Demetrius I of Georgia

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Demetrius I
დემეტრე I
King of Kings of Georgia
Demetrius I by Michael Maglakeli, from Matskhvarishi, 1140. He is wearing front-opening qaba with Arabic tiraz bands inscribed in Kufic script.[1]
King of Georgia
1st Reign1125–1154
PredecessorDavid IV
SuccessorDavid V
2nd Reign1155-1156
PredecessorDavid V
SuccessorGeorge III
Bornc. 1093
Died1156 (aged 62–63)
Among others
David V of Georgia
George III of Georgia
FatherDavid IV of Georgia
MotherRusudan of Armenia
ReligionGeorgian Orthodox Church

Demetrius I (Georgian: დემეტრე I, romanized: demet're I) (c. 1093 – 1156), from the Bagrationi dynasty, was King (mepe) of Georgia from 1125 to 1156. He is also known as a poet. He was King of Georgian kingdom two times, first in 1125 to 1154 and second in 1155 before his death in 1156.

Demetrius I struggled tirelessly to protect the inheritance he had received from his father he guarded Georgia’s borders and fought to enlarge its frontiers. Many regions, including Hereti, Somkhiti, Tashiri, Javakheti, Artaani and Tao were repopulated during King Demetrius' reign.

He is regarded as a saint in the Orthodox Church and his feast day is celebrated on May 23 on the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar.[2]

Early life[edit]

Demetrius was the eldest son of King David the Builder by his first wife Rusudan. He was brought up in Kutaisi.

David IV proclaimed his son co-ruler of Georgia and crowned him with his own hands. He declared that his son Demetrius, through his wisdom, chastity, bravery, and handsome appearance, would rule Georgia better than he himself had.[3]

In 1117 David sent him to Shirvan to fight, and the young commander astonished the people with his deftness in battle. Demetrius seized Kaladzori Castle (later Alberd, now Agdash[4]) and returned home with many captives and much wealth.[5][6]


Coronation of Demetrius I, a fresco from Matskhvarishi, 1140

Already in 1125, he had to expel the Seljuks from the fortress of Dmanisi, which controlled one of the accesses to Tbilisi from the south.[3]

In 1125 Manuchihr, who was Demetrius' brother-in-law, regained control of western Shirvan. And in 1126, the Muslim population of Shirvan rebelled with the support of the Seljuks. In 1129-30, Demetrius reached a compromise with the support of his sister, Shirvan was again divided into two parts, the Christian part was incorporated into Georgia and the border being the Tetritsqali, while Manuchihr was appointed as the emir of eastern Shirvan and recognized Georgia's vassalage.[7]

In 1130, the ruler of the Shah-Armens launched an attempt to oust Georgians from northern and central Armenia. Demetrius had to come to terms and give up Ani to the Shaddadids on terms of vassalage. They agreed that the Cathedral of Ani should have remained a Christian site and Georgia could intervene to protect the Christians. However, a stand-off continued for two decades.[8]

In 1130, his half-brother Vakhtang rebelled against the king. He was supported by great feudal lord Ivane Abuletisdze, tried to overthrow Demetrius from the throne but the king captured and punished the conspirators and Vakhtang was captured, blinded and cast in prison where he apparently died shortly afterwards.[9][10]

In 1139, Demetrius raided the city of Ganja in Arran. He brought the iron gate of the defeated city to Georgia and donated it to Gelati Monastery at Kutaisi. Despite this brilliant victory, Demetrius could hold Ganja only for a few years.[11][12] In reply to this, the sultan of the Eldiguzids attacked Ganja several times, and in 1143 the town again fell to the sultan. According to Mkhitar Gosh, Demetrius ultimately gained possession of Ganja, but, when he gave his daughter in marriage to the sultan, he presented the latter with the town as dowry, and the sultan appointed his own emir to rule it.[13]

Fadl's successor, Fakr al-Din Shaddad, a Shaddadid emir of Ani asked for Saltuk's daughter's hand, however Saltuk refused him. This caused a deep hatred in Shaddad towards Saltuk. In 1154 he planned a plot and formed a secret alliance with Demetrius. While a Georgian army waited in ambush, he offered tribute to Saltukids, ruler of Erzerum and asked the latter to accept him as a vassal. In 1153–1154, Emir Saltuk II marched on Ani, but Shaddad informed Demetrius of this. Demetrius marched to Ani, defeated and captured the emir. At the request of neighbouring Muslim rulers and released him for a ransom of 100,000 dinars, paid by Saltuk's sons in law and Saltuk swore not to fight against the Georgians.[14]

In 1154, Demetrius gave his last daughter, whose name is unknown, in marriage to Iziaslav II of Kiev. Iziaslav died shortly afterwards and no political alliance emerged between the Kingdom of Georgia and Kievan Rus'.[13]

In the 1140s, Georgian nobles sensed an opportunity when it became apparent that Demetrius had disinherited his eldest son David in favour of the younger, George. Those who had supported Demetrius' younger brother, Prince Vakhtang, now opposed Demetrius' unprecedented disinheritance of Prince David.[13] A first coup attempt failed in 1150, but in 1155 David's coup against his father succeeded, Demetrius was banished to a monastery and became a monk, receiving the monastic name Damian (Damianus), while his rebellious son ascended the throne as David V.[3]

However, Davit V died suddenly six months after becoming king.[15] According to Vardan Areveltsi, David was poisoned by Sumbat I and Ivane II Orbeli, who Orbelis with Prince George, or Demetrius, or both had made an agreement that would appoint them as Amirspasalars.[16][17] According to precedence and law, after David V's death, his young son, Prince Demna should have inherited the throne. But Demetrius was restored to the throne, and he crowned his younger son, George, as co-ruler and retired to David Gareja monastery. Others allege that Demetrius had also died, and that George then seized the throne illicitly.[16] He died in 1156 and was buried at Gelati Monastery.

Marriage and children[edit]

The name of Demetrius's wife is unknown, but he had several children:


King Demetrius I was an author of several poems, mainly on religious themes. Shen Khar Venakhi (Georgian: შენ ხარ ვენახი, English: Thou Art a Vineyard), a hymn to the Virgin Mary, is the most famous of them.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Flood, Finbarr Barry (2017). A Turk in the Dukhang? Comparative Perspectives on Elite Dress in Medieval Ladakh and the Caucasus. Austrian Academy of Science. p. 252, Fig. 18.
  2. ^ (in Greek) Ὁ Ὅσιος Δαμιανὸς ἐκ Γεωργίας. 23 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  3. ^ a b c Baumer 2023, p. 18.
  4. ^ Hewsen, Robert H. (1992). The Geography of Ananias of Širak: Ašxarhac'oyc', the Long and the Short Recensions. Wiesbaden: Reichert. p. 249. ISBN 3-88226-485-3.
  5. ^ History of Georgia 2012, p. 386.
  6. ^ Hewsen, Robert H. (1992). The Geography of Ananias of Širak: Ašxarhac'oyc', the Long and the Short Recensions. Wiesbaden: Reichert. p. 249. ISBN 3-88226-485-3.
  7. ^ Rayfield 2012, p. 98.
  8. ^ Rayfield 2012, p. 99.
  9. ^ Lordkipanidze, Mariam (1987), Georgia in the XI-XII Centuries, p. 129. Tbilisi: Ganatleba
  10. ^ (in Georgian) Melikishvili, Giorgi & Anchabadze, Zurab (ed., 1979), საქართველოს ისტორიის ნარკვევები, ტ. 3: საქართველო XI–XV საუკუნეებში (Studies in the History of Georgia, vol. 3: Georgia in the 11th–15th centuries). Tbilisi: Sabchota Sakartvelo
  11. ^ Rayfield, Donald (2013). Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia. Reaktion Books. p. 100. ISBN 978-1780230702.
  12. ^ Mikaberidze, Alexander (2015). Historical Dictionary of Georgia (2 ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 259. ISBN 978-1442241466.
  13. ^ a b c Rayfield 2012, p. 100.
  14. ^ Prof. Yaşar Yüce-Prof. Ali Sevim: Türkiye tarihi Cilt I, AKDTYKTTK Yayınları, İstanbul, 1991, p. 149–150.
  15. ^ Mikaberidze, Alexander (6 February 2015). Historical Dictionary of Georgia. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-4422-4146-6.
  16. ^ a b Rayfield 2012, p. 101.
  17. ^ Eastmond 1998, p. 107.
  18. ^ a b Rayfield, D. (2013). Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia. Reaktion Books. pp. 98, 100. ISBN 978-1-78023-070-2.


External links[edit]

Preceded by King of Georgia
Succeeded by
Preceded by King of Georgia
Succeeded by