History of Georgia

Article Index

By Academician R. Metreveli, Tbilisi State University

Georgia occupies the center and the west of the Transcaucasus, bordering in the north on Russia, in the east - on the republic of Azerbaijan, in the south - on the republic of Armenia and in the south-west - on Turkey. The nature of Georgia is quite varied; the country is characterized by rough terrain, almost two thirds of it being mountains (Mt. Shkhara rising to 5068.8 m above the sea level). Western Georgia has a humid subtropical climate, while in Eastern Georgia it is dry or moderately humid. The country's natural resources include coal, oil, manganese, non-ferrous metals and some non-metallic ores. Georgia's rivers are extensively used for generating electricity and for irrigation.

The area of Georgia totals 69.5 thousand sq. km with a population of 5.2 million inhabitants.
The Georgians are one of the most ancient peoples of the world. They have traversed a difficult path of historical development, which will be retraced below.
Primitive man can be traced in Transcaucasia, particularly in Georgia, back to the most ancient period of the Paleolithic, viz. the Chellean epoch. The most age-old traces, about 2,5 million years, are found in Eastern part of Georgia, near Dmanisi. In the Acheulian period man settled here more frequently. Of the stations of that time most noteworthy is that at Yashtkhva, near present-day Sukhumi. Numerous implements from that period have been discovered in the basin of the river Qvirila. The Mousterian epoch (100 to 35 thousand years ago) saw vigorous population of the territory of Georgia, especially its Black Sea littoral and the Rioni-Qvirila basin (where Jruchi, Sagvarjile and Chakhati caves have been discovered). Settlement of this area was particularly intensive in the Late Paleolithic period, of which the most notable stations are at Deviskhvreli, Sakazhia, Sagvarjile, Samertskhle Kide, Gvarjilas Kldé, and elsewhere (35 to 10 thousand years ago). Quite numerous on the territory of Georgia are primitive man's cave stations of the Neolithic period: Odishi, Kistriki, Anaseuli, Zemo Alvani, etc.
The development of agriculture and cattle breeding, smelting of copper and bronze, general technical progress led, in the middle of the 4th millennium B.C., to a breakthrough in the sphere of the economic and social life of society. The beginning of the 3rd millennium B.C. laid the foundation of a new stage - the Bronze Age. This period in Georgia is marked by a high indigenous culture. Noteworthy, that Georgians were considered as an forerunners of metallurgic - a Georgian tribe "Khalibs" were first, who have discovered metal and mastered in producing it. Also, "Khalibs" are mentioned in a Holy Bible. Especially noteworthy in this context is the structure of the big barrows (kurgans) in Trialeti (Lower Kartli (Iberia)), attesting to a definite progress of social life at the time: precious goblets, silverware, four-wheeled wooden chariots.
The Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages saw vigorous development of economy all over the territory of Georgia, along with a high level of various crafts, expansion of trade relations, accompanied by an increase of social inequality. By the end of the latter half of the 2nd millennium B.C. the prerequisites appeared for the emergence of an early class society. It is noteworthy that Georgian tribes began to consolidate during the Late Bronze Age, as is demonstrated vividly by the emergence of a material culture on a vast territory inhabited by kindred tribes, as well as by the formation of large tribal confederations. At the end of the 2nd-beginning of the 1st millennium B.C. in the south-eastern region of historical Georgia two major tribal unions arose; that of the Diaochi (Taochi, Tao) and the Kolkha, both continuing to the 8th cent.B.C. In written documents of the Urartian kings Argishti and Sardur II the Diaochi and Kolkha are referred to as large tribal unions with which these kings clashed frequently. The wealth and power of the Kolkha were reflected in the ancient Greek myth of the Argonauts.In mid-8th cent. B.C. the Diaochi were destroyed as a result of Urartian invasions. The ascendancy of the Kolkha and their opposition to the Diaochi also contributed to this. Part of the lands of the Diaochi passed to the Kolkha. Shortly afterwards the struggle started between Urartu and the Kolkha. In the 720s B.C. the KolKha fell under Cimmerian incursions from the north. The Kolkha and the Diaochi were essentially early class confederations that disintegrated in mid-8th cent. B.C.
Ancient Georgian tribes and tribal unions had cultural relations with various peoples of the East: the Hittites, Mitanni, Urartians, etc. They maintained good neighborly relations with the Armenians and North Caucasian tribes. In the 8th-7th cent. B.C. the Karts, Megrels, Chans and Svans came to the fore among the Georgian tribes, each tribe having a language, territory and customs of its own. Later on these tribes united and, as a result of their consolidation in the 6th-4th cent. B.C., two state confederations took shape in Eastern and Western Georgia.
In the 6th cent. B.C., in the Valley of Egrisi in Western Georgia a state emerged, which ancient Greeks referred to as "the land of the Kolkhi" and about which a wealth of interesting information has survived.


At the end of the 7th cent. 8.C. the Median kingdom gained power to the south-east of Georgia, superseded in mid-6th cent. by the Persian state of the Achaemenids. The latter subdued the population of Georgia: the Tibarenes, Mossinikoi, Macrones, Moschi and Mares were within the 19th satrapy, paying the Persians an annual tribute. The Kolkhi, who lived northward, were obliged to send to Persia a hundred girls and a hundred boys every five years. Only three nations were obliged to pay such kind of contribution and they are: Kolkhi,  ancient Ethiopia and Arab tribes.
As far back as in the 6th cent. B.C. the Kingdom of Kolkha (now referred to as the Kingdom of Egrisi) struck its own silver coins known in special literature as "white Colchian coins". These coins circulated widely not only in the Black Sea littoral, but also in the Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) and beyond its borders.
The advanced economy and favorable geographic and natural conditions of Coichis attracted the Greeks; they colonized the Black Sea coast, setting up their settlements: Phasis (in the vicinity of present-day Poti), Gyenos (Ochamchiré), Dioscurias (Sukhumi), Anakopia (Akhali Atoni) and Pityus (Bichvinta). The influence, exerted on Kolkha by the vast Achaemenian Empire with its thriving commerce and subsequently the economic and commercial ties with other regions (Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, the northern Black Sea coast) accelerated in many ways the social-economic development of the region.
The 6th-4th cent. B.C. was the time of intensive consolidation of the Kartli (Iberia)an tribes largely inhabiting eastern and southern Georgia. Meskhian tribes came to the fore, gradually moving north-eastwards and forming their settlements in the very heart of Kartii. Mtskheta was one of such settlements, deriving its name from the ethnonym "Meskhians".
The struggle between the various Georgian confederations ultimately resulted in the formation of the Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) (Iberia) with Mtskheta as its capital. According to ancient Georgian tradition the creation of the kingdom is dated to the end of the 4th cent. B.C. and linked to the name of King Parnavaz I (the founder of the Parnavazid dynasty), who expelled the invaders (Macedonian army with their commander Azo) from Georgia and began to reign over the liberated country. The Meskhians, who preserved and carried over cultural and religious traditions inherited from the Hittites and other nations of Asia Minor, played an active role in the creation of the kingdom, where the god of the Moon Armazi and the goddess of fertility Zadeni (both names of Hittite origin) became the chief deities. During Parnavaz I's reign Armazis-tsikhh,the citadel of the capital, and an idol representing the god Armazi, were erected. According to Kartli (Iberia)s Tskhovreba ("History of Georgia"), Parnavaz I created the Georgian script. But recent researches testifyed that Georgian scripts are created in II-I milleniums B.C. Noteworthy to mention that Georgian language is related to famous Shumerian language. Archaeological finds show that from early times Mtskheta had been an advanced and powerful city. This is graphically corroborated by the monuments of architecture (acropolis, etc.), unearthed in the city and its environs. The Kingdoms of Kartli (Iberia) (Iberia) and Kolkhis were one of the first state formations in the Caucasus.
Ancient Georgian states maintained political and economic ties with Achaemenid Iran, the Seleucids, Pontus, etc. Thus, in the 6th-4th cent. B.C. the Kingdoms of Kartli (Iberia) and of Kolkha played a significant role in the economic and political life of the ancient world.
In the classical period Georgia gained in strength: her agriculture and crafts developed and towns sprang up. Under Parnavaz and his successor Saurmag the Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) comprised not only Eastern Georgia, but some adjacent areas as well. It incorporated part of Western Georgia to form an administrative unit of Kartli (Iberia) (Iberia), viz. the Argveti eristavate. The Kingdom of Egrisi also came under the influence of the Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia). This contributed to closer contacts among the Georgian population and paved the way for a quick unification of these tribes of the same ethnic root, and for the formation of a single Georgian nation.
As a result of Pontus Wars between Pontus Kingdom and Rome, The Kingdoms of Kartli (Iberia) and of Kolkha waged incessant wars against foreign conquerors who strove to subjugate them (especially in the 1st cent. B.C.). Here the Romans should be mentioned first. In 66 B.C., having defeated the Kingdom of Pontus and King Mithradates VI (who was considered by Romas as one of the most dangerous foe), they, led by G. Pompey, started military operations against Armenia, Albania and Kartli (Iberia). Subjugating Armenia, Pompey marched into Kartli (Iberia) and Albania. In 65 B.C. King Artag of Kartli (Iberia) after ferocious battles, was forced to surrender and pay contribution - golden throne, seat and table. From here Pompey crossed to Western Georgia and reached the city of Phasis. Later he subdued Albania too.
The population of Kartli (Iberia) offered stubborn resistance to the Romans, causing the latter to give up the idea of reducing Kartli (Iberia) once and for all. In the 1st cent. B.C. Kartli (Iberia) emerged as a strong state, conducting an independent policy.


In the 40s-50s A.D. serious changes occurred in the foreign policy of Kartli (Iberia). Thanks to the diplomatic foresight of King Mithradates I the country's role grew considerably in the international arena. Iberia's foreign policy took shape with account of the principal demands of the Roman Oriental policy, which made for its clearly pro-Roman orientation.
In the first half of the 2nd cent. A.D. the Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) grew still stronger, especially under Parsman II (the 130s-150s A.D.). King Parsman openly opposed Rome. In the year 134 he, during the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138) he denied to visit him and mustered the Alans and led them against the Roman and Parthian vassal states (Albania, Media, Armenia, Cappadocia). The Emperor Hadrian sought to improve relations with Kartli (Iberia), but Parsman refused to compromise. Under Hadrian's successor, the Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) the relations between the Roman Empire and Kartli (Iberia) improved. King Parsman II, accompanied by a large retinue, arrived in Rome to a royal welcome, and the Georgians were granted the exceptional right (only a few examples of that kind are inscribed) to offer sacrifice in the Capitol. According to Dio Cassius a statue of King Parsman was erected in Rome. The Emperor recognized Kartli (Iberia) in her now broadly extended borders.
Earlier, too, Roman emperors used to send various gifts and make donations to the kings of Kartli (Iberia). Thus, the Emperor Vespasian (69-79), on behalf of his sons Titus and Domitian and in his own name, had a wall erected in Mtskheta. The inscription on the wall says that King Mithradates of Kartli (Iberia) is Caesar's friend and a favorite of the Roman people. Emperor Hadrian presented King Parsman with a war elephant and 500 troops.
In the latter half of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd cent. A.D. the Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) retained the power and successes achieved earlier. But in the 230s, after a strong Sassanid kingdom had risen on the ruins of the Kingdom of Parthia, the to reign political situation of Iberia became complicated.
Like Kartli (Iberia), the West-Georgian Kingdom of Kolkha waged a continuous struggle against the Romans for its independence. Roman domination in Western Georgia was seriously undermined in the 270s by an uprising led by a Kolkhian slave, Anicetus. The Romans, attracted by the geographical situation of Georgia and by her wealth, were reluctant to withdraw from here, and the Georgians had to wage a struggle with them for centuries, owing to which the Georgian people succeeded in preserving their independence together with their original national spiritual and material culture.
Monuments of material culture attest to a high level of architecture and building art, goldsmithing, painting and manufacture of glass. The cultural achievements and economic power of Georgia in the period under discussion are corroborated by items unearthed in Mtskheta-Armazi, Uplistsikhh, Vani, Tsikhh-Goji (Archaeopolis), etc...
The material culture of the period that took shape on local soil, its architectural monuments are marked by grandeur and exquisiteness of form. It is noteworthy that in Mtskheta there existed the offices of architect and senior artist. Of the surviving monuments Armaz-tsikhé (the citadel) - the king's residence - should by singled out. Of the same type is another big fortress at the village of Tsitsamuri, Mtskheta district, known as Zedan-tsikhe and referred to by foreign authors as Seusamora. Of monuments of the Classical period in Western Georgia most noteworthy are those at Vani as well as the remains of a city site that served as the residence of the rulers of Lazica at a later period. The tombs of members of the royal family and of the aristocracy, found at Mtskheta (near Bagineti and the railway station), are perfect monuments of architecture. The gold ornaments set with precious stones, viz. rings, ear-rings, bracelets, pendants, beads, diadems,etc., found here, are genuine works of jeweler's art.
Along with goldsmith's art various crafts also developed: manufacture of tiles, glass-ware, metal weapons, etc. Commerce, too, was at a relevant level and extended to foreign countries. International trade routes ran through Mtskheta, connecting it with Artashat, the capital of Armenia, with the Rioni valley and coastal cities and towns, with Albania, with areas in Asia Minor via Samtskhe-Javakheti, and so on. The archaeological material shows that in the first centuries of the Christian era Roman and Parthian silver coins circulate in Kartli (Iberia), where local coins were also struck, following their design as a model. A large number of imported items have been unearthed in Kartli (Iberia), mostly articles of luxury. The Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) maintained trade relations with artisan centers in Egypt, Central Asia, India and Arabia, from where precious stones were imported. There occur many items of Roman glyptic, Syrian glassware.


The state and cultural power of Kartli (Iberia) in the Classical period was one of the major factors in the process of the becoming of the Georgian people. It was at that time that a fairly stable East-Georgian (Kart) nationality took shape, which subsequently played the role of a link in the creation of the Georgian nation. This process was completed somewhat later - during the spread of the influence of the Christian Church throughout Georgia and the emergence of a single Georgian feudal state. In the 330s Christianity was proclaimed the state religion of Georgia. This marked the beginning of vigorous development of arts and letters. Members of the high society of Kartli (Iberia) and Egrisi were well acquainted with the literature and philosophy of the East and the West. Among them were eminent scholars-philosophers: Peter the Iberian and Joané the Laz (5th cent.). Centers of culture and enlightenment also existed in Georgia, some being of international significance. In the 4th century a school of rhetoric and philosophy functioned not far from the town of Phasis (modern Poti). Along with representatives of the local nobility students from abroad were also taught at the school. It was the alma mater of the famous Greek philosopher and rhetorician Themistius who says that his father Eugenius had also learned wisdom at that school.
Christianity destroyed Old Georgian literature and began to create a literature of its own, mostly translated. The oldest books translated then were the Gospels and the Old Testament, done from Greek and Syriac originals. Soon original works, mostly hagiographies, appeared. The Old Georgian "Passion of Shushanik" was written in the 5th century. Another such work by an anonymous author, "The Martyrdom of Evstatk Mtskheteli", came down to us from the 6th century.
Monuments of church architecture, as well as ruins of some secular buildings (e.g. the fortress of Ujarma) have survived to this day. The basilica-type churches of Bolnisi and Urbnisi, dating from the 5th century and the unique cruciform domed Jvari church of the end of the 6th-beginning of the 7th century near Mtskheta, at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari (Kura), are most significant monuments of architecture. These monuments, dating from the 5th-6th cent., attest to the high level of building art in Georgia.
In the 4th-6th centuries the Georgian people fought against Persian and Byzantine conquerors to preserve independence.
Egrisi was repelling the Byzantines and Kartli (Iberia) the Persians. In mid-5th century Vakhtang I Gorgasal became king of Kartli (Iberia), heading the struggle against the Persians. He paved the way for transferring the capital of Georgia from Mtskheta to Tbilisi. The territory of Tbilisi had been inhabited from Neolithic times, i.e. 4 to 5 thousand years ago. By the middle of the 5th century the population of Tbilisi had grown considerably. The transfer of the capital from Mtskheta to Tbilisi was accomplished by King Dachi, Vakhtang I's son and successor.
The struggle against the Persians was waged by the population of the entire Transcaucasia. Vakhtang Gorgasal practically created an anti-Iranian coalition comprising, besides the Georgians, the Armenians and Albanians. However, this struggle was unsuccessful: the King of Kartli (Iberia) fell in battle early in the 6th century. After his death the Iranians began to act with added fierceness and zeal. In 523, having subdued Kartli (Iberia), they moved into Western Georgia. Their intention to seize Egrisi became the casus belli between Persia and Byzantium. This war lasted 20 years, mostly on the territory of Egrisi, laying it waste.
The valorous and selfless struggle of the Georgian people, the flexible policy and diplomacy, resorted to by the rulers of Georgia, saved the country from catastrophe. Byzantine historians (Agathias, Menander and others) extolled the courage and industry of the Georgians.
In 572 the Kartli (Iberia) and rose in arms and expelled the Persians. Local administrative-state government or Saerismtavro was instituted in Kartli (Iberia). This early feudal state actually served as the basis for the creation of the future united Georgian monarchy.
In the 7th-8th cent. important socio-political changes took place in Georgia. The principalities (samtavros) of Kakheti, Hereti and Tao-Klarjeti, as well as the western Georgian state - the Kingdom of Abkhazia - took shape in this period.
This period is significant also for the obtaining external political situation. The invasions of the Arabs in mid-7th century and their sway undermined considerably the economic development of the country, Kartli (Iberia) suffering the hardest. The struggle against the Arabs assumed a popular character, involving Georgia's neighbors as well - the Armenians and Albanians. From the middle of the 8th century the Arab sway became unbearable, leading to an intensification of popular activity. The forces fighting against the Arabs united their efforts under the banner of Christianity. The selfless struggle waged by the Georgians ultimately resulted in a gradual shrinking of the Sphere of Arab influence, which had extended to Tbilisi for a relatively long time.



Tao-Klarjeti ("Kingdom of the Georgians") should be singled out among the newly-formed feudal entities. In the first half of the 10th century its southern borders extended to the river Araxes. In the second half of the same century, during the rule of the distinguished political figure David Kuropalates, Tao-Klarjeti was a large and powerful principality, whose borders reached lake Van and the town of Erzink (Erzincan). The growth and consolidation of this principality contributed to an expansion of its cultural and economic ties with other kingdoms and principalities. An enhanced diffusion of the Georgian language and literature in Western Georgia began in the 8th century. Georgian became the official language of the state and the Church in all Georgian kingdoms and principalities, the foreign political ties between them strengthening. King David Kuropalates even interfered in some internal affairs of the Byzantine Empire. Thus, in 1079, during a rebellion against the Emperor Basil, David Kuropalates sent him a reinforcement troops led by Torniké Eristavi, thereby helping the monarch of the great Byzantine Empire to save his throne and his empire. David Kuropalates' name was known throughout the Orient, where he commanded great authority. The Armenian historian Stepanos Taronets, a contemporary of David, wrote: "The great David Kuropalates surpassed all the rulers of our time ... He established peace and good will in all eastern states, especially, in Armenia and Georgia. He put an end to wars...and defeated all the peoples living around, and all monarchs submitted to his authority of their own free will".
David Kuropalates initiated the political unification of Georgia. Supported by Joané Marushisdze, his contemporary Kartli (Iberia)an eristavi and active political figure, David Kuropalates raised his adopted son Bagrat Bagrationi to the throne of Kartli (Iberia) (in 975) and Abkhazia (in 978), thereby actually uniting Eastern and Western Georgia into a single feudal state. The 10th-11th centuries was the time of the shaping and consolidation of united Georgia. The unification of Georgia was the result of the socio-political and economic development of the country. It found support in the progressive forces of society and served as a reliable guarantee of further success.
Georgia's political unification had its opponents as well: part of the nobility and the reactionary wing of the Church, supported by foreign conquerors (Byzantium and the Seljuk Turks). The nobility and the clergy feared the loss or limitation of their privileges, while the foreign conquerors were apprehensive of the unification and consolidation of Georgia.
The differences between the royal power and the nobility made themselves felt as early as in the reign of Bagrat III (975-1 014). On his way back from Western Georgia to Kartli (Iberia) the future king routed the nobility that had rebelled against him under the leadership of Kavtar Tbeli, established himself at Uplistsikhé and began to rule. His rule was challenged by Rati I Baghvash, eristavi of Kldekari. Thanks to the correct home and foreign policy conducted by the Royal Court the territory of the Georgian kingdom expanded. Meanwhile the influence of Byzantium gradually dwindled. Relations with the Empire became aggravated under Giorgi (1014-1027) and Bagrat IV (1027-1072). Byzantium tried in every way possible to preserve her earlier influence over Transcaucasia and win to her side the Georgian nobles that were disloyal to their sovereign. In the 1060s-1070s the situation in Georgia became serious owing to the appearance  of the Seljuk Turks, whose invasions caused Georgia great damage. Especially destructive were the so called "great Turkish conquests", starting in the 1080s. Being nomads, the Seljuk Turks turned the lands they captured into pastures: this deprived the feudal economy of its basis, i.e. land, jeopardizing the very existence of Georgia. However, despite their strong drive, the Seljuks failed to deprive Georgia of her independence. The Georgian people suffered severe losses but managed to preserve their state organization. Giorgi II was forced to pay an annual tribute to the Sultan.
In the 11th century Georgia possessed sufficient forces to repel the Seljuk hordes, but that called for the rallying of the Georgians. The country needed a clever and vigorous leader to organize struggle against the enemy. In the obtaining situation, as a result of the intervention of progressive statesmen the still young King Giorgi II abdicated in 1089 in favor of his 16-year-old son David (David IV the Builder). David inherited a heavy legacy: a country devastated by the Seljuks; hungry population that had fled to the mountains; ravaged towns, villages and fortresses. Decisive measures were imperative to resuscitate the country.
The king and his advisers made a comprehensive analysis of the situation in Georgia at the end of the 11th century and took into account the factors that impeded the consolidation of the country. In the first place it was necessary to strengthen the realm and rally its disunited subjects around their monarch. David the Builder began precisely with this: he gathered all those who were loyal to him, so that he could lean upon them in successfully pursuing the cause he had embarked upon. Personally leading his loyal detachments, the King attacked the Seljuks and, routing them, allowed the peasants who had fled to the mountains to return to their land. King David gradually expelled the Seljuk Turks from Kartli (Iberia). His successful campaigns inspired the Georgian people, gave them confidence in their own strength and hope for a final victory over the enemy. The country returned to intensive agriculture, and cities and towns rose again.



David the Builder spared no effort to strengthen the country, and his constructive activity was crowned with success: Georgia gained strength. The king increased his troops, drove the remaining Seljuks out of Georgia and stopped paying them the tribute.
In 1104 David the Builder incorporated Hereti and Kakheti into the now united Georgia. The Seljuk Turks did not relish losing a tributary, therefore the atabeg of Ganja, a man close to the Sultan, hurriedly sent an army to Georgia in order to eject King David from Hereti and Kartli (Iberia). The fully armed king met the enemy. The battle took place in 1104 near Ertsukhi, where the Georgians were victorious and King David displayed great courage.
The Georgian Crown set itself the task of recovering the cities, captured by the Seljuks: Tbilisi, Rustavi, Samshvildh and others.
But first it was necessary to solve the problem of the Georgian Church. The point at issue was that the Church at the moment was in opposition to the Crown, and it was of paramount importance to take decisive measures in the spiritual sphere. The Georgian Church was a major feudal organization in the Middle Ages. It had a period of particular ascendancy in the 11th century, when, coming into possession of vast land holdings, it acquired immunity and turned into something like a state within a state. Beginning with the 10th century high church offices began to fall into the hands of unworthy men. This is, incidentally, attested by the historian of David the Builder. The Church supported independently-minded feudal lords in their craving to be kings in their domains. In order to strengthen the central power the Georgian royal court challenged the reactionary church aristocracy. The first step in this direction was the Ruisi-Urbnisi Church Council, at which the stand of King David and his supporters prevailed and decisions were taken that radically changed the activities of the Church.
Henceforward big feudal lords began to lose their ecclesiastic allies. King David's reform was supported by broad sections of the population, the administration in Georgia becoming strong and centralized. In the first quarter of the 12th century of great importance was the merger of the office of Chqondideli ("Archbishop of Chqondidi") with that of Mtsignobartukhutsesi (literally: "chief of the scribes") -chief adviser to the King on all problems of state, and the institution of the joint office of Chqondideli-Mtsignobartukhutsesi. This dealt a blow on the upper hierarchy of the Church, that had gone too far, leaving it with no other choice but to bow to the Crown. All this created favorable conditions for fighting both external and internal enemies.
The historical development of the state organization of feudal Georgia and the creation of the institution of Chqondideli-Mtsignobartukhutsesi were organically interlinked. Hence "monasteries and bishoprics and every church will receive rules and canons for conducting the divine service and all church regulations from the darbazis-kari as indisputable law - most beautiful, reasonable and respectable in divine service and fasting" ("Kartli (Iberia)s Tskhovreba").
Final liberation of Georgia from the Seljuk Turks called for the expulsion of the latter from their footholds in the Transcaucasus: from Shirvan and Ran in the east and from Armenia in the South.
King David the Builder carried out an extraordinary military reform, introducing strict discipline which strengthened the sense of doing one's duty without fail. Special attention was devoted to good training of the troops and introducing definite changes in the existing regulations.
To ensure quick movement King David increased the number of troops and cavalry detachments; he changed the strategy and tactics of warfare. The King especially favored the stratagem of luring the enemy into an ambush and effecting a surprise attack.
Part of the Georgian army still depended upon big feudal lords, their will and wishes, and their relations with the king. At the same time incessant wars kept the most  productive part of the population away from home and farming. The country's power depended not only on the organization of the army, but on economic regeneration as well. In view of this the need arose for creating an army of non-local population. The Crown settled some 40,000 families of the Polovtsy on Georgian territory. Presently they became integrated into the local feudal relations and each family gave one warrior, creating an army of 40,000 men. In this way King David sought to maximally limit the political rights of the feudal lords and to strengthen the royal authority. The settlement of the Polovtsy in Georgia in 1118-1120 and the creation of a standing army recruited from them made the king practically independent of Georgian feudal lords and strengthened the country as a whole.
David the Builder gradually annexed the cities of Samshvildé (1110) and Rustavi (1115), the fortress of Gishi (1117) and the town of Loré (1118).
The Kingdom of Georgia made intensive preparations for a decisive battle aimed at liberating Tbilisi. In the War of Thrialeti, in 1110 Georgian King David IV, with 1500 (fifteen hundred! not thousand) beat the Seljuks with an army of 95000 (ninety five thousand! not hundred). In 1121 in the Didgori War with 55,000 (55 thousand) men (250 Crusaders among them) beat an army of 450,000 (450 thousand) Seljuks. (This army was supposed to go against Crusaders in Jerusalem, but the importance of destroying Georgia was incomparably greater). The battle was fought on 12 August, 1121 near Didgori, the Georgians winning a brilliant victory. In 1122 Tbilisi was incorporated into Georgia, and it again became the capital of Georgia (earlier Kutaisi was the capital).



The struggle of the Georgian people against the Turks was of great importance for Shirvan. The joint struggle of the Georgians and Shirvanis ensured Shirvan's independence of the Seljuks. In 1124 King David annexed Shirvan to Georgia.
The king and his army participated in the struggle for the liberation of the Armenian people. In 1123 he took a number of Armenian fortresses. Representatives of Anis appealed to the king to take the town into his possession. In 1124 King David, at the head of 60,000 men captured Anis. During the reign of David's successor Demetré I (1125-1156) the Seljuk Turks made several attempts to recover Anis. The Georgians had to make concessions and conclude a treaty with the Turks, according to which Anis was ceded to the Moslem ruler but on terms of vassalage. In 1138 the Georgians took Gandza (Ganja), and to commemorate the victory they brought the fortress gate to Georgia. Under King Giorgi III (1156-1184) struggle against the Seljuks gained momentum. In 1161 Giorgi III took Anis, joining it to his kingdom, and in 1162 he captured Dvin. In 1167 in response to an appeal of Aghsartan the Shirvan-shah, a vassal of Georgia, King Giorgi's troops undertook a military expedition to Shirvan, as a result of which Sharuban and Daruband were recovered.
In 1177 the nobles, headed by loané Orbeli and Prince Demna (Demetre), rose against King Giorgi III. The king quelled the rebellion , and in 1178 ceded the throne to his only daughter and heiress Tamar. However, Giorgi remained coregnant until his death in 1184. In the same year, in compliance with the demand of the highnobles, Tamar was enthroned for a second time. This ceremonial was arranged in such  way as to emphasize the role of noble houses in investing an heir to the throne with royal power.
Thus emboldened, the nobility began to "revise" the policy of the royalSee court. Vizirs originating from among the commoners - the amirspasalar Qubasar and the msakhurtukhutsesi (master of the royal household)- Apridon were removed from office. At that a group of opponents, headed by the mechurchletukhutsesi (minister of finance), raised their voice in demanding that along with the king's Darbazi (a council of representatives of the higher temporal and spiritual aristocracy), a Karavi (a parliament) be also instituted, and that this karavi be vested with executive power. This demand was not met, but the queen was obliged to reckon with the upper strata, granting them greater rights.
Then the problem of an heir to the throne, i.e. the marriage of the Queen, arose. On the decision of the darbazi Queen Tamar married Prince Yuri Bogolyubsky, son of the Grand Duke of Suzdal Andrei Bogolyubsky (1185). The Prince consort Yuri became involved in the inner-class struggle that developed at the Georgian royal court. Two and a half years later Queen Tamar dissolved her marriage to Prince Yuri, and in 1189 married David Soslan. But in 1191 a group of courtiers, disgruntled with the queen's policy, called Prince Yuri back from Constantinople, where he had been staying, and stirred up a large-scale rebellion, in which the feudal lords of almost the entire Western Georgia were involved. Queen Tamar suppressed the rebellion and Prince Yuri was again expelled from the country.
The end of the 12th century saw major successes in Georgia's foreign policy. Thanks to a strong and flexible military organization the Georgians undertook a massive offensive against the Turkish invaders. In 1195 the 400,000 Turks were crushed by 90,000 Georgians leaded by king David Soslan in the battle at Shamkor, and in 1203 at Basiani. The Georgian army marched to the southern coast of the Black Sea and won back the lands populated with Georgian tribes of the Laz and Chan. The Georgians captured Trebizond, Sam sun, Sinope, Cerasus, Kotyora and Heraclea, and Queen Tamar formed the Kingdom of Trebizond incorporating all the territories.
In the first decade of the 13th century the Sultan of Erzink and the Emir of Arzrum became Queen Tamar's vassals. In 1208-1209 Tamar subjugated Archesh, and in 1210 the Georgian army took the towns of Marand, Tabriz, Miyaneh, Zenjan and Kazvin, laying them under tribute. Transcaucasian mountaineers placed themselves under Queen Tamar unconditionally swore allegiance to her. Queen Tamar's policy was continued by her son and heir Giorgi IV Lasha (1213- 1223). By the 1220s Georgia was a politically and economically powerful feudal monarchy.See 
Centralized royal power contributed to the strengthening of cities and towns, and development of trade and crafts brought about a considerable increase of the urban population. Towns, in their turn, were interested in doing away with feudal isolation and came out in support of unification of the country. Tbilisi and Kutaisi held a leading position in the economy of Georgia at that period. Rustavi, Samshvildé, Dmanisi, Ateni, Gori, Zhinvali, Artanuji, Akhaltsikhé, Khunani, Khornabuji, Telavi and other towns also prospered. The beginning of the 11th century marked an up-growth of cities and towns. Crafts became detached from agriculture, their wares being in high demand with the population. Manufacture of earthenware (ketsi) and tinware, perfumes, blacksmithing, carpentry, baking of bread, book-binding, copying, etc. developed vigorously.



The wide diffusion and development of numerous cratts in Georgia in the period under discussion is attested not only by written historical sources, but also by material culture and works of art. In the 11th-12th centuries Georgia was noted for her rich gold-, silver- and copperware. Vessels were also made of crystal, cut glass and ordinary glass. Knitting and needlework were known in Georgia from time immemorial. Craftsmen of the period did not constitute a definite class, some being serfs and others free men. Trade developed hand in hand with crafts. A large part of the wealth created (handicrafts, building materials, ingots of silver and gold and ornaments, made of these metals, precious stones, etc.) constituted commodity. According to Acad. I.Javakhishvili "there was no article, that could not be bought in the market or in the countryside", viz. agricultural implements, foodstuffs, etc. Georgia's situation on a trade route, linking the West with the East - known already in Classical times, - contributed to the development of foreign trade. This route facilitated expansion of commercial ties with other countries. Georgia's broad trade links with other countries in the 11th-12th centuries are attested not only by historical literature, but by numismatic and archaeological material as well. The Crown gave all-out support to the development of trade. Good trade routes enabled this country to communicate with the outer world. Caravans brought textiles, perfumes, harness, sugar, etc. to Georgia from Muslim countries and Byzantium. In the 12th century wool was imported from Egypt. Tbilisi was the hub of Georgia's home and foreign trade. Other towns were also fairly active in commercial transactions. Merchants formed an important social stratum. The king and the Church had their own serf-merchants. They traded within the country and paid their masters a tribute in money and kind (wax, salt, etc.).
In Tbilisi rich merchants formed a privileged circle of the population. Possessing wealth, they exercised considerable influence all over the country. The Crown duly appreciated the importance of big merchants for the country, surrounding them with special care. They established close relations with the feudal aristocracy, some of them joining the ranks of aristocracy through the purchase of estates. The merchants had their own guilds headed by an elder whose duties included management of commercial affairs as well as according a fitting reception to foreign merchants. The guild controlled caravan trade. The activities of merchants were given support and encouragement. It is noteworthy that along with business big merchants also maintained economic and, at times, even diplomatic contacts with other countries. The promotion of the merchant class into social life is attested by the fact that a wealthy merchant, Zankan Zorababel, took part in the organization of Queen Tamar's marriage, and it was he who fetched Prince Yuri Bogolyubsky to Georgia.
In the 11th-12th centuries Georgia had a regulated monetary system. The state minted money, determined the metal to be used and the monetary unit, the scale of prices, and set the rules of issue and withdrawal of money from circulation. From early 12th century the country experienced an economic boom, facilitated by a financial reform carried out by David the Builder. Legal tender at that period was gold, silver and copper currency, the former two being used in international trade and the latter at home.
Georgia's agriculture at that period was on the upgrade, agricultural implements being gradually perfected. Of great importance was the widespread use of the plough; the so-called large plough was popular mostly in the lowlands of Kakheti whose natural conditions allowed its wide use. In his everyday work the peasant used tools, that had stood the test of time: spade, shovel, hoe, sickle, ax, pruning knife, etc.
Like in ancient times, Georgia's economy in the 11th-12th centuries made use of various types of transport matched to the natural conditions of this or that area. Georgian ethnographic material allows us to trace back various vehicles whose design was determined by concrete local conditions. In mountain areas of Georgia sledges and sleds were used, while in the plain we mostly come across a two-wheel cart; in the transition areas mixed types of vehicles were used.
In the period under discussion water mills acquired particular importance in agricultural technology. The high level of agriculture was attained due to major irrigation canals and aqueducts, constructed - through the effort of the government - in the Tiriponi valley, in the environs of Ruisi, Urbnisi, Samgori, in Kakheti and other places. Besides these structures, pipelines and aqueducts in Vardzia, Dmanisi, Geguti and Tbilisi also attest to the high level of water supply systems in the 11th-12th centuries.



The growing of cereals and leguminous plants, as well as wine-making was especially developed in Georgia's agriculture. According to Acad. I.Javakhishvili 420 varieties of grapes were grown in Georgia. Also widespread were such industrial crops, as flax, hemp, etc. Flax had been cultivated here from ancient times and, together with wax and honey (abundantly produced by well-developed apiculture), featured prominently in home and foreign trade. Animal husbandry was also well developed for use as draft animals and also for making meat and dairy products, leather and wool. Poultry farming also played a significant role, and sericulture was of great importance since silk was an item of export.
The 11th-12th centuries witnessed a high level of development of feudal Georgia's culture - philosophy, historiography, philology, letters, architecture, monumental painting, miniature, metalwork and pottery. Shota Rustaveli's great epic poem "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" was created at the turn of the 12th to 13th century. Scholarly and literary work flourished at centers of culture existing within Georgia and abroad. The antecedents of the highly developed culture of 12th-cent. Georgia had been prepared by the preceding period. The Iviron monastery on Mt. Athos, the Georgian monastery on the Black Mountain, the monastery of the Holy Cross in Palestine, the Petritsoni monastery in Bulgaria - these were Georgian centers where intensive scholarly and cultural work was carried on.
The culture of the country was determined by the development of education, which attained considerable progress at the time under discussion. Schools were mainly attached to churches and monasteries. The system of education in Georgia was in fact fully subordinated to Christian ideology. The view is justified according to which alongside schools of rhetoric there were primary schools in various towns. It is not fortuitous that buildings for schools (seminaries) are found near the monasteries of Opiza, Oshki, Shatberdi, Berta, Khandzta, and others.
Schools under the auspices of churches and monasteries were official; the subjects there were theology, hymnography, liturgics and Georgian manuscript book-writing. At the same time in the families of members of the royal court and feudal lords children were educated by private tutors. The larger churches were designed not only for cultic and monastic activities but served also as centers of school education.
Close acquaintance with the Byzantine system of education played a significant role in the progress of school education in 11th-12th cent. Georgia. Many Georgians received education in Byzantium, some of them subsequently becoming outstanding scholars (e.g. Eprem Mtsiré). Giorgi Mtatsmindeli sent eighty Georgian youths to Byzantium to receive education and be instructed in the rules of divine service at the Iviron monastery.
King David the Builder gave close attention to the education of his people. This fact was not overlooked by the Armenian chronicler Vardan Bardzmerts who wrote that "David took great care of the Iberian people, who sought knowledge". The king selected forty children who were sent to Greece "so that they be taught languages and bring home translations made by them there". Three of them later became well-known scholars.
At the time of David the Builder there were quite a few schools and academies in Georgia, among which Gelati occupies a special place. King David's historian calls Gelati Academy "a second Jerusalem of all the East for learning of all that is of value, for the teaching of knowledge - a second Athens, far exceeding the first in divine law, a canon for all ecclesiastical splendor" Life of David . King of Kings , translated by Katharine Vivian, manuscript, p.12).
Gelati Academy was the first one to be established in the period of developed feudalism, it answered the actual needs of the day, anticipating the ideological movement that paved the way for the Georgian Renaissance.
Besides Gelati there also were other cultural-enlightenment and scholarly centers in Georgia at that time. There was a higher school at Iqalto - the Iqalto Academy. Its existence is attested by the ruins preserved in the yard of the monastery, most probably forming a single building. Windows are discernible, as well as the base of a pulpit, etc. The founder and first rector of the academy was Arsen Iqaltoeli who came to Iqalto from Gelati in the 1120s. Among other centers of higher education mention is also made of an academy at Gremi.
Intensive literary, philosophical and translation work was carried on at Georgian centers of culture and education outside Georgia {the Iviron monastery on Mt.Athos, the monastery on the Black Mountain in Syria, Petiitsoni monastery in Bulgaria, etc.). In this period a number of original works were written and important monuments of world culture were translated into Georgian, facilitating the advance of national scholarship and literature.
Of the Georgian scholars who flourished outside Georgia Giorgi Mtatsmindeli, Eprem Mtsiré and Giorgi Khutsesmonazoni (Mtsiré) acquired renown.



Georgian architecture witnessed particular growth in the 11th and 12th centuries. Large and important churches were built, clearly demonstrating features of a new style. To 11th-cent. monuments belong the Bagrat church in Kutaisi, Svetitskhoveli in Mtskheta, Alaverdi cathedral in Kakheti, Samtavisi church in Kartli (Iberia), etc. The 12th century witnessed the building of the big church of the monastery of Gelati, the domed church at Tighva, the churches of Ikorta, Betania, Kvatakhevi and others.
Of civic buildings erected in the 11thcentury Geguti palace deserves special mention (part of the palace is dated to an earlier period); it was designated to serve as a retreat and for hunting. What remains of the palace points to its grand scale, allowing to conjecture that the royal residences in the capital cities of Tbilisi and Kutaisi must have been even more impressive. Ruins of urban houses have been discovered at the sites of Dmanisi, Samshvildh and in the Gudarekhi monastic ensemble. With regard to style urban buildings were close to their church counterparts, the difference between them being mainly functional.
Among civic buildings Gelati Academy (12th-cent. monastic ensemble) deserves special mention. The one-storied building is actually a large auditorium with two entrances.
The rock-cut monastic complexes of David Gareja and Vardzia occupy an important place in the history of Georgian architecture. The Gareja monastic complex was founded by David of Gareja. Continuing to exist and growing in the Middle Ages, it consists of several monasteries (David's laura,See Bertubani, Udabno, Natlismtsemeli, Chichkhituri, etc.). Numerous cells are cut in the rock, as well as a refectory, a church and a chapel. Many of these were adorned with murals.
The architectural ensemble of Vardzia was begun by Giorgi III and completed in the reign of his daughter Queen Tamar. Vardzia comprises a great number of cells (several hundred). During incursions Vardzia served as a stronghold. An important feature of this complex is a large church painted with frescoes, among which are the portraits of Giorgi III and Tamar.
In the mountains not far from Vardzia there is the Vaghani or Vani cave - also for monastic use. Other similar rock-cut complexes have survived, e.g. at Samsari and in Javakheti.
Important monuments of 11th-1 2th-century engineering are the Shio-Mghvimé-Skhaltba irrigation canal (built in the reign of Queen Tamer), as well as bridges spanning the Besleti (near Sukhumi) and the Dondali (in Achara). The building of fortresses was developed. They were built on sheer cliffs to protect roads, gorges and towns. Fortresses built in those days had no loopholes (which was natural, for they were built before the advent of firearms). It is noteworthy that the fortresses blended so harmoniously with the rocks on which they stand as to make an impression of a single structure. The fortresses in Southern Georgia are monumental and majestic, e.g. Khertvisi, Atsquri, Okrostsikhb, Tmogvi, etc.
The 11th and 12th centuries witnessed a flowering of fine arts. In the first half of the11th century a marked tendency to sculptural decor was noticeable, becoming less pronounced in the subsequent period when relieves on the facades of churches become rare. In goldsmith's work (especially in the 12th cent.) decorativeness (ornamental design) came to the fore. A vivid example of this trend is the Khakhuli icon of the Virgin and Child from Gelati, a unique work of goldsmith's art (dated to the first half of the 12th cent.).
The goldsmiths Beshken and 8eka Opizari flourished in the reign of Queen Tamar. The chased setting of the Tsqarostavi Gospel (with the scenes of the Crucifixion and the Praying), as well as the repose work in Anchiskhati church (figures of the Virgin, John the Baptist and other saints with an ornamental design around the edges) were done by Beka Opizari. Beshken Opizari executed the chased setting (book-cover) of the Berta Gospel.
Several styles are observable in the goldsmiths' work of the period. There existed several schools (at Opiza, Tbeti and Gelati), each having its own, to a certain extent individual, monumental manner. Works of Georgian goldsmiths were in no way inferior to those of Byzantine masters; many of them occupy a prominent place in world art.
The art of illumination of manuscripts and miniature painting was also developed in 11th-12th-century Georgia. Rare examples of mediaeval illuminated manuscript books have come down to us. Georgian books of that time are characterized by beautiful calligraphy, variety of ornamental designs and refined miniatures.
The art of enameling objects of gold, silver and copper was known in Georgia from ancient times. Georgian cloisonné enamels enjoy special renown. In the 12th century this art was on a par with architecture and the art of fresco painting. A vivid example of this is the Khakhuli icon; only the face,See hands and part of the halo have survived. Georgian enamels are characterized by special hues (flesh, translucent green) and depth of color.
Applied arts were also well developed in the 11th-12th centuries. The highly artistic pottery and copper ware attest to the penetration of art into everyday life. The production of gold-brocaded fabrics (oksino) occupied a significant place in textile production.



Philosophy had also made a remarkable progress, greatly furthered by the development of secular culture and its Weltanshauung. New concepts of man and the purpose of his existence evolved in Georgian philosophy. Special attention was paid to humanism, which found its poetic and philosophical expression in Shota Rustaveli's poem "The Knight in the Panther's Skin". The influence of humanistic ideas, prevalent in Georgian society of the time and reflected in literature and art, gives scholars ground to speak of clear signs of the Renaissance in Georgia.
Thus, social life in 11th-12th-cent.Georgia, its enlightenment and culture were at the same high level as her policy and economy.
In the 1220s and 1230s Mongol hordes appeared on the scene. Having conquered the north-eastern part of China (1211-1215), the Mongol leader Genghiz-Khan marched out against Central Asia, launching an offensive on Muhammad, Shah of Khwarazm (1200-1220).See The detachment of the Mongol army, led by Djebb and Subudai, the same detachment, that had made war on Muhammad and his son Jalal-ad-Din (1200-1231), attacked Georgia several times in the early 1220s. In 1222 the Georgians suffered defeat. Mongol invasions resumed in 1235. Prior to that Jalal-ad-Din, pursued by the Mongols, attacked Georgia. The Georgians lost the battle of Garnisi.(60,000 Georgian against 200,000 the Khwarazmians) The royal court with Queen Rusudan (1223-1245) moved to Kutaisi. A year later Jalal-ad-Din took Tbilisi. The people fought courageously, the city passing from hand to hand. In 1227-1228 Jalal-ad-Din attacked Georgia again.See According to the chronicler, over 100 thousand lost their lives when the city fell to the Khwarazmians for the first time. They were compelled to change religion and become Muslims, but no one did it and thus almost the whole population of Tbilisi was assassinated. Soon the Khwarazmians were superseded by the Mongols. By 1240 all the country was under the Mongol yoke. The tribute, leuied by the enemy, was a heavy burden upon the shoulders of the people. To fight the Mongol rule a conspiracy was organized at Kokhtastavi, but it failed. In the years of Mongol rule Georgia was actually divided into two parts. In 1259-1260 there again were rebellions against the Mongols. Many Georgian patriots fell for the liberation and independence of their country. King Demetré II (1271-128S) attempted to save his country at the cost of his life.
The Mongols contented themselves with putting the king to death. Demetré II was canonized and is known in history as Demetré the Self-Sacrificing. In the first half of the 14th century Giorgi V the Brilliant (13141346) pursued a wise, flexible policy, aimed at overthrowing the Mongol yoke and restoration of Georgia's unity. In 1329 the king incorporated Western Georgia, and in 1334 the principality of Samtskhé. Thus, Georgia actually freed herself from Mongol overlordship.
Mongol invasions brought disaster to many countries. Every year thousands of men died in wars. In the 1260s Kakheti and Hereti lost most of their population. The country was on the verge of economic collapse: trade, the handicrafts and urban life had declined. The heavy sway of the conquerors had affected all the strata of the population: many powerful feudal houses had declined or were exterminated; the peasantry suffered most of all.
Having thrown off the Mongol yoke, the country began to revive, but this period was destined to be short-lived.  The cruelest conqueror to ever invade Georgia was Timur Lang (Tamerlane), who conquered the whole India within 14 months, but spent more than 15 years trying to subdue Georgia! During 1386-1403, he attacked Georgia 8 times and razed it to the  ground. But Georgia did not give up and the last thought of the despot was about the Georgians, who never bent their heads before him.
The inroads of the Ottoman Turks - no less devastating than Timur's invasion -began in the first decade of the 15th century. In the latter- half of the 15th century the situation in Georgia again deteriorated. In 1453 the Ottoman Turks finally destroyed the Byzantine Empire and in 1461 the Kingdom of Trebizond. In 1475 the Khanate of the Crimea became a vassal of Turkey, Georgia being threatened from the north-west as well. Georgia was now practically cut off from new international trade routes and deprived of the chance to establish direct contacts with European countries. All this aggravated the economic and cultural decline of the country. Commerce and handicrafts fell into decay, and some cities ceased to function. The royal power weakened, and the isolationist tendencies of individual feudal lords became apparent. The process of the decline and disintegration of the single kingdom began in the 13th-14th and deepened in the 15th cent. At the turn of the 15th and 16th cent. the kingdom broke up into separate political units, viz. into the kingdoms of Kartli (Iberia), Kakheti and Imereti, and the principality of Samtskhé. The process of disintegration continued in the subsequent period. Several principalities fell away from the Imeretian kingdom: Odishi, Svaneti, Guria and Abkhazia. Divided into several administrative units, Georgia was torn by feuds. These feuds were an insurmountable obstacle to the unification and liberation of the country.



For hundreds of years Georgia was a little Christian spot in the ocean of Muslims and always fought against them In the 16th century Iran and Turkey contended for supremacy in the Near East. Georgia turned into one of the arenas of hostilities between them. The Georgian people fought selflessly for the independence and unity of the country. In 1513 David V (1505-1525), King of Kartli (Iberia), incorporated the Kingdom of Kakheti, but failed to preserve this unity.
In 1522 Ismail I, Shah of Iran, attacked Kartli (Iberia). Taking and sacking Tbilisi, he stationed his garrison in its citadel. Then he took Samtskhé-Saatabago, returning to Iran loaded with captives and plunder. In 1524 the Georgians recovered Tbilisi. In the same period Western Georgia became the target of Turkish aggression. According to the Treaty of Amasya, signed by Iran and Turkey, Western Georgia fell to Turkey, while Eastern Georgia and the eastern part of Samtskhé-Saatabago to lran. After the conclusion of this treaty the Georgians' fight for independence continued under more difficult conditions. The Kartli (Iberia)an kingdom never laid down arms. In 1556 the Georgians, led by King Simon I (1556-1568 and 1578-1600), routed the Iranian army. Submitting to Iran, Kakheti succeeded in preserving peace.
Finding herself encircled by aggressive states and with a view to preserving her statehood, Georgia appealed to the Russian state for help.
Political, economic and cultural contacts between Old Russia and Georgia existed as far back as the 11th-12th cent. A new stage in the relations between the two countries began at the end of the 15th century. In 1491 the Kakhetian King Alexander, son of Giorgi, sent an embassy to Tsar Ivan III in Moscow with a letter containing a relevant request. This was a significant step towards establishing relations with Russia. In 1563 King Levan of Kakheti (1518-1574) requested the Russian state to take his kingdom under its protection. Tsar Ivan the Terrible responded by sending a detachment to Georgia. But King Levan, pressed by Iran, was obliged to ask the Russian troops, quartered in Kakhetian fortresses, to leave the country. The Kakhetian King Alexander II (1574-1605) asked for Russia's support in order to rid his country of Iranian and Turkish aggression, and in 1587 received a pledge from the Russian tsar. In 1589 the latter granted Alexander II a letters patent, thus finally drawing up a treaty of protection. In 1595 Iran, Kartli (Iberia) and Russia formed an alliance against Turkey. In 1598 Simon I, King of Kartli (Iberia), resumed hostilities against the Turks, and in 1599 he captured the fortress of Gobi. The Sultan sent a strong force against the Georgians. In the battle at Nakhiduri Simon I was taken prisoner and the Georgians were defeated. In the second half of the 17th century the Turks conquered Samtskhé-Saatabago and began to introduce Turkish customs there, pursuing a policy of "Turkization" of the Georgian population. From then on Turkey relied on the Akhaltsikhé vilayet in the consolidation of her domination.
At the beginning of the 17th century Abbas I, Shah of Iran, drove the Turks out of Armenia, Kartli (Iberia) and Kakheti. The Turkish yoke was superseded by that of Iran. But in 1609 Kartli (Iberia) was invaded by the Turks and Crimean Tatars. They took prisoner Tevdoré, the priest of the village of Kvelta, and ordered him to show them the way to the residence of King Luarsab II (1605-1615). Tevdoré took the enemy astray and at the cost of his own life gave the king time to prepare for war. The enemy was routed in the battle of Kvishkheti. Giorgi Saakadze, governor of Tbilisi, distinguished himself in the battle; the King honored him, which irritated the big feudal lords. Their never-ending intrigues forced Giorgi Saakadze to leave the country and flee to the Shah of Iran.
In 1614 Shah Abbas I attacked Kakheti. Then, invading Kartli (Iberia), he stationed his garrisons in all the fortresses. In 1615 Kakheti rose against the Persians; the fortresses were cleared of the enemy. In 1616 Abbas I again invaded Kakheti and Kartli (Iberia), razing many fortresses, churches, monasteries and palaces; orchards and vineyards were cut down. A great many Georgians perished. One hundred thousand were led away into captivity, their descendants living to the present day in the province of Fereidan in Iran.See In 1625 an insurrection, headed by Giorgi Saakadze, broke out in Kartli (Iberia) and Kakheti. In the battle of Martqopi the Iranian army was routed. True, somewhat later in the same year the Georgians suffered defeat in the battle of Marabda. But the selfless resistance, offered by the Georgians, frustrated the Shah's plans to annihilate the Georgian people, eliminate their statehood and set up Kizilbash khanates on Georgian territory (During that year Iran lost 60,000 soldiers, a half of his whole army, in struggling against a little Georgia). Iran was obliged to compromise. From 1632 to 1744 the Shahs of Iran set Islamized Bagrationis on the throne of Kartli (Iberia) as valis, i.e. viceroys of the Shah. For a time the country had a respite. But Shah Abbas II thought of implementing the old plan of settling people of Turkoman stock in Kakheti. Between 1614 and 1618, he resettled more than 350,000 Georgians to the province of Fereidan in Iran and even today there are many descendants of those Georgians living there. From these Georgians, Shah Abbas I formed his Royal Guard, and used them to conquered Afghanistan, Pakistan     and parts of India. Until he was overthrown in a coup d'etat by Nadir Shah, the     unofficial state language in Royal Court of Iran was Georgian. Also accordingly, 80 thousand nomad Turks were settled in Kakheti, this causing unrest among the local population. In 1659 the Kakhetians rose against the invaders. The uprising was headed by the Eristavis of Ksani: Shalva and Elizbar, Bidzina Choloqashvili, as well as by Zezva Gaprindauli, Nadira Khosharauli and other representatives of the lower strata of society. The uprising in Kakheti was a decisive step taken by the Georgian people in their struggle for independence and preservation of their ethnic originality and advanced system of national economy. The Shah had to abandon his plan.



In the 18th century the political situation in Georgia somewhat changed for the better. In the reign of Vakhtang Vl (1703-1724) Kartli (Iberia) was on the upgrade thanks to the king's wise policy and calm that reigned in the land. An army was created to protect the king; those who served in it received a wage, this in turn strengthening the central authority; the feudal lords, opponents of the central authority, were obliged to submit to the king. The court carried out economic measures; depopulated lands were resettled, ruined irrigation canals were repaired and new ones were dug. Considerable attention was paid to the building of bridges and roads and to their maintenance. Commerce and handicrafts expanded, and the population increased. It is conjectured that by that time the population of Tbilisi totaled 20 thousand, showing a twofold increase compared to the number of its residents at the end of the 16th century. However, subsequent growth of the country was arrested by external forces.
With the help of Russia King Vakhtang tried to throw off Iranian domination. Back in 1720 the Emperor Peter I of Russia had begun diplomatic negotiations with the people of Transcaucasia. The Emperor urged the king of Kartli (Iberia) to come over to his side, promising to rid him of the domination of the "infidels". Such bilateral interests led to a military and political relationship between Kartli (Iberia) and Russia. In June 1722 Peter I issued a manifesto on a military campaign against Iran. According to plan, the Georgian and Armenian armies arrived at Ganja. But they were not to meet the Russian army: owing to difficulties in her foreign and home affairs, Russia cut short the campaign. In retaliation the Shah dethroned Vakhtang Vl and gave Kartli (Iberia) to Constantine, the ruler of Kakheti. The latter laid siege to Tbilisi with an army of Daghestanian mercenaries (1723). The capital was taken and sacked. Vakhtang established himself in Shida (Inner) Kartli (Iberia), while Constantine occupied Tbilisi. In the same year Tbilisi was seized by a Turkish army.
In 1724, according to a treaty signed by Russia and Turkey, the latter recognized the western and southern coasts of the Caspian Sea as the property of Russia. In return, Peter I ceded Eastern Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Northern Iran to the Turks. The plan of liberating Georgia actually failed. With the consent of Peter I Vakhtang Vl, accompanied by his family, his brother, his close comrades-in-arms and a large retinue, left for Russia on June 15, 1724.
The first quarter of the 18th century witnessed a renascence and development of culture in Kartli (Iberia). In 1709 a printing press -the first in the Transcaucasus -. was opened in Tbilisi. David Guramishvili's poem "Davitiani", the Gospels and other important books were printed. In 1712 Rustaveli's poem "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" came off the press, edited by King Vakhtang Vl. It was the time when Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani (1658-1725), an outstanding figure in the history of Georgia, lived and worked. His humanistic and didactic doctrines left an indelible trace in the history of Georgian culture. Orbeliani engaged in diplomatic activity as well (in 1713, while traveling in Europe; he visited the Pope and King Louis XIV of France). Vakhtang Vl set up a commission of scholars, headed by the monk Egnatashvili. This commission collected all the available manuscripts of Kartli (Iberia)sTskhovreba, comparing one of them with all the others and supplementing it. The commission compiled also a history of Georgia from the 14th to the 18th century. A brilliant representative of Vakhtang Vl's school was Vakhushti Bagrationi (1676-1770), whose major work "The Description of Georgia" marked an important stage in the critical study of Georgian history. He was also the initiator of Georgian cartography. The historian Sekhnia Chkheidze, belonging to the same generation, wrote a brief chronicle of the history of Georgia.
Along with such renowned men of letters as King Vakhtang Vl, Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, Vakhushti Bagrationi, Egnatashvili the monk, mention should be made of King Archil, the poet David Guramishvili, and others.
During the period of Turkish domination (1723-1735) the situation in Kartli (Iberia) deteriorated, the country's economy and culture coming to a standstill. The Turks laid a heavy tribute on the population. Pressed by local feudal lords and by invaders, the people were forced to leave their homes. In 1735 the Persians drove the Turks out of Georgia, replacing them till 1747. The exorbitant taxes, levied by Nadir Shah, provoked an uprising in Kartli (Iberia) and Kakheti. The Shah was forced to make concessions. In 1744 he made Teimuraz II king of Kartli (Iberia) and set his (Teimuraz's) son Ereklé on the throne of Kakheti. As a result of feudal wars that broke out in Iran, leading to the disintegration of the country, Eastern Georgia may be said to have shaken off the heavy yoke of Iran.
In the first half of the 18th century Western Georgia was under Turkish sway. Achara, Abkhazia, Odishi, Guria and Imereti repeatedly rose against the conquerors. Turkish raids wrought havoc in the country. The situation was aggravated by internecine strife between the feudal lords and by the sale of captives.



The devastating incursions by Persians and Turks failed to alter the economic and social life of Georgia. However, they inflicted considerable damage on agriculture and urban life. Schools, the printing press, manuscripts and their depositories were destroyed. Kartli (Iberia) and Kakheti fought with determination to restore and consolidate their position. They reduced the feudal lords of Daghestan and defeated Azar-Khan, ruler of Tabriz, forcing him to renounce his aggressive designs against Eastern Georgia. Relations with Russia were restored.
In 1762, immediately after the death of Teimuraz II, Ereklé II proclaimed himself King of Kartli (Iberia) and Kakheti, thereby uniting Eastern Georgia. The situation improved somewhat in Western Georgia too. Solomon I, King of Imereti (1752-1784), strove for the consolidation of the country and centralization of power. The aim of Western Georgia was to free the country from the Turks and to unify it. In 1757 Solomon I defeated the Turks in a battle at Khresili. In 1759 the sale of captives was prohibited in Imereti, Guria and Samegrelo. In 1758 a military alliance was formed between the Imeretian kingdom and the kingdoms of Kartli (Iberia) and Kakheti, providing for mutual assistance in the face of external aggression. In 1769 the king of Imereti succeeded in defeating his powerful rival Rostom, the Eristavi of Racha, and abolishing the eristavate. Solomon realized that, despite certain successes, it was impossible for him to unite the country and attain independence by relying solely on his own forces; hence he placed hopes on Russia's support. In 1768 Maksimé Kutateli was sent to Russia as an ambassador extraordinary. Solomon sought Russian protection, promising help in the Russo-Turkish war.
In the 18th century the Abkhazians, as in preceding centuries, took an active part in the common struggle waged by the Georgian people against foreign invaders. In 1725-1728 they rose many a time against the Turks. Despite reverses, they never ceased to fight, and by the 1730s had achieved some success. The struggle intensified in the latter half of the 18th century. The participation of a detachment of Samurzaqanians, led by Khutunia Shervashidze, in the battle of Khresili is obvious.
A major uprising took place in Abkhazia in 1771. The Abkhazians ejected the Turkish garrison from the Sukhumi fortress. However, owing to hostile actions of the reactionary princes, the final victory fell to the Turks. Turkey tried in every way possible -but in vain - to make Abkhazia her ally in her bid to subjugate Georgia. The latter sought to turn to advantage the Russo-Turkish war that broke out in 1769. A joint (Russo-Georgian) campaign was planned to seize the Akhaltsikhé vilayet. In 1769 a Russian force arrived under general Todtleben. In 1770 the Russian and Georgian troops besieged the Atsquri fortress. But as soon as the battle began, Todtleben deserted Ereklé II on the field, withdrawing with his troops. On April 20, 1770 the Georgians, led by Ereklé II, won a glorious victory over the Turks in the battle of Aspindza. However, this victory failed to be used as a means of reaching the final goal - that of ridding the country of Turkish domination. In 1744, according to the Kucuk-Kainardji peace treaty Russia recognized Turkey's domination over Western Georgia on condition that Turkey ceased levying tribute from Imereti. Thus, Turkish influence in Georgia was limited, and Georgia actually became an ally of Russia.
The second half of the 18th century witnessed a significant rise of the Kartli (Iberia)-kingdom. Measures were taken to settle the depopulated areas, the settlers being exempted from taxation for several years. The sale of peasants without land was prohibited. Silver mining and processing started at Akhtala and Alaverdi. In Tbilisi a mint was opened, a printing press, a glass works; salt and soap were produced, as well as firearms, artillery pieces, etc. Private enterprises began to operate - brick kilns, tobacco factories, gunpowder works, oil presses, dyers' shops. Home and foreign trade expanded. New towns sprang up. The Darial highway was opened, connecting Georgia with the Northern Caucasus. Ereklé strove to raise Georgia to the european level of development. He invited specialists from Western Europe and sent Georgians there to master various specialties. The king also made persistent efforts to improve relations with Russia. The strengthening of the external enemies and the activation of internal reaction forced the royal court to take decisive measures.
On July 24, 1783 a treaty was signed at Georgievsk between Georgia and Russia. The treaty was ratified by King Ereklé II on January 24, 1784. According to it, the Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia)-Kakheti came under the protectorate of Russia, recognizing the supremacy of the Russian Emperor. The latter in his turn undertook to safeguard the unity of the kingdom. Ereklé II remained on his throne, which was to be inherited by his son. Russia should not interfere in the home affairs of Georgia. The treaty of 1783 was a triumph of the forces that fought for the liberation of Georgia from the domination of Iran and Turkey.



The Russian orientation of Ereklé II and the arrival of the Russian army in Georgia alarmed the Khans of Moslem countries. Turkey strove to get the treaty annulled, urging Moslems to aid her in this. In 1785 Omar Khan of Avaria devastated Georgia, and in July 1787 the Turkish government presented Russia with an ultimatum, demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia. In August of the same year Turkey declared war on Russia. The Russian government had to withdraw its troops from Georgia. Russia's situation was precarious. In 1788 Sweden attacked her. In 1789 the French Revolution broke out. Poland was in ferment. In 1790 Austria -Russia's ally - concluded a treaty with Turkey. In these circumstances Russia was unable to fulfill the terms of the Treaty of Georgievsk.
In the 1790s Agha-Muhammad Khan brought Iran under his sway. In early September 1795 he attacked Georgia. The Georgians (4,500 men) offered a heroic resistance to Iranian army of 40,000 soldiers, but finally due to the betrayal, were defeated in the battle of Krtsanisi. Tbilisi was taken and devastated. In January 1798 King Ereklé II died. In the reign of his son Giorgi XII the right of succession was strongly contested. The problem of foreign orientation again became acute. Giorgi XII adhered to the Russian orientation. He asked for a renewal of the Treaty and for his son, Prince David, to be declared heir to the throne. The Emperor Paul I of Russia conceded this request. In 1799 a Russian regiment entered Georgia. In 1800 Russia and France came to terms. Acquiring strength, Paul I violated the terms of the Treaty. Deciding to abolish the, Kartli (Iberia)-Kakhetian kingdom, he annexed it to Russia. Giorgi XII died in December 1800. According to the understanding, Giorgi's son David was to become king of Kartli (Iberia)-Kakheti. But by that time - December 18, 1800 - a manifesto, promulgated in St. Petersburg and Moscow on January 18, 1801, had already been signed. According to the manifesto, the kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) and Kakheti was declared a gubernia (province) of Russia. The manifesto was published in Tbilisi on Feb. 16, 1801. The abolition of the Kartli (Iberia)-Kakhetian kingdom and its annexation to Russia was finally endorsed by a manifesto of Tsar Alexander I on September 12, 1801.
The tsarist regime was established in Georgia. The country was divided into uezds (districts) with Russian officers responsible for maintaining law and order. Russian became the official language of the country. Georgia found herself actually under military-political administration. The peasantry suffered under double oppression - feudal and national. Unrest began to brew among the peasants, culminating in uprisings against the social and political tyranny. In 1804 an uprising flared up in Mtiuleti, spreading to Samachablo, Pshavi, Khevsureti, some lowland districts and parts of Kakheti. Many insurgents lost their lives. Detachments of Russian troops carried out heavy reprisals, sacking and burning villages. Profiting by the situation, those who fought for the restoration of the royal throne, i.e. the princes that had fled to Imereti, returned to Kartli (Iberia) and attempted to turn the uprising to their advantage. But the rebels could not stand up to the regular army. In 18l2 the peasants of Kakheti rose and, taking Telavi, Sighnaghi, Dusheti and Pasanauri, blocked the Georgian Military Highway. The uprising was quelled only a year later. In 1819-1 820 there was a rising in Guria and Imereti. The 1832 conspiracy of the nobility was also abortive; the conspirators demanded national liberation and independence of Georgia.
In the 1830s tsarist Russia had basically completed the war for the consolidation of her domination in Transcaucasia. Objectively, the annexation of Georgia to Russia yielded positive results. The Moslem yoke was lifted from the towns of Poti, Akhaltsikhk, Akhalkalaki, as well as some districts of Samtskhé; in 1830 Char-Belakani (Saingilo) was returned to Georgia. Considerable changes took place in the socio-economic life. New relations of production were taking shape, paving the way for the termination of the system of serfdom. The exploitation of the producers of material goods increased, provoking due reaction. The peasants of Guria, dissatisfied with the tsarist colonial policy and incensed. by new taxation and growing exploitation, revolted in 1841. The revolt spread to Imereti. At the close of 1856 Megrelian peasantry rose against serfdom but the uprising was cruelly suppressed. At the same time the Russian administration abolished the principalities of Megrelia (in 1857), Svaneti (in 1858) and Abkhazia (in 1864).See In 1861 serfdom was abolished in Russia. After a lengthy period of preparation (from 1864 to 1871) the peasant reform was implemented in Georgia (in 1864 in Eastern Georgia, 1865 in Imereti, 1867 in Megrelia, 1870 in Abkhazia, and 1871 in Svaneti). The reform made things harder for the peasantry: they lost the land they cultivated. The taxes levied for the use of land were much higher than they were before the reform.
The development of capitalist relations made land an object of sale and purchase. The situation in Georgia was further aggravated by the colonial policy of tsarism. Tsarist Russia settled people of other ethnic groups on the country's scanty fertile land. Special efforts were made to colonize Abkhazia with non-Georgians. The aim was to wrest Abkhazia from Georgia and to russify its population. The progressive sections of Georgian and Abkhazian society protested against this policy.



The land reform had a progressive significance as well, for the peasant acquired personal freedom. The reform favored a further development of the country along capitalist lines. One of the important results of the abolition of serfdom was the development of industry and revival of commerce. Road building was of major importance, especially the construction of a railway. In 1873 train service opened between Tbilisi and Poti. The railway connected Batumi with Tbilisi and Baku. Railway workshops were opened in Tbilisi. Capitalism began to make rapid progress. The population of cities grew, especially of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Poti, etc. The development of industrial production was attended by the emergence of a new social force - the industrial working class.
The developments of the first half of the 19th century helped to establish contacts between progressive representatives of the Russian and Georgian peoples. Members of Georgian aristocratic intelligentsia served in the armed forces, playing a major role in Russia's wars. Many young Georgians studied in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Both in the army and in civilian educational establishments they familiarized themselves with Russian and European literature and progressive social ideas. After graduation some of them returned to Georgia, engaging in fruitful work. A definite progress was noticeable in the cultural life of Georgia in the period under discussion.
Georgian scholarship and literature of the first half of the 19th century produced such authors as A.Chavchavadze, G.Orbeliani, N.Baratashvili, loané Bagrationi, Teimuraz Bagrationi, S.Dodashvili, G.Eristavi, P.loseliani, and others. The Georgian theater was revived in 1850. Besides, a Russian theater, an Italian opera and other cultural-educational institutions and societies were opened. Periodicals appeared in the Georgian and Russian languages.
A.Griboyedov, A.Pushkin, M.Lermontov,L.Tolstoy and other famous Russian writers and poets had links with Georgia, residing for some time in this country. Progressive public figures of Russia and Georgia united to combat not only the external, but the internal enemy as well, namely, Russian tsarism.
The interests of the Georgian peasantry were upheld by the Tergdaleulni (literally, "those who had drunk of the water of the Tergi (Terek)") - representatives of Georgia's younger generation who had become involved in revolutionary activities while studying in St. Petersburg. The activity of Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Niko Nikoladze and their followers played a significant role in awakening the people's sense of class-consciousness. Ilia Chavchavadze called on the people "to break the chains fettering human life". He put forward the slogan: "Fraternity, unity, liberty!". The Terg-daleulni not only advanced the slogan of national liberation but they also advocated the idea of friendship among nations. Akaki Tsereteli wrote: "We greatly appreciate fraternity and friendship with the peoples of Russia. True, there are quite a few among Russians to whom fraternal unity with us is undesirable and hateful. However, there is also young Russia with whom we wish to walk hand in hand in order to achieve not only national but also universal human ideals - ideals that are called fraternity, unity, equality".
The leaders of the Georgian national liberation movement devoted much effort to the defense of the Georgian language and culture. The entire work of the Tergdaleulni was directed at solving the basic problem of the day: eradication of the survivals of serfdom and a drive for the bourgeois development of the country. Their contribution to combating the russification policy of the tsarist government was considerable.
The Society for the Spread of Literacy among Georgians proved of paramount importance in the campaign for the preservation and development of the Georgian language and culture. The program of the Georgian intellectuals of the 19th century, especially of the leaders of the national liberation movement, was based upon great humanistic ideals. Subsequently this helped to link the national liberation movement of the Georgian people to the broad revolutionary movement against tsarist autocracy.
In the 1870s-1880s the revolutionary movement in Russia was headed by the Narodniki ("Populists"). Under their influence this movement arose in Georgia too. In the 80s-'90s there developed a crisis within the Narodniki and the Tergdaleulni. At the beginning of the '90s the working class came to the fore in the social and political life, paving the way for socialist ideas.
The progress of Georgian national culture in the la1ter half of the 19th century was one of the major results of the national liberation movement. Science, art and literature were on the upgrade. Georgian scholars and scientists worked fruitfully at universities in Russia, e.g. I.Tarkhnishvili, P.Melikishvili, V.Petriashvili, D.Chubinashvili, A.Tsagareli, A.Khakhanashvili, and others. Despite the absence of a center of science and scholarship in Georgia, major research work was carried on by D.Bakradze, S.Baratashvili, T.Zhordania, N.Khizanishvili, E.Taqaishvili, D.Karichashvili, and others.
In the second half of the 19th century the publication of Georgian magazines, books and newspapers expanded. In 1863 the Tergdaleulni founded the journal Sakartvelos Moambe ("Georgian Herald"). 1866 saw the publication of the newspapers Droeba ("Times") and Sasoplo Gazeti ("Rural Gazette"); in 1877 Iveria came out. Georgian literature flourished: remarkable works were written by Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Rapiel Eristavi, Giorgi Tsereteli, Alexandre Qazbegi, Vazha Pshavela, and others.



The industrial crisis of the late 19th and early 20th century shook Georgian industry, weak as it was. The output of Chiatura manganese fell, as did the export of oil from Batumi. Enterprises closed down in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Poti, Chiatura and elsewhere. Thousands of people lost their jobs. Exploitation increased. Real antecedents of a revolutionary movement were at hand. At the beginning of the 20th century almost one half of the peasant population were still obliged to pay quit-rent to their landlord and/or were sharecroppers. In addition, peasants in tsarist Russia had no political rights. A revolutionary situation was ripening. In Georgia the revolutionary party Mesamé Dasi fought for the implementation of Lenin's plan for the creation of a new party.
In Georgia and throughout the Caucasus revolutionary struggle was directed by J. Jugashvili-Stalin, M. Tskhakaia, A. Tsulukidze, P.Makharadze, I.Sturua, and others.
In September 1901 the first newspaper of the Lenin "Iskra" trend came out; this paper, Brdzola ("Struggle"), proclaimed that it being the mouthpiece of revolutionary social-democracy - was raising the banner of the national and political liberation of the Georgian people. Early in 1901 several strikes were staged in Tbilisi, some of which developed into marches in the streets. In March 1902 Batumi workers organized a major political demonstration. The local authorities resorted to firearms in dispersing it, followed by reprisals. Revolutionary activity spread throughout Georgia. The rising revolutionary movement led to the amalgamation of social-democratic organizations. A congress of Caucasian social-democratic organizations of the Leninist trend was held in March, 1903. The congress set up the Caucasian Joint Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Worker's Party (RSDWP). 1he Committee established permanent contacts with V.I. Lenin.
After the 2nd congress of the RSDWP part of the Mesamé Dasi organization took the Menshevist stand; the others, more revolutionary-minded, supported the Bolsheviks. Since then the strike movement of workers assumed a more organized form. In 1903, after the general strike of the Baku workers, the working class of Georgia went on strike too. In 1904 the Russo-Japanese war broke out, giving an additional boost to the revolutionary movement.
In January 1905 a strike started in Tbilisi, assuming a general character. The 3rd Congress of the RSDWP (April, 1905) adopted, on V.I. Lenin's initiative, a resolution "Concerning the Events in the Caucasus", in which he greeted the Caucasian revolutionary working class and peasantry. The railwaymen of Tbilisi joined the general strike in Russia in October 1905. In December a general strike was organized in Tbilisi, being headed by the Central Strike Bureau. The defeat of the 1905 revolution in Moscow decided the fate of the revolution throughout the country. In Georgia the working class and the peasants carried on the revolutionary fight, at times resorting to terrorist acts. On January 16, 1906 the railway man A.Jorjiashvili threw a bomb and killed General Gryaznov. Punitive expeditions went on a rampage. The tsarist administration suppressed the revolutionary movement in Georgia. Bloody reprisals followed. Many workers and peasants were exiled to Siberia. In 1907 over three thousand Georgian revolutionaries were exiled from Georgia. The period of reaction was a hard trial for the peasants as well. It should be noted that the revolutionary movement did not wane even in the years of the reaction. In 1910 strikes began again, marking the onset of yet another revolutionary period. From April 1912 this movement gained momentum and grew in' force. 1913 saw an important strike of the workers of the Chiatura manganese mines. Workers in Zestaponi, Batumi and Poti joined them. In 1914 the whole of Tbilisi and nearly all the other industrial centers were on strike. The revolutionary movement spread among the peasantry as well. But the fresh upsurge of the revolution was halted to a certain extent by the outbreak of World War I.
The bourgeois-democratic revolution won in Russia on February 27 (March 12), 1917. The revolutionary working class and peasantry of Georgia were unable to overthrow the local administration. In order to rule the Transcaucasus the bourgeois Provisional Government set up a Special Transcaucasian Committee, made up mostly of reactionary constitutional democrats from the bourgeoisie, members of the aristocracy and gentry. The revolution did not give the workers the desired 8-hour working day, the peasants still remained landless.
On October 25 (November 7), 1917 the bourgeois Provisional Government was overthrown and the dictatorship of the proletariat was established. The victory of the socialist revolution in Russia aroused revolutionary activity in Georgia. In order to combat this movement, a new local administration was set up: the Transcaucasian Commissariat headed by E.Gegechkori, a Menshevik. The bourgeois parties convened a "Transcaucasian Sejm".
On May 26, 1918 Georgia was proclaimed an independent democratic republic, and its government formed.



The Georgian Democratic Republic was recognized by many states of the world. On May 7, 1920 the Georgian government signed a peace treaty with Russia. This treaty was violated on February 25, 1921, when the Red Army occupied and sovietized Georgia. The practically annexed Georgia joined the USSR (1922), continuing as the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic till 1990.
On October 28, 1990 truly democratic elections were held, resulting in a defeat of the Communist party and the victory of the bloc "Round Table-Free Georgia". At the inaugural session of the newly-elected Supreme Council the independent Republic of Georgia with a democratic system of government was proclaimed.
On April 9, 1991 an extraordinary meeting of the First Session of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia unanimously adopted the Act on the Restoration of the Independent Statehood of Georgia.
ACT ON THE RESTORATION OF THE INDEPENDENT STATEHOOD OF GEORGIA
The statehood of Georgia rooted in the centuries, was lost by the Georgian people in the 19th century, when the Russian Empire annexed Georgia and abolished her statehood. The Georgian people were never reconciled to the loss of liberty. On the basis of the Act of Independence of May 26, 1918 Georgia's statehood was restored and the democratic Republic of Georgia was formed with its own Constitution and representative organs of power, elected on the multiparty basis.
On February-March 1921 Soviet Russia, flagrantly violating the Peace Treaty concluded between Georgia and Russia on May 7, 1918, occupied - through armed aggression - the Georgian state it had recognized, and later effected its actual annexation. Inasmuch as Georgia did not enter the Soviet Union of her own free will, and her statehood, restored in 1918, exists to the present day, the Act of the Independence of Georgia and her Constitution have legal force today too, since the Government of the Democratic Republic of Georgia did not sign the act of surrender and continued its activities in exile.
The entire period of Georgia's forcible sojourn within the USSR is marked with sanguinary terror and repression, the last manifestation of which was the tragedy of April 9, 1989. The clandestine was against Georgia is continuing today too with the aim of balking Georgia's striving for freedom and democracy.
Proceeding from the will of Georgia's population, expressed unanimously in the referendum of March 31, 1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia, elected on October 28, 1990 in the course of multiparty democratic election, hereby rules and proclaims to the world community the restoration of the independent statehood of Georgia on the basis of the Act of the Independence of Georgia of May 26, 1918.
The territory of the sovereign Republic of Georgia is single and indivisible. Only the Constitution and power of the Republic of Georgia are supreme on the territory of the Republic of Georgia. Any action aimed at limiting the supremacy of the power of the Republic of Georgia or at violating her territorial integrity shall be qualified as interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and aggression - as a gross violation of international law.
The primacy of international law with regard to the laws of the Republic of Georgia and direct operation of its norms on the territory of Georgia are one of the basic constitutional principles of the Republic of Georgia.
Willing to occupy a worthy place in the world community, the Republic of Georgia recognizes and equally ensures all basic human rights and freedoms envisaged by international law, as well as the rights and liberties of national, ethnic, religious and language groups, as required by the Charter of the United Nations, and other international treaties and conventions.
The Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia hereby pledges to unswervingly observe the universally accepted principles of political, economic and cultural cooperation with other states.
The restoration of the independent statehood of the Republic of Georgia is in full conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, with the Helsinki and Vienna Acts, which recognize and confirm the right of every nation to independently determine the political destiny of its country.
The Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia hopes that the international community of nations will not remain indifferent to the legal and just moves of the Georgian people and will recognize the resuscitated independent statehood of Georgia, which will become one of the most reliable guarantees of the security of the Republic of Georgia.
Signed by the members of the Supreme Council and the Government of the Republic of Georgia TbilisiSee April 9, 1991See 12.30 p.m.
Parliamentary elections were held in Georgia on 11 October 1992. A great majority of the Georgian population supported Eduard Shevardnadze and elected him on the basis of universal suffrage as Chairman of the Republic's Parliament. The newly elected Parliament invested E. Shevardnadze with Powers of Head of State.
On April 27 1999 Georgia accessed to the Council of Europe and thus the Georgian State has embarked on the road of democratic construction.