Ekaterine Dadiani, Princess of Mingrelia

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Ekateriné Dadiani-Chavchavadze
Princess Regent of Mingrelia
Екатерина Чавчавадзе Дадиани.jpg
Reign 30 August 1853 – 1866
Predecessor David Dadiani
Successor Niko I Dadiani
Full name
Ekateriné Alexandres asuli Dadiani-Chavchavadze
House Dadiani
Father Prince Alexander Chavchavadze
Mother Princess Salomé Orbeliani
Born (1816-03-19)March 19, 1816
Cinandali estates
Died August 25, 1882(1882-08-25) (aged 66)

Princess Ekateriné Dadiani (Georgian: ეკატერინე დადიანი; née Chavchavadze; March 19, 1816 – August 13, 1882) was a prominent 19th-century Georgian aristocrat and the last ruling princess of the Western Georgian Principality of Mingrelia in southeast Europe. She played an important role in resisting Ottoman influence in her principality and was at the center of Georgian high society, both inside the country and abroad.

Family and marriage[edit]

Ekateriné's father, Alexander
Her spouse, Prince David

Ekateriné was born to a distinguished noble family from Eastern Georgia. Her father was Prince Alexander Chavchavadze, a noted Georgian general and godson of Catherine the Great of Russia.[1] Her mother was Princess Salomé Orbeliani, a great-granddaughter of Erekle II (Heraclius II) of Eastern Georgia. Her younger sister Princess Nino married the famous Russian playwright, composer and diplomat Aleksandr Griboyedov, and her older sister Sophie was married to Count Alexandr Nikolai, the minister of education of Imperial Russia.[1]

On December 19, 1838 Ekateriné married the Hereditary Prince of Mingrelia, David Dadiani, who in two years became monarch of the principality after the retirement of his father, Levan V of Mingrelia.[2] In 1853 David died and Ekateriné quickly assumed the responsibilities of her late husband, rising from relative obscurity. Recognizing her as regent of Mingrelia on behalf of her son Prince Niko,[2] Nicholas I of Russia assigned her a regency council which included the brothers of her late husband, Prince Gregory and Prince Constantine.

Instability during the Crimean War[edit]

During the Crimean War, the Turks sent a considerable force to Mingrelia, occupying significant parts of the principality and forcing Ekateriné to flee for security reasons. She soon received a threatening letter from the commanding Turkish general Omar Pasha demanding her surrender, as well as the transfer of her son's principality to the Ottoman Empire. Refusing to dignify Pasha's letter with a response, Ekateriné assumed control of the Mingrelian forces and organized successful counter-attacks that inflicted serious damage on the invading Turks.

The Crimean War soon ended in 1856 with the Treaty of Paris and Princess Dadiani was reinstated as regent, receiving an invitation to the coronation of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. She attended the ceremony with her children, as well as her sister, Nino. According to the Russian memoirist K.A. Borozdin, Ekateriné retained "the luster of her beauty" and looked extraordinary in her "original and richly decorated costume." The memoirist, like many others in modern-day Georgia, refers to Princess Dadiani as the "Mingrelian Queen" and states that at the coronation ball everyone was "delighted with [Ekateriné], her sister, children, and entourage."

Mingrelian Rebellion and Russian encroachment[edit]

Ekateriné at the coronation ball in the Winter Palace
Princess Ekateriné's salon in Tsarskoe Selo

In 1856 Ekateriné left the Mingrelian principality to General George Dadiani and moved to live in Tsarskoe Selo, the residence of the Russian Imperial Family, where she became one of the "ladies of the court." In 1857 she was forced to return to Georgia because of the peasant uprising organized by a Mingrelian smith, Uta Miqava. On May 12, the rebels took control of the province's capital Zugdid, forcing Princess Dadiani to request help from Russia. Having already effectively annexed Eastern Georgia, Russia eagerly intervened, subdued the uprising, and asked Ekateriné to move to Saint Petersburg on the pretext of facilitating her children's education and upbringing there. Her departure and the establishment of a "temporary" Russian military authority in Mingrelia marked the de facto abolition of the principality.[2]

Final years[edit]

After moving to Russia, Ekateriné kept her private salon in Tsarskoe Selo open to the Georgian and Russian intelligentsia. After living there for nearly ten years, she moved to Paris where her daughter Princess Salomé already lived with her French husband, Prince Achille Murat. In the final years of her life, Princess Ekateriné moved back to Western Georgia, then officially part of the Russian Empire, and lived there to the end. She was interred in the medieval Eastern Orthodox monastery of Martvili.

Issue[edit]

Image Name Birth Death Notes
Dadiani niko.jpg Prince Nikolas 4 January 1847 22 January 1903 Elder son
Andria dadiani.jpg Prince Andria 1850 1910 Younger son
Salome Dadiani.jpg Princess Salomé 12 January 1848 27 July 1913 Daughter

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kveselava, M (2002), Anthology of Georgian Poetry, The Minerva Group, Inc., ISBN 0-89875-672-3, p. 175
  2. ^ a b c Office of Policy & Analysis, Dadiani Dynasty - David Dadiani, The Smithsonian Institution in Association with the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, retrieved 27 March 2011