12°. 678 pp. with interleaved engraved frontispiece and title page, contemporary binding with marbled paper bards and leather spine, gilt embossed decoration and lettering on the spine (paper with minor staining, binding rubbed and worn with tiny holes on the spine).
The history focuses on the 4th century, in the time of Gregory the Illuminator (c. 257 – c. 331), the first head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who, in 301, converted Armenia to Christianity, making it the first country to embrace Christianity officially.
The author Agathangelos (c. 4th or 5th centuries AD) was a supposed secretary of Tiridates III, King of Armenia (287–330) and the first author to record the life of St. Gregory. The text is considered one of the pillars of Armenian history.
The first edition of this highly important work for the history of Armenians was first printed in 1709 in Istanbul by Grigor Marzuantsi (Գրիգոր Մարզվանեցի). The second edition followed in 1822. The Armenian press on the island of San Lazzaro in Venice printed the revised and correctd text in 1835, 1862 and 1930.
Our book is the fourth general edition, and second Venice edition of the text, bearing the engraved title page and frontispiece of the previous edition from 1835.
The book was printed by the press of the Mekhitarists, a congregation of Benedictine monks of the Armenian Catholic Church, on the island of San Lazzaro in Venice. The order was founded in Mkhitar Sebastatsi, in 1717, with a goal to nourish the Armenian culture, and mostly preserve the literature under the Ottoman Empire. In the same year, during the tensions between the Ottoman and Venetians, Venice gave an island San Lorenzo to the order, where they established their centre. In the next decades they translated and printed books, pamphlets, prints and maps in Armenian language, meant for export among Armenians around the world. The monastery also collected an important valuable library. Another big Armenian centre was the Mekhitarist Monastery (Mechitaristenkirche), founded in 1810 in Vienna, Austria.
All the editions are rare. Worldcat only lists two examples of this 1862 edition (The British Library, OCLC 861640351, and the Bavarian State Library, OCLC 163202327), although it is not clear, if any of the other recorded examples (6 examples found on Worldcat) have been wrongly listed as an 1835 edition due to the older title page.