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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