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.), Phitareti 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).
by Dr. George Anchabadze
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.
by Dr. George Anchabadze
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.
by Dr. George Anchabadze
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