Prince Alexander of Imereti (1674–1711)

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Prince Alexander
Georgian Prince Alexander of Imereti, by Martin Mijten.png
Alexander in royal armor and ermine coat. Portrait by Martin Mijtens the Elder
Born 1674
Tbilisi, Kingdom of Kartli
Died February 20, 1711
Burial Donskoy Monastery, Moscow, Russia
Dynasty Bagrationi dynasty
Father Archil of Imereti
Mother Ketevan of Kakheti
Religion Georgian Orthodox Church

Prince Alexander (Georgian: ალექსანდრე, Aleksandre), also known as Tsarevich Aleksandr Archilovich Imeretinsky (Russian: Александр Арчилович Имеретинский) (1674 – February 20, 1711) was a Georgian royal prince (batonishvili) of the Kingdom of Imereti. He lived as an émigré in the Tsardom of Russia and subsequently served as an artillery commander under Tsar Peter the Great. During the Great Northern War, Alexander was taken prisoner at Narva in 1700 and spent ten years in Swedish captivity. He died on his way back to Russia.

Family background[edit]

Alexander was born in Tbilisi to Archil, a Georgian prince of the Mukhranian Bagrationi royal line and sometime king of Imereti who subsequently fled the anarchy in his country to the Russian Empire. Alexander's mother Ketevan was a member of the Kakhetian Bagrationi royal line.

Early life[edit]

Since 1684, Alexander and his brother, Mamuka (Matvey) (died in 1693), had been raised in Moscow under the auspices of Knyaz Fedul Volkonsky and Dyak Ivan Kazarinov. Alexander befriended the young Russian tsarevich Pyotr Alekseyevich, subsequently Peter I of Russia, whom he joined in his war games. In 1690, Alexander was present at his father's futile attempt to regain the throne of Imereti. Back in Russia in 1692, Alexander followed Peter in the Grand Embassy to Europe in 1697 and was sent to The Hague to study gunnery and related sciences. He stayed there until 1699, after which he visited his father before returning to Moscow. On 19 May 1700 he became the first Russian officer to be promoted to the rank of General Feldzeugmeister and appointed the chief of the Pushkarsky Prikaz (literally, "cannon administration").[1]

Prisoner of war[edit]

With the outbreak of the Great Northern War, in which Russia confronted Sweden, Prince Alexander was put in command of the Russian artillery (145 cannons and 28 howitzers). In November 1700, he was present at the battle of Narva, which ended in disaster, with the whole Russian artillery and its commander, along with many other high-ranking Russian officers, captured by the victorious Charles XII of Sweden. Alexander was taken to Stockholm in May 1701. The Swedes regarded him as the highest ranking of the aristocratic prisoners of war. He was confined at the home of Chief Inspector Stierndahl, but later apparently moved to the Treasurer's House (Räntmästarhuset) at Skeppsbron.[2]

Alexander enjoyed more freedom than other Russian prisoners and was on good terms with many at the Royal Council and court. Among these was Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld, who had been close to Alexander and his father during his stay in Moscow. Sparwenfeld helped Alexander to have the Georgian fonts cast in Stockholm and send home to Moscow. The conditions were tightened in 1705. When the Swedes discovered that the prince had been in secret correspondence discussing escape plans with the fellow internee Prince Iakov Dolgorukov, Alexander was banished to a castle at Linköping. As his health deteriorated, the prince was transferred from the castle to a house in the town and, in April 1706, returned to Stockholm. In 1708, the prince and other Russian detainees were discovered to possess drawings of Swedish fortifications, and on Charles XII's order, their rights, including that of correspondence, were again restricted. Alexander, however, continued to enjoy certain favor with the dowager queen and Princess Ulrika Eleneora and was allowed, to the displeasure of the Defense Commission, to visit the court.[1]


A plaque in Stockholm commemorating Prince Alexander.

During the plague outbreak, Alexander was evacuated to Örebro in October 1710. In connection with the 1710 prisoner exchange, Alexander set off on a journey, through Gävle and Umeå, around the Gulf of Bothnia. By that time, his health had severely deteriorated, but he turned down all suggestions that he rest. He died on 3 February 1711 in Piteå. His remains were transported to Villnäs (Askainen) and reburied to the Donskoy Monastery near Moscow in March 1712.[1] The memorial plaque currently on the Treasurer's House in Stockholm erroneously indicates that he lived there the entire time he was in Sweden from 1701 to 1710. Further, the plaque states that he was exchanged for the Swedish count Carl Piper.[1]

Prince Alexander is a purported translator of The Testament of Basil the Macedonian into Georgian.


Prince Alexander was married twice. He wed c. 1688 Feodosya (died 1689), daughter of the Russian boyar Ivan Mikhailovich Miloslavsky. Her dowry, the village of Vsekhsvyatskoye near Moscow eventually became a possession of the Georgian royal repatriates in Russia. Alexander married his second wife, Glikeria (1672 – 28 July 1720), daughter of Prince Elizbar (Ilia) Bagration-Davitishvili around 1690. The marriage produced Alexander's only child, Sophia (18 September 1691 – 4 January 1747), who married Georgian exile in Russia, Major-General Prince Igor Dadiani (1691–1765).


  1. ^ a b c d Midy, Isabelle (2010). "Nominal Morphology in Russian Correspondence 1700-1715, Part One". Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis. Stockholm Slavic Studies. Stockholm University. 40: 46–48. ISSN 0585-3575. 
  2. ^ Bushkovitch, Paul (2001). Peter the Great. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 226. ISBN 1139430750. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Alexander, Prince of Imereti at Wikimedia Commons