Armenians in Poland - Origins

Origins

About the beginning of the Armenian presence in Poland, Adolf Nowaczyński, a Polish writer, gives us the following sketch of the Armenians of Poland:

Long before the fall of the (Armenian) Kingdom of Cilicia in 1375, the Armenians appeared among us, having been invited here by David, the Prince of Galicia.

"The first dismemberment of their country brought about a great emigration. The Armenian emigrants, taking with them a handful of native soil in a piece of cloth, were scattered in southern Russia, into the Caucasus, in the land of the Cossacks, while 50,000 from among them came to Poland. From then on, new streams of Armenian emigration periodically proceeded from the banks of the Pontus towards the hospitable country of the Sarmatians, and it must be said that these guests, coming from such a distance, proved themselves really 'the salt of the earth,' an exceedingly useful and desirable element. They settled mostly in the cities, and in many places they became the nucleus of the Polish bourgeois class. The city of Lwów (Lviv), the most patriotic center of Poland, then the theater of so many historic turmoils, owes its luster in large degree to Armenian immigrants. Kamieniec-Podolski (Kamianets-Podilskyi), that crown of our old fortresses, received its fame from the Armenians who settled there. In Bukowina and in all Galicia, the Armenian element plays a role of the first order in political and social life, in industry and in intellectual movement. Finally, in Poland proper and its capital, Warsaw, the descendants of those who once were the great nation on the Arax, rendered themselves illustrious in all careers. In the battles of Grunwald and Varna, the forebears of the Alexandrovics, the Augustinovics, the Agopsovics and Apakanovics took part. Also from their ranks came forth later renowned Poles, such as the Malowski, Missasowicz, Piramowicz, Pernatowicz, Jachowicz, Mrozianowski, Grigorowicz, Barowicz, Teodorowicz, etc.

Through successive immigrations, the Armenians of Poland gradually formed a colony, comprising 50,000. . They were welcomed by the Kings of Poland and were granted not only religious liberty, but also political privileges. Casimir III (1333‑1370) gave to the Armenians of Kamieniec Podolski in 1344 and those of Lwów in 1356 the right of setting up a national council, exclusively Armenian, known as the "Voit." This council, composed of twelve judges, administered Armenian affairs in full independence. All acts and official deliberations were conducted in the Armenian language and in accordance with the laws of that nation. The Armenians of Lwów had built a wooden church in 1183; in 1363 it was replaced by a stone edifice which became the seat of the Armenian prelates of Poland and Moldavia.

In 1516 King Sigismund I authorized the installation in the wealthy and aristocratic center of Lwów an Armenian tribunal called the Ratoushé. The peaceful life of the colony was troubled in the 1626. An abbot named Mikołaj Torosowicz was ordained a bishop in 1626 by Melchisedek, a former coadjutor-Katholikos of Etchmiadzin who supported restoring unity with the Roman Catholic Church. Despite the ensuing rift between the majority of the Armenian community and the few followers of Torosowicz the Armenian community finally reentered into communion with the Holy See forming the Armenian Catholic Church which retained a separate hierarchy and used the Armenian Rite.

A part of the Lwów émigrés, numbering some 10,000, who had settled in Moldavia, moved from there during the Turko-Polish war in 1671, to Bukowina and Transylvania. In Bukowina, they lived in the city of Suceava and vicinity. In Transylvania they founded two new cities, Erszebetvaros (Elisabethstadt, Dumbrăveni) and Szamos-ujvar (Armenierstadt, Gherla), which, as a special favor, were declared free cities by Charles VI, Emperor of Austria (1711‑1740).

Armenian origin of many Polish families could be easily traced before World War II. They would intermarry among themselves; if they'd go on religious pilgrimages, they'd prefer visiting the Armenian cathedral of Lwów, built under the inspiration of the churches of Ani. The last Armenian Archbishop in Poland Józef Teodorowicz, as the head of the community was a member of the Austro-Hungarian Senate, together with Latin and Greek colleagues.

Armyani is a historic old town, named after the Armenians, near the Smodrich River

Read more about this topic:  Armenians In Poland

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