George IV of Georgia

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George IV
გიორგი IV
Fresco of George IV Lasha
King of Georgia
Reign18 January 1213 – 18 January 1222/23
Coronation1207 as co-king
Died18 January 1222/23 (aged 31)
SpouseVelistsikhian Aznauri's daughter[1]
IssueDavid VII of Georgia (illegitimate)
George IV Lasha
FatherDavid Soslan
MotherTamar of Georgia
ReligionGeorgian Orthodox Church
KhelrtvaGeorge IV გიორგი IV's signature

George IV (Georgian: გიორგი IV, romanized: giorgi IV) , also known as Lasha Giorgi (Georgian: ლაშა გიორგი, romanized: lasha giorgi) [2](1191–1223), of the Bagrationi dynasty, was a king (mepe) of Georgia from 1213 to 1223.

Some medieval sources characterize George IV as a wise ruler and brave warrior, while others point to his immoral lifestyle and addiction to mysticism and even Sufism.

Early life[edit]

Charter of King George IV.

A son of Queen Regnant Tamar and her consort David Soslan, George was declared as a coregent by his mother in 1207. According to the Georgian chronicles the second name Lasha meant 'illuminator of the world' in the language of Apsar (cf. a-lasha meaning light in Abkhaz language).[3]

He had princely domain in Javakheti, centered at Alastani, for which he was known by the title of javakht' up'ali, i.e., "the Lord of the Javakhians" as suggested by a type of silver coins struck in his name.[4]


After Tamar's death, George IV became the ruler of Kingdom of Georgia, George continued Tamar's policy of strengthening of the feudal Georgian state.

The feudal lords supporting George were Sargis Tmogveli, Shalva and Ivane Akhaltsikheli, Sula Surameli, Botso and Memna Jaqeli. Lasha's opponents were Ivane I Mkhargrdzeli and Varam Gageli.

Fresco of George IV from the Ananauri convent of Vardzia.

At Tamar's death, the atabeg of Ganja stopped to pay tribute, King George called Darbazi – the supreme royal council – where he proposed punishing the atabeg of Ganja immediately. The nobles approved a campaign and with an ample army George IV set out to ravage Ganja. The Georgian army under Ivane Mkhargrdzeli immediately sent troops to Ganja and enforced Georgian suzerainty by besieging, instead of storming the city. George lost patience with his generals’ decision, detached 4,000 men from the siege force and circled Ganja. The Ganja garrison realized George’s vulnerability: 10,000 well-armed men left the citadel and attacked. The ensuing fighting, although the Georgians won, caused heavy casualties, atabeg of Ganja agreed to pay tribute again.[5][6]

The economy of Georgia's vassal states suffered from inflation in the 1210s. The nineteen lines inscribed on the stone block of the new ruined church of Ani record the head of the Georgian Church, Catholicos Epiphanes, a condyophysite layman. The fees for baptism, marriage and burial increased three times and reached 100 Tbilisi's drams, priests also demanded a banquet or a whole cow hide. The clergy refused to accept less, the laity boycotted the church. Epiphanes ordered the fess to be reduced by two-thirds: any extra should be within the layman's means. If this inflation was general, it explains the reluctance of Armenian cities to pay taxes to Tbilisi. Unlike in the east, where the Khwarazmians blocked Georgia from action, in the south the Georgian army could enforce its will.[7]

In 1219 George campaigned against Erzurum, Nakhchivan and Ahlat and forced them to pay annual tribute, George once again confirmed the Georgian dominance in Anatolia and Iran.[7][8]

Armenian Prince Grigor Khaghbakian on horse. He fought for George IV against the Kipchacks in 1220-1223. Khatchkar of Grigor Khaghbakian (1233).[9][10][11]

Innocent III had managed to secure the participation of the Kingdom of Georgia in the Crusade.[12] In the late 1210s, according to the Georgian chronicles, George began making preparations for a campaign in the Holy Land to support the Franks.[13]

A miniature depicting an attack of the Georgian king George IV Lasha on Mongols in 1220. La Flor des estoires de la terre d'Orient by Hayton of Corycus. King George is shown in blue garment on a white horse holding a whip.

The first Mongol expedition defeated two Georgian armies in 1221–1222 and left through the Inner Caucasus. Georgians suffered heavy losses in this war, and the King himself was severely wounded, His plans for the Fifth Crusade were cut by the invasion of the Mongols.

King George IV went to Bagavan, Armenia, to secure his sister's marriage to the Shah of Shirvan and ensure her succession.[14] But at the age of 31, he died prematurely due to complications from his wound in Bagavan.[8] He was succeeded by his sister Rusudan. George was buried at Gelati monastery.


While George IV was relaxing in Kakheti, in the village of Velistsikhe, he spotted a pretty young woman, a freeman's daughter; he seduced her, and, although she was married, installed her at royal court. In 1215, she had a son with him (the future king David VII Ulu), whom the king gave to his sister Rusudan to bring up. This upset the Georgian Orthodox Church and deputation of bishops, the Catholicos and ministers came to remonstrate with the king: the woman was a commoner as well as another man’s wife. George IV was forced to let nuns escort his mistress back to her husband. But he adamantly deemed the woman from Velistsikhe his wife and refused any marriage which his court might negotiate for him. The king would not beget a legitimate heir.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ გიორგი IV (საქართველოს მეფე). Biographical Dictionary of Georgia
  2. ^ "Georgia and Armenia, Cyril Toumanoff
  3. ^ Hewitt, George, ed. (1998). The Abkhazians. A Handbook. St. Martin's Press. p. 44. ISBN 0-312-21975-X.
  4. ^ Paghava, Irakli (2011). "ჯავახთ უფლის მონეტები—კომპლექსური ანალიზი" [The coins of Javakht'-Upali'. A complex analysis]. Saistorio Krebuli (in Georgian). 1. Tbilisi: 291–343. ISSN 1987-7285.
  5. ^ a b Rayfield 2012, p. 118.
  6. ^ Baumer 2023, p. 30.
  7. ^ a b Rayfield 2012, p. 119.
  8. ^ a b Mikaberidze 2015, p. 333.
  9. ^ Manuelian, Lucy Der; Zarian, Armen; Nersessian, Vrej; Stepanyan, Nonna S.; Eiland, Murray L.; Kouymjian, Dickran (2003). "Armenia, Republic of" (PDF). Oxford Art Online: 25. doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T004089. Some khatchk'ars have sacred images on the top frame or beside the cross, and a donor image, such as that at the base of Grigor Khaghbakian's khatchk'ar (1233) on the grounds of Ēdjmiadzin Cathedral, where it was brought from Imirzek'.
  10. ^ Donabédian, Patrick. "Le khatchkar, un art emblématique de la spécificité arménienne". L’Église arménienne entre Grecs et Latins fin XIe – milieu XVe siècle. pp. 8–9, 15 Figure 10. Outre ces figurations, à partir du début du XIIIe siècle, une autre représentation humaine apparaît, soit sous la croix, soit sur le piédestal du khatchkar : l'image du donateur, ou plus exactement du défunt à la mémoire duquel le khatchkar a été érigé. Ce personnage est représenté en tenue d'apparat, armé et à cheval, rappelant le schéma iconographique sassanide de la chasse royale ou princière que l'architecture arménienne pratiquait depuis la période paléochrétienne.
  11. ^ Bedrosian, Robert. Kirakos Gandzakets'i's History of the Armenians. p. 58, paragraph 12.
  12. ^ Mikaberidge 2006, pp. 511–513, Kingdom of Georgia.
  13. ^ Cahen 1969, pp. 715–719, Mongols and the Near East.
  14. ^ Rayfield 2012, p. 121.


External links[edit]

Preceded by King of Georgia
Succeeded by