Today, only a few people know that about 200 years ago, our nation has received and missed an exceptional opportunity to restore the Armenian statehood. In the hot period of the Russian-Persian war of 1827, realizing the possibility of the loss of the South Caucasus, the Persian authorities belatedly began to discuss the restoration of an independent Armenian state under the auspices of Persia.
A precedent for this already existed. The Georgian Kingdom before the St. George’s Russo-Georgian Treaty of 1801 used to be an autonomous region within Persia. Persia, unlike the Russian, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires, was quite tolerant of the autonomies of national minorities.
A closer example for the Armenians was the independent Artsakh melikdoms (principalities). Not to mention the Armenian-Parthian family ties of Arshakuni which have been naturally taken into account in the politics and diplomacy of the two nations, but to a greater extent by the Persians.
Back to the Russian-Persian war.
Persia even chose an Armenian heir to the throne. It was the Georgian prince Alexander, the son-in-law of Yerevan Melik Sahak Aghamalyants (Սահակ Աղամալյանց). Alexander was brought up in an Armenian environment and was married to an Armenian.
However, since this Persian initiative was late and since the Armenian elite was held captive by Russian propaganda and the illusory hope of Christian solidarity, this proposal to partially restore Armenian statehood wasn’t understood or accepted. The opportunity was missed.
St. Etchmiadzin also was against the proposal, which is reminiscent of the short-sighted and tragic position of the Armenian Church in the 5th-6th centuries when Armenian statehood was lost.
One way or another, this bold project was not only not implemented but also was concealed and, thus, forgotten in Armenian national history. But the time has come to recall this bitter truth.
As is known, in order to avoid the “dangerous prospect” of people remembering, the tsarist government in 1840 (12 years after the “liberation” of Armenia) completely removed from maps the term “Armenian” and any mention of it, dividing our country into three-four governorates.
It took a century for the Armenians to rebel against the Russian yoke. This happened in 1903, which paved the way for the first Russian revolution of 1905 that dealt a mortal blow to the Russian Empire. It took nearly another century before the uprising of Armenians in 1988, after which the Soviet empire collapsed.
And two hundred years later, we should recall the lost opportunity so as not to repeat the previous mistakes.
In the photos are Hovhannes and Sahak Melik Aghamalyants (Հովհաննես եւ Սահակ Մելիք-Աղամալյաններ), the mayors of Yerevan in 1898-1904 and 1904-1914, as well representatives of the family whose relative Prince Alexander was proposed in 1827 by Persia as the heir to the Armenian throne.