Kelesh Ahmed-Bey Shervashidze

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Kelesh Ahmed-Bey (Kelesh-Bey) Shervashidze (1747–1808) was the head of state of the Principality of Abkhazia from the 1780s to 1808. Kelesh-Bey was the son of Manuchar Shervashidze.

In his childhood, Kelesh-Bey was taken to Istanbul, Turkey as a hostage, where he converted to Islam. Kelesh returned to Abkhazia from Istanbul in the 1770s with the goal of taking over and ruling his native land. With the help of Turkish forces, Kelesh-Bey was able to overthrow his uncle, Zurab Shervashidze, and take over the Abkhaz crown. Kelesh-Bey was known for his energetic drive to consolidate state power while actively fighting against the Principality of Mingrelia which bordered Abkhazia to the east.

In 1802, he rallied the Turkish support and captured the Mingrelian fort of Anaklia. After Mingrelia joined the Russian Empire in 1803, Kelesh also tried to seek closer ties (associated relations) with Russia which led to Abkhazia’s break with Ottoman Turkey. Becoming increasingly worried about Abkhazia drifting closer to Russia, the Turkish leadership tried to remove Kelesh-Bey from power by force, but failed. In the end, Turkey was able to remove Kelesh from the Abkhaz throne by forging close ties to his son Aslan-Bey who killed his father[1] and became the new ruler of Abkhazia.



  • Georgian State (Soviet) Encyclopedia. 1983. Book 10. p. 689.
  • Royal Ark
  1. ^ George Hewitt, The Abkhazians, 1998, page 71, calls this a Russian fabrication. He presents Aslan-Bey as a popular ruler and Sefer-Bey as a foreign-backed usurper
Kelesh Ahmed-Bey Shervashidze
House of Shervashidze/Chachba
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Prince of Abkhazia
circa 1780–1808
Succeeded by