Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Epilogue Glossary


The Political Situation in Georgia
in the 11th-12th Centuries (up to the 1180 s)


  1. Struggle for the Unification of the Georgian Lands

  2. Domestic Policy of the Monarchy

  3. Foreign Policy of the Georgian Kingdom. Relations with Byzantium

  4. The Seljuk Invasion of the Transcaucasus

  5. Kingdom of David the Builder

  6. Political Situation in the 1120s-1170s. Foreign Policy in the reign of Demetre I and Giorgi III



Early in the eleventh century, after the death of King of Kings Gurgen (1008), the united kingdom of Georgia consisted of the whole of Western Georgia, Kartli and the Kartvelian kingdom excluding Southern Tao, which was incorporated in Byzantium.
Bagrat III failed to gain possession of Tao after the death of the kurapalat David (1001). Suffering defeat on the south-western boundary, Bagrat began an energetic offensive on Kakheti and Hereti. As his first act, he demanded the Kartli fortresses of Grua and Tsirkuali in the valley of the Ksani River which had been seized by the rulers of Kakheti. King David refused to return the fortresses, and Bagrat moved against Kakheti. The struggle for Kakheti and Hereti lasted for two years (1008-1010). Bagrat laid waste the countryside as for as Kakheti, occupied Hereti and appointed Abulali governor of the province. But as soon as Bagrat departed, the "didebulis" of Hereti expelled Bagrat's appointees and turned their country over to David. Bagrat set out again and after a hard struggle captured Kvirike, son of the deceased David and subjugated Hereti and Kakheti, incorporating them into his kingdom. This was a major triumph for the central power, but Bagrat's successors were unable to consolidate his acquisitions on account of the unfavourable international situation. Bagrat Ill's successor King Giorgi I (1014- 1027) spent most of his reign in a fruitless war against Byzantium. In the years of his reign, Kakheti and Hereti dropped out of the united kingdom. The "didebulis" of Kakheti and Hereti evidently took advantage of the fact that the king's attention was absorbed by the war against the Byzantine empire with the objective of retrieving Southern Tao. But the war against the empire was unsuccessful. Southern Tao was not retrieved, and Kakheti and Hereti were lost. Subsequently, the struggle for Kakheti and Hereti was the keynote of Georgia's history in the eleventh-century.
In the first quarter of the eleventh century, the King of Kakheti Kvirike (1010 - 1037) conquered Hereti and incorporated it into Kakheti. Then the united kingdom of Kakheti-Hereti was an ally of the kings of Georgia in their struggle against Byzantium and against the emirs of Tbilisi and Gandza. This situation persisted as long as the united Georgian kingdom, engaged in the war against Byzantium and in other affairs, laid no claims to the Kakheti-Hereti kingdom. King Bagrat IV (1027- 1072) began a struggle for Kakheti-Hereti as soon as the situation changed. In response to this, the king of Kakheti helped Liparit Baghvashi, who had started a war against the central power in order to weaken Bagrat. In his turn, Bagrat found allies among the Kakheti feudal lords, who were dissatisfied with the pursued by King Kvirike. With the support of these feudal lords Bagrat took more energetic steps for the conquest of Kakheti and Hereti. He achieved some successes in this struggle (1040s), taking Kvirike's supporters captive, and sacking and burning the Bodoji Palace, the residence of the Kakheti kings (near Tianeti) following which the Kakheti "eristavis" began surrendering their fortresses to him one after another. But this time, too, Kakheti was not re-united with Georgia, for Liparit Baghvashi again took the field 'against the king.
The orientaton of the kings and "didebulis" of Kakheti determined the actual position of the kings of united Georgia. At first the Kakheti kings supported Bagrat IV in his war against Liparit Baghvashi, but, as soon as Bagrat showed any sign of wanting to unite all the Georgian lands, they betrayed him and sided with Liparit.
Defeating Liparit, Bagrat began to advance on Kakheti and gained control of almost the whole of Kakheti and Hereti by the beginning of the 1060s. However, upon receiving the news that the Seljuk Turks had invaded Georgia (1064), Bagrat left Kakheti and returned to Kartli. King Aghsartani: of Kakheti took the field against him on the side of the Seljuks. With the establishment of Seljuk rule, the re-union of Kakheti and Hereti with Georgia was postponed for a long time.
The Tbilisi-emirate, ruled by the Jafarid family, was also outside the united kingdom. At the beginning of the eleventh century, the territory of the Tbilisi-emirate was confined to the town and a narrow strip of adjoining land. As might have been expected, the incorporation of the emirate was an urgent task of the first kings of united Georgia, and in Bagrat IV's wars for the unification of the Georgian lands, Tbilisi was one of the main objectives. However, a keen interest in the emirate was also displayed by Liparit Baghvashi, whose realm directly adjoined the territory of the emirate. Liparit knew the actual situation well and was aware that he would be unable to conquer the Tbilisi emirate without the support of the king. He therefore sought to initiate the seizure of Tbilisi and fight the emirate jointly with the king so as to obtain a larger part of it when the territory was divided. In 1032 Liparit Baghvashi and the "eristavi" of Kartli, Ivane Abazasdze, seized the Tbilisi-emir Jafar, captured the fortress of Birtvisi from him and took the captive emir to the king. But the king released the emir, evidently fearing any further strengthening of his already strong vassal, Liparit Nonetheless, the problem of Tbilisi brooked no delay, and when some years later Liparit Baghvashi proposed a war against Tbilisi, the king summoned his allies and besieged the town. But after a two-year siege (1037-1039), when the town was about to surrender and the emir was getting rafts together to depart, Bagrat unexpectedly offered peace. He reserved the fortresses of Orbeti and Partskhisi, situated near Tbilisi, for himself and recognised Jafar as emir. According to a chronicler, this step was taken in secret from Liparit, evidently on the advice of a group of feudal lords hostile to the latter. Tbilisi's liberation was vital to Georgia, but apparently not at the price demanded by Liparit for his participation in the siege of the town. Liparit could not forgive this step, and began an open struggle against the king.
But it is surmised that, in his decision, King Bagrat was influenced not only and not so much by fear of Liparit becoming stronger as by the news of the approach of reinforcements for the emir.
The struggle to liberate Tbilisi was compounded by Liparit Baghvashi's undisguised efforts to hinder the attainment of the king's plans.
In 1046, when emir Jafar died, power in Tbilisi passed to the hands of the town's elders. In the then obtaining situation, the town's elders were compelled to look for a strong patron. They appealed to the Georgian king, offering the town to him. At this time Bagrat was in Western Georgia, where he was laying siege to the fortress of Anakopiya that had been seized by Byzantine troops. Although the battle for Anakopiya was nearing its end, the question of Tbilisi was so important that the king lifted the siege and immediately moved to the town. The Tbilisi-elders turned the keys of the town-citadels over to the king. Bagrat occupied these citadels, garrisoning them with his troops, but the left-bank section of the town, where the Moslem feudal aristocracy had entrenched itself in the fortress of Isani, offered savage resistance. Meanwhile, taking advantage of the confusion in Tbilisi, Liparit Baghvashi again made war on the king. Bagrat was compelled to leave and fight Liparit with the result that the town was lost once more. In 1048 the town elders again requested Bagrat to take over Tbilisi. At the time, Liparit Baghvashi was held captive by the Seljuks. Bagrat occupied Tbilisi and ruled the town for three years, but in 1051, as soon as Liparit was released from captivity, he had to leave the town again.
The situation in Tbilisi was complex. After the death of emir Jafar, his heirs Mansur and Abul-Heija and the town elders fought for power. The emir's heirs were eventually driven out of the town, and power passed to the elders.
The king of united Georgia could not ignore Tbilisi, but the difficult situation in the country compelled him to postpone the struggle for the town. .
In the meantime, the events in Tbilisi unfolded rapidly and turbulently. The town needed a strong patron, and since King Bagrat could not give such patronage, in 1062 the inhabitants offered the town to Shaddadid Abul-Asvar, but the latter feared Bagrat and turned down the offer. The town then appealed to Aghsartani, king of Kakheti, son of Gagik, who occupied Tbilisi, but Bagrat IV soon redeemed the town from him for a large sum of money. Bagrat sent a garrison to the town and provided his viceroy with men, weapons and food The affairs of the town evidently remained in the hands of the elders, with Bagrat exercising supreme power: he instituted the office of governor of the town and garrisoned it with his troops. But this time, too, the town was lost, now on account of the Seljuk invasion.
The struggle by the Crown for the reunification of the Georgian lands yielded some results. In the period from the 980s to the 1060s Kakhet-Hereti and the emirate of Tbilisi were reunited with Georgia, but the invasion of the Seljuks gave Bagrat TV no possibility of consolidating these successes


The territory ruled by Bagrat III (975- 1014), the first king of united Georgia, consisted of Western Georgia (kingdom of Egris-Abkhazeti) and "Shida" Kartli. At the beginning of the eleventh century. Kakheti and Hereti were united in the kingdom of Kakhet-Hereti. Part of "Kvemo" Kartli, with the town of Tbilisi, was ruled by the Tbilisi-emir. Since the close of the tenth century Lore-Tashiri had comprised the Georgian-Armenian kingdom of the Kvirikids, the rulers of which bore the title of Armenian kings. The Bagrationi kingdom was ruled by Gurgen Bagrationi, father of Bagrat III, but after the death of Gurgen (1008) it passed to his son and was incorporated in the united kingdom.
Such was the political map of Georgia at the beginning of the eleventh century, and the. main task of the first kings of united Georgia was to re-unite the other Georgian lands and thus complete the formation of a single feudal monarchy.
Bagrat's proclamation as king of Western and Eastern Georgia only gave him the judicial right to unite the entire country under his rule, which in a feudal state did not signify that it was actually possible to achieve such unity; Bagrat III had to realise his formal rights himself. The most acute problem was that of Egris-Abkhazeti and "Shida" Kartli, because in those regions many of the feudal lords refused to recognise Bagrat's authority. When Bagrat was proclaimed king of Egris-Abkhazeti, that region was under the suzerainty of blind Teodosi, his maternal uncle, and this created considerable difficulties for Bagrat. But Bagrat got rid of Teodosi by sending him to the kurapalati David in Tao.
As at the initial stages of the struggle to unite the Georgian lands, the main region where Bagrat Ill's authority had to be asserted was "Shida" Kartli. It was nominally ruled by Bagrat's mother, Queen Gurandukhti whose residence was in the town of Uplis-Tsikhe. The territory of Kartli was divided among powerful "aznauris" - Tbeli, Dzameli, Pavneli, Korinteli, Pkhveneli and others - who ruled their dominions independently and, as a Georgian historian comments, were not at all delighted at the prospect of Bagrat asserting his power in Kartli. The struggle of the Kartli "aznauris" against Bagrat was headed by Kavtar Tbeli, whose family was claiming the office of "eristavi" of Kartli. In 980 Bagrat crossed into Kartli from Western Georgia and camped at Tigva, where he was engaged in battle by the "aznauris" led by Kavtar Tbeli. The battle was fought at Moghrisi. The king was victorious and subordinated the unsubmissive "aznauris".
An end was thus put to the political rule of the feudal nobility in Kartli, and this historical centre again passed to the hands of the royal house. The queen gave Uplis-Tsikhe to her son. Bagrat removed the recalcitrant feudal lords and appointed loyal "eristavis" in their place, following which he returned to Western Georgia.
The big feudal lords of Western Georgia were not slow in taking advantage of the difficult situation in Kartli. They refused to accept the royal power. The king took drastic measures removing them from their high offices and replacing them with his supporters.
In 989 Bagrat declared war on the Kldekari "eristavi;" Rati Baghvashi, who, we are told by a chronicler, ruled Trialeti, Manglisis-Khevi, Skoreti and Ateni and "refused to submit to King Bagrat graciously". In order to lull Rati's vigilance, the king marched to Western Georgia, and in the winter suddenly attacked the fortress of Klde-Kari. Rati surrendered, turned his Kartli-possessions over to the king and retired to Argveti, the Baghvashi family-estate. The king appointed Zviad Marushiani as "eristavi" of Trialeti.
Bagarat HI scorned no method to unite the country and centralise the state-power. Seeing that it was futile to expect his cousins, the rulers of Klarjeti, submit peacefully, he used the pretext of reconciliation to invite them to the Panaskerti. He imprisoned them and subordinated Klarjeti to his rule (1010).
In his policy of centralising the state-power, Bagrat sought to make all the big feudal lords officials of the Crown.
Early in the eleventh century, he was in virtual control of the Kartvelian kingdom, including "Shida" Kartli, and of Egris-Abkhazeti. The measures taken by him in relation to the Baghvashi-family were only temporarily successful-members of that family made their weight felt already during the reign of Bagrat's immediate successors. Zviad Marushiani, the "eristavi" of Trialeti, was utterly devoted to Bagrat and his son King Giorgi I. In the war against the Byzantine emperor Basil II, Zviad headed the vanguard of the Georgian forces. But then a conflict evidently arose between Giorgi I and Zviad, and the king made Zviad a prisoner. It may be assumed that the rights of the Baghvashi as "eristavis" of Trialeti were restored at precisely this time. After the death of Giorgi I and the early years of the reign of Bagrat IV (1027- 1072), Liparit, a powerful member of the Baghvashi-family, joined the king in defending Georgia against Byzantine incursions. He supported the king also in the war against the Gandza-emir Padlon and then with the king's assistance endeavoured to enlarge his own dominions. In this context attention must be drawn to the struggle against the Tbilisi-emir first in 1032 and then in 1037. But Bagrat IV understood what his powerful vassal wanted and obstructed the latter's plans on both occasions. The incorporation of the Tbilisi-emirate Was of vital importance to the Georgian kingdom, but to achieve this aim on the initiative and with the support of Liparit would have meant adding to the latter's power. This was probably why the king twice blocked the almost consummated reunification of Tbilisi, and this spoiled the relations between him and Liparit. These events are given consecutively by a Georgian historian, who tells us that the enmity between Liparit and the emir Jafar began in 1032, when the king released the emir who had been taken prisoner by Liparit and the Kartli-eristavi" Ivane Abazasdze. At this stage Liparit did not feel it was necessary to show that he bore a grudge against the king, but in 1039, when, without notifying Liparit, Bagrat IV lifted the siege of Tbilisi, "Liparit hardened his heart against his sovereign". From that time onwards he fought the king openly. He was supported by the Byzantine empire, which sent him troops, money and claimants to the throne. In the 1040s Liparit fought a bitter war against Bagrat IV. His allies were not only the Byzantine empire but also the Kakheti-kingdom. Liparit and his allies put forward the king's step-brother Demetre as claimant to the throne and laid siege to the fortress of Ateni. But the defenders resisted courageously, and the fortress was not taken. With the onset of winter, the Byzantine troops departed, and without them Liparit did not venture to continue the struggle. He decided to make peace with the king. Bagrat IV evidently had to reckon with his strong vassal and preferred to have peaceful relations with him. To placate him, he appointed him to the high office of "erismtavari" of Kartli However, the king miscalculated, and Liparit again declared war on him.
His allies were the Kakhi and the Armenian king David, The Byzantine empire again went to his aid with troops and money.
Once more the king's step-brother, Demetre claimed the throne.
The intensity of the struggle mounted. Liparit Baghvashi emerged victorious and became the virtual ruler of the country. However, in 1049, when as an ally of the Byzantine empire, he marched against the Seljuks and was taken prisoner by them, "the nobles of this country and the, sons of Liparit, Ivane and Niania, sought peace and recognised the power of the king". Bagrat regained his throne, occupied Tbilisi once more and then helped the Byzantine empire against the Seljuks. But in 1051 when the Byzantines rescued Liparit and the latter arrived in Ani, Bagrat IV again had renounce Tbilisi.
Bagrat was well aware that he could not oppose Liparit when the latter had the support of Byzantium, and he decided to appeal to the emperor. He crowned his baby-son and in 1064 set out for Constantinople. He was well received but was virtually held in honourable captivity, and, according to a Georgian historian was unable to return home for three years on account of Liparit's intrigues. During these years Liparit Baghvashi was
the sole ruler of the country. In going to Byzantium Bagrat apparently felt that he would persuade the imperial court that it was more to the empire's advantage to be in alliance with him, the king of Georgia, than with a strong feudal lord, who was nonetheless a vassal of the king. But the imperial court did not as yet take the threat of the Seljuk expansion seriously, and instead of helping Georgia (or, in any case, abstaining from
hindering her) and using her as a buffer against the Seljuks, Byzantium did everything possible to weaken her. In the mean-time, internal difficulties in the empire helped Bagrat IV to return home. Although under the treaty concluded between Bagrat IV and Liparit Baghvashi, with the mediation of the emperor.
Bagrat was recognised king of all Georgia (Iberia and Abkhazeti, i. e., Eastern and Western Georgia), Liparit was established as the ruler of all Meskheti with the obligation to recognise Bagrat as his master and king to the end of his days. Liparit thus became the supreme ruler of the whole of South-western Georgia (Meskheti), which, in fact, signified recognition of his independence in the Georgian kingdom. This was a major setback for the central power. But Bagrat IV evidently had no alternative.
However, this excessive growth of Liparit's might antagonised the Meskheti feudal lords and, headed by Sula; Kalmakheli, they seized Liparit and his son and turned them over to the king. Liparit was deprived of all his possessions, shorn and sent to Byzantium. His son Niania died in Armenia, but his second son, Ivane, received the "Argveti and Kartli patrominies" from the king. Although this crushing of the might of the Bagvashi family was a major victory for the central power, it did not of course resolve the problem of feudal particularism. It must be remembered that the central power was fought not only by the Baghvashi family. As soon as Bagrat IV ascended the throne, some of the "aznauris" of Tao, including the big feudal, lords Vache Karichisdze and Iovane, Bishop of Bana, emigrated to Byzantium, while in 1028, when troops of the empire approached Georgia, the powerful feudal lords, Chan-chakhi Paleli and Arjevan Hololisdze, defected to Byzantium and surrendered their fortresses to the enemy.
In the struggle by the central power against feudal particularism, the king's victory over the powerful Abazasdze - family was of great significance. Five Abazasdze-brothers went to war against the king and even planned to take him prisoner. During the early years of Bagrat IV's reign, one of the brothers, Ivane, was "eristavi" of Kartli and, as we have already mentioned, together with Liparit Baghvashi, captured the Tbilisi-emir Jafar in 1032 and brought him to the king. The king released the emir and made Liparit Baghvashi "eristavi" of Kartli in the 1040s. We do not know what induced the king to take this step, but there had evidently been discord between the king and the Abazasdze-family. The office of "eristavi" of Kartli and the territory of the Tbilisi-emirate were time and again the couse of internal dissension in feudal Georgia.
The defeat of the Abazasdze-brothers was an important step by the king in centralising the state-power. But the victories of Bagrat IV cannot, of course, be regarded as the solution to the problem of subordinating the higher feudal nobility, as subsequent events eloquently showed.
Meanwhile, the Baghvashi-family returned to power and caused considerable unpleasantness to the Crown in the reign of Giorgi II (1072- 1089). The seventies and eighties of the eleventh century were a difficult period from the stadpoint of the inner class-struggle and the arbitrary rule of the feudal lords. In principle, the big feudal princes were not against the monarchy. Bagrat IV's most rabid enemy always named some claimant to the throne. Liparit Baghvashi was not against the country's unification - this' was not popular at the time. His aim was to weaken the king and render him harmless to himself. This was distinctly seen in the terms of the peace, which was unquestionably concluded with Bagrat IV in accordance with his own plans through the mediation of the Byzantine emperor. Liparit recognised the king's sovereignty only outwardly. This was what set a large group of Meskheti feudal lords against him and brought about his downfall.
The struggle by the feudal nobility against the Crown grew particularly savage in the reign of Giorgi II. After having remained at peace "for a winter, summer and half a summer", writes a chronicler, the tavadis of this kingdom, Niania Kvabulisdze, and Ivane Liparitisdze, and Vardan, eristavi of Svaneti, took advantage of King Giorgi's youth and sowed discord in :he land". The rebels and their allies occupied part of Kartli, sacked Egrisi, while Niania Kvabulisdze seized the royal town of Kutaisi and emptied the treasury. Although he gained the upper hand over the rebels, Giorgi II failed to assess the difficulty of the situation and, instead of punishing, decided to placate the unsubmissive feudal lords, granting them new land and fortresses. The fruits of this policy were seen quickly. Ivane Baghvashi rose in arms again, and although the king defeated him once more, he left him in possession of the fortresses of Samshvilde and Klde-Kari. Then this same Ivane seized the royal fortress of Gagi and sold it to the emir of Gandza, Padloni, and, when sultan Malik-Shah approached Georgia, he decided to use him in his own interests and sent his son Liparit to meet him.
The first kings of the united Georgian feudal monarchy thus had strong opposition in the country in the person of the great feudal, nobility, who had the support of external forces. Albeit with difficulty, the central state-power managed to maintain an equilibrium and strengthen its position. At this stage in the history of Georgia's feudal monarchy, the king was still not strong enough to curb the wilfulness of the feudal lords, with his own forces. Moreover, he did not stable socio-political basis on which he could rely in his struggle against the feudal nobility. Therefore, at this stage it proved to be possible to maintain an equilibrium only by relying on the great feudal lords themselves and by using the dissensions between individual groups. When some of the "aznauris" of Tao sided with Byzantium and turned their fortresses over to the empire, Bagrat IV was supported by another group of feudal lords: Saba Mtbeva-ri, Ezra Ancheli and others. It will be recalled that Liparit Baghvashi defeated the king with the help of the Meskheti feudal lords. In addition ,to assistance from some feudal princes, the Crown had the support of the middle and small gentry ("aznauris"}, who regarded the king as their protector against the claims of the big feudal princes and who often won promotion in the service of the Crown. Bagrat III, for example, promoted loyal "aznauris" and gave them the offices of unsubmissive nobles. Subsequently, the king and the great feudal nobility fought for influence over the small gentry, and a heavy blow was struck at Georgia's unity when this struggle ended with the victory of the great nubility.
However, by the 1060s one of the stages of the king's struggle against the feudal nobility had ended with the victory of the central power, although this victory did not lead ,to the final suppression of feudal opposition.
An acute problem was that of the position of the Church. The Georgian Church had at one time supported the striving for the unification of all the Georgian lands. At a certain stage this conformed to the interests of the Church, for it led to the proliferation and strengthening of the Church's jurisdiction in the re-united lands. But after the country was united, the Georgian Church was the first feudal organisation to begin a struggle for immunity and made considerable headway. Early in the eleventh century (1011 - 1014), Bagrat III, the first king of the united Georgian kingdom, who had fought perseveringly to centralise the state-power, was compelled to yield to the Church, and, for the support that it had given him, granted it the immunity that was demanded by the patriarch Melkisedeki.
The higher clergy gradually became the mainstay of reactionary forces. Bagrat III attempted to subordinate the Church to the central, power, summoning from Byzantium for this purpose Giorgi Mtatsmindeli, the Father Superior of the Iberia Monastery of mount Athon. But this attempt failed on account of the generally prevailing difficult situation.
Nonetheless, the long, struggle between the king and the great secular feudal aristocracy yielded some results by the 1060s. Bagrat IV's victory over Baghvashi and the Abazasdze-family gave him a stronger hand in the country itself and beyond it, and, with the change in the international situation in the Middle East, this elevated his role in the eyes of the Byzantine empire. Whereas during the early years of his reign Bagrat had to ask the emperor for the title of "kurapalati", he was granted the title of "novelissimus" in 1040 and of in 1060.


Relations with Byzantium were one of the basic problems of Georgia's foreign policy in the eleventh century.
Byzantium supported the Christian states of the Transcaucasus as long as it needed them to counter-balance the Arab-caliphate. In the Middle East the balance of strength changed in the early 11th century. The Arab-caliphate and the Moslem-emirates that sprang up on its ruins were not a serious threat to the empire. But the unity and growing strength of Georgia and Armenia were now a menace to the long-established supremacy of Byzantium in the Middle East, and for that reason the empire could no longer afford to support them. Although in the course of the eleventh century (until the invasion of the Seljuks) the Georgian state achieved certain successes in establishing its internal and external position, it failed to deliver itself from the empire's supremacy and interference in its internal affairs. Moreover, in the Transcaucasus and on the international scene, increasing importance was attached to the empire's support and favours, the outward signs of which were the Byzantine court-titles of the Transcaucasian rulers.
In the eleventh century there were signs that Byzantium had begun to weaken, but in the first half of that century the empire managed to maintain an equilibrium in external and internal affairs.
The empire pursued an energetic offensive-policy towards Georgia and Armenia. It was not content with merely formal recognition of its sovereignty but wanted a real assertion of its supremacy, which it partially achieved relative to Armenia. This purpose was pursued by the seizure of the kingdom of Tao, the heritage of ...David Kurapalati, the creation of the thema of Iberia, and the vigorous offensive on Armenia. But the relations between Georgia and Byzantium deteriorated sharply at the beginning of the eleventh century, when the Georgian state began to grow stronger. The largest factor hindering the further consolidation of the Georgian state throughout the eleventh century was the inner class-struggle fanned and sustained by the empire.
It is unquestionable that, without the empire's support, the Baghvashi family would have been unable to inflict serious harm on Georgia's unification, in the same way as Byzantium would hardly have been able to interfere actively in Georgia's internal affairs without the support of the Bagvashi. A result of the interlacing of these internal and external factors was that in the eleventh century (until David IV) the Georgian kings not only accepted but did themselves seek Byzantine court-titles.
The title of "kurapalat" was one of the highest at the imperial court. The granting of this or some other title was not always evidence that the recipient was a subordinate. Up to the close of the eleventh century (until the reign of David the Builder), the Georgian kings sought these titles. The title of "kurapalat " evidently carried international prestige, because the Byzantine emperors granted it also to European rulers, while, in the twelfth century, to their brothers as well. Although this title entailed no privileges, it signified Byzantine recognition of the hereditary rights of the Georgian kings to Tao and Klarjeti.
As we have noted, in the eleventh century Georgian-Byzantine relations began with the empire wresting away Southern Tao (called "Imier" Tao in Georgian records) and the creation of the thema of Iberia. In the eleventh century, the empire's aggression against Georgia followed two directions. On the one hand, the empire strove to interfere in Georgia's internal affairs, for which it had to have an obedient king on the Georgian throne. To achieve this aim, the empire supported the big feudal lords fighting the king and gave refuge to the children of the Bagrationi-family, who were later set up in opposition to the legitimate kings as claimants to the throne. The imperial power did not disdain to resort to deceit, bribery, promises and so on. On the other hand, Byzantium seized Georgian lands. Although the struggle for the heritage of the kurapalat David was started by the Georgian state, during the wars between Georgia and Byzantium some Georgian feudal lords sided with Byzantium, turning their fortresses over to it.
From the aforesaid it follows that, in the eleventh century, the empire pursued two objectives relative to Georgia:
1) the seizure of Georgian lands, and
2) interference in its internal affairs.
Southern Tao, the heritage of the kurapalati David, was the largest territory wrested by the empire from Georgia at the beginning of the eleventh century.
Bagrat III had no legal rights to the heritage of the kurapalati David, because David had promised it to Basil II not only verbally; he sent his emissaries to the empire to formalize the agreement, which they sealed with vows and signatures. By virtue of this agreement, after David's death the Tao-"aznauris" surrendered their fortresses to the Emperor Basil, who then set up the therna of Iberia governed by a Byzantine official. This seizure of Southern Tao by Byzantium left the Southern of Georgia exposed. It was from her, that the empire expanded into Georgia and Armenia. By forming the thema of Iberia the empire created a stronghold on Georgian territory proper; at 'the same time, it laid claim to Khlati, Archeshi and Berkri, thereby endeavouring to form a buffer on the south. Byzantium's, seizure of Southern Tao was a heavy blow to the Georgian state.
We already know that Bagrat III tried to halt this action, but had to retreat. Naturally, the Georgian state seized very first opportunity to try to retrieve the lost lands. In 1001 Bagrat III* father, King of Kings Gurgen, who ruled Northern Tao, invaded Southern Tao. The outcome of this invasion is not at all clear. Having steered towards unification, Georgia could not reconcile herself to the loss of her territories and took every opportunity to win them back. Giorgi I (1014-1027) felt that such an opportunity came when the Emperor Basil II was engaged in a war with the Bolgars. Giorgi invaded Southern Tao and, according to Yahya of Antioch, occupied the fortresses and regions which his uncle, David had ceded to the Emperor Basil.
Aristakes Lastivertsi gives a different account of the beginning of the war. According to him, when Giorgi I ascended the throne, the emperor Basil sent him the following message: "Leave everything that I had granted your father from the possessions of the kurapalat and rule only your own patrimonies." In the content of this account fry Aristakes, considerable attention is demanded by Asokhik's account of the invasion of Southern Tao by King Gurgen (1001) and his statement that, after the death of Gurgen (1008), his son Bagrat III ruled the region of Tao. Although the possibility is not to be excluded that in this ease the Georgian historian meant only Northern Tao, against the background of Aristakes' account it is quite conceivable that he had in mind the entire historical province of Tao-both southern and northern. In this case it must be assumed that Gurgen achieved his objective, and that Basil, returned Southern Tao to him. But even if Georgia received Southern Tao from Basil as a result of Gurgen's invasion (1001), the emperor evidently ceded these lands to Bagrat HI (in whose name his father should have acted) only for his lifetime. From this standpoint the accounts of Aristakes Lastivertsi, Yahya of Antioch and the Georgian eleventh-century historian complement each other.
It may be assumed that the invasion of Southern Tao fey Georgian forces under Gurgen compelled Basil II to make certain concessions, notably the transfer of part (or the whole?) of Southern Tao to Bagrat III as a hereditary possession. But Giorgi I ignored this, and, after his father's death, he did not fulfil the terms Of the treaty. This was evidently due to Basil's demand that Giorgi should leave all that he had granted to his father from the possessions of the kurapalati to which Giorgi replied; "I shall not surrender a single house of what belonged to my father!" This was followed by Basil's invasion of Southern Georgia, but his forces were repulsed. This interpretation of the accounts of historians gives us a clearer picture of the causes of the Georgian-Byzantine war.
Basil planned to invade Georgia. In preparing for a war against the empire Giorgi I conducted negotiations with the Egyptian sultan Al-Khakim, offering to carry out joint military operations against Byzantium. The Egyptian Fatimids were the empire's main enemies in the East at the time. This put Basil in a difficult situation, and he refrained from invading Georgia. But as soon as Al-Khakim, the ally of the Georgian king, died, Basil moved his troops into Georgia (1021).
The exhausting war against Byzantium dragged on for two years. It was fought with alternating success. Through negotiations, protracted military operations, the enlistment of new allies and so on, Giorgi tried to defeat Basil. In this war Georgia's allies were the kings of Kakheti and Hereti and the Armenian Bagratids. But the war against Byzantium was' lost, and under the peace-treaty signed in 1023, the tree-year-old prince Bagrat (the future Bagrat IV) was sent to Constantinople as a hostage for two years. The empire took over all the fortresses it had occupied by force or by treaty: Basil took over all that David kurapalat had ruled in Tao, Basiani, Kola-Artaani and Javakheti.
Basil took no further steps against Georgia and, by the terms of the treaty, permitted prince Bagrat to return home two years later: but a conspiracy led by Nikifor Komnin, the ruler ("arkhont") of Vaspurakan, and involving the Georgian king Giorgi I, was brought to light upon the death of Basil, and the new emperor, Constantine, activated his policy towards Georgia. This conspiracy was evidently a response to Constan-tine's decision to return prince Bagrat, who had been sent home, but, when the imperial messenger overtook the prince, the latter proved to be out reach - he was in his father's kingdom.
As ruler of Iberia the emperor appointed the eunuch Nikita, who enlisted some Georgian nobles to the side of the empire. In Iberia confusion and discord apparently reigned among the Local nobility, and this made some of the Georgian feudal lords side with the empire and transfer their fortresses to it. Other feudal lords were exiled from their patronimies, and their towns and fortresses were seized by the empire, which thereby strengthened its position. The exiled nobility were given new possessions in the empire itself.
The struggle for the Georgian lands wrested by Byzantium continued. Upon ascending the throne, Bagrat IV (1027 - 1072) demanded the return of these lands from Constantine. In reply Constantine sent a large force to Georgia. This army devastated the same lands that had been laid waste by the emperor Basil and besieged the fortress of Kldekari. Liparit Baghvashi, the "eristavi" of Kldekari, stood firm in the fortress, but the feudal princes, Chanchakhi Paleli and Arjevan Ololisdze, went over to the empire and surrendered the fortresses of Garkloba and Tserpti (in Shavsheti and Klarjeti) to the Byzantines. In this time of stress, Sabba Bishop of Tbeti, built a fortress, rallied patriots and entrenched to fight the Byzantines. In this fortress he was joined by Ezra, Bishop of Anchi, and by the Shavsheti-"aznauris". The Byzantines suffered defeat, but then had recourse to tried and tested means, promises and bribes, and backed the claims of Demetre Klarji, a member of the Klarji branch of the Bagrationi-family, to the throne. This strongly influenced a segment of the population. An extremely difficult situation arose, from which the country was saved by the death of Constantine. The imperial troops were recalled. The bickerings in the empire self somewhat eased the situation for Georgia.
At the begining of the 1030s Georgia faced considerable difficulties. The acute problems confronting her were that of uniting Georgian lands (Kakheti, Hereti and Tbilisi-emirate) and of curbing the great feudal princes. It was, therefore, more expedient temporarily to renounce "Imier". Tao in order to avoid inevitable war with Byzantium, for which Georgia was unprepared. An. embassy led by Queen Mariam (mother of Bagrat IV) and the Patriarch of Georgia Melkisedeki was sent to settle relations with Byzantium. The peace-terms proposed by Georgia were acceptable to Byzantium. Bagrat IV was granted the title of "kurapalati" and Mariam brought her son a bride, Helen, niece of emperor Roman III. But the situation did not suit either side.
Georgia was on the road of political rejuvenation. The Crown had united around itself all the Georgian lands and was preparing to play a vigorous part on the political scene in the Transcau-casus. A strong Georgia would undoubtedly impinge upon Byzantine interests in Transcaucasia, while, for its part, despite the peace, Byzantium looked for allies against Georgia in add outside that country. This was the time when the empire gained possession of the Anakopiya - fortress, an important stronghold in North-western Georgia.
-The Anakopiya-fortress was part of the patrimony of prince Demetre, a foster-brother of Bagrat IV. The king and his mother, Queen Mariam, tried to win over Demetre, but he evidently had no particular trust in them. Bagrat's enemies likewise sought Demetre's support against the king, promising the throne to him. The prince wavered tot a long time, but then turned Anakopiya over to Byzantium, for which he received the appropriate reward and the title of "magister". The empire now invaded Georgia's north-western outskirts as well. Yet another cause for a conflict between Georgia and Byzantium was maturing, although the peace-treaty, bearing the gold-seal, was not, formally broken.
In the recalcitrant vassal, Liparit Baghvashi, the empire found a reliable ally against Bagrat IV. The Kldekari-fortress was the key to the invasion of Kartli, but it was almost-impossible to take it by force. The significance of this fortress and of its ruler was appreciated by the empire, and every effort was made to win over Liparit Baghvashi. The conflict between Bagrat IV and Liparit over Tbilisi helped to strengthen Liparlt's alliance with Byzantium.
In 1044-45, when Bagrat IV was fighting for the reunification of Kakheti, Byzantine troops invaded Kartli, devasting that province. Now that the "eristavi" Liparit, ruler of Kldekari, was its ally, it was easy for the empire to penetrate the heartland-legions of Georgia. In order to sow discord and confusion, Liparit backed Prince Demetre's claims to the throne. At first the situation deteriorated, because some other feudal princes sided with Liparit. But eventually this invasion, too, yielded no results, and Georgia gradually strengthened her position and even brought pressure to bear.
In 1045 Byzantium abolished the independence of the Ani-kingdom, in advance decoying Gagik, the last king of the Armenian. Bagratid dynasty, to Constantinople. This act generated foment in Armenia. The various political groups fought over the question of foreign-policy-orientation. Georgian diplomacy evidently had a hand in this, too. The Ani-nobles placed the town under the suzerainty of Bagrat IV, thus striking a heavy blow at Byzantine policy in the Transcaucasus. After this, Bagrat decided to win back the Anakopiya - and Khupati-fortresses in order to deprive the empire of its strongholds in the north and south of the Georgian Black Sea coast. He achieved considerable successes in Tbilisi. Gagik, King of Kakheti, and his nobles went to Bagrat with a petition. This growth of Bagrat's power was resented by the empire and its ally, Liparit, and Prince Demetre was then again proposed for the throne. As might have been expected, there was a split in the country, part of it siding with Demetre and the other part with Bagrat.
We have noted that the nomination of a claimant to the Georgian throne was a tested method of imperial diplomacy. It led to a regrouping of forces and complicated the situation in the country. After Demetre's death the empire had no formal excuse, but it did not cease its efforts to weaken Bagrat's position. To this end it used the services of Liparit and other traitors.
In 1049 when Liparit Baghvashi fell into the hands of the Seljuks, Bagrat IV attempted to settle his relations with the empire and regulate affairs in the country. Liparit's imprisonment forced Constantino to look for another ally. Bagrat took advantage of this and helped the empire against the Seljuks. But for the empire, the alliance with Liparit had an entirely different significance: he was needed by Byzantium not so much against the Seljuks as against Bagrat, and the empire therefore made every effort to secure his release. The emperor obtained Liparit's release, and this again complicated the situation for Bagrat.
Many state-measures were disrupted by the empire's support for traitorous Georgian feudal lords, particularly Liparit Baghvashi. Georgia lost Ani, could not win back the Khupati-and Anakopiya-fortresses and had to abandon her plans for the reunification of Tbilisi. Matters reached a stage where Bagrat IV was compelled to appear personally before the emperor. This was the second embassy sent to the empire in the reign of Bagrat IV. The king's suite included his mother, Mariam, who had experience of diplomacy.
The political situation in the Transcaucasus took a drastic turn for the worse. Georgia was steadily growing stronger on the road to unification, and this prejudiced the interests of the empire. Although he was formally a vassal of the empire, the kurapalati Bagrat denied recognition to the power of the emperor in Georgia, endeavoured to drive the Byzantines out of their strongholds (Anakopiya, Khupati) and challenged Byzantine rule in Armenian lands (Ani).
Georgia was a rival of the empire in the Transcaucasus, and this Byzantium could not tolerate and thus it strove to get rid of Bagrat. The imperial power knew it could not abolish the kingdom in Georgia and did not set itself that aim. It also knew that it could not deprive the Bagrationi-family of the throne, and it did not even try. It confined itself to efforts to get rid of the strong and energetic Bagrat IV and place a docile king on the Georgian throne in his place. For that reason the empire gave refuge to all discontented members of the branches of the royal house of Bagrationi in order to proclaim them claimants to the throne at the appropriate moment. A claimant with little legal entitlement would carry out the will of the emperor upon receiving the throne from him. For this purpose the empire also needed Georgian nobles, and it did not relax its efforts to win them over.
In the eleventh century (Bagrat III, Bagrat IV), the Georgian court pursued an active policy of centralising the state-power and waged an uncompromising struggle against unsubmissive feudal princes. Some large feudal units were abolished, and this intensified the inter-class-struggle. Innumerable agents of the empire recruited feudal lords who were dissatisfied with the Crown's policy. Once again recourse was had to bribes and promises. At the time when Georgia was taking steps to centralise the state-power, in Byzantium the top-echelon-nobility was receiving considerable privileges. Defectors counted on special privileges, and these were indeed received by many of them. The defection of a number of Georgian feudal lords was prompted by the inter-class-struggle that became acute in eleventh-century Georgia on account of the steps taken to centralise the state-power.
It must be borne in mind that by no means all the big feudal princes went over to the empire. On the contrary, a powerful group supported the Crown in its struggle against external and internal enemies. In the reign of Bagrat IV Vache Karichisdze, the Bana bishop, Ioane, and others sided with Byzantium, but Sabba bishop of Tbeti, and other "aznauris" supported the king and saved the country from ruin. When the Byzantines used Demetre Klarji as a claimant to the throne of Bagrat IV and enlisted the aid of some feudal princes, Ezra Ancheli, Ioane (son of Sumbat, the "eristavi" of Artanuji), and some other nobles remained loyal to the king and defended the country. When the Byzantine aggression against Georgia was supported by Liparit Baghvashi and other feudal lords, Bagrat IV, aided by another group of great feudal princes offered resistance to the enemy and upheld the kingdom. As a matter of fact, not very many feudal lords defected, because support for the empire ultimately led to exile.
While Byzantium clung to its conquests in the Transcauca-sus, Georgia fought to assert her sovereign-rights. As we have noted earlier, in the 1050s the situation compelled Bagrat IV to go to the imperial court. The treaty concluded between Georgia and Byzantium unequivocally indicated the special role played by Liparit Baghvashi in the relations between Georgia and Byzan-ium. In the political situation obtaining in Middle East at the time, recognition of Liparit Baghvashi's power by the Byzantine empire and the Seljuk sultan was decisive in giving him increasing political weight. He was the empire's agent in Georgia. The empire had no intention of giving him the Georgian throne, and this goal was not pursued by him because the House of Bagrationi was so firmly established on the Georgian throne that the idea of deposing it was not popular. The Byzantines , and Liparit sought to replace Bagrat with his relatives, and now Liparit counterposed Giorgi to Bagrat. The character of the treaty concluded between the empire and Georgia, made it obvious that Byzantium was preparing for the latter a fate similar to that which overtook Armenia. Indeed, if we closely examine the empire's policy towards Georgia and Armenia, we shall find that it strove to bring all Georgian and Armenian lands gradually under its control. As early as at the close of the tenth century, when conditions ripened, the empire juridically consolidated its rule in Southern Tao and similarly consolidated its rule in the Ani, Vaspurakan and Vanand kingdoms.
While the empire sought to seize Georgian lands and subordinate the king of Georgia, in the long term counting on luring Bagrat IV into the empire and, as in the case of Gagik Bagratuni and Senekerim Artsruni, granting him lands there and turning the Georgian kingdom into a province, the king of Georgia had no intention of submitting to the empire; rather he endeavoured to regain the Georgian fortresses held by the empire and came forward as the empire's rival in the struggle for Armenia. However, Bagrat IV was defeated in the long struggle and went to Constantinople to give himself up. The emperor Constantine and Liparit skilfully utilised their advantage and reduced Bagrat's rights. However, Liparit's capture by the king radically changed the situation in Georgia. The headway then made by the king in uniting the country gave Georgia a new international standing.
This was accompanied by a change in the character of the relations between Georgia and Byzantium. The empire had to treat Georgia with greater care.
Soon afterwards the Seljuks appeared on the Transcaucasian scene, and this changed the alignment of forces in the Middle East for a Song time.
Relations with Armenia. In the foreign policy of the Georgian feudal monarchy an important place was held by the question of relations with neighbouring Armenia.
These were long-standing relations, and they became particularly intensive in the ninth-tenth centuries, when the struggle for the unification of Georgia, following the incorporation of Armenian kingdoms and principalities, developed into a struggle for a single Christian state in the Transcaucasus. Although the Armenian kingdoms were active in this struggle in the first half of the tenth century and achieved major successes, superiority in the Transcaucasus gradually passed to the Georgians. In this connection, Bagrat Ill's accession to the throne of a united (Western and Eastern) Georgian state was an act of great importance. The unification of a large proportion of the Georgian lands spelled out the final collapse of the Transcaucasian policy pursued by the Armenian kings. This act signified the rejection of the claims of the Armenian kings to Georgian lands and laid the beginning of the claims of the Georgian feudal state to Armenian lands proper. But these were as yet long-term aims, and the Armenian kings continued their attempts to interfere in Georgian affairs.
In the context of Armenian-Georgian relations, the fact that the Armenian king Sumbat Bagratuni attended the coronation of Bagrat III was of immense significance. Asokhik, the eleventh-century Armenian historian, wrote that the kurapalati David and the Armenian king Sumbat placed Bagrat, son of Gurgen, on the Georgian throne. That Submat Bagratuni (977 - 990) participated in the coronation of Bagrat III was quite possible and justified: Sumbat had been an ally of the kurapalati David in many of his actions, and since Bagrat Bagrationi's elevation to the West-Georgian throne was linked with certain difficulties, David could have invited Sumbat to support him. In addition to being a token of support, Sumbat's presence (possibly, with the appropriate retinue) was of political importance. It meant the recognition of Bagrat's kingdom by a neighbouring state.
Conflicts between Georgian and Armenian states continued in the tenth-eleventh centuries over abjoining lands. By that time part of "Kvemo" Kartli ("Kartvelta veli" - "Vrats dasht") and Tashiri were ruled by David, son of Gurgen, brother of the Armenian kings Sumbat and Gagik I (990 - 1020). The residence of David, king of Tashir-Dzorageti, was in Samshvilde. David seized Dmanisi and subordinated the Tbilisi-emir. He made war also on the emir of Gandza Paldoni. But his mounting strength evidently hit the interests of neighbouring rulers, particularly the "marzpan" Demetre, ruler of Gagi, who had sided with the Georgian king, adopted the Georgian (Chalce-donian) faith and set up his son, the "mampali". Tashir, in Hyune-vanky. However, David attacked him, drove him out of the Gagi-fortress and divested him of all his fortresses and patrimonies. Feeling his strength, David refused to submit to the Armenian king Gagik, who took the field against him and gained his submission once again.
Early in the ninth century a large part of Southern Georgia ("Kvemo" Kartli) was thus ruled by Armenian kings, but Georgia had more important and urgent tasks at the time and, for that reason, the Georgian kings preferred to maintain peaceful relations with Gagik I. Bagrat III sought to use Gagik against the common enemy - the emir Paldoni. We already know that David of Tashir-Dzorageti went to war against Paldoni (of course, he acted on orders from Gagik), but we do not know the outcome of that campaign. It probably ended without any clear result.
But after Kakheti and Hereti were united (1008 - 1010), the emir Padlon began to raid the Georgian frontier-regions and Bagrat III decided to punish him. But before engaging the strong emir, Bagrat had to have the help of Armenia, He sent an emissary to Gagik, who responded to the Georgian king's request, for Padloni was encroaching upon his interests as well.
The alliance between Georgia and the Ani-kingdom was not violated for a long time. In 1021-1022, when Georgia fought Byzantium, Gagik's successor Ioann, king of Ani, was an ally of Giorgi I.
The first kings of the united Georgian state appreciated the significance of their alliance with the Armenian kingdom in the struggle against Byzantium and Gandza. This explains Giorgi I's intervention in the internal affairs of the Ani-Bagratids. A dynastic struggle for the throne flared up between the brothers loann-Sumbat and Ashot after the death of their father, Gagik I. Giorgi I intervened in this struggle on the side of loann-Sumbat, who by right of seniority received the fortress of Ani and the surrounding territory, while Ashot was given an interior region.
This internecine struggle coincided with the Georgian-Byzantine war, and it was totally undesirable to lose the Armenian Bagratids as allies at this time. Although Giorgi 1 had taken three fortress from Ioann-Sumbat (apparently in compensation for assistance), the latter supported Giorgi I in the war against Byzantium. Subsequently, Sumbat had to bequeath his possessions to the empire in writing. Along with Georgia's defeat in the war with Byzantium, this was a major setback in foreign policy. Meanwhile, with the backing of the empire Ashot enlarged his domains.
The empire demanded that Gadik II fulfil the terms of the will left by Ioann-Sumbat. Regrettably, there is nothing in the records to show what role the Georgian kingdom played in the events which in 1045 resulted in the empire abolishing the power of the Bagratids in Armenia and conquering the Ani-kingdom. the political situation in Georgia (the actions by Liparit Baghvashi, the Byzantine invasion of Georgia, and so on) was hardly conducive to active Georgian participation in Armenian affairs. But Georgia's overall attitude towards Armenia and the pro-Georgian stand of a segment of the Armenian population is seen in the fact that people of Ani turned their kingdom over to Bagrat IV. When the Byzantine authorities detained Gagik II in the empire, the urban nobility of Ani decided to give the kingdom to King David of Tashir-Dzorageti, to Shaddadid Abu-Asvar, ruler of Dvin, or to the Georgian king Bagrat IV. The issue was evidently settled in favour of the Georgian king, who took over the town of Ani and the adjoining regions.
In Ani Bagrat IV appointed governors, but there the Georgian power was shortlived (lasting about three months). The Byzantine empire could not reconcile itself to this situation. All forces were mobilised: in particular, on orders from the emperor. Liparit Baghvashi seized the Ant-rulers appointed by Bagrat IV, while Byzantine troops entered Georgia. Bagrat had to renounce Ani, which was annexed by Byzantium in 1045. At this stage the historical situation in Georgia excluded the possibility of further Georgian intervention in Armenian affairs.
Relations with the Gandza emirate. The Gandza emirate, one of Georgia's neighbours, became active at this time. The emirs of Gandza laid claim to Kakheti and Hereti because these lands directly adjoined their domains and the unification of Kakhet-Hereti with the rest of Georgia created a threat to the emirate.
. In the 1010s, Emir Fadl I ibn Muhammad Shaddadid (985 - 1031) began piratical raids in Kakheti and Hereti. Bagrat III decided to go to war against him and called upon the king of Ani, Gagik I, to take joint-action. The allies joined forces at Dzorageti and attacked the Gandza emir. Padlon took refuge in Shamkori. The allied troops invested the town and within a few days destroyed its fortifications. When they were about to break into the town, Padlon 's envoys appeared. The emir asked for peace on terms of vassalage to Georgia, pledging to pay tribute and place his troops at the disposal of the Georgian king. Bagrat III summoned his council (consisting of "didebulis") and it was decided to accept these terms.
At first Padlon abided by the terms of the peace, but in the early years of Bagrat IV's reign he renounced his allegiance. Kakheti and Hereti were not yet part of the united Georgian state and were ruled by Kvirike III the Great (1010- 1037). The latter initiated a new campaign against Padloni. This was quite understandable, for the kingdom of Kakhet-Hereti bordered upon the emirate and the insubordination of the emir worried Kvirike more than anybody else. The troops of King Kvirike, the Tashir-Dzorageti king David and the Tbilisi-emir Jafar united under the standard of the Georgian king. They were probably annoyed by the emir's growing strength. The allies defeated Padloni, putting him to flight and capturing considerable booty. However, they failed to subjugate the emirate. Padloni nursed his bitterness, and in 1037 - 1039, when Bagrat IV was besieging Tbilisi, Padloni's son Ali Lashkari (1034- 1049) went to the aid of the Tbilisi-emir.
In the 1040s the emir of Gandza was thus no longer a vassal of the Georgian state. But when the Seljuks invaded the Transcausus and surrounded Gandza, Bagrat IV gave battle to the Seljuks in alliance with the empire in 1049-50, and the allies repulsed them.
This was in the period when Liparit Baghvashi was a prisoner of the Seljuks and Bagrat IV was trying to settle his relations with the empire and was therefore glad to render Byzantium a service by fighting the Seljuks. But apart from other considerations, the Seljuks were a treat to Georgia herself and therefore in defending Gandza, the Georgian king was protecting the approaches of his own kingdom against a formidable enemy.


Seljuk troops appeared in the Transcaucasus for the first time in the 1030s. Their first raids were undertaken for the sake of pillage, but already at that time Turks were beginning to settle in lands neighbouring on Georgia, and this explains the participation of the troops of Bagrat IV in the struggle to expel them.
In the 1040s, when the Turks began their conquest of Armenia, there was no independent Armenian state on the political map of Transcaucasia - the Armenian lands were ruled by Byzantium. As far as it could, the Byzantine empire protected the approaches to Transcaucasia- Some historians believe that, in the beginning the combined forces of Liparit Baghvashi and the empire inflicted a series of defeats on the Seljuks, but then military fortune frowned upon the empire. The battles of Dendanekan (1040) and Mancikert (1071) and the internecine struggle predicated Byzantium's political decline in the 1070s.
Georgia found herself single-handed against the Seljuks. It is surmised that, although Seljuk raiders appeared in regions neigbouring upon Georgia as early as the 1030s, the first major Seljuk invasion of Georgia with the objective of seizing that country and asserting Turkish rule took place in 1064 in the reign of sultan Alp-Arslan {1063- 1072). This invasion was unexpected. The Seljuks devastated Kangari and Trialeti. In a single day Alp-Arslan's raiders reached Kvelis Kuri, crossed into Shavsheti, Klarjeti and Tao and reached Panaskerti. On the same day they descended into Tori and Ghvi-viskhevi, while the sultan himself camped for three days in Trialeti. Bagrat IV and his family were in Tao, but he quickly returned to Kartli. The Seljuks crossed into Javakheti and invested Akhalkalaki. Georgia had evidently been preparing for the Turkish invasion and had fortified her towns, but she had not completed the Akhalkalaki-fortifications. The troops courageously defended the town's uncompleted walls and then the fighting continued in the town itself. The Turks seized countless Christians, booty and many prisoners. The Akhaikalaki River ran red with blood.
Despite this success, the sultan ceased his invasion of Georgia. This was perhaps due to the resistance encountered by him. From Akhalkalaki the sultan sent an envoy to Bagrat IV requesting the hand of the latter's niece (daughter or his sister). He then marched to Ani, took the town and set up Manuche. son of Abulsuar, as the governor.
Bagrat IV's niece, whose hand had been asked for by the sultan, was also the niece of the Armenian (Tashir-Dzorageti), King Kvirike, (daughter of his brother), and for that reason Bagrat requested his consent to the marriage. But Kvirike refused. Bagrat took advantage of this. By that time the sultan was no longer in Georgia, and Bagrat sent Varaz-Bakur Gamre-keli to Kvirike at the head of a large host. Gamrekeli won over Kvirike's followers, and seized him and his brother Sumbat. Bagrat sent his niece to the sultan, thereby establishing blood lies with his powerful neighbour. Shortly before this he had given his daughter Mariam (Marta) in marriage in Byzantium. He hoped that this would secure him on both sides of his frontiers.
However, kinship did not for long, and in 1068, when Bagrat was fighting for Kakheti, the sultan entered Hereti through Ran. Hereti was ruled by the king of Georgia, and, upon receiving news of the Turkish invasion, Bagrat left Kakheti and at once returned to Kartli. All of his enemies went over to the sultan. The king of Kakheti Aghsartan who was being pressured by Bagrat, went to the sultan with rich gifts, adopted Islam and pledged to pay tribute. In return the sultan gave him all the fortresses of Kakheti. When the sultan attacked Georgia, his entourage included the Armenian king Kvirike, the Tbilisi-emir Jafar, and the king of Kakheti, Aghsartan .
The combined forces entered Kartli. The Georgian historian gives a sombre picture of the situation. Kartli was devsted and most of the population was exterminated, expelled or taken into captivity. This time the Seljuks crossed into Western Georgia as well and laid it waist as for as Argveti; some of their forces reached the fortress of Sveri.
The Seljuk invasion began on December 10; within six weeks the Turks ruined the country, but then sever frosts set in, and Bagrat, evidently counting on the Seljuks encountering difficulties, sent Ivane, son of Liparit, to the sultan with an offer of peace. But the sultan sent him back to Bagrat, demanding a tribute for peace. But due to the heavy frost, he was unable to stay and wait for the reply, and he departed from Kartli. Before leaving Georgia, the Sultan took Tbilisi and Rustavi and transferred them to Padlon , the Georgian king's implacable enemy and strongest rival. The purpose of this act was to aggravate the differences between Padlon and Bagrat and to weaken the latter.
Padlon began raiding Bagrat's domains. He skilfully used his position, entrenched himself strongly in Tbilisi and from there wrought destruction in Kartli. Georgian troops gave battle to Padloni and defeated him; Padlon fell into Bagrat's hands and was released only through the mediation of the sultan. Nevertheless, the emir did not calm down, and Bagrat decided to punish him again. He called for the assistance of his brother-in-law, the Ossetian King, Dorgholeli, who arrived at the head of an army of 40,000 men. The combined Georgian-Ossetian forces ravaged Paldoni's possessions and returned with large booty.
Georgia was evidently able partially to heal the wounds inflicted by the Seljuk invasions. The victory over Padlon was likewise of no little importance to her. Bagrat recovered a number of towns and fortresses.
Since at this stage sultan Alp-Arslan's main objective was to expel Byzantium from Anatolia, he could not take decisive steps against Georgia, and rested content with sending emissaries and gifts to the king but demanded tribute from him. Bagrat likewise acted diplomatically: he also sent emissaries and rich gifts but avoided paying tribute.
Peace reigned in the land for some time. This was due to the situation in the Seljuk kingdom. In 1072 conspirators assassinated Alp-Arslan; Bagrat IV died in the same year.
in 1073-74 sultan Malik-Shah renewed the invasion of Georgia. The "eristavi" of Kldekari, Ivane Baghvashi, sent his son Liparit to meet the sultan. Having recovered from their defeat the Baghvashi-family took advantage of the kingdom's difficulties to build up their strength with foreign assistance, but Ivane failed to win the sultan's good graces and fled. Malik-Shah entered Georgia, taking Samshvilde; Ivane Baghvashi and his family and entourage were taken captive by the sultan, who ravaged Kartli, taking many prisoners and considerable booty. He then withdrew and sent his general Sarang, son of Sategin, with troops to Gandza. Padlon was defeated and likewise taken prisoner. When the sultan's general had devasted Gandza and marched into Georgia, his forces were reinforced with the troops of Padloni and also of the emirs of Dvin and Dmanisi. Giorgi II (1072- 1089) mustered his troops and called upon the king of Kakheti, Aghsartan to help him. The opposing armies met near Partskhisi, and the enemy was beaten back.
Encouraged by this victory, Giorgi II decided to turn the empire's difficulties to his advantage and recover the Georgian lands wrested by Byzantium. He retook from the Greeks Anakop-iya, the main fortress of West Georgia, and also the fortresses of Klarjeti, Shavsheti, Javakheti and Artaani.
The Georgian king evidently planned to re-unite all of Georgia's south-western provinces. Grigol, son of Bakurian, a famous Georgian statesman of Byzantium, went to Giorgi, when the latter was in the town of Bana, Tao, and turned over to him the town of Kari (Kars) and the adjoining regions. Giorgi occupied the town and garrisoned it with troops under Shavsheti-"aznauris". This gave Georgia another short respite, but at the close of the 1070s and in the early 1080s the Seljuks invaded Georgia again and plunged her into a difficult situation.
Malik-Shah entered Georgia in 1076 and took Tbilisi. The Seljuks could not tolerate any expansion or strengthening of the Georgian state. At the close of the 1070s the sultan sent more troops into Georgia. Led by the emir Ahmad , they occupied Arzrum and Oltisi, following which Ahmad attacked the fortress of Kveli, where king Giorgi was staying at the time and nearly captured him. According to David the Builder's historian, the Seljuks were helped by Georgian feudal princes who had defected to them. The Turks seized immense booty: they raided more and more frequently. Giorgi found himself compelled to move to Western Georgia. Like locusts, the Seljuks descended upon the entire land and set fire to the towns of Kutaisi and Artanuji and also monasteries in Klarjeti.
Every spring Seljuk hordes overran Georgia, pillaging the country, but left in the winter, taking everything they could with them. But some remained, settling on Georgian land. According to King David's historian, the Turks devasted the country and annihilated the population, killing even those who hid in forests, ravines and caves. This was the first great invasion by the Turks("didi Turkoba"), and it took place in the year 1080.
King David's historian gives a very sad account of the situation caused by the Seljuk domanation in Georgia, writing that the country was ruined and turned into a forest, where instead of people there were only wild beasts. He noted that never before had such a calamity befallen the Georgian people. The Turks turned churches into stables, desecrated Christian shrines, killed priests, raped women and slaughtered small children, letting rivers of blood flow in the land. This was a gruesome picture. The Armenian historian Aristakes Lasti-vertsi gave a similarly staggering account of the misery to which Armenia was reduced.
This difficult situation was further aggravated by the settlement of the Seljuks on conquered land. The Seljuks came with their families and livestock, settled on conquered land and turned all ploughland into pastures. Branches of agriculture that had age-old traditions were uprooted. The growing of fruit, vine and grain was replaced with intensive nomad livestock-breeding, and the indigenous feudal class was ousted by the nomad-aristocracy.
The nomads settled down and won supremacy in Iran, and the Iranian rulers endeavoured to direct the nomads towards Georgia and Byzantium.
As distinct from the years of the reign of the sultans Torghil-beg and Alp-Arslan, when wars of conquest were fought and land was redistributed among the nomad-aristocracy, in the 1070s the Seljuks began to strengthen their rule in conquered territories. In order to assert his political supremacy, Malik-Shah demanded that the conquered peoples determine exactly the forms of their dependence and the size of the tribute paid by them. These measures still further worsened Georgia's position, for Bagrat IV had not committed himself to paying tribute: this brought further Seljuk invasions of Georgia also in the reign of Malik-Shah. Massive Turkish settlement began in Georgia in the 1080s. Giorgi II was powerless to organize resistance to the Seljuks, recognized his defeat and had to appear before sultan Malik-Shah in order to ensure peace and tranquility at the price of an annual tribute. The terms refused by Bagrat IV had to be asked by his son. But the situation had changed inauspiciously for Georgia, and an annual tribute could bring only some relief to her people because the continuous invasions had taken much more from them. This, evidently, was the view of Giorgi II and the council of noblemen whose consent he requested.
It is believed that in accordance with the understanding, Giorgi II undertook to pay tribute to the sultan and, if necessary, place his troops at the latter's disposal. Under the treaty Malik-Shah should have recalled the hordes of nomads from Georgia, because the tribute was paid punctually. However, the expectations of Georgia's ruling circles were not justified. Instead of withdrawing, the nomads were joined by new hordes. Pillage continued and the situation grew from bad to worse.
The "magnanimous" sultan granted Kakheti and Hereti to Giorgi, but these had to be won from King Aghsartan and the sultan gave Giorgi a large army in order to conquer these regions. The Georgian king Giorgi II thus entered Georgia at the head of a large new Seljuk army. The combined Georgian and Seljuk forces laid siege to the fortress of Vezhini. The siege became protracted, and when snow fell, the king lifted the siege. According to King David's historian, Giorgi decided to hunt in the forests of Western Georgia, and, when he went there, he left the Turks at the Vezhini fortresses. The latter ravaged the entire basin of the Iori River. Beginning with King David's historian, almost everybody in devastated Kakheti blamed King Giorgi. But it would be perhaps correct to assume that Giorgi had no alternative to agreeing to the sultan's suggestion (which was tantamount to an order) and led the Seljuk host into Georgia against his will. Then, in order not to participate in the country's ruin, he withdrew.
The situation steadily grew more and more complicated. Following the appearance of the Seljuk forces, the king of Kakheti
Aghsartan went to the sultan to declare his submission, and in token of loyalty embraced Islam. The sultan now presented Kakheti and Hereti to the "more loyal" Aghsartan. The danger of internecine war overhung the land. The Georgian people were threatened with physical extermination and there was the danger that the ethnical composition of the population would change. The situation was further aggravated by a disastrous earthquake that lasted for a whole year: fortresses, palaces, churches and towns crumbled, and people died.
The Turks occupied most of the country. The records tell us that the power of the Georgian king was limited virtually to Western Georgia. The foreign political complications fostered inter-class-discord. The feudal nobility organised some actions against the king, as we noted earlier. Although Giorgi had some successes, it was obvious that the resistance of the feudal aristocracy had not been broken and that the central power had to take resolute measures.
The difficult situation in the country demanded the total mobilisation of forces for a determined struggle against internal and external enemies. In 1089, at this critical moment, a patriotic group of feudal lords staged a palace coup, and. the still young Giorgi had to cede (he throne to his 16-year-old son David. United only recently, Georgia was thus on the brink of destruction. The successful wars of conquests gave the Seljuks extensive territory extending from Central Asia to the Mediterranean, including, in addition to Central Asia, the whole of Iran, Arab Iraq, Asia Minor, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Derbent and many Byzantine towns.
The Seljuk Turks, whose level of development was quite low, defeated much more developed peoples with relative ease. They were not numerically superior to the peoples conquered by them and were not better armed. But the feudal decentralization of the Middle Eastern states created favourable conditions for the conquest of these states. Of no little importance was the organization of the Seljuk forces into a permanent army entirely dependent on the central power. The adversaries of the Seljuks had mainly undisciplined feudal units.
Georgia's conquest by the Seljuks was due to many internal and external political factors. The long process of forming a ingle Georgian feudal monarchy and of the centralization of the state - power had been in the main completed when the Seljuks began their invasion. On the eve of the Seljuk invasion of Georgia (1060s), King Bagrat IV ruled most of the Georgian lands and had emerged victorious in the long struggle against the particularistically-inclined group of feudal aristocrats, who were hindering the strengthening of the central power. This inter-class-struggle, as we have already noted, interwined with the relations with Byzantium, against which Georgia had fought almost continuously in the eleventh century. Although Georgia had, in fact, won that war, the victory cost her. dear.
Thus, at the time of the Seljuk invasion, Georgia had not healed the wounds suffered by her in foreign and internal wars. The struggle to unite the land had not been consummated: Tbilisi and Rustavi with their adjoining regions were still in the hands of Muslims, while the struggle to reunite Kakheti and Hereti was only nearing its final phase. However the Seljuk invasion set all disaffected elements in motion and created the conditions for the seizure of Kakheti and Hereti.
An unfavourable situation had taken shape also in the regions bordering on Georgia. The Tbilisi and Gandza-emirs feared the aggressive Seljuks and joined them. By the 1080s the Turks had conquered the whole of Ran and Shirvan. They garrisoned Gandza with 48,000 troops, compelling the local population to feed them, while Shirvani was made to pay an annual tribute of 40,000 dinars. Armenia, as we know, had lost her independence, so that the approaches to Georgia were not protected from that direction. In the 11 th century, Byzantium had spent all her forces in the wars against the Bulgars and the North Caucasian nomads, and also against the Armenians and Georgians in the Transcaucasus. The Seljuks owed much of their success to Byzantium's efforts to conquer the Transcausus and to the abolition of Armenia independence.
Thus, alone, without allies, surrounded on all sides by the Seljuks and torn by internal strife, Georgia ultimately suffered defeat despite her tenacious resistance and some successes in this war.


David IV, the Builder (1089- 1125), inherited a bitter legacy: the country lay divided and in ruins, and its population had been drastically long and unequal struggle; people had been driven out of their homes and were hiding in the mountains and forests.
David pursued a purposeful policy, taking no unconsider-ed step. He was determined to bring order to the land, subjugate the class-enemy, bridle the unsubmissive secular and ecclesias-tical feudal lords, centralise the state-administration, form a new type of army that would stand up better to the Seljuk military organization, and then go over to a methodical offensive with the aim of expelling the Seljuks first from Georgia and then from the whole of the Transcaucasus.
Internal policy. First and foremost, it was imperative to clear the Seljuks out Kartli proper and give the surviving population the possibility of returning to their homes and restore the dislocated economy.
King David began reforming his army, which had been disorganized and demoralized by innumerable setbacks. He mustered units consisting mainly of Crown-peasants and small gentry. Employing surprise tactics, these troops attacked the Seljuk settlements and gradually pushed the invaders out of "Shida" (Inner) Kartli. "And the people began returning to their homes", writes the chronicler.
King David himself and his closest associates were well aware that, before they could launch large-scale operations against the Seljuks, it was vital to ensure peace at home, in other words, to subordinate the unsubmissive nobility to the throne. Here again, the House of Baghvashi, in particular the "eristavi" of Kldekari, Liparit IV, were conspicuous among the recalcitrants.
As we have already noted, Bagrat HI and his direct successors had futilely endeavoured to bring this strong feudal family to submission. During the early years of David IV's reign the domains of Liparit IV consisted of Trialeti, Kldekari and abjoi-ning lands. According to the chronicler, Liparit was disloyal to his sovereign; indeed, in 1093 David learned that Liparit was conspiring against him. Liparit was imprisoned, but two years later he was released on oath of fidelity to the king. But soon afterwards, David was informed of his new intrigues. Liparit was seized and then exiled to Byzantium. The "Eristav-ship" of Kldekari was abolished and incorporated within the Grown-possessions. Trialeti's significant strategic location made it immensely important to the unity of Georgia. That explains the efforts first of the Egris-Abkhasian kings and then of the kings of united Georgia to gain control of that province. The abolition of that strong "eristavship" and its incorporation within the Crown-domains greatly undermined the opposition and gave the king a stronger hand.
Moreover, David waged a long and unremitting struggle against the feudal lord, Dzagan Abuletisdze, brother of the Bishop Modistos. What happened to Liparit, Dzagan and others evidently served as a warning.
The efforts to centralise state-power could not be confined to the struggle with secular feudal lords. The question of the place, held by the Church in the state-system, was also of the utmost importance. Georgia's final unification and the establishment of a single administration necessarily implied the Church's subordination to the state.
At one stage, as we have shown, the Georgian Church had supported the Georgian kings in their efforts to unite the country, for it felt that such unity would give it political control of all the churches in Georgia and of their possessions. Moreover, it was believed that this would help to assert the influence of the Mtskheta Patriarch over the West Georgian church. As a result of the steps taken by the kings of West Georgia, the West Georgian had been subordinated to the Mtskheta Cathedral. But, subsequently, the strengthened Church began to demand immunity, which it finally obtained early in the 11th century. In the course of the 10th and 11th centuries, after the occupancy of high positions had become hereditary., the feudal aristocracy gradually acquired increasing power in the Georgian Church.
With its power enhanced, it no longer suited the Church to have a strong secular monarch endeavouring to keep it in the status of a subordinate ally. Of special significance in this context was the establishment of the Patriarchate in Georgia in the 1120s and the attempts of Giorgi Mtatsmindeli to uproot the practice of hereditary appointments to high office in the Church. But the 1060s, when Giorgi Mtatsmindeli came to Georgia on the invitation of King Bagrat IV and sought to introduce innovations, proved to be an unpropitious time for measures of this kind, and Bagrat IV, who was assisted by Giorgi Mtatsmindeli failed to purge the Church and install his supporters in high ecclesiastical office. The situation continued to deteriorate in the period from the 1060s to the close of the century; most of the high posts in the Church were taken over by the feudal aristocracy, and the alliance of the ecclesiastical and secular nobility grew stronger and was directed against the throne. Early in the 11th century the bishops of Bana and Atskuri sided with invading Byzantium-forces. During the first years of King David IV's reign the big feudal lord, Dzagani rose against the king with the support of his brother, Bishop Modistos. The monasteries and churches opposed the central state-power; King David took determined steps against them.
In describing the situation in the Church, historical sources give us a very unsavoury picture. A system under which posts in the Church were sold was evidently widespread in the rnid-11th century (this system had been attacked by Giorgi Mtatsmindeli), but towards the end of that century the situation worsened still further. It is possible that in their desire to justify the harsh measures taken by David, historical sources somewhat exaggerate, but by and large the situation was serious and it was very difficult to fight the Church. However, it is riot to be excluded that the king had supporters in the Church. In those ays there was a strong group of progressive Church-leaders on whom David could rely. They included the "mtsignobar-ukhutsesi" Giorgi, who was a close associate of the king,- the Patriarch Ioann, the king's confessor Yevstrati and the monk Arseni.
David decided to enforce a radical reform with the purpose of subordinating the Church to the state. This was vital for the final centralization of state-power. But before this* reform could be put into effect, undesirable hierarchs had to be Swept from the highest posts in the state. The king was well aware that this would not be an easy task, and he: therefore laid his preparations carefully, He gradually enlisted more supporters, attracting to his side prominent Church-leaders working outside Georgia, correspondingly moulded public opinion and, finally, in 1103 convened an ecclesiastical congress, known as the Ruis-Urbnisi- synod.
David's supporters won an overwhelming victory at this synod, taking over all the undesirable highest Church-offices. As a non-ecclesiastic, the king formally had no authority to intervene in Church-affairs, but by placing his supporters in key Church-offices he made considerable headway in actually subordinating the Church to the state, and the Church had to reconcile itself to this fact. However, this triumph had to be consolidated and the power of the state over the Church finally asserted. For this purpose David combined two offices: courtial ("mtsignobar-tukhutsesi") and clerical (Bishop of Chkondidi). This was a significant step towards centralizing state-power.
At the Georgian court there 'had long been the office of head of the royal chancellery - "mtsignobartukhutsesi". This office had always been held by a monk. The "mtsignobartukhutsesi" was a privy-counsellor of the king, and was devoted to the Crown by virtue of the character of his office.
The higher civilian officials at the royal court were given conditional possession of estates and, naturally, sought to turn these estates into hereditary property together with the office that went with them. The "mtsignobartukhutsesi" was a monk and had no ambitions of this kind.
The Bishop of Chkondidi was similarly loyal to the Crown. The Ckhondidi Cathedral was founded in the first half of the 10th century by Giorgi, king of Egris-Abkhazeti. As the other cathedrals founded in Western Georgia by the kings of Egris-Abkhazeti, this cathedral was set up to counter the Greek Cathedrals, and, by virtue of this, it was a mainstay of the central state-power against external and internal enemies. The bishops of Chkondidi enjoyed the greatest prestige among the bishops of Western Georgia and they had been faithful to the throne for two centuries. Because of the Chkondidi bishop's considerable influence in Church affairs, David the Builder united the two abovernentioned offices in one person soon after the Ruisi-Urbnisi synod, and created the institution of "mtsignobartukhutsesi Chkondideli". The authority of the Chkondidi bishop was thus greatly enhanced in the Church, and whereas the "mtsignobartukhutsesi", the head of the royal Chancellery, was the most powerful figure in the state-apparatus after the king, the "chkondideli" became the highest dignitary in the Church after the patriarch. Through the "mtsignobartukhutsesi Chkondideli", the king was thus able to interfere in the affairs of the Church and dictate his will to it.
This situation existed permanently throughout the period while the single Georgian feudal monarchy was in existence (with the exception of short intervals). This was further evidence of the timeliness and expediency of this step in the conditions obtaining at the time.
Since it was clear from the very beginning that this step was designed to strengthen the central state-power, it naturally evoked the disaffection of the reactionary feudal nobility. An echo of the struggle over this issue between the king and the reactionary nobles was quite possibly the fact that in the period from 1118 (after the death of the first "mtsignobartukhutsesi Chkondideli" Giorgi) to 1125 the Bishop of Chkondidi had no favour with the king. After the death of the "mtsignobartukhutsesi" Giorgi, David IV appointed his nephew Svimon, Bishop of Bedia and Alaverdi, to the post but secured his enthronement as the Bishop of Chkondidi only in 1125.
Thus, as a result of these steps, the Georgian Church was subordinated to state-control, and instructions on divine service and on internal arrangement . were received from the court. Moreover, the top-dignitaries of the Church - the patriarch, the fathers superior of monasteries, and so on - took part in the affairs of the supreme state-council, the "Darbazi". At the same time, the king showed considerable concern for churches and monasteries, built new churches, granted estates to them, gave them complete immunity from taxation, and so forth. These considerable benefits to the Church could be granted by the king of a country that was strong politically and economically.
The subordination of the Church was of immense significance in that it strengthened the state-system as a whole. The Church-reforms were followed by substantial changes in the state-administration, changes that strengthened the Georgian state and the centralized power of the king.
The measure taken by King David to centralize the state-power were not confined to establishing the office of "mtsignobartukhutsesi Chkondideli". David the Builder led the Georgian feudal state to a new road of development. Quite naturally, this radical remounding of the state-system entailed changes in the rights and duties of other categories of officials.
An integral system of administration began to take shape together with Georgia's unification and the creation of a single feudal monarchy. Evidently, much remained in this system from .. the early Georgian feudal states, but basically the administrative apparatus was "formed along new lines.
The institution of the office of "vaziri" was one of the most important measures in the reform of the administrative apparatus:
In Georgian historical sources "vaziris" are mentioned only from the 12th century onwards, but it is assumed that all the officials("mtsignobartukhutsesi, "mandaturtukhutsesi", "mechurchletukhutsesi" and so on), who were later called "vaziri", had existed in Georgian since remote times and were known as "elders" ("ukhutsesi") of individual departments. After the united Georgian feudal monarchy was formed, new departments were set up and some of the "ukhutsesis" became directly linked to the bureaucratic apparatus, in which they were department-heads. In the 12th-l3th centuries some, who handled matters of vital significance to the state, were given the rank of "vaziri". The "mtsignobartukhutsesi" was the first of the "ukhutsesis" to receive the rank of "vaziri" - the "msachurt-ukhutsesi" was the last.
The "mtsignobartukhutsesi" was elevated to the rank of "vaziri" by David the Builder with the purpose of placing him above all the other officials of the court. This rank was later received by other "ukhutsesis".
The reform of the judiciary was one of the most important reforms enforced by David with the aim of recognizing the administration,
Prior to David, all court proceedings were directed by the king and all cases coming up before the supreme court had to be tried personally by the king. At an earlier stage there was evidently justification for this simple court procedure. But with the enlargement of the Georgian kingdom, the growth of the administrative apparatus and the intensification of central power, this traditional court-procedure was no longer consonant with the new situation. The condition of the peasants deteriorated as the Georgian feudal state grew stronger; they were brutally oppressed by the state, the landowners and the officials, and this led to increasing resistance from the, masses. This situation required a reform of the judiciary and the creation of an organ that would be more in keeping with the requirements of the times.
In Georgia the supreme court of appeal was the "Saajo kari" (the court of petitions), which was presided over by the king himself. King David appointed a "mtsignobartukhutsesi" to head the "Saajo kari". With two "mtsignobaris" (notaries public) the latter precided over this court.
The "Saajo kari" safeguarded internal law and order. To quote King David's historian, its purpose was "to protect the oppressed and humiliated". In a feudal state there were innumerable pretexts for violence and injustice. The oppressors were the big feudal lords, the "eristavs" and their myrmidons, tax-collectors, tenants, customs-officials, and so on. Needless to say, the oppressed were "protected" in the interests of the feudal state-power.
The chief function of the "Saajo kari" was to combat feudal anarchy and safeguard state-interests; it protected the interests of the king and his social mainstay from the "mtavars" and, particularly, from the oppressed people.
The work of the judiciary was supervised by the king himself, who guided it in the manner required by state-interests, The institution of informer, set up by David, was of no little importance in strengthening and centralising the power of the Georgian state, The king had informers at the courts of the big feudal lords, in the churches and monasteries, in his own army, in the Seljuk hordes roaming Georgia and also in neighbouring regions. He had informers even at the courts of neighbouring kingdoms. The espionage-system and well organized shadowing in and outside the kingdom kept the king informed of everything around him.
The espionage-system in all important internal and external affairs acquired special importance at this time because this institution was well developed and widely used in the states ruled by the Seljuks.
The organization of the army was of particularly great significance in the history of the Georgian state. On account of the long and devastating wars against the Seljuks. Georgia lost much of her military strength. The general decline of economic opportunities and the diminution of the population led to a reduction of the army's numerical strength. The waning of the royal power, the growth of the power of the feudal lords, particularly in the reign of Giorgi II, undermined discipline in the feudal army and disorganized it. The army had to be reorganized and trained, and discipline had to be tightened. Moreover, the military organization of the Seljuks had to be taken into account because they were the foe at this stage.
As King David's historian notes, the king had only a small contingent of staunch troops. Most of the army was demoralised, the soldiers believing that the Seljuks were invincible. Discipline fell to the extent that the soldiers spent their time in idle pursuints. King David strictly forbade any entertainment in the units, tightened control and infiltrated informers into the army.
He mustered his most faithful troops and formed a bodyguard, "mona-spa", which took part in the most important and difficult operations. The "mona-spa" was entirely dependent on the king and had no bonds whatever with the feudal nobility. The king personally directed the training and equipment of his troops. Control was strengthened over the feudal volunteer-forces and this, together with the other measures instituted to centralize the state-power, ensured order among these forces as well.
David divided the entire Georgian army into three main parts. One, as we have noted, consisted of the royal bodyguard, the second were the garrisons of towns and fortress, and the third consisted of the main body of troops, which, King David's historian writes, "were constantly at war, winter and summer".
These measures ensured the mobilization of the country's entire military potential. David began his struggle against the Seljuks with small raids against nomads wandering in Georgia. These operations were led by the king himself. He inspired the troops by personal example, encouraged those who distinguished themselves and punished cowards (they were dressed in women's clothes and paraded in front of all the troops). A well-organized, disciplined and trained army began pressing the Seljuks and in the period from the beginning of the 12th century to 1118 almost the whole of Georgia was cleared of the Turkish hordes. But this was not enough: the liberated lands had to be solidly consolidated. Moreover, King David saw that the army was not strong enough to fulfil his plans, and that, because of the man-power-shortage, the required number of troops could not be raised.
In addition, the uneceasing efforts to expel the Seljuks from Georgia prevented the peasants from working the land with considerable loss to the economy. Furthermore, it must be remembered that the Georgian army consisted of feudal volunteers, or which reason it was not always possible for the entire army to respond to the summons of the king. True, most of the recalcitrant feudal lords were brought into line by the measures instituted by David, but this state of affairs had to be sustained to which end the king's forces had to be numerically stronger than the forces of any individual feudal lord. The country needed a standing-army, but this the economy of feudal Georgia could not ensure at the time. King David IV solved this problem very circumspectly and effectively. He resettled a Kipchak tribe of 40. 000 families from the Northern Caucasus in Georgia. The settlers were given plots of land and also summer-and winter-pastures, and every family was obligated to provide one soldier with a horse and weapons. This 40,000 strong Kipchak-army was entirely dependent on the king, with no ties with the feudal lords, and this gives the king considerable advantages. David did not accidentally select the Kipchak. They were well known in Georgia as good fighting-men who demanded little for themselves. Further, the Georgian royal court had ties of kinship with the Kipchak: King David was married to the daughter of the Kipchak chief, Otrok, called Ataraka Sharaganisdze in Georgian chronicles. In addition, the Georgian court knew that the rising power of Kiev Rus was pressing and driving the Kipchaks out of the lands they had earlier conquered reducing them to great hordship.
AH these circumstances influenced the king's choice. He negotiated with the Kipchaks and, in 1118, upon reaching agreement, set out for the Daryal Ravine at the head of his troops, accompanied by the 'mtsignobartukhutsesi" Giorgi, to organize their resettlement personally. But the Ossetian kingdom, with which the Kipchaks were at war, lay between Georgia and the Kipchak-domains. The Ossetians refused to let them pass across their country. But when King David arrived, the Ossetian kings went to him and "sank to their knees in submission". King David got the two sides to conclude peace, occupied all the fortresses along the road the Kipchaks were to pass and ensured their unhindered resettlement.
They were settled in different regions of Georgia. Some were settled in Inner Kartli, where most of the population had been exterminated by the Seljuks, others were given land along the border of Northern Armenia and Hereti, where part of their duties was to fortify and guard the state-boundary.
They were quickly assimilated in Georgia. They adopted Christianity and the Georgian language, went over to a sedentary way of life and gradually mixed with the local inhabitants. But some later left Georgia.
In addition to receiving land they were, by order of the king, divided into small detachments that constantly raided enemy-territory. This brought them a large income in the shape of booty.
The resettlement of the Kipchaks and the formation of a standing army greatly enchanced Georgia's military strength. This was evidently what incensed by the official historian.
The new mercenary force had to help consolidate earlier successes and carry out David's further plans for a broad offensive against the Seljuks in the Transcaucasus (Armenia, Shirvan, Ran). It must be noted that a military reform, which led to the formation of a standing-army wholly dependent on the ventral authority, had been enforced by the Seljuks in the latter half of the 11th century. One of the reasons including King David to form a standing-army of his own was, quite possibly, that he wanted to build up a military force that could match the new organization of the Seljuks.
In addition to the 40,000 Kipchaks, the king had a standing-army of 20,000 Georgians; consequently, his army numbered 60,000 troops. Moreover, when necessary he enlisted mercenaries from among the Ossetians, the Daghestan-highlanders, the Kurds and other peoples.
The resettlement of the Kipchaks was unquestionably a measure of immense state-significance and yielded positive results, but it would be wrong, of course, to attribute Georgia's successes in the reign of King David, particularly the establishment of internal order, mainly to foreigners serving in the Georgian army.
Besides its many positive aspects, the resettlement of the Kipchaks had negative aspects: it was dangerous to rely entirely on the Kipchaks, who were accustomed to a nomadic way of life. Moreover, it was habitual for them to serve as mercenaries in the armies of different states, and also to defect to the enemy. Although King David gave them land, thereby inducing them to adopt a sedetary life and providing them with the incentive of defending that life, they nevertheless gave him plenty of trouble. Time and again they betrayed him, even going so far as to plot his assassination.
The Kipchaks were resettled in 1118, when most of Georgia had been cleared of the Seljuks and order had been established in the country. State-reforms had been put into effect at the very beginning of the 12th century, and the reform of the army was conducted at the same time. The Kipchaks were resettled later, and only because these troops were needed by David for the foreign conquests begun by him in the early 1120s. The Kipchak like the Ossetian, Lezghin, Kurd and other mercenaries, were in effect auxiliary-troops. The permanent Kipchak cavalry was never the backbone of the army. Its core consisted of the royal guards and the Georgian feudal units. At the Didgori-battle. there were 15, 000 Kipchak in Georgian army of 40, 000. The burnt of the battle was borne by Georgian troops. After the army-reform, the Georgian army thus consisted of the royal guards ("monaspa") numbering 5,000 horsemen, 60,000 regular troops, the feudal contingents and mercenary-units (formed when necessary). This organization of the army created by David remained practically unchanged throughout the 12th century.
King David enforced a series of measures to subordinate local authorities entirely to the central government. Integrated Georgia was formed through the unification of several historical Georgian regions. At the time this unification was achieved each region had its own system of administration. In turn, the kingdoms of Kakheti, Hereti, South and West Georgia had been formed as a result of the unification of smaller Georgian provinces. Each of these provinces was incorporated in the united kingdom with its own administrative system, for which reason united Georgia required not only the subordination of all the political units to the throne but also the establishment of a uniform system of state-administration. This could not be achieved at once, but ultimately the establishment of that system was decisive for the country's final unification.
The first steps in that direction had been taken by Bagrat III, the first king of united Georgia, when he took the kings of Kakheti and Hereti captived and appointed his own "eristavs" to govern these lands. However, regarding to the ruling families, measures of this kind did not fundamentally change the situation. As I. Javakhishvili pointed out, only rulers were changed, with the old system of administration rarely undergoing modification, it was still necessary to abide by long-standing traditions, to keep intact local creatures and distinctions. Indeed, there was generally little appreciation of the need for a centralized government to consolidate the country's unity. The main thing as that large resources were needed to fight the traditional forms administration, and this was what Bagrat III did not have. In the epoch of feudalism, the provincial system of administration was not eradicated entirely, and, even after the measures intimated by King David, the administration was based not only on the departmental but also on the provincial principle. Nothing more could be expected in feudal times. The provincial system of administration was never abolished entirely in feudal states: this held true at subsequent stages of development. But the subordination of key-departments to the supreme authority was attainable in centralized feudal monarchies. In the reign of David military affairs, finances, the court and other key-state-departments were subordinated to the king's "vaziri", the "mtsignobartukhutsesi Chkondideli".
The great political significance and timeliness of David's reforms are borne out by the fact that throughout the subsequent existence of the united Georgian state the administration remained in the form given to it by David.
King David's foreign policy. As we have noted earlier, the power of the king of Georgia did not range east of the Likhi Range. When he began to centralize the state-power. David's first step was to rally loyal strata of the population around himself.
Before beginning his large-scale campaign against the Seljuks, he had taken steps to drive the Turks out of Georgia. He led small detachments in raids against the Seljuks settled in Kartli. The population gradually returned to their homes, and the Seljuk nomads could no longer winter in Kartli.
These raids continued unabated for four years. Sultan Malik-hah died in 1092. This was a landmark in the land of the Great Seljuks, and it was specially noted by King David's historian. The situation in the Seljuk-kingdom had grown extremely complication in the last years of Malik Shah's reign, the first signs of the kingdom's disintegration being the struggle for the throne among the sultan's heirs. The internal conflicts gradually mounted. Nizam-al-Mulk, the vazir and the sultan's chief lieutenant, was assassinated in 1902; the death of the sultan himself remained shrouded in mystery. The Ismailite sect stepped up its struggle, the khalif took increasingly hostile action against the sultan, the class-struggle grew in intensity, and individual provinces began to secede from the kingdom of the Great Seljuks.
These difficulties created favourable opportunities for Georgia to strike effectively at the Turks.
By that time Georgia's international standing had improved in yet another respect. At the synod in Clermont in 1095, Pope Urban II proclaimed commencement of the crusades. Two years later Europe's feudal chivalry reached Asia Minor, seized Edessa, forming their first' state, the duchy of Edessa, and overrunning the whole region of Antioch.
King David was evidently well-informed of all this and duly assessed the situation. Relying on his successes against the great feudal lords and the Seljuks entrenched in Georgia, he ceased paying tribute to the sultan in 1097. Translated into diplomatic language, this was a declaration of war, but the sultan did not respond to this challenge. Georgia was freed of the large and shameful tribute, which David's father, Giorgi II, had regarded as salvation for his people.
King David's historian was conversant with the complicated situation that had taken shape around Georgia and which King David skilfully utilised. He saw the bond between Georgia's internal situation and international developments. He linked the Georgian king's growing power and the cessation of the payment of tribute to the Seljuks with the capture of Antioch and Ierusalem by the Crusaders.
True, the Seljuks staunchly resisted the Crusaders, who had invaded Asia Minor, and in the 11th century their position in the Transcaucasus was very weak, for by that time the Crusaders were mainly fighting the sultans of Rum and other domains of the kingdom of the Great Seljuks. However, the invasion of that large force in the Middle East was a factor of great significance, and it was not accidental that King David’s historian made special note of the seizure of Antioch and Jerusalem by the “Frangs," i. e., the crusaders.
Georgia's international standing in those years was unquestionably due mainly to the weakening of the Iranian Seljuk state, but there were good grounds for the Georgian assessment of the crusades.
After the Seljuks had been driven out of Kartli proper, David the Builder was faced with the problem of reuniting the Georgian lands outside the Georgian kingdom. Before attacking the Turks all along the line it was necessary to mobilise all of Georgia's forces.
David's first objective was the capture of Kakheti and Hereti. In 1101 he took the fortress of Zedazeni. Before marching into Kakheti and Hereti he cleared the way for victory by rallying his supporters in that region. A large group of Hereti nobles ("didebulis") seized Aghsartan, king of Kakheti and Hereti, and turned him over to King David, after which the latter occupied Hereti and Kakheti.
The neighbouring Muslim sovereigns could not reconcile themselves to the incorporation of Kakheti and Hereti in Georgia. With the emir of Gandza at their head, they marched against Georgia. Part of the population of Kakheti evidently sided with the invaders. In a fiercely fought battle near Ertsukhi, King David defeated and pushed back the enemy, and Hereti-Kakheti was finally incorporated within Georgia.
After the reunification of Kakheti-Hereti, the Seljuks were still in possession of the cities of Tbilisi and Rustavi and the whole of Lower Kartli, The campaign opened with an offensive against Lower Kartli, where the Seljuks were still roaming. The ultimate objective of the campaign was to liberate Tbilisi, where the enemy's main forces were concentrated. But before
that objective could be achieved, the southern approaches to the city had to be taken. In 1110 Georgian troops captured Samshvilde. The loss of that fortresstown was a heavy blow to the Seljuks, and they were compelled to leave the abjoining territory. The Georgians then took the fortress of Dzerna. A counter-attack by the sultan's troops was repulsed. The fortress of Rustavi fell in 1115.
At the same time there was fighting on the western and eastern boundaries of Georgia. In 1116 the Seljuks were expelled from Tao, and in 1117 David marched against Asat and Shota, rulers of the fortress of Gishi (in Southern Hereti) and sons of Grigol, taking them prisoner and consummating the reunifica-fion of Hereti. In 1118 the Georgian troops routed the Seljuks wintering on the banks of the Arak and in the same year they took the fortresses of Lore and Agarani, completing the reunification of "Kvemo" Kartli. But Tbilisi and Dmanisi were still in the hands of the Turks.
The Tashiri Kvirikids (a beranch of the Armenian Bagratids) had been making inroads in "Kvemo" Kartli since the close of the 9th century. Taking advantage of the weakening of the Ani-kingdom of the Bagratids, Gurgen, a brother of the Armenian king, Sumbat II (977 - 989), founded a kingdom in Tashiri with the capital at Samshvilde. The Georgian Bagrationis (Gvaram "mampali") fought the Tashiri Kvirikids, and in the 1060s King Bagrat IV took Samshvilde, following which the fortress of Lore was made the capital of the kingdom. But the situation was such that Bagrat IV was unable to retain Samshvilde and the town was occupied by the Seljuks. David the Builder regained possession of Samshvilde only in 1110, while in 1118 this kingdom was abolished with the capture of Lore. The significance of the reunification of Lore was not only political but also strategic: the Georgian king was now in control of the road leading from the south to Eastern Georgia and Tbilisi. This cut the Muslims off from the southern approaches to Tbilisi.
With his position thus strengthened, David the Builder began a general offensive against the Seljuks.
His historian gives a laconic but extremely vivid picture of David's military tactics. With Seljuk spies watching every movement of the Georgian army, the king moved his main forces into Western Georgia in order to delude them. This occurred, for instance in 1120. The king moved to Western Georgia and, when the Turks began pillaging Georgian lands, he suddenly attacked them. Only insignificant Seljuk forces escaped. The king then entered Shirvan and took the town of Kabala. He then went to Kartli, but soon after had to return to Shirvan: the population had evidently refused to submit to him.
In the period from the early spring (February) of 1120 to June 1121 Georgian troops attacked the Seljuk settlements on the eastern and south-western approaches to the Transcaucasus and drove the Seljuks out their strongholds. At the same time, the Georgian king attacked them in the large towns of the Transcaucasus. In 1120 he began the assault of Tbilisi.
In the 1080s, when the Seljuks established themselves in Georgia, Tbilisi had passed to their hands. The Jafarid emirs of Tbilisi had been deposed and the city was ruled by a council of eiders ("berni"). In 1110 - 1115 David captured the towns and fortresses around Tbilisi, thus in effect surrounding the city. The Muslim merchant-elite had considerable influence in the city and looked for protection against the Georgian king. They sent an envoy to Torgil ibn-Mukhammed, ruler of Arrana, who dispatched an official, "shikhna", to Tbilisi. David continued the struggle for the city and compelled the population to pay him 10,000 dinars and agree to the presence of a Georgian "shikhna" with a guard of ten horsemen. Of course, this was only a symbol of the Georgian king's power in the city, but it was a step towards the subjugation of Tbilisi. However, this situation did not suit either of the sides, and the people of Tbilisi offered to place their city under the suzerainty of Nejm ad-Din il-Ghazi ruler of Maiyafarikin.
The position of the Turks in the Transcaucasus steadily grew weaker. They were losing their strongholds, and the Georgian king was vigorously advancing against the Seljuk towns, villages and pastures. A delegation of Seljuk rulers and merchants
of Gandza, Tbilisi and Dmanisi went to Sultan Mahmud. The Seljuks were seriously alarmed for their rule in the Transcaucasus was threatened and this required resolute measures. Acting on orders from the Sultan, a coalition force took the field under Nejm ad-Din il-Ghazi.
The Seljuks invaded Georgia along the Manglis-Trialeti road. On August 10, 1121 their army (300,000 strong, according to approximate estimates) encamped in the vicinity of Manglisi-Didgori. King David had 40,000 Georgian troops, 15,000 kipchak, about 500 Ossetian mercenaries and a force of 200 European Crusaders. This numerical breakdown of the Georgian army clearly indicates that its main force consisted of Georgians. This was only natural, for the destiny of the Georgian state was at stake in the battle of Didgori. The involvement of Crusaders (200 soldiers) was of some practical importance: the Crusaders had considerable experience of fighting the Turks, but of still greater significance was their symbolic and political role in this battle - it emphasized that Georgia and the Western countries had common interests in the struggle against the Seljuks,
The Georgian army encamped in the Nichbisi Gorge and on orders from the king the road for a retreat was cut off - the exit from the ravine was blocked. The main force, winch was to bear the brunt of the enemy - assault was commanded personally by the king. The rest of the army, commanded by Prince Demetre, was kept in reserve and was to launch a sudden attack on the enemy at the crucial moment.
Before the battle commenced, David exhorted the troops to fight bravely, reminding them that there was no retreat.
The Georgians won a crushing victory at Didgori on August 12. Not satisfied with the victory on the battlefield, the Georgians pursued and decimated the enemy. The Seljuks suffered huge losses, while the Georgians won the day with relatively few casualties. Many prisoners were taken. The Georgians captured considerable quantities of weapons and jewelry. One piece of booty was particularly important: this was the gold - collar of Dubeis ibn - Sadak, ruler of the town of Khila (on the Euphrates) - symbol' of his strenght and power. To commemorate this victory David presented this jewelstudded collar to the Gelati Monastery.
The importance of the Didgori victory was that it dispersed the myth about invicibility of the Turks and inspired the peoples subjugated by them with the hope of liberation. Moreover, this battle showed that the Muslim world of the Middle East now had a serious rival in Georgia. Further, it opened for David the road to Tbilisi and new victories. Hence forth steered a direct course towards Tbilisi.
The city's destiny was in fact predetermined, but its ruling elite refused to surrender their positions without resistance. In 1122, after heavy fighting, the Georgian troops entered Tbilisi. According to the Georgian chronicler, "the king took Tbilisi in the very first assault".
After this battle the king moved his residence from Kutaisi to Tbilisi, making it his capital. He abolished the local self-government and appointed officials to govern the city.
The next objective was Dmanisi. It was taken in March, 1123.
Thus ended the Georgian people's long and bitter struggle to reunite their country. The last strongholds of the Seljuks in Georgia fell with the seizure of Tbilisi and Dmanisi.
Following the liberation of the whole of Georgia David the Builder shifted military operations to territory outside Georgia: the land could not be guaranteed against the threat of attack as long as the approaches to it were in the hands of the Seljuks. Georgia's further political interests were linked with Armenia and Shirvan.
A circumstance that must be borne in mind is that, after capturing Tbilisi, King David advanced against Dmanisi and Gandza, cities which had invited external forces against Georgia. For the time being Gandza escaped merely with being attacked, But Dmanisi was, as we have noted, reunited with Georgia. Then began the decisive battle for Shirvan and Armenia.
The struggle for Armenia and Shirvan, as in the case of the struggle for the Northern Caucasus, pursued both strategic and economic objectives. On the one hand, the seizure of Armenia and Derbent would make Georgia's frontiers secure and, the other, possession of these territories would give Georgia control of Caucasian Middle Eastern and international trade-routes.
King David began his campaign against Shirvan early in the 12th century, but was unable to envigorate it because before beginning the struggle for the liberation of the Transcaucasus, he had to complete Georgia's unification and then mobilize the local population for the war against the Seljuks.
The reunification of Kakheti and Hereti gave Georgia frontiers abutting Shirvan, with the result that relations with the Shirvan-shahs occupied an important place in King David's foreign policy.
In 1116, after the Seljuks were expelled from Tao, David sent his daughter, Kata, to Byzantium as the bride of the emperor. Prior to this, his elder daughter, Tamar, had been given in marriage to the shah of Shirvan, so that as two celestial bodies, one would illumine the East and other the West.
The Georgian king's last step pursued the aim of forming a political alliance with Shirvan to insure a joint struggle against the Seljuks.
Seljuk sultans were likewise seeking the support of the shah of Shirvan, for the latter's attitude would be of considerable importance in the imminent war between Georgia and the Seljuks. But David evidently failed to win over the shah of Shirvan, and went to war against him in 1117.
Before beginning his campaign against Shirvan, the Georgian king subjugated the Grigolisdze feudal possession with its capital, the fortress of Gishi, on the westernmost outskirts of Georgia. This fortress had evidently retained its independence with the aid of the Turks. After capturing the fortress of Gishi, David sent Prince Demetre to Shirvan at the head of a large army (1117).
Raids into Shirvan followed one another in quick succession. The Georgian king had apparently succeeded in winning over the ruler of Derbent. The shah of Shirvan was killed in one of the battles with Derbent-forces. A candidate who enjoyed the favour of the Georgian king and had been his ally in the Didgori-battle was installed on the Shirvan-throne. To avenge the defeat at Didgori, Sultan Makhmoud decided, as a first step, to punish the shah of Shirvan. He invaded Shirvan, took the town of Shemakha, captured the shah and sent the Georgian king an insulting message, informing him of the capture of the shah Shirvan and demanding tribute ("kharaja"). He offered David two alternatives: either make the proper gifts or accept
open battle. David took the field against the sultan and en-route put to flight the atabag of Ran, who was marching to the sultan's assistance. The frightened sultan fled from Shirvan under cover of darkness, but David was unable to take advantage of this on account of the bickering in his army between Kipchaks and Georgians.
As we have noted earlier, the Shirvan issue was of great importance to both Georgia and the Seljuks, The struggle for Shirvan dragged on and sapped the strength of both sides. The Georgian king waged an unending struggle for Shirvan, now seizing towns and fortress and then retreating again. While the Christians in Shirvan supported the king of Georgia, the Muslims begged the Seljuk sultan to protect them against the intrusions of the "infidel" king. In this situation it was vital to consolidate the Georgian power in Shirvan. Also, it must be borne in mind that the shah of Shirvan was the sultan's prisoner and no longer figured in subsequent events, in other words, the local ruling dynasty was no longer represented. In 1124, when David finally conquered Shirvan, he subjugated that country directly to the Crown. The towns and fortresses were garrisoned with Georgian troops, and the country was governed by officials appointed by the Georgian court.
The struggle for Armenia proceeded in parallel with the conquest of Shirvan, In May 1124 King David took a number of fortresses in Northern Armenia. The account given by David's historian about the capture of the fortress-towns of Gagi, Teruna-kan and Mankaberd and a large part of Armenia is corroborated by the Armenian historians, Vardan the Great and Stepanos Orbeli.
This did not end the struggle for Armenia. On August 20, 1123 "envoys of the elders of Ani came (to David - M. L.) and said (they wished - M. L.) to turn the town over to him". According to Vardan the Great, the Ani-elders were motivated by the intention of Shaddadid Abul-Aswar, the emir of Ani, to sell the town to the emir of Kars for 60,000 dinars. Moreover, Abul-Aswar had turned the Ani-Cathedral into a mosque. Altho-ughn the people of Ani had invited David, the Shaddadids refused to yield the town. David mustered an army of 60,000 troops and seized Ani and the regions adjoining it. Together with eight sons and relatives, Emir Abul-Aswar was taken prisoner and sent to Georgia. According to Matteois Urkhayetsi, King David defeated the Muslim army (nearly 20,000 troops were killed) and liberated the Armenian town of Ani from its 60 years' Muslim captivity. In the liberation of Bagratid Armenia from Muslim tyranny a large contribution was made by the Armenian population, which fought side by side with the Georgian troops.
King David appointed officials to govern both the town and region and left a Georgian garrison there. The former Shirak-kingdom of the Ani-Bagratuni was incorporated in Georgia. "The defense of Ani was entrusted to the Meskheti-"aznauris", - writes a Georgian historian, that was when the Georgian kings took the title of Shahan-sha, i. e. the title of the Armenian Bagratids. Although the Georgian king wrested the Shirak-kingdom from the Shaddadids, he did not regard the latter the legitimate rulers, and, since there were no representatives of the Armenian Bagratids, he considered that his step was legally justified.
Relations with northern neighbours held an important place in Georgia's political history. A vital issue in these relations was the possession of the passes in the Caucasian Mountains, particularly across the Daryal Ravine. The fortificaion of the Daryal pass was one of the main problems of the kings of united Georgia from the beginning of the 11th century onwards.
This problem was resolved in the reign of David. In order to secure the Daryal route, Khevsureti was made a Crown-possession, royal palaces and fortresses were built in the Aragvi and Ter ravines, and fortifications were erected in Mukhrani.
In 1118 David occupied the Daryal fortresses, and all the "gates of the Ovseti and Caucasian mountains". King David built a fortress below Gveleti, and nearby he constructed a palace, which he used during his campaigns in Ossetia.
Possession and fortification of this route were indispensable for the maintenance and development of the flourishing economic, political and cultural relations that Georgia had with the Northern Caucasus.
In the Northern Caucasus Georgia had the closest relations with the Ossetians. The Georgian kings frequently used Ossetian mercenaries against internal and external enemies.
David the Builder showed a particularly keen interest in the Darubandi - (Derbendi -) route, which explained his interest in Northern Azerbaijan. The struggle between Georgia and the Seljuks for Shirvan and the Derbent pass reached a high pitch. David appreciated the great strategic and commercial value of the Caspian gates.
In his relations with the peoples of the Northern Caucasus, David abided by the traditions laid down by his predecessors. Georgia had always close contacts with her northern neighbours. Here attention must be drawn to the relations of the kingdom of Egris-Abkhazeti with Ossetia and Jiketi and to Georgia's relations with the Vainakh people (Durdzuki). These were political, economic and cultural relations. By spreading the Georgian language, culture and literature, and also Christianity (in particular, by the building of Georgian churches), Georgia strove to bind these peoples to herself and draw them into the Georgian. cultural and political world. Via the Northern Caucasus Georgia maintained her most distant ties - with Kiev Rus.
The Kipchaks inhabiting the South Russian steppes were constantly at war with Kiev Rus. In 1103 some of them crossed the Don and others settled in the Northern Caucasus as neighbours of the Ossetians. David entered into relations with the latters, who were led by Otrok. He married Otrok's daughter and then resettled the tribe in Georgia.
In the Northern and Western Christian world, Georgia was known as a strong Christian kingdom. Evidence of this was the marriage of the Kiev prince Isyaslav to a daughter of King David (or of his son Demetre). This marriage gave the Kiev prince added prestige and brought him the support of a strong Orthodox state. It strengthened his hand in his intention to settle the difficulties in the Church without Byzantine interference and to subject it to his power. An interesting point is that the Kiev state concluded a political alliance precisely with Georgia, which at the time had become a rival and successor of the Byzantine empire in the Middle East.
A further indication of Georgia's growing prestige was the contact that she established with the Crusaders. Georgia and the Crusaders were drawn together by the circumstance that they had a common enemy - the Seljuks. True, they had entirely different aims and interests, but the wars of Georgia and the Crusaders at the close of the 11th and beginning of the 12th centuries objectively pursued one and the same purpose. For that reason the reports about King David's contacts with one of the Crusader-leaders, the king of Jerusalem, Baldwin, are quite credible. The participation of a contingent of Crusaders in the Didgori-battle is evidence of these contacts.
Thus, as a result of the steps taken in Georgia at the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th century, David's words that he was bequeathing to his son Demetre a land extending "from Nikopsia to Derbent and from Ossetia to Aragatsi", are well founded. Also well founded but somewhat exaggerated is the record of King David's historian that David made the sultan a tributary, that the Greek king became his kinsman, that he destroyed the barbarians, subjected kings, enslaved rulers, forced the Arabs to flee, pillaged Ismail, and reduced the Persians to dust and their princes to peasants.
In the first quarter of the 12th century (in the reign of David the Builder), Georgia was completely liberated from the Seljuks. The long process of uniting the Georgian lands and the creation of a united Georgian feudal monarchy was consummated. Moreover, Georgia annexed Northern Armenia, Shirvan and a large part of the Northern Caucasus.
These major successes were due to a number of internal and external factors.
In Georgia rapid economic, cultural and political development began in the 9th century. The general upsurge and ultimate unification were fostered by the further expansion of intensive branches of agriculture and handicrafts, the economic union of various provinces and the bustling domestic and foreign trade.
The Seljuk invasion was a heavy blow to the united country holding up its further development. Nevertheless, Georgia shook off the foreign yoke, even if, in so doing, it had to make a considerable sacrifice.
Before taking the field against the Seljuks, King David subordinated the powerful secular feudal lords and made the Georgian Church, a strong feudal organisation in its own rights, his ally. Actions against the Crown were regarded as high treason. At a time when the people were waging a life-and death struggle against the Seljuk invaders, any weakening of the stand against internal and external enemies was also regarded as tantamount to high treason. This gave David a strong hand against particularist trends and was used by him to justify his ruthless repressions.
The war against the Seljuks was a war of liberation. The Georgian people fought to recover the land taken by the Seljuks, to recover the homeland of their fathers. The Georgian peasants defended their farms from ruin and their families from annihilation. When this movement was headed by a gifted organizer, strategist and statesman, the entire nation rose against the enemy.
King David united the scattered forces and devoted all his energy to the national cause.
Although David championed the interests of the ruling class, he relied on the masses, on the petty and military middle nobility, who regarded him as their deliverer from the foreign invaders and their defender against the great feudal lords; also, he depended on the peasants, who looked to the Crown to deliver them from the external enemy. The king had the support of the Georgian towns, which had grown stronger and bigger and found that it was not to their advantage to be outside a strong Transcaucasian state.
The Seljuk domains were disintegrating: the endless wars between the political units that emerged on the ruins of these domains obstructed international trade and hindered the further development of towns and urban life. In the Middle East, feudal Georgia was really the only growing state with a strong centralized power. Hence the gravitation of the towns towards her. This is strikingly illustrated by the history of Tbilisi and Ani. The elders of Tbilisi had turned the city over to the Georgian king on many occasions in the 11th century, while the elders of Ani had offered their town first to Bagrat IV and to David the Builder. True, in 1122 King David had to take Tbilisi by assault but this resistance was due to his policy of abolishing the city's self-government and also to the existence of large Muslim population, which included a military-feudal aristocracy. Whenever the Tbilisi-elders offered the city to the Georgian king, this step was resisted by the Muslim military-feudal-elite, entrenched in Isani. Thus, this example hardly changes the overall picture.
In his struggle to complete Georgian's unification and expel the Seljuks, David thus relied on the petty and middle military nobility, the Church and the great feudal lords, who were subordinated to the central power. The reorganized army was his immediate military buttress.
The entire might of the people was directed towards one goal, and the desired objective was attained.
The mobilisation of all forces ensured the success of David's struggle for Armenia and Shirvan. In this struggle he championed the liberation of neighbouring peoples from foreign oppression, and this brought him the support and military assistance of the local Christian population.
Not only Georgian but also many non-Georgian lands came under the Georgian Crown as a result of David's wars against internal and external enemies. As could have been expected, all the annexed regions were subordinated to Georgian state-power.
Characteristic in this respect was David's policy in Georgia, relative to the possessions of recalcitrant feudal lords. For instance, when the power of the Baghvashi-family was finally broken, the king incorporated all its possessions in his domains. The Kldekari-"eristavship" was abolished. The same fate overtook other big feudal possessions.
David pursued an analogous policy with regard to the countries conquered from the Seljuks. When he captured the town of Ani, he sent its ruler, Abdul-Aswar, together with the latter's son, Shaddad, and entire family, to Western Georgia, placed that part of Armenia under his direct rule and garrisoned it with Georgian troops. Shirvan was also subordinated directly to the king's chancellor.
Although David depended on the towns, he subordinated them to his chancellor. Ani, Samshvilde, Rustavi, Dmanisi and other towns were thus subordinated to the central power. This policy was due to the changed attitude of some Transcaucasian towns. As we know, in 1121, a delegation of the merchants of Gandza, Tbilisi and Dmanisi went to the sultan to request assistance against the Georgian king. These towns concluded a political alliance among themselves against King David.
David was determined to centralise state-power to the utmost.
A different policy was adopted towards northern neighbours. For instance, he concluded an alliance with the rulers of Ossetia under the terms of which they became his vassals. When the Kipchaks were resettled, the Georgian king occupied the entire Daryal route and still further strengthened his good neighbourly relations with the Ossetian rulers. The Durdzuki, Didois and other highland-tribes of the Northern Caucasus were likewise tributaries of Georgia.
The aim this policy was primarily to strengthen Georgia's northern frontier and ensure her further advance northwards. Although in the north, Georgia was protected by the lofty mountains of Caucasian Range, the passes were of enormous economic and strategic significance. For that reason David held these passes firmly and made vassals of the inhabitants of the northern slopes.
As David saw it, the entire country had to belong to the Crown, with "aznauris" installed as governors, on condition they personally served in the army (military nobility). As N. Berdzenishvili justifiably notes, although David could not entirely implement his policy, there is no doubt that he pursued it and subordinated the administration of domestic and external affairs to the Crown.
He united the country not only by bringing remote regions . under Crown-control but also by his far-sighted policy of centralising the state-power. In this context, the reorganisation of the court, namely, the enlargement of the office of "mtsignobartukhu-tsesi" was of particularly great importance. He opposed the power of the "eristavi", typical of the epoch of early-feudal dismemberment, with the power of the highest court-official, the "vaziri" "mtsignobartukhutsesi", giving the latter prominence.
Among the steps taken to unite remote regions and subordinate, them to the Crown, interest is centred on the unification of the episcopal sees of Bedia and Alaverdi. By subordinating two episcopal sees situated in different parts of the country (Bedia in Egrisi, West Georgia, Alaverdi in Kakheti, East Georgia) to one and the same person, the highest representative of the Crown, King David stressed the unity of all the Georgian regions and their subordination to the central authority.
Georgia's expansion brought it not only Georgian lands proper but also non-Georgian regions (Armenia, Shirvan) together with their non-Georgian population: Muslims, Jews, Gregorian Armenians and others. Muslims, Armenians and Jews lived also in Georgian towns (particularly Tbilisi).
This raised the problem of the status of people of other nationalities and religions. The Georgian court adopted a policy of ethnic-and religious-tolerance. This is vividly illustrated by the benefits grated to Muslims of Tbilisi; Christians were forbidden to slaughter pigs, Muslims were given complete freedom to profess their faith, and one of the city's baths was reserved exclusively for them.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the per-capita-taxes paid to the state by the urban population was: Georgians 5 dinars, Armenians 4 dinars, and Muslims 2 dinars. David showed his' respect for Muslims by building a palace for them in Tbilisi. Although this was an unusual policy in feudal times, it was dictated by the need to strengthen the internal unity of the multinational state in the interests of the ruling class.
King David was perfectly well aware of Tbilisi's place and significance in Georgia's subsequent history. In those days it was one of the most important commercial centers in the Middle East. Long Muslim rule had given prominence to Muslim merchants in the city's life. It was the desire to maintain normal relations with these merchants that mainly predetermined David's policy. He reckoned with the fact that in the middle East all trade was in the hands of Muslims. Tbilisi was a trade-hub, and this benefited Georgia most of all. Also, King David reckoned with the circumstance that Muslim states were powerful in the Middle East, and, as an enlightened and perspicacious ruler of a civilized state, he showed respect for the religious faith of his neighbours and did not persecute other nationalities and religions.
He showed similar respect for the large Armenian population, but it must be noted that from David's day, Georgia's rulers made every effort to draw the annexed countries into the Georgian world and bind them to Georgian statehood. Various means were used to achieve this aim. In this context,. a consistent policy was pursued towards Armenia from the very beginning.
Most of Armenia was incorporated within Georgia in the reign of David the Builder. Armenians and Georgians fought shoulder to shoulder to liberate their land from Turkish invaders.
The Armenian historians of those days paid tribute to King David for liberating the Armenians from foreign oppression and regarded him as the saviour of their people. King David did much to restore Armenian towns, build good roads and promote the welfare of the population. This was only natural, for he regarded Armenia as part of his kingdom. He helped to resettle Armenians in Georgia, large numbers of whom made their homes in Gori, where they were provided with facilities for handicrafts and trade.
The policy towards people of their religions and nationalities was evidence of Georgia's high cultural level and its great political strength,
But in considering this general policy, it must be borne in mind that, in those years, Georgia emerged as the force uniting the Caucasian peoples, politically and culturally rallying kindred and neighbouring Caucasian peoples around herself. She under-took this mission as soon as the process of uniting the land was started. In order to spread its religion, language and culture, the Georgian state built churches in the North Caucasus, making Georgian inscriptions on their walls. The purpose of this was to Georgianize some of the peoples inhabiting the Caucasian Mountains. Most of the Kipchaks settled in Georgia were Georgianized: they adopted the Georgian religion, language and culture, and subsequently many became leading Georgian statesmen.
The Ossetians came under strong Georgian influence. In the 10th century their conversion to Christianity was fostered actively by King Giorgi of Ergris-Abkhazeti. But Christianity was not finally established in Ossetia, and for that reason in the 11th - 12th centuries secular and ecclesiastical leaders sought to consolidate Christianity by building churches and by other measures. This was a period when Georgian influence in Ossetia was spreading intensively. In Ossetia, Christianity brought with it the Georgian language and Georgian culture, and this drew the two peoples closer together. Thus, in addition to her political influence, Georgia exercised a cultural influence on her neighbours.
However, in parallel with her policy of religious toleration, Georgia carefully and consistently sought to convert other Christian denominations particularly the Gregorian Armenians, into the Chalcedon denomination.
The same policy was pursued very vigorously by the Byzantine empire in the 11th century.
This attitude to the Armenians was due to Armenia's political position. She was pressured by both Byzantium and Georgia, Along with other methods, both sides made active use of ideological means and endeavoured to strengthen their position by achieving religious unity. There were two tendencies in this clash of dogmas. Some Church-leaders maintained that there was no essential difference between the Armenians and the Orthodox Chalcedonians and considered that it was possible to unite these two Churches. Others insisted that there were fundamental distinctions between them and on these grounds contended that they could not be united.
The leadership of the Armenian Church in Kilikia was not opposed to unity with the Orthodox (Byzantine) Church. This is borne out by the Statement of Principles of the Armenian Church compiled by the Armenian patriarch Nerses in the 12th century (circa 1170) and submitted to the emperor Manuel I (Comnenos). In relation to Kilikian Armenia, Byzantium pursued the same objectives as were pursued by Georgia towards the part of Armenia annexed by her. While the emperor Manuel I attempted to consolidate his position in the Kilikian Armenian kingdom, the Armenian patriarch hoped to strengthen his own position with the assistance of the Byzantine emperor. Both considered that religious unity was one of the basic preconditions for the attainment of their aims.
Attempts to unite the Chalcedonian and Grigorian Churches were made as early as the 11th century, when in a dogmatic polemic at the court of Constantine X (Ducas) (1059- 1068) the Armenian religious leader, Jakob Kerabi, sided with the Chalcedonians. He wrote the Book of Faith, in which he showed that these two denominations could be united. A similar document
was written in the 12th century by the patriarch Nerses following the talks he had with the emperor. In this document he endeavoured to prove that no fundamental difference existed between the Armenian and Chalcedonian Churches.
As we have already noted, the tendency to unite the Armenian and Georgian Churches emerged in Georgia in the 12th century.
A factor influencing the religious relations with Armenia was that there was a large number of Chalcedonian Armenians in Georgia. Moreover, these relations were influenced by the historical situation.
Initially, following the schism between the Georgian and Armenian Churches, the Georgians only defended themselves, and even the polemical Church-split between Georgia and Armenia did not affect the attitude towards the Armenians.
A representative of the Armenian clergy, the scholarly monk Sosten, went to Georgia in the 11th century to accuse the Georgian Church of heresy. In this case the Georgian Church did nothing more than defend itself against Sosten's attacks. But, after Armenia came under Georgia's political influence, the situation changed, and the Armenian clergy had to defend itself against the confessional expansion of the Georgians.
Naturally, after winning political supremacy, Georgia sought unity with the Armenians on the basis of the Chalcedonian faith. For reasons that can be easly appreciated, she endeavoured to achieve that aim cautiously. It was believed that the most desirable way was to pursuade the Armenians that their faith was ,,mis-guided".
The striving to subjugate the Armenian Church began manifesting itself in the reign of David the Builder, and an organised drive to that end was conducted in the latter half of the 12th century. This is shown by the synods that took place in the days of David the Builder and, particularly, of Queen Tamar. The Georgian-Armenian polemic was the main point of discussion.
Georgian wanted to unite the surrounding regions and peoples around herself, but this was seriously hindered by the religious particularism of the Armenians. Georgian leaders were well aware that religious unity with Armenia would create a solid foundation for the further strengthening of Georgian-Armenian political relations. But this unity were strongly resisted and they had to act with circumspection and officially pursue a policy of religious toleration.

In the first quarter of the 12th century Georgia became the strongest power in the Caucasus, while in the Near East it came forward as a rival, and also heir, to the Byzantine empire. In this situation, the Georgian kings naturally considered few of their neighbours and even members of the Byzantine imperial family as their equals. A noteworthy fact is that, while in the 11th century they regarded the receipt of Byzantine court-titles as a great honour and even sought the title of "kurapalati", David the Builder who bore the titles of "sebastos" and "paniper-sebastos" when he was a prince, renounced these titles when he ascended the throne, considering them humiliating.
In 1085 he is mentioned as a "sebastos" in 1089- 1091 he is called a "panipersebastos", but in the acts of the Ruis-Urbnisi synod, in which his father is called the "king of kings" and "caesaros" of East and West, David is mentioned by the title: "King of Abkhazians and Kartvelians, Ranians and Kakhians, Autocrat".
Thus, after consolidating his position in Georgia, ceasing to pay tribute to the Seljuks and reuniting most of the Georgian lands, David renounced Byzantine titles and adopted the title of King of Abkhazians and Kartvelians, Ranians and Kakhians, styling himself an autocrat.
The titles of the Georgian kings mirror the historical process of the unification of the Georgian lands and the enlargement of the Georgian kingdom. The titles of the first kings of united Georgia had the following sequence: King of Abkhazians (i. e. King of Western Georgia), King of the Kartvelians (i. e. King of Kartli and Meskheti) and then an indication of the relationship with Byzantium, the title of "kurapalat". Thus, Bagrat III was called: King of the Abkhazians and Kartvelians, "kurapalat ", Bagrat IV, who was also called King of the Abkhazians and Kartvelians, at first had the title of "kurapalati" then "novelissimus" (40s) and from the 60s onwards "sebastos" Giorgi II was also styled King of the Abkhazians and Kartvelians, and his title of "novelissimus" was at first replaced by the title of "sebastos" and then by that of "caesar".
A radical change in titulature is introduced in the reign of David the Builder. At first he was called King of the Abkhazians and Kartvelians and bore Byzantine titles, but then these titles were dropped, and he added the title of King of the Ranians and Kakhians (which was an indication of the reunification of Hereti and Kakheti). The title of King of the Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Ranians, Kakhians and Somekhians is to be seen on coins minted in David's day and on the royal standard.
The addition of the title of "King of the Armenians" ("mepe somekhta") indicates the conquest of the kingdom of Tashir - Dzorageti, whose kings were called "mepe somekhta" in Georgian, and not of the Ani - kingdom of the Armenian Bagratids, who bore the title of "Shahansha". The latter title should have appeared when David conquered the Ani - kingdom, but it is recorded in annals dating from the reign of King Giorgi III (1156-1184). The titles of "Shahansha" and "Sharvansha" should have appeared in the latter years of the reign of David the Builder, when he conquered Shirvan, but it is recorded only in the charter of King Giorgi III. We feel that the titles given in the charter of Giorgi III, namely, King of the Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Ranians and Kakhians, "Sharvansha" and "Shahansha" were adopted in the last years of the reign of David the Builder. That is when the word "autocrat" must have appeared. The tendency to use that title was shown by the first kings of united Georgia, an expression of this being the proud statement of the Bagrationi-family's historian that King Bagrat III "autocratically conquered the whole of the Caucasus from Jiketi to Gurgan". Although some neighbouring regions were indeed dependent upon Bagrat III, he "autocratically" ruled only a large part of Georgia. However, this tendency became real in the reign of King David, who was the first "autocratic" king (in a centralized feudal kingdom), and he bore the corresponding title early in the 12th century.
The important component of "Sword of the Messiah" also appeared in the title of the Georgian kings in the reign of King David. It is engraved in Arabic on a copper coin of David's day: "King of Kings, David, son of Giorgi, Sword of the Messiah, which expressed the policies pursued by David. By calling himself the "Sword of the Messiah" he made it clear that in his actions he had divine guidance, and that any act against the king was an act against God. This "Sword of the Messiah" was directed against internal and external enemies. In the eyes of neighbouring Christian peoples. David's expulsion of the Seljuk invaders from the Transcaucasus made him the "Sword of the Messiah" in the struggle against Muslim conquerors. This was a happy formula by which the king justified his clearly pronounced internal and external policy. The "Sword of the Messiah" was, a religious symbol of the political struggle and a weapon of the feudal class in strengthening their social and political supremacy. It was not accidental that King David caused the title "Sword of the Messiah" to be engraved on coins in Arabic. These coins were in circulation throughout the Middle East and were a splendid means of popularizing this title. It showed the Muslims that as the "Sword of the Messiah" David was the protector of Christians and to be feared by all the enemies of Christendom.
The titles adopted in the reign of King David fully mirrored the gradual growth of Georgia's international influence.
The hereditary character of the throne and the coronation-procedure were of no little importance in consolidating the autocratic powers of the king. The kings of united Georgia evidently sought to legalise the passage of the throne to their elder sons, and for that reason in most cases they crowned their sons in their lifetime. This pursued other aims as well. The prevaling coronation-procedure obviously underpinned the role and significance of the feudal autocracy. The procedure itself had evidently been laid down in the early-mediaeval period in Western Georgia, when the king received his power not only formally but in fact largely from the feudal nobility.
King David personally crowned his son Demetre, and Demetre and Giorgi III acted likewise. After the death of Giorgi III, the supreme state-council ("darbazi") consented, some hesitation, to enthrone Tamar but declared invalid after her coronation by her father and crowned her a second time. By this act the council in effect retrieved its right to crown its kings, the right to present the king the dignities of royal majesty (sword and sceptre) with its own hands. It is noteworthy that although the feudal council crowned Tamar a second time, she declared that she had received the crown first from God and then from her kin. The importance of the coronation-ceremony is shown also by the fact that in the 13th century a new coronation-procedure was instituted, under which the privileges of the feudal families in accomplishing this act were abolished. Henceforth the coronation of the king was the privilege of the heads of individual departments. For instance, the king received his sword from the "amirspasalari" (Minister of War) regardless of his lineage. The striving of the Georgian kings to cancel the old coronation-procedure and thereby instal their heirs on the throne themselves was thus a sign of the trend towards the establishment of autocratic rule.
This elevation of the royal power required appropriate ideological justification. Here assistance came from Georgian Christian ideology, which declared that the supremacy of royal authority sprang from the divine origin of the royal power and dynasty.
With the emergence of a class-society and the state, there appeared the legend of the "superhuman", "divine", origin. Georgia, too, emulated that example, evolving the theory of the divine origin of the Bagrationi-family. In Georgia and Armenia this family acquired political prominence, early, and various legends were created about it. The further evolution of these legends is linked with the period when the Bagrationi became monarchs of united Georgia. Sumbat Davitisdze wrote the Chronicle of the Bagrationi-Family, giving the family's history and genealogy, according to which the Georgian Bagrationi were the direct descendants of the prophet David.
This legend, as all similar legends, pursued the aim of exalting the royal family. It placed this family above others and, most important, ideologically justified the class-rule of the reigning family. At the next stage of the consolidation of the royal power, the Georgian Bagrationi proclaimed that their kingdom was under divine guidance and patronage. This dogma was in existence during the reign of King David. In his testament he stated bluntly that his kingdom had been entrusted to him by God. To quote his own words, God had helped him to rule the kingdom and sanctioned the destruction of his enemies; true, he, David, ruled the country corporeally, but it was ruled spiritually by the Lord. Since Georgia was ruled by God, anybody raising his hand against the Crown raised it against God. At this stage of the development of the state - power, in accordance with its actual position and for the purpose of consolidating that position, the personality of the king was elevated to the level of a divinity.
At the next stage, the ideological theory of elevating the royal power was further developed and, in accordance with its new variant, evolved in the reign of Queen Tamar, the Georgian kings were the "flesh of the flesh of the tree of David and Chosroes." Origin from David was now complimented with origin from the Chosroes kings of Persia. According to Queen Tamar's historian, her marriage was consummated "as befitted their Olympic majesty and royal radiance". Whereas origin from David gave the Georgian kings their "Olympic majesty", their origin from the Persian kings gave them a "royal radiance". Thus, as the Bagrationi-family was gradually elevated, legend proclaimed them as being first of divine origin and then as equal to divinity. In the reign of David the Builder the acts of the king were proclaimed as being divine acts. To this was subsequently added their origin from the Chosroes and the title "Most August".
Consciousness that the royal power was "autocratic" took root in the royal family as early as the reign of King David and was mirrored in the king's title.


In the second and third quarters of the 12th century, i. e. in the reign of King David's successors, Demetre I (1125- 1156) and Giorgi III (1156-1184), feudal Georgia's foreign policy was directed mainly towards Armenia, Ran and Shirvan. David the Builder had conquered Armenia and Shirvan and incorporated them in the Georgian kingdom, but the neighbouring Muslim rulers refused to yield their position and the struggle for these countries was bitter and protracted, and marked by alternating successes.
King David's foreign policy, which called for the incorporation of all conquered lands within 'Georgia, was violated under his very successors by reason of fierce resistance. Although Georgia was successful in her struggle with neighbouring Muslim countries under queen Tamar, the foreign policy of her government, i. e. the reduction of conquered countries to the status of tributaries, was due not to the queen's benevolence, as is asserted by her historian, but to the bitter internal struggle and the fierce resistance of the neighbouring Muslim states to Georgia's policy of conquest. True, Georgia's international position improved considerably at the close of the 11th century; internal social crisis and the Crusader-incursions weakened the Seljuks, and their empire disintegrated. But the new Muslim kingdoms formed on the ruins of the Seljuk empire did not cede their positions in the Transcaucasus. Georgia found the struggle against them extremely difficult. However, her position was strengthened by her ability to rally around herself all the Christian peoples in the Transcaucasus to fight on her side. But this struggle sometimes lasted for decades, and towns and regions changed hands time and again.
In the latter years of his reign, David captured important strongholds from the Seljuks in the Transcaucasus: the large Georgian trade-and artisan-centre of Dmanisi, the former Armenian capital of Ani, and Shirvan. Although he incorporated these conquered regions in Georgia, the struggle for them continued after his death. The chronicles do not say exactly when the Seljuks captured Dmanisi, but Demetre retook it in the very first year of his reign. According to the Armenian historian Vardan, Demetre enlarged the possessions inherited from his father with Dmanisi and Khunani (the struggle for Dmanisi evidently did not end in 1125, because the town had to be retaken again in the 1130s. Khunani was captured by King Demetre in 1128). With Dmanisi and Khunani in his possession, Demetre stengthened the approaches to Trialeti. Henceforth, these two strongholds were evidently incontestable parts of the Georgian kingdom.
After David's death, the neighbouring Muslim rulers began attacking Georgia from all sides. In 1130 she was attacked by the sultan of Khlati, Shah-Armen Nasir ad-Din Sukman II (1128- 1183). This war was started by the passage of Ani into the hands of the Georgians; Demetre put the enemy to flight.
The fact that Georgia was growing stronger affected the position of the Shah-Armen, the Muslim ruler of Armenia, who had his capital at Khlati. The relations between Georgia and the Shah-Armen were strained first in the 1130s and then in the 1160s. It may be said that the Shah-Armen took part in almost all the campaigns undertaken against Georgia in these years. Moreover, he enlisted the assistance of Georgian feudals disaffected with the Crown and gave them asylum. This, evidently, was the reason for Giorgi Ill's invasion of the domains of the Shah-Armen soon after his accession to the throne.
A particularly bitter struggle raged over Ani. It will be recalled that in 1123 King David had taken Ani from the Muslim emirs, placing it under the governorship of the feudal lord, Abulet, and his son, Ivane, and garrisoning it with "aznauris". Ani was the key to the final conquest of Northern Armenia. For Georgia this was of immense economic and military-strategies importance. But the Muslim rulers had no intention of reconciling themselves to the loss of Ani, for this considerably weakened their position in the Transcaucasus and endangered their strongholds in Central and Southern Armenia. The town was recaptured by Padlon , who was in Khorasan at the time his father the emir Abdulsaur was taken prisoner by David and died in Georgia.
Padlon besieged Ani, and the town elders demanded that Abulet surrender the town to him. In this difficult situation, Abulet surrendered the town. We do not know if Ani was surrendered with the Georgian king's consent or if Abulet acted on his own. Padlon then strengthened his position by occupying Dvin and Gandza, but the Georgian king evidently set him terms which he pledged to fulfill. In particular, Padlon and his descendants vowed not to desecrate the Ani-Cathedral and leave it at the disposal of the Armenians. This further exemplified the striving of the Georgian kings to pose as the defenders of Christianity.
As we have already noted, the chronicles say nothing specific about Abulet's actions when Ani was turned over to Padlon , but further developments, in particular Abulet's participation in plots against King Demetre, give grounds for believing that there was treachery.
Demetre had to give up Ani to Shaddad's descendant Padlon on terms of vassalage and inviolability of the Christian churches. But Padlon's successor, Pakhrad-Din Shaddad, decided to free himself of dependence on the Christian king. He offered tribute to Saldukhi, ruler of Arzrum and asked the latter to acccept him as a vassal. In 1153-1154 Emir Saldukh marched on Ani, but Shaddad informed his suzerain, the King of Georgia, of this. Demetre marched to Ani, defeated and captured the emir. At the request of neighbouring Muslim rulers and local feudal lords he then released Saldukh for a ransom of 100,000 dinars.
In Ani there was evidently conflict between the Christian clergy and the Shaddadids. King Demetre's demand that the rights of the Christian population should be protected was not always complied with. In 1155 - 1156 the town's Christian population rose against the emir and turned the town over to his brother Padlon. But Padlon, too, apparently could not satisfy the claims of the people of Ani, and this time the town was offered to the Georgian king Giorgi III, who took advantage of this offer, occupying the town, taking Padlon and his family prisoner and appointing Sadun as the ruler (emir). However, Sadun broke with the king and began fortifying the town. He was seized and taken to the king, who ordered his execution. After this Giorgi subjugated Ani, appointing the "amirspasalari" Ivane Orbeli, as governor and Sargis Mkhargrdzeli as his assistant. The king evidently left intact the office of emir of Ani, giving if to Sargis Mkhargrdzeli. But this did not prove to be the final settlement of the problem of Ani. A long struggle ensued for this important Transcaucasian town. A coalition consisting of the ruler of Khlati, Shah-Armen Nasir ad-Din Sukman II, the ruler of Diyarbekir, Kotb ad-Din il-Ghazi, Al-Malik of Arzrum, and others was formed as soon as the Georgians seized the town, but the latter defeated the allies. King Giorgi liberated the people of Ani who had been taken captive and gave the devastated town assistance. He then marched against one of the members of the coalition, the king of Arsrum, and in the same year, 1161, defeated and made him prisoner, but then released him for a large ransom.
The Armenian question was not confined to the problem of Ani. The capture of Ani and the defeat of the Arzrum-forces enabled the Georgian king to march on Dvin. The Dvin-campaign was completed in 1162. The town was sacked, the non-Christian population was pillaged and the Georgian troops returned home loaded with booty. The king appointed Ananiya, a member of the local feudal nobility to govern the town.
Georgia's clear-cut policy required a response from the Muslim rulers. Shams ad-Din il-Ghazi,ruler of Southern Azerbaijan and some other regions, embarked upon a campaign against Georgia in early 1163. He was joined by the Shah-Armen Sukman, ruler of Khlati, As-Sunkur, ruler of Maragha, and others. With an army of 50,000 troops they marched on Georgia. The Georgian army was defeated. The enemy took the fortress of Gagi, laid waste as far as the region of Gagi and Gelakuni, seized prisoners and booty, and then moved to Ani. The Muslim rulers were jubilant, and they prepared for a new campaign. However, this time they were forestalled by Giorgi III, who marched into Azerbaijan at the close of 1165 (or the beginning of 1166), occupied a region extending to Gandza, devastated the land and turn back with prisoners and booty. Meanwhile, the struggle for Ani continued. For four long years Ani was attacked ceaselessly. The population was reduced to misery, the land was not tilled and the economy was dislocated. There seemed to be no end to the war between Giorgi III and atabagi Eldiguz. But the belligerents were exhausted to such an extent that Eldigus proposed an armistice. Giorgi had no alternative but to make concessions. He restored Ani to its former rulers, the Shaddadids, who became his vassals. The Shaddadids, ruled the town for about 10 years, but in 1174 King Giorgi took the "Shahansha" Shaddadid prisoner and occupied Ani once again. And again the "amirspasalari", Ivane Orbeli, was appointed governor of the town.
As might be expected, this act provoked a response: in 1174-5 atabag Eldiguz and Sultan Arslan attacked Ani, ravaged the Shiraki valley, but were then repulsed. In these events, Ivane Orbeli, who had been made governor of the town and region, betrayed Giorgi - he was prepared to surrender the town to the enemy, but his intentions became known in time and the corresponding counter-measures were taken. Ivane Orbeli evidently wanted the town to be dependent to himself personally, which he felt was preferable to being an official of King Giorgi. For their part, the Muslim rulers had reconciled themselves to Ani being a vassal of the Georgian king, but were not prepared to see that region incorporated within Georgia.
In this situation, too, King Giorgi supported the Ani-clergy as represented by Bishop Barsegh , whose brother, Apirit, he rescued from captivity by paying a ransom and then appointed emir of Ani.
In 1175 the southern provinces of Georgia were again overrun by a united Muslim host. This marked the beginning of another long struggle for Ani. The chronicles do not allow the reconstruction of any coherent picture of this struggle, but we can assume that the town and region frequently changed hands. In any case, at the close of the 12th century, Ani was ruled by the Shaddadids and finally passed to Georgia after 1199.
A long struggle also raged for Dvin. In the latter half of the 12th century, the town and region also changed hands [several times, finally becoming part of Georgia only in the early [13th century.
David IV's successors endeavoured to consolidated their [position in Shirvan and Ran, as they had done in the case of Armenia. Tbilisi and Dmanisi had been reunited with Georgia by David, but the question of Gandza remained unresolved for a long time.
In 1136 the emirate in Azerbaijan (which included Ran) was seized by Shams ad-Din Ildigizid, with whom King Demetre had fought for Ran. The struggle for Ran continued in the reign of Giorgi III and Queen Tamar.
A severe earthquake hit Ran in 1139. Gandza was destroyed, and many of its inhabitants perished. King Demetre took advantage of this disaster to attack Gandza. He returned victorious, with considerable booty, and, in token of his victory, tore down the town-gates and took them with him to Georgia. To perpetuate this victory he caused an appropriate inscription to be engraved on these gates. In reply to this, the Seljuk sultan and atabag of Azerbaijan attacked Gandza several times, and in 1143 the town again jell to the sultan. According to Mkhitar Gosh, Demetre ultimately gained possession of Gandza, but, when he gave his daughter in marriage to the sultan, he presented the latter with the town as dowry, and the sultain appointed his own emir to rule it.
A complex situation took shape also in Shirvan. After it was incorporated into Georgia, the Seljukid sultans fought to restore the rule of the Shirvan-shahs. Shirvan's large Muslim population rose against Georgia, and here too King Demetre had to agree to a compromise: the Shirvan-shahs were restored to power in the eastern part of the region (Shemakha-Shamkor ) as vassals of Georgia. This situation persisted for nearly a century. The western part of the region (Kabala - Shaki) was incorporated in Georgia, with the result that her boundary extended somewhat west of Shemakha, along the Ak-Su river. This probably happened in 1129 or 1130, when Demetre restored the Shirvan-shahs to power in Shirvan, installing on the throne Manuchihr II, the husband of his daughter Rusudan. At the Georgian court the Shirvan-shah was regarded "as a son and noble" and had to provide the Georgian king with troops whenever the latter demanded it.
Derbend, too, was a vassal of Georgia. The struggle for ' Derbend was started by David the Builder, who regarded Derbend as among his possesions, and in his legacy to his son noted that he was leaving him a "country extending from Nikopsia to Derbend. This is borne out by the chronicle of Al-Farik, who accompanied King Demetre on an inspection of the royal possessions (1154-5) and wrote: "The king travelled from one region to another, from one place to another in his domains. I accompanied the king, and we spent a few days in the regions of Derbend and Khazaran. And the governor of Derbend Emir Abul-Muzaffar, came to pay his respects to the Abkhasian king". This is direct testimony that Derbend was ruled by the king. Another circumstance to be noted is that Emir Muzaffar was a son-in-law of the Georgian king. Like his predecessors, Demetre strengthened his political links through relations kinship.
Derbend protected the Caucasus in the north and its was therefore imperative to maintain friendly relations with its rulers or hold them in subjugation. But when, together with the rulers of the Northern Caucasus, the emir of Derbend attacked Shirvan, Georgia helped the Shirvan-shah. Thus, Shirvan was protected against raids from the north by David the Builder, Demetre and Giorgi III. In 1173, when the Shirvan-shah Aghsartani requested Giorgi who was the latter's cousin (son of Demetre's sister) to help him, the latter went to his aid. "Giorgi went to war devastating the land up to the gates of Derbend took the town of Shaburan and turned it over to the nephew of his father". In the latter half of the I2th century, the Shirvan-shahs ruled part of the Derbendi-emirate possibly with the assistance of Georgia.
Thus, in the reign of Demetre, Georgia waged bitter wars for Ran, but fell short of her objective, especially after the establishment of the Ildigizid-dynasty in the Transcaucasus The founder of that dynasty, Shams ad-Din il-Ghazi, virtually subjugated Southern Azerbaijan, Arran, Nakhechevan and the western provinces of Iran. Georgia's efforts to subjugate Ran proved to be abortive. In the 1160s the Ildigizids formed an alliance against Georgia with the Seljuks, but the chronicles do not tell us whether he captured Shirvan and drove Georgia out of that region. The Shirvan-shahs figure as tributaries of Georgia in the reign of Giorgi III and Queen Tamar, "whom they regarded as suzerains and whom they served faithfully".
In parallel with the major campaigns conducted in the reign of Giorgi III to subjugate Armenia and Shirvan, Georgian troops raided the Seljuks living in regions bordering on Georgia in an effort to dislodge and drive them out. In describing the reign of King Giorgi, the Georgian historian proudly writes
that "Giorgi raised the sword against the Agaryans".

In the 1170s, when one of the phases of the struggle for Armenia ended and temporary peace was established, the troops and the nobles told the king that they did not desire a long period without wars of conquest. Giorgi had to cede to this demand, and after establishing order in the land sent his troops in various directions. Troops from Tao, Shavsheti and Klarjeti were ordered to pillage the regions of Oltisi and Bana, the Meskhi-and Toreli-troops were sent to Kars and Ashornia, the amirspasalari led a force of Somkhitars from "Kvemo" (Lower) Kartli to the right-bank region of the Mtkvari up to Gandza, Imereti-and Kartli-forces were ordered to sack the land on either side of the Mtkvari from Gandza to Khlati the Hers and Kakhs were sent to the region from the mouth of the Alazani to Shirvan. According to the chronicles, in the western and southeastern regions, the Georgian troops stuck at the Seljuks settled on Georgian land (Bana, ,Oltisi) or in abjacent regions. These raids pursued a twofold purpose: to obtain booty and reconnoitre the land in order finally to expel the enemy. It was necessary to annex the above-mentioned regions or to establish Georgian political influence in them in order to enchance feudal Georgia's might.
From the chronicles we know exactly the extent of the Georgian kingdom in the 1170s. In the south-west, Southern Tao was still in the hands of the Seljuks, who also ruled the Kars-region. In the south, the former Ani-kingdom - the object of countless wars - was again in the hands of the Shaddadids; Shirvan was a vassal of Georgia. These were more or less stable boundaries. Georgia sought to move her boundaries southwards, but the struggle for Ran ended without result. Giorgi III left it to his descendants to settle the problems of Ant, Oltisi and Kars.
Internal situation. David the Builder curbed the unsubmissive feudal lords for a time, but it proved impossible to uproot the characteristic feature of feudalism solely by acts of repression. The central authority did not have the strength to oppose feudal particularism effectively. Every feudal lord wanted seignoral rights. A great feudal lord receiving the governorship of a region from the king sought to make that region his vassal.
Moreover, the strong feudal states that sprang up (in Azerbaijan the kingdom of the Shah-Armens in Southern Armenia, and in other kingdoms) on the ruins of the Seljuk empire were Georgia's rivals in the struggle for Shirak Armenia, Ran and Shirvan. This not only hindered the expansion of external conquests but also the implementation of measures to bring order in the country and create normal conditions in the incorporated regions. David did much to enable the inhabitants of Georgia's central regions to return to their ruined homes and restore normal life. It was left to David's son, Demetre, to rebuild Hereti, "kvemo" Kartli, Javakheti and Artaani, i. e. the peripherial regions that had suffered most from the Seljuk invasions. The steps instituted by him helped to restore the economy of these regions and facilitated the return of the scattered population.
Laws against brigandage were among the most important steps to normalize the internal situation and restore order. Brigandage reached huge proportions in Georgia in the 12th century; this was a purely social phenomenon typical of feudal society. Prior to the reign of Giorgi III, there were agencies whose function it. was to hunt down and punish thieves and brigands; under Giorgi III the authority and powers of this agency were extended and measures were taken to eradicate brigandage. Strict punishment up to hanging was meted out to robbers and highwaymen by decision of the state-council ("darbazi"). The legislation passed under Giorgi III against brigandage remained in operation also in the 13th century.
In those days brigandage was not only of a criminal but also of a socio-class-character, and for that reason the above-mentioned legislation was directed also against the class-enemy.
David the Builder had reorganized the courts to some extent, making the supreme court ("Saajo kari") an independent agency and subordinating it to the Crown, and then the practice of investigation was started in relation to some kinds of crime.
A special investigation-agency, whose duty it was to prosecute criminals, was set up in Georgia in the 12th century; investigation and prosecution was independent of the victim, and this was an indication of the high level of statehood and consciousness of the law. Moreover, the existence of the investigative agency testifies to the strength of the central state-power, which used it, along with other means, against all who hindered its consolidation and centralization.
The intra-class-struggle was an extremely acute problem in Georgia in the 1130s - 1170s.
From the reign of Bagrat III on wards, as a consequence of a tense struggle, the position of the central royal power gradually grew difficult. The socio-economic situation of that period ruled out the existence of non-feudal social forces. Feudalization covered the whole of Georgian society. The new force opposed to the feudal system and which could be utilized against feudal particularism had not yet taken shape. For that reason, in the 11 th-12th centuries, the Crown made use of the contradictions within the feudal aristocracy, and, in its struggle against especially strong feudal lords, it relied on other feudal lords. The intra-class-struggle raged throughout the period that the feudal system existed in Georgia, but at various stages it acquired different forms and intensity.
King David IV died in 1125, and his son Demetre ascended the throne.
The feudal lords disaffected with the Crown's policy plotted against Demetre from the very outset of his reign. They made use of the conflict between King Demetre and his brother Vakhtangi. The chronicles are vague and fragmentary on this issue, but the fact that there were contradictions is beyond question. Moreover, the plotters took advantage of Demetre's preference for his younger son Giorgi, of his intention to place him on the throne instead of his older son, David, who was the legitimate heir. The discord in the royal family gave the feudal nobility a good pretext for attaining its particularist objectives, and for that reason it fanned this strife and sought to make the most of it. One of the arguments against King Demetre was the conflict over the question of Ani. As we have already noted, King David had appointed Abulet and his son, Ivane, as the rulers of Ani. But when Shaddadid Abdulasuar approached Ani, Abulet surrendered the town to him.
The conflict between Abulet and Demetre deepened, and the ground for this was. created by the claims of Vakhtang (Demetre's younger brother) to the throne. According to Vardan, in approximately 1130, the prince and Ivane, son of Abulet, plotted the murder of King Demetre, but this was prevented by Abulet, who evidently informed the king. The prince was blinded, while Abulet, despite his services, was imprisoned together with his son in the Dmanisi-fortress. Although in 1131 Ivane, son of Abulet, took part in the campaign against Garni, he was put to death soon afterwards. Ivane's second son, Tirkashi, fled to the Shah-Armen, who gave him the Arsharuniki region, from where he raided Georgia. But Demetre soon captured Tirkash as well.
The struggle for the throne between King Demetre and his older son David was complicated. Although the king preferred his young son Giorgi, prince David had the support of a group of feudal lords who had evidently sided with prince Vakhtang (who probably died soon after he was blinded, for he is no longer mentioned in the chronicles). The feudal lords disaffected with the king's policies used legitimate claims to reinstate (or support) David, who rose against his father in 1150. Demetre suppressed the rising, and punished the unsubmissive feudal lords. However, another revolt occurred in 1155. This time David was victorious. He occupied the throne, punished his adversaries, released Abulet's son, Tirkashi, from prison and appointed him "amirspasalari".
David reigned for only six months and was, its is believed put to death by supporters of his father and brother, Sumbat and Ivane Orbeli, The murder was committed in conspiracy with prince Giorgi, who, after his enthronement, appointed Ivane Orbeli "amirspasalari". Upon his reassumption of the throne, Demetre personally crowned his younger son Giorgi. This was not fortuitous: David had a son, Demetre (Demna), who was the legitimate heir to the throne after the death of his father. This created further ground for conspiracies and revolts.
Several court-conspiracies were organized during the reign of Demetre and Giorgi III. The struggle for court-posts was one of the forms of the struggle between the great feudal lords. It was the continuation of the struggle that began as early as the 11th century. After Georgia's unification and the creation of a single royal power, the feudal nobility sought to gain control of the court, occupy the highest posts and influence the king, thereby protecting their class - interests. But Demetre did not allow- the nobles to interfere in matters of state, and the latter grouped themselves around David, the heir to the throne. There were many outstanding issues of internal and foreign policy. The chronicles do not state precisely what the quarrel between father and son was about and what aspect of their conflict was made use of by the feudal lords, but there is little doubt that this conflict was prompted by extremely vital issues.
Ani posed a difficult problem. After the death of David the Builder, the town and region became the object of unceasing clashes, in which both Georgian and Armenian nobles were involved. It is certain that the Armenian nobility had no desire to turn the town over to the Muslims, but it is not clear what status for the town was acceptable to them - its direct incorporation within Georgia or a status of vassal age. It may only be assumed that the Armenian nobility preferred vassalage. A noteworthy fact is that, in one way or another, almost all the plots against the Crown were linked with the Ani-problem. When, in the reign of Demetre, Abulet surrendered the town to Fadlon, this act was followed by the plot of prince Vakhtangi, Abulet and his son, Ivane, against King Demetre.
In the question of Ani, the Demetre-Giorgi, policy was opposed also by prince David. During the struggle for Ani, King Demetre took the Arzrum-emir, Saldukh, prisoner. A prominent role in Demetre's subsequent release of Saldukh was played by the "mtavari" Vasak, whom Giorgi III had imprisoned when he ascended the throne, for Vasak was known as a supporter of his older brother and rival, David. It was evidently not accidental that as a supporter of prince David, Vasak helped the emir in the struggle for Ani. Attention is also attracted by the fact the Armenian historians Vardan, Mkhitar Gosh and Stepanos Orbeliani usually wrote sympathetically about prince David. Even. Vardan, who adopted a neutral stand in his assessment of the Demna-Orbeli-conspiracy, extolled Demetre's son, David, while Mkhitar Gosh wrote of prince David's sympathy for the Armenians.
The Ani-rulers, appointed by the Georgian kings; did not rest content with the status of Crown-officials. Sadun, who governed Ani in 1161 wanted to be the town's sovereign-ruler, and was condemned to death for this. Following Sadun's. execution, King Demetre appointed Ivane Orbeli governor of Ani. In the struggle between the brothers David and Giorgi, Orbeli sided with Giorgi and for this was raised to the office of "amirspasalari". But prince Demna (son of the murdered David) was brought up in the family of Ivane Orbeli and then became his, Orbeli's, son-in-law. It is quite possible that initially this was done to render Demna harmless, for as son-in-law of Orbeli he could not claim the throne. The ambitious Ivane Orbeli apparently did not rest content with the office of "amirspasalari" and sought to become the sovereign-ruler of Ani. Another circumstance that must be noted is that, as "amirspasalari" Orbeli was in possession of Lore-Tashiri, i. e. the former Tashir-Dzorageti-kingdom: the province of Ani bordered on these possession. In 1174 Ivane Orbeli suggested a campaign against Ani, having the intention of consolidating himself in that region. After Ani was captured, the king turned the town over to him. But the role of viceroy did not suit Orbeli, and he associated himself with the Muslim rulers, offering Ani to them as tributary. But the townspeople deprived Ivane Orbeli of the possibility of surrendering the town to the Muslims, and King Giorgi repulsed the invading sultan. Ivane Orbeli was stripped of his gubernatorial post, but he remained the "amirspasalari," of Georgia. King Giorgi was evidently unable to deal summarily with this disloyal feudal lord, and the relations between them remained strained. The Ani-events were followed by a plot by prince Demna and Ivane Orbeli: this time, Ivane Orbeli made use of his kinship with Demna against Giorgi.
King Giorgi Ill's vigorous steps to centralize state-power and his policy of incorporating conquered lands in Georgia provoked the discontent of the Great feudal lords. In conquered and annexed regions, Giorgi did not grant feudal lords immunity-rights, and did not give them larger privileges at the court either. The young prince Demna, who was to receive the throne from the hands of the great feudal lords, was more acceptable to them, and this explains the participation of most of them in the conspiracy. Also noteworthy is that to some extent the violation of the succession to the throne (Demna was the victim of the alliance of King Demetre and Giorgi against David) was also one of the reasons for the discontent. It is quite possible that the long struggle for Ani was lost by Giorgi in the 1170s because of the strong opposition of the "amirspasalari" Ivane Orbeli.
In Georgian historiography it is noted that the Georgian and Armenian chronicles about the Demna-Orbeli-rising are extremely biased. The Georgian historians sought to give a legal foundation for the enthronement of Giorgi III, while the Armenians, particularly Stepanos Orbeliani explained the Demna-Orbeli-conspiracy as being solely an aspiration to defend the rights of the prince against encroachment.
Since it was not easy to fight Giorgi III, the rising was painstakingly prepared over a long period. It began in 1177. The king's opponents were Ivane Orbeli and all His family and supporters, as well as some great feudal lords: the "eristavi" of Kartli, Sumbat Liparitisdze, Ananiya Dvineli, Mkhargrdzeli, Hasan, the ruler of Kayen, and others.
The plotters assembled near Kojori and planned to seize the king suddenly at a suitable moment. But somebody informed the king, and he managed to get to Tbilisi and entrench himself there. Kubassari, chief of the Kipchak-mercenaries, was loyal to the king and joined him with 5,000 troops. This failure caused waverings among the plotters. The king took the offensive and captured the Samshvilde-fortress. The plotters fled to Kojori and took refuge in Lore. The strengthening of the king's position sowed discord among them. Gamrekeli, Grigol Aneli and Mkhargrdzeli went over to the king, who received them with honours instead of punishing them. This increased the number of defectors.
The plotters decided to request aid from neighbouring kingdoms. In particular, they requested aid from Shakh-Armen, the atabagi of Azerbaijan, Eldigizidi, but no assistance was forthcoming. The "atabagi" evidently acted cautiously, adopting a wait and see attitude, and, when it became obvious that the plotters were in a hopeless position he denied them assistance, not wishing to spoil relations with King Giorgi.
The plotters had roughly 30,000 troops. Initially they planned to depose Giorgi and place prince Demna on the Georgian throne, but after the situation changed, Ivane Orbeli demanded a division of the kingdom. The long struggle ended with the king emerging victorious. The plotters besieged in Lore surrended. The prince went to his uncle, but was punished. He was blinded and castrated, and died soon afterwards. The plotters were punished sternly. The sentence was passed by the supreme council ("darbazi") and endorsed by the Church. Those censured by the Church were not permitted to serve in the army, and their estates were confiscated. The king gave these estates to loyal nobles, whom he appointed to high offices, from which his adversaries were removed. The office of "amirspasalari" went to the chief of the Kipchak-mercenaries, Kubassari, the office of "Msakhurtukhutsesi" and "eristavi - eristavi" went to the commoner Afridon. But this was and could not be the final settlement of the intra-class-contradictions, although it was a major triumph of the strong royal power. Evidently Giorgi III had no delusions either.
The relationship between the state and the Church was also a major intra-class-problem. The Church was subordinated to the state in the reign of David the Builder, but at the same time it was granted tax-immunity, which inflicted a considerable loss on the state. For that reason Giorgi III abolished that immunity. When the king defeated the plotters, the Church congratulated him and the synod requested him to restore tax-immunity. This request came at a propitious time. Although the king had been victorious, this victory was won at a high price, and at the time it gave him no advantage to spoil relations with the clergy. He issued a decree restoring the tax-immunity. However, he - sought to make it look as though he had decided upon this act himself.
The armed action of the secular feudal lords was thus followed by an action by the Church-nobility. Whereas the former action was crushed by armed force, in the second case the king had to make a concession. It was evident to Giorgi that discontent was rife among the feudal nobility. He was well aware that the aristocratic families would not reconcile themselves to defeat, that they had only grown quiet in expectation of more suitable occasion.
The inheritance of the throne again posed the king with a thorny problem. Although he had removed his nephew, he did not have a direct male heir. All his children were female. Feudal Georgia had never before known a female-claimant to the throne, but Giorgi decided to enthrone his daughter in his lifetime so that her rights would not be disputed after his death. His daughter, Tamar, was crowned in 1178. Because the situation was complex, Giorgi observed all the formalities. Tamar was crowned with the consent of everybody: the patriarch, the bishops and the nobles. Tamar was thus enthroned with the approval of all the secular and ecclesiastical nobility, but she was crowned personally by Giorgi. The purpose of all this, as we have pointed out, was to avoid excesses after Giorgi's death and also to consolidate the tradition, established by David the Builder, to belittle the role of feudal nobility in the coronation ceremonial. CONTINUE ...




The book of Mariam Lordkiphanidze - "Georgia in the XI-XII centuries"
Published in 1967 by Ganatleba Publishers, Georgia. Editor George B. Hewitt
The web site brought to you by
Besiki Sisauri and Maka Gelashvili and it's part of