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



At the beginning of the 13th century, Georgia was a powerful economically-advanced state, in which feudal relations had reached their highest stage of development. Her many large towns played an important part in her political life.
Together with the king, the higher feudal aristocracy administered the Country and sought to extend its prerogatives.
Many of Georgia's Christian and Muslim vassals, who were evidence of her might, endeavoured to win independence when the situation was favourable. However, supported by the nobility, the towns and the army, the king neutralized the trend towards decentralization and compelled the "eristavt-eristavis" and his vassals to serve him obediently.
Georgia's vassals felt that the death of Queen Tamar and the coronation of the young King Giorgi Lasha, son of Tamar, was a suitable time for giving effect to their designs.
The first to take action was the atabag of Gandza. He refused to pay the annual tribute. His example was followed by other vassals. King Giorgi Lasha used military force to reestablish his rule in Gandza, Nakhichevan, Khlat and Arzrurn. Political equilibrium was restored.
Georgia was known in the world as a strong power.
The European Crusaders requested aid from the Georgian king against the Seljuks. The Roman Pope, Honorius III, wrote to Lasha Giorgi asking him to take part in a planned crusade against the Seljuks. Georgia responded to this request by preparing to join in that crusade.
Bui these plans were unexpectedly wrecked: from the east Georgia Was attacked by a hitherto unknown enemy, the Mongols.
The social system and cultural make-up of united feudal Georgia took final shape in the llth-12th'centuries.. Although in the subsequent difficult situation Georgia was weakened economicaly and split politically, the consciousness of her unity lived on. The foundation of unity laid in the llth-12th centuries ideologically rallied the politically disunited parts of Georgia. Several independent states (the kingdoms of Kartli, Kakheti and Imereti, and the principality of Samtskhe-Saatabago) emerged at the close of the 15th century on the ruins of united Georgia, but the idea of their unity did not die,; and advanced Georgian leaders always hoped to reunite the country.
The significance of those centuries was very great for Georgia's subsequent history. Suffice it to note that the name of the great Georgian poet and philosopher, Shota Rustaveli, is associated with Georgia of the latter half of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century.
Shota Rustaveli was not a historian, and his epic poem is not a historical work. But the artistic images of his poem recapitulate the Georgia of the 12th-13th centuries.
Georgia was, a large, multi-national state in that period. Her kings had suzerainty over the rulers of Georgian and non-Georgian lands. Great states like. Arabia and India, whose kings received tribute from; many countries, are allegorically inferred in "The Knight in the Panther's Skin".
Friendship and co-operation among nations were of the utmost significance to multi-national Georgia. On the whole, the Georgian court pursued a policy of toleration towards other nationalities and religions. As a true son of his epoch, Shota Rustaveli championed brotherhood and mutual assistance irrespective of nationality and religion.
Young Tamar's accession to the throne was marked by enormous difficulties, but the life and reign of Tamar brilliantly bore out Rustaveli's aphorism of gerius: "Lion-cubs are equal, be they male or female".
The coronation of Tamar gave Rustaveli the historical background for his sublime description of the coronation of Tinatin. Like Tamar, Tinatin was a queen; while Avtandil drew his royal' dignity only from being her husband.

Georgian life gave rise to the cult of women propounded in Rustaveli's poem.
In the latter half of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century Georgia was an advanced, economically developed country. There was busy internal and foreign trade, which was of immense significance to the country's economy. Great merchants were vigorously involved in social and political life. The merchants in "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" are active in social life, have close businessrelations with kings and act as their advisers. The army, officials and population were the mainstay of the central state-power. Ideologically, the Georgian king drew his power from the theory of equality before God and the divine origin of the Bagrationi family.
An advanced thinker, who kept in step with the times, Rustaveli championed a strong central state-power. He lauded the submissiveness of the loyal vassal, extolled the strong and benevolent monarch, idealised the monarchy and sang of love and devotion to the homeland. These were advanced ideas in those days.
Thus, the feudal Georgia in which he lived was the foundation of Rustaveli's art, and his "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" is a poetical hymn dedicated to that Georgia. CONTINUE ...




The book of Mariam Lordkiphanidze - "Georgia in the XI-XII centuries"
Published in 1967 by Ganatleba Publishers, Georgia. Editor George B. Hewitt
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