Alexander II of Imereti

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Alexander II
ალექსანდრე II
Alexander II, a fresco from the Gelati Monastery
King of Georgia
PredecessorBagrat VI
SuccessorConstantine II
King of Imereti
PredecessorBagrat II
SuccessorBagrat III
Died1 April, 1510
Among others
Bagrat III of Imereti
DynastyBagrationi dynasty
FatherBagrat VI of Georgia
ReligionGeorgian Orthodox Church
KhelrtvaAlexander II ალექსანდრე II's signature

Alexander II (Georgian: ალექსანდრე II; died April 1, 1510) was a king (mepe) of Georgia in 1478 and of Imereti from 1483 to 1510.

Son of Bagrat VI of Georgia, he briefly succeeded his father in 1478 during the Georgian civil war of 1463–1491 which divided the kingdom into several independent states. Expelled by the pretender, his uncle Constantine II, he quickly took refuge in the northern mountains of western Georgia, where he continued the civil war for several years. He returned to power in 1484 following the national chaos which prevented Constantine from defending his domains and was crowned king of Imereti. His reign remained unstable and suffered two more invasions from Constantine in 1485 and 1487, before finally gaining his throne in 1489.

The formal division of Georgia in 1490 made Alexander II one of the four independent Georgian rulers, as well as the founder of the Kingdom of Imereti. He devoted his reign to reforming the internal situation of the country, while facing the autonomous ambitions of Mingrelia and Guria. After a failed attempt to reconquer central Georgia in 1509, Imereti faced the Ottomans in a first invasion which inaugurated the geopolitical conflicts of the region for the next centuries. On his death in 1510, he was succeeded by Bagrat III.

Early life and King of Georgia[edit]


Alexander was the son of Bagrat, Duke of Samokalako and then anti-king in Western Georgia, and his wife, a certain Helene. While Georgian sources make little mention of Alexander's brotherhood, it is likely that he was the second son of Bagrat, with some contemporary documents mentioning a Vakhtang as Bagrat's eldest son. It is likely that Vakhtang died very young, between 1454 and 1468.[1]

In 1466, his father invaded Kartli and was proclaimed king of Georgia as Bagrat VI of Georgia. Bagrat VI quickly opposed Prince Constantine, who also claimed the Georgian crown, and in 1468 the two reached an agreement toward a temporary peace: Bagrat VI remained king of Georgia and agreed to divide the kingdom upon his death, with Constantine inheriting Kartli and Alexander, Western Georgia.[2]

Short-lived ruler[edit]

Bagrat VI died in 1478 and, despite his agreement with Constantine, Alexander attempted to capture the reins of power in Kartli and Imereti. But Constantine, who already governs Kvemo Kartli and Georgian Armenia, threatens Tbilisi, the capital, and Alexander tries to have himself crowned in Kutaisi, in western Georgia, by the Catholicos of Abkhazia. His coronation failed, however, when the ceremony was boycotted by the dukes Vameq II Dadiani, Kakhaber II Gurieli and those of Abkhazia and Svaneti, their absence removing Alexander's legitimacy.[3]

While the royal army remained under Alexander's control, Constantine II quickly captured Tbilisi with the help of mountain militias from Khevsureti and Tusheti, leaving Alexander without his capital. His troops quickly retreated from Kartli and many fortresses across central Georgia fell successively to the troops of Constantine, who replaced the minor nobles installed by Bagrat VI and Alexander II with loyal governors. In 1479, Gori was captured by Constantine II and Alexander took refuge in Kutaisi.[4] Vameq II Dadiani, who wishes to take revenge on the inheritance of Bagrat VI for the latter's autocracy,[5] forms an alliance with Constantine and helps the latter to invade Imereti.[3]

The collapse of the royal army was accompanied by the betrayal of the nobles of Imereti, who pledged allegiance to Constantine in 1479.[3] Alexander fortified himself in a citadel, while the mountaineers of Constantine and the Mingrelian troops of Vameq II together captured Kutaisi.[6] In this center of western Georgia, Constantine II received the allegiance of the dukes of Mingrelia and Guria, left a battalion in the city to protect it against a potential future attack by Alexander and left to fight against Samtskhe-Saatabago.[4]


After his defeat in 1479, Alexander retreated to the mountains of Racha and Lechkhumi, where he formed an alliance with the local people[5] and continued to claim his father's throne. The genealogist Cyril Toumanoff, in fact, says that Alexander remained attached to the idea of his hereditary right to the Georgian throne as the eldest descendant of David VI of Georgia (r. 1245-1293),[7] while the Turkish historian İbrahim Peçevi, writing in the 16th century, justifies Alexander's genealogical claim. Modern historian Donald Rayfield, however, assumes that Constantine II made Alexander Duke of Racha and Lechkhumi in 1479, with residence at the royal court of Kutaisi.[8]

As much as he governs the two provinces[9] and leads a resistance to the central power. In 1483, he married a certain Tamar and it is possible that he used the opportunity to have himself crowned as anti-king by the local nobility.[10] The same year, Constantine II received a decisive defeat at the Battle of Aradeti against Samtskhe-Saatabago and was forced to withdraw towards Tbilisi. In 1484, Vameq II Dadiani, who secured central power in Imereti in the name of Constantine, died and Alexander saw these events as an opportunity to regain power[4] and embarked on a new military campaign.[11]

King of Imereti[edit]


Royal charter of King Alexander II

With the help of his mountain forces, Alexander captured a weakened and abandoned Kutaisi in 1484 and had himself crowned as Alexander II, king of Likht-Imereti (ლიხთ-იმერეთი, meaning "the nation on this side of the Likhi", the Likhi being the mountain range separating western Georgia from the Kartli),[5] a declaration of independence against the rest of the Kingdom of Georgia. Following his coronation, he invaded the rest of the region, without however succeeding in subduing Mingrelia and Guria, while Constantine was occupied by a war in Samtskhe.[12]

Constantine II continued his war to reunify Georgia and attempted to invade Imereti in 1485,[13] but was defeated by Alexander and a nobleman from the Lortkipanidze family in the Battle of Chikhori.[10] The Georgian king was forced to return to Kartli in 1486 when Sultan Ya'qub Beg began a series of military incursions into his domains.[8] Liparit II Dadiani, Duke of Mingrelia, however, continued to oppose Alexander and in 1487, he invited Constantine II to return to Imereti. The Kartlian and Mingrelian forces, allied with certain Imeretian noble factions, then invaded the domains of Alexander, who was forced to abandon his capital again and fortify himself in a citadel.[5] When Constantine's mountain militias besieged Alexander,[11] the latter took refuge in the mountains of the north of the country and Constantine and Liparit took control of the fortresses loyal to the son of Bagrat VI.

Constantine secured his conquest by using North Caucasian tribes to enforce his jurisdiction. He remained in Kutaisi, fearing a new revolt from Alexander. Thus, when Ya'qub invaded Kartli once again in 1488, he resisted demands for his return and sent two of his generals to fight in his place.[14] However, Ya'qub managed to lay siege to Tbilisi, forcing Constantine to leave defenseless Imereti, leaving Alexander to return to power.[15][1]

With a serious situation in eastern Georgia, Alexander II managed to make peace with the Imeretian and Liparit nobility of Mingrelia. In 1489, a coalition of mountain forces from Racha, Lechkhumi and Svaneti[14] invaded Imereti and captured many strategic fortresses without giving Constantine the opportunity to retaliate.[16] Kutaisi fell in a short time, marking the final separation of Imereti, a separation that lasted until the Russian invasion in the 19th century.

In 1490, Tbilisi liberated, Constantine II brought together his royal council to decide on a plan of action for the reconquest of Kakheti, Imereti and Samtskhe. However, the great Georgian nobility who sat on the council feared seeing Constantine's powers increase considerably and decided to officially dissolve the kingdom of Georgia created in 1008. A series of peace treaties were then signed between Constantine and the numerous regional leaders. In Imereti, Tbilisi negotiated a recognition of the borders of Alexander II,[17] while the latter was obliged to accept considerable autonomy for Guria and Mingrelia, with Abkhazia integrated into Mingrelia: a decentralized and unstable western Georgia can open the doors to future reconquest.[18] A final treaty was signed between Constantine and Alexander in 1491, a year after the decision of the royal council[19] (or 1493 according to some sources).[13]

Formation of a new kingdom[edit]

Having become independent, Alexander II must face an unstable kingdom and a powerful nobility who constantly threaten his power. He spent his first years on the throne trying to establish his power by waging war against recalcitrant lords: several were executed and others were confiscated of their lands and titles of nobility or replaced by other nobles loyal to him.[20] His biggest problem, however, remained with the great princes who governed the Black Sea regions, Liparit II Dadiani and Giorgi I Gurieli. With them, he only found peace[16] after an agreement that defined the rest of the history of the kingdom of Imereti:

  • The Crown is no longer involved in the internal affairs of the two principalities;[21]
  • The dukes of Mingrelia and Guria are freed from their obligation to pay taxes to Imereti;[21]
  • The sovereigns of Mingrelia automatically become Mandaturtukhutsesi;[21]
  • The sovereigns of Guria likewise became Amirspasalar, commander of the royal troops;[21]
  • Mingrelia and Guria are forced to provide the royal army with soldiers;[16]
  • The lands of the two principalities remain open for royal hunts;[21]
  • The king preserves the de jure right to confirm the succession of a duke.[22]

Alexander II also tried to force his jurisdiction in Abkhazia by subduing Solomon Sharvashidze, as well as the ducal Gelovani family of Svaneti.[16] Contemporary documents show that Alexander quickly became involved in the internal affairs of Svaneti and during a political conflict over domination of the mountain province, he supported the Japaridze-Kuchaidze clan.[23] Imitating his colleagues from Kartli and Kakheti, he embarked on a military reform which divided the armed forces into four Sadrosho, headed by the king and the hereditary lords of Argveti, Racha and Lechkhumi.[18] While a similar reform in Kakheti gave the monarch great control over his army, Alexander's changes allowed the nobility to increase their powers, further dividing the small kingdom.

In 1495, Queen Tamar gave birth to Prince Bagrat, the heir of Alexander II. The same year, he signed a new peace agreement with Constantine II, guaranteeing the latter's aid against the rebellious minor nobility of Imereti.[16]

Invasion of Kartli[edit]

The lack of unity between the four Georgian sovereigns was revealed once again in 1500, when Constantine II, Alexander I of Kakheti and Kaikhosro I Jaqeli formed an anti-Ottoman coalition with Safavid Iran, a coalition to in which Alexander II does not participate.[24] In 1505, Constantine, archnemesis of Alexander, died and left his kingdom to his son, David X.

Alexander uses the weakness of the young king to try to reunify Georgia under his scepter. In 1509, he crossed the Likhi with a large army and captured the city of Gori.[16] Alexander II continued his advance and soon annexed the entire northwest of the Kartli.[24]

Ottoman invasion[edit]

On the borders of Imereti, the Ottoman Empire gained power but, despite a rapid military incursion in 1461 to dissuade the Georgians from intervening in aid of Trebizond, the Ottomans largely ignored western Georgia during the second half of the fifteenth century. This policy changed, however, under the reign of Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512), who focused on his eastern borders to fight against the influence of the new Safavid Iran. From the beginning of the 1500s, an Ottoman army invaded Samtskhe-Saatabago and Guria and temporarily confiscated the provinces of Adjara and Chaneti.[25] At the same time, the Ottomans used the Black Sea to influence Abkhazia and incorporated the Jiks tribe into their sphere of influence.

In 1509, the Ottomans used the absence of Alexander II, who was campaigning in Kartli, to invade Imereti. Selim, Ottoman governor of Trebizond and son of the sultan, invaded on November 23, 1509,[26] at the head of an army of North Caucasian established in Anatolia. The invaders ravaged the kingdom, captured Kutaisi, burned the capital and the Monastery of Gelati, the religious center of western Georgia. Alexander left Gori immediately, authorizing David X of Kartli to reconquer the provinces occupied by the Imeretians,[27] but failed to free the prisoners captured as slaves by the Ottomans.[16] The invasion is detailed by the Turkish historian İbrahim Peçevi in the 16th century.[24]


In March 1510, Queen Tamar died, while Alexander prepared a plan to launch an incursion into Anatolia against the Ottomans. He contracted an illness "as painful as it was sick", according to the Georgian Chronicles, and died on April 1, 1510. He is buried with his wife at the Gelati Monastery.[16] His son Bagrat III succeeded him to the throne.


Alexander II and Queen Tamar, fresco at the Gelati Monastery

In 1483, Alexander II married a certain Tamar, whose origins are unknown, their childrens were:

  • Bagrat III of Imereti (1495–1565), who succeeded Alexander as king of Imereti.
  • Prince David (fl. 1510 – 1524).
  • Prince Vakhtang (after 1495 – 1548), sometime in opposition to his brother Bagrat III.
  • Prince George (fl. 1511 – 1545), who was married to a woman named Ana.
  • Prince Demetrius (fl. 1511).
  • Princess Tinatin, who was married Spiridon Beenashvili (Cholokashvili).
  • Anonymous princess, who was married twice, secondly to George, son of Rostom Gurieli.


  1. ^ a b Toumanoff 1949–1951, p. 203.
  2. ^ Rayfield 2012, p. 161.
  3. ^ a b c Brosset 1858, p. 251.
  4. ^ a b c Brosset 1858, p. 13.
  5. ^ a b c d Brosset 1858, p. 252.
  6. ^ Brosset 1858, pp. 251–152.
  7. ^ Toumanoff 1949–1951, p. 219.
  8. ^ a b Rayfield 2012, p. 163.
  9. ^ Salia 1980, p. 268.
  10. ^ a b Brosset 1851, p. 50.
  11. ^ a b Brosset 1858, p. 14.
  12. ^ Brosset 1858, p. 210.
  13. ^ a b Allen 1932, p. 138.
  14. ^ a b Brosset 1858, p. 15.
  15. ^ Brosset 1858, pp. 252–253.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Brosset 1858, p. 253.
  17. ^ Brosset 1858, p. 16.
  18. ^ a b Rayfield 2012, p. 165.
  19. ^ Toumanoff 1949–1951, p. 216.
  20. ^ Berdzenishvili 1973, p. 168.
  21. ^ a b c d e Berdzenishvili 1973, pp. 168–169.
  22. ^ Berdzenishvili 1973, p. 169.
  23. ^ Berdzenishvili 1973, p. 426.
  24. ^ a b c Rayfield 2012, p. 166.
  25. ^ Brosset 1858, pp. 213–214.
  26. ^ Brosset 1858, p. 254.
  27. ^ Brosset 1858, p. 19.


  • Mikaberidze, Alexander (2015). Historical Dictionary of Georgia (2 ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1442241466.
  • Toumanoff, Cyril (1949–1951). The Fifteenth-Century Bagratids and the Institution of Collegial Sovereignty in Georgia.
  • Rayfield, Donald (2012). Edge of Empires, a History of Georgia. London: Reaktion Books. ISBN 978-1-78023-070-2.
  • Brosset, Marie-Félicité (1858). Histoire moderne de la Géorgie. Saint-Pétersbourg: Imprimerie de l'Académie impériale des sciences.
  • Salia, Kalistrat (1980). Histoire de la nation géorgienne. Paris: Édition Nino Salia.
  • Allen, W.E.D. (1932). A History of the Georgian People. London: Routledge & Keagan Paul.
  • Brosset, Marie-Félicité (1851). Voyage archéologique en Transcaucasie. Saint-Pétersbourg: Imprimerie de l'Académie impériale des Sciences.
  • Berdzenishvili, Nikoloz (1973). Საქართველოს ისტორიის საკითხები [Issues of Georgian history] (in Georgian). Vol. 6. Tbilisi: Metsniereba..

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Preceded by King of Georgia
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Preceded by King of Imereti
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