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Humanist
11-09-2013, 05:52 PM
How many Armenians resided in the seventeenth-century Moldavian principality? Analysis of the Catholic missionaries’ reports from the Archivo storico della Sacra Congregazione per l’evangelizzazione dei popoli (“De Propaganda Fide”) (http://www.academia.edu/5037576/How_many_Armenians_resided_in_the_seventeenth-century_Moldavian_principality_Analysis_of_the_Cat holic_missionaries_reports_from_the_Archivo_storic o_della_Sacra_Congregazione_per_levangelizzazione_ dei_popoli_De_Propaganda_Fide_)

by Alexandr Osipian

International Conference on Romanian-Armenian Cultural Heritage. Bucharest, Romania
Event Date: Oct 30, 2013



The Jesuit Missionary Johannes Kunig in his report to the General of Jesuits, Claudio Aquaviva, written in Roman on 30 September 1588, when describing religious diversity in Moldavia, put Armenians on the second place after Orthodox Romanians, but before the Catholics: “In this province of Moldavia people have different rites and religions. In the first place are the Rumanians, who have lot of churches and monasteries, patriarchs, metropolitans and bishops and priests. Armenians are the next, who have different churches from that of the Rumanian ones. In third place are the Hungarians and Saxons coming from Transylvania. There are also gypsies”. My point is that Armenians could not outnumber Roman Catholics in the principality. When putting Armenians on the second place after the dominant Orthodox population, Kunig wanted to emphasize a better position of Armenian community in the principality – well-established church hierarchy, regularity of church services and so on, in comparison with the declining Catholic community, which he situated further – just before the gypsies.

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My own calculations, based on missionaries’ reports for Moldavia, and much more correct figures of real estate taxation censuses for Poland, bring quite different results – about 3,000-4,000 Armenians in Moldavia and about 6,000-7,000 Armenians in Poland. My calculations for Poland correspond to the note made by Francesco Martelli, papal nuncio in Poland (1675-1681), in his report of 3 August 1678. Martelli indicates that because of the Polish-Turkish war (1672-1676) – which affected regions of Podolia and Rus’/Ruthenia, where the majority of Polish Armenians lived before the war – their number declined tenfold, to 600 souls. Thus, my point is that the approximate number of Armenians living in Moldavia in the 1640s-1660s could not exceed 3,000-4,000.