Kingdom of Georgia
|Kingdom of Georgia|
Kingdom of Georgia in 1184-1230 at the peak of its might
|Religion||Eastern Orthodox Christianity (Georgian Orthodox Church)|
|•||978–1014||Bagrat III (first)|
|•||1446–1465||George VIII (last)|
|Historical era||High Middle Ages|
|•||Seljuk invasions||1060-12th century|
|•||Constantine II recognizes the independence of Kakheti and Imereti||1490-1493|
|Currency||Various Byzantine and Sassanian coins were minted until the 12th century.
Dirham came into use after 1122.
|Today part of|
|History of Georgia|
|History of Georgia|
The Kingdom of Georgia (Georgian: საქართველოს სამეფო), also known as the Georgian Empire, was a medieval monarchy which emerged circa 1008 AD. It reached its Golden Age of political and economic strength during the reign of King David IV and Queen Tamar the Great from 11th to 13th centuries. At the peak of its dominance, the kingdom's influence spanned from the south of modern-day Ukraine to the northern provinces of Iran, while also maintaining religious possessions abroad, such as the Monastery of the Cross and Iviron. It was the principal historical precursor of present-day Georgia.
Lasting for several centuries, the kingdom fell to the Mongol invasions in the 13th century, but managed to re-assert sovereignty by the 1340s. The following decades were marked by Black Death, as well as numerous invasions under the leadership of Timur, who devastated the country's economy, population, and urban centers. The Kingdom's geopolitical situation further worsened after the fall of the Empire of Trebizond. As a result of these processes, by the end of the 15th century Georgia turned into a fractured entity. Renewed incursions by Timur from 1386, and the later invasions by the Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu led to the final collapse of the kingdom into anarchy by 1466 and the mutual recognition of its constituent kingdoms of Kartli, Kakheti and Imereti as independent states between 1490 and 1493.
The ascendancy of the Bagrationi dynasty can be traced to the 8th century, when they came to rule Tao-Klarjeti. The restoration of the Georgian kingship begins in AD 888, when Adarnase IV of Iberia took the title of "King of Georgians". The United Kingdom of Georgia was established in 1008. In this year Bagrat III, son of Gurgen II, became the ruler of the Kingdom of Western Georgia (Kingdom of Abkhazeti), including the Principalities of Imereti, Samegrelo, Abkhazeti (Abkhazia), Guria and Svaneti. Bagrat's mother was Queen Gurandukht, a daughter of George II of Abkhazia.
Unification of the Georgian State
The first decades of the 9th century saw the rise of a new Georgian state in Tao-Klarjeti. Ashot Courapalate of the royal family of Bagrationi liberated from the Arabs the territories of former southern Iberia. These included the Principalities of Tao and Klarjeti, and the Earldoms of Shavsheti, Khikhata, Samtskhe, Trialeti, Javakheti and Ashotsi, which were formally a part of the Byzantine Empire, under the name of "Curopalatinate of Iberia". In practice, however, the region functioned as a fully independent country with its capital in Artanuji. David Bagrationi expanded his domain by annexing the city of Theodossiopolis (Karin, Karnukalaki) and the Armenian province of Basiani, and by imposing a protectorate over the Armenian provinces of Kharqi, Apakhuni, Mantsikert, and Khlat, formerly controlled by the Kaysite Arab Emirs.
The first united Georgian monarchy was formed at the end of the 10th century when Curopalate David invaded the Earldom of Kartli-Iberia. Three years later, after the death of his uncle Theodosius the Blind, King of Egrisi-Abkhazia, Bagrat III inherited the Abkhazian throne. In 1001 Bagrat added Tao-Klarjeti (Curopalatinate of Iberia) to his domain as a result of David's death. In 1008–1010, Bagrat annexed Kakheti and Hereti, thus becoming the first king of a united Georgia in both the east and west.
The second half of the 11th century was marked by the strategically significant invasion of the Seljuq Turks, who by the end of the 1040s had succeeded in building a vast empire including most of Central Asia and Persia. In 1071, the Seljuq army destroyed the Byzantine army in the Battle of Manzikert. By 1081, all of Armenia, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and most of Georgia had been conquered by the Seljuqs in the Great Turkish Invasion. In Georgia, only the mountainous areas of Abkhazia, Svaneti, Racha, and Khevi–Khevsureti remained out of Seljuq control and served as a relatively safe havens for numerous refugees. and the farming population. In fact, by the end of the 1080s, Georgians were outnumbered in the region by the invaders.
The Golden Age began with the reign of David IV ("the builder" or "the great"), the son of George II and Queen Helena, who assumed the throne at the age of 16 in a period of Great Turkish Invasions. As he came of age under the guidance of his court minister, George of Chqondidi, David IV suppressed dissent of feudal lords and centralized the power in his hands to effectively deal with foreign threats. In 1121, he decisively defeated much larger Turkish armies during the Battle of Didgori, with fleeing Seljuq Turks being run down by pursuing Georgian cavalry for several days. A huge amount of booty and prisoners were captured by David's army, which had also secured Tbilisi and inaugurated a new era of revival.
David also played a personal role in reviving Georgian religious hymnography, composing the Hymns of Repentance (Georgian: გალობანი სინანულისანი, galobani sinanulisani), a sequence of eight free-verse psalms. In this emotional repentance of his sins, David sees himself as reincarnating the Biblical David, with a similar relationship to God and to his people. His hymns also share the idealistic zeal of the contemporaneous European crusaders to whom David was a natural ally in his struggle against the Seljuks.[verification needed]
The reign of Demetrius I and George III
The kingdom continued to flourish under Demetrius I, the son of David. Although his reign saw a disruptive family conflict related to royal succession, Georgia remained a centralized power with a strong military. After an earthquake in 1139 detroyed the town of Ganja, Demetrius I immediately invaded and captured it; to celebrate his victory, he took the iron gates of its fortress as a trophy to Gelati.
A talented poet, Demetrius also continued his father's contributions to Georgia's religious polyphony. The most famous of his hymns is Thou Art a Vineyard, which is dedicated to Virgin Mary, the patron saint of Georgia, and is still sung in Georgia's churches 900 years after its creation.
Demetrius was succeeded by his son George in 1156, beginning a stage of more offensive foreign policy. The same year he ascended to the throne, George launched a successful campaign against the Seljuq sultanate of Ahlat. He freed the important Armenian town of Dvin from Turkish vassalage and was thus welcomed as a liberator in the area. George gave his daughter Rusudan, in marriage, to Manuel Komnenos, the son of Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos.
The unified monarchy maintained its precarious independence from the Byzantine and Seljuk empires throughout the 11th century, and flourished under David IV the Builder (1089–1125), who repelled the Seljuk attacks and essentially completed the unification of Georgia with the re-conquest of Tbilisi in 1122.
With the decline of Byzantine power and the dissolution of the Great Seljuk Empire, Georgia became one of the pre-eminent nations of the region, stretching, at its largest extent, from present-day Southern Russia to northern Iran, and westwards into Anatolia. As a retribution for the attack on Georgian-controlled city of Ani, where 12,000 Christians were massacred in 1208, Georgia's Tamar the Great invaded and conquered the cities of Tabriz, Ardabil, Khoy, Qazvin and others along the way to Gorgan in northeast Persia.
In spite of repeated incidents of dynastic strife, the kingdom continued to prosper during the reigns of Demetrios I (1125–1156), George III (1156–1184), and especially, his daughter Tamar (1184–1213).
The Kingdom of Georgia brought about the Georgian Golden Age, which describes a historical period in the High Middle Ages, spanning from roughly the late 11th to 13th centuries, when the kingdom reached the zenith of its power and development. The period saw the flourishing of medieval Georgian architecture, painting and poetry, which was frequently expressed in the development of ecclesiastic art, as well as the creation of first major works of secular literature. It was a period of military, political, economical and cultural progress. It also included the so-called Georgian Renaissance (also called Eastern Renaissance), during which various human activities, forms of craftsmanship and art, such as literature, philosophy and architecture thrived in the kingdom.
Queen Tamar's reign
The successes of his predecessors were built upon by Queen Tamar, daughter of George III, who became the first female ruler of Georgia in her own right and under whose leadership the Georgian state reached the zenith of power and prestige in the Middle Ages. She not only shielded much of her Empire from further Turkish invasions but successfully pacified internal tensions, including a coup organized by her Russian husband Yury Bogolyubsky, prince of Novgorod.
Among the remarkable events of Tamar's reign was the foundation of the empire of Trebizond on the Black Sea in 1204. This state was established in the northeast of the crumbling Byzantine Empire with the help of the Georgian armies, which supported Alexios I of Trebizond and his brother, David Komnenos, both of whom were Tamar's relatives. Alexios and David were fugitive Byzantine princes raised at the Georgian court. According to Tamar's historian, the aim of the Georgian expedition to Trebizond was to punish the Byzantine emperor Alexius IV Angelus for his confiscation of a shipment of money from the Georgian queen to the monasteries of Antioch and Mount Athos. Tamar's Pontic endeavor can also be explained by her desire to take advantage of the Western European Fourth Crusade against Constantinople to set up a friendly state in Georgia's immediate southwestern neighborhood, as well as by the dynastic solidarity to the dispossessed Comnenoi.[verification needed]
The country's power had grown to such extent that in the later years of Tamar's rule, the Kingdom was primarily concerned with the protection of the Georgian monastic centers in the Holy Land, eight of which were listed in Jerusalem. Saladin's biographer Bahā' ad-Dīn ibn Šaddād reports that, after the Ayyubid conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, Tamar sent envoys to the sultan to request that the confiscated possessions of the Georgian monasteries in Jerusalem be returned. Saladin's response is not recorded, but the queen's efforts seem to have been successful. Ibn Šaddād furthermore claims that Tamar outbid the Byzantine emperor in her efforts to obtain the relics of the True Cross, offering 200,000 gold pieces to Saladin who had taken the relics as booty at the battle of Hattin – to no avail, however.
Mongol rule and the gradual decline of Georgia
The invasions by the Khwarezmians in 1225 and the Mongols in 1236 terminated Georgia’s "golden age". The struggle against the Mongol rule created a diarchy, with an ambitious lateral branch of the Bagrationi dynasty holding sway over Imereti, western Georgia. Many powerful Armenian and Georgian families became independent of the Georgian King due to the Mongols' support. Georgians attended all major campaigns of the Ilkhanate and aristocrats' sons served in kheshig.
In the year 1327 there occurred in Mongol Persia the most dramatic event of the reign of the Il-Khan Abu Sa'id, namely the disgrace and execution of Chupan, protégé of the Georgian king George. Chupan's son Mahmud, who commanded the Mongol garrison in Georgia, was arrested by his own troops and executed. Subsequently, Iqbalshah, son of Qutlughshah, was appointed to be Mongol governor of Georgia (Gurjistan). In 1330–31 George V the Brilliant annexed Imereti uniting all of Georgia in the process. Therefore, four years prior the last effective Ilkhan Abu Sai'd's demise, two kingdoms of Georgia united again. In 1334, this post was given to Shaykh Hasan of the Jalayir by Abu Sai'd.
One of the primary reasons of Georgian political and military decline was the bubonic plague. It was first introduced in 1346 by the soldiers of George the Brilliant returning from a military expedition in south-western Georgia against invading Osmanli tribesmen. It is said that the plague wiped out a large part, if not half of the Georgian populace. This further weakened the integrity of the kingdom, as well as its military and logistic capabilities.
There was a period of reunion and revival under George V the Brilliant (1299–1302, 1314–1346), but the eight onslaughts of the Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur between 1386 and 1403 dealt a great blow to the Georgian kingdom. Its unity was finally shattered and, by 1490/91, the once powerful monarchy fragmented into three independent kingdoms – Kartli (central to eastern Georgia), Kakheti (eastern Georgia), and Imereti (western Georgia) – each led by the rival branches of the Bagrationi dynasty, and into five semi-independent principalities – Odishi, (Mingrelia), Guria, Abkhazia, Svaneti, and Samtskhe – dominated by their own feudal clans.
- List of the Kings of Georgia
- Monarchism in Georgia
- Kipchaks in Georgia
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