This Week in Armenian History

Death of Heinrich Gelzer (July 11, 1906)

German historian and philologist Heinrich Gelzer’s wide interest in ancient history led him to learn Armenian and deal with the intricacies of Armenian ancient history. 

He was the son of well-known Swiss historian Johann Heinrich Gelzer (1813-1889). He was born on July 1, 1847, in Berlin. He taught classical philology and ancient history at the Basel Institute and the universities of Heidelberg and Jena, where he became professor in 1878. 

He studied the works of various ancient historians (Sextus Julius Africanus, Eusebius of Caesarea, George of Cyprus, and others), as well as the history of Byzantium. His main works of Armenian Studies were translated into Armenian: Pavstos Buzand and the Beginnings of the Armenian Church (1896), Brief Armenian History (1897), Study of Armenian Mythology (1897), Synthesis of the History of Byzantine Emperors (1901). Gelzer also published Armenian manuscripts. In 1898 he published the list of Armenians participating in the universal council of Nicaea based on six manuscripts. He translated into German, along with A. Burckhardt, Stepanos Taronatsi’s (Asoghik) Universal History (published in 1907). He translated into German fragments from the works of Pavstos Buzand and Sebeos.  

In 1900 Gelzer published From the Religious and Secular Life of Turkish-Greek Orient, where he described the pitiful situation of Armenians, Greeks, and Bulgarians, and criticized the anti-Armenian policy of Abdul Hamid II and the indifference of the German government, which he caracterized as moral decline.    

Gelzer died on July 11, 1906, in Jena.