George VIII of Georgia

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George VIII
გიორგი VIII
George VIII from 1460 royal charter
20th King of Georgia
PredecessorVakhtang IV
SuccessorBagrat VI
1st King of Kakheti
SuccessorAlexander I
Died1476 (aged 58–59)
IssueAlexander I of Kakheti
FatherAlexander I of Georgia
MotherTamar of Imereti
ReligionGeorgian Orthodox Church
KhelrtvaGeorge VIII გიორგი VIII's signature

George VIII (Georgian: გიორგი VIII, romanized: giorgi VIII; 1417–1476) of the Bagrationi dynasty, was de facto last king (mepe) of the formerly united Kingdom of Georgia from 1446 to 1465. He would later rule in the Kingdom of Kakheti as George I from 1465 until his death in 1476, founding a local branch of the Bagrationi dynasty.

He was the third son of Alexander I of Georgia, who appointed him co-ruler with his brothers Vakhtang IV, Demetrius and Zaal in 1433, when he was still very young, in order to consolidate his power against the powerful nobles. However, the future George VIII fell under the influence of this nobility, which caused his father's abdication in 1442, and he took over the administration of eastern Georgian territories under the leadership of his elder brother Vakhtang IV. On the latter's death in 1446, he seized the throne and disinherited his other elder brother, Demetrius.

George VIII is still known as the last monarch to rule the entire Kingdom of Georgia, although the division of the kingdom became official in 1490. He quickly lost control of Samtskhe in the 1460s when the Atabeg Qvarqvare II Jaqeli declared independence, and then of West Georgia during the Georgian civil war of 1463–1491. He was also dethroned after being captured and imprisoned by Qvarqvare II in 1465, which created a new power that allowed the great nobility to seize large semi-independent territories throughout Georgia. Released in 1466, he seized Kakheti and proclaimed the independence of the Kingdom of Kakheti, which he ruled peacefully until his death in 1476, endowing it with its first institutions.

Internationally, George VIII witnessed great geopolitical upheaval in the Middle East caused by the fall of Constantinople in 1453, followed by the fall of Trebizond in 1461, two conflicts in which he did not intervene against the Ottoman Empire despite Byzantine requests for help. His proposed crusade against the Ottomans, formed with Rome, failed because European states refused to participate in the conflict.

Early life[edit]


George born between 1415 and 1417, he was the third son of Alexander I of Georgia.[1] His mother, Tamar, was the second wife of Alexander I and daughter of the rebellious monarch Alexander I of Imereti.[2][3][4] He was educated at the royal court with his older brothers, Vakhtang and Demetrius, and has been named as a prince in documents since 1417.[5] Therefore, he is mentioned alongside his father in the royal letters between September 29, 1417, September 22, 1419, January 6, 1424, 1427 and January 21, 1428.[6] However, some letters ignore it while they do cite to his brothers during the same period.[7]

His father achieved many successes during his reign, including the capture of Lori in 1431.[8] He then centralized his kingdom and attempted to increase his control over the Georgian Orthodox Church; He groomed his son David, brother of George, as the future Catholic Patriarch of Georgia.[9]

Co-ruler of Georgia[edit]

In the 1430s, Alexander I began a program of centralization of the kingdom; He punished the great feudal lords who were still rebellious.[10] Afterwards, he confiscated the territories of many of them and decided to appoint his four sons as co-rulers: Vakhtang, Demetrius, George and Zaal, in 1433.[10] According to the historian Cyril Toumanoff, the king was inspired by the Byzantine system to delegate his power to his sons and entrusted them with the daily management of the kingdom, but this explanation is denied by the chronicler Vakhushti of Kartli, who questioned this association in the 18th century.[11][12] He also supported the military expansion of the kingdom, as well as the reconstruction of the numerous cities destroyed by centuries of war.[13]

Each of the co-rulers sent a representative to the Georgian delegation that took part in the Council of Ferrara in 1438, then in Florence in 1439, two ecumenical assemblies presided over by Pope Eugene IV.[14] The king allowed his sons were represented in the two councils to balance the representations of Mingrelia and Samtskhe, which wanted to receive support from Rome to become independent.[14]

In 1439, Alexander I became seriously ill and his sons took over the administration of the kingdom.[15] However, despite the lack of hope among his doctors, he regained health in 1440, but found himself with a royal court beyond his control.[10] The influential nobility encouraged division within the royal family; his sons became more independent and refused to obey his orders.[10] This division was particularly severe when the royal council failed to agree on a strategy to defend against the invasion of the Qara Qoyunlu ruler Jahan Shah, who ultimately massacred nearly two thousand Georgians.[15]

In 1442, Alexander, no longer control his kingdom in the face of his sons' ambitions and abdicated after a reign of thirty years; He retired to a monastery where he adopted the name Athanasius. Before retiring, he arranged the wedding of George VIII to Princess Nestan-Darejan, daughter of his uncle Bagrat. The throne was reserved for his eldest son, Vakhtang IV, while the others divided the kingdom among themselves.[16] The young Zaal died in 1442, at the age of 14,[17] while Alexander I died in 1446.[18]

King of Georgia[edit]

Successor of Vakhtang IV[edit]

Relief of Constantine I, Alexander I, Vakhtang IV and George VIII.

After his father's abdication, Vakhtang IV succeeded him as "King of Kings", a title that conferred superiority over his younger brothers.[19] Demetrius and George, however, remained administrators of certain regions of the kingdom, but sources remain uncertain about their titles; Cyril Toumanoff and Donald Rayfield conjecture that they were still called kings, but the Georgian Chronicles only mention them as "princes".[15][19] According to Vakhushti of Kartli, they did not It was not until 1445 that the king appointed George as co-ruler.[19]

Prince David, a 19th-century Georgian prince, wrote that the king assigned him the territories of the northeastern Caucasus, including Derbent on the Caspian Sea.[19] Vakhushti of Kartli, for his part, cited the borders of his territories differently. domains: North Caucasus to the north, the Aragvi River to the west to Mount Lilo (Iori Plateau), the Kura river to the south and the Caspian Sea to the west.[20] Demetrius and Vakhtang IV shared Western Georgia and Kartli. The king ruled for a short time and died in 1446 without leaving any heirs.[21] Under mysterious circumstances and perhaps in accordance with the king's will, George VIII took possession of the crown and disinherited his other elder brother, who was forced to return to Western Georgia.[1][15] The official chronology of the monarchs of Georgia, written in the 18th century, however, recognizes the latter as legitimate king until 1452.[22] Various royal letters indicate that the reign of George VIII began on December 25, 1446.[1]

The Georgian army remained strong since the reforms of Alexander I, as evidenced by its success in clashes with the Turkomans in 1444.[23] On his diplomatic missions, the king estimated that he could muster seventy thousand men, a large difference compared to two decades later when an army of forty thousand Turkoman devastated the country.[24] This force became strategic in an Orthodox world increasingly besieged by the Ottoman Empire. Thus, in 1451, George Sphrantzes, a Byzantine diplomat, arrived at the Georgian court in search of a wife for Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos.[25]

The king agreed to marry his daughter to the emperor but ran into financial difficulties: while Sphrantzes demanded a dowry, Georgian tradition demanded a bride price and a series of Byzantine towns were sued in the negotiations.[25] Because of this agreement, the Ottomans, who had already begun preparations to encircle Constantinople, wanted to eliminate the Byzantine Empire's possible allies before undertaking their siege.[26] In 1451, they organized a quick but devastating raid on the coast of Abkhazia against which the Georgians did not retaliate.[26] Finally, the king agreed to pay fifty-six thousand ducats, jewelry, fine furniture, ceremonial vestments and an annuity of three thousand ducats.[27] This sum risked ruining the country's economy, but the marriage project did not materialize due to the fall of Constantinople in 1453.[27]

First obstacles[edit]

Since his accession to the throne, George VIII had to face the separatist ambitions of the Georgian principalities, such as Mingrelia, Guria and Samtskhe, which already exercised their own military and diplomatic policies.[25] Although he officially ruled as sovereign over all of Georgia, its control was de facto limited to Kartli.[25] In 1447, a civil war broke out in Samtskhe when the Atabeg Aghbugha II Jaqeli, who received support from the royal court, was overthrown by his brother Qvarqvare II Jaqeli.[25][21][27] Aghbugha II took refuge in Tbilisi, capital of the kingdom, and continued to be recognized as lord of his province until his death in 1451.[21] When he died, the king, convinced by the rebels, offered the title of atabeg and its recognition to his brother, but this did not change the tense relations between the kingdom and its vassal.[28][21]

Qvarqvare II, who then ruled as an autonomous lord, undertook a policy of complete separation from the Georgian crown.[27] He confiscated Vardzia and royal estates and proclaimed the autocephaly of the Samtskhe Orthodox Church with the help of a Greek metropolitan who The clergy of Jerusalem and Antioch were sent to him.[27] Soon, the names of George VIII and the Catholic David were omitted from regional prayers and the governor promoted the bishop of Atsquri to the status of patriarch.[27] In response, The Catholicos excommunicated the priests who recognized this autocephaly and organized a boycott of the local churches for the Georgians of Samtskhe. Fearing a financial crisis, the bishop of Atsquri abandoned the autocephaly project and received the ordination of bishop again in Mtskheta; This was a sign of a strategic defeat for the separatists.[27] In 1452 or 1453, Demetrius died in a hunting accident and George VIII thus became the sole monarch of Georgia.[27] The son of his deceased brother, Prince Constantine, was under the protection of the king, who educated him in the military arts.[27]

A precarious peace[edit]

On the death of Demetrius, he was crowned sole king of Georgia; he bore the traditional title of 'King of Kings, Suzerain and Sovereign of two thrones and kingdoms, of the Abkhazians, Iberians, Ranis, Kakhetians and Armenians, descendant of Nimrod," and in 1455 he appointed Bagrat as duke of Samokalako, which gave him control of the region of Imereti.[29]

Upon coming to the throne, he had to face a revolt in Shirvan, a Muslim province on the Caspian Sea and a vassal of Georgia.[29] The local Shirvanshah, Khalilullah I, tried to form an independent state and stopped paying tribute to him.[29] As a result, he invaded the region and, after a brief siege on Qabala, forced it back into the Georgian sphere of influence and the Shirvanians resumed paying tribute.[29] In 1456, Uzun Hasan, ruler of Aq Qoyunlu invaded Georgia; He devastated Somkhiti and besieged the citadel of Orbeti.[30] The territory was saved when the local governor offered to submit and aided him in his raids against the rest of the kingdom.[30] Uzun Hasan subsequently devastated Kartli and occupied the city of Mukhrani. before returning to his domains.[30]

Preparations for a crusade[edit]

The fall of Constantinople isolated Georgia from any contact with Europeans. These, for their part, faced a new geopolitical reality: the rise to power of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II could create a new common enemy for the Catholics of the West.[21] This drastic change in the situation on the borders forced the various nobles and Georgian rulers to form an apparent unity.[21] In 1459 an armistice was signed between the Georgia and Samtskhe.[21] The king then saw an opportunity to react against the Muslims and become the center of a possible crusade.[21]

In 1452, Pope Nicholas V embarked on a project to reconquer Constantinople, but his death in April 1455 put an end to his plans. In 1456, Ludovico da Bologna, apostolic nuncio to the new Pope Callixtus III, arrived in Georgia to submit a full report on the kingdom and the Georgian Orthodox Church to Rome; He highlighted the piety of its inhabitants, but also the serious situation caused by the civil conflicts in the region.[15] After this report, the Holy See asked George VIII to send an embassy to Europe and in September 1459 the successor of Callistus III, Pius II, organized a public call for a new crusade against the Ottomans.[15] Starting in November, regular communication began between George VIII, Qvarqvare II, Pius II, the Doge of Venice Pasquale Malipiero and the Duke Philip III of Burgundy.[25]

The Georgians hoped to mobilize a total of 120,000 soldiers (or 140,000 according to certain sources) as part of this crusade; 40,000 from Georgia, 30,000 from the Empire of Trebizond (then under Georgian protection), 20,000 Armenians, 20,000 from Samtskhe and 10,000 from Mingrelia.[31][27] Other contributions from Guria were also expected, as well as 30 ships from the port of Anakopia and a detachment of Uzun Hasan, who claimed the Ottoman city of Bursa.[27] The king also organized the plan for this possible campaign: the Georgian forces would invade Anatolia with a contingent under the command of Qvarqvare II that would advance to Palestine, while the Europeans would open another front in Greece.[32]

In 1460, a large embassy of Georgians, Armenians, Trapezuntines and Persians, led by Bishop Nicholas of Tbilisi and Qartchikhan of Mingrelia, arrived in Europe and met with Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, in Vienna.[33] In Venice, was received by the senate of the Serenissima, before embarking to Florence to attend an ecclesiastical council.[33] In Rome, the Georgians met Pius II in December 1460, who made the mistake of naming George VIII as "king of the Persians" and Duke Bagrat of Samokalako as "king of the Iberians."[10][33] From Rome, the pope sent the embassy throughout Europe to ensure military assistance.[33]

In May 1461, the delegation arrived in Paris to meet King Charles VII of France, but he was ill and unable to make a decision of such importance.[34] At Saint-Omer, the Georgians met Philip III of Burgundy, but He hesitated to embark on a crusade, as he feared the fate of his duchy during his absence.[33] In Ghent, they met with representatives of the Burgundian nobility, but was unable to convince them of the benefits of this war.[33] On August 15, they returned to Paris to attend the coronation of Louis XI of France, but the monarch refused to undertake any military campaign because he was facing a series of internal problems.[33][34] The crusade failed when Western monarchs refused to participate.[32] The embassy left Europe uttering these words:

Because it has not been able to take advantage of the right moment, Europe will see the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna.[32]

Fall of Trebizond[edit]

Cassone with the "Conquest of Trebizond" by Apollonio di Giovanni di Tommaso.

The neighboring Empire of Trebizond was the last stronghold of the Byzantines after the fall of Constantinople.[35] Founded in 1204 with the support of Queen Tamar of Georgia, ancestor of George VIII, this Black Sea State was one of the closest allies of the Kingdom of Georgia.[35] Emperor John IV Megas Komnenos, who married the daughter of Alexander I, lived at the Georgian court after attempting to usurp his father's throne in 1426.[36] In communications between Georgia and Europe, the king also promised a military force of Trapezuntines to participate in a new crusade.[36]

This close alliance provoked the discontent of Mehmed II, who conquered Constantinople.[37] John IV, who feared that his city would suffer the same fate, sought Georgian military assistance.[38] The Ottomans understood, however, that the city of Trebizond was well protected by a complex series of walls and an allied fleet could save the imperial capital.[39] Konstantin Mihailović, who served in the Ottoman army, recounted the sultan's raid on Georgia to intimidate its ruler and prevent him from coming to the aid of the Trapezuntines.[39] The Ottomans managed to advance through Rioni and the North Caucasus mountains, indicating a probable attack on Kutaisi.[39]

On September 14, 1460, while the Georgian embassy was still in Europe, Mehmed II besieged Trebizond.[40] Emperor David Megas Komnenos, successor to John IV, waited in vain for help from his ally for months before finally opening the city gates on August 15, 1461, exactly two hundred years after the reconquest of Constantinople by Michael VIII Palaiologos, which put an end to the last vestige of Byzantine civilization.[41][42] Helena Kantakouzene, the emperor's consort, took refuge in Georgia, much to the sultan's anger.[43] A few years later, George, David's last surviving son, escaped from his prison in Constantinople to take refuge at the court of George VIII.[44]

Bagrat's rebellion[edit]

Extension of the Kingdom of Georgia during the government of George VIII.

Unity within the Georgian states disappeared after the failure of the king's diplomatic mission. Qvarqvare II Jaqeli formally remained a subject and associate of the king, but began encouraging Duke Bagrat of Samokalako to rebel against the king.[45] The latter was heir to the Bagrationi dynasty of western Georgia, the oldest branch of the royal family whose last ruler, Constantine II of Imereti, was overthrown by George VII of Georgia in 1401 and began to claim the throne of his ancestors.[32] Being a cousin of George VIII, the local nobility did not suspect his separatist plans, but he was soon encouraged by the powerful nobles of West Georgia.[46]

In addition to Samtskhe, Bagrat allied himself with Liparit I Dadiani, Mamia Gurieli, and the princes of Abkhazia and Svaneti, whom he promised to liberate from the central government.[47] Together, the rebels captured many fortresses in Imereti in 1462, after which George VIII abolished the Duchy of Samokalako and decided to intervene.[32] In 1463, the king crossed the Likhi mountain range and demanded military aid from Samtskhe, as he was convinced of his loyalty. Qvarqvare II landed in Imereti with his troops camped but far from the conflict zone and waited to see who would emerge victorious.[48] This reaction was generally seen as direct aid to the separatists.[49]

George VIII and Bagrat clashed at the Battle of Chikhori during which the rebels inflicted a decisive defeat on the central government forces.[47] The king retreated towards Kartli and severely punished the nobility he did not consider sufficiently loyal.[34] Meanwhile, Bagrat captured Kutaisi, the largest city in Western Georgia, and was crowned king of Imereti as Bagrat II against the great nobility of Mingrelia, Guria, Abkhazia, Samtskhe and Svaneti, but his power remained weak, even within its capital.[49][50] The Battle of Chikhori marked the beginning of the fall of the Kingdom of Georgia: its monarchs would never again control the entire country.

War against Samtskhe[edit]

Qvarqvare II Jaqeli once again began his plans for independence from Georgia.[47] He soon minted his own coins at Akhaltsikhe and was named "king" (Mepe) in his decrees, before declaring war on George VIII.[47] For this plan, he had the help of Uzun Hasan, who managed to defeat the king in 1462, according to some sources in 1461 or 1463, and occupied the region of Lori.[32][34][47] This alliance turned against Qvarqvare II when the White Sheep Turkomans devastated and sacked Samtskhe during his attack.[51]

After this defeat, the king decided to take revenge and took advantage of a visit by Qvarqvare II in Imereti, during which he recognized the crown of Bagrat, to invade his domains.[52] He received the support of the majority of the local nobility who feared the autocratic reign of Qvarqvare II and occupied the region without confrontation.[52] Qvarqvare II was forced to temporarily take refuge with the king of Imereti.[48] The absence of the king from his dominions opened the doors for Uzun Hasan to return to Georgia and in 1463 he sent his generals Tavrij Gilak and Timur to devastate Kartli.[52] The Georgian army rushed towards the enemy, but they were defeated by the invaders, as a result of which the Turkomans devastated East Georgia.[52] The kingdom quickly lost control of the situation and the eastern provinces of Shirvan, Arran and Movakan were freed from Georgian rule.[52]

Meanwhile, Qvarqvare II, together with Bagrat's troops, returned to Samtskhe to recover his domains.[48] After recovering Akhaltsikhe, he severely punished the local nobility and executed many of his enemies.[48] The nobleman Zaza Panaskerteli-Tsitsishvili took refuge at the Georgian court and became a royal advisor.[48] Subsequently, Qvarqvare II used the help of Duke Mamia Gurieli to reconquer his infidel provinces and offered him the territories of Adjara and Chaneti in exchange, solidifying the fragmentation of West Georgia.[52]

In 1465, George VIII was the victim of an assassination attempt in which his courtier, Joatham Zedginidze, succumbed to a stab wound.[52] George VIII must have elevated Joatham's eldest son, T'aqa II (or Joatham himself before he died of the wounds he had received) to the new title and offices and he offered them numerous citadels in Kartli, the title of Mouravi of Gori and the title of "generalissimo of Kartli". Following this, he decided to invade Samtskhe once again, after having achieved an alliance with the Duchy of Aragvi.[10]

They met in a decisive battle at Lake Paravani, a day after a second assassination attempt and a failed round of negotiations.[10][48] During the battle, the royalist forces were winning but Qvarqvare II managed to surround their positions.[48] The king was captured with the rest of his guard.[47][34] The young Constantine, his nephew, managed to escape and assumed command of the army, but had to retreat northwards, before being besieged at Gori by Qvarqvare II, after which he took refuge in Western Georgia.[47] George VIII was imprisoned at Akhaltsikhe, marking the end of his reign as king of Georgia.[47]

Captivity and release[edit]

Without a central power, the situation seriously degenerated within the kingdom.[51] With Constantine taking refuge in Western Georgia, the throne was vacant following the capture of George VIII.[51] The king became a hostage of Qvarqvare II Jaqeli until the first months of 1466.[53] In February 1466, Bagrat II of Imereti arrived with his army in the Georgian capital and, after offering two peasant villages to the Catholic David, was crowned king of Georgia under the name Bagrat VI of Georgia, deposing the prisoner monarch.[54][55] The new king now controlled most of Georgia, except the province of Kakheti, which rebelled against his autocratic rule and appointed the noble David of Didoeti as regional ruler.

Qvarqvare II feared the growing power of the new Georgian monarch, despite having supported his rise.[56] For Samtskhe, stability in Georgia was a threat to the separatist ambitions of the House of Jaqeli, regardless of which monarch was on the throne.[55] Qvarqvare II made an agreement with the deposed king:[48] the latter promised to forgive Samtskhe's betrayal, ensure Akhaltsikhe's autonomy, and give up claiming Western Georgia in exchange for his freedom.[57] A little-recognized version added that he was also forced to marry Princess Tamar Jaqeli, daughter of Qvarqvare II, even though he was still married to Nestan-Darejan, who resided in Tbilisi.[58]

Appointed in charge of an army of Samtskhe, he attempted to invade Kartli in 1466, but met only widespread opposition from the local nobility, who feared his revenge if he returned to power.[56][53] Defeated at Kartli, he set out with Qvarqvare II and his troops towards Kakheti, then under the control of David of Didoeti.[57][56] In this province of East Georgia, he received the support of the petty nobility, probably as a tribute to his previous term as governor of this province.[56] He soon defeated its ruler, despite his military support from King Bagrat VI, and was expelled to the mountainous regions of Kakheti, having to remain in the center of the region to consolidate his power and not being able to achieve it.[54][59] Qvarqvare II returned to Samtskhe and declared its independence and George VIII remained in Kakheti, which aggravated the Georgian division.[57][55]

King of Kakheti[edit]

Patriarch Nikolaoz, king George VIII and his son Alexander. A miniature by Rossi based on the 17th century fresco from Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (1830s)

In 1465 George was crowned king of Kakheti at the Bodbe Monastery, as George I, However, he fought to have his authority recognized at the time of his accession and, despite his recognition as monarch by David's mountain province of Didoeti in exchange for his freedom, the other northern peoples remained formally subject to the Kingdom of Georgia.[60] Thus, Khevsureti, Tusheti and Pshavi only named him lord of Kakheti and only after an agreement with Bagrat VI did these provinces enter the dominions of George I.[60]

Faced with a great nobility hostile to the idea of Kakheti's independence, he formed a series of alliances with the peasant class, the lords of the lower nobility and his former enemy, Bagrat VI.[56] With the latter, he agreed to a military partnership around 1467 to help him in the conflict he waged against Constantine, his former protégé who also claimed the Georgian crown, in exchange for the recognition of Kakheti as an independent kingdom.[56] Both kings invaded Kartli and expelled it from central Georgia, allowing Bagrat VI to recover Tbilisi and his crown.[56] A detachment of royal forces was subsequently sent to capture the stubborn nobles of Kakheti and assist George I in solidify his power.[56]

After an attempted rebellion to put David of Didoeti on the throne in 1470, George I undertook to reform the Kakheti system of government to end the power of the nobility. He abolished the semi-autonomous duchies and established a series of prefectures, including Kiziki, Elisseni, Tsoukheti, Didoeti, Tianeti, Tchiaouri, Shilda, Kvareli, Martqopi, Gremi and Pankisi.[60] These were headed by Mouravis appointed by the king who were responsible for collecting taxes and bring them back to the capital, Gremi. These prefects were changed regularly, abolishing the power of the hereditary nobility. He subsequently organized a military reform, dividing the kingdom into four districts called Sadrosho, each with its troops led by a bishop appointed by the king, a big difference from Western Georgia, where the troops were commanded by powerful hereditary princes.[61][56]

He also promoted the abbot of the Alaverdi Monastery to the status of bishop, he offered him a diocese and placed him at the head of the other regional bishops. While Kakheti continued to recognize the supremacy of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the reform converted the province into an autonomous region within the Catholicosate. The city of Gremi was elevated to the status of capital and the king expanded and strengthened the city and repealed the autonomy of the province, as well as the name Hereti.[60] These reforms managed to preserve peace and stability within the kingdom during decades, eliminating the great problem of the rebellious nobility that Kingdom of Kartli and Kingdom of Imereti had to face until the 18th century.

Internationally, the situation in Kakheti, which bordered Aq Qoyunlu, continued to be more complex. Uzun Hasan soon invaded the kingdom and devastated the provinces of Kherki, Saguramo, Martqopi and Tianeti, and George I was forced to recognize him as his lord to ensure peace and had to pay him an annual tribute of slaves of both sexes. In the 1470s, he refused to help his neighbor Kartli when the Turkomans devastated the region and secured peace. for his kingdom by diplomatic means.[60] According to Vakhushti of Kartli, he spent his last years in vain trying to reconquer the rest of Georgia.[54]

George I died in 1476. He left his eldest son, Alexander, on the throne, associated as co-ruler from 1460.[62]

Marriage and children[edit]

George VIII's royal charters make mention of two names of his consort, Tamar (fl. 1453) and Nestan-Darejan (fl. 1458–1463). Two explanations exist to account for this. One of them, suggested by Cyril Toumanoff, has it that both names were borne by the same woman, a daughter of Bagrat, son of Constantine I of Georgia, and, thus a first cousin of George VIII, whom she married in 1445. Such polyonymy was not infrequent in Georgia, Toumanoff explains, reflecting the twofold cultural background of the country, "Hellenistic-Christian on the one hand, and Caucasio-Iranoid, on the other." She is last mentioned in 1510.[63]

An alternative view, enjoying a more general currency in Georgia, holds it that George VIII was married twice, first to Tamar, sometimes thought to have been daughter of Qvarqvare II Jaqeli, Atabeg of Samtskhe, whom he wed c. 1445 and, secondly to Nestan-Darejan, of unknown origin, whom the king took as his wife sometime before 1456. According to this version, George had a son, Vakhtang, and two daughters; and a son, Aleksandre, and a daughter, Mariam, by Nestan-Darejan.[64]

George VIII's children were:

  • Prince Vakhtang (c. 1445 – before 1510), a "provincial king", he was married to the certain Gulkan;
  • Princess Elene, married to Spiridon Beenashvili, a nobleman from Meskheti;
  • Princess Keteon (Kristine), married to Vakhushti Shalikahsvili, a nobleman from Samtskhe;
  • Prince Alexander (1445 or c. 1456 – 1511), King of Kakheti (1476–1511);
  • Princess Mariam (fl. 1465), married to Prince Giorgi Shaburidze, son of Vamek, Duke of Argavi. She is identified by C. Toumanoff with the anonymous daughter of George VIII betrothed in 1451 to Constantine XI, the last Byzantine emperor, who was killed in the fall of Constantinople two years later, before the marriage could be consummated.

In historical fiction[edit]

  • Emanuele Rizzardi, L'ultimo Paleologo. PubMe Editore, 2017



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Further reading[edit]

Preceded by King of Georgia
Succeeded by
Bagrat VI (usurper)
Preceded by
New creation
King of Kakheti
Succeeded by