Revisiting History: Armenian Perspectives on the Crusades

The 40th anniversary of the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS), held in Yerevan in October 2014, was a significant event that brought to light the diverse perspectives on historical events. Among the notable presentations was one by Tamar Boyadjian from Michigan State University, who highlighted the scant attention given to Armenian sources in the study of the Crusades. Boyadjian’s work challenges the predominantly “European” perspective that has shaped the narrative of the Crusades, urging scholars to consider the rich historical accounts preserved in Armenian literature and traditions.

In a similar vein, Arshak Balayan of Yerevan State University delved into the writings of Krikor Naregatsi, an influential Armenian figure, and his polemics with Islam. Balayan’s discussion focused on Naregatsi’s list of 16 errors, which critiqued Islamic beliefs from a Bible-based standpoint, notably without referencing Islamic theologians or the Koran. This approach underscores the unique Armenian viewpoint that is deeply rooted in its own religious and cultural context.

These presentations underscore the importance of incorporating Armenian sources into the broader historical discourse, particularly concerning events as pivotal as the Crusades. By doing so, historians and scholars can gain a more nuanced understanding of the past, one that encompasses the experiences and insights of all cultures involved. The work of Boyadjian and Balayan serves as a reminder that history is a tapestry woven from a multitude of narratives, each deserving recognition and study.

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