THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)
Death of Mateos Mamourian
(January 2, 1901)
Mateos Mamourian was born in Smyrna (currently Izmir) on October 17, 1830. He graduated from the Mesrobian School in 1845 and continued his studies at the Samuel-Moorat school in Paris, which belonged to the Mekhitarist Congregation. After graduation (1850), he returned to his hometown and was one of the founders of the Aghabekian School the following year. However, his efforts were unsuccessful and the school did not last long.
Mamourian moved to Constantinople in 1853 as a teacher, and also started contributing to the Armenian press. He was later called to the Ottoman army and worked as a translator during the Crimea war (1853-1856). After the end of the war, he was an auditor at Cambridge University, in Great Britain, from 1856-1857. He traveled through Europe and Russia in 1858, and then he returned to the Ottoman Empire. He was the chancellor (executive director) of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople from 1860-1865.
In the meanwhile, the Armenian rebellion of Zeitun in 1862 generated a strong wave of solidarity. Mamourian organized a fundraiser for the rebels and published articles condemning the bloody policies of Aziz Pasha in Cilicia, which had been the cause of the rebellion. After 1865 he moved back to Smyrna and became the principal of his alma mater, the Mesrobian School, with interruptions, from 1865-1899. He taught English, French, Arabic, and world history.
In 1871 Mamourian founded the journal Arevelian Mamoul, which he edited for thirty years and had an important role in the intellectual life of Western Armenians. He collected his articles in two books, Armenian Correspondence (1872) and English Correspondence, or The Fate of an Armenian (1881), where he discussed the political liberation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the economic development of Armenia. The first two parts of his novel The Man of the Black Mountain were published in his journal from 1871-1883. However, the third and last part was never written due to the attacks of both Western and Eastern Armenian conservatives, who criticized the ideas of the author. The novel was set during the Russian-Persian war of 1826-1828 that had led to the liberation of Eastern Armenia from Persian domination, including the participation of Armenian volunteers, but the author had found his own way to reflect the situation of the Ottoman Empire in his time, despite censorship. As he wrote in one of his articles, “In a tyrannical regime, an editor must be a sort of ventriloquist, who knows how to make his voice audible without touching his collar.”
This prolific author also published various textbooks of general history, Armenian history, literature, and grammar. He also translated works by Voltaire, Goethe, Alexander Dumas, Jules Verne, Walter Scott, Leo Tolstoy, and others, as well as the tales of the Thousand and One Nights in six volumes.
Mamourian passed away in Smyrna on January 2, 1830. His son Hrant Mamourian became the editor of Arevelian Mamoul, which was published until 1910, and then as a newspaper from 1919-1922, when the fire of Smyrna ended the Armenian presence in the second city of the Ottoman Empire.