History of Georgia

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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.