Ekaterine Dadiani, Princess of Mingrelia
|Duchess Regent of Mingrelia|
Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
|Reign||30 August 1853 – 1866|
|Successor||Niko I Dadiani|
|Born||March 19, 1816|
|Died||August 25, 1882(aged 66)|
|Father||Prince Alexander Chavchavadze|
|Mother||Princess Salomé Orbeliani|
Duchess Ekateriné Dadiani (Georgian: ეკატერინე დადიანი; née Chavchavadze; March 19, 1816 – August 13, 1882) was a prominent 19th-century Georgian aristocrat and the last ruling Duchess of the Western Georgian Duchy of Mingrelia. 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
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. Her mother was Princess Salomé Orbeliani, a great-granddaughter of Erekle II (Heraclius II) of Eastern Georgia. Her older sisters Princess Nino married the famous Russian playwright, composer and diplomat Aleksandr Griboyedov, and her younger sister Sophie was married to Count Alexandr Nikolai, the minister of education of Imperial Russia.
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. 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, 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
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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
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 Zugdidi, 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.
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.
|Prince Nikolas||4 January 1847||22 January 1903||Elder son|
|Prince Andria||1850||1910||Younger son|
|Princess Salomé||12 January 1848||27 July 1913||Daughter|
- Kveselava, M (2002), Anthology of Georgian Poetry, The Minerva Group, Inc., ISBN 0-89875-672-3, p. 175
- Kveselava, M (2002), Anthology of Georgian Poetry, The Minerva Group, Inc., ISBN 0-89875-672-3, p. 181
- Office of Policy & Analysis, Dadiani Dynasty – David Dadiani Archived 2011-08-11 at the Wayback Machine, The Smithsonian Institution in Association with the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, retrieved 27 March 2011