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Throughout history, hundreds, thousands...millions of people lived on these lands. At times, their existence was marked by battles, and at others, peace reigned over them.
The Armenians too, were among the inhabitants of these lands. They were ruled by the Persians, the Macedonians, the Seleucids, the Romans, Partians, Byzantines and Arabs...were constantly exiled from one region to the other, and were accorded third-class citizenship until the Turks gained sovereignty over Anatolia, in 1071. After this date, fighting gradually diminished and Byzantine persecution left its place to the just, tolerant, humanitarian and unifying beliefs and traditions of the Seljuks. The years of peace and calm enjoyed by Armenians under the hegemony of the Seljuks reached a climax under the rule of the Ottomans...a period that can be defined as the 'Golden Age'... Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, who put an end to Byzantine rule, allowed the foundation of the Armenian Patriarchate, an unprecedented move for the Armenians to whom he granted freedom of conscience and faith. The transformation of the Armenian Episcopate in Western Anatolia to the Istanbul Patriarchate, following a decree he issued in 1461, is clear evidence of the vision and tolerance displayed by Mehmed and of the subsequent Ottoman Sultans toward other faiths. buy valium online without prescriptionbuy ambien online
As a matter of fact, the present day Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II was according due rights to those who in turn had taken a similar stand toward the Armenians throughout their 'Golden Age' by saying: " We can duely grasp the significance of tolerance between different religions and cultures, as well as the value of this incident dating back to 538 years, by taking into account the tensions witnessed throughout the world on the threshold of a new millennium, the ongoing wars beyond our borders in particular."buy xanax no prescription
Following the reign of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, Turco-Armenian relations continued excellently until the end of the 19th century. In fact, Armenians were by far, the greatest beneficiaries of the opportunities offered by the Ottoman Empire to all industrious, efficient, honest and productive subjects of the non-muslim communities. Being exempted from the military service and to a great extent from taxation, the Armenians had the opportunity to make headway in trade, agriculture, craftsmanship and administration, and by reason of their loyalty to the Empire, as well as their ability to intermingle with other subjects, they had duely attained the title of 'loyal people'.buy tramadol online
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Towards the end of 7th century, the Byzantine hegemony in Anatolia came to an end. First, the Umayyeds gained sovereignty and then the Abbasides came into power, ruled until the end of the 9th century. At the end of 10th century, the Byzantine Empire restored its hegemony in entire Anatolia.
Byzantine Emperor Vasil II spent the last years of his life leading some activities in the Caucuses. After the death of Gagik I (990-1020) of the Armenian Bagratuni dynasty, chaos started in this region, which gave the Byzantine Emperor a chance to interfere with the Caucuses successfully. Thus, a part of Georgia and Van region were annexed to the Byzantine Empire and the Armenian Ani dynasty was succeeded by Ionnas Smbat, the son and life-long heir apparent of Gagik. After Ionnas Smbat died Byzantine Empire had annexed the dynasty.
The Byzantine Empire not only annexed the territories in this land, where Armenians lived but also “removed the commanders of Armenian nation from their own houses and states and exiled these commanders with them” as Mateos of Urfa stated. The situation was really suitable for Seljuks to enter Anatolia. Christian defenses in the region had weakened and Byzantine army also lost power due to domestic political disputes and military rebellions.
The Seljukian Crown Prince Hasan commenced raids to Van Lake region in 1047-1048. Ibrahim Yinal who was appointed as Azerbaijan Governor General, in collaboration with Kutalmish defeated the Byzantine Army, which was under the command of Liparit, Aaron and Katalon, in Pasin Plains in September 1048, upon the order he took from Tugrul Beg.
Romanos VI. Diogenes, who obtained power by marrying Byzantine Emperor Konstantin Dukas’s (May 1067) wife after the emperor’s death, promptly took the control of the war against the Seljuks. However, due to the weakening of his army, he gathered an army mostly consisting of foreign soldiers (Pecheneg, Oghuz, Norman, Frank, Armenian, Slav, Bulgarian, German, Caspian, Georgian) with great difficulties.
According to Islamic and Christian resources, this army mobilized by the Byzantine Emperor, added up to a total between 200.000 and 600.000 soldiers. The Byzantine Emperor, before moving towards Malazgirt, heard the news that Armenians acted more brutally than the Turks did and he swore to destroy Armenian community after the war.
On 26th August 1071, the Byzantine Emperor attacked onto Sultan Alparslan’s army at a location around Van Lake near Malazgirt with his paid army, which was superior in number but undisciplined and consisting of foreign soldiers. However, his army was routed and almost destroyed by Alparslan’s army, and even the Emperor himself was captured. Alparslan made peace with Emperor Diogenes and sent him to Istanbul back to his throne with a great ceremony.
Mateos of Urfa, after listening to people who had experienced these events personally wrote about it and expressed Byzantine behavior towards Armenians who lived for so long under the sovereignty of Byzantium:
“... They (Romans) caused Catholicos (Haçik) to suffer from various types of torture because of his sect. As we heard, they tortured him with fire, but he came out of fire safe and sound.”
“Two years later (993-994) the Great Roman Duke attacked the Armenians with a powerful army, dashing at Christians, he killed them and captured them. He, like a poisonous snake, brought death everywhere, and thus took the place of godless nations.”
How did Turks behave the Armenians who fought together with Byzantium against Turks? Did Turks despise and oppress them or burn their churches and monasteries as the Byzantine rulers did? Mateos of Urfa recorded the tolerance shown to all non-Moslem minorities living under Seljukian rule, especially the Armenians:
“In 539 (27th February 1090-26th February 1091) the Armenian Catholicos Barseg went to Conqueror Sultan Melikshah. Seeing that Christians are oppressed at some places, taxes are demanded from churches of God and clergy, and bishops are oppressed in monasteries for taxes, Catolicosis decided to enter the presence of Iran’s and all Christians’ magnanimous and pleasant Sultan and tell him all problems. The Sultan admitted signor Barseg to his presence paid him a great compliment and fulfilled his wishes. The Sultan exempted all churches and monasteries and the clergy from taxes and gave Armenian Catolicosis, firmans and saw him off with compliments.”
As it can be understood from the statements above, Seljukian Turks showed Armenians as well as the other non-Muslim subjects, the tolerance, which had not been shown by the Byzantine Empire and ensured them that he will protect their religion and social lives. This tolerance continued in the period of Anatolian Seljuk Empire as well. In spite of all the tolerance shown to them, it is also known that Armenians sometimes supported to the Byzantine Empire and also, at the time of the Crusades, they reinforced the Crusade Armies.
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In the first years of the Ottoman Empire, Armenians were scattered as small princedoms and emirates. They were living as subjects of Iran, Byzantine Empire, Georgian and Seldjukian States and the other small emirates located generally in Cukurova, Eastern Anatolia and Caucasus regions.The first relations of Armenians with Ottomans started in the western region of Anatolia, where Armenians were a small minority. After Bursa was made the capital city of the state by Osman Ghazi (Sultan Osman I) in 1324, most of the Armenians in Kutahya and the Armenian spiritual chieftain were transferred to this city.Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, on his own initiative transferred Hovakim, the Armenian spiritual leader in Bursa, to Istanbul after he conquered Istanbul in 1453. In 1461, he had Armenian Patriarchate established as well as the Byzantine Greek Patriarchate, and he ensured Armenians to be controlled by this Patriarch. Following Sultan Selim’s (Selim I) conquest of South Caucasia and Eastern Anatolia in 1514-1516, Armenians in this region were also included in the same congregation and were connected to Istanbul Patriarch. Armenians, who received the attention of the Ottoman Empire, an attention, which they had never received in their history from any other state or any other ruler, became sincerely fond of the Ottoman State and the Turkish nation. Because of this reason, in a short time great numbers of Armenians immigrated to Istanbul from various places, and formed a big community. Thus, they became one of the world’s most prosperous communities.In a period of three hundred and fifty years from Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror to Sultan Mahmut II, religious and social affairs of Christians, as well as the Armenians, were certainly not interfered with. Many schools, printing-houses and libraries were established with the help of Armenian bankers (then called Amira), merchants and civil officials. In addition, many Armenian young men were sent to European universities and schools to be educated in various fields and learn art. Nevertheless, Armenians living under Russian rule were not given these rights at that period.Armenian Patriarch Nerses stated, in his letter, to the Citizenship Assembly Council in 1876 that “If by any chance the Armenian nation has been preserved as a nation and if it is preserving its beliefs, its church, language, history and cultural values, all these are due to the protection, help and benevolence shown by the Turkish government to the Armenian nation. Fate bounds Armenians to Turks. Because of this, Armenians can not remain indifferent during wars and hardships facing the state. On the contrary, they are obliged to help the state as they have always done. The Armenian who loves his homeland and who will help the state, will receive the best service of his own nation.”As it is seen in the statement above, the Armenian Patriarch says that the Armenians under Turkish rule have preserved their identities and he thanks for the rights offered by the Ottoman State.The Ottoman State announced the reforms to be made in Gulhane Decree but non-Muslims were not pleased with these new rights given. Non-Muslims were obliged to do military service and they could also charged with official duty or attend civil and military schools. As a result of this, Armenians had the government ratify the Armenian Nation Regulations, which came into force in 1863 and consisted of 99 articles.Armenians were always treated first class citizens as the other non-Muslims were. They did not do military service, furthermore, they gained important positions in society and became rich especially by obtaining key points in commercial life.Armenians’ fidelity towards the Ottoman State, their adaptation of Turkish customs and even their speaking Turkish well ensured Armenians to be appointed to high and responsible positions of the state. With regard to this fact, in the 16th century, there were statesmen who were promoted to the post of vizier like Mehmet Pasha of Armenian origin. In the 18th century, there were palace jewelers and later Ministers of Mint from the Duzyan family of Divrik and palace doctors from Sasyan family. In the 19th century, there were Ministers of Mint from Bezciyan family and Ministers of Powder-mill from Dadyan family. Also, there were Armenian foreign affairs officials and ministers in the 19th century and Abdulhamid period and so on. In addition, many Armenians worked as counselors to Ottoman statesmen. The Armenian community always lived in a tolerant and free environment, like all the other minorities and non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire. They were not a community which was exposed to a massacre as claimed but a community who held important positions and practiced important professions in every level of state administration. Perhaps the most striking statements about Ottoman-Armenian relations were submitted in person by the Armenian community in Turkey. Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II used the expressions below in his speech in the reception in Hilton Hotel on May 22, 1999:“We are at the brink of the third millenium. We are preparing to celebrate the beginning of a new period in the History of Humanity. I think that this is a great chance for all of us. The chance of designating our future with the dreams of unity of cultures and nations...Respect to human life and individual rights and freedoms, and a world lawful and far away from all types of violence are common aspirations for all of us. This milestone in front of us is offering not only a unique opportunity but also a difficult test. The second millenium, which we are preparing to leave behind, is full of tragic events. However, among the ones we left behind there are also many events which we will always remember with respect and celebrate with pleasure in the coming milleniums.buy xanax without prescription
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The foundation of Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate is an unique event in the history of world. Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror’s converting the Armenian episcopalism in Western Anatolia into Istanbul Patriarchate with a firman in 1461, eight years after he conquered Istanbul, is a clear example of his and Ottoman Empire’s future vision and tolerance they showed to all religions. In history, it has never been seen neither before Mehmed nor after him that a ruler who is a disciple of a certain religion establish a spiritual presidency for the disciples of an another religion.If we consider present tensions in the world and especially the wars in our neighbors in the eve of a new millenium, I suppose we can comprehend better the value of this event, which occurred 538 years ago and the importance of tolerance between religions and cultures. With pleasure and gratitude, we commemorate Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror who offered a new life for the Armenian community within the borders of the Empire according to their own customs and practice, the statesmen who served the country following Mehmed’s steps, and our 83 patriarchs, beginning with the first Istanbul Armenian Patriarch appointed in 1461, Hovagim of Bursa, all of whom served this position faithfully. We, Turkish Armenians, as being the most crowded Christian community living in Turkey celebrate 75th year of our country with enthusiasm, we sincerely believe in the bright future of Republic of Turkey and we have great expectations for future.”tramadol online no prescription
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