Found: Early Modern Armenian Historians, or the Value of Outdated Editions Online

For my dissertation on Iraq and Jazira in the fifteenth century, Armenian sources were particularly valuable.  But the last medieval Armenian historian was T’ovma Mecop’ec’i (d. 1446), after whom two centuries passed before another Armenian author recorded a chronicle.  That was Arak’el of Tabriz (d. 1670), who in 1662 completed a history of the Armenians starting in the reign of the Safavid Shah Abbas I (r. 1588-1629).  Since I was not interested in anything as late as Shah Abbas I, I concluded that Arak’el and his successors were not useful for my work.  It turns out, I was wrong!

While working on a side article project, I came across a reference to “later Armenian historians” and their views of Qaraqoyunlu rulers in the 1460s.  The reference was to a translation by the nineteenth-century French orientalist Marie-Félicité Brosset of a history ascribed to Zak’aria the Deacon (d. 1699), which was fortunately available online for free. (There are advantages to working in fields where much scholarship has lapsed from copyright!)  This work cited the earlier work by Arak’el, and Brosset added chapter numbers to the citation.  This surprised me, given that Arak’el’s history began only with events around 1600.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find the editions that Brosset was working from online, or Brosset’s own translation of Arak’el (published 1874).  Evidently, not everything can be found through Google.

I did, however, find this very helpful list of Armenian historians useful for Ottoman history, courtesy of the University of Chicago, which includes manuscripts, editions, and translations!  I had less luck tracking down the Vagharshapat editions of Zak’aria the Deacon (1870) and Arak’el of Tabriz (1896).  Googling (in various Latin transcriptions and in Armenian) produced no useful results, and neither did keyword or field searches on the excellent Hathi Trust website.  Eventually I simply searched for the keyword “Vagharshapat” on Hathi Trust with “full text available” marked, and toward the end of the 52 search results, I spotted my quarry.  Clearly some metadata is missing!

But since I have not seen links to these works anywhere else online, I thought I’d post the links here for general reference: the 1896 Vagharshapat edition of Arak’el of Tabriz, and the 1870 Vagharshapat edition of Zak’aria the Deacon.  Of course, there are English translations and (for Arak’el) a newer critical edition listed at the UChicago website.  That more recent scholarship should be used for all scholarly citations.  But the online public domain copies may be useful for ascertaining whether it is worth asking your Inter-Library Loan service to request the item, in order for you to cite it!

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