The Protestant movement, initiated at Constantinople by American missionaries in 1831, was opposed by the patriarchs and Russia. In 1846 the patriarch anathematized all Armenians with Protestant sympathies, and this led Protestants. to the formation of the “Evangelical Church of the Armenians,” which was made, after much opposition from France and Russia, a community (Protestant millet), at the instance of the British ambassador. The missionaries afterwards founded colleges on the Bosporus, at Kharput, Marsivan and Aintab, to supply the needs of higher university education, and they opened good schools for both sexes at all their stations. Everywhere they supplied the people with pure, wholesome literature, and represented progress and religious liberty.
When Abd-ul-Hamid came to the throne of Turkey in 1876, the condition of the Armenians was better than it had ever been under the Osmanlis; but with the close of the war of 1877–78 came the “Armenian Question.” By the treaty of San Modern Armenian question. Stefano, Turkey engaged to Russia to carry out reforms “in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians, and to guarantee their security against the Kurds and Circassians.” By the treaty of Berlin, 13th of July 1878, a like engagement to the six signatory powers was substituted for that to Russia. By the Cyprus convention, 4th of June 1878, the sultan promised Great Britain to introduce necessary reforms “for the protection of the Christians and other subjects of the Porte” in the Turkish territories in Asia. The Berlin treaty encouraged the Armenians to look to the powers, and not to Russia for protection; and the convention, which did not mention the Armenians, was regarded as placing them under the special protection of Great Britain. This impression was strengthened by the action of England at Berlin in insisting that Russia should evacuate the occupied territory before reforms were introduced, and so removing the only security for their introduction. The presentation of identic and collective notes to the Porte by the powers, in 1880, produced no result, and in 1882 it was apparent that Turkey would only yield to compulsion. In 1881 a circular note from the British ministry to the five powers was evasively answered, and in 1883 Prince Bismarck intimated to the British government that Germany cared nothing about Armenian reforms and that the matter had better be allowed to drop. Russia had changed her policy towards the Armenians, and the other powers were indifferent. The so-called “Concert of Europe” was at an end, but British ministries continued to call the attention of the sultan to his obligations under the treaty of Berlin.
Russia began to interest herself in the Armenians when she acquired Georgia in 1801; but it was not until 1828–1829 that any appreciable number of them became her subjects. She found them necessary to the development of her Russian policy. new territories, and allowed them much freedom. They were permitted, within certain limits, to develop their national life; many became wealthy, and many rose to high positions in the military and civil service of the state. After the war of 1877–78 the Russian consuls in Turkey encouraged the formation of patriotic committees in Armenia, and a project was formed to create a separate state, under the supremacy of Russia, which was to include Russian, Persian and Turkish Armenia. The project was favoured by Loris-Melikov, then all-powerful in Russia, but in 1881 Alexander II. was assassinated, and shortly afterwards a strongly anti-Armenian policy was adopted. The schools were closed, the use of the Armenian language was discouraged, and attempts were made to Russify the Armenians and bring them within the pale of the Russian Church. All hope of practical self-government under Russian protection now ceased, and the Armenians of Tiflis turned their attention to Turkish Armenia. They had seen the success of the Slav committees in treating disturbances in the Balkans, and became the moving spirit in the attempts to produce similar troubles in Armenia. Russia made no real effort to check the action of her Armenian subjects, and after 1884 she steadily opposed any active interference by Great Britain in favour of the Turkish Armenians. When Echmiadzin passed to Russia, in 1828, the Catholicus began to claim spiritual jurisdiction over the whole Armenian Church, and the submission of the patriarch of Constantinople was obtained by Russia when she helped the sultan against Mehemet Ali. Subsequently Russia secured the submission of the independent catholicus of Sis, and thus acquired a power of interference in Armenian affairs in all parts of the world. During 1900 Russia showed renewed interest in Turkish Armenia by securing the right to construct all railways in it, and in the Armenians by pressing the Porte to restore order and introduce reforms.
The Berlin treaty was a disappointment to the Gregorian Armenians, who had hoped that Armenia and Cilicia would have been formed into an autonomous province administered by Christians. But the formation of such a province was impossible. The Gregorians were scattered over the empire, and, except in a few small districts, were nowhere in a majority. Nor were they bound together by any community of thought or sentiment. The Turkish-speaking Armenians of the south could scarcely converse with the Armenian-speaking people of the north; and the ignorant mountaineers of the east had nothing in common, Revolutionary movement. except religion, with the highly educated townsmen of Constantinople and Smyrna. After the change in Russian policy and the failure of the powers to secure reforms, the advanced party amongst the Armenians, some of whom had been educated in Europe and been deeply affected by the free thought and Nihilistic tendencies of the day, determined to secure their object by the production of disturbances such as those that had given birth to Bulgaria. Societies were formed at Tiflis and in several European capitals for the circulation of pamphlets and newspapers, and secret societies, such as the Huntchagist, were instituted for more revolutionary methods. An active propaganda was carried on in Turkish Armenia by emissaries, who tried to introduce arms and explosives, and represented the ordinary incidents of Turkish misrule to Europe as serious atrocities. The revolutionary movement was joined by some of the younger men, who formed local committees on the Nihilist plan, but it was strongly opposed by the Armenian clergy and the American missionaries, who saw the impossibility of success; and its irreligious tendency and the self-seeking ambition of its leaders made it unacceptable to the mass of the people. Exasperated at their failure, the emissaries organized attacks on individuals, wrote threatening letters, and at last posted revolutionary placards, 5th of January 1893, at Yuzgat, and on the walls of the American College at Marsivan. In the last case the object of the Huntchagists was to compromise the missionaries, and in this they succeeded. The Americans were accused of issuing the placards; two Armenian professors were imprisoned; and the girls’ school was burned down. Outbreaks, easily suppressed, followed at Kaisaríeh and other places.
One of the revolutionary dreams was to make the ancient Daron the centre of a new Armenia. But the movement met with no encouragement, either amongst the prosperous peasants on the rich plain of Mush or in the mountain villages of Sasun. In the summer of 1893, an emissary was captured near Mush, and the governor, hoping to secure others, ordered the Kurdish Irregular Horse to raid the mountain district. The Armenians drove off the Kurds, and, when attacked in the spring of 1894, again held their own. The vali now called up regular troops from Erzingan; and the sultan issued a firman calling upon all loyal subjects to aid in suppressing the revolt. A massacre of a most brutal character, in which Turkish soldiers took part, followed; and aroused deep indignation in Europe. In November 1894 a Turkish commission of inquiry was sent to Armenia, and was accompanied by the consular delegates of Great Britain, France and Russia, who elicited the fact that there had been no attempt
- The Armenians and Kurds have lived together from the earliest times. The adoption of Islam by the latter, and by many Armenians, divided the people sharply into Christian and Moslem, and placed the Christian in a position of inferiority. But the relations between the two sects were not unfriendly previously to the Russian campaigns in Persia and Turkey. After 1829 the relations became less friendly; and later, when the Armenians attracted the sympathies of the European powers after the war of 1877–78, they became bitterly hostile.