George XI of Kartli

George XI of Kartli

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George XI (1651 – April 21, 1709) was a Georgian
Georgians
The Georgians are an ethnic group that have originated in Georgia, where they constitute a majority of the population. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, European Union, United States, and South America....

 monarch who ruled Eastern Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 from 1676 to 1688 and again from 1703 to 1709. He is best known for his struggle against the Safavid Persia which dominated his weakened kingdom. Being an Eastern Orthodox Christian, he converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 prior to his appointment as governor of Qandahar. He later converted to Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in an attempt to court Western support in the face of increasingly assertive Islamic forces. As on many other occasions in Georgian History
History of Georgia
History of Georgia can refer to:* History of Georgia , an article about the country, Georgia.* History of Georgia , an article about the U.S. state of Georgia....

, the king's plea for assistance went unanswered, leaving Eastern Georgia at the hands of Persia till 1783, when Eastern Georgia became a Russian protectorate
Treaty of Georgievsk
The Treaty of Georgievsk was a bilateral treaty concluded between the Russian Empire and the east Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti on July 24, 1783. The treaty established Georgia as a protectorate of Russia, which guaranteed Georgia's territorial integrity and the continuation of its reigning...

.

Life


He was the son of Vakhtang V
Vakhtang V of Kartli
Vakhtang V was the king of Kartli from 1658 until his death, who ruled as a vassal wali for the Persian shah. He is also known under the name of Shah Nawaz, which he assumed on being obliged outwardly to conform to Islam.-Life:...

, whom he succeeded as a ruler of Kartli in 1676. As with many other Georgian rulers, he had to nominally accept Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

and take the name of Shahnawaz II before being able to be confirmed as a viceroy by Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

 Solayman I
Suleiman I of Persia
Suleiman I was a Safavid shah of Persia who reigned between 1666 and 1694. He was the elder son of the previous shah Abbas II and a Circassian slave, Nakihat Khanum....

. However, Georgians continued to consider him as their king under his Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 name George (George).

When nearly half-century-long peaceful relations between Kartli and its Persian suzerains significantly deteriorated. George attempted to centralise loose royal authority in Kartli and weaken the Persian influence. He patronised Catholic
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 missioners and had correspondence with Innocent XI. After the liberation of Vienna of the siege of the Ottomans
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 hoped George XI first on weakening of Ottomans. In the letter to Innocent XI from April 29 1687 he vowed to be a Catholic King
Catholic King
The titles Catholic King and Catholic Queen are awarded by the Pope as head of the Catholic Church to monarchs who in the eyes of the papacy embody Catholic principles in their personal lives and state policies. The title remains attached to monarchs descended from whoever received the original,...

 and declared the readiness and willingness of him and his troops to obey any order of the Roman Pope. According to Catholic missionaries George remained until his death a faithful Catholic.

In 1688, George headed an abortive coup against the Persian governor of the neighboring Georgian region of Kakheti
Kakheti
Kakheti is a historical province in Eastern Georgia inhabited by Kakhetians who speak a local dialect of Georgian. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north, Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and...

, and attempted, though vainly, to gain an Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 support against the Saffavid overlordship. In response, Shah Solayman deposed George and gave his crown to the rival Kakhetian prince Erekle I
Erekle I of Kakheti
Heraclius I or Nazar Alī Khān , of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a Georgian monarch who ruled the kingdoms of Kakheti and Kartli under the protection of the Safavid dynasty of Iran....

, who embraced, on this occasion, Islam and took the name Nazar-Ali Khan. Abbas-Quli Khan, the former beglarbeg
Beylerbey
Beylerbey is the Ottoman and Safavid title used for the highest rank in the hierarchy of provincial administrators It is in western terms a Governor-general, with authority...

 (governor general) of Ganja, was placed in charge of the government in Kakheti and commissioned to reinforce Erekle’s positions in Kartli. George fled to Racha
Racha
Racha is a highland area in western Georgia, located in the upper Rioni river valley and hemmed in by the Greater Caucasus mountains...

 in western Georgia, whence he made several attempts to reclaim his possession. In 1696, he managed to stage a temporary comeback and helped his brother Archil
Archil of Imereti
Archil , was a Georgian prince of the Bagrationi Dynasty and poet. He ruled as king of Imereti in western Georgia and of Kakheti in eastern Georgia...

 to temporarily regain the crown of Imereti
Kingdom of Imereti
The Kingdom of Imereti was established in 1455 by a member of the house of Bagration 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 Bagration royal family held...

 in western Georgia, but was eventually forced to withdraw from Kartli again. In 1694, following the death of Solayman, there was a change in the government in Georgia: Abbas-Quli Khan was accused by his rivals of supporting George XI. On the orders of the new shah Soltan Hosayn
Husayn (Safavid)
Sultan Husayn was a Safavid king of Iran . He ruled from 1694 until he was overthrown in 1722 by Shah Mahmud Hotaki, an Afghan warrior of Pashtun ethnic background...

, he was promptly arrested by Erekle and sent to Isfahan
Isfahan (city)
Isfahan , historically also rendered in English as Ispahan, Sepahan or Hispahan, is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 km south of Tehran. It has a population of 1,583,609, Iran's third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad...

 under guard, while of his possessions were confiscated. Qalb-Ali Khan was appointed Abbas-Quli Khan’s successor as Persian governor of Kakheti. However, the strife in Georgia as well as the Saffavid empire in general forced Husayn to make peace with George who was summoned to Isfahan in 1696. The shah entrusted him with restoring order along the eastern frontiers of the empire and appointed him beglarbeg
Beylerbey
Beylerbey is the Ottoman and Safavid title used for the highest rank in the hierarchy of provincial administrators It is in western terms a Governor-general, with authority...

  of Kerman
Kerman
- Geological characteristics :For the Iranian paleontologists, Kerman has always been considered a fossil paradise. Finding new dinosaur footprints in 2005 has now revealed new hopes for paleontologists to better understand the history of this area.- Economy :...

 in 1699. It was the beginning of an illustrious but, ultimately, tragic career in the service of the Saffavids.

George, aided by his brother Levan
Levan (son of Vakhtang V)
Prince Levan , also known by his Persian name Shah-Quli Khan was a Georgian prince and the fourth son of the king of Kartli Shahnawaz .In 1675, he was confirmed as a janisin of Kartli during the absence of his reigning brother, George XI Prince Levan (ლევან ბატონიშვილი, Levan Batonishvili), also...

, by 1700 had reestablished the shah's sovereignty in Kerman. As a reward, George was restored to the throne of Kartli in 1703, but was not allowed to return to his country. Instead, he was soon assigned to suppress the Afghan
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 rebellion in May 1704. He was granted the title of Gurgin Khan by the Shah and was appointed the viceroy of Kandahar province
Kandahar Province
Kandahar or Qandahar is one of the largest of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in southern Afghanistan, between Helmand, Oruzgan and Zabul provinces. Its capital is the city of Kandahar, which is located on the Arghandab River. The province has a population of nearly...

 and sipah salar (commander-in-chief) of the Persian armies. While he was in the field, he entrusted the administration of his country of Kartli
Kartli
Kartli is a historical region in central-to-eastern Georgia traversed by the river Mtkvari , on which Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is situated. Known to the Classical authors as Iberia, Kartli played a crucial role in ethnic and political consolidation of the Georgians in the Middle Ages...

 to a nephew, the future King Vakhtang VI
Vakhtang VI of Kartli
Vakhtang VI , also known as Vakhtang the Scholar and Vakhtang the Lawgiver, was a Wāli of Kartli, eastern Georgia, as a nominal vassal to the Persian shah from 1716 to 1724. Traditionally, he has been still styled as king of Kartli...

. Gurgin managed to crush the revolts of Afghan tribes
Pashtun tribes
The Pashtun people are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and the second largest in Pakistan. Pashtun, tribes are divided into four supertribal confederacies: the Arbanee , Betanee , Gharghasht, and Karlanee .Traditionally, according to folklore, all Pashtuns are said to have descended, at...

 and ruled Kandahar with uncompromising severity. He subdued many of the local leaders and sent Mirwais Khan Hotak, a powerful chieftain of the Ghilzai
Ghilzai
Ghilzai are the largest Pashtun tribal confederacy found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are also known historically as Ghilji, Khilji, Ghalji, Ghilzye, and possibly Gharzai...

 Afghans (Pashtuns
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

), in chains to Isfahan. However, Mirwais Khan managed to gain the favour of the Shah and even to arouse his suspicion against the beglarbeg. Determined to bring about the overthrow of Gurgin, Mirwais Khan staged a carefully planned coup. On April 21, 1709, when the majority of the Georgian troops under Gurgin’s nephew, Alexander, were away from Kandahar on a raid against the rebels, Mirwais invited Gurgin on a banquet at his country estate at Kokaron in Kandahar City
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

 and assassinated him. The assassinator was supposedly an Afghan warrior, Younis Kakar, one of a tribal chiefs of Mirwais Khan Hotak. Gurgin's small escort was also massacred and Mirwais seized the power in Kandahar. He sent to Isfahan the cross
Cross
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

 and psalms
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

, found at the murdered Georgian general, as the proof of the latter’s covert defection.

A punitive expedition
Punitive expedition
A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived disobedient or morally wrong behavior, but may be also be a covered revenge...

 into the Afghan lands led by George’s nephew, Kay Khusrau
Kaikhosro of Kartli
Kaikhosro , of the House of Bagrationi, was a king of Kartli, eastern Georgia, from 1709 to 1711...

, ended in October 1711 disastrously with his death and the destruction of nearly his entire Persian force of 30,000.

Family and children


George was married twice. He married first Tamar, daughter of Prince David Davitashvili, 1676. She died on December 4, 1683, and was survived by a son Bagrat and a daughter Maryam. George remarried, in 1687, Khoreshan (died on February 24, 1695), daughter of Prince George Mikeladze
Mikeladze
Mikeladze was a Georgian noble family, known from at least the 14th century, and claiming descent from the Bagratids of Taron. The senior, and the princely, line of the Mikeladze flourished in Imereti , while a collateral branch was later established as the petite nobles Mikelashvili in Kartli...

. She bore him a daughter, Princess Rwadam who was married, from 1703 to 1714, to the king George VII of Imereti
George VII of Imereti
George VII , of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was King of Imereti in the periods of 1707-11, 1712-13, 1713-16, and 1719–1720....

.

See also

  • List of the Kings of Georgia
  • Iranian Georgians
  • History of Georgia
    History of Georgia (country)
    The nation of Georgia was first unified as a kingdom under the Bagrationi dynasty in the 9th to 10th century, arising from a number of predecessor states of ancient Colchis and Iberia...

  • History of Kandahar
    Kandahar
    Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...


Further reading

  • Rudi Matthee’s biography of Gorgin Khan in Encyclopædia Iranica
    Encyclopædia Iranica
    Encyclopædia Iranica is a project whose goal is to create a comprehensive and authoritative English language encyclopedia about the history, culture, and civilization of Iranian peoples from prehistory to modern times...

  • Martin Sicker, The Islamic World in Decline: From the Treaty of Karlowitz to the Disintegration of the Ottoman Empire (Hardcover) (2000), Praeger/Greenwood, ISBN 0-275-96891-X, page 44
  • The Cambridge History of Iran: Volume 6, the Timurid and Safavid Periods, edited by Peter Jackson, Stanley I Grossman, Laurence Lockhart: Reissue edition (1986), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-20094-6, page 315
  • Willem Vogelsang, The Afghans (2001), Blackwell Publishing ISBN 0-631-19841-5 Political history of Georgia 1658-1703, excerpt from David Marshall Lang
    David Marshall Lang
    David Marshall Lang , was a Professor of Caucasian Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was one of the most productive British scholars who specialized in Georgian, Armenian and ancient Bulgarian history.David M...

    , The Last years of the Georgian Monarchy, 1658-1832 Kings of Kartli at The Royal Ark

External links