Archil of Imereti

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Archil of Imereti
Archil of Imereti (Bagrationi dynasty).jpg
King Archil by Nicolaes Witsen
King of Imereti
Reign 1661–1663
1678–1679
1690–1691
1695–1698
King of Kakheti
Reign 1664–1675
Successor Heraclius I of Kakheti
Dynasty Bagrationi dynasty
Father Vakhtang V of Kartli
Mother Rodam Kaplanishvili-Orbeliani
Born 1647
Died April 16, 1713
Moscow
Burial Donskoy Monastery
Religion Georgian Orthodox Church
Signature

Archil (Georgian: არჩილი) (1647 – April 16, 1713), of Bagrationi dynasty, king of Imereti in western Georgia (1661–1663, 1678–1679, 1690–1691, 1695–1696, and 1698) and of Kakheti in eastern Georgia (1664–75). After a series of unsuccessful attempts to establish himself on the throne of Imereti, Archil retired to Russia where he spearheaded the cultural life of a local Georgian community. Also a lyric poet.

Political career[edit]

Archil was the son of Vakhtang V Shahnawaz of Kartli, who, under the Persian protection, attempted to reunify a fragmented Kingdom of Georgia under his crown. Having brought the neighboring eastern kingdom of Kakheti under his control, Vakhtang marched into western Georgia in 1661, deposed King Bagrat V of Imereti, and crowned his fourteen-year old son Archil king at Kutaisi, capital of Imereti. The Ottoman government strongly objected to what it considered a Persian-inspired incursion into the Turkish zone of influence. A Turkish ultimatum was soon received in Isfahan, threatening a declaration of war if Shahnavaz maintained his son on the throne of western Georgia. Shahnavaz was forced to recall Archil from Kutaisi in 1663 and to restore the rightful king, Bagrat. Instead, Vakhtang installed Archil as king of Kakheti in 1664. To gain the shah's consent, Archil was prevailed upon, much against his will, to become a nominal convert to Islam, assuming the title of Shah-Nazar-Khan. In 1664, Archil defeated an attempt by the rival Kakhetian prince and his brother-in-law, Erekle, to regain his father's crown, and achieved a degree of stability and prosperity in Kakheti.

In 1675, however, due largely to the intrigues by the Persian grand vizier Shaykh' Ali Khan, Archil abandoned Kakheti and, with his brother Luarsab, defected to the Turkish frontier pasha of Akhaltsikhe who promised him the crown of Imereti. He was soon reestablished in Kutaisi with the aid of the pasha of Akhaltiskhe, though without the consent of the Sublime Porte. The Ottoman agents had the pasha executed, and deposed Archil in 1679. He fled to Russia, but was not allowed to Moscow until 1686. Encouraged by his brother, King George XI of Kartli, Archil returned to Georgia in 1690 and succeeded in regaining the Imeretian throne, only to be deposed again by the local nobility in 1691. During the next few years, he made several attempts to seize the crown, waging a guerrilla war against the Turks and the aristocratic opposition led by Prince Abashidze. Eventually Archil gave up hope of reestablishing himself in Imereti and, in 1699, crossed the Caucasus Mountains once more into Russia where he settled in Vsesviatskoye near Moscow.

Life in Russia[edit]

An illuminated charter issued in Archil's name

He was on friendly terms with Peter I of Russia who gave orders to prepare an expedition to restore Archil to the throne of Imereti. However, the plan was rendered abortive on account of the defeat inflicted by the Swedes on the Russian army at Narva in 1700. This, in addition to frustrating Archil's hopes of regaining his throne, brought tragedy into his family life. Alexander, son of Archil, who commanded Russian artillery at Narva, was taken prisoner by the Swedes, and had to spend ten years in captivity. Archil attempted to achieve the release of his son through the Austrian mediation, and later sent a personal letter to Charles XII of Sweden. It was not until 1710, however, that Alexander was released. Severely ill, he died on his way back to Russia. The death of Alexander was a bitter blow to Archil, who did not long survive his son. He died in 1713 and was buried in the Donskoy Monastery at Moscow.

Most of Archil's Russian years were devoted to poetry and cultural activities. He was responsible for setting up the first printing press in the Georgian language in Russia and published The Psalms in 1705. Archil's poetry, remarkable for its diversity, heralded the beginning of the period of Revival in Georgian literature. His chief poems – The Dialogue between Teimuraz and Rustveli (გაბაასება თეიმურაზისა და რუსთველისა), The Manners of Georgia (საქართველოს ზნეობანი), and The Lay of Archil (Archiliani; არჩილიანი) are dedicated to the 17th-century misfortunes of Georgia. He strongly objected to the contemporary Persian literary influences, and called for the revival of Shota Rustaveli's traditions of Georgian poetry.

Family[edit]

Archil was married twice. His first wife was a daughter of Prince Nodar Tsitsishvili. He married secondly to Ketevan, daughter of Prince David of Kakheti, in 1668. The couple one daughter and three sons:

  • Princess Darejan, known in Russia as Darya Archilovna (c. 1670 – 1740); she died unmarried and was buried at the Donskoy Monastery.
  • Prince Aleksandre, known in Russia as Aleksandr Archilovich (1674 – 20 February 1711), a Russian army artillery commander. He was married, with one daughter.
  • Prince Mamuka, known in Russia as Matfey Archilovich (1676 – 23 March 1693); he died unmarried and was buried at the Donskoy Monastery.
  • Prince Davit, known in Russia as David Archilovich (2 July 1682 – 24 October 1688); he died unmarried, buried at the Novodevichy Convent, and reburied in 1711 at the Donskoy Monastery.

References[edit]

Preceded by
Vameq
King of Imereti
1661–1663
Succeeded by
Demetre
Preceded by
Persian governorate
King of Kakheti
1664–1675
Succeeded by
Erekle I
Preceded by
Bagrat V
King of Imereti
1678–1679
Succeeded by
Bagrat V (restored)
Preceded by
Alexander IV
King of Imereti
1690–1691
Succeeded by
Alexander IV (restored)
Preceded by
Alexander IV
King of Imereti
1695–1696
Succeeded by
George V
Preceded by
George V
King of Imereti
1698
Succeeded by
Simon