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The political-cultural situation after the fall of the kingdom of Cilicia
The period from the collapse of the kingdom of Cilicia to the end of the seventeenth century was, overall, a period of impoverishment and decadence in Armenian culture.

For two whole centuries, both Greater Armenia and Cilicia (also called Little Armenia, so as to avoid confusion with Armenia Minor) were the theatre of invasions, wars, and harsh struggles for power.

Around the end of the fourteenth century, Tamburlaine imposed his might on eastern and central Anatolia and advanced as far as the surroundings of Ankara.

Here, he soundly defeated the troops of Sultan Yildirim Beyazit in 1402, but his empire soon broke up nevertheless.

The second half of the century saw, on one hand, the ascendancy of Ottoman power in central and western Anatolia as well as in the Balkans and, on the other, the new dynasty of the Safarids making its mark in Iran.

For more than 100 years, these empires fought for dominion over eastern Anatolia and the Caucasian regions.

The struggle ended with the decisive victory of the Ottomans who, in 1585, succeeded in annexing the eastern parts of Armenia as far as the Caucasus.

In the first decades of the seventeenth century, Shah Abbas I, who had failed in his attempt to chase the Ottomans out of all Armenia (1602-l620), during his retreat, forced the Armenians living in the prosperous city of Julfa (Djugh) on the banks of the Araxes and in the vicinity to migrate and settle in Isfahan, in order to act as catylizers on the great trade routes.

The emigres founded the city of Newjulfa (Nor Djugh) there.

It was a bustling centre of trade, business and culture throughout the seventeenth and into the eighteenth century, and its economic activities extended from India to Italy and England.

The rivalry between Persians and Ottomans was finally settled with the wars of 1735-36, which saw the Persians conquer southern Transcaucasia, including eastern Armenia.

Obviously, the cultural situation in the motherland was extremely precarious under these circumstances.

The great cultural nuclei of the past, such as the monastery complexes, experienced growing political and social dispersion, aggravated by never-ending large-scale migrations.

Apart from the Julfa migration, mass movements of Armenians, which had begun in previous centuries, continued towards the northern Caucasus, the northern coasts of the Black Sea, Poland, the Balkan countries, and western Anatolia.

Above all Constantinople, the new Ottoman capital; it became a veritable pole of attraction, where one saw a new, booming Armenian prosperity, favored by the fair behavior of the sultans.

But Constantinople did not begin to become a centre of cultural production until the eighteenth century, reaching its culmination only halfway through the following century.

In this period of dispersion and decadence when new centres were being set up because of the diaspora cultural ferment somehow continued, both in certain remote, marginal regions of the motherland that had remained untouched by the calamitous political events, at least for a certain period of time, and in certain dispersion areas.

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Writer: Hasmik Muradyan
Editor: Eugenia Melkonyan
 Date Added: Wednesday August 02, 2006 07:51:52 

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