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The eldest son of the last Kartl-Kakhetian, King George XII by his first wife Ketevan Andronikashvili, he was educated in Russia (1787–1789), and served there as a colonel of the Russian army from 1797 to 1798. He was proclaimed as Heir Apparent by his father on February 22, 1799 and confirmed by the Russian TsarPaul I, an official protector of Georgia, on 18 April 1799. In 1800, he attempted to modernize the law and administration.
On his father’s death in December 1800, David became the head of the Royal House of Bagrationi but was not allowed to ascend the throne of Kartl-Kakheti. David ruled briefly between the time of his father’s death (December 28, 1800) and the arrival of General Knorring (May 24, 1801). In November 1800 the Russian Tsar had prohibited him from doing that without Russian consent. On January 18, 1801 he was surprised by a decree of Paul I declaring the annexation of the Kingdom to the Russian Empire. He tried to remain in power as de facto head of state. In May 1801 Russian General Carl Heinrich Knorring removed him from power and established a provisional government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lasarev. Prince David was brought to St Petersburg under a military escort on February 18, 1803. From 1812 to 1819, he held a seat in the Senate of the Russian Empire.
Influenced by the ideas of FrenchEnlightenment, he was the first Georgian translator of Voltaire. He was also an author of a research on Georgian history (Georgian, 1814), Review of the Georgian Law (Russian, 1811—1816), Abridged Manual of Physics (Georgian, 1818), and several poems.