Mikhail Lermontov. View of Tiflis
220 years ago, the Russian Emperor Paul I signed a decree on the annexation of Kartli-Kakheti (Georgia) to the Russian Empire. A great power saved a small people from complete enslavement and destruction. Georgia, as part of the Russian Empire and the USSR, came to unprecedented prosperity and prosperity, a rapid growth in the number of the Georgian people.
Degradation and extinction
The now “independent” Georgia, without subsidies, without the help and working hands of Russia, is consistently degrading. Georgian nationalism led to a bloody civil war, the secession of the Georgian autonomies – South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Georgia has become a US puppet. And now, when the West has entered a period of systemic crisis and reset, it is doomed to become a protectorate of the new Turkish empire.
The country’s economy has nothing to offer the world market. The bet on the development of the tourism sector is bit by the current crisis, which, in essence, has buried mass tourism. The country’s economy (including tourism) can be developed only within the framework of a single political, economic, cultural and linguistic space with Russia.
At the same time, local nationalists consistently created the image of an enemy – Russia, Russians, who allegedly occupied and plundered Georgia, oppressed Georgians.
Georgian politicians, publicists and historians have crossed out several centuries of the history of their country, which flourished in creative work and brotherhood with the Russians.
The current global crisis-unrest shows that the Georgian people have no future without Russia. The West needs Georgia only as an outpost directed against the Russian state (which leads to further destruction of the country).
The rapid creation of a new Turkish empire named after Erdogan raises the question of a new status of the pro-Turkish protector (taking into account Russia’s consistent loss of its positions in the Caucasus). Then again Islamization and Turkization, complete assimilation within the framework of the “Great Turan”.
The population is constantly decreasing: from 5.4 million people in 1991 to 3.7 million in 2020.
Up to 2 million people went abroad. In the first wave, due to the ethnic policy of Tbilisi, Russians, Greeks, Jews, Armenians, Ossetians, Abkhazians, etc. fled. In the second wave, since the 2000s, Georgians themselves predominated among the migrants. People vote with their feet, the country has no future.
Between Turkey and Persia
In the 15th century, Georgia split into three kingdoms: Kartli, Kakheti (east of the country) and Imereti (Western Georgia). There were also independent principalities: Mingrelia (Samegrelo), Guria and Samtskhe-Saatabago.
All kingdoms and principalities also had internal fragmentation. The feudal lords constantly fought between themselves and the royal power, which weakened the country. In the same period, a layer of free peasant farmers disappeared there, their lands were seized by feudal lords. The serfs were completely dependent on the feudal lords, carried corvee and paid the rent. Feudal oppression was aggravated by duties in favor of the king and his dignitaries.
At the same time, there was a threat of complete destruction of the Georgian people as a group of related tribes and clans.
Two regional empires fought for the territory of Georgia – Persia and Turkey. In 1555 Turkey and Persia divided Georgia among themselves. In 1590, the Turks took control of the entire Georgian territory. In 1612, the former Turkish-Persian treaty on the division of spheres of influence in Georgia was restored.
In the XV-XVIII centuries. The South Caucasus, including the Georgian lands, became a battlefield between the Persians and the Turks. The struggle went on with varying success. Hordes of Turks and hordes of Persians alternately devastated and plundered Georgia. Attempts to resist were choking. Youth, girls and children were taken into slavery. They pursued a policy of Islamization and assimilation. They resettled the masses of the population at their own discretion. The remnants of local residents, hoping to survive, fled higher and higher into the mountains.
It should be noted that at the same time, the bulk of the Georgian feudal lords did not live so badly. Compared with the common people, which now experienced not only feudal, but also cultural, national and religious oppression. Georgian feudal lords quickly learned to maneuver between the Turks and Persians, and they used the wars of the great powers to increase their lands and the number of subjects.
In the Persian Empire, the Kartvelian principalities became part of a single state. Georgian provinces lived according to the same laws and regulations as other parts of this empire. Most of the officials appointed by the shah were from local residents. These were the Islamized Georgian princes and nobles. The Shah’s army defended Georgia from the raids of the mountain tribes. The taxes collected from the Georgian principalities were no higher than in Persia or Turkey itself.
Georgian nobility on equal terms entered the elite of Persia. Dynastic marriages were common. Representatives of the Georgian elite from childhood were brought up at the court of the shah, then they were appointed officials in the provinces, both Persian and Georgian. Many among them were military leaders who fought for the empire.
The center of the political life of the Georgian elite moved to Tehran and Isfahan. Here were the main intrigues, a struggle was waged for the royal and princely thrones, marriages were made, honorary and lucrative positions were obtained.
If necessary, Georgian feudal lords easily converted to Islam, changed their names to Muslim. When the situation changed, they returned to the fold of the Christian church.
That is, the Georgian elite quite successfully became part of the Persian. However, this process was combined with Islamization, that is, the Georgian nobility was losing their civilizational, cultural and national identity.
Persian culture supplanted Georgian. The architecture took Iranian forms, the upper and middle classes spoke Persian. They started Persian libraries, Georgian literature moved from Byzantine canons to Persian. Only monasteries still kept the remains of Georgian icon painting and writing. The secular world in the 18th century had already become Persian.
Georgian feudal lords also found a very profitable product for the Islamic world. At that time, human trafficking (slave trade) was comparable to the oil and gas trade in the 20th century. In Western Georgia, feudal lords arrogated to themselves the right to sell serfs to the Turkish markets. In exchange, they received oriental luxury goods.
This became one of the leading reasons (along with the devastating wars, strife and raids of the highlanders) of the catastrophic decrease in the population of Georgia. Only in the 16th century the population of the western part of Georgia decreased by half. This is at a very high level of childbearing in the Middle Ages.
In the middle of the 16th century, this calamity took on such horrific forms that the church council, under pain of death, banned the “film sale”. However, the authorities did not have the strength, and often the desire, to put things in order. The slave trade continued until the mid-19th century.
It is worth remembering that the Georgian nobility did not differ in any way, for example, from the European one. European feudal lords behaved no better. Therefore, it is necessary to clearly separate the interests of the Georgian elite, which quite flourished against the background of the calamities of the commoners, and the interests of the common people.
In general, the same can be seen in modern Caucasian state formations – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The policy of maneuvering between the interests of the West, Turkey, Iran and Russia, like the war, brings income only to a small stratum of the current nobility. The common people are dying out, fleeing, living in poverty, and have no future.
Ordinary Georgians at that time lived in constant fear and horror of the invasion of the Turks and Persians (from the west, south and east), the annual raids of the wild mountaineers (from the north). Another horror for them was the local feudal lords, squeezing all the juices out of them, selling their children into slavery.
Therefore, ordinary people hoped only for the help of the Orthodox, Christian state – Russia.
Only the Russian kingdom in time could ensure peace and security in the Caucasus, save local Christians, and soften wild morals.
But for most of the feudal lords, Moscow was only one of the players, and at first not the strongest one who could be used, receive certain privileges and gifts.
Russia is called for help
The Russians were not invaders.
They were called from the beginning as saviors of the Christian people. Already in 1492, the Tsar of Kakheti, Alexander, sent ambassadors to Moscow, asked for patronage and called himself a “slave” of the Russian Tsar Ivan III (recognition of vassal dependence).
That is, from the very beginning, the South Caucasus understood that only Orthodox Moscow could save them.
Now, at a time of complete degradation of the Christian world, unbelief and the domination of materialism (“golden calf”), it is difficult to understand. But then these were not empty words. Faith was fiery, earnest, they fought for it and accepted death.
Almost a century later, the Kakhetian Tsar Alexander II, who was threatened by both Turks and Persians,
“Beat his forehead with all the people that the only Orthodox sovereign” accepted them into citizenship, “saved their life and soul.”
The Russian tsar Fyodor Ivanovich then took Kakheti into citizenship, accepted the title of sovereign of the Iberian land, Georgian kings and the Kabardian land, Cherkassk and mountain princes.
Scientists, priests, monks, icon painters were sent to Georgia to restore the purity of the Orthodox faith. Material assistance was provided, ammunition was sent. Strengthened Tersk fortress.
In 1594, Moscow sent a detachment of the governor, Prince Andrei Khvorostinin to the Caucasus. He defeated the ruler of the Tarkov region – Shevkala, took his capital Tarki, forced him to flee to the mountains and went through the whole of Dagestan. But Khvorostinin could not keep his positions occupied, his resources were limited (Russia could not yet firmly establish itself in the region), and the Kakhetian king pursued a flexible policy, refused military and material assistance.
Under pressure from the mountaineers and due to a lack of provisions, Prince Khvorostinin was forced to leave Tarki (the fortress was destroyed) and retreat.
At the same time, Alexander gave a new oath to Tsar Boris Godunov.
After the Russians left, Tsar Alexander tried to appease the Persian Shah Abbas and allowed his son Constantine (he was at the court of the lord of Persia) to convert to Islam. But it did not help.
Abbas wished Georgia’s complete obedience. He gave Constantine an army and ordered to kill his father and brother.
In 1605, Constantine killed Tsar Alexander, Tsarevich George and the nobles supporting them. Constantine took the throne, but was soon killed by the rebels.
Meanwhile, Russian troops under the command of governors Buturlin and Pleshcheev again tried to gain a foothold in Dagestan, but to no avail.
The successes of the Persian Empire in the fight against Turkey somewhat reassured the Georgian rulers. They began to forget about Russia and again lean towards Persia.
True, at the same time, Tsar George of Kartlin gave an oath for himself and his son to the Russian Tsar Boris Fedorovich. Boris demanded that the Georgian princess Elena be sent to Moscow to marry his son Fedor. And the nephew of the Georgian king was to become the husband of the Russian princess Ksenia Godunova.
However, the Godunov family soon died, and Troubles began in the Russian kingdom. Russia has no time for the Caucasus. And the Kartlin king George was poisoned by the Persians.
King of Kakheti Alexander II (1574-1601, 1602-1605)
To be continued…