Hagopdjan de Deritchan


Hagopdjan de Deritchan

Hagopdjan de Deritchan, also known as Acoljean de Richtan or Hakobjan Arhitchanents, was the first Safavid consul in Marseille, serving from 1715 until his passing on August 25, 1726. He took over the role from Mohammad Reza Beg as the primary Safavid diplomat in France during the reign of Sultan Husayn from 1694 to 1722 [1].

Hagopdjan’s name was derived from Hagop, a common Armenian name at the time. He adopted the preposition “di” from Italian, which denoted affiliation, following a practice often observed by Armenian merchants in the 17th and 18th centuries. The French encountered difficulties in accurately spelling his name, resulting in variations such as Acoljean of Ritchan, Agop Jean, or Agobian. One of his preserved signatures on a document at the Chamber of Commerce of Marseille reads Hagopdjan di Deritchan, indicating his parentage as the son of Deritchan, an uncommon name [1].

In 1714, Sultan Husayn of Safavid Iran decided to send an embassy to Louis XIV to establish a diplomatic and trade treaty between the two nations. Mohammad Reza Beg, the mayor of Yerevan, was chosen as the Safavid ambassador and mission leader. Hagopdjan, being of Armenian origin and the wealthiest merchant in Yerevan, was selected to accompany and safeguard the ambassador during their arduous journey through the hostile Ottoman Empire, Safavid Iran’s arch-rival [1].

Following Mohammad Reza Beg’s return to Yerevan in 1715, Hagopdjan remained in France as the Safavid consul. Initially, he spent several weeks in Paris, where Regent Philippe d’Orléans provided him with financial support for his stay. He later traveled to Marseille and arrived on December 2, 1715, resuming his duties as consul [1].

Hagopdjan encountered numerous challenges in his consulship, further complicated by the delayed ratification of the treaty by Sultan Husayn. When the ratification finally occurred in 1722, Persia was embroiled in chaos. The country faced internal rebellions from Pashtun groups on its far eastern borders and simultaneous invasions from both the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, the latter commencing in June 1722. Hagopdjan found himself somewhat neglected by his home country’s authorities and relied on a modest pension from the King of France. He intervened with the Chamber of Commerce to protect the tax privileges of Persians residing in France [1].

Hagopdjan de Deritchan lived in impoverished obscurity in Marseille until his death on August 25, 1726 [1].


[1] Guillaume Aral, “Hagopdjan de Deritchan, consul de Perse à Marseille (1715-1728), “Revue du monde arménien moderne et contemporain, Tome 6 (2001), Paris, pp. 29-36.

[2] Gérard Dédéyan (dir.), Histoire du peuple arménien, Privat, Toulouse, 2007 (ISBN 978-2-7089-6874-5), p. 916.