Armenians of Romania

(Redirected from Armenians in Romania)

Armenians have been present in what is now Romania and Moldova for over a millennium, and have been an important presence as traders since the 14th century. Numbering only in the thousands in modern times, they were culturally suppressed in the Communist era, but have undergone a cultural revival since the Romanian Revolution of 1989.

Armenians in Romania
Total population
1,361 (2011 census); 10,000 (estimate)
Regions with significant populations
Transylvania, Wallachia
Armenian, Romanian
Related ethnic groups
Armenian diaspora


The distribution of Armenians in Romania (2002 census)

Danubian PrincipalitiesEdit

The earliest traces of Armenians in what was later Moldavia are dated by 967 (recorded presence in Cetatea Albă). Early Armenian Diasporas stemmed in the fall of the Bagratuni rule and other disasters, including the Mongol invasion. In 1572–1574, Ioan Vodă cel Cumplit was Hospodar (Prince) of Moldavia, grandson of Stephen the Great, son of Bogdan III and his Armenian concubine Serpega.

Armenian expatriates were awarded tax exemptions at different times in the Danubian Principalities' history. Encouraged to settle as early as the 14th century, they became a familiar presence in towns, usually as the main entrepreneurs of the community – for this, in early modern Botoșani and several other places, Armenians as a guild were awarded political representation and degrees of self-rule. A considerable number of noble families in the Principalities were of Armenian descent.

In Bucharest, an Armenian presence was first recorded in the second half of the 14th century – most likely, immigrants from the Ottoman-ruled Balkans, as well as from the area around Kamianets-Podilskyi and towns in Moldavia; throughout the 19th century, a large part of Armenian Bucharesters had arrived from Rousse, in present-day Bulgaria. The Gregorian Armenians were given the right to build a church around 1638 – it was rebuilt and expanded in 1685, but was damaged by the Russian attack during the 1768–1774 war with the Ottomans.

Citizenship was bestowed on the community only with the decision taken by the international protectorate over the two countries (instituted after the Crimean War and the ensuing Treaty of Paris) to extend civil rights to all religious minorities.


Armenians of Transylvania (1850)

Armenians were present from early on in Transylvania, clearly attested in a document issued by Hungarian King Ladislaus IV the Cuman (late 13th century). Here, they were even allowed to found their own trading towns, the most notable one being Gherla, called Armenopolis/Armenierstadt or Hayakaghak (Հայաքաղաք). The second important Armenian town in Transylvania is Dumbrăveni (Elisabethstadt).

Despite their increasing autonomy, the townspeople's adherence to the Roman Catholic Church was nonetheless demanded (a conversion begun through the efforts of a Botoșani-born prelate, Oxendius Vărzărescu), and further submitted to forced integration by the Habsburg monarchy since the 18th century. The Ordinariate for Catholics of Armenian Rite in Romania is nowadays centered on Gherla, and is placed under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Roman-Catholic Church archbishops of Alba Iulia.

Most Armenians from Transylvania were magyarized in the last half of the 19th century.


After the Armenian genocide of 1915, Romania was the first state to officially provide political asylum to refugees from the area.

Following World War 1, Romania acquired territories including 40,000 Armenians (15,000 in Bessarabia, 20,000 in Transylvania, and 5,000 refugees), thereby raising the Armenian population of Romania to 50,000—they were represented by the Union of Romanian Armenians (headed by Harutiun A. Khentirian who would later become the honourary consul-general of Armenia in Romania in 1922–1924) which sought to gain them minority rights and to facilitate repatriation to Armenia. Despite cosigning the Treaty of Sèvres with Armenia, Romania withheld de jure recognition "pending the final determination of Armenia's boundaries and ratification of the Turkish peace treaty."[1]

In 1940 about 40,000 Armenians lived in Romania. Under communist rule, Armenians started to leave the country, and Nicolae Ceaușescu's regime eventually closed all Armenian schools.


There is, among others, the Zamca Armenian Apostolic Monastery in Mânăstirea Zamca, Suceava.

Notable Romanians of Armenian descentEdit

Romanians of Armenian descent have been very active in Romanian political, cultural, academic and social life. Most worthy of mention would be Vazgen I, Catholicos of Armenia, and Iacob Zadig, a general in the Romanian Army during World War I.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. (1996). The Republic of Armenia. Vol. 3. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 402. ISBN 0-520-01805-2.
  • Armenians in Romania at the Central European University site (retrieved on 28 November 2005)
  • (in Romanian) Armenii ("The Armenians"), on Divers online bulletin of ethnic minorities in Romania (retrieved on 28 November 2005)
  • Neagu Djuvara, Între Orient și Occident. Țările române la începutul epocii moderne ("Between Orient and Occident. The Romanian lands from at the beginning of the modern era"), Humanitas, Bucharest, 1995, p. 178
  • Constantin C. Giurescu, Istoria Bucureștilor. Din cele mai vechi timpuri pînă în zilele noastre ("History of Bucharest. From the earliest times to our day"), Ed. Pentru Literatură, Bucharest, 1966, p. 98, 270-271
  • Nicolae Iorga, Choses d’art arméniennes en Roumanie ("Artworks of Armenians in Romania"), 1935
  • Kornél, Nagy (2011). "The Catholicization of Transylvanian Armenians (1685-1715): Integrative or Disintegrative Model?". Integrating Minorities: Traditional Communities and Modernization. Cluj-Napoca: Editura ISPMN. pp. 33–56. ISBN 9786069274491.

External linksEdit