Georgia in Antiquity and Early Middle Ages
Since the 6th century BC Greek sources reported on the state formation in western Georgia (Greek Colchis, Georgian Egressi) with the capital Aea (or Aia, today Kutaisi), since the 4th century BC. Over the east Georgian Iberia (Georgian Kartli) with the capital Mzcheta (or Armasiziche).
By the 1st century BC Egressi belonged to Iran’s sphere of influence, but at the same time came under strong Hellenistic influence due to its trade connections with the Greek cities on the Black Sea coast. Under Pompey , Roman influence extended over Colchis and Iberia (66–63 BC). Christianity was introduced in the east Georgian town of Kartli in the first half of the 4th century (state religion around 337) and was confronted here since the 2nd half of the 4th century with the rule of the Sassanids and the counter-mission of Mazdaism (Parsism) promoted by them. A successful uprising under Wachtang I. Gorgassali (“Wolf’s Head”) in 483 ended with a peace treaty that recognized Georgian self-government. Wachtangpacified the mountain tribes, consolidated the Cartlian borders and united the nobility.
In western Georgia the Lasen gained greater power from the 2nd century onwards. a. after the subjugation of the neighboring Abkhazians to the north in the 4th century. Their kingdom, called Lasika by the Romans, was politically attached to Rome, later mostly to Byzantium, from where it was Christianized at the beginning of the 6th century. After the end of the Lasen Empire (middle of the 6th century), western Georgia continued to be under Byzantine influence; alienation came, however, when in Byzantium, during the iconoclasm, the anti-image direction initially rejected in Georgia prevailed.
The consequences of the conquest by the Arabs in the 7th century (654/55 invasion of eastern Georgia and the establishment of an emirate in Tbilisi that existed until 1122) were the obligation to pay tribute, the first waves of Islamization and – after the uprising – the liquidation of the nobility.
Georgia under the Bagratids
Since the end of the 8th century, three territorial kingdoms were formed on the periphery of Georgia: Kakheti (east), Abkhazia (northwest) and Tao-Klardschetien (southwest), the latter two under the rule of the Armenian-Georgian noble family, who had been rising since the 8th century Bagratids (Georgian Bagrationi). In 912 the Emir of Tbilisi proclaimed himself an independent ruler. A unification movement began from southwest Georgia under the Bagratid dynasty (since 786); as a result emerged under Bagrat III. (* around 963, † 1014; King 975 / 1008-1014) a state that united Tao-Klardschetien, Abkhazia and soon also Kakheti (»Sakartwelo«). In 1074 and 1080 the Seljuks devastated parts of Georgia, King Georgi II. (* Around 1050, † 1112; 1072–89) had to leave Eastern Georgia to them and pay tribute. Dawit IV. Aqmaschenebeli (the restorer or builder; * 1073, † 1125, King 1089–1125, also called David II or David III according to another count) succeeded in recapturing the parts of the country occupied by the Seljuks with the help of an elite force formed from Kipchaks (Decisive battle near Didgori, province of Kartli; August 14, 1121); for the first time he expanded Georgian rule beyond the settlement borders (expulsion of the Seljuks from northeast Armenia and Shirvan) and strengthened the Georgian empire internally through reforms in administration, the legal system and the church. Under Dawitand Queen Tamar the Great(1184-1213) the country experienced a golden age (spiritual and spiritual centers were the court monastery and academy Gelati near Kutaisi in the west and Iqalto monastery in Kakheti in the east) and reached its greatest extent from the Black to the Caspian Sea. By the Mongols (1221, 1235–39) and their successors (several invasions of the armies of Timurat the end of the 14th century) Georgia was devastated, depopulated and repopulated. The rise of the Ottomans and their dispute over the claims to power of Persia as well as the disintegration of the old trade routes isolated the region from Europe; Economic decline, dynastic weakness and alliances of convenience let Georgia disintegrate into several small kingdoms and principalities from the middle of the 15th century, which were dependent on the Ottoman Empire in the west and the Persian Empire in the east. It was not until the 18th century that a new process of centralization began. Watchtang VI. (* 1675, † 1737; King of Kartlien 1703–16 and 1719–24) founded the first printing company, had current legislation collected and codified Georgian constitutional law (Dasturlamal). The hope of liberating itself from Turkish-Muslim domination with Russian help remained unfulfilled. Only King Teimuras II (* 1680, † 1762; 1744–62) and his son Erekle II (* 1721, † 1798; King of Kakheti 1744–98, from 1762 also of Kartlien) finally expelled the Ottomans from Eastern Georgia and won even over Iran; This enabled them to consolidate the state, which was supposed to be supported by Russia as a protective power.
Georgia in the Russian Empire
In the Georgievsk Treaty (1783), according to programingplease, Erekle II placed Kartli-Kakhetia under Russian protectorate, but reserved domestic political autonomy. The King of Imeretia, Solomon II (the Great, * 1773, † 1815; reign 1784 / 89–1810), whose empire has been linked to Eastern Georgia by a military assistance pact since 1758 (reign of Solomon I [* 1735, † 1784]) was, refused any negotiations, while Russia did not fulfill its obligations when it came to wars with Persia in 1791/92 and 1795 (destruction of Tbilisi by Shah Agha Mohammad Khan [* 1742, † 1797]). After the death of Georgi XII. (* 1746, † 1801; King 1799–1800) annexed Russia in 1801 Kartli-Kakheti, in 1810 the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti, in 1830 Guria, in 1864 Abkhazia and in 1867 Mingrelia. The onset of Russification was directed against the Georgian Church, which was subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Synod, in 1811 with the lifting of autocephaly. In 1817 a Russian exarch was appointed; With him, the Georgian liturgical language was replaced by Church Slavonic, the church furnishings were changed in accordance with Russian Orthodox customs, and the assets of the churches and monasteries were confiscated. Russians were given the most important offices, the Georgian universities were closed and Georgian was replaced by Russian as the official and teaching language. Several uprisings (including 1802, 1819, 1832) were suppressed, thereafter a compromise-ready direction, cooperating with the Russian supremacy, prevailed. Under Governor General (1844 / 45–54) Michail Semjonowitsch Voronzow (* 1782, † 1856) opened up freedom for the Georgian idea of emancipation; as its advocates, aristocrats and intellectuals appeared under the slogan “Fatherland, Language, Faith” (the most famous representative was the writer I. Chavchavadze). Forced to study abroad by the suppression of the Georgian higher education system, Georgian youth from Russian and Western European universities returned to their homeland with the ideas of Marxism and liberalism. At the beginning of the 20th century, the “national awakening” was closely related to socialist-Menshevik ideas; Georgian politicians played an important role in the Dumas of Tsarist Russia 1906-17.
The emergence of the Georgian Republic
After the collapse of the Russian Empire and the October Revolution, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan joined forces on November 28, 1917 under the leadership of Yevgeny Petrovich Gegechkori (* 1881, † 1954) to form a Transcaucasian Commissariat (three Georgians, three Muslims, three Armenians, two Russians) together, which was ruled by a “Sejm” (Landtag) in Tbilisi. The Georgian Mensheviks set the political tone in this short-lived union. On April 22, 1918 the Sejm declared the independence of the Transcaucasus from the Russian Empire and in Tbilisi called the “Transcaucasian Democratic Federal Republic” under Prime Minister Akaki Ivanovich Tschchenkeli (* 1874, † 1959?)whose government, however, failed due to the different interests of the national forces, especially with regard to the relationship with Turkey and to territorial demands (including Brest-Litovsk). On May 26, 1918, the Georgian National Council, under the leadership of the Social Democratic Mensheviks, proclaimed the independence of the Georgian Republic, which was recognized two days later in a temporary agreement by Germany and on May 7, 1920 by Soviet Russia. However, Georgia’s acceptance into the League of Nations failed because of the hesitant attitude of the great powers. In an additional point to the peace pact with Soviet Russia, Georgia had to undertake to recognize the Bolshevik groups on its territory.