images Queen Tamar died on January 27, 1213.

At historical sources point out that Tamar was buried in Gelati. It would have been quite appropriate for the Queen of all Georgia to be buried in the traditional burial ground of the Georgian kings.

However, we also find plausible the hypothesis, advanced by certain scholars, that Tamar may have been taken to Jerusalem and interred there. There is nothing sacrilegious in the fact that Tamar, a worshiper of the Messiah, should have wanted to be buried in the holy ground of Jerusalem. The excavation of Queen Tamar’s grave in Jerusalem by the Greek archaeologist A. Iconopulus is noteworthy. In this case, we may doubt whether the excavated grave is actually that of Queen Tamar, although the archaeologist was quite certain that he had found Tamar’s grave. When we considered the statement of the French knight G. de Bois that he had seen the Georgian prince carrying the body of his mother (the queen) to Jerusalem, it cannot be excluded that Tamar’s remains were removed to Jerusalem several years after she had been buried.

Giorgi IV Lasha became king of Georgia in 1213. He reigned with Tamar from 1207. He participated in governing the country and in the wars of that time as well. Giorgi IV Lasha fought for the consolidation of the country, the maintenance of the unity of he state, and the subjugation of vassal countries. During the first decade of the 13th century , Giorgi IV waged war against his vassal, the athabag of Gandza. Georgia’s army beleaguered Gandza and conquered it. Giorgi Lasha was preparing for a crusade in cooperation with the Western European countries when the unexpected appearance of the Mongols in 1220 prevented him from fulfilling this intention. Giorgi IV Lasha was wounded in the fight against the Mongols, became seriously ill, and died in 1222.

Giorgi IV Lasha was a complex personality. His policies often created discontent among the nobility. T cannot be excluded that it was for this reason that a negative character sketch of the king appeared. As Zhamtaaghmtsereli remarks indignantly, “and drinking wine, having a good time and gluttony made the king mad.”  The chronicler criticizes him for dismissing the viziers appointed by Tamar, for promoting people of his own age, and for being connected with free-thinking rindis (“to satisfy his vileness”) who rejected the church and Christian belief and followed  Sufism (the rindis thought that ecstasy and inspiration where the means of reaching God).

Giorgi IV Lasha really seems to have been a person of independent ideas, and for this reason he had many opponents. Eventually, Ivane Athabag and Varam Gageli (son of Zakaria) presented an ultimatum to him: “We will not obey you and will not bear your being a king if you do not reject those innovations and your bad behavior”. The king promised the didebulis “to do nothing without asking them for advice”.

Giorgi IV Lasha decided the question of his marriage on the basis of his own feelings. He took a step which was quite unexpected for a member of the royal family of the Bagrationis: “While arriving in Kakheti, in the village of Velistsikhe aznauri, who bore him a son, David (late known David Ulu).

The didebulis and the clergy considered the king’s behaviour  improper, and his wife unsuitable as well. In spite of the king’s resistance, they took her away and returned her to her former husband. It is noteworthy that Giorgi LAsha did not remarry after having been parted from the woman from Velistsikhe.

Zhamtaaghmtsereli asserted Giorgi IV Lasha in an extremely contradictory way: “… this Lasha-Giorgi was vigorous, big and good-looking, strong, free, arrogant, bold, wilful, as I have said, generous, fond of acting, a lover of wine, a gourmand, and peace reigned in his kingdom, and he was given to eating and drinking…” Giorgi Lasha’s life, difficult and full of contradictions, and his extremely interesting represents an important part of Georgia’s history.

Queen Tamar’s second child, Rusudan, must have been born in 1194. She became queen of Georgia in 1223, after Giorgi Lasha’s death.

Rusudan was a beautiful as her mother: “Rusudan was beautiful as appearance, looked look her beloved mother, modest, generous, respectful, fond of honest people”. Rusudan married Moghis-ed-Din, son of Toghrul, Sultan of Rum, who had embraced Christianity before his marriage to her.

During the reign of Rusudan, Georgia’s army fought against Iran and Azerbaijan several times, commanded by Ivane Athabag. In 1225, the Khvarazmians invaded Georgia. The decisive battle took place at GArnisi. The enemy army was headed by Sultan Jelal-ed Din. Apart from vane Athabag, the Torelis, as well as Shalva and Ivane Akhaltsikheli, fought in the Georgian army. Zhamtaaghmtsereli writes about the latter “The reknowned fighters these, fighting in the front of the army as was the custom o their house”. Nevertheless, the Georgians were defeated in the battle of Garnisi. The chronicler blames Ivane Athabag for losing the battle, charging that he did no send in auxiliary forces in time, “and says that the reason for this was jelousy” (Shamtaaghmtsereli).

In the March of 1226, Jelal-ed Din captured Tbilisi. Rusudan was compelled to go to Kutaisi.

Rusudan consecrated her young son David to rule together with her (later David VI Narin, the founder of the Imereti branch of the Bagrationis). By 1233, Rusudan had returned to Tbilisi. In 1235, the Mongols captured Gandza, Georgia’s vassal country , and made for Tbilisi. Queen Rusudan, “oppressed by hardships”, again found refuge in Kutaisi. She ordered the commander of the fortress (Mukhade) to defend the city. In 1236-37, Rusudan married her daughter to Qia-d Din, sultan of Rum, and also sent there David, Giorgi Lasha’s son, the expected heir to the throne.

Rusudan and her military commanders wee unable to put  up a proper resistance to the enemy. The feudal lords of the border regions hid themselves in their fortresses, and due to the scattered forces opposing them, the Mongols were able to subjugate them easily. An attempt to bring in Western European forces to help them was unsuccessful. Rusudan was compelled to conclude a peace with the Mongols. In 1245, Rusudan “being ill, died in Tbilisi and was taken with great honor… and buried in the burial ground of their fathers, in the monastery of Gelati.”

Tamar’s descendants, who succeeded her, left an indelible imprint on the history of Georgia.

It may b e clearly seen that Georgia’s political, economic, and cultural life developed in a steady ascending trajectory from the beginning of the 11th  century to the 1220’s. The country expanded and became stronger economically, and Georgian art and culture reached a high level. All of this resulted in a situation whereby Georgia was able to exercise a great influence on the whole of the Near East and Nearer Asia. It is for this reason that this period (from circa 1000-to the 1220’s) is known as the “Golden age” of Georgian history.

The Golden Age. Roin Metreveli

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