THE HISTORY OF GEORGIA
Georgia is situated at the juncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the east by Azerbaijan. Georgia covers an area of 69,875 square kilometers.
COLCHIS AND IBERIAN KINGDOMS
The two early Georgian Kingdoms of late antiquity were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Iberia in East Georgia and Colchis in West Georgia. The kingdom of Colchis was the oldest kingdom at the end of the second millennium, situated in the west of the state. In Greek Mythology, Colchis was home to the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in Apollonius Rhodius’s epic tale Argonautica. It was a fabulously wealthy land the kingdom of gold. Their Late Bronze Age (15th to 8th Century BC) saw the development of an expertise in the smelting and casting of metals that began long before this skill was mastered in Europe. All this items belonging to that period are presented in Tbilisi Historical Museum, discovered during the archeological excavations in the town of Vani.
Iberia also known as Iveria was a name given by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli (4th century BC-5th century AD) located in the east part of the state. The chief town and the capital of these was Mtskheta that was also the location where Christianity was proclaimed as the official religion of Georgia in 337. Nowadays the historic churches of Mtskheta, are outstanding examples of medieval religious architecture in the Caucasus and UNESCO world heritage site. Later the capital of Iberian kingdom became Tbilisi, founded by Vakhtang Gorgasali. King Vakhtang was remarkable in faith, wisdom, grace, virtue, and appearance. During his reign and with his petition Georgian Orthodox Church, under the patronage of Byzantine Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople, was granted the self governance (Autocefaly), in the middle of V centuries. Some fifteen centuries later, The King Vakhtang was canonized by Georgian Orthodox Church.
GOLDEN AGE IN GEORGIA
The Kingdom of Georgia was a medieval monarchy established in 975 by Bagrat III. The kingdom flourished during the 11th and 12th centuries, during the reign of Bagrationi royal family. This period of time, particularly the reigns of David IV (1089-1125) and his great granddaughter Tamar (1184-1213), is celebrated as a “golden age” in the history of Georgia, the era of empire, military exploits, and remarkable achievements in culture.
A major figure in Georgia’s political, cultural and ecclesiastical history. Under his leadership Georgia became the strongest state in Caucasia expending its boundaries from Nikopsia (black sea) to Darubandi (Caspian sea). The Army and governance reforms made by him in the system, allowed the country to reunite. David, managed the final expulsion of Seljuk Turks from the country through the significant victory of Didgori battle in 1121. A friend of the church and a notable promoter of Christian culture, He founded the Gelati Monastery Complex (started in 1106) and one of the important cultural centers – the first Academy within the Complex. Later he was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church for his greatest efforts for the state.
The reign of Queen Tamar represented the peak of Georgia’s might in the whole history of the nation, her position as the first woman to rule Georgia in her own right was emphasized by the title Mepe (“king“). Besides the political and military achievements, it was marked by the development of Georgian culture, including architecture, literature, philosophy and sciences. This is the period of creation of Georgian famous poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin” by Shota Rustaveli. She remains an important symbol in Georgian popular culture and has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church as the Holy Righteous King Tamar.
GEORGE V BRILLIANT OF GEORGIA
Commonly known as Giorgi Brdsqinvale or George the Brilliant, spans an eventful period in the history of the Near East. 1299 – 1346 H.M. The Most High King Giorgi V Birtsqinvali, King of the Abkhazis, Kartvelians, Ranians, Kakhetians and the Shirvanshah and Shahanshah and Master of all the East and West, King of Georgia. Reigned under the regency of the Grand Vizier Choban, until 1314. The King carried out military reform brilliantly and Georgia’s military strength was impressive during George V the Brilliant’s rule. He stopped paying tribute and drove the Mongols out Georgia. He united Georgia once again, centralized royal power, revived the economy, and established close international commercial ties, mainly with Byzantium, but also with Venice and Genoa.
EREKLE II OF GEORGIA
Erekle II ascended the throne of Kartli-Kakheti (modern-day central Georgia) in 1762. The penultimate king of the united kingdom’s of Kakheti and Kartli in eastern Georgia, his reign is regarded as the swan song of the Georgian monarchy. Erekle reunited the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti but under his rule, the majority of Georgian Kingdoms were in the hands of Muslims. Erekle sought strategic ties with Western Europe, but at the time, the European powers could discern no political or economic advantage and the king turned to Russia almost as a substitute for the West for military protection. This period is known in history of Georgia as the “Treaty of Georgievsk” of 1783, a friendly treaty between Russian and Georgian kingdom which made Georgia a protectorate of Russia. Erekle died in 1798 at the age of 77. Soon in 1801 the country was annexed by Russia, receiving a status of guberniya (the Government of Georgia) for the next 117 years. Georgia was strategically interesting for Russian Empire, in order to achieve its objectives in the Black Sea and Southeastern Europe.
GEORGIA UNDER THE SOVIET UNION
In 1918 Georgia declared the independence from Russian Empire, soon after the October revolution in 1917. As the independent state Georgia has continued existence as an independent state only 3 years, concluded with arrival of the Red Army in February 1921 and establishment of the Soviet power. Joseph Stalin (was born in Gori, Georgia) headed the Sovietization of the country, who later rose to power as General Secretary of the Communist Party. The communist concept was based on the socialist ideology of universal values refusing all national. During the World War II the country contributed almost 700,000 fighters (350,000 were killed) to the Red Army. In the 70-ies it is becoming evident the crisis of the Soviet Union, that culminates with the collapse of the republic by the end 80-ies.
THE IDEPENDENCE FROM RUSSIA
Georgian people were celebrating the independence from URRS on May 26 in 1989. On October 28, 1990, democratic parliamentary elections were held, and on November 15 the nation was renamed the “Republic of Georgia.” The independence was declared on April 9, 1991, under the first president of the state Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The 1992-93 began Georgia-Abkhazia war following the collapse and declaration of independence, encouraged by Abkhazian separatists with Russian support. In 1991, Eduard Shevardnadze returned briefly as Soviet foreign minister, only to see the Soviet Union collapse. The overthrow of Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia in January 1992 left a leadership vacuum that Shevardnadze filled on his return to Georgia in March as chairman of the State Council and in 1995 he was elected as the president of Georgia.
In November 2003, a revolution took place in Georgia. Not one person was injured, not a drop of blood was spilled. The outcome of the revolution was the resignation of Shevardnadze and the uncontested rise to power of Mikheil Saakashvili and National Movement. From 25 January 2004 to 17 November 2013 Mikheil Saakashvili occupied the Georgian president post.