By Dr. George Anchabadze
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(Till the end of the III cen. B.C.)
It's a very long time that a human lives on the territory of Georgia. Here, near town Dmanisi, was found the remainder of the fossil human (Homo ex gr. erectus) the age of which is Plio-Pleistocene (approximately 1,8 million years). Nowadays this is the oldest fossil man in West Euroasia. During the Stone Age human gradually mastered the whole territory of Georgia. Already in the Acheul epoque (appr. 400-100 thousands years ago), the old dwellings are found as near the Sea, as in the internal regions of the country and in the highland zone of Georgia.
Approximately 6-7 thousands years ago people on the territory of Georgia began to use as the instruments not only the stone but the metals as well. And in the IV-III mill. B.C. the ancestors of Georgians learned to get and use the bronze. In the middle of the Bronze Age (the first half of the II mill. B.C.) there existed the strong unions of tribes on the territory of East Georgia. In the big excavations on the Trialeti Plateau, where the leaders of those unions used to be buried, are found as the bronze instruments and the earthenware pottery, but also the amazing examples of the Goldsmith Art.
Georgian origin belongs to the Paleocaucasian (or Caucasian) Ethnolinguistic Family, the representative people of which are the direct descendents of the oldest population of Caucasus. This Family is divided into three branches: 1) Western, or Abkhaz-Adighian; 2) Eastern, or Chechen-Dagestanian and 3) Southern, or Kartvelian. Appropriately, Western branch unifies modern Abkhazians, Abazians, Adighians, Cherkezians and Kabardians; Eastern branch - Chechenians, Ingushs and Dagestanians (Avarians, Lezgians, Darguelians, Laks and etc.); and Kartvelian is represented by Georgian people, which consist of three main subethnical groups - Karts, Zans or Mengrel-Chans and Svans. Division of the previous Kartvelian language into Georgian, Zanian and Svanian branches begins in the III-II mill. B.C.
In that epoch the Georgian tribes dwelled as on the big territory of modern Georgia, also in the regions of North-East Anatolia. At the end of the II mill. B.C. and at the beginning of the I mill. B.C. some of those tribes reached the threshold of the creation of the Country. In the XII cen. B.C. at the sources of rivers Chorokhi and Euphrates the early-class union Diaukhi was created. The population of Diaukhi had to hold hard struggles against the strong kingdoms of the Front Asia - Asuria and Urartu. In the IX-VIII cen. B.C. Urartu destructed and conquerred Diaukhi. After that the kings of Urartu began the wars against the Second Georgian Union on the Bank of the Black Sea - Kolkha. Kolkha must have been that strong Kolkhidian Kingdom, the glory and brilliancy of which was so obviously depicted in the old Greek Legend about Argounauts. In the 30-20 years of the VIII cen. B.C. this early Kolkhidian Kingdom was destructed by the Kimirians from North.
In the VII-VI cen. B.C. the Kolkhidian State was revived again. The center of this new Kingdom must have been on the river Rioni (old Phazisi). The basis of this period's Kolkhida was the developed agriculture, cattle-breeding and the iron metalurgy. On the basis of the internal developing, on the Rioni Valley was created the city-like settlements. In the VI-III cen. B.C. here began the process of minting of silver coins for the internal market.
From the VI cen. B.C. trade and other relations of Kolkhida with the Greek World were widening. Soon on the Black Sea coast appeared city-colonies of Greeks - Phasises (near Poti), Gienoses (Ochamchire), Dioskuria (Sukhum) and others.
In the IV-III cen. B.C. the Kingdom of Kolkhida was gradually weakening and at last it was destroyed. Its Eastern Regions entered the new-created, Eastern-Georgian Kingdom, Iberia.
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(the IV cen. B.C. - V cen.)
There were several early-state creations of Georgian tribes on the modern Eastern territory of Georgia in the IV cen. B.C. and they had permanent struggles for the leadership. In this struggle won the union, the center of which was town Mtskheta, existing at the mouth of the Rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi. Mtskheta existed on a very useful place - in the junction of the roads from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, and from the East Europe to Front Asia, that helped the fast development of the town.
At the end of the IV cen. B.C. the representative of Mtskheta aristocracy - Parnavaz, unified the territory from the Caucasus Range till the source of the River Euphrates, and got the title of King. Thus was created the unified Eastern Georgian Kingdom - Iberia (Kartli in Georgian). Mtskheta became the capital of this Kingdom, and the residence of the Kings of Iberia was the citadel on the high mountain opposite to Mtskheta - Armaztsikhe.
Iberia, or Kartli, was a rich, densely inhabited country. According to the natural conditions, it consisted of two zones - highland and lowland. The population of the highland mainly was occupied with cattle-breeding, and the population of the lowland - with agriculture. The highlanders were distinguished by being warriors and played a big role in the military organization of Iberia.
In the cities of Iberia there lived merchants and handicraftsmen, but the important part of them was of the foreign origin - mainly Jews and Syrians.
In the religious life of Iberia there were many things remained from the Tribal System Age. They worshiped the God of Fertility and the Devines of Thunder and Heavenly Bodies. There existed the remainders of Totemism. From the Parnavazi period at the head of Pantheon stood the God of Moon - Armazi, the idol of which stood near Mtskheta, on the top of one of the mountains. Armazi expressed a cruel warrior, with an armour and a sword in his hand.
In a Foreign Policy, Parnavazi and his closest inheritors took their bearings to the union with Selevkides, but in the II cen. B.C. international condition aggraviated for Iberia. In the South, the country lost several important districts, which were cut off by the new-created Armenian Kingdoms, and in the West, the neighbour of Iberia became the Ponto Kingdom, the King of which, Mithridate VI, annexed Kolkhida to his domain. During the Wars of Mithridate, Iberia was his ally against Rome, that became a reason for invasion of a famous Roman General - Pompeus, on its territory in 65 y. B.C. Pompeus defeated the army of Artag, the King of Iberia in a big struggle, but faced a wide-spread public resistance, which forced him to hasten a conclusion of peace with Artag. According to the Pax, Iberia became an ally of unequal rights to Rome. After that Romans entered Kolkhida and conquerred this country too.
In the I-II cen. the Iberian Kingdom strengthened again, that was a result of economical rise of the country. Agriculture, handicraft, trading developed. The territory of Iberia was crossed by a big trade way from India to Greece.
The strengthening of Iberia at first was profitable for Romans, because in their Eastern Policy they often used the Iberian Allies. Besides, Iberia controlled the most important Passes of Central Caucasus, by which it protected the Asian domains of Rome from the invasion of the warrior tribes from the Northern Caucasus. But the strengthened Iberia gradually began to run its independent foreign policy. The King Parsman I (the I cen.) used the opposition between Rome and Partia and possessed Armenia, the King of which became at first his brother and then his son. In the I-II cen. the territory of Iberia widened. It got back its lost Southern provinces.
In the II cen. the condition in Kolkhida was characterized with the new political realities. In its sea-coast zone there were created Western Georgian and Abkhazian tribal Principalities - Lazika, Apsilia, Abazgia, Sanigia, the governors of which recognized the supremacy of Roman Emperors.
In the III cen. the foreign-political situation of Iberia aggraviated again. The main object of the expency of the dominion in Iran, new Persian dynasty - Sasanides, became Transcaucasus, that forced Iberia to stand firmly with the Rome orientation again and to oppose Iran. The one of the expression of that was a declaration of Christianity as a state religion of Iberia, which happened approximately in 337. As it appears, in the IV cen. Christianity was established in Kolkhida as well, where at that time was a tendency of unity. For instance, the principality of one of the Western Georgian (Zanian) tribes, Lazis - Lazika (Egrisi in Georgian), spreaded its influence on other local political units and tribes. The strengthened Kings of Lazis quited from submission of Rome too.
In Iberia, development of Christianity gave a strong jerk to the development of Georgian writing. The oldest Georgian writings, kept until now, which are written by an original script, are dated the V cen.
In the IV-V cen. there was a process of establishing feudal relations in Georgia. This period is a difficult foreign-political condition for Iberia. The union with Romans couldn't protect the country from the aggression of Sasanides, which especially became stronger from the first half of the V cen. when Persians conquerred the neighbouring countries of Iberia - Armenia and Albania and came to the borders of East Georgia. The Wars between Georgians and Persians began. Especially must be noted the second half of the V cen. when the King of Iberia was Vakhtang Gorgasali. The King Vakhtang was a good warrior, clever and vigorous governor. He tried to unify the people of Transcaucasus against Sasanides. In this way, he had a success. In his period Iberia strengthened again and annexed several neighbouring territories. Vakhtang Gorgasali also held a big constructing activity too. Founding Tbilisi as a city is related to his name, which was only a fortress before. But in the beginning of the VI cen. Vakhtang Gorgasali was killed in the struggle against Persians.
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(VI - X cen.) Creation of Georgian Nation.
In the VI cen. there already reigned Feudalism on the territory of Georgia though in the Highland regions the communal regime remained for a long time. The old tribal and slave-owning aristocracy gradually formulated to the feudal class - noblemen (aznaurs in Georgian). The layer of the free peasants was decomposing, the unimportant part of which passed in the category of aznaurs, and the majority gradually became the independent serfs.
The large feudals of Kartli opposed the government and on the ground of strengthening their political requirments and civil rights began to make the union with the Shah of Iran. Shah of Iran used this situation well and in 523 after the rebellion of Georgians, abolished the King's Government in Kartli. The supreme government of the country passed in the hands of the Vice-Gerent of Shah, the residence of which became Tbilisi.
After beginning the reign in Eastern Georgia, Iran drew its look to the Western Part of the country - Lazika, as Iberian rebels always looked for help there. Besides, by the conquerring Lazika, Iran would get a good bridge-head against Eastern Rome Empire, or Bizantium. By their side, Bizantinnes strengthened the press on Lazika too, which was considered as the vassal Kingdom of the Empire. They brought their armies in these countries. Bizantium statesmen and military-men were torturing the population of Lazika, they ignored the local government too. This forced the King of Lazika, Gubaz II to rebel and ask for help to Shah of Iran in 541. Shah of Iran was holding the war with the Empire of Bizantium. Iranians entered Lazika and with the help of Gubaz II, cleaned the coutnry from Bizantinnes. But after the real aims of Shah towards Lazika were known, (to kill Gubaz, to exile Lazs in Iran and to settle Iranian colonies on their territories), Gubaz II took the side of Bizantinnes again and in 562, finally banished Iranians from the territory of Western Georgia. This part still remained under the political influence of Bizantium.
At this time, the reign of Iranians in Eastern Georgia became unbearable for noblemen, who by the wide support of the population banished Iranians from Georgia in 70s of the VI cen. and the reigns of the government took in their hands. But at the end of the VI cen. and in the first half of the VII cen. East Georgia still was suffering from the frequent invasions of the armies of Iran and Bizantium, which tried to make this rich and situated on the suitable place, by the strategical view, country obey.
Although the frequent invasions and wars in the V-VI cen. were the important period for the Georgian culture. To this period belongs the oldest literatural works: "Torturing of Shushanik" of Iakob Tsurtaveli (V cen.) and "Torturing of Evstati Mtskheteli" of the unknown writer (VI cen.). Were built the ecclestiastical architectural works - Bolnisi (V cen.); Djvari (VI cen.) etc. To the development of civil architecture point the ruins of the fortresses of that period - Ujarma, Cheremi, Tsikhegoji, etc.
In the middle period of the VII cen. at the borders of Georgia came Arabs. After the destroying attack they managed to make the main provinces of the country obey and put the tributes on them. The governor of Arabs, Emir accomodated in Tbilisi and governed the conquerred part of Georgia from there. But Georgian people didn't stand the reign of foreigners. From the end of the VIII cen. new rebellions began, which gradually ruined the basis of the government of Arabs in Georgia. The Punisher Expeditions, sent from the centre of Khalifat, although their small successes, couldn't manage to abolish the resistence of Georgians. Besides, this was supported by the process of weakening of Khalifat in the IX-X cen.
At the end of the VIII cen. and in the beginning of the IX cen. in the conditions of struggles with the foreign conquerrors, on the territory of Georgia were established new feudal Kingdoms: Kakheti Principality, Hereti Kingdom, Abkhazia Kingdom, Tao-Klarjeti Kingdom. These Kingdoms released a big part of Georgia from the slavery. So at the X cen. Arabs only had Tbilisi and a small region near it.
At the second half of the X cen. the necessary political social-economical and ethnical foreconditions of unifying Georgia as a whole Kingdom appeared. Because of all that, the King Bagrat III Bagrationi (975-1014), who was the representative of the dinasty of the Kingdom of Tao-Klarjeti, from the side of his father, and the representative of the governing dinasty of Abkhazia, from the side of his mother, managed to unify the large part of the country. The Capital of politically unified Georgia became Kutaisi.
At the same time with the struggle for political union of Georgia, there was a natural process of creation feudal Georgian nations, which tractically ended by the X cen. The main kernel of Georgian people were Karts, which occupied the largest and the most important part of the country, Megrelians and Svans. Besides, some other tribes of Paleocaucasian origin entered Georgian nation. The word, Kartveli, which meant only the inhabitants of Kartli (Iberia) in early times, became the common autoethnonime for all Georgians since the X cen. Approximately in the same period there appeared also the term "Sakartvelo" which meant the entire counrty. ("Sakartvelo" is a Georgian word for Georgia). The language for writing and devine service for Georgians was Georgian (georg. "Kartuli Ena"), though in some provinces the local languages were spread.
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(XI-the first quarter of the XIII c.)
At the time of the death of Bagrat III, outside the unified Georgian Kingdom still remained Tbilisi, which was the centre of a little Mohammedian Princedom, and the Southern part of Georgia, which was conquerred by the Bizantium Empire in 1001. So, the main problem of the inheritors of Bagrat III was to join these territories.
Giorgi I (1014-1027) fighted with Bizantinnes to get back Georgian lands in vain. At the beginning of reign of his son, Bagrat IV (1027-1072) Bizantinnes invaded Georgia themselves but they were defeated. Bagrat IV fighted for liberation of Tbilisi and fortresses, which were still in the hands of Bizantinnes. But he couldn't end his deed because of particularizm of Feudals and invasions of Selchukid-Turks, who invaded Georgia for the first time in 1064.
The invasions of Selchukid-Turks became wider in 1080. Georgia was cruelly ruined by them, and the important part of the population was exterminated and captured. It forced the King Giorgi II (1072-1089) to visit the Great Sultan of Selchukid-Turks, Melik-Shah, and promise to pay the annual tribute. But it didn't stop the raids of the Turkish separate groups in Georgia. Besides there were the garrisons of Selchukid-Turks in the most important fortresses of Eastern Georgia (Tbilisi among them).
The situation was changed at 90s, in the XI c. when after the death of Melik-Shah, in the Kingdom of Selchukid-Turks set anarchy, and from the West part it was advanced by European Crusaders. The new King of Georgia David IV (1089-1125) used this situation well and in 1097 stopped paying the tribute to Selchukid-Turks and began struggles for the final banishment of the enemy from Georgia. David was a vigorous person, was a clever general and the great statesman. The reforms held by him made Georgia become the strong Kingdom. With the leadership of David, Georgians defeated Selchukid-Turkish armies several times and in 1122 advanced Tbilisi which was declared as the Capital of Georgia.
After liberation of Georgian lands in 1123-1124, David IV banished Selchukid-Turks from the neighbouring Armenian and Azerbaijanian provinces and annexed these territories to Georgia. Thus, at the end of the reign of the King David, estate of Georgia was from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea.
David IV also drew his attention to construction of cities, roads and bridges, which supported the economical revival of Georgia. The King, who was very educated for this period, and fond of books, cared for the development of cultural-educational centres too. For example, at the Gelati Cloister, with his indication, there was created Academy, where the subjects: philosophy, astronomy, mathemathics, rethorics, music and others were taught. The other Academy was established in Ikalto (East Georgia). For such many-sided constructive activity, Georgian people called David IV "David the Builder".
From the period of David the Builder, begins Feudal, so-called "The Golden Age" of Georgia, the most important period of political, cultural and economical blossom. In the periods of Giorgi III (1156-1184) and the King Tamar (1184-1213) Georgia was one of the strongest Kingdoms in Near East. The wars mostly ended with the victory of Georgian Armies. With the scale and political results, the struggles of Shamkor (1195) and Basiani (1203) are especially important, where Georgians defeated forces of Governors of North-West Iran and Small Asia. In the period of the King Tamar the Kingdom of Georgia owned the big part of Transcaucasus and its political influence was spread on the neighbouring territories - from the North Caucasus Highland till the Southern Coast of the Black Sea, where in 1204, with the efforts of the King Tamar was established the Greek-Georgian Trabson Empire.
The one of the important factors, which conditioned the success of Georgian armament, was the military activity, perfected in numerous wars. The kernels of the Georgian armed forces were the permament army of the King and the knight-aznaur groups, based on the feudal system, and the kernel of helping force was contingents of allies and hired groups, mainly from the North Caucasus. In the first quarter of the XII-XIII cen. Georgians could lead to the struggle 60-90 thous. warriors at the same time. It was mainly cavalry, which was well armed and recruited.
The military-political strength of Georgia relied on developed many-sided economic. To the economical strength of the country indicates creation of complicated system of irrigating chanells. For example, during the reign of the King Tamar, only one such chanell was 119 km long and watered the area of 53.000 hectares. Besides the chanell-building, there also developed gardening, viticulture ans husbandry. Georgia was famous with flax, rice, cotton and seliculture. The second important part of agriculture was cattle-breeding.
The main centres of trade and handicraft were cities. At the beginning of the XIII c. there lived approximately 100.000 people in Tbilisi. The important cities also were Kutaisi, Rustavi, Gori, Dmanisi and etc.
Georgia was trading with the countries of Near East, Bizantium and Russia.
In the XI-XIII c. Georgian Feudal culture reached the top of blossom. There developed philosophical thinking, histography, philology, ecclesiastical and national literature, art. To the end of the XII c. belongs the works of Georgian great poet - Shota Rustaveli, who's poem, "Knight in the Panther's Skin" is one of the masterpieces of the World Literature.
In the XII cen. there also was created an official collection of Georgian historical esseys "Kartlis Tskhovreba". The chronicles of the authors of the VIII-XII cen. were unified in the collection so that it became the permanent decription of history of Georgia from ancient times till the time of creation of the book. Then, untill the XVIII cen. the "Kartlis Tskhovreba" was periodically completed with new esseys. Thus was established the main written source of history of Georgia of Feudal Age, which included the most important datas also about the other coutries of Caucasus.
Important Georgian Architectural Monuments, which are created in this period are Bagrati, Svetitskhoveli and Alaverdi Cathedrals (XI c.), Gelati Cloister, the King's Palace in Geguti, Cloister in the Rock, Vardzia (XII c.), Pitareti and Betania Churches (the beg. of the XIII c.) and others. In the Churches and Cloisters there still are the brilliant examples of stone carving and mural painting. On the high level of development was also decoration of manuscripts, gold-work, production of partitional enamel and etc.
After the death of the King Tamar on the Throne set her son, Lasha-Giorgi IV (1213-1222). The beginning of his reign was notified with the military successes. Inspired by his victories, Giorgi IV was going to make the Crusade in Palestine, but at the borders of Georgia in 1220 suddenly appeared Mongolians of Genghis Khan. In the struggle against them, the King was wounded and soon died. On the Throne of Georgia set his sister Rusudan (1222-1245).
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During the period of reign of Rusudan there appeared the internal crisis in the feudal society, which shook the strength of the country and became the reason of defeat of Georgians by the enemies. In 1225-1231 Shah of Korasm, Jalal Eddine, several times successfully invaded Georgia. He also took Tbilisi and exterminated the large part of its christian population. True, soon after that he was defeated in the struggle with Mongolians and died, but the weakened from his invasions Georgia stayed against the stronger enemy - Mongolians. In 1243 Rusudan had to officially accept the supremacy of Mongolian Khan. Mongolians didn't abolish Georgian Kingdom, which was the result of resistance of Georgians. Conquerrors stopped at the step that the king recognized the supreme government of Genghisides, that he would pay annual tribute and in the case of necessity help them with the military forces.
After the death of Rusudan there appeared two pretenders for the state throne: the son of Lasha-Giorgi, David-Ulu, and the son of Rusudan, David-Narin. In 1247 Mongolians affirmed the both of them as the kings, which obviously created the fore-condition for the country decomposition.
The domination of Mongolians heavily laid on Georgia. The annual tribute destroyed the economical basis of the coutry. Besides, Georgians regularely had to participate in the far struggles of Mongolians, which was connected to the material outlays and human victimization.
To get rid of this situation, in 1259 the king, David-Narin rebelled against Mongolians and moved to West Georgia, which was declared as the independent kingdom. It was the beginning of political decomposition of the country, because East Georgia, with the subordinated northern Armenia stayed in the hands of David-Ulu and his inheritors, as the Autonomous kingdom, entering the Mongolian Empire.
The kings of East Georgia were trying to avoid this subordination. The rebellions, arranged by them in 1260-1261, 1297-1311 are famous, which were followed by the wide military activities. The final liberation of Georgia from the Mongolian domination happened in the period of the king Giorgi V the Splendid (1314-1346). Giorgi V annexed to Georgia also West Georgian kingdom and thus restored the political integrity of the country.
Liberated Georgia stood on the way to revival, but in 80s of the XIV cen. there appeared the new enemy - Tamerlane. This terrible Middle-Asian conquerror invaded Georgia in 1386-1403 eight times and ruined it, exterminated or captured the important part of the population. This was one of the largest distruction, that had happened in the history of Georgia. Inspite of that, Tamerlane still couldn't manage to make the whole Georgia obey.
The invasions of Tamerlane caused the horrible damage for the Feudal Georgia. Catastrophically fell economic, the population was abbreviated, the coutry stood on the way to the cultural flinch. Georgians were involved in the permanent wars, which were hold by the kingdoms arisen on the ruins of the Empire of Tamerlane. The invasions of nomadic tribes were endless.
In the second half of the XV cen. the foreign political condition of Georgia was aggraviated. Defeat of Konstantinopole by Ottoman-Turks in 1453 destroyed the contact with the Christian Europe for the country. Georgia was alone surrounded by the Muslim kingdoms and became the object of their permanent aggression.
The endless wars, economical and cultural flinch became the reason of the delay of the internal development of Georgia. The long period of stagnation began, the one of the results of which was the political decomposition of the country. At the end of the XV cen. Georgia was divided into Kartli, Kakheti and Imereti kingdoms, and Samtskhe Princedom. But neither these small kingdoms were the centralized units and from their side consisted of several subordinated dominations, the strongest of whom, Megrelia, Abkhazia and Guria Princedoms soon separated from Imereti kingdom and reached the independence from it.
In the princedoms there also were creating semi-independent seniors - satavados, which mean dominion of the prince (the title "tavadi" was separated from the dominating class in the XV cen.). Tavads, big, landowners, were the vassals (subordinated) of the kings and princes, but had administrative, judicial and tax immunities in their dominions. They had own military forces. The word "nobleman" meant only a small feudal afterwards. Aznaurs were the vassals of the kings, princes, tavads and the church. The obligation of the feudal-vassals was military service at first. At the time of the political disintegration of Georgia the serfdom was already firmly established in the country. The big part of peasants and city merchants and handicraftsmen were just the serves of the kings, feudals and the church. The wide layer of the private free peasants is remained only in the highlands of Georgia and in Abkhazia.
At the time of political decomposition of Georgia, there already were a long ago established serf relations. The large part of peasants and city merchant-handicraftsmen was the slave layer of the Kings, feudals and churches. The wide layer of independent peasants was only in higland regions and in Abkhazia.
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At the end of the XV cen. and in the beginning of the XVI cen. the neighbours of Georgia became two strong kingdoms - Ottoman-Turks Empire and Iran of Sephevids. They began to run the strictly expressed aggressive policy towards Georgia from the very beginning. The struggle of Georgians for independence and original culture, which lasted during 300 years began. The background of this struggle was frequent internal wars, which made the condition of politically separated Georgia worse. For example only Kartli kin gdom held 14 wars against Iran, 11 wars against Turks and 13 wars against other Georgian kingdoms in the XVI cen.
The condition especially was aggravated after Iran and Turkey made agreement on sharing Iraq, Kurdistan and Transcaucasus in 1555. According to this agreement the East part of Georgia was declared as the dominion of Iran and the West part - the dominio n of Turkey. But Georgians didn't acknowledge this decision and still were fighting for independence. The kings of kartli, Luarsab I (1527-1556) and Simon I (1556-1599) should especially notified as the organizers of the national forced resistance in the XVI cen..
At the beginning of the XVII cen. Ottoman-Turks managed to conquer Samtskhe Princedom. The part of Samtskhe Princedom feudals accepted Islam and served Sultan. On the conquered Georgian lands there was created the Ottoman-Turkish administrative uni t - Akhaltsikhe Viliety, the governing layer of which, including governor Pashas, mainly was the representative of Georgian Feudals, who accepted Islam.
The rest of the parts of Georgia managed to retain the State system, but had to recognize the supremacy of conquerors: the kingdoms of East Georgia - Kartli and Kakheti became the vassal (subordinated) of Shah of Sephevids, the states of West Georgia became the vassals of Ottoman Sultan. But even this model of relation didn't set peace, because conquerors longed full incorporation of Georgia, and Georgians were trying to use every chance of revival of independence.
The situation especially was aggravated in East Georgia in the first half of the XVII cen. when Shah Abbas I decided to exile Georgians to Iran or exterminate them, and to settle Iranians on their lands. The armies of Shah took 100 000 people as captiv es only from Kakheti, almost the same number of people was exterminated. After invasions of Shah Abbas there wasn't left even one-third of the population in Kakheti. But Georgian people failed the plans of Shah with their heroic struggles. In 1625, with t he leadership of the King of Kakheti, Teimuraz I and kartlian general, Giorgi Saakadze, the active Iranian Army in Georgia was destroyed in the rebellion, Shah Abbas was forced to recognize the fact of existing of Georgian kingdoms.
The situation in East Georgia was comparatively stable from 30s of the XVII cen. when the two sides reached the compromise: the kings of Kartli and Kakheti recognized the supremacy of Iranian Shah, and the latter didn't intervene in their internal affa irs.
Between the political units in West Georgia in the XVII cen. there were the permanent struggles, which was used by Turks to strengthen their influence. They occupied several coastal points and supported the slave-trade, the result of which was the exil e of thousands of Georgian people.
The permanent invasions of foreigners and internal wars caused the new damage for the country, weakened in the previous centuries. Economic was falling, many branches of agriculture and handicraft were destroyed, the number of population abbreviated. T hese circumstances delayed the further progress of feudal society development and in some places (especially in the highland) caused the renewal of Early feudal and patriarchal institutions.
The economical revival of the country is notified only from the 40s of the XVII cen. and only in East Georgia (Kartli), the condition of which as it was mentioned above, was comparatively stable in this period. The situation caused the positive results for the civil life. The population of Tbilisi was not more than 10 000 people at the end of the XVI cen. and in the second half of the XVII cen. it was risen to 20 000. In this period Georgia had the closest economical relations with the cities of Iran.
From the XV cen. to the XVII cen. the Georgian culture was decreased. The Georgian architecture of this period can not be compared with the brilliant examples of the X-XIII cen. In Georgia of late medieval period such high educating-scientific centres as Gelati and Ikalto didn't exist. The education mainly was given in the families and cloisters. From the XVII cen. in the education sphere, the role of Western catholic-missioners was rising, which was establishing schools in Georgia, where there were taught as catholic preach, so Italian and Latin languages, some practical science etc.
In the XVII cen. the Georgian literature began to revive. The king Teimuraz I, who was warrior and poet, put the national-historical motive in Georgian poetry. He dedicated the poem to the death of his mother, queen Ketevan, who didn't refuse Christian ity in the captivity of Shah and so was killed. After Teimuraz, historical theme occupied important place in Georgian poetry.
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In the first years of the XVIII cen. the King of Kartli, Erekle was changed by Vakhtang VI. His reign was very important for Georgia. Besides he began to restore the abolished rules, he also held the Church meeting and chose his brother, Domenti as the Arch-Bishop of Mtskheta. He began the legislative activity as well. Vakhtang collected the old legislature books and made them as the one. Then added his own "Sjuli" too. True, the Book of Laws was created for Kartli, but it became the Book os Justice for all Feudal Georgia. To the same period belongs his second Book of Laws, Dasturlamal. It was the main Law of the country in the middle centuries. During the period of Vakhtang VI Kartli was economically advanced. Began the process of restoring old channels. The King cared for keeping roads and bridges, for arrenging the country incomes, for improving the minting. Creation of the Printing-House was the most important in the cultural sphere. In 1709 was created the printing-house at the first time in Tbilisi. Vakhtang VI also created the history of Georgia, from the XIV cen. till the XVIII cen. At that time there acted Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, lexicographic, the famous writer of the allegories, the poet and the statesman.
The aim of Vakhtang VI was strengthening the King's Government. The Royal Court of Kartli was trying to unify the feudal forces, Kingdom of Kartli - Region Heads. The King created "the Army of Defenders", that was followed by the discontent of princes.
To become the King of Kartli, Vakhtang VI went to Iran. Shah asked him to become Mohammedian, which was followed by the refusal of Vakhtang VI. Vakhtang stayed in Iran as a semi-arrested. To rescue him, in 1713 Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani visited the Pope of Rome, then the King of France, Louis XIV and asked for money. He was received with regards but returned empty-handed. In 1716 Vakhtang had to get Mohammedanism and Shah gave him Kartli. Only in 1719 he could return in Georgia and continued his activity. On June 15, 1722, Peter I declared the manifesto about the compaign in Iran. Vakhtang was waiting for the King of Russia in Ganja, after 3 months' waiting the embassador of Russia declared to him about abolishing the compaign. Angry Shah deprived him of Kartli and he had to go to Russia. After that, in Kartli reign began Osmans, then Iran again. In 1744 the King of Kartli became Teimuraz II (son of Erekle I) and the King of Kakheti became his son, Erekle II.
In the first-third of the XVIII cen. there were established Ossetian settlements in Kartli Highland. From the sources of Big Liakhvi, Ossetians gradually developed to Armenia. Ossetians appeared in the Georgian cultural sphere too. On the bases of Georgian letters, there were worked out Ossetian alphabet. Neighbouring Lezghins were meeting as small groups and invading Georgia. They were interested only in captives and booty. Georgian captives were bought by Krimean merchands. And in 1754 the Prince of Khudzakhi invaded Georgia with a big army. The severe War was held. Only the military talant of Erekle II saved Georgians from defeat.
In 1760 the King Teimuraz II went to Russia, to ask for money of the army rent. He was going to persist Lezghins and to enter Iran this way. But Russia didn't help him. In 1762 Teimuraz died in Petersburg. He was burried next to Vakhtang VI in the Astrakhani Assumption Cathedral.
After the death of Teimuraz Erekle declared himself as the King of Kartli-Kakheti. So, Kartli-Kakheti became the whole Kingdom. Erekle guessed that without the co-operation with Russia he couldn't save the country and offered Georgia to enter under the Russia support to the Government of Russia. On July 24, 1783, in the fortress Georgievsk, the Treaty of Friendship of Russia and Georgia was signed. Georgians were going to get back their lost territories and to defeat Lezghins with this Treaty. At the same time Shah of Iran, Agha-Mohamed-Khan required to Erekle to abolish Russia-Georgia Union and to obey Kartli-Kakheti to Iran. Instead he promised mercy. This proposal was impossible for Erekle, because he connected the future of Georgia to progressive Europe. The War between Iran and Georgia was out of question. On September 10, 1795 Agha-Mohamed-Khan invaded Georgia with 35.000 warriors. Inspite of that Erekle had only 5.000 warriors, Georgians won the first attack. The betrayals informed the enemy about the small army of Georgia and on September 11, on Krtsanisi Valley was held the final struggle. Inspite of the self-devotedness of Georgians, they were defeated. Devoted princes only managed to take the old King from the struggle.
The won Agha-Mohamed-Khan entered Tbilisi and destroyed it. During the period of his being in Georgia the negotiation with Erekle was made. Erekle was trying to win time, because he was waiting for the help from Russia, but Khan left and went to Iran. Lezghins used the situation in Georgia and invaded unprotected villages of Kartli-Kakheti.
In 1798 in the age of 80, Erekle II died. The King of Kartli-Kakheti became his son, Giorgi XII, who spent all his life in struggling with princes. On December 22, 1800 the Government of Russia decided to abolish Kartli-Kakheti Kingdom and to unify it with Russia. After six days the King of Georgia died. In 1801 the Kartli-Kakheti Kingdom was declared as the "Province of Georgia".
In the first half of the XVIII cen. the King's Government in Western Georgia was abolished. In 1723 Osmans conquerred Poti. In their hands were Batumi, Sukhumi and Tsikhisdziri. The population was forced to change religion.
In 1751 the King of Imereti became young Solomon, the son of Alexander. His situation was very hard, because many strong princes of that time didn't obey him. The aim of the King was to create the king's Government, to unify Western Georgia and to abolish the reign of Osmans. For which he gradually unified with several princes, Otia Dadiani and Mamia Gurieli. Solomon abolished the trade of slaves.
In 1757 Imereti was invaded by a big army of Osmans, but Solomon was a good General and a fearless warrior. He defeated the enemy on the Field of Khreshili.
In 1759 Solomon held the meeting of Western Georgia Church Feudals and Social Feudals. The topics of discussion were the social questions of whole Western Georgia, and the important statement - abolishment of slave trade.
In 1763-1768 people of Imereti with Solomon in the head fought against Osmans. The enemy had to begin the peace negotiation with the King. Solomon knew the treachery of the enemy and was looking for the strong ally. On June 23, 1768 he sent an embassador to Russia to ask for support and from his side promised help during the Russia-Osman War.
In 1768-1774 there was the War between Russia and Osmans. In 1769 the army of Russia with general Totleben in the head entered Georgia to join against Osmans. But Totleben began the war compaign against the Kings - Solomon and Erekle. He longed to take Erekle from the Throne but couldn't manage and invaded Western Georgia. He seiged Poti but couldn't conquer it. He returned in Russia with the broken reputation. In that time in 1784 Solomon died.
Thus Russia annexed Kartli-Kakheti and began to care about annexing the other parts of Caucasus.
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The XVIII cen. began again with unified internal and external political condition for Georgia. There was a permanent internal war in Western Georgia. Turks were widening their influence there. Slave-trade was still on wide scale, slaves were sold in the slave market of Ottoman-Turks Empire.
East Georgia, as the vassal country of Iran of Sephevids, had to participate in the wars, held by this country. Struggle with rebelled Afghan tribes against Iranians was especially hard, during which many Georgian warriors and two Georgian kings were killed. Afghans also were hardly damaged by Georgians too. As says one of the authors of that time, Afghanian warriors considered Georgians as the most powerful rivals.
In 1709, when Georgian king, Giorgi XI was fighting in Afghanistan, his nephew, Vakhtang VI was appointed as his assistant in Kartli. Vakhtang was a famous statesman and culture supporter, poet and scientist. During the period of his government Kartli was on the way to ascent: the central government was strengthened, roads were arranged, bridges and irrigating channels were building, minting improved, arose trade-handicraft, the deserted after wars places were mastered again.
Arrangement of internal situation of Kartli was supported by Law Code, which was worked out by Vakhtang and was created according to Georgian Justice of the XI-XVI cen. and various foreign Juridical patterns.
With the leadership of Vakhtang, intensive scientific and literatural activity began. In 1709 the first Georgian Printing-House was established in Tbilisi, where ecclesiastical and civil books were printed. In 1712, there was printed "Knight in the Panther's Skin" of Rustaveli at the first time, with the basic scientical research. "Kartlis Tskhovreba" collection and others were also edited and completed with the new materials.
The well-deserved representative of scientific school of Vakhtang VI was his son, Vakhushti (1696-1757), who's fundamental work "Inventory of Georgian Kingdom" comprised the unique facts about history of Georgia and geography. This Issue was also added with the valuable cartographical materials.
At the same time with building and cultural activity, Vakhtang had to create new armies of nobility and transfer them in Iran, to complete the armies struggling against Afghans.
In 1716 Shah of Iran confirmed Vakhtang VI as the king of Kartli. At that time Kingdom of Sephevids was already weakened. At its borders stood Turkey and Russia in Transcaucasus. Vakhtang hoped that Russia, which was of one religion would help Georgia to revive independence. He made a secret agreement with the Emperor of Russia, Peter I, that considered the war against Iran together. So, in 1722 the army of Russia passed Caspian Sea coast and directed to South. Vakhtang VI, according to the plan, invaded Shah dominions with 30 000 warriors to join Russians, but it didn't happen. Peter I suddenly changed his plans and moved back, that put the king of Kartli in difficulty. Angry Shah, who obviously saw the "treachery" of Vakhtang, ordered to dismiss him f rom the throne and gave the throne of Kartli to the king of Kakheti, Constantine II. In 1723 Constantine took Tbilisi with the hired army of Dagestanians. The struggle caused a large damage to the town. At the same time Turks began invasions from West. Vakhtang VI couldn't stay in Georgia any more and had to escape to Russia. Armies of Ottoman-Turks occupied Tbilisi. Constantine II tried to struggle but he was killed.
In 1723-1735 Turks were dominating in East Georgia, and then, revived Iranian armies exiled Turks and established their government in the country. Georgians were fighting as against Turks so against Iranians, but liberating activity was disturbed by permanent feudal internal wars, which were held at the same time with the foreign struggles. The country was ruined from intensive military activities.
Beside the Ottoman and Iranian occupation and internal problems, invasions of Dagestanian groups in East Georgia was strengthening, which caused a large damage to the population. Georgians were fighting against Ottoman-Turks, Iranians and Dagestanians. These struggles were led by the younger brother of Constantine II, Teimuraz II. Shah of Iran was forced to make serious concessions to Georgians. In 1744 Teimuraz restored Kartli and Kakheti kingdoms, which after 1723 were abolished. The king of Kartli became Teimuraz II, and the king of Kakheti became his son, Erekle II.
They governed East Georgia at first as vassals of Iran, but then when Shah of Iran was killed by the conspirators in 1747, and there set anarchy in Iran, Kartli and Kakheti kingdoms got back their political independence.
After the death of Nadir-Shah, the long-term wars between the kingdoms, eracted on the ruins of his Empire, began. Georgians with the leadership of Erekle II, were mostly the winners in these wars. They not only defended their independence, but made some neigboring Khanates obey. Erekle showed himself as a clever general and a brave warrior. After the death of his father, Teimuraz II (1762), he became the king of the integral Kartli-Kakheti, or a whole East Georgia.
Victory of Georgians caused a big resonance in West Europe. There were articles in the French and German newspapers, the authors of which praised Erekle II and supposed that he would manage to occupy Iran, where the bloody internal wars took place.
The condition in Imereti Kingdom got comparably better. Its king, Solomon I (1752-1784) was vigorously struggling for the strength of the central governance and for liberating the country from the dominance of Turkey. He prohibited also slave-trade. The government of Ottoman-Turks, obviously didn't like such policy of Solomon I. Ottoman-Turkish armies invaded Imereti several times, but they failed.
In 1768-1774 Erekle and Solomon supported Russia in the war against Turkey, but in spite of this, that Erekle defeated the military forces of Akhaltsikhe Viliety, he couldn't succeed because of the betrayal of Russian General of Transcaucasia. In 1774 with the Pax with Turkey, Russia recognized souvereignty of Ottoman-Turks on West Georgia, but there was one condition, if Sultan would refuse the tributes from Imereti.
In the 50-70s of the XVIII cen. there shaped a definite rise in East Georgia. For the release of peasants conditions there were adopted a lot of laws, with which the condition of agricuture got comparably better. The mining revived in East Georgia. New enterprises were open, where the hired employment was widely used. The first manufacturings were established. Erekle II tried his best to put Georgia on the European way of development. In the period of his reign, there already appeared the decomposition of feudal relations in Kartli-Kakheti Kingdom. The part of peasants liberated from the serfdom and became the free producers. The role of rich Tbilisian merchants rose in the society life, single persons from the low level promoted on the high state ranks.
In the culture and education sphere, two seminaries and other educational institutions were open. In 1782 the first Georgian original play was performed in Tbilisi. From Georgian poets of that period, David Guramishvili (1705-1792) and Besik Gabashvili (1750-1791) are to be notified.
From the beginning of the 80s, the situation of East Georgia was aggravated again. One of the reasons for it was the permanent invasions of Daghestanians. They robbed the population, kidnapped the captives and sold them on the slave-markets of Ottoman-Turks and North Caucasus. All regions of East Georgia emptied from the invasions of Daghestanians.
In such condition, Erekle II decided to strengthen the situation with Russia again. In 1783, in the Russian fortress Georgievsk, the representatives of Russia Empire and Kartli-Kakheti signed the Treaty, according to which, East Georgia passed under the Russian protection. Georgians accepted the supremacy of Russian Emperor and refused the independent external policy. On its side, Russia promised to defend Georgia from the enemies, for which two Russian battalions with two cannons had to stand there. Also, Russia promised not to interfere with the internal affairs of Georgia. Royal Throne remained in the hands of Erekle and his descendants.
Georgievsk Treaty didn't bring any particular goodness to Georgia, but the negative result was big. Governing circles of iran and Ottoman-Turks, who were disturbed by entering of Russia in Transcaucasia opposed Erekle II. Invasions of Daghestanians strengthened. One of the strongest owner of Daghestan, Omar-Khan successfully invaded Georgia with his army of 20 thousand warriors in 1785 Russian battalions couldn't repel Daghestanians and Russia took its forces from Georgia and Erekle II stayed alone. In the meantime, the struggle for integrity of Iran was over. The head of the state became the founder of Kajar dinasty, Agha-Mohamed-Khan. In 1795 he invaded Transcaucasia with the huge army for revival of Iranian governance there. Erekle II, according to the Treaty, asked Russia for help, but he got nothing except promises. In the meantime, Agha-Mohamed-Khan came to Georgia with the army of 35 thousand warriors and after the bloody struggle, occupied Tbilisi on September 12, 1795. Iranians destroyed the city and captured its 10 thousand inhabitants.
After this tragedy, the situation of Kartli-Kakheti was more aggravated. In 1798 Erekle II died and his son, Giorgi XII (1798-1800), who was weak and passive, set on the Throne.
At this time, Russian government decided to annex East Georgia. In 1799 Russian armies entered Georgia again. And after the death of Giorgi XII, in 1801, Russian Emperor, Alexander I declared his manifesto on abolishment of Kartli-Kakheti Kingdom and its annexation with Russia. Manifesto hypocritically said, that this Act was dictated with only the care of the interests of Georgian people. The place in Tbilisi, where the Manifesto was publicly declared, was sieged by Russian army and artillery. And those from the listeners, who protested the abolishment of the Kingdom, were arrested on the place.
Thus, the period of Russian governance in Georgia began.
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Annexation of East Georgia by Russia and adopting new forms of governing caused the discontent of wide layers of population. The important part of nobility was displeased by annulment of the kingdom and limitation of old feudal rights, and on the back o f Georgian peasants besides the heavy taxes lay the fate of national oppression. Colonial regime was of a military-police character. There was an absolute unlawfulness in the country. Russian military-men and statesmen were robbing the people and those who expressed even the lest protest, were cruelly punished. This fact caused the several anti-Russian armed actions in East Georgia in 1804-1812 and 1813. The leaders of these actions were the single representatives of the Georgian royal family, which hoped to revive the monarchy. It took the extreme forces for Russian armies to suppress the rebellions, but the experience forced the Russian government to soften its policy towards Georgia and to abolish the unlimited license of Russian executioners. Also, the members of Kartl-Kakheti Kingdom were exiled in Russia.
After beginning the domination in East Georgia, Russia started to extend its dominions in Transcaucasia. As the result of two wars with Iran, Russia occupied North Azerbaijan and East Armenia. As for West Georgia, the annexation was implemented by two stages: at first, Russia took under its protection the local political bodies (1803-Megrelia Princedom; 1804-Imereti Kingdom; 1810-Guria and Abkhazia Princedoms; 1833-Svaneti Princedom), and then gradually abolished them by the complete annexation of their territories (Imereti-1810; Guria-1828; Megrelia-1857; Svaneti-1858; Abkhazia-1864).
Abolition of Imereti Kingdom Russia managed only after the direct military aggression. The last king of Imereti Solomon II (1789-1810) was forced to escape to Osman Empire, where he died in 1815.
The policy of Tsarism, to abolish the independence of Georgian Church, caused a large rebellion in Imereti and Guria in 1819-1820, but the rebels were defeated in the struggle with Russians. Their villages were exterminated and burnt. Inspite of this, there happened another antirussian rebellion in Guria in 1841 but it was also cruelly suppressed.
There were permanent armed actions in Abkhazia too (in 1821, 1824, 1840-1842, 1866, 1877). Besides, North-West Abkhazian tribes haven't obeyed Russia at all, they were permanently striving and after their defeat (1864) they escaped and settled in Osman Empire. After the suppression of 1866 and 1877 rebellions, Abkhazian native population was massively exiled in Turkey.
As a result of the Russia-Turkey wars Russia Empire annexed (and thus Georgia got back) the territories, conquered by Turks in the previous centuries: Samtskhe-Javaketi with its chief town Akhaltsikhe (1829), Ajara and several regions with t. Batumi (1878). This was some kind of positive fact for Georgia, attended by negative facts too. Thousands of Georgian Muslim population inhabiting the annexed territories escaped and settled in the inner regions of Osman Empire. The main reason of their escape was unwillingness to live under Russian administration.
Thus, in 1801-1878 Georgia was almost completely annexed with Russia Empire. Afterwards, only the extreme South-West part of Georgia remained outside the borders of Russia.
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Development of Capitalism in Georgia. Periods after national and social liberating actions. (the middle of the XIX c. - 1917)
From the 30-50s of the XIX cen. there was mainly the stabile situation in Georgia. Agriculture, trade and industry were developed. The number of population arose, as because of the natural increase, also because of the colonisational policy of the king government, which for the reason of strengthening its social support, was widely running the settlement of Russian and foreigner colonists in Georgia.
In this period, decomposition of feudal natural farming and increasing the monetary-productive relations were intensively developing. The owners of industrial enterprises of Georgia mainly were Russian and foreigner capitalists. But the resistance of development of capitalism was self-ownership in Georgia. In the 30-40s of the XIX cen. these vicious reminders were even strengthened, as Russian government supported the rights of Georgian landlords for the reason of enticing them on its side. Thus, the rights of Georgian nobility were made equal to the Russian ones. The form of government changed in Transcaucasia too. From 1840 there were adopted the same administrative and court organizations, as were in the inner provinces of Russia. The limited cultur al autonomy (Georgian newspapers and magazines, Georgian theater) was permitted. With such policy the government reached the complete devotion of Georgian nobility to Russia from the 40s. Georgian aristocrats were searching for the careers, first of all in military service. They served as in the regular army of Russia, also in the Georgian militia, which played the active role in the Caucasian wars of Russia during the whole XIX cen.
In the second half of the 50s, the crisis of the serf regime in Russia was strengthened. This fact spread in Georgia too. The peasants were rebelling against their owners (especially the large rebellion happened in Megrelia in 1857). This forced the government to hold the peasant reforms in Georgia too. In 1864-1871 the serfdom was abolished in Georgia.
The 60-70s of the XIX was the period of changes in the history of Georgia. After the reforms, capitalism was rapidly developed. The factories and enterprises were built, minerals (coal and manganese) were acquired, cities - Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Poti, Batum i etc. were developed, the railway station was constructed. Inspite of these things Georgia remained the agrarian country, though development of capitalistic relations was in the high process.
Annexation with Russia brought the knowledge of European culture to Georgia, which played the positive role in the further development of Georgian culture. In the 60-70s there appeared the new progressive-democratic generation on the path of literature and society, the education of which was from the Russian Universities, and had a critical opinion about the colonial regime and feudal reminders in Georgia. The leader of this generation was the writer, social and political body, Ilia Chavchavadze (1837- 1907). The open movement under his leadership was the new peaceful form of the national-liberating action, which changed the local armed rebellions in the first half of the XIX cen.
After the assassination of the Russian Emperor in 1881, Alexander II, the political reaction occupied the country. The government stood on the way to oppression and russification of the people, inhabiting the Empire and Georgians among. The publishing of Georgian books, newspapers and magazines was extremely limited. There was abolished Georgian language in schools. The word "Georgia" was even erased from the official documents, and put the "Tbilisi province" and "Kutaisi province" instead. This policy was excused by the wrong theory that the time of small nations was over and they were historically doomed for the assimilation with the larger nations.
In such conditions Ilia Chavchavadze and his adherents bravely strived against the national-colonial oppression. They strived for deepening the consolidation of Georgian nation and its national self-consciousness. The government couldn't cluntch these actions. On the contrary, this movement was strengthened and widened afterwards, though it didn't accept the shape of political rebellion.
In the 90s, there began the process of Marxism propaganda in Georgia. Georgia was one of the important centers of the revolutionary struggles during the revolution in Russia in 1905-1907. Peasants and workers were rebelling. There happened barricade st ruggles in Tbilisi, also there began the armed rebellions in the villages of West Georgia. The punishing armies, sent by the government exterminated several villages.
The big part of Georgian revolutionaries was calling the social slogans in 1905-1907 but they were striving against the national oppression too. Besides, there existed the second branch in the revolutionary-democratic stream, which considered the liber ation of Georgia as priority question. Some of them required the entire separation from Russia, most of them were for the autonomous feudal union with democratic Russia after victory of revolution
So, the revolutionary movement in Georgia in the beginning of the XX cen. was the next stage of the national-liberating action.
National motive was of stronger shape in Georgia during the period of new revolutionary revival, which began from 1912 in Russia too. But the beginning of the World War I temporarily retarded this process. The continuous wars in Georgia and in Russia c aused the farming decomposition. Already in the first year of the war, some industrial spheres of Georgia diminished the producing for 40-50 per cents. In the next years the condition was harder. The important part of workers (200 thous. people) was in ac tive army. Georgia became the war-coast country after involving Turkey in the war against Russia. The crisis after the war caused the increase of revolutionary characters in Russia again, the end of which was the 1917 February revolution, which ended the existence of monarchy in the country.
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After February, 1917 revolution democratic changes took place in Russia. One of the results of those changes in Georgia was revival of independence of the orthodox church (March, 1917). But the temporary government of Russia couldn't decide those cardinal issues, which especially bothered the wide layers of population: pax issues (country kept participating in the World War), land issues etc. This condition was well used by Bolsheviks (Communists) with the leadership of Lenin and in October, 1917 they overthrew the temporary government. Transcaucasian political parties and organizations didn't acknowledge the legacy of these changes. On November 15, 1917 they created their own government - Transcaucasian Commissariat, which consisted mainly of local parties. In fact, the process of separation of Transcaucasia from Russia, began.
This process juridically ended on April 9 (22), 1918, when the creation of independent Transcaucasia federation was declared, with the center in Tbilisi. The supreme state body of new-created republic was represented by many-partied Same , the chairman of which was elected Georgian social-democrat, N. Chkheidze. The deputy-chairmen were the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
One of the most important problems, which stood in front of Transcaucasian government, was the questions of arrangement the situation with Turkey, because the War was lasting, the Russian army, which fought against Turkey, was decomposed, soldiers left their positions and returned at home, and new-established Georgian-Armenian groups couldn't stop the Turkish army. Azerbaijan refused to struggle against Turkey, which was of the same religion and ethnically related.
During the Pax negotiations with Turkey, there appeared the truth, how unreliable was the unifying of Transcaucasia. Between the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijanian deputations of Same, there existed the permanent discord. Azerbaijanian politicians were on the side of Turkey, which declared its territorial requirements to Transcaucasia . Georgia and Armenia were oriented towards Germany, to have the influence on its ally. And, with the help of interfering from Germany, Georgia avoided Turkish occupati on. Turks occupied only South-West part with Batumi.
Life showed that Transcaucasia Republic was not a perspective creature. It didn't exist longer than two months and was destroyed after the inner resistances. On May 26, 1918 on the last meeting, Same officially declared the abolishment of Federation. In the evening of the same day, the sitting of "the national council" of Georgia was held, on which Georgia was declared as the Sovereign-democratic Republic. During the next two days Armenia and Azerbaijan declared their independence too.
Thus, on May 26, 1918 Georgian State, abolished 117 years ago, was revived. Georgian people accepted this fact with celebration. This historical event was the crown result of the national and social-liberating actions of XIX-XXs Georgia. This day, May 26 is celebrated as the national independence day in today's Georgia as well.
The first government of the Republic of Georgia was coalitional, though it consisted mainly of social-democrats. Social-democratic party was the strongest in Georgia. The leader of the party, Noe Zhordania (1868-1953) became the chairman of the government of Georgia.
The young republic stood in front of the hard economical problems. The World War caused the important damage to the economy, and the situation was hardened by the ceasing of economical relations with Russia and other countries. Industry and transportat ions were out of actions, there was a lack of food. And the government had no any capital in the stable currency, while declaring the independence.
Germany recognized the independence of Georgia on May 28. But after the defeat of the central states in the World War I, the question of international recognition became actual again. Government of Georgia appealed with this question to the Paris Peaceful Conference. In 1920, after Turkey, Germany and Argentina, Georgia was recognized as de-facto by the Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan. And after May 7, 1920, when Soviet Russia confessed the Independence of Georgia, the republic was recognized as de-jure by Antanta countries and other states.
The establishment of Georgian democratic republic was running in the most difficult political condition. At first, the country was not recognized by Russian "White Action", which had a motto of "Entire and Indivisible" Russia. Issues, concerning border s between Transcaucasian Republics were not arranged as well. In particular, Georgia had a territorial quarrel with Azerbaijan about Zakatala district. And Armenian Republic had a claim on South regions of Georgia, where the large part of population was of Armenian origin . In December, 1918 Armenian armies imprudently invaded Georgia but they were defeated. Military actions in Transcaucasia were ceased by the interference of English captainship.
In the South part of the disputable region, there was created so-called "Neutral Zone", with Georgian-Armenian administration. The entire jurisdiction of Georgia revived in this region only in November, 1920. In 1918-1920 there were local military move ments in South-West Georgia as well, in Abkhazia, on the territories inhabited by Southerner Osetians and in other regions, where armed actions took place. The important part of those actions were caused by the agitation of Communists.
In spite of these facts, the first hardest steps in creation the State, were overcome. At the end of 1920, the marks of economical and political stabilization in the republic were noticeable. Georgia got back Batumi region, which was occupied by English after the defeat of Turkey in the World War. Science and culture began to revive. The high-educational organizations - the University and the Conservatoire, appeared in Tbilisi. And if not the new intervention and annexation, Georgia could get rid of the crisis and stand on the way to the independent development. But the things turned on the contrary. In 1920, the main counterrevolutionary forces in Russia were exterminated, and the process of re-annexation of every domain of the Empire, began. In the same year, Azerbaijan and Armenia were forced to accept the Soviet regime. So, by the beginning of 1921, Georgia with 78 per cents of perimeter of its land borders, was in the Soviet siege. From South-West part, the neighbor was the young Turkish Republic.
As it was mentioned above, between Georgia and Soviet Russia, there existed May 7, 1920 Agreement, according to which, Russia acknowledged the State independence of Georgia. In return, Georgia pledged the free local activity for Communists on its territory. But soon it became clear, that Russia needed this Agreement only to weaken Georgian sobriety and to create working conditions for its agents in Georgia. Moscow was preparing for military intervention and making the last independent Transcaucasian republics Soviet. It should be denoted , that the negative role for Georgia in this action, was played by the high-rank Georgian communists - I. Stalin, S. Orjonikidze etc.
On February 12, 1921, in
the region, contiguous to Armenia, communists arranged
the peasant rebellion imitation, and on February 16, on
the ground of the aid to the "rebels", Russian
The main grouping of the rival side - the Eleventh Army, advanced Tbilisi from the territories of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Besides, the separate formations and subdivisions advanced Abkhazia and central Caucasia passes. After the bitter struggles near Tbilisi on February 25, 1921, the capital of Georgia fell. Georgian armies receded. Social-democratic government couldn't manage to organize the real public-general resistance. The situation aggravated on Turkey borders as well. On February 21, the government of Ankara required from Georgia to discharge t he cities: Artvin and Ardahan. This requirement was accomplished, but Turks didn't stop and soon came to Batumi and Akhaltsikhe. On March 18, government of Georgia migrated abroad, and the Georgian military groups, left in Batumi, struggled with Turks and maintained the city. After Turks receded, Batumi was occupied by Russia. By March 19 in all the main centers of Georgia there was established the Soviet government. And before that, on March 16, in Moscow, between Russia and Turkey there was made the agreement, accor ding to which Artvin, Ardahan and some other territories were passed to Turkey.
Thus, Soviet Russia, from one side, violated the May 7, 1920 Agreement and implemented the actual annexation of Georgia. There was established the Communistic dictatorship in the country.
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After occupation of Georgia by Lenin Russia, Communists began to depress the rival forces and to strengthen their power. Armed Forces of Democratic Republic, State and Elective Bodies and Non-Proletarian Parties were abolished. Privacy of lands was abolished as well, a whole industry, railways, fleet, banks etc. passed in the hands of the government. Punisher organizations held the massive shooting and exile on oppositionists of the regime and even suspected persons. Especially, former officers and representatives of nobility and intelligentsia. With the aim of setting atheism, Communists destroyed churches, exterminated clergymen; only in 1922-1923 1500 churches were destroyed in Georgia.
In spite of bloody terror, anti-communistic actions took place in Georgia in 1921-1924. But they were disconnected and government easily managed to localize and suppress them. The most important movement took place in 1924. Rebels had contacts with immigrated government. Simultaneous actions in different regions were planned, but Communists arrested several rebellion leaders. So, the rebellion was not organized and it was cruelly suppressed.
Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia (it was officially called so by that time), was considered as the independent state at first, but its territory was occupied by Russian Army, and Georgian Communists acted only under Moscow orders. The plan of further state construction of Soviet Georgia was made in Moscow as well, which would simplify its steps into Soviet political and economical system.
Georgian SSR, in fact, was a federal state. At the end of 1921 on the ground of the Alliance Agreement, Abkhazia SSR (Autonomous Republic since 1931) entered its structure. Besides, there was created Ajara Autonomous Republic on Georgia territory in 1921 and South Ossetia Autonomous Region in 1922. Georgia SSR itself with Azerbaijan and Armenia, by the proposal of Lenin in 1922, was in Transcaucasia Federation, which entered USSR, created at the end of the same year. In 1936 Transcaucasia Federation was abolished, and Georgia directly entered Soviet Union structure.
From the second half of the 20s, swift processes of industrialization and collectivization began in Soviet State, the real aim of which was maximal strengthening of existing regime. There were built a lot of factories, hydroelectric power stations and mines in Georgia. Coal and Manganese widely mined. Technical cultures, especially tea and citrus for the huge soviet market, were mastered in Agriculture. But enterprises, built in accelerated tempos were of a low quality. The sowing territories were widened after chopping woods. Setting monocultures in all regions lost the traditional light to Georgian many-sided agriculture.
Communist dogmatism in USSR considered industrialization and collectivization with the cultural revolution, as the main condition for socialism. So, in the 20-30s the amount of secondary and high educational institutions rose in Georgia. Science and Art developed. In 1940 there was established the Academy of Science of Georgia USSR. But from that very time the individual thinking abilities of the creative intelligentsia, literature and art representatives were reduced. Everything was obeyed to the Communist Dictatorship Ideology. With the aim of the final frightening and spiritual weakness of the several millionian population of Soviet Union, Stalin government ran the wide repressions in the second half of the 30s, which appeared in the first days of existence of the Communist Regime, but they became especially massive in 1937-1938. Georgia was one of those regions of SSR, where the repressing engine was particularly active. During those years, there were shot thousands of innocent people in Georgia, and even more were sent in "Gulag" camps, where the most of them found their oppressed death. Among repressed people there were the best representatives of intelligentsia, including such remarkable representatives of Georgian culture, as writer M. Javakhishvili, poets T. Tabidze and P. Iashvili, stage-manager S. Akhmeteli, scientist-philologist Gr. Tsereteli, conductor E. Mikeladze etc. Villages were involved in the massive repressions as well, where thousands of peasants died from the public collectivization, which ended in that period.
Political repressions of 30s took lives of the Soviet army and Military-industrial complex personnel, which caused the blow to the self-defencability of the country, but because of those very repressions, the fear, set in the society, strengthened the authoritative Stalin Regime and helped to mobilize all total forces of Soviet Union in the war against Germany, which started on June 22, 1941. There didn't actually take place military movements on Georgian territory (only in summer of 1942, Germans invaded Abkhazia and occupied one village), but the country sacrificed the maximum of its demographic and material resources in this war.
In Georgia, the population of which was 3612 thousand in 1940, there were mobiled and sent in the active army more than 700 thousand people, and more than 300 thousands haven't returned back. The part of the people from Georgia fought in the national Georgian divisions and majority in the other parts of many-national Soviet army.
Georgians fought in partisan groups, as on the SSR territory, so in the countries occupied by Nazis. Among Georgians there were people, who stood for Germany and fought under its flag. Most of them acted on the ground of belief that the victory of Germany would bring the liberation for Georgia. But the amount of those people was scanty in comparison with these legions, which fought for the liberty of USSR.
Most of Georgians who fought in Soviet army, sincerely believed that they protected the "Socialism Property", which was at the high value rank of the Communist Propaganda in that time. Besides, a Georgian soldier knew that any place he fought, in Moscow, Ukraina of on Volga, he was defending Georgia from the horrors of the war and from that slavery, which was caused by Hitler regime to the occupied countries.
The home front laborers were ruled by the same aims as well, which played a big role in the victory over the enemy. The whole economic of Georgia worked with maximal power for the front. In spite of the conscription of the large part of qualified laborers, the machine-building and metal-working factories redoubled their productivity. The place of the soldier laborers at their machines took their wives, sisters and daughters. The large amount of armament, military materials and uniforms was produced. 200 new enterprises were built. Soviet collective farms highly implemented agricultural and production plans. Georgia sheltered also many thousands of evacuated people from the territories, occupied by Nazis. In the famous resorts and medical institutions, wounded Soviet soldiers had courses of cure.
Thus, the population of Georgia played an important role in that great victory, which was got in the struggle against Fascism by Soviet people.
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After the World War II, economy of Georgia in several years became higher than it was before the war. New enterprises, water power stations, mines, irrigating channels etc were arranged. But the government kept the society under the heavy ideological pressure. The new repression wave appeared again, which was ceased only after the death of Stalin (1953).
The new Soviet government, the leader of which was N. Khrushchov, softened the inner political regime. Besides, in the 30-40s Stalin was accused to every crime, committed by the government. Nothing was said about the Soviet system perversion. On the XX Communist Party Congress in February 1956, worshipping of Stalin was converted into the personal retaliations. Anti-Stalinist Company was tending to the opinion, that his repressive actions were conditioned by his Georgian origin.
Especially bitter was the critique of Stalin for Georgian youth, which was accustomed to the fanatical idolization of Stalin before by the official ideology. Besides, Georgian national feelings were offended. On March 3, 1956, separate manifestations took place in Tbilisi high educational schools, and on March 5, the situation in the city became unrulable. Demonstrations and meetings were held, where people required rehabilitation of Stalin, criticized the XX Congress solutions. Nothing was anti-Soviet in this action, but the government cruelly suppressed youth protest. On March 9, Soviet armies shot the participants of the meeting in the center of Tbilisi. More than 100 people died and about 300 people were wounded (the exact numbers are not known).
In fact, after the March tragedy, the wide layers of population of Georgia lost the Communist ideology belief. In the 60s, there began the period in Soviet Union, which was called "the Period of Motionlessness" afterwards. In spite of that, the great "Communism" reconstructions still were running, party and state functioners of different ranks reported to the higher authorities about new achievements, in fact, their words were far from reality. Corruption became of a total character as well. No one believed in official propaganda any more.
Falsity and dissimulation of the state politic level, morally corrupted the Soviet society. Since the 60s, in Georgia and other USS Republics, there widely set so-called "Shade Economic", which was the result of ignorance of the economical objective rules under administrational governance system.
The most radical expression of the progressive part of the society, opposed to the existing system, was the dissidential movement, which started since the 60s. Among the Georgian dissidents, the most devoted and spiritually strong person was Merab Kostava (1938-1989). He was arrested for several times by the state security committee and served his term in the far camps of Russia.
By the 80s, it became clear to everyone that the rotten Soviet regime had no future perspective. In 1985, the leader of the country, M. Gorbachov tried to overcome the crisis with cardinal reforms. The "Restructuring" ("Perestroika") began, but the liberalization and publicity, connected to this process, appeared the gin from the bottle for Soviet Union. Architects of the "Restructuring" ("Perestroika") didnt know that the Soviet system built with blood and iron, had no "immunity" for democratic freedom, and as a result, the swift decomposition of this process began.
"Restructuring" in Georgia began with emphasizing national aspiration. In 1987, the first legal national political organization Ilia Chavchavadze Society was created. In a while, other similar organizations appeared as well. The leaders of the national movement, which became of a wide scale by 1988, were former prisoners, Georgian dissidents. Soon, the motto of Independence of Georgia was evidently shown. Soviet government, which in spite of the "Restructuring", periodically kept trying to hold forceful methods, used armies and armored technique towards the peaceful meeting participants in the center of Tbilisi. On April 9, 1989, at night, the meeting was attacked. 20 persons were killed; most of them were women. It must be notified that the April 9 tragedy happened on the same place, as March 9, 1956 bloodshed. But in 1989, the general situation in USSR was quite different. The bloody action on April 9 angered not only the whole Georgia, but the progressive society of Russia, which firmly rebelled against this fact. In those days in Georgia, there took place the national integrity. The government was forced to step back.
After April 9, the leadership of Georgian Communist Party lost its influence in the Republic. National movement became the main motive power for the political life of Georgia. Unfortunately, among the leaders of this movement there was not unanimity at all. Merab Kostava, who tried to maintain the integrity of national powers, died in the accident. After his death, the powers, struggling for the independence, finally divided into two camps. The most popular in the public was the political block "The Round Table". The famous leader of this block was the former dissident, philologist, Zviad Gamsakhurdia (1938-1993). Exactly his personal popularity conditioned the victory (62% votes) of "The Round Table" after October 28, 1990 elections (the first many-partied elections in Georgia since 1921). Thus, it was a peaceful end of the Communist governance in Georgia.
Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Mother Theresa and Merab Kostava (Tbilisi, 1989)
Z. Gamsakhurdia soon became the president of the country, and during the period of his reign, the inner political situation in the Republic aggravated. Because of the inflexible, ambitious policy of Gamsakhurdia, the relations between the governing "The Round Table" and the rest opposite part, became bitter. The condition in Autonomies was strained too, especially in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Gamsakhurdias nationalistic phraseology disturbed the ethnic minorities. If in 1981 the partial compromise with Abkhazia was managed, the conflict with Ossetia became the armed opposition. The reason of this was the abolishment of Autonomous Region of Ossetia by the Parliament of Georgia. This solution was provoked by Ossetians, declaring the Autonomous Region as the Sovereign Republic. It must also be notified that in Georgia of this period, one of the reasons of existing ethnical conflicts (and also the split in Georgian national movement), except the local radical actions, was, as it seemed, the hidden activity of SSC of the Union, which used the tried imperial methods "separate and dominate".
Gamsakhurdia was on the way to the independence of Georgia in the relations with the Soviet center. On April 9, 1991, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the Declaration of Independence but this Act, as declared from one side, wasnt internationally recognized.
On August 20, 1991, during so-called "Moscow putch", President Gamsakhurdia has called on all western parliaments and governments, in particular the USA, to de facto and de jure recognize the independence of the Republics of the Soviet Empire and establish diplomatic relations with them.
On December 22, 1991, the military coup d'etat started in Tbilisi against the legal authorities of the Republic of Georgia. Since it became evident, that the putchists supplied by Russian military wouldn't be easily defeated and in order to avoid the further bloodshed the President, Supreme Council and Government members left the Parliament House on January 6, 1992. President Gamsakhurdia managed to escape with his family and members of the legal Government of Georgia first to Armenia and later to the Chechen Republic Ichkeria. President of Georgia continued the political struggle for independence of his country in exile.
Because of the tragic facts existing in Georgia, its juridical recognition was comparatively complicated. After returning of the former Minister of Foreign Relations of Soviet Union, the worldwide famous politician, Edward Shevardnadze, the things broke through March, 1992. E. Shevardnadze was the first leader of Georgia in the first half of the 70-80s, and was well acquainted to the local situation.
On March 23, 1992, Independence of Georgia was, recognized by the Euro-union countries. On July 31 of the same year, Georgia was adopted in the UN Organization as its 179th plenipotentiary member. Thus, Georgia again came into the list of liberal states. The dream of the best Georgian representatives of the XIX and XX cen. fulfilled.
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