Georgian tsars begged to be accepted into Russian citizenship


Alaverdi monastery

Georgia asks for Russian patronage

After the end of the Troubles in Russia, the Georgian tsars and the prince again began to ask for the protection of Russia.

In 1619, the Kakhetian king Teimuraz asked the Russian sovereign Mikhail Fedorovich to protect him from the persecution of the Persians. Moscow, respecting the request of the Georgian ruler, asked Shah Abas not to oppress Georgia. Shah satisfied the desire of the Russian kingdom.

In 1636, Teimuraz asked Moscow for patronage and military assistance. The Russian embassy arrived at Tsar Teimuraz. And he signed a kissing record in 1639.

In 1638, the Megrelian prince Leonty asked Moscow for patronage.

In 1648, the Tsar of Imereti Alexander III asked the Russian sovereign to accept him, along with the kingdom, into citizenship.

In 1651, the Russian embassy (Tolochanov and Ievlev) was received in Imereti. On September 14, the Imeretian Tsar Alexander kissed the cross of allegiance to Moscow, on October 9 he signed a kissing record:

“I, Tsar Alexander, kiss this holy and life-giving cross of the Lord … and with all his state of being the great sovereign of my Tsar and the Great Prince Alexei Mikhailovich of all Russia, the autocrat in all his sovereign will and in eternal servitude forever relentless, and henceforth, whom will God give to the sovereign of children will give “.

In 1653, Tsar Teimuraz sent his only remaining heir to Russia – his grandson Heraclius.

In 1659, the rulers of the Tushins, Khevsurs and Pshavs (ethnographic groups of Georgians) sent a request to the Russian Tsar Alexei to accept them as citizenship.

In 1658, Teimuraz went to Moscow and asked for military assistance. Soon the Persians seized Teimuraz and rotted away in prison. However, the Russian state at this time was solving a more important task – there was a difficult and long war with Poland for the West Russian lands. And after the victory over the Poles, Russia grabbed hold of Ukraine and Turkey (Russo-Turkish War of 1672-1681). The western and southwestern strategic directions were a priority.

Russia had no time for the Caucasus yet.

The threat of complete destruction of Eastern Georgia

At this time, an even more complicated situation developed in Kakheti.

Shah Abbas II began to populate Kakheti with Turks (Turkmens). About 80 thousand people were resettled. The depopulated Georgia found itself under the threat of complete assimilation and cultural and ethnic degeneration. The Turkmens were engaged in cattle breeding and seized the flat lands. Blooming fields, orchards, vineyards were turned into pastures.

The Georgians were under the threat of death due to the destruction of the basis of their economy. The mountain tribes of the Tushins, Khevsurs and Pshavs also came under attack. They exchanged livestock products with farmers. During the military threat, the inhabitants of the plains fled to the mountains, the highlanders took them for a while. The invasion of the Turkmens also threatened Kartli. In fact, Eastern Georgia could soon disappear.

In 1659-1660, the people revolted. The rebellion was supported by the Tushins, Khevsurs and Pshavs.

The Georgians defeated the Turkmen and occupied the two main strongholds of the enemy – the Bakhtrioni fortress and the Alaverdi monastery. The surviving Turks fled from Georgia.

The people were saved.

However, by order of the enraged shah, the Kartli king Vakhtang had to execute one of the leaders of the uprising, Eristav Zaal. Eristav – a major feudal lord, the ruler of the province, the Georgian aristocratic hierarchy, this title occupied the third place after kings and sovereign princes.

Other leaders of the rebels (Shalva, Elizbar and Bidzina) themselves came to the Persian Shah to save the people from invasion. They were tortured to death by the Persians. Subsequently, these heroes were canonized. After the Bakhtrion uprising, Kakheti was also subordinated to Vakhtang, who converted to Islam.

Meanwhile, the grandson of Teimuraz, Tsarevich Irakli, returned to Georgia from Russia. He raised an uprising against Tsar Vakhtang. However, he could not win up over Vakhtang. He allowed Irakli to flee to Russia (he did not want to spoil relations with Moscow).

After the death of Tsar Vakhtang V, the Persians handed over the throne to Tsarevich George, although Archil should have inherited it. Offended Archil with his children left for Russia in 1683. He asked to give him an army to win back the patrimony. But Russia at that time was bound by the Turkish problem.

Archil returned to Georgia and tried to capture Imereti. In 1691 he managed to take the capital of Kutaisi. He could not hold out for a long time, he was expelled by the Turks. He returned to Moscow and lived there until his death in 1713.

At this time, Georgia again became a battlefield between Persia and Turkey.

Georgian troops were forced to fight for the Persians in Afghanistan. Therefore, several Georgian kings with their families, bishops and retinue fled to the Russian kingdom. After Archil, Vakhtang VI Kartalinsky and Teimuraz II Kakheti arrived in Moscow.

They remained in Russia until the end of their days and begged the Russian sovereigns to accept their peoples into Russian citizenship.

Russians come to the South Caucasus

Tsar Peter the Great had a strategic vision and planned to expand the Russian sphere of influence to the south.

After the victory over Sweden, Russia was going to occupy the western part of the Caspian Sea coast and pave the way to the southern countries. Georgia occupied an important place in these plans. Relations were established with the Kartli king Vakhtang VI.

In 1722, Russian troops occupied Derbent, in 1723 – the lands under the control of the Persian shah in the south of the Caspian Sea, Baku (How Peter I cut through the “door” to the East, Part 2).

Because of the war by the Turks, the Persian Shah Tahmasib signed the Petersburg Treaty. Iran recognized Derbent, Baku, Lankaran, Rasht for Russia and gave way to Gilan, Mazandaran and Astrabad. Thus, the entire western and southern coast of the Caspian Sea went to the Russian Empire.

At the same time, the Armenian representatives asked for Russian citizenship.

In 1724, Tsar Peter granted their request. He planned to start a new war against Turkey, which was to lead to the annexation of vast territories of the Transcaucasus (Georgian and Armenian) to the Russian Empire. But, unfortunately, he died soon after.

After Peter’s departure, a period of decline began in Russia. The new rulers of Russia did not have a strategic vision. A struggle for power began in St. Petersburg, it was no time for Georgia and Armenia.

All attention, forces and means were focused on palace intrigues, the struggle for power and wealth. The treasury was plundered, the army, and especially the navy, weakened.

The government of Anna Ioannovna, preparing for a war with Turkey, decided to return the occupied lands to the shah. Russian troops were withdrawn.

As a result, the annexation of the South Caucasus to Russia was postponed.


The capture of the fortress of Derbent by Peter the Great during the Persian campaign in 1722. Lithograph. Published by Andrey Abramov. 1872. Military-Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineering Troops and Signal Corps

War with the Turks

They returned to Caucasian affairs in St. Petersburg already under Catherine II, during whose reign Russia brilliantly solved several centuries-old strategic foreign policy and national tasks.

In 1768, the Imeretian king Solomon, suffering defeat from the Ottomans, asked the Russian empress for help.

This proposal was in line with the plans of the Russian government, which wanted to involve the Christian peoples of the Caucasus in the struggle against the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning of 1769, Prince Khvabulov was sent to the kings Solomon and Heraclius II (Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti) with a corresponding proposal.

Both tsars welcomed the Russian ambassador well, but declared that they themselves (without Russian military support) could not fight. They asked to send Russian troops.

However, the main forces of Russia were on the Danube front. And it was impossible to send large forces to the Caucasus.

In Mozdok, a small detachment of General Gottlob von Totleben (500 people) was assembled. In August 1769, Russian troops crossed the Main Caucasian ridge in the valley of the Terek and Aragvi rivers in the direction of the future Georgian Military Highway. At the end of August, King Heraclius met Totleben’s detachment at the Gudaur Pass.

The Russians entered Imereti. Georgians and Imeretians promised that they would clear the roads and prepare provisions, but they did not keep their word. The Russians had to go with great difficulty through the mountainous country, through the terrain ravaged by wars.

Totleben’s detachment laid siege to the strong and well-defended Shoropan fortress. King Solomon, busy with internal squabbles, did not provide any help. Lacking supplies, the Russian troops suffered from disease and hunger. After several unsuccessful attempts to take the fortress, Totleben lifted the siege and took the detachment to Kartli.

Meanwhile, King Heraclius asked for help against the Ottomans.

Totleben’s detachment, exhausted by disease and hunger, could not help. The Russian command decided to strengthen the troops in the Caucasian direction. Totleben’s detachment was strengthened to 3.7 thousand people.

In March 1770, when small reinforcements arrived, Totleben joined up with the 7 thousand army of Heraclius. The combined forces moved to the main stronghold of the Turks in Transcaucasia – Akhaltsykh.

However, Totleben and Irakli did not agree in character. The general began to intrigue in favor of Heraclius’ opponents. The Russian detachment returned to Kartli, then began to fight successfully in Imereti.

Irakli independently defeated the enemy near the village of Aspindza, but did not take advantage of the victory to capture the defenseless Akhaltsykh, and returned to Tiflis. Then the Russian-Georgian troops captured the fortresses of Bagdat and Kutais. Totleben decided to break through to the Black Sea coast. The Russian detachment defeated the Turkish corps, took the fortresses of Rukhi and Anaklia, and laid siege to Poti. It was not possible to take the well-fortified Poti, Totleben retreated.

In 1772, Russian troops were withdrawn from the Caucasus.

Georgievsky treatise

Back in December 1771, Tsar Heraclius swore allegiance to Empress Catherine.

In December 1782, this oath was sworn. The Kartli-Kakhetian king officially asked Petersburg for patronage.

On July 24 (August 4), 1783, an agreement was signed in the Russian military fortress Georgievsk in the North Caucasus

“On the recognition by the tsar of the Kartalin and Kakhetian Irakli and the patronage and supreme power of Russia.”

On the Russian side, the treatise was signed by Pavel Potemkin (brother of His Serene Highness Prince G. Potemkin) and on the Georgian side – by princes Ivane Bagration-Mukhransky and Gersevan Chavchavadze.

Irakli recognized the power of St. Petersburg and partially renounced an independent foreign policy, pledged to help the Russians with his troops. Russia acted as the guarantor of the integrity of Georgia. Kartli-Kakheti retained internal autonomy.

Interestingly, this document first used the following concepts:

“Georgian peoples”, “Georgian kings” and “Georgian church”.

Later in Russia in documents it became commonplace.

In fact, in the future, it was Russia, through heavy and bloody wars with Turkey and Persia, with its unifying and cultural-national policy, that created from local independent kingdoms, principalities, lands, various ethnic groups, tribes and clans a single Georgia and the Georgian people.

Without the Russians, there would never have been any Georgia.

The Russians improved the Georgian Military Road. A Russian detachment entered Tiflis.

In 1794, the Persian army of the Persian Shah Agha Mohammed Qajar invaded Georgia. She ravaged the entire Georgian land. Russia did not yet have serious forces in the Caucasus, so the invasion was successful.

In 1795, the Persians defeated the army of King Heraclius and Solomon II and took Tiflis. The city was completely carved out and burned out. Catherine the Great planned to punish Persia and strengthen its position in the Transcaucasus. In fact, she continued the policy of Peter in the region.

In 1796, Zubov’s Caspian Corps was formed, which was supported by the Caspian Flotilla. Russian troops took Derbent. Tsar Heraclius II led a successful offensive in his sector. Then Zubov’s corps took Baku, the Baku, Shemakha and Sheki khans took the oath of office to Russia.

Zubov was preparing a deep invasion of Persia (Punishment of “non-peaceful” Persia – campaign of 1796), which at that time was in deep crisis.

But the death of Catherine II, as well as the departure of Pyotr Alekseevich, interrupted Russia’s advance in the Caucasus.

Emperor Pavel Petrovich, in spite of his mother, withdrew Russian troops from the Caucasus. True, he was a perfectly reasonable man, despite

“Black myth”

about Paul (The myth of the “crazy emperor” Paul I; Knight on the throne).

And soon Georgia was admitted to the Russian Empire.


Heraclius II, king of the Kartli-Kakhetian kingdom

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