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Publishing, an essential vehicle
The church served as a touchstone of identity and a substitute for the state among those dispersed beyond Armenia’s borders. It allowed a "national" life to be developed, in contact with European ideas and techniques. Thus, the first Armenian printing houses appear in Armenian "colonies" set up along trade routes between Europe and the East, in Venice (1512), Milan, Livorno,
The Amsterdam Armenians
In the 17th century, Amsterdam was home to one of Europe's largest colonies of Armenians, who were drawn there by Holland's commercial opportunities. They arrived in three waves : directly from Djulfa, from the Ottoman Empire (Aleppo and Constantinople), and from Russia (Arkhangelsk, Moscow and Saint Petersburg). At its apogee, the colony held some 600 Armenians. They competed in the silk trade with Jews from Portugual and with Huguenots, who left France around the same time to settle in Amsterdam, Europe's principal European port for trade with the East. The Armenians had their own space at Amsterdam's stock exchange, in the courtyard. In addition to silk, they imported gems, coffee, wire, goatskins, figs, grapes, large Venetian mirrors, whale's teeth from Arkhangelsk, and Baltic amber from Danzig into each of the Republic of Holland's seven provinces. The first Armenian priest arrived in Amsterdam in 1665, and the city's notary archives show that a "hidden" church for the community existed starting in 1703. A church was built in 1714. Nevertheless, the Amsterdam settlement was not long-lasting, and its members slowly dispersed : by 1687, there were no more than twenty-seven Armenian names. But in 1989, the same long-forgotten Armenian church was acquired by a new wave of Armenian emigrants and re-consecrated by the clergy of the Armenian church in Paris. , Lvov, Leipzig, Marseille, etc. There were three stages in the early history Armenian printed books. The first two took place in Europe – in Venice between 1511 and 1658, and in Amsterdam between 1658 and 1695. The site of the third stage was the East, starting in Constantinople (1695-1718). The Amsterdam publishing house was transferred to Livorno in 1669, and then to Marseille in 1672, but the Vanandec’i family actively retained an branch remains in Amsterdam. The famous Armenian Bible of 1666, printed by Oskan, remains the press’s most well-known production. Djulfan bankers were involved in financing European publishing houses.
The Catholic Mekhitarist Congregation played a central role in the intellectual revival. Although the San Lazarro publishing house closed in 1989, Editions Mekhitaristes (Casa Editrice Armena) have carried on uninterrupted since 1843. Among other publications, they publish Italy’s oldest periodical, Bazmavep.
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First map of the world printed in Armenian (Amsterdam, 1695)