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The Renaissance
The seventeenth century — and above all from 1630 onwards, when a period of relative peace and quiet was beginning in Arrrienia after the campaign of Shah Abbas — offers a broad panorama of ongoing.

Consistent efforts to accomplish a cultural and religious revival made principally by the enlightened churchmen who succeeded one other on the throne of the catholicos in Edjmiatzin and by certain vardapet.

Thanks to these efforts, high-level schools were established at New Julfa—we have already discussed its cultural vitality — at Edjmiatzin and at Baghesh (present-day Bitlis).

At the same time as this ferment in the literary and scientific fields was underway, the arts, architecture and the miniature in particular, were also permeated by a vigorous revivalist inspiration.

Unfortunately, if the revival of the plastic arts met with greater success and diffusion, efforts for a literary-scientific revival did not yet penetrate too deeply into the vast, lethargic structures of the cultural milieu.

But there were more or less isolated achievements, and they did help to prepare the way for the accomplishments of the following century, above all the work of Mechitar (Mkht"ar), which provided the decisive boost.

Mechitar"s work differs from former works in its organic unity and organization, based on the double criterion of efficiency and endurance.

It is also different in that through his mediation Armenian culture came for the first time into very close contact with the various expressions of western tradition, both ancient and modern.

It is different in its ideological content, both on the strictly religious level and on more general cultural levels.

The religious content of Mechitar"s work was ecumenical, expressed with an intuition at least two-and-a-half centuries ahead of its time, which was naturally understood neither during his times nor afterwards.

The cultural content of his work may be defined as humanism with a Christian inspiration.

It views man in his totality, so the range of topics covered is vast: from history and linguistics to beekeeping, chicken farming, and the production of silk.

The reason that lay behind this was the condition of the Armenian people, who desired no more than the possibility to live a full human life.

Publishing (and later the periodical press), the system of itinerant preachers, and the vast network of schools were the fulcra of the Mechitarist apostolate.

The impact of Mechitar"s work on Armenian culture in the eighteenth century and later was such that one of the greatest modern Armenian historians, Leo, states confidently in his monumental History of the Armenians, dedicated to Mechitar, that he "marks the beginning of a totally new era in the history of our spiritual progress", (op. cit, Vol. II, p. 979).

Leo does not hesitate to qualify the 18th century as the "Mechitarist century."

References: “History of Armenian people” by Levon Zekyan
Writer: Hasmik Muradyan
Editor: Eugenia Melkonyan
 Date Added: Wednesday August 02, 2006 07:55:42 

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