By Dickran Kouymjian
The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, Vol.2, editor Richard Hovannisian, editor (New York, 1997)
Introduction: The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are the dark ages of Armenian history. The poverty of historical sources reflects the disastrous decline of society and culture under Turkic oppression. Thus, this period — from the fall of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia in 1375 to the forced resettlement of eastern Armenians in Safavid Iran in 1604 — is either ignored in standard histories or relegated to a page or two.
To call both these centuries simply the early Ottoman period would be inaccurate. Armenia — a precise geographical entity since antiquity, at times misleadingly referred to as eastern Anatolia or eastern Asia Minor — was only conquered by the Ottomans under Sultan Selim the Grim in the second decade of the sixteenth century. To be sure, Armenians in cities like Kayseri, Trebizond, and Constantinople had lived under Ottoman rule from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and had known the Turks as Seljuks since the eleventh, but it was only in the sixteenth century that the majority of the nation became subject to the sultans.