History

Queen Tamar’s successors

Posted on May 9, 2013. Filed under: History |

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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David The Builder

Posted on April 17, 2013. Filed under: History |

be605623d52911th century Georgia had the strength to successfully oppose the Seljuk hordes, but it was difficult to mobilize the population.

At this juncture, as Georgia faced severe threats from both within and without, a revolution took place at the Georgian royal court-the still young Giorgi II was forced to abdicate and his place was taken by his son, David IV describes this event poetically: “… in an eternal gloom, there began to down the sun of all kingdoms, the one great in repute and greater in deeds, the homonym of David the father of God, and David seventy-eighth descendant-David”.

The sixteen-year-old David received a troubled inheritance: a country ravaged by Seljuks, a famished population hiding in the mountains, deserted cities, fortresses, and villages.

Measures for strengthening the king’s power and centralizing the country

The Seljuk invasion fundamentally changed the political situation in the Caucasus and the Near East. The debilitated Byzantine Empire yielded the political stage to the Seljuk Turks, whose formidable influence overshadowed the countries of Transcaucasia: Armenia, Albania, eastern and southern Georgia.

The nomadic Seljuks were quite different from the Arabs and the Byzantines. They settled on the conquered territory and occupied the lands necessary for economic subsistence. The Seljuk herdsmen’s nomadic economy was incompatible with the Georgian feudal economy, but was instituted along the banks of agriculture of the region gave place to pastures. The Seljuk conquests were thus much more destructive and  ruinous than the invasions and domination of the Arabs or Byzantines. The “Turkish conquest” deprived the Gorgian economy of its foundations and placed it in danger of extinction. This situation greatly hindered efforts towards unification and centralization in Georgia and in the Caucasus in general.

The Georgian kingdom was in such a deplorable situation that the hegemony of its king embraced only Western Georgia: “The frontier of the kingdom was then the lesser mountain of Lixi, and the royal residence was at Cagulis’tavi”. When the king wanted to hunt in the grove of Kartli or in Nacharmagevi, he sent people beforehand to examine the places and went there only after this was done.

David the Builder assembled people who were faithful to him, and sought to rule the country with their support. The Georgian royal court mustered detachments of horsemen faithful to the king. It was thee very men-at-arms with who he attacked the Seljuk Turks, defeated them, and in this way created the necessary conditions for the rural population hiding in the mountains to come down again to the valleys. David the Builder gradually drove the Seljuks out of Kartli. This series of small victories revived the belief of the Georgian people in their own strength. The country gradually returned to an intensive agricultural economy. The cities began to prosper little by little.

The might of the Seljuk Turks  began to weaken gradually after sultan Malik-Shah’s death (1092). This, in turn, provided an impetus for the restoration of Georgia’s political might. With the weakening of the foreign enemy, the recalcitrant feudal lords of the country no longer presented a great danger.

 

The Golden Age. Roin Metreveli

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Qutlu Arslan’s Revolt

Posted on April 9, 2013. Filed under: History | Tags: |

Queen_Tamar_-_Vardzia_fresco

Mechurchletukhutsesi (minister of finances) Qurtlu-Arslan’s rebellion against the royal power was organically connected with the demands of the high-born feudal lords. This rebellion had a carefully formulated program and a well-thought-out plan of political organization.

The leader of the rebellion agains Georgia’s royal power, Qutlu-Arslan, had “a high position because of his wealth”. The crown had appointed him to the high position of mechurchletukhutsesi because of his personal merits.

Qurtlu-Arslan was connected with city circles both by his birth and by his position. A statement contained in the supplemented Kartlis Tskhovreba (“History of Georgia”) cannot be left unnoticed-“the lowborn people reach a high position by being rich”. This phrase must refer to Qutlu-Arslan and the members of his political group. Ivane Javakhishvili thought that Tamar’s second historian, using the phrase “bold in their actions due to their wealth” had in minf those people who had reached high positions owing to their wealth. These were the people “who found time to fought as they had done at the beginning of Tamar’s reign”.

Those who were “bold in their actions due to their wealth” and “those who reached high positions” must have been the wealthy merchants, representatives of the highest stratum of the civic population, and especially members of his stratum who had reached high positions.

The participations of the feudal aristocracy in this rebellion cannot be excluded either. In this case, we mean that faction of the feudal lords who by their activities were close to the city circles and shared common interests. We must take into accounts that “Histories and Praises of Monarchs” clearly points to the diversity of the participants in this rebellion (this must have been determined by the wide spectrum of Qurtlu-Arslan’s political activities), for it states that “didebulis” and “troops”. Which were diverse in their composition, participated in the rebellion along with the others.

What was the purpose of Qurtlu-Arslan’s rebellion? Qurtlu-Arslan’s program was of a constructive character. His request was to establish a new institution, the karavi (a kind of a deliberative aasembly) at the royal court which would be quite independent of the royal power (“the requested to put the karavi in the Isani valley and on the property of Saghodebeli”. The fact that Qurtlu-Arslan demanded the installation of the karavi in the Isani Valley, i.e. near the royal palace, is not fortuitous either. This proposal, in turn, accentuated the opposition of the members of the karavi to the queen and the royal court. The essential goal of the political program of Qurtlu-Arslan’s party was to take the reins of government in their hands. This is how they saw the role of the karavi: “to appoint a certain person to some position at the meeting of the karavi, to pardon or to punish him. Then they would inform Queen Tamar about it, and the decision would be considered lawful”.

As can be seen from this official request, the nobles were fighting for legislative rights, and they wanted to dictate all the important decisions of the country: “to appoint persons to positions, to dismiss them”, “to pardon and to punish”.

The queen (or king) of Georgia was not to take part in the work of the karavi, nor was she interfere in trying the cases. According to Qurtlu-Arslan’s political program, the queen would be informed of questions only after they had been resolved. The queen was simply to carry out the decisions of the karavi. Learning about Qurtlu-Arslan’s revolt, the royal court was filled with indignation and arrested the impudent mechurchlutukhutsesi. The members of Qurtlu-Arslan’s group responded to this act with a suitable reaction” they “got together and opposed Tamar”.

They demanded that their leader be set free safe and sound, and at the same time oreoared to attack the royal palace.

The queen of  Georgia preferred to solve this problem by means of diplomacy. She sent two honorable ladies to them to talk the matter over. These were Khuashag Tsokali, the mother of Kartli eristavt-eristavi Rati, and Kravai Jaqeli, the mother of the high-born feudal lords, the Samdzivaris. This step was effective. The rebels concurred with the queen’s wished. Herewith, they were promised inviolability and Qurtlu-Arslan was set free.

Thus, Qurtlu-Arslan’s group was unable to carry out its program, they did not manage to divide the state power with the queen. The conferring of additional rights on the darbazi (the deliberative council) and enrolling of representatives of the higher stratum of the city-dwellers in it can be considered the results of this rebellion.

Photo Queen Tamar. Vardzia fresco

source:The Golden Age. Roin Metreveli

 

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Tamar’s Accession to the Throne

Posted on April 5, 2013. Filed under: History |

Although the high-born feudal lords were oppressed, they did not consider themselves finally defeated and waited for a more favorable time to pursue their schemes against the toyal power. Such a time came whe Giorgi III died. In spite of the fact that Tamar had ascended the throne during her father’s lifetime(1179), the high feudal lords seem not to have thought this sufficient and decided to repeat the ceremony of coronation. This act, in itself amounted to protest against Giorgi III and his policies. By this action, the rights of the great feudal lords were to be emphasized. The perspective of Tamar’s first historian is interesting (he is the apologist for both Gioegi III and Tamar!) He describes the process of Tamar’s repeated coronation without any sense of surprise or indignation.)

The high-born feudal lords behaved as if Tamar had not reigned together with her father and had not taken part in addressin the questions of the kingdom. “The princes of the seven kingdoms of the country” asked Queen Rusudan to act as a mediator with Tamar so that the latter should agree to repeated coronation. Thus Tamar, who had already been made queen, was to be crowned again.

It cannot be imagined that Rusudan and Tamar should not have guessed what the intentions of the feudal lords were, or that they should not have known what they were aiming at. However, Tamar’s historian says, “The queen who heard about it, approved of it and trying to convince her told Tamar about it.” Queen Rusudan seems to have understood that there was no other way out. She was compelled to pretend that she approved of his proposal. The remark of the author of “Histories and Praises of Monarchs” is also interesting. He says that Tamar was compelled to obey the proposal of the “didebulis of the seven kingdoms”. Tamar had reigned with her father for five years. She must have been used to the idea that in future she would reign by herself. Giorgi III’s act of making her the ruler of the country together with himself also served this purpose. In our opinion, the phrase “she was made to obey by force” does not mean that she had to abdicate and was then forced to agree, rather, Tamar’s opposition to the ides of her repeated coronation proposed by the didebulis is clear, but Queen Rusudan seems to have convinced her that there was no other way out, and so Tamar was compelled to agree. This, of course, amounted to a victory for the high-born feudal lords.

The coronation ceremony was conducted in such a way that the rights of the high-born feudal lords were emphasized. “They raised the Sun to the throne of her ancestors and put the crown on her head”. Those who raised her to the throne were the high-born feudal lords: “As there was a custom of the country beyond Likhi they invited the Archbishop of Kutaisi Anton, son of Saghir, to put a crown on Tamar’s head.”

The historian seperately describes the symbolic act of handing Tamar the sword as a token of her being a commander-in-chief of the army: “and Kakhaber, eristavi of Racha and Takueru, and the officials and noblemen: the Vardanisdzes, the Saghirisdzes and the Amanelisdzes tied the sword to Tamar’s side.”

These didebulis seem to have had the right of “perfecting” and “Crowning“. We do not posses a detailed description of the coronation ceremony in the Georgian written sources. Thus, we cannot say with assurance whether this was a tradition, or whether it happened only in the case of Tamar’s coronation. It is more likely that the special importance of the old high-born families in the matter of entitling the heir(the heiress in the case) to the right to the throne was emphasized in the repeated coronation of Tamar. “The armies of all the seven kingdoms showed their reverence to her, blessed her and occupied their places at once.” Here “The Histories and Praises of Monarchs” states that in order that the king’s power should be perfect, it was necessary that the representatives of “all seven kingdoms” “bless” and “praise” her.

The protest of the high-born aristocracy against the existing policies of the royal court (beginning with the policy of Giorgi III) began from this moment. this protest grew and became stronger. The feudal lords of the east and west declared at once that they would no longer obey the low-born officials promoted in the times of Giorgi III. It is clearly seen from the demands of the high-born nobility that they wanted to restore the former priority of their class, and that they considered their positions higher than any consideration of personal merits. IT is noteworthy that the adversaries of the king’s policy did not request the dismissal of all officials of low origin, but demanded the dismissal only of a few of them, probably those most loyal to the queen. These were the amirspasalar Qubasar and the chief steward (msakhurtukhutsesi) Apridon.

The complicated political situation, along with the firmness and strength of the recalcitrant nobles, compelled the royal court to make concessions and to remove the queen’s loyal officials from the government of the state. Thus the didebulis won a new victory.

However, dissensions soon arose among the didebulis as to who was to fill these vacancies. “And those who fought for power and glory began to fight against one another.”

 

By Roin Metreveli “The Golden Age” 

 

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Queen Tamar

Posted on April 4, 2013. Filed under: History |

tamariGiorgi III was married to Burdukhan, the daughter of khudan. tamar mefe giorgi III da lasha giorgithe 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.)

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