CHAPTER 6 A NEW ERA (KARABAKH IN 16-17 CENTURIES)

Armenia, which had lost its political identity, was turned into an arena of struggle between Persia and Ottoman Empire. All the invasions, conquests and campaigns of mutual enemies passed through the Armenian territory. Often the battles took place just in Armenia. Of course, they rivaled also for the right of possessing the Armenian land, as it was geographically a convient stronghold for their further invasions and conquests. The colophons of Armenian manuscripts contain many descriptions about despoilation of the region by the Ottoman Turks. Once Shah Ismail, retreating through Armenia, destroyed and burnt down everything on his way, thus making the country unable to provide the Sultan’s army later.

At last in 1555 Armenia was partitioned between the two empires (Turkey and Persia) by the Amassia treaty. Eastern Armenia, Khachen and Utik included, became attached to Persia.8

Soon the powerful Persian and Turkish kings were replaced by new unable monarchs.

The fame and influence of the Persian and Central Asian states of that period wholly depended upon the personal characteristics of the heads of states. A talented commander or monarch, (Seljuk, Jengis, Timur, Osman, Ismail) was enough to raise his state to prominence. After the death of such a leader, the order, which he had established, began to break down, and even resulted in the abolishment of the country or the state as such. The Ottoman army, compared with the Iranian one, had preserved some stable units of organization, transferred from the Byzantine military system. And once in motion, it continued in the same direction, and in a straight line, despite an unable Sultan. Due to its well-developed artillery, its military power was unsurpassed.

In the year of 1541 Stepanos Salmastetsi was ordained in Echmiadzin the Catholicos of Armenians. He was a man of broad outlook. Being brought up in Constantinople and then living in Poland and Moscow, he was aware of eastern subtle and complex political situations. He spoke several foreign languages. The new Catholicos approached the West European authorities with a view to freeing Armenia from Turkey and Iran. The Echmiadzin monastry formed the organizational centre of his political activity.

In 1547 a secret meeting was held here with the participation of secular and religious leaders. A decision was made to send the Catholicos to Europe and Rome to oblige the Pope to abolish the ecclesiastical differences between the Catholic and Armenian Apostolic Churches. As the Cilician kings, they too were unsuccessful in the mission.

The armistice did not last long. A new war broke out between the Ottoman Empire and Iran. Their clashes took place in Georgia, Ararat valley, Karabakh, Shaki, Shirvan… The Turk Osman Yuzdemir was defeated by the Iranian army in 1579. He left for Derbent, and from there invaded Daghstan, passed to Crimea and subjugating the Khan and several warmonger tribes, again launched an attack on Iran.

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