english version

Giorgi, named the Brilliant (1318-1346)

Some great individuals have added large contribution to the Georgian history… Sometimes it happened so that a one man carried weight of the whole nation and did it better than a big group of people. It could be noted that Georgia is a country of individuals, who have played major roles in advancement and progress of the country. Among such distinguished people is the Georgian King, Giorgi, called the Brilliant.

The birth year of Giorgi the 5th is approximately 1283-84, because when his prominent father, Demetre the 2nd, the Self-giver was punished in 1289, he was a little boy ( in the age of four or five years). His mother Natela was the daughter of Beka Jakeli, the mighty governor of Samtskhe. From the King Demetre (she was his third wife) she had the only son Giorgi. One historian of that time compares him to the only pearl. “Giorgi also was the only pearl – the best not only among kings of that time, but the brilliant among all men”.

The name of Giorgi’s spouse was unknown until now, but according to the memorial records (aghape) from the Georgian Holly Cross Monastery in Jerusalem, we assume that her name was Salome (see the collective works dedicated to M. Lortkipanidze, Tb.2007, pages 259 -266).

What was happening in Georgia when Giorgi became a king? The empire of Mongols was doing its best (sometimes with threats and sometimes with gifts) to make a big mass in the inner policy of the conquered Georgian kingdom. As every conqueror, Mongols tried to weaken a king’s power with hands of big feudal lords and foreign tribes… Mongols reached their aim. Imereti and Samtskhe detached from the territory of the whole Georgia and at the same time several precedents were announcing their claims on the throne of the Eastern Georgia. That’s why in that period Georgia had several kings. Ossetians also took opportunities to steal and demolish cities and villages of Kartli. When Ossetians were in trouble, they addressed Mongols, because they – “big friends of little nations living in Georgia” always gave a hand to the enemy of Georgia. A one wise Georgian historian literary describes such incidents: “Ossetians started to raze, destroy and rob Kartli and appropriated city of Gori”. With words of a historian, the Georgian army headed by Kartli governors Bega and Amada Suramelis started a sever fight with conquerors of the city. “Ossetians were in trouble, so they send a man to Mongols in Mukhrani and asked them for support, having heard this news; Mongols helped Ossetians and concluded a truce between Georgians and Ossetians”. Giorgi the 5th has improved this difficult situation, but a bit later about this.      

Denunciative words of a historian sound rather sharp that except of mourn and sorrow, a Georgian “satiated, grew stout and left his God and Creator”.

In Mongols’ intrigues were also included Giorgi’s elder brothers: David the 8th and Vakhtang the 3rd with their progenies. Giorgi the 5th had to take part in these political fights in his adolescence too. Supported by his grandfather and tutor Beka Jakeli, Giorgi visited “the grand Khan” in Ilkhan at 1299 for the first time. The Khan did not say that was against his reigning, but also didn’t give him any power – just proclaimed him as the “king” of the capital. Such a complicated situation continued until Giorgi’s full age. The cynical play of Mongols with Georgian kings and Georgian fate was concluded only in 1318.  

Oljaitu Khan (1304-1317) was giving rather strange pledges, thus Giorgi was not able to take the throne in his life. With words of a Persian historian “The great among alive men was deceased” and Giorgi visited the new Khan. At that time everyone knew in the whole near east that Georgia was headed not by 12-years old Abusaid, but by the experienced politician and brave fighter Choban Noin. Beka Jakeli, the might governor of Samtskhe was in good relations with Choban Noin and has sent Giorgi to him for several times. So, Giorgi the youngest son of Demetre (the Self-giver)  paid visit to Choban, who at that time had many antagonists in the kingdom, due to the fact that many people was envying to his tremendous power and therefore he was in need of reliable supporters. So, “Choban was very happy to accept Giorgi as his son and gave him the whole Georgia for governing”. So, Giorgi was given a power, he returned, was consecrated as a king in Svetitskhoveli (Mtskheta) and energetically started to solve problems in Georgia. “A morning star started to luster” – notes an inspired historian. The time of several-reigning was completed and Giorgi found time for Gori too, after three years of fight he has driven out Ossetians not only from Gori, but also from Kartli too. Mongols were too busy and didn’t want either to play a role of “little nations’ defender”. Choban and Giorgi had stable and beneficial relations. This fact even reached the Egypt Sultan’s ear and an Arabian author Al Umar wrote “Choban is staunch friend of a Georgian King”.  

 In this period the King Giorgi sent a diplomatic mission to Egypt and reported the head to return deprived key of the Cross Monastery in Jerusalem as well as a key of the church of Jesus Christ grave. The mission headed by Pipa, the son of Ksani governor was a success and the wish of the King was fulfilled. “Became the King rather happy, when he returned deprived keys,” writes an author of “Dzegli Eristavta”.

 The first letter of the Pope of Rome Ioann the 22nd addressed to the Georgian brilliant King was written in 1321.  In 1329 the same Pope brought the advanced post of the Catholic faith – the bishop cathedral in Smyrna to Tbilisi.  With notes of European travelers the first Catholic church was built in Tbilisi in 1240.  In 1318 the Catholic cathedral was based in Tskhumi (Sokhumi) as well and the head of it in 1330 became Peter Herald, Englishman by nationality. His letter addressed to the Centerberrian Archbishop in 1330 from Tskhumi (Sokhumi, Sebastopol) has miraculously reached us. (The author of this letter calls Sokhumi the city of the “Lower Georgia – “Inferioris Georgiania”).

 In the end of 20-s Georgia strengthened politically and economically and its prestige has grown worldwide.  The King was waiting for the appropriate moment, when it would be less painful to get rid of the Mongolian yoke. The suitable situation appeared soon. Abusaid Khan, reached his full age and gained the status of hero “Bahadur”, at that time he was negatively appreciating the powerful governing of Choban Noin. Relations between them were worsening day by day. Sometimes the armed actions were happening between supporters of Khan and Noin. Finally, Choban decided to leave and he stayed in a one of the castles in the city of Heart (Afganistan). But the owner of the castle – Nasr Ad Din betrayed Choban and in 1327 he perfidiously suffocated Choban in the castle… Giorgi the 5th found this dramatic moment most appropriate for his aims and after the murder of his protector Choban, the king initiated the uprising in Georgia. “The King Giorgi found the fitting moment to drive out Mongols from borders of Georgia, some of them were driven out with mental power and others with force and fight ” (Vakhushti Bagrationi, a historian of the 18th century).

After hundred years of a Mongolian reign, Georgia finally restored desired independency. Definitely, Abusaid and other Mongolian officials didn’t like Georgia’s independency, they planned to make blockades and to start armed actions, but these attempts were not realized.

From 30-s authority of Giorgi the 5th was growing and growing…. In 1335 the Italian pilgrim Jacomo Da Verona was traveling in Palestine and while visiting Georgian monasteries there, has admitted that “the Georgian king is very powerful”.

      In 1330 Giorgi the Brilliant has implemented one more significant action. He was attentively observing processes going in the West Georgia, where progenies of the King David Narin, Constantine and Michele had severe fight between each other. The fight for the throne was accomplished in 1329, when the whole Western Georgia became under the reign of adolescent Bagrat, the son of Michele, who wasn’t able to govern, as governors (Eristavi) were not supporting him. Giorgi the 5th went to Likhi range with his army and approached Kutaisi, where Bagrati was staying. Giorgi promised him safety and appointed him as Shorapani governor (Eristavi).

So, Giorgi the 5th started to govern in the Western Georgia “as the kind builder”. The King obeyed the whole Likht-Imereti – from Likhi range to Abkhazia and Svaneti. In this period he enacted that appointment of Samtskhe governors (they were his uncles, sons of Beka Jakeli) was only under the competence of the Georgian king. With this decision he joined Samtskhe to entire Georgia. Having in mind this fact, a historian of that period writes: “before the great and brilliant Giorgi, Jakeli obeyed only to Mongolian Khan”. So, such an important task as restoring the territorial integrity of the whole Georgia, Giorgi the Brilliant did wisely, almost without bloodshed.

In 1332-33, Giorgi the 5th sent a rather noteworthy epistle to Philippe the 6th Valois, the King of France. To the offer to arrange a new Crusade, Giorgi replied: “Divine kings of France often stir up Eastern kings against Sarangians (unbelievers, V. K.)  but afterwards leave us alone in a torturing war. So, first you decide when and where you cross the sea (Mediterranean sea, V. K) and immediately I will appear there accompanied by the army of 30000 soldiers”. (V. Kiknadze, “Mnatobi” #4 1983, pg. 189). From this answer it is clear that Giorgi V was free in his actions and had no doubts in his strength. A servant king of Mongols could not write in such a manner.                                                                                                                                  

Except throwing away the Mongolian yoke and uniting Georgia, Giorgi the 5th was thinking about the spiritual revival of the country as well. The longtime reign of Mongols has impacted many spheres of the Georgian statehood. Lots of churches and monasteries were restored or built during the governing of a King. In this period was restored the dome of Samtavro church, Svetitskhoveli, was built Gergeti holly Trinity church, church in Daba (Borjomi region) the new church in Jerusalem and many others. With the note of the historian Vakhushti, in 30-s of the 14th century, Giorgi the Brilliant has arranged the church council, which has excommunicated undeserving clergymen. This council was attended by the both Catholicoses (of Kartli and Abkhazia).  

 Giorgi was strict with those feudal lords, who were supporting Mongolians and after restoration of independency, where doing the same. Giorgi invited them to one of his residency in Kakheti Civi and punished with death.

In the beginning of 30 years the king Giorgi visited Mtiuleti (mountainous part of the Eastern Georgia) to solve problems there. For this region specially was created the law codex “Dzeglis Deba”.

In 1341 Giorgi the Brilliant was concerned with affairs of Trabzon Empire throne and taking into consideration sources, we can assume that with help of Giorgi, the Georgian-oriented princess of Trabzon Anna (called as Anakhutal) could get the throne.

Should be noted that in spite of the complete sovereignty, the King Giorgi decided not to prevent economic relations with progenies of the former suzerain countries. He also took into consideration that it would not be good to be far from the world commodity circulation. Due to the fact that newly produced money was only used in Georgia because of a hundred-year tradition (Historian Rashid Ad Din), Giorgi made a decision to write names of marionette Khans on the newly produced coins.

1346 year started and the disease plague from the Middle East was storming in the whole world, Georgia was not able to avoid this disaster and during two years plague was raging here too. In 1346 Giorgi the 5th was deceased and probably he also was a victim of the miserable illness.

The historian Vakhushti Bagrationi has highly praised the deeds of Giorgi the 5th. With his words: “the King was named brilliant, because he was very handsome, awesome, gracious, supporter of widows and orphans. He united the separated Georgia, let law functioning, built and restored ruined churches and where it was necessary, he used strength and in other circumstances he won with wisdom”.  

                                                                                                                           Vazha Kiknadze

June 18, 2010 - Posted by | 4. NEW PABLICATIONS

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: