George VIII of Georgia
George VIII (1417–1476) was a king of Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, though already fragmentised and dragged into a fierce civil war, from 1446 to 1465. Defeated by his rivals, he was left with an eastern province Kakheti
Kingdom of Kakheti
The Kingdom of Kakheti was a late medieval/early modern monarchy in eastern Georgia, centered at the province of Kakheti, with its capital first at Gremi and then at Telavi...

 alone, where he reigned as George I from 1465 until his death, founding a local branch of the Bagrationi royal house.


He was the third son of Alexander I of Georgia
Alexander I of Georgia
Alexander I, “the Great” , of the Bagrationi house, was king of Georgia from 1412 to 1442. Despite his efforts to restore the country from the ruins left by the Turco-Mongol warlord Timur Leng’s invasions, Georgia never recovered and faced the inevitable fragmentation that was followed by a long...

 by his second wife Tamar. Though Demetre, Alexander’s second son, seems to have been a rightful successor to his elder brother Vakhtang IV
Vakhtang IV of Georgia
Vakhtang IV , of the Bagrationi dynasty, was King of Georgia from 1442 until his death.Vakhtang was the eldest son of Alexander I of Georgia by his first wife Dulandukht. He was raised to the co-kingship by his father in 1433...

, George actually held power after Vakhtang’s death in December 1446. The process of the disintegration of the Georgian kingdom had already begun and was close to reach its climax. The most troublesome were revolts by the western Georgian nobles and the atabeg
Atabeg, Atabek, or Atabey is a hereditary title of nobility of Turkic origin, indicating a governor of a nation or province who was subordinate to a monarch and charged with raising the crown prince...

s of Samtskhe. The latter even attempted to create a separate church for his princedom, but the efforts of the Georgian Catholicos Patriarch David IV prevented the Georgian Orthodox Church from being split into two.

George’s reign coincided with a major turning point in Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

 history: in 1453 the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

 conquered Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 and put an end to the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, with the emperor Constantine XI
Constantine XI
Constantine XI Palaiologos, latinized as Palaeologus , Kōnstantinos XI Dragasēs Palaiologos; February 8, 1404 – May 29, 1453) was the last reigning Byzantine Emperor from 1449 to his death as member of the Palaiologos dynasty...

, to whom George’s daughter was betrothed, dying in battle. The Georgian politicians, preoccupied in their own power struggle, seem to have underestimated the event which would leave Georgia isolated from Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 for almost the three subsequent centuries. Yet, Georgia was considered as a possible participant of a large anti-Ottoman crusade planned by the Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 Pius II and Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

an powers. For this purpose, Ludovicus Bologninus was sent to hold talks in Georgia and George VIII agreed a truce with his internal opponents. The Georgians hoped to mobilise in total 120,000 soldiers and proposed even to continue the Crusade on Jerusalem. The coalition was never formed, however, and the fratricidal struggles within Georgia were soon resumed.

In 1462, George took Samokalako (Kutaisi
Kutaisi is Georgia's second largest city and the capital of the western region of Imereti. It is 221 km to the west of Tbilisi.-Geography:...

 and the surrounding area) from its owner, a royal kinsman, Bagrat
Bagrat VI of Georgia
Bagrat VI , a representative of the Imeretian branch of the Bagrationi royal house, was a king of Imereti from 1463, and a king of Georgia from 1465 until his death.-Life:...

 for his support to the rebel prince Qvarqvare II Jakeli, a powerful atabeg
Atabeg, Atabek, or Atabey is a hereditary title of nobility of Turkic origin, indicating a governor of a nation or province who was subordinate to a monarch and charged with raising the crown prince...

 of Samtskhe. In 1463, Bagrat allied himself with other oppositionist royal subjects, dukes (eristavi
Eristavi was a Georgian feudal office, roughly equivalent to the Byzantine strategos and normally translated into English as "duke". In the Georgian aristocratic hierarchy, it was the title of the third rank of prince and governor of a large province...

) of Mingrelia
Principality of Mingrelia
The Principality of Mingrelia was a historical state in Georgia ruled by the Dadiani dynasty. Established as an independent Principality in 1557 by Levan I Dadiani as a hereditary mtavari , it remained independent until it became subject to Imperial Russia in 1803...

, Guria
Principality of Guria
The Principality of Guria was a historical state in Georgia. Centered on modern-day Guria, a southwestern region in Georgia, it was located between the Black Sea and Lesser Caucasus, and was ruled by a succession of twenty-two princes of the House of Gurieli from the 1460s to 1829. The...

, Svaneti
Principality of Svaneti
The Principality of Svaneti was a small principality in the Greater Caucasus mountains that emerged following the breakup of the Kingdom of Georgia in the late 15th century...

 and Abkhazia
Principality of Abkhazia
The Principality of Abkhazia emerged as a separate feudal entity in the 15th-16th centuries, amid the civil wars in the Kingdom of Georgia that concluded with the dissolution of the unified Georgian monarchy...

. The rebels met and defeated the king at the Battle of Chikhori
Battle of Chikhori
The Battle of Chikhori was fought between the armies of King George VIII of Georgia and the rebellious nobles led by a royal kinsman Bagrat in 1463...

. Subsequently, the king lost all western provinces and Bagrat was crowned king of Imereti
Kingdom of Imereti
The Kingdom of Imereti was established in 1455 by a member of the house of Bagration when the Kingdom of Georgia was dissolved into rival kingdoms. Before that time, Imereti was considered a separate kingdom within the Kingdom of Georgia, to which a cadet branch of the Bagration royal family held...

. In 1465, George attempted to subdue Qvarqvare II of Samtskhe, only to be attacked and taken prisoner at Lake Paravani. The situation was immediately exploited by Bagrat of Imereti, who seized control of Tbilisi
Tbilisi is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mt'k'vari River. The name is derived from an early Georgian form T'pilisi and it was officially known as Tiflis until 1936...

 and declared himself king of Georgia. Atabeg Qvarqvare, who now considered Bagrat as his major rival, freed George. The latter, unsuccessful in his attempt to recover his crown, was only able to establish himself as a separate king in the easternmost province of Kakheti
Kakheti is a historical province in Eastern Georgia inhabited by Kakhetians who speak a local dialect of Georgian. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north, Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and...

. There, he substantially reorganised the administration, subdividing the kingdom into much smaller and easily controllable samouravo (counties) instead of autonomous saeristavo (duchies). Unlike to other Georgian polities, he put ecclesiastic lords (bishops of Bodbe
Bodbe Monastery
The Monastery of St. Nino at Bodbe is a Georgian Orthodox monastic complex and the seat of the Bishops of Bodbe located 2 km from the town of Sighnaghi, Kakheti, Georgia. Originally built in the 9th century, it has been significantly remodeled, especially in the 17th century...

, Alaverdi
Alaverdi (monastery)
Alaverdi Monastery is a Georgian Orthodox monastery located 25 km from Akhmeta, in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia. Parts of the monastery date back to 6th century...

, Rustavi
Rustavi is a city in the southeast of Georgia, in the province of Kvemo Kartli, situated southeast of the capital Tbilisi. It stands on the Mtkvari River at...

, and Nekresi
Nekresi , historic town in Kakheti, Georgia, in modern day Kvareli Municipality, near the village Shilda. The town was established by king Pharnajom . In 4th century AD, king Thrdat built a church in this place. This church became a refuge to one of the Assyrian fathers, Abibus, in the late 6th...

), generally more loyal to the crown then secular nobles, in charge of special military districts, sadrosho.

He died in 1476 to be succeeded by Alexander I
Alexander I of Kakheti
Alexander I , of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 1476 to 1511. Alexander's pliancy and flexible diplomacy earned him security from the neighboring powers, only to be murdered by his own son George II "the Bad".- Biography :Alexander was appointed by his father...

 as king of Kakheti.

Family and children

He was married twice, first to Tamar (ca 1445), and then to Nestan-Darejan (ca 1456) who bore him a son, the future King Alexander I of Kakheti, and a daughter (anonymous) who was betrothed to the Byzantine emperor Constantine XI
Constantine XI
Constantine XI Palaiologos, latinized as Palaeologus , Kōnstantinos XI Dragasēs Palaiologos; February 8, 1404 – May 29, 1453) was the last reigning Byzantine Emperor from 1449 to his death as member of the Palaiologos dynasty...

, killed at the siege of Constantinople in 1453. He is sometimes speculated to have three more children – two sons and a daughter.

Further reading

  • Ronald Grigor Suny
    Ronald Grigor Suny
    Ronald Grigor Suny is currently director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies and the Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History at the University of Michigan, as well as Emeritus Professor of political science and history at the University of Chicago...

    , The Making of the Georgian Nation: 2nd edition (December 1994), Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-20915-3, page 45-46
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.