Kingdom of Kakheti

The Second Kingdom of Kakheti (Georgian: კახეთის სამეფო, k'axetis samepo; also spelled Kaxet'i or Kakhetia) was a late medieval/early modern monarchy in eastern Georgia, centered at the province of Kakheti, with its capital first at Gremi and then at Telavi. It emerged in the process of a tripartite division of the Kingdom of Georgia in 1465 and existed, with several brief intermissions, until 1762 when Kakheti and the neighboring Georgian kingdom of Kartli were merged through a dynastic succession under the Kakhetian branch of the Bagrationi dynasty. Through most of its turbulent history, Kakheti was tributary to the Persians, whose efforts to keep the reluctant Georgian kingdom within its sphere of influence resulted in a series of military conflicts and deportations.

Kingdom of Kakheti

კახეთის სამეფო
Flag of Kakheti
Coat of Arms
Kingdom of Kakheti in 1490
Kingdom of Kakheti in 1490
CapitalGremi (1465-1664)
Common languagesGeorgian
Orthodox Christianity
Shia Islam
GovernmentFeudal Monarchy
• 1465–1476
George I (first)
• 1744–1762
Erekle II (last)
• Established
• Georgia (Kartli) recognizes independence
• Subject of Persia
• Union of Kartli and Kakheti
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Georgia
Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti
Elisu Sultanate
Today part of Armenia

Early history

A previous Kingdom of Kakheti was created in the 8th century following the successful rebellion of the mountainous tribes of Tzanaria, which freed a large part of Georgia from Arab control.

Revival of the Kingdom

The reemergence of the Kingdom of Kakheti was the first step towards the partition of Georgia which had been embroiled in fratricidal wars since the mid-15th century. This took place after the king George VIII, himself a usurper to the throne of Georgia, was captured by his defiant vassal Qvarqvare III, Duke of Samtskhe, in 1465, and dethroned in favor of Bagrat VI. He then set himself up as an independent ruler in his former princely appanage of Kakheti, the easternmost province of Georgia centered on the river valleys of Alazani and Iori, where he remained, a sort of anti-king, till his death in 1476.[1]:187, 215 Overwhelmed by these difficulties, Constantine II, king of a reduced Georgia, was obliged to sanction the new order of things. He recognized in 1490 Alexander I, son of George VIII, as King of Kakheti in the east, and in 1491 Alexander II, son of Bagrat VI, as King of Imereti in the west, leaving himself in control of Kartli. In this way the tripartite division of the Kingdom of Georgia was consummated.[1]

Brief annexation by Kartli

Following the death of George II, who had staged numerous incursions into the neighbouring Kingdom of Kartli, Kakheti was left weakened and annexed by Kartli. However his son, Leon of Kakheti, was taken covertly to the Kakhetian mountains at the age of 9 to prevent him from being captured by the Kartlians. Following the invasion of Kartli by Ismail I, Shah of Iran, the nobles who had brought Leon to the mountains saw an opportunity, and declared Leon King of Kakheti. Following a 2-year war, Kartli rescinded control over Kakheti and recognised the nation's independence.

Kakheti in the 16th century

Gremi, Kakheti (1)
The ruins of a royal castle at Gremi.

Unlike other Georgian polities, Kakheti was spared, for the time being, from major foreign incursions and significant internal unrest. Furthermore, it had the advantage over other parts of Georgia of flanking the important Ghilan-Shemakha-Astrakhansilk route.” The Kakhetian government sponsored this trade and actively participated in it, closely tying the kingdom to the economic life of eastern Transcaucasia and Iran. The extensively cultivated fertile lands of Kakheti combined with vibrant Jewish, Armenian and Persian colonies in the trading towns of Gremi, Zagemi, Karagaji, and Telavi, resulted in prosperity, not observable in other parts of a fragmentized Georgia. This relative stability for a time strengthened the monarch's power and increased the number of his supporters among the nobility.:46–47

Threatened by the emerging great empires of the East – those of the Ottomans and the Safavids– the kings of Kakheti persuaded a carefully staged politics of balance, and tried to establish an alliance with the co-religionist rulers of Muscovy against the shamkhals of Tarki in the North Caucasus. An Ottoman-Safavid peace deal at Amasya in 1555 left Kakheti within the sphere of Safavid Iranian influence, but the local rulers still maintained considerable independence and stability by showing willingness to cooperate with their Safavid overlords. Nevertheless, in 1589, Alexander II of Kakheti officially pledged his allegiance to Tsar Feodor I of Russia, but the alliance was never actually implemented in practice. With Alexander's murder in an Iranian-sponsored coup staged by his own son, a Muslim convert Constantine I, in 1605, the fortunes of Kakheti began to reverse. The people of Kakheti refused to accept the patricide and overthrew him, forcing the energetic Safavid shah Abbas I to reluctantly recognize the rebels’ nominee and Constantine's nephew Teimuraz I as a new king in 1605. Thus began Teimuraz's long and difficult reign (1605–1648) in conflict with the Safavids.[2]:50

Iranian hegemony

Teimuraz I of Kakhetia
Teimuraz I of Kakheti and his wife Khorashan. A sketch from the album of the contemporaneous Roman Catholic missionary Cristoforo Castelli.

In the mid-1610s, Shah Abbas I renewed his effort to bring Georgia more completely into the Safavid empire and subjected Kakheti to repeated invasions in 1614, 1615 and 1616. In a series of Georgian insurrections and Iranian reprisals, sixty to seventy thousand people were killed, and more than one hundred thousand Kakhetian peasants were forcibly deported into Iran. The population of Kakheti dropped by two-thirds; once flourishing towns, like Gremi and Zagemi, shrank to insignificant villages; agriculture declined and commerce came to a standstill.[2]:50–51 By 1648, the indefatigable Taimuraz had finally been ousted from Kakheti. The Safavid government tightened its control of Kakheti, implemented a policy of replacing the native population with nomadic Turkic tribes. At the same time, the Dagestani mountaineers started to attack and colonize the Kakhetian marchlands.

In 1659, Kakhetians staged a general uprising, thwarting Safavid plans to settle tens of thousands of Turkomans in Kakheti. Yet, Kakheti remained under Iran's political control; the three aristocratic leaders of the uprising surrendered and were executed. Some years later, Vakhtang V Shah-Nawaz, a Muslim Georgian king/vali of Kartli, managed to obtain the shah's permission to install his son Archil as king/vali in Kakheti. For a time, the two kingdoms of eastern Georgia were virtually united under Shah-Nawaz and his son, and a period of relative peace ensued. Making the town of Telavi his capital, in place of Gremi which was ruined by the Iranian invasions, Archil set out to implement a program of reconstruction. However, the promising situation was of short duration. Archil's ascension in Kakheti marked the beginning of a rivalry between the two Bagrationi branches – the Mukhrani, to which Archil belonged, and the House of Kakheti, dispossessed of the crown in the person of Teimuraz I. This latter house finally succeeded, at the expense of their apostasy to Islam, in reestablishing themselves in 1703, and ruled, henceforth, at the pleasure of their Safavid suzerains. This proved to be of little benefit, however, and the kingdom continued to be plagued by the incessant Dagestani inroads.

From 1724 to 1744, Kakheti was subjected to the successive Ottoman and Iranian occupations. However, the service rendered by the Kakhetian prince Teimuraz II to Nader Shah of Iran in the struggle against the Ottomans resulted in an annulment of heavy tribute paid by Kakheti to the Iranian court in 1743. In 1744, as a reward for their loyalty, Nader granted the kingship of Kartli to Teimuraz II and that of Kartli to his son Erekle II.[3] Both monarchs were crowned in accordance to a Christian tradition in 1745. They exploited the turmoil in Iran that followed Nader's assassination in 1747 and established themselves as virtually independent rulers. Their rule helped to stabilize the country; economy began to revive, and the Dagestani attacks were reduced, but not eliminated. When Teimuraz died on January 8, 1762, Erekle succeeded him, thus uniting eastern Georgia as a single state for the first time in nearly three centuries,[4] in the form of the Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti.

See also


  1. ^ a b Toumanoff, Cyril (1949–1951). "The fifteenth-century Bagratids and the institution of collegial sovereignty in Georgia". Traditio. 7: 169–221. JSTOR 27830207.
  2. ^ a b Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994). The Making of the Georgian Nation (2nd ed.). Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-20915-3.
  3. ^ Suny 1994, p. 55.
  4. ^ Keith Hitchins. Georgia (II): History of Iranian-Georgian Relations. Archived 2007-11-14 at the Wayback Machine Encyclopædia Iranica Online Edition. Retrieved on January 14, 2008.

Further reading

Abbas I's Kakhetian and Kartlian campaigns

Abbas I's Kakhetian and Kartlian campaigns refers to the four campaigns Safavid king Abbas I led between 1614-1617, in his East Georgian vassal kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti during the Ottoman–Safavid War (1603–18). The campaigns were initiated as a response to the shown disobedience and subsequent staged rebellion by Abbas' formerly most loyal Georgian ghulams, namely Luarsab II of Kartli and Teimuraz I of Kahketi (Tahmuras Khan). After the complete devastation of Tbilisi, the quelling of the uprising and the deportation of between 130,000 - 200,000 Georgian captives to mainland Iran, Kakheti and Kartli were decisively brought under the Iranian sway.

Alexander II of Kakheti

Alexander II (Georgian: ალექსანდრე II) (1527 – March 12, 1605) of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 1574 to 1605. In spite of a precarious international situation, he managed to retain relative economic stability in his kingdom and tried to establish contacts with the Tsardom of Russia. Alexander fell victim to the Iran-sponsored coup led by his own son, Constantine I.

Alexander I of Kakheti

Alexander I (Georgian: ალექსანდრე I Alek’sandre I) (1445 or c. 1456 – April 27, 1511), of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 1476 to 1511. Alexander's pliancy and flexible diplomacy earned him security from the neighboring powers, only to be murdered by his own son George II "the Bad".

Ali Mirza of Kakheti

'Ali-Mirza (Georgian: ალი-მირზა), born Alexander (ალექსანდრე), (died 23 November 1737 or 1739) was a prince of the Georgian Bagrationi dynasty of the Kingdom of Kakheti who ruled in eastern Georgian provinces – Kartli and Kakheti – for the shah of Iran in the late 1730s. Like his father, King David II (Imam-Quli Khan), and brothers, Ali-Mirza was a convert to Islam. As a ruler of Kakheti, he is sometimes known in modern historiography by his Christian name Alexander and ascribed the regnal number "Third". Despite his power being derived from the shah, Ali Mirza followed the established Georgian tradition to style himself as "king of kings".

Battle of Tsitsamuri

The Battle of Tsitsamuri (Georgian: წიწამურის ბრძოლა) was fought in 1615 between the armies of Kingdom of Kakheti under Teimuraz I and Persian Empire led by Ali Kuli Khan.

Constantine II of Kakheti

Constantine II (Georgian: კონსტანტინე II) (died December 28, 1732) also known as Mahmād Qulī Khān (მაჰმად ყული-ხანი) in Iran, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia of the Bagrationi Dynasty from 1722 to 1732.

A son of Erekle I by a concubine, he was born and raised as a Muslim at the Safavid court of Iran. In 1703, Shah of Iran Husayn appointed him a darugha (prefect) of his capital Isfahan. In 1722, he was confirmed by the shah as King of Kakheti following the death of Constantine’s brother David II (Imām Qulī Khān). At the same time, he was bestowed with the governorship of Erivan, Ganja, and Karabakh. He frequently feuded with his western neighbor and kinsman, Vakhtang VI of Kartli, who was declared by the Persian government deposed in 1723. On the shah’s orders, Constantine marched to take control of Vakhtang’s capital Tbilisi. On May 4, 1723, he captured the city, but failed to evict Vakhtang and his son Bakar from the province of Shida Kartli. Meanwhile, the Ottoman army invaded the Georgian lands in order to eliminate the Persian hegemony there. Constantine tried to negotiate with the Ottoman commander Ibrahim-Pasha and surrendered Tbilisi on June 12, 1723. However, Vakhtang VI managed to bribe Ibrahim-Pasha who installed Prince Bakar as governor of Kartli and arrested Constantine. Soon, Bakar conspired with Constantine, his former rival, against the Ottoman overlords and helped him flee to his possessions in Kakheti. A revolt failed, however, and Bakar had to join his father Vakhtang VI in his Russian exile in 1724. Constantine withdrew into the mountains whence he led resistance against the Turks. In 1725, he succeeded in reestablishing himself in Kakheti and made peace with the Ottomans who recognized him as king in exchange of his conversion to Sunni Islam and paying an annual tribute.

Early in the 1730s, as Nader Khan Afshar pushed his quest to revive the Persian empire, Constantine made a fatal attempt to break with the Turks. He was murdered at Bezhanbagh on December 28, 1732, during the negotiations with Yusuf Pasha of Akhaltsikhe, the commander of the invading Ottoman troops. The Turks gave his throne to his Christian brother, Teimuraz II.Constantine was married to Perejan-Begum, daughter of the Shamkal, and had a son, Bagrat, of whose subsequent fate nothing is known.

David II of Kakheti

David II (Georgian: დავით II, Davit' II) also known as Imām Qulī Khān (Persian: امام قلی خان‎, romanized: Emāmqolī Khān; Georgian: იმამყული-ხანი) (1678 – November 2, 1722), of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 1709 to 1722. Although a Muslim and a loyal vassal of the Safavid dynasty of Iran, he failed to ensure his kingdom’s security and most of his reign was marked by Lekianoba - incessant inroads by the Dagestani mountainous clansmen.

David I of Kakheti

David I (Georgian: დავით I) (1569 – October 21, 1602), of the Bagrationi dynasty, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from October 1601 until his death in October 1602.

First Kingdom of Kakheti

The Kingdom of Kakheti-Hereti or just the First Kingdom of Kakheti was a early Medieval monarchy in eastern Georgia, centered at the province of Kakheti, with its capital first at Telavi. It emerged in c. 1014 AD, under the leadership of energetic ruler of principality of Kakheti, Kvirike III the Great that finally defeated the ruler of Hereti and crowned himself as a king of unified realms of Kakheti and Hereti. From this time on, until 1104, kingdom was an independent and separated state from the united Kingdom of Georgia. The kingdom included territories from riv. Ksani (western border) to Alijanchay river (eastern border) and from Didoeti (northern border) to southwards along the river of Mtkvari (southern border).

George II of Kakheti

George II (Georgian: გიორგი II, Giorgi II) also known as George the Bad, the Mad or the Evil (Av-Giorgi, ავგიორგი) (1464–1513), of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 1511 to 1513.

He was the eldest son of King Alexander I of Kakheti by his wife Queen Ana. He is reported by the Georgian chronicles to have been extremely grasping and ambitious and to have had frequent conflicts with his peace-loving father, insisting that Alexander made war upon the rival Bagrationi branch presiding over Kakheti’s western neighbor, the Kingdom of Kartli. Also, he was suspicious of his younger brother, Demetre, whom Alexander had entrusted an important diplomatic mission to the Shah of Iran, Ismail I.

On April 27, 1511, George murdered Alexander, had Demetre blinded, and seized the crown. Immediately after his accession to the throne, George II organized an expedition against Kartli, and attempted to depose King David X. David’s brother, Bagrat I, Prince of Mukhrani, who led the successful defense of the kingdom, was rewarded with the castle of Mukhrani, thus founding a long-lasting branch of Bagration-Mukhraneli. In 1513, George II made another incursion into Kartli, but was again defeated and ambushed by Bagrat’s men on his route back to Kakheti. George was put in the Mtveri castle where he soon died. Kakheti was briefly annexed to Kartli.George was survived by his wife, Elene née Irubakidze-Cholokashvili (died 1532), and three children:

Leon of Kakheti (1503–1574)

Princess Khvaramze (died 1528), who married Vakhtang, brother of King Bagrat III of Imereti

Princess Mariam (died 1555)

Jesse of Kakheti

Jesse (Georgian: იესე) or Isā Khān (Persian: عیسی خان‎, romanized: ʿIsā Khān; Georgian: ისა-ხანი) (died September 15, 1615), of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a Safavid-appointed ruler of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 1614 to 1615.Jesse was a son of Prince George, himself a son of King Alexander II of Kakheti. Held as a political hostage by Abbas I of Persia, he was converted to Islam and brought up at the shah’s court in Isfahan. In 1614, when Abbas I’s armies overrun Kakheti, the king Teimuraz I had to flee to western Georgia (Kingdom of Imereti). Abbas appointed his loyal vassal, Isā Khān, as a governor of the region, but he failed to gain a foothold there. He was killed during an uprising against his rule.

Jesse is not to be confused with his granduncle Prince Jesse of Kakheti, also known as Isā Khān.

Kingdom of Hereti

The Kingdom of Hereti (Georgian: ჰერეთის სამეფო), was a medieval monarchy which emerged in Caucasus on the Iberian-Albanian frontier. Nowadays it roughly corresponds to the southeastern corner of Georgia's Kakheti region and a portion of Azerbaijan's northwestern districts.

According to traditional accounts, the name of the province originated from the legendary patriarch "Heros", the son of Thargamos, who founded the city of Hereti (later known as Khoranta) at the Alazani River.

Kingdom of Imereti

The Kingdom of Imereti (Georgian: იმერეთის სამეფო) was a Georgian monarchy established in 1455 by a member of the house of Bagrationi when the Kingdom of Georgia was dissolved into rival kingdoms. Before that time, Imereti was considered a separate kingdom within the Kingdom of Georgia, to which a cadet branch of the Bagrationi royal family held the crown. This started in 1260 after David VI revolted against Mongolian rule and fled to Abkhazia. This was the result of the Mongolian conquest of Georgia during the 13th century which decentralized and fragmented Georgia, forcing the relocation of governmental centres to the provinces.

Imereti was conquered by Giorgi the Brilliant, who was subject to the Mongols, and united Imereti with the east Kingdom of Georgia. From 1455 onward, however, the kingdom became a constant battleground between Georgian, Persian and Turkish forces. Between 1555 and 1804 it was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. On 25 April 1804 Solomon II of Imereti accepted Russian vassalage and in 1810 he was removed from the throne. During the time that Imereti was a vassal state, the Mingrelia, Abkhazia and Guria princedoms declared their independence from Imereti and established their own governments. In Persian - Azeri nomenclature the name of the region was changed to "baş açıq" which literally means "without a head scarf".

Kingdom of Kartli

The Kingdom of Kartli (Georgian: ქართლის სამეფო) was a late medieval/early modern monarchy in eastern Georgia, centered at the province of Kartli, with its capital at Tbilisi. It emerged in the process of a tripartite division of the Kingdom of Georgia in 1478 and existed, with several brief intermissions, until 1762 when Karti and the neighboring Georgian kingdom of Kakheti were merged through a dynastic succession under the Kakhetian branch of the Bagrationi dynasty. Through much of this period of time the kingdom was a vassal of the successive dynasties of Iran, but enjoyed intermittent periods of greater independence, especially after 1747.

Levan of Kakheti

Levan (Georgian: ლევანი) also known as Leon (ლეონი) (1503–1574), of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 1518/1520 to 1574. He presided over the most prosperous and peaceful period in the history of the Kingdom of Kakheti.

List of historical states of Georgia

This is an incomplete list of states that have existed on the present-day territory of Georgia since ancient times. It includes de facto independent entities like the major medieval Duchies (saeristavo).

List of wars involving Georgia (country)

The following is an incomplete list of wars involving Georgia, by Georgian people or regular armies during periods when independent Georgian states existed, from antiquity to the present day. It also includes wars fought outside of Georgia by Georgian military.

The list gives the name, the date, combatants, and the result of these conflicts following this legend:

Georgian victory

Georgian defeat

Another result (e.g. a treaty or peace without a clear result, status quo ante bellum, result of civil or internal conflict, result unknown or indecisive)

Ongoing conflict

Teimuraz II of Kakheti

Teimuraz II (Georgian: თეიმურაზ II) (1680/1700–1762) of the Bagrationi dynasty, was a king of Kakheti, eastern Georgia, from 1732 to 1744, then of Kartli from 1744 until his death. Teimuraz was also a lyric poet.

Georgian states throughout history


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