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Adarnase IV of Iberia

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Adarnase IV
King of the Iberians
SuccessorDavid II of Iberia
IssueDavid II of Iberia
Ashot II of Tao
Bagrat I of Tao
Sumbat I of Iberia
DynastyBagrationi dynasty
FatherDavid I of Iberia
ReligionGeorgian Orthodox Church

Adarnase IV (Georgian: ადარნასე IV, romanized: adarnase IV) (died 923) was a member of the Georgian Bagratid dynasty of Tao-Klarjeti and prince of Iberia, responsible for the restoration of the Iberian kingship, which had been in abeyance since it had been abolished by Sasanian Empire in the 6th century, in 888.[1][2]

The numbering of successive rulers in the early Bagratid period is very confused in that it moves between the different branches of the family. Hence, Adarnase, known as "IV" for being the fourth Adarnase as the prince of Iberia, is also known as "II" as a sovereign of Tao-Klarjeti and "I" as the king (mepe) of Iberia.



The name Adarnase derives from Middle Persian Ādurnarsēh, with the second component of the word (Nase) being the Georgian attestation of the Middle Persian name Narseh, which ultimately derives from Avestan nairyō.saŋya-.[3] The Middle Persian name Narseh also exists in Georgian as Nerse.[3] The name Ādurnarsēh appears in the Armenian language as Atrnerseh.[4]

Early life and ruler of Tao


Young ruler

Map of Tao.

Adarnase was born in the second half of the 9th century,[5] the only known son of David I Kouropalatates, ruler of Iberia since 876. His father was formally a subject of the Byzantine Empire, as suggested by his title conferred by Emperor Basil I, and rules the Georgian lands of Tao and Iberia, making him ruler of much of the Georgian lands for five years. He took advantage of Byzantium's campaigns towards Italy to assert his independence and thus allied himself with Ashot I of Armenia, King of neighboring Armenia, and the Abbasid Caliphate in a risky diplomatic strategy.[6] In 881,[7] at the instigation of Byzantium and the powerful noble Liparit Baghuashi,[8] a conflict broke out between David and Nasra Mampali, a young cadet of the Bagrationi dynasty. David is assassinated and Nasra captures his territories.[7]

Liparit Baghuashi and Ashot of Armenia managed to expel Nasra, who took refuge in Byzantine Empire, authorizing the young Adarnasse to succeed his father as ruler of Upper Tao. Byzantium refused to recognize him as eldest of the Bagrations and gave the title of Kouropalates to his cousin Gurgen, continuing the Roman policy of dividing the balance of power in Caucasus, but with the official reason being the young age of the new ruler.[9] Adarnase inaugurated his reign by building the Bana cathedral (modern Şenkaya in Turkey) with the help of the architect Kvirike, whom he subsequently appointed as first bishop of Bana.[10] Despite the fact that Adarnase's domains south of the Tao bordered the Byzantine Empire, he pursued a largely independent policy.[7]

Victory over Byzantine


In 885, Ashot I of Armenia was crowned as king of Armenia, declaring its independence from Byzantium and its alliance with the Abbasid Caliphate. This pushed Byzantine Empire to launch an invasion of Caucasus to reestablish its order[11] and in 887, Prince Bagrat Anchabadze, in exile in Greece since the assassination of his father Demetrius II of Abkhazia, invaded the coast with a Byzantine navy Georgian of the Black Sea, kills the usurper who reigns in his place and is proclaimed king of Abkhazia, returning this kingdom to the control of the empire.[10] In 888, Nasra in turn landed in Abkhazia in order to invade Iberia with Abkhazian troops.[9]

After having ravaged many Georgian provinces without strong opposition, Nasra, reinforced by local nobles[7] the Alanian tribal chief Baqarat,[12] attacked Samtskhe and Tao.[10] Adarnase took the lead in resistance and was joined by Ashot of Armenia, the Gurgen I of Tao,[9] and Liparit Baghuashi but his troops remained considerably less numerous than the pro-Byzantine forces.[13] The two armies clashed on the banks of the Mtkvari in the province of Samtskhe and Adarnasse inflicted a decisive defeat on the invaders.[12] Nasra took refuge in the town of Aspindza, where he was captured and executed under the orders of Adarnase.[9] The victory of 888 ended the Byzantine invasion of Caucasus and secured the independence of Armenia and the Georgian lands, while solidifying the dominance of the Bagrationi dynasty branch of Upper Tao over Iberia.[14] Liparit secures his recognition by Adarnase as Duke of Kldekari and forms a powerful principality which will be the source of civil instability until the twelfth century.

Consolidation of power


Adarnase's victory changed the course of Georgian history when, in 888,[15] he adopted the title "King of the Iberians".[14] This decision is not only a repetition of the similar decision by Ashot I of Armenia of 885,[9] it symbolizes the return of the royal monarchy in Georgia, abolished during the conquest by Sasanian Empire in 523, more than three centuries previously. The proclamation of a Kingdom of the Iberians thus formalized the claim of Adarnase and his lineage on Kartli, the province at the heart of modern Georgia and then at the center of the ambitions of Abkhazia, Armenia, Kakheti, the Emirate of Tbilisi and Byzantium.[16] The historian Valeri Silogava has surmised that Adarnase's crowning as king might have occurred, in a symbolic move, at the ancient Iberian capital of Mtskheta, as suggested by an asomtavruli inscription—probably a 17th-century reinstatement of an earlier epigraph—at the Samtavro Monastery.[17]

The geopolitical importance of Adarnase's gesture is also noted by modern historiography: by taking the title of king, he proclaimed his independence from the autocratic power of Byzantium, which did not allow a monarch within the empire other than the emperor.[16] This also means a new direction in the foreign policy of the Bagrations, Adarnase allying himself with Armenia and, by extension, with the Abbasid Caliphate, despite the decadence of the latter.[18] While the independence of the Kingdom of the Iberians is recognized by its neighbors, the status of relations between Adarnase and Armenia is unclear: according to the historian Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi, Adarnase's policy did not than follow that of Ashot of Armenia, marking a vassalage of the new king towards his Armenian neighbor, but Roin Metreveli assumes that relations are based on bilateral recognition and the Georgian king uses Arab-Armenian diplomacy to declare its independence.[14] It remains to be noted that Ashot and his descendants, however, use the title "King of kings of the Armenians and Georgians", a symbol of Armenian supremacy over the region, while contemporary inscriptions only name Adarnasse as "king".

Adarnase IV began a policy of expansion towards the south, fortifying the city of Shavsheti and attaching numerous Byzantine provinces to his kingdom, as far as Erzurum. The king's territories then included part of Kartli, Klarjeti and Tao and claimed power over all of eastern and southern Georgia.[19] It is possible that this expansion will take place with the agreement of Byzantine, which accepts the new situation in Caucasus and attempts a diplomatic reconciliation. Thus, in 891, when Adarnase came into conflict with the Kouropalates Gurgen, Byzantium did not come to assist the latter.[9]

Adarnase IV and Bagrat I of Klarjeti joined forces against Gurgen, who then ruled the neighboring province of Samtskhe.[12] In 891, the two camps clashed during the Battle of Mglinavi in the Artanuji valley, which saw a rapid defeat of Gurgen and the annexation of his domains to Duchy of Klarjeti. The king takes Bagrat hostage[13] but he dies from his wounds.[12] The Byzantine Empire then recognized him not only as king of the Iberians,[20] but also as Kouropalates of Iberia, without changing the pro-Armenian orientation of Adarnase.[19] Gurgen's sons nevertheless inherited the duchy of Upper Tao, officially subject to the kingdom of the Iberians but preserving a large degree of autonomy.[21]

Alliance with Armenia


The alliance between Adarnase IV and Armenia was seen in 891, following the death of Ashot I when the king of the Georgians participated in the funeral of his ally. While visiting Armenia, he first visited the sparapet Abas, brother of the late king and governor of Kars who himself announced his claims to the Armenian throne, but the latter, fearing the support of Adarnase towards the legitimate heir Smbat I, imprisoned him and only released him following a diplomatic negotiation by the Georgians.[22] At Yerazgavors, Adarnase met a grieving Smbat and urged him to actively take control of his kingdom in order to avoid its division:[23] he dressed him in royal clothes and crowned him, formalizing the recognition of Smbat I as legitimate king of Armenia by the Kingdom of Georgians.[16]

On his way back, Adarnase was captured again by Abas, who imprisoned him in the citadel of Kars.[16] The Armenian Catholicos George II tried to negotiate his freedom by offering two strategic cities to Abas, while Adarnase offered his eldest son David as a hostage in his place, in vain[25]. Eventually, King Smbat besieged Abas,[23] before trading his freedom for that of his own younger son Abas and for control over Vaspurakan.[22]

In 895, Ahmad ibn Isa al-Shaybani, Arab governor of Diyar Bakr, invaded southern Armenia.[18] Smbat and Adarnase together formed a force of 60,000 to 100,000 men to contain the invader, but he managed to defeat them following the betrayal of General Gagik Apumrvan Artsruni.[19] In 896, Muhammad Ibn Abi'l-Saj, Sajid emir of Azerbaijan, in turn invaded Armenia and demanded the support of Adarnase, who refused and came again to the aid of Smbat when he lost Kars.[24] When the emir died of illness in 901 and was replaced by Devdad Ibn Muhammad who made peace with the Christians, Adarnase participated in a celebratory banquet with his Armenian counterpart at Yerazgavors.[24] In 899, as an act of friendship and to confirm the relations between the two kings, Smbat in turn crowned Adarnase as king of the Georgians.[19]

However, the situation is gradually changing in South Caucasus. Prince Padla I of Kakheti and his successor Kvirike I become increasingly powerful in eastern Georgia and push a friendly policy with the Emirate of Tbilisi and Sajids, while the lesser nobles of Kartli benefit from Adarnase's attention towards the south to obtain a large autonomy which caused the kingdom of the Georgians to lose de facto control of the region.[12] Around 900, Adarnase IV, seeing Armenia's inability to properly confront the Arab invaders and to balance the growing powers of Kakheti and Abkhazia, himself began to have ambitions for the total domination of the South Caucasus.[25]

Switching alliances


Adarnase rewarded Ashot of Armenia's assistance with steadfast loyalty which continued into the reign of Ashot's successor Smbat I whom Adarnase aided to win the crown in dynastic struggles in 890 and later joined him against Ahmed ibn-'Isâ of Diyarbakır, the Caliph's former governor of Armīniya. In turn, Smbat recognized Adarnase's royal status and personally crowned him in 899. The two men collaborated in defeating, in 904, the Abkhazian king Constantine III, their common relative, who competed with Adarnase for hegemony in Inner Iberia (Duchy of Kartli) and with Smbat in Gogarene (Tashir-Dzoraget). Adarnase captured Constantine and turned him over to Smbat. But the latter, inclined to balance Adarnase's growing power and extend Armenian influence to west Georgia, freed his captive. This move turned Adarnase against Smbat and the ensuing break and enmity weakened both monarchs: Adarnase was dispossessed by Constantine. Viceroy of Kartli in 904, while Smbat was defeated and tortured to death by Yusuf, a Sajid ruler of Azerbaijan in 914.[1] As a result of these events, Adarnase was relegated to his portion of the Bagratid hereditary lands in Tao.[2] He rebuilt the church of Bana in Tao and made it a bishop's seat.[26]



Adarnase's wife is not known. He was survived by five children:


  1. ^ a b Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation, pp. 30-31. Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-20915-3
  2. ^ a b Toumanoff, Cyril (1967). Studies in Christian Caucasian History, pp. 490-493. Georgetown University Press.
  3. ^ a b Chkeidze, Thea (2001). "GEORGIA v. LINGUISTIC CONTACTS WITH IRANIAN LANGUAGES". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. X, Fasc. 5. pp. 486–490.
  4. ^ Rapp, Stephen H. Jr (2014). The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature. Routledge. p. 335. ISBN 978-1-4724-2552-2.
  5. ^ Brosset 1849, p. 280.
  6. ^ Metreveli 1998, pp. 188–189.
  7. ^ a b c d Brosset 1849, p. 271.
  8. ^ Metreveli 1998, p. 189.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Rayfield 2012, p. 68.
  10. ^ a b c Brosset 1849, p. 273.
  11. ^ Metreveli 1998, p. 190.
  12. ^ a b c d e Brosset 1849, p. 274.
  13. ^ a b Brosset 1849, p. 281.
  14. ^ a b c Metreveli 1998, p. 191.
  15. ^ Salia 1980, p. 141.
  16. ^ a b c Asatiani & Janelidze 2009, p. 68.
  17. ^ Silogava, Valeri (2008). "მცხეთის სამთავროს უცნობი წარწერა ადარნასე ქართველთა მეფის შესახებ" [An unknown inscription of the Samtavro monastery of Mtskheta about Adarnase, the king of Georgians] (in Georgian). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ a b Suny 1994, p. 31.
  19. ^ a b c d Rayfield 2012, p. 69.
  20. ^ Eastmond 1998, p. 6.
  21. ^ Rapp 2003, p. 359.
  22. ^ a b Brosset 1851, p. 162.
  23. ^ a b Metreveli 1998, p. 192.
  24. ^ a b Brosset 1851, p. 163.
  25. ^ Metreveli 1998, p. 193.
  26. ^ Thomson, Robert W. (1996), Rewriting Caucasian History, p. 247. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-826373-2


Preceded by King of Iberia
Succeeded by