Enlightenment among Armenians, sometimes called as renaissance of the Armenian people, came from two sources; First one was the Armenian monks belonging to the Mekhitarist Order. Second one was the socio-political developments of the 19th century, mainly the French Revolution and establishment of "Russian revolutionary thought." In Russian Armenia, Mekhitar emphasized importance of the teaching of Armenian history and language. Nersesian College in Tiflis (1823) and Lazarian College in the Moscow-Lazarevski Institute (1816) were the foremost educational institutions in developing national awareness. Among the pioneers Mikayel Nalbantian, Khachadour Abovian and Stepan Nazarian are to be counted. They championed the Armenian cause, and fought for its recognition. In the Ottoman Empire the conditions of Armenians improved owing to the "Tanzimat reforms" and better transport .
Armenian National Constitution defined the condition of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, but also it had regulations defining the authority of the Patriarch. The constitution of Armenian National Assembly seen as a milestone by progressive Armenians. Besides these improvements a second development was the introduction by Protestant missionaries of elementary education, colleges and other institutions of learning. Communications improved with the starting of Armenian newspapers. Books about Amenian history enebled a comparison of the past with current conditions and expanded readers' horizons. . This was part of an evolution in Armenian political consciousness from purely cultural romanticism to a programme for action. .
During the 19th century, along with the other national movements, a nascent Armenian intelligentsia promoted the use of new concepts in society with a particularly Armenian import. These concepts were developed by an intelligentsia which had studied in the Western Europe under the influence of the legacy of the French Revolution of 1789. They were highly educated (doctors, academics, etc) who espoused a democratic-liberal ideology and the concept of the rights of man. The second wave come with the emergence of Russian revolutionary thought. At the end of 19th century a movement was based on a socialist ideology, specifically in its Marxist variant, see Armenian Revolutionary Federation. There was a major problem, in that materialism and class struggle did not directly apply to the realities (Socioeconomics) of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as much as to those in the Russian Armenia.
In 1885, the Armenakan (Ramgavar Party) was established in Van by Mëkërtich Portukalian, who later went into exile in Marseilles but kept in touch with local leaders, and published a journal of political and social enlightenment, "L'Armenie". The Armenians of Van continued to develop the political principles behind Armenian nationalism, in secret. The party's aim soon become to 'win for the Armenians the right to rule themselves, through revolution'. Their view on how to liberate Armenia from the Ottoman Empire was that it should be through the press, national awakening and unarmed resistence.
In 1885, Armenian Patriotic Society of Europe was established in Chesilton Road, Fulham, with its headquarters there. Its goal was that the Armenian Diaspora should help those in their native land, both financially and raise Armenian political consciousness about its subject condition.
In 1887, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (Hentchak, was the first Socialist party in the Ottoman Empire and in Persia by Avetis Nazarbekian, Mariam Vardanian, Gevorg Gharadjian, Ruben Khan-Azat, Christopher Ohanian, Gabriel Kafian and Manuel Manuelian, a group of college students who met in Geneva, Switzerland, with the goal to gain Armenia's independence from the Ottoman Empire. Hunchak means "Bell" in English, and was taken by party members to represent "awakening, enlightenment, and freedom."
In 1889 the Young Armenia Society was founded by Kristapor Mikayelian in Tbilisi. The Young Armenia Society organised Fedayee campaigns into Ottoman territory. The Russian Empire attacked Ottoman Armenia in Gugunian Expedition. Its aims were the carrying out reprisals against Kurds believed to be guilty of persecuting Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. The society believed that that the Russians would assist in the creation of an autonomous Armenian province under Russian rule.
In 1890 Armenian Revolutionary Federation was founded in Tiflis. Its members armed themselves into fedayee groups to defend Armenian villages from widespread oppression, attacks and persecution of the Armenians, it's initial aim was to guarantee reforms in the Armenian provinces and to gain eventual autonomy, it being seen as the only solution to save the people from Ottoman oppression and massacres. .
Significant European and American movements began with the Armenian diaspora in France and in the U.S. as early as in the 1890s. The previous migrations were minor or and had not been statistically significant. Various political parties and benevolent unions, such as branches for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF or Dashnaktsutiun), the Social-Democrat Henchagian party (Hunchak), and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) which was initially founded in Constantinople, were established wherever there was a considerable number of Armenians.
As a result, the ARF leadership decided to actively defend Armenian churches. . The ARF formed a Central Committee for Self-Defence in the Caucasus and organised a series of protests. At Gandzak the Russian army responded by firing into the crowd, killing ten, and further demonstrations were met with more bloodshed. The Dashnaks and Hunchaks began a campaign of assassination against tsarist officials in Transcaucasia and they succeeded in wounding Prince Golitsin. The events convinced Tsar Nicholas that he must reverse his policies. He replaced Golitsin with the Armenophile governor Count Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov and returned the property of the Armenian Church. Gradually order was restored and the Armenian bourgeoisie once more began to distance itself from the revolutionary nationalists.
Political parties, notably the Dashnaktsutiun, wanted to influence the direction of the revolution towards greater democracy and to safeguard gains already achieved. The Dashnak contribution to the fight was mostly a military one, as it sent some of its well known fedayees to Iran after the guerrilla campaign in the Ottoman Empire stopped with the rise of the Young Turks. A notable ARF member already in Iran was Yeprem Khan, who had established a branch of the party in the country. Yeprem Khan was highly instrumental in the Constitutional revolution of Iran.
biggest achievement is the Armenian governing of the Administration for Western Armenia with the Aram of Van and keeping the Ottomans out with the Armenian volunteer units within the Russian Caucasus Army, as well as Armenian militia. French-Armenian Agreement (1916) October 27, 1916, was the political and military accord regarding the support of the Armenian Resistance against Ottoman authorities during the Armenian Genocide.
The first national republic was achieved by the Armenians under the Russian control which devised a national congress at October 1917. The convention in Tiflis was concluded in September 1917 with delegates from former Romanov realm (203), which 103 belonged to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. When the first Republic of Armenia (Democratic Republic of Armenia) was proclaimed in 1918, the ARF became the ruling party.
However, despite their tight grip on power (Drastamat Kanayan (Ministry of Defense) and Aram Manougian (Ministry of Interior)), the ARF was unable to stop the impending Communist invasion from the north, which culminated with a Soviet takeover in 1920, although there was also a large movement of Armenian communists who aided the Soviet control. The ARF was banned, its leaders exiled and many of its members dispersed to other parts of the world.
The maturation of national identity occurred with the independence of the Armenia in 1991. Armenians organized a massive nationalist movement focused on recovering Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia. This movement grew into a popular democratic organization, the Armenian National Movement (ANM).