History of Georgia

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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 Soon the Khwarazmians were superseded by the Mongols.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.