The rich history of Armenians in the Netherlands and Belgium

  • by Western Armenia, February 23, 2024 in Ancient History
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Armenian printing

Where there are Armenians, there will definitely be Armenian churches and books...

In 1656, the Armenian Patriarch sent Matevos Tsaretsu (Tsari Matevos) to Venice to study whether the Bible could be printed in the Armenian language. Although Venice had good relations with Armenians for centuries, the Catholic Church made it very difficult for Armenians to publish orthodox Armenian literature.

So Tzaertsi decided to try his luck in the Northern Low Countries, then ruled by Protestants and known for their religious tolerance of anything but Catholicism.

Around 1660, Matevos Tsaretsi settled in Amsterdam, and in 1661, the first Armenian book was published under the title "Jesus the Son".

1666 finally the time came and the first printed Bible appeared in Armenian. None other than the mayor of Amsterdam, Nikolaas Witsen, helped the Armenian printers in the process of assimilating the Armenian alphabet.

He personally brought together master typographers such as the Hungarian letter-cutter, printer and typist Miklós Totfalusi Kis and the famous Daniel Elsevier, who was still working in Amsterdam at the time.

In a short time, the patterns of Armenian letters developed in Amsterdam were sent to printers in Europe. Tens of thousands of Armenian books found their way from Amsterdam throughout Europe and Asia. There are still a large number of printed Armenian books and maps of that period in the Dutch university libraries.