Z działalności kupców ormiańskich w Gdańsku w XVII–XVIII wieku
From the Activity of Armenian Merchants in Gdansk in the 17th and 18th century
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Besides a small article by Father Alfons Mańkowski of 1918, on the subject of the Armenians in Gdansk in the period from the 16th to the 18th century and the studies conducted by Jan M. Małecki (1968) their role in the trade conducted between the Baltic ports and the Orient is little known. Armenians were excluded from civil rights in Gdansk and could merely make use of the urban right of residency; some of them died there and were duly buried in the city. These mortals also left behind both personal possessions as well as goods which were administratively secured and subsequently, after the conducting of inheritance procedures, given over to the heirs. Regardless of the origin of the deceased the inheritance process was conducted upon the basis of the Kulm Law (ius culmense) in force in Prussian towns. Within the framework of the process a posthumous inventory of the estate was drawn up, in which the rights of creditors, the costs of burial and after calculation the net values of individual inheritance divisions were guaranteed. A search conducted at the State Archives in Gdansk as a result of studies into posthumous inventories and inheritance procedures in Prussian towns for the period from the 17th to the 18th century has allowed for the assembling of additional materials that somewhat expand the field of research observations. Besides which, notes on disputed cases or fines for violation of civil trading law, thanks to the administrative interest in the fortunes of the deceased, have allowed me to be able to uncover seven sources documenting inheritance procedures: for the years 1630, 1651, 1659, 1684, 1750, 1754, 1783. It results from the inventories that Armenians brought to Gdansk first and foremost silk and carpeting while in the Prussian towns they purchased large quantities of amber in both the form of ready-made items as equally as a raw material. The inventories allow one to establish relation connections as well as the circle of individuals with whom the deceased conducted trade. The materials housed in the State Archive in Gdansk undoubtedly contain, particularly in the extensive section 300, 5, many works that allow one to enhance research into the role of Armenians in supraregional trade.
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