The Rescue of Armenian Historiography and the Chronicle of Matthew of Edessa
Paper by Tara Andrews
Given online by the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies on December 17, 2021
Abstract: Of the thirty-five manuscripts that remain of the 12th-century Chronicle of Matthew of Edessa, not a single one dates from before 1590, but over half of them were produced by 1700. This pattern of survival reflects a wider reality for Armenian literature, where the ravages of war and persecution, especially in the 15th and 16th centuries, gave way to a period of relative peace in the 17th century that provided an opportunity for a conscious “rescue” of the Armenian literary heritage, especially (but not exclusively) centered around the Amrdolu monastery of Bitlis, near Lake Van. In this talk I will present some of the features and puzzles of the manuscript tradition of the Chronicle that speak to this restoration, and at the same time give us glimpses into the history of the developing Armenian diaspora.
Top Image: 15th-century map of Armenia and area, from Ptolemy’s Cosmographia.