Armenians – the glamour of Orient
In the 13th century Armenia was attacked by the Mongolian army. Because of that, many Armenian merchants moved their businesses abroad. In the 14th century they settled in the eastern part of the Kingdom of Poland and then some of them reached also the Wielkopolska Region.
Armenians specialised in long-distance trade which reached Turkey, Russia and even India. They imported luxurious silk and cotton fabrics, leather, carpets, tents, jewellery as well as Eastern weapons valued by the Polish gentry. They also traded horses, oxen, wax, honey, dried fruit and nuts and wine. Apart from that, they imported spices which contemporary cuisine could not do without such as pepper, ginger, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and thyme.
At first, Armenian goods were imported by Poznań merchants. However, already in the second half of the 16th century Armenians began to bring these products to the wealthy inhabitants of Poznań themselves. For example, the Górka Family’s suppliers were merchants from Lviv, Kasper Adriasowicz and Szymon Awdekowicz. We also know some names of Armenians trading luxurious fabrics and gold (Piotr Ormena, Manuel and Roman from Kaffa) as well as leather (the Hołubek Family). Some merchants were even given citizenship, for example Daniel Zacharewicz from Kamieniec Podolski (1653), but that happened very rarely. Unfortunately, wars that followed as well as Poznań’s economic decline forced Armenians to move their businesses to other lands.
An Armenian merchant, Print from the 17th century by Johann Christoph Weigel, public domain