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Armenians in France

Armenians in France
Total population
250,000 — 750,000 (est.)
Regions with significant populations
Paris, Lyon, Marseille
French, Armenian
Christianity (predominantly Armenian Apostolic, Catholic & Evangelical minorities)

Armenians in France (Armenian: ֆրանսահայեր fransahayer; French: Arméniens de France) are French citizens of Armenian ancestry. The French Armenian community is, by far, the largest in the European Union and the third largest in the world.

Although the first Armenians settled in France in the Middle Ages, like most of the Armenian diaspora, the Armenian community in France was established by survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Others came through the second half of the 20th century, fleeing political and economic instability in the Middle Eastern countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iran) and, more recently, from the Republic of Armenia.

Armenians have a long history of settlement in France. The first Armenians appeared in Francia in the Early Middle Ages. In 591, an Armenian bishop named Simon is recorded to have met Gregory of Tours in the city of Tours. Among other churches, the 9th century church of Germigny-des-Prés—built by Odo of Metz (possibly an Armenian)—is said by architecture historians to have an Armenian influence. The thirty-six letters of the Armenian alphabet found in a Latin inscription at the St. Martha Church () in Tarascon show that Armenians lived there before the 13th century, when the last three characters of the Armenian alphabet were added.

The contacts between Armenians and the French became frequent during the Crusades. The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, located on the north-eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, became of strategic importance to the crusaders en route to Palestine. Armenian kings Oshin and Leo IV are known to have given special trading privileges for the French. In the 14th century, the Hethumids were unable to retain power in Cilician Armenia and following the assassination of Leo IV in 1341, his Lusignan cousin became King of Armenia as Constantine II. The Lusignan kings were of French origin and ruled the country until 1375 when the last king, Leo V, was captured by the Mamluks and taken to Egypt. He was later released and transferred to France where he died in 1393 and was buried at the Basilica of St Denis, the burial place of the French monarchs.



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