Giorgi III was married to Burdukhan, the daughter of khudan. the king of the Ossetes. This marriage took place in the 1150’s, and it had a certain political aim-to consolidate the relationship with his northern neighbor. Burdukhan is said to have been a distinguished woman. For some time, the couple did not have children, and this worried them greatly. After a certain period of time “God showed His mercy and pleasant winds began to blow, and a girl was born to them, nice, faultless and proper.”
Tamar received a suitable education for those times. Her aunt Rusudan (the daughter of Demetre I, Giorgi III’s sister) tool special care of her. Rusudan was a former wife of the sultan of Khorasan. After his death, she returned to Georgia. In reality, Tamar with her sister Rusudan were brought up in the house of their aunt. Rusudan was a political figure and a diplomat. She took an active part in governing the country, she fulfilled an important diplomatic mission for Giorgi III to Athabag Eldiguz, concerning the city of Anisi (circa 1165). It was only natural thar Tamar should have followed with interest the internal and foreign affairs that concerned Georgia. Tamar had attracted the attention of her contemporaries by her cleverness at an early age. This was the reason why, after suppressing the Orbelis’ revolt, Giorgi III made Tamar his co-ruler. However, another significant event had taken place before that. While Giorgi was fighting against the high nobility, the ecclesiastics convened a council, and when Giorgi returned, having suppressed the rebellion, they demanded that he restore the impregnability of the church. This council took place in 1178. The deed of restoring the impregnability of Georgia’s church, granted by Giorgi III, informs us that Giorgi III decided “to free the church of our kingdom from all the unjust taxes.”
In 1179, Giorgi III put “the crown of pure gold on Tamar’s head, adorned with rubies and emeralds.” The high-born noblemen gathered around Tamar, and the king made them take the oath of allegiance to her. After this great celebration, the life of the country went on as usual. Giorgi III still took an active part in governing the country. While in Geguti, he received a very lamentable piece of news-Tamar informed him of Queen Burdukhan’s death. The king arrived in the capital as soon as he could. The whole of Georgia mourned the queen. She was buried with great honor.
Father and daughter continued governing the country jointly. In 1179, they convened a special legislative council whose aim was to do away with stealing and robbery. The council established capital punishment by ganging for buccaneering. It was the same for all criminals, regardless of their status or social class to which they belonged. These strict measures were effective-this sort of crime was suppressed in Georgia for a certain period of time.
On March 27th, 1184, on the Tuesday of Passion Week, Giorgi III died in Kakheti, “the ruler of the east and west, north and south”. Tamar, who was in the Isani fortress in Tbilisi, was informed of her g=father’s demise. The patriarch and the didebulis (noblemen) informed Rusudan, wh o was in Samshvilde, and brought her to Tbilisi.
King Giorgi III was deeply mourned. “The Histories and Praises of Monarchs” described the royal chamber draped all in black, where the grieving “Patriarch Mikael with all the bishops is standing, and the vizier Anton and amirspasalar Qubasar, and other members of the government: Qutlu Arslan, mechurchletukhutsesi (minister of finances), Vardan Dadiani, the chukcharkh (a high position at the royal court), Chiaber mejinibetukhutsesi (head of the grooms at the royal court), Apridon msakhurtukhutsesi (chief steward), Ivane and didebulis, aznauris, slaves and serfs”, all standing beside Tamar and Rusudan. Giorgi III “because of hard times” was buried in Mtskheta, but later that same year, his body was taken to Gelati and buried in the traditional burial ground of Georgia’s kings.
Giorgi III had great authority and influence both inside the country and on the international scene.
The photo on the right: Giorgi III. Queen Tamar. Lasha Giorgi. Betania Church fresco (12th -13th cent.)