History of Georgia

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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.