| The First and Forgotten Armenian Genocide of 1019 AD — exactly one-thousand years ago this year
| Thursday, May 09, 2019
Last April 24 was Armenian
Genocide Remembrance Day.
Millions of Armenians around the world remembered how the Islamic Ottoman
Empire killed—often cruelly and out of religious hatred—some 1.5 million of
their ancestors during World War I.
people, including most Armenians, are unaware that the first genocide of
Christian Armenians at the hands of Muslim Turks did not occur in the twentieth
century; rather it began in 1019—exactly one-thousand years ago this year—when Turks
first began to pour into and transform a then much larger Armenia into what it
is today, the eastern portion of modern day Turkey.
Thus, in 1019, “the first appearance of the bloodthirsty beasts … the
savage nation of infidels called Turks entered Armenia … and mercilessly
slaughtered the Christian faithful with the sword,” writes Matthew of Edessa
(d.1144), a chief source for this period.
Three decades later the raids were virtually nonstop. In 1049, the
founder of the Turkic Seljuk Empire himself, Sultan Tughril Bey (r. 1037–1063),
reached the unwalled city of Arzden, west of Lake Van, and “put the whole town
to the sword, causing severe slaughter, as many as one hundred and fifty
After thoroughly plundering the city—which reportedly contained
eight hundred churches—he ordered it set ablaze and turned into a desert.
Arzden was “filled with bodies” and none “could count the number of those who
perished in the flames.” The invaders “burned priests whom they seized in the
churches and massacred those whom they found outside. They put great chunks of
pork in the hands of the undead to insult us”—Muslims deem the pig unclean—“and
made them objects of mockery to all who saw them.”
Eight hundred oxen and forty camels were required to cart out the
vast plunder, mostly taken from Arzden’s churches. “How to relate here, with a
voice stifled by tears, the death of nobles and clergy whose bodies, left
without graves, became the prey of carrion beasts, the exodus of women … led
with their children into Persian slavery and condemned to an eternal servitude!
That was the beginning of the misfortunes of Armenia,” laments Matthew, “So,
lend an ear to this melancholy recital.”
Other contemporaries confirm the devastation visited upon Arzden.
“Like famished dogs,” writes Aristakes (d.1080) an eye witness, “bands of
infidels hurled themselves on our city, surrounded it and pushed inside,
massacring the men and mowing everything down like reapers in the fields,
making the city a desert. Without mercy, they incinerated those who had hidden
themselves in houses and churches.” Similarly, during the Turkic siege of Sebastia (modern-day Sivas)
in 1060, six hundred churches were destroyed and “many [more] maidens, brides,
and distinguished ladies were led into captivity to Persia.” Another raid on
Armenian territory saw “many and innumerable people who were burned [to
death].” The atrocities are too many for Matthew to recount, and he frequently
ends in resignation:
Who is able to relate the
happenings and ruinous events which befell the Armenians, for everything
was covered with blood. . . . Because of the great number of corpses,
the land stank, and all of Persia was filled with innumerable captives;
thus this whole nation of beasts became drunk with blood. All human
beings of Christian faith were in tears and in sorrowful affliction,
because God our creator had turned away His benevolent face from us.
Nor was there much doubt concerning what fueled the Turks’ animus:
“This nation of infidels comes against us because of our Christian faith and
they are intent on destroying the ordinances of the worshippers of the cross
and on exterminating the Christian faithful,” one David, head of an Armenian
region, explained to his countrymen.
Therefore, “it is fitting and right for
all the faithful to go forth with their swords and to die for the Christian
faith.” Many were of the same mind; records tell of monks and priests, fathers,
wives, and children, all shabbily armed but zealous to protect their way of
life, coming out to face the invaders—to little avail.
Read it all here.................
|posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 11:28 PM