Lazica

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Kingdom of Lazica
ეგრისის სამეფო
131 AD–697 AD
kingdom of Lazica in IV-V cc.AD
kingdom of Lazica in IV-V cc.AD
StatusKingdom
CapitalArchaeopolis
Common languagesZan, Georgian
Greek (religious)
Religion
Eastern Orthodox(Pre Schism)
King 
• 131 AD
Malassas (first)
• 696/697
Sergius (last)
Historical eraClassical antiquity
• Established
131 AD
• vassal of Roman Empire
3rd to 5th century
• Lazic War
541 to 562 AD
• annexation of Lazica by Byzantine Empire
7th
• Disestablished
697 AD
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Roman Empire
Kingdom of Abkhazia
Today part of
Countries today

Lazica (Georgian: ეგრისი, Egrisi; Laz: ლაზიკა, Laziǩa; Greek: Λαζική, Lazikí; Persian: لازستان, Lâzestân) was the kingdom in the territory of west Georgia in the Roman/Byzantine period, from about the 1st century BC. Created as a result of the collapse of the kingdom of Colchis and the gaining of independence by the tribal-territorial units included in it in 131 ad.

Name[edit]

In the Svan language, the Svans refer to the Mingrelia(Samegrelo) region as Lazan, La- is the Svan territorial prefix and Lazan means "the land of the Zans".[1]

History[edit]

By the mid-3rd century, Lazica was given partial autonomy within the Roman Empire and developed into a kingdom. Throughout much of its existence, it was mainly a Byzantine strategic vassal kingdom that briefly came under Sasanian Persian rule during the Lazic War. The kingdom fell to the Muslim conquest in the 7th century. Lazica in the 8th century successfully repelled the Arab occupation and formed part of the Kingdom of Abkhazia from c. 780, one of the early medieval polities which would converge into the unified kingdom of Georgia in the 11th century.

Ecclesiastical history[edit]

In the early 4th century, the Christian eparchy (eastern bishopric) of Pityus was established in this kingdom, and as in neighboring Iberia Christianity was declared as an official religion in AD 319.[2][3] Other ancient episcopal sees in Lazica include Rhodopolis,[4] Saesina,[5] and Zygana.[6] Bishop Stratophilus of Pityus was among the participants of the First Council of Nicaea in 325. The first Christian king of Lazica was Gubazes I; in the 5th century, Christianity was made the official religion of Lazica. Later, the nobility and clergy of Lazica switched from the Hellenic ecclesiastic tradition to the Georgian, and Georgian became the language of culture and education. The Bichvinta Cathedral is one of oldest monuments of Georgian Christian architecture. It was constructed by King Bagrat III of Georgia (978-1014, an Orthodox saint).[7]

Cities and forts[edit]

The information about the cities of Lazica were preserved in the works of Byzantine historians.[8] The list of cities mentioned in Byzantine sources were:

The most significant fertile and rich area of Lazica was the Rioni river valley. A densely populated part of the territory of Colchis, where most of the Laz cities were located.[9] In the IV-V centuries AD large cities appeared in Lazica such as: Archeopolis, Rhodopolis and Kotayon, and the population of the coastal areas increased, mainly in the areas of Phasis.[10]

The architecture of the fortresses of Lazica, located at the key points of the main trade and military routes from the shores of the Black Sea to Iran, show the influence of Byzantine architecture[8]

Economy[edit]

Maritime trade played a significant role in the country's economy, the center of which was the port of Phasis.[11] Trade was carried out mainly with Pontus and Bosporus (Crimea), which were under Roman control at the time. Leather, fur and other raw materials, as well as slaves, were exported from the country in large quantities. In exchange, they imported salt, bread, wine, expensive fabrics and weapons.[12] It is believed that the destruction of free trade and the introduction of a monopoly by the Romans in Lazica was one of the reasons for the Lazic war.[12]

Rulers[edit]

Ruler Reign Notes
1. Malassas mentioned by Arrian in 131 vassal of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
2. Pacorus a contemporary of the Antoninus Pius (r. 138–161) his name is found on a coin issued by him.
3. Gubazes I attested c. 456 – 466
4. Damnazes ?–521/522
5. Tzath I attested 521/522 – 527/528
6. Opsites dates of reign unknown, likely some time before 541
7. Gubazes II c. 541 – 555
8. Tzath II 556–?
9. Lebarnicius c. 662 mentioned as "patricius of Lazica" in the

Hypomnensticum of Theodosius and Theodore of Gangra

10. Grigor 670 – c. 675
11. Sergius c. 696/697

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ W. E. D. Allen - A History of the Georgian People from the Beginning Down to the Russian Conquest in the Nineteenth Century
  2. ^ E. Glenn Hinson, The Church Triumphant: A History of Christianity Up to 1300. p 223
  3. ^ George Hewitt, Georgian Reader. p. xii
  4. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 959
  5. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013, p. 979
  6. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013, p. 1013
  7. ^ W.E.D. Allen, A history of the Georgian people (1932), p. 276.
  8. ^ a b Berdzenishvili, Nikolai (1958). Early feudal states of Transcaucasia in the III-VII centuries. Academy of Sciences of the USSR. p. 278.
  9. ^ Melikishvili, G; Lortkipanidze, O (1989). Essays on the history of Georgia : In eight volumes : Volume I. Tbilisi: Metsniereba. p. 213. ISBN 978-5-520-00498-1.
  10. ^ Braund, David (1994). Georgia in antiquity : a history of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 BC-AD 562. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 278. ISBN 0-19-814473-3.
  11. ^ Kudryavtsev, O.V. (1956). Lazika in the III - IV centuries. // World History: In ten volumes (S. L. Utchenko (executive editor), D. P. Kallistov , A. I. Pavlovskaya , V. V. Struve . ed.). M.: Politizdat. pp. 774–775.
  12. ^ a b Berdzenishvili N. A, Javakhishvili I. A, Janashia S. N. (1946). History of Georgia: from ancient times to the beginning of the 19th century: Part I. Georgian SSR: State. publishing house. pp. 101, 118.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)