- At the beginning of last century, there lived in Paris alearned Armenian called Jacob Shahan Tcherbied, generally known as Cirbied. He was appointed Professor at the Imperial College of Paris and was the first to teach Armenian in France. In that capacity he was asked by Napoleon to recommend him somebody well acquainted with the language and the country to be sent on a special mission to the Court of Persia. Tcherbed recommended him an Armenian from Persia, a descendant of a noble house, that of Melik Shahnazar.
This young man, Mir-David by name, after having mastered the Persian and the Arabic languages, had come to Paris to learn French. He was then charged by Napoleon to go to Persia as his envoy and take a letter to fatali Shah, the second sovereign of the present Persian reigning dynasty. This was an honorific as well a dangerous mission in these days. The world then, as to-day, was greatly disturbed by the Napoleonic wars. England, France and Russia were carrying fire and sword throughout Europe. The success of a mission, like that of Mir-David, depended solely on his ability. His predecessor, General Jobert, had already been arrested and imprisoned by fatali at the instigation of the British ambassador.
Mir-David reached Baghdad and communicated with Bayat-Ismael-Beg (1804-1805), the Persian Consul, about his secret mission. Ismael-Beg wrote to the Court of Teheran, that an Armenian had arrived there, for the purpose of opening commercila relations between Baghdad and Paris, and that he, being the bearer of letters from Napoleon to the Shah, was asking to be sent to the Shah with an escort. In answer, he received an order to accompany him to Teheran. Mir-David reached Teheran safely, the letters were presented to the Shah, but the British ambassador succeeded in persuading the Shah that these letters were merely forgeries. By his personnal ability, however, Mir-David succeeded in obtaining from the Shah an Irade to the effect that official letters of Napoleon had been safely received by him.
With this irade, Mir-David returned to Paris and was again a second time sent to Teheran by Napoleon. But on this occasion, after accomplishing his mission, he entered the service of the Persian Government. He obtained the Persian decoration of Sheeri-Khoorshid and the honorofic title of Khan, as Mir-David Khan. He was then sent to Paris as the Persian ambassador. He represented Persia in Paris from 1806-1817, just a century ago, when he returned to Persia. While he was there, he obtained from Fatali-Shah new Firmans, conferring on him the lands over his forefathers had ruled in the Armenian districts of Kegharbouni, south of Lake Sewan. He also approched the heir-apparent, Abbas Mirza, and induced him to confirm the Shah's Firman. After having securely established his claims and titles, he left the administration of his lands in the care of his nephew and was again sent as ambassador to Paris.
In 1824 Mir-David came to Tiflis and obtained from the Governor Ermoloff permission for some Armenian Meliks, who had taken refuge in Russia, to return with their people to their ancient country of Kegharkouni. At the conclusion of Russo-Persian war, however, when his country passed under Russian sway, David-Khan resigned his office, and severing his relations with Persian Governement, went and settled in Tiflis and became a Russian subject. Here, he entered upon quite a new sphere of employment.
Large and thickly populated districts had been conquered by Russia. The Armenians had rendered, in this war, invaluable services to the Russian army, but, through some misunderstanding, the Russian authorities refused to recognise the rights of some of the descendants of former Armenian princely houses, called Meliks and to restore them their lands and titles. Now Mir-David Khan consecrated the remainder of his life towards redressing these wrongs. The Meliks of Kegharkouni gave him a power of attorney to vindicate their hereditary rights at the Russian Courts. David Khan, having had a long experience in the diplomatic service, was best suited for such a cause. In spite of numerous documents in his possession, he had nevertheless, much difficulty in proving that from immemorial the province of Kegharkouni had belonged to him and to the other Armenian Meliks in question. The matter dragged on till 1831, and he was obliged to spend all his private means in the pursuit of this cause. He was compelled to sell all his furniture secretly, and even the sword of honour he had received from Napoleon. Ultimately, becoming very poor and weak, he fell dangerously ill through want and worry, and it was not untill the day previous to his death that he was told he had gained his cause, and that 3,000 roubles were yearly assigned to him by the Russian Treasury. Such was the tragic end of Mir-David khan, the descendant of the powerful meliks of Kagharkouni and once the ambassador extraordinary of Napoleon.
- An Armenian Diplomat in the Service of Napoleon a Hundred Years Ago, by G. Thoumaian, Ararat, vol. 4 1917, London, pp 514- 516
- Mir Davoud Zadour Mélik Schanazar, Détails sur la situation actuelle du royaume de Perse (...et par Jacques Chahan de Cirbied), Paris 1816, 3 parties en 1 vol. In-4
- Irine Natchkebia, De relations diplomatiques entre la France et la Perse: une brochure de Mir-Davoud-Zadour de Melik Schahnazar Détails sur la situation actuelle du royaume de Perse (1816), // Second Biennial Convention on Iranian Stadies.Sosiety, History and Culture in the Persianate World, Abstracts, Yerevan, 2-5.04 2004, p. 84 (en français).