14 April 1860|
Shusha, Nagorno Karabakh, Russian Empire
|Died||14 November 1932
Yerevan, Armenian SSR
|Known for||History of Armenia (Hayots' Patmut'yun) (3 volumes)|
|Institutions||Yerevan State University|
Arakel Grigori Babakhanian (Armenian: Առաքել Գրիգորի Բաբախանյան, commonly known as Leo (Armenian: Լեո); 14 April [O.S. 2 April] 1860 – 14 November 1932) was an Armenian historian, publicist, writer, critic and professor of Yerevan State University. He was born in Nagorno Karabakh and is recognized as an authoritative historian on Armenia and is best known as the author of the multi-volume History of Armenia. Leo addressed the difficult issues of Armenian history, history of literature and many key issues of the early 20th century.
Leo was born on 14 April 1860 in the city of Shusha, then a part of the Russian Empire. He graduated from the local school there in 1878. Due to the death of his father Grigor, Leo was unable to attend university to receive higher education and stayed in the region to support his family. He took up several jobs in Shusha and Baku as a notary clerk, telegraphist, and the manager of a publishing press called Aror (Wooden Plough). From 1895 to 1906, Leo worked as a journalist and secretary in Tiflis for the influential Armenian-language newspaper Mshak (Tiller). Leo would later become the editor of Mshak in 1918. In 1906, he began teaching at the Gevorkian Theological Seminary at Echmiatsin, although he returned to Tiflis a year later, dedicating himself to academic work.
Politically, Leo was opposed to the policies of the Armenian Dashnaktsutyun political party and was a member of the Populist (Zhoghovrdakan) Party, joining it in 1917. Other prominent positions Leo held include being an adviser to the delegation of the Seim of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, which held negotiations with the Turks in Trebizond in March 1918, and the president of the Karabakh Armenian Patriotic Association from 1918 to 1920.
Leo's education and knowledge was based almost solely on self-erudition. He had welcomed the sovietization of Armenia in 1920 and offered his services to the newly established state. Though he had lectured there during the fall term of 1919, it was only in 1924 that he was formally offered a position of professor at Yerevan State University in the field of Armenian studies. He already had worked for numerous publishing houses and published several books on Armenian history but his three volume work, History of Armenia (Patmut'yun Hayots', vol. I, Tiflis, 1917; vols. II and III, Yerevan, 1946–1947), is the most notable. After Soviet Russian writer Andrei Bitov visited Yerevan in 1960, he remarked that "he did not enter any house which did not have the familiar three volumes of Leo's History of Armenia." His work traces Armenian history from its beginnings until the end of the nineteenth century, with the exception of the period stretching from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries (the third volume begins with the sixteenth century, whereas the second volume had ended in the eleventh). It devotes particular importance to the political, cultural and social issues that surrounded Armenian life and the role that Armenia's neighbors played in the country's history.
- Hacikyan, Agop J; Gabriel Basmajian; Edward S. Franchuk (2005). The Heritage of Armenian Literature: From the Eighteenth Century to Modern Times, vol. 3. Detroit: Wayne State University. p. 508. ISBN 0-8143-3221-8.
- (in Armenian) Harutyunyan, Shmavon R. and Ashot K. Ohanyan. «Լեո» (Leo). Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia. Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1978, vol. iv, pp. 566-567.
- Hacikyan et al. Heritage of Armenian Literature, p. 506.
- Walker, Christopher J (1990). Armenia: The Survival of a Nation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 430. ISBN 0-312-04230-2. Soviet sources, however, do not list Leo as belonging to any political party.
- Walker. Armenia, p. 430.
- (in Armenian) Nersisyan, Mkrtich. "Professor Leo's Legacy in Historiography" in Երկերի ժողովածու [Collected Works]. Grigoryan, Z., H. Tamrazyan, et al. (eds.) Yerevan: Hayastan Publishing, 1966, vol. i, pp. iv-vii.
- Hovannisian, Richard G. (1982). The Republic of Armenia, Vol. II: From Versailles to London, 1919-1920. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 312. ISBN 0-520-04186-0.
- Hacikyan et al. Heritage of Armenian Literature, p. 507.
- Griffin, Nicholas (2004). Caucasus: A Journey to the Land between Christianity and Islam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 140. ISBN 0-226-30859-6.
- Nersisyan. "Professor Leo's Legacy", p. viii.
- (in Armenian) Ohanyan, Ashot K. Լեոյի գեղարվեստական ստեղծագործությունը (Leo's Artistic Work). Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1969.
- (in Armenian) Leo. Երկերի ժողովածու (Collected Works). 10 volumes. Yerevan: Hayastan Publishing, 1966-1973.
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