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The Kingdom of Kartli (Georgian: ქართლის სამეფო) was a late medieval/early modern monarchy in eastern Georgia, centered at the province of Kartli, with its capital at Tbilisi. It emerged in the process of a tripartite division of the Kingdom of Georgia in 1478 and existed, with several brief intermissions, until 1762 when Karti and the neighboring Georgian kingdom of Kakheti were merged through a dynastic succession under the Kakhetian branch of the Bagrationi dynasty. Through much of this period of time the kingdom was a vassal of the successive dynasties of Iran, but enjoyed intermittent periods of greater independence, especially after 1747.

Kingdom of Kartli

ქართლის სამეფო
kartlis samepo
Coat of Arms according to Prince Vakhushti's Atlas (c.1745)
Kingdom of Kartli in 1490
Kingdom of Kartli in 1490
Common languagesGeorgian
Georgian Orthodox Church
• 1478–1505
Constantine II (first)
• 1744–1762
Teimuraz II (last)
Historical eraEarly modern period
• Established
• Subject of Persia
• Union of Kartli and Kakheti
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Georgia
Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti
Today part of Armenia


Since the beginning of the second half of the 15th century, the Kingdom of Georgia experienced a high degree of civil instability, feudal separatism, and civil wars. The defeat of George VIII at the Battle of Chikhori in 1463 at the hands of the rebellious nobleman Bagrat, who proclaimed himself the King of Imereti, marked the beginning of the disintegration of the united Georgian monarchy and the state. In 1465, George VIII was captured by Qvarqvare II Jaqeli, the Prince of Samtskhe (Meskheti). Sensing opportunity, Bagrat VI crossed the borders of East Georgia (inner Kartli) and proclaimed himself King of all Georgia in 1466. Qvarqvare, fearing that Bagrat would gain too much power, released George VIII from captivity, but the king was unable to reclaim the crown and only managed to proclaim himself King of Kakheti, leaving the Lower Kartli to his nephew Constantine, yet another pretender to the throne, who have established himself as a virtual ruler in part of Kartli in 1469. Bagrat VI continued to rule Kartli until 1478, when he was challenged by Constantine. Alexander son of Bagrat VI retired to the mountainous western provinces of Racha and Lechkhumi, from where he tried to ascend the throne of Imereti. For coronation he summoned "Dadiani, Gurieli, Sharvashidze and Gelovani", but headed with Vameq II Dadiani, the latter refused to support him and invited Constantine to Western Georgia. Constantine with the help of the local dukes took Kutaisi and for a short time restored the integrity of Kartli with western Georgia. In 1481, Constantine managed to subordinate Samtskhe and thus declared himself King of All Georgia. However, inter-feudal strife continued, in 1483 Qvarqvare II declared war on Constantine and defeated the royal forces at Ardeti. In 1484 the demoted former heir, Alexander proclaimed himself as the king of Imereti (Western Georgia) in 1484. New possessor of Odishi - Liparit II Dadiani invited Constantine II to West Georgia for the second time. In 1487 Constantine came to Imereti, but had to abandon the campaign when in 1486 a Turkmen chieftain, Yaqub b. Uzun Hasan invaded Kartli and the king went to fight with him. Alexander took advantage of it and captured Kutaisi and restored his authority in Imereti. After this the king of Kartli had to temporarily reconcile with the kings of Kakheti and Imereti and also prince of Samtskhe having thus formed the factual split of Georgia.

The new realms were not long at peace. Soon after coming into power, George II of Kakheti launched an expedition against Kartli, intending to depose King David X and conquer his kingdom. David's brother Bagrat successfully defended the kingdom and managed to capture George II in an ambush. Peace didn't linger in the west either, as David X faced incursions from Alexander II of Imereti, who was somewhat less successful than his Kakhetian counterpart. In 1513 the Kingdom of Kartli conquered Kakheti but only for a short time – the Kingdom of Kakheti was restored with the support of local nobles by Levan of Kakheti, son and heir of George II, in 1520.[1]

The Peace of Amasya (1555) recognized Kartli, Kakheti and eastern Samtskhe as Persian possessions, while everything to the west of it (i.e. Imereti, western Samtskhe) fell in Ottoman hands. The next two centuries to come, Kartli was an integral part of the successive dynasties of Persia. It regularly paid tribute and sent gifts (pīškeš) to the shah in the form of boys and girls for use as slaves; horses; and wines.[2] In 1747 the Shah of Persia, Nader Shah was assassinated. Capitalizing on the eruption of instability Teimuraz II and his son Heraclius II, who had been given the kingship of Kartli and Kakheti respectively by Nader Shah himself as a reward for their loyalty, declared de facto independence. After Teimuraz II's death in 1762, Erekle II assumed control over Kartli, thus unifying the two into the short-lived Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti. Following the Treaty of Georgievsk (1783) and Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar's brief re-occupation of eastern Georgia, the Kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1801. Russian control over Kartli-Kakheti was finalized with Qajar Iran by the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Georgian Soviet Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, pg. 466–469, Tb., 1986
  2. ^ Berdzenishvili, ed., 1973, pp. 252–254
  3. ^ Timothy C. Dowling Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond p 728 ABC-CLIO, 2 dec. 2014 ISBN 1598849484