovich, Ablanovich, and Chaikovsky are mentioned here again as district surveyors.

However, by 1820 there were no more than 70 Armenian houses left in the city. And in 1878, the Polish researcher Michal Doronovich lists all the remaining Armenian families of Kamenets: Shatbei, Yanovich, Balasanovich, Vartabedy, Nabidovich, Muratovich, Stefanovich, Zaschinski, Fedorovich, Yakubovich, Kugutovski, Chaikovsky, Yagushevski, Lukasevich, Shushkovski and Kostetski, and most of them were in mixed marriages.

If you noticed a familiar surname, then yes, but we will refer to Pyotr Ilyich separately, if you’re interested. I have to add that, according to I. Gayuk, “only in the Lychakovsky cemetery about a hundred people with such a surname [Tchaikovsky] are buried”. And I will tell you with all the conviction of a thorough researcher that none of them, including the genius of Russian music, had sexual deviations.

But we passed by the cities of Van, Greater Armenians, and Lesser Armenians, which were literally next door. And this will already be our next – and tragic – story about the fate of the Armenians and Armenian settlements in the eastern part of Europe. Or we can go on a further journey, to visit Europe of the West – in Spain, at Isabella of Castile. Or go to Klin, to deal with the “case” of Tchaikovsky. What’s stopping us? After all, the whole world is “Armenia from sea to sea”! Choose and vote, my dear ones.

by Lia Avetisyan

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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