Constantine II of Georgia

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Constantine II
Constantine II of Kartli.jpg
King of Georgia
Reign 1478–1505
Predecessor Alexander II of Imereti
Successor David X of Kartli
Born 1447
Died 1505
Issue David X of Kartli
George IX of Kartli
Bagrat I, Prince of Mukhrani
Melchizedek II of Georgia
Dynasty Bagrationi dynasty
Father Prince Demetrius
Religion Georgian Orthodox Church

Constantine II (Georgian: კონსტანტინე II) (c. 1447 – 1505), of the Bagrationi dynasty, was a king of Georgia since 1478. Early in the 1490s, he had to recognise the independence of his rival rulers of Imereti and Kakheti, and to confine his power to Kartli.

In 1503, due to the expansion of neighbouring Safavid Iran, the Kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti became Safavid vassals. In 1505, Constantine II died, and was succeeded by his son David X.


Royal charter of King Constantine II.

Constantine II was the son of Prince Demetrius. In 1465, together with his uncle, the Georgian king George VIII, Constantine was taken prisoner by the rebel prince Qvarqvare II Jaqeli, atabeg of Samtskhe (principality in southern Georgia). He managed, however, to escape the captivity, and taking opportunity of the Imeretian king Bagrat VI’s absence at the campaign in Kartli, vainly attempted to seize control of the Imeretian capital Kutaisi. Despite the failure, he considered himself king and later won some power in Kartli. However, only with Bagrat’s death in 1478 was Constantine able to drive out Bagrat’s son, Alexander II, and become king of Georgia, though already fragmentised and torn apart with the bitter civil wars. In 1483, he was defeated by Qvarqvare II of Samtskhe at the Battle of Aradeti. Alexander took advantage and established himself in Imereti but lost Kutaisi to Constantine again in 1484. In the winter of 1488, the Ak Koyunlu Turkomans led by Halil Bey attacked Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, and took the city after a long-lasted siege in February 1489. Though the foreign occupation of the capital did not last long, the situation was immediately exploited by Alexander who seized control of Kutaisi and the rest of Imereti. From 1490 to 1493, Constantine was compelled to de jure recognise his cousin Alexander I of Kakheti and Alexander II of Imereti as independent sovereigns and to grant Qvarqvare II significant autonomy. Constantine himself was left with Kartli as the extent of his kingdom. Thus, by the end of the 15th century, Georgia was divided into three independent kingdoms (Kartli, Kakheti, and Imereti) and five autonomous principalities (Samtskhe, Mingrelia, Guria, Abkhazia, and Svaneti).

Between 1492-1496, Constantine attempted to win an international support to reunite the country and defend it against the increasingly aggressive Muslim empires of Ottoman Turkey and Safavid Iran. For this purpose, Georgian ambassadors were sent to the Burji sultan of Egypt Qaitbay, and also to Pope Alexander VI and Isabella I of Castile. The embassies, however, proved to be fruitless.

Safavid Iran[edit]

When Qvargvare II's son Kaikhosro I died two years after he ascended the throne, and was succeeded by his equally pious brother Mzechabuk, the Iranian Safavids, led by the emerging Shah Ismail I were tempted to loot the feudal state, if only to distract himself from his main quarry; Shirvan.[1] In 1500, Shah Ismail inveigled Constantine and king Alexander II of Imereti to attack Ottoman possessions nearby Tabriz.[2] As a precaution, Ismail had Aleksander send his son Demetre to the newly conquered region of Shirvan, where the prince negotiated a peace agreement. Ismail promised Constantine, once Tabriz was captured, to cancel the tribute he still paid the Ak Koyunlu Turcomans. Each Georgian ruler contributed 3,000 men to the existing Ismail's own 7,000.[3] By 1503 they enabled him to recapture Nakhchivan from the Ottomans, but Ismail broke his promise, and made Kartli and Kakheti his vassals.[4]


Constantine II died in 1505, leaving the throne to his son, David X. As indicated by surviving church records, he might have abdicated the throne and retired to monastery under the name of Cyril in 1503 or 1504.[5]

Marriage and children[edit]

Constantine II married in 1473 Tamar (died c. 1492). He had the following children:


Preceded by
Alexander II
King of Georgia (Kartli)
Succeeded by
David X