The rich history of Armenians in the Netherlands and Belgium

  • by Western Armenia, February 21, 2024 in Ancient History

Armenian merchant with a monkey, approx. 1700-1725, from the Dutch National State Museum

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Armenian merchants arrived in the Republic of the United States or the United States of the Netherlands in three waves of immigration.

The first wave arrived from Julfa, a suburb of Isfahan, Iran, and the Dutch called them "Jolfalijnen" or Persians. The second group came from the major Ottoman seaports of Aleppo, Constantinople, and Smyrna, and the third from Archangel, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.

The main motivation for migration was the rise of the Dutch Republic, and Amsterdam in particular, as a center of global economic activity in the 17th century.

Armenian business houses in Amsterdam opened branches in other European cities and countries: Venice, Leghorn, Marseille, Spain. Yellow amber was imported from the shores of the Baltic Sea, which was in great demand in Smyrna.

The importation of Persian silk was almost entirely in the hands of Armenians in 1700-1765. As the Mediterranean was overrun by pirates in that era, their ships were escorted by warships.

One such sailing ship was called Coopman van Armenien (Merchant of Armenia). A consular report of 1653 stated that the Armenische Coopman, escorting the warship Gelderland, had arrived safely at Smyrna.