Davit IV the Great King of Georgia

Davit IV Agmashenebeli (b. 1073, Kutaisi – d. January 24, 1125 – the king of Georgia in 1089-1125, the son of George II, a great statesman and a powerful general, who has a special place in the history of Georgia.

David IV ascended the throne in 1089 at the age of 16. His father, George II, was forced to abdicate in favor of his son due to the political situation. David had a very difficult legacy: the country was ravaged by enemy invasions, Turko-Selchuk nomadic tribes settled in the conquered territories and threatened the Georgian people with physical destruction, noble feudal lords often disobeyed the king, the authority of the king of Georgia did not extend east of the Likhi ridge.

During his thirty-six-year rule, Davit Agmashenebeli carried out deep reforms, which finally completed the process of unification of feudal Georgia, he expelled the Seljuk invaders from the country, turned Georgia into the strongest state in the region, and handed over to his heirs the country that stretched from “Nikopsit to Darubandi”. The economic and church reforms of Davit Agmashenebeli, which became the main pillar of Georgia’s strengthening, were especially important. His name is associated with the Ruis-Urbnis church council, which eliminated the violations that took place in the Georgian church.

David IV’s foreign policy was extremely active and served the cause of political, economic and cultural progress of feudal Georgia. Georgia at the time of David had extensive political and cultural relations with the North Caucasus (Ossets, Kivchaks, peoples of Dagestan) and other peoples, ancient Russia, Armenia, Shirvan, Byzantium and Crusaders. During the reign of David, Georgia acquired a special importance for the Crusaders: personally, David the Builder and Georgia of his time was referred to as the defender of the Caspian Gate and the “forehead” of the Crusaders in the fight against the Seljuk Turks. During the battle of Didgori, the presence of crusaders (“French”) in Davit Aghmashenebeli’s army also indicates Georgia’s active contacts with European countries and the fact that Georgia was part of the European space.

For his personal merits and great service to the country and the nation, the Georgian Orthodox Church canonized Davit Agmashenebeli as a saint and established January 26 (February 8, AD) as the day of his commemoration.
Some authors (Tedo Jordania, Ivane Javakhishvili, E. Pakhomov, etc.) refer to Agmashenebeli Davit II. This is somewhat conditional. In general, David I, the builder, is the only king of Georgia among Davids. When some historians refer to him as David II, in this case the count starts from David Curapalat e. i. David Kurapalat (978-1001) is David I and, accordingly, David the Builder—David II.

In Georgian historiography, David IV is considered and established as the serial number of David Aghmashenebeli, as mentioned above, this is based on conditionality, in particular, the numbering of the kings bearing the name of David begins with the kings of Tao-Klarjeti, or the kingdom of Georgians, who held the title of king of Georgians.[8] By the way, the counting and numbering of bagrats is also based on this principle.

David IV is known in history as “Aghmashenebeli”. This nickname was given to him several centuries after his death. In any case, before the 15th century, the information where David IV is mentioned by this name has not reached us. “Aghmashenebeli” is found for the first time in 1452 AD. year In the blood certificate of the Avshandadze family, where it is said that “when Agmashenebeli was building Gelati”, he fell, broke it, and the Avshandadze family did not heal him. In the narrative historical literature, David is mentioned as “Aghmashenebeli” in the “History of Georgia” by the 17th century Georgian historian Farsadan Gorgijanidze.

In the official Georgian historiography, David IV is called the “builder” later, in the “Life of Akhali Kartli” and in the writings of Vakhushti Batonishvili (“Description of the Kingdom of Georgia”).

Vakhushti Batonishvili explains giving this nickname to David as follows:
David, the only son of George II and Queen Helen, was born in 1073 in the throne city of Kutaisi. His reign was short-lived, because due to the political situation in the country, his father was forced to abdicate and make his 16-year-old son the king. This fact should indicate David’s good education and understanding of state affairs.
The ascension of David IV Agmashenebeli to the throne causes differences of opinion among Georgian historians: one part believes that David came to power through a coup d’état, while the other part believes that no coup took place in 1089 and George II sidelined his son as co-king. This dispute was based on two different sources, “Galobani Sinanulisani” and a peculiar interpretation of David’s will to Shiomghvim Monastery.

The state of Georgia during the reign of Davit Agmashenebeli
The Turko-Selchuk invasion essentially changed the political situation in the Caucasus and the Near East. The defeated Byzantium gave the political race to the Seljuks, and they also firmly established themselves in the South Caucasus.

The nomadic Selchuks were completely different from the Arabs and Byzantines, they settled in the conquered territory and occupied the lands needed for farming. Nomadic farming of the Selchuks was incompatible with the Georgian feudal farming. Primitive farming was established on the coastal floodplains of Mtkvari, Alazni, Ivri and Arez. Highly developed crops, garden-vineyards, bread and other crops gave way to pastures. Turkism deprived Georgian feudal farming of land and threatened it with extinction and hindered the unification-centralization of Georgia and the Caucasus in general.

Georgia was so degraded that the rights of its king extended only to western Georgia, “the mountain of the border kingdom is small Likhta, and the kingdom of Tsaghulistavi is a station”. When the king wanted to hunt in Kartli swamp or Nacharmagev, he would send men in advance to inspect the places and then leave. David IV inherited a country raided by Turko-Selchuks, empty cities and villages, and a population scattered in the mountains.

Measures to strengthen and centralize government
David gathered his faithful subjects so that with their support the affairs of the country could be successfully carried out. The royal court of Georgia supported the troops of loyal horsemen. He attacked the Seljuks with his loyal marchers, defeated them, and thereby created the basis for the Georgian land worker, who was driven to the mountains by fear of the enemy, to come down as a bar. David gradually expelled the Seljuks from Kartli. These small victories aroused in the Georgian people the necessity of inevitable defeat of the enemy and faith in their own strength. The country gradually returned to intensive agricultural production, and the cities set out on the path of revival.

Seljuk power gradually weakened after the death of Sultan Malik-Shah (from 1092). This, in turn, poured water on the mill of political strength of Georgia. With the weakening of the enemy, even domestic disobedient feudal lords were no longer a big threat.

Battle against Kldekari Saeristavo
At the end of the 11th century, Davit Agmashenebeli declared a tough fight against the noble feudal lords. David’s historian connects the death of Melik-Shah and the apostasy of Liparit. Malik Shah died in 1092, and Liparit succeeded in 1093.

The Bagwashi were large feudal lords in Georgia in the 9th-13th centuries, their domain was Argveti (Zemo Imereti). In the 70s and 80s of the 9th century, Liparit I, a representative of this family, served as the Curapalat of David I of Georgians in Baghva, received land and water from him in Trialeti and created a powerful Kldekari saeristavo. To the east of Saeristavo (in the valleys of Algeti and Skoreti) was bordered Tbilisi Emirate, to the southeast and south – Samshvildi and Zorakert regions, to the southwest – Javakheti, to the west – Samtskhe, and to the north – Saeristavo of Kartli, which was separated from Saeristavo of Kldekari by the Trialeti ridge.

David’s historian tells us that Liparit, which was occupied by Tryaleti, Kledekar and its adjacent country, was once loyal to David. Apparently, so great was the desire to expel the enemy that the noble feudal lords came to the support of the young king. Together with Liparit, we see Niania Kakhaberisdze and the nobles, who gradually gathered around the royal court of Georgia, but it seems that this peace and coordinated activities did not last long.

Liparit’s apostasy would lead to the continuation of the age-old struggle between the Bagwashi and the kings of Georgia. In the previous period, this battle took place with a temporary advantage. Sometimes the kings of Georgia were forced to make concessions and in certain specific situations to recognize the superiority of the Kldekari nobility willingly or unwillingly, but David was essentially a different king and person from all his predecessors. He was a far-sighted politician and a consistent, energetic implementer of the set goal. He could not allow the selfishness of a loyal vassal. The opponent of the centralization of the royal power standing on the path of progress was also an opponent of the unification and strengthening of the country, as David considered Liparit to be. Liparit repented of his sin, and after this repentance, the king released him “confirmed by many and strong oaths” and recognized all his rights as irrevocable. The liberation of Liparit should have happened in 1093. It seems that Liparit did not fulfill his oath and promise and betrayed the king again. David was convinced that Liparit could not be cured “for a dog’s tail does not run, nor can a cancer really owe” and captured it again in 1094. He was kept in custody for 2 years, and then deported to Greece, where he died.

Kldekari Saeristavo will exist for a few more years. It was headed by Rati son of Liparit. Not even the son of Rati Liparit showed his kindness and loyalty to the king of Georgia. He, like his ancestors, fought against the royal government and the united country. It is natural that when David saw disloyalty again, he, coming from the Bagvash family, had to resort to extreme measures. This extreme measure was the cancellation of Saeristavo. Indeed, David abolished the kingdom of Kledekar and annexed its lands and waters to his kingdom. The abolition of the Kldekari Saeristavo coincides with the taking of the Zedzni fortress by the Georgian king (1103).

Davit did not end the fight with the Eristavi by defeating the Bagvashti and abolishing the Kldekari Saeristao. The king of Georgia tried in every possible way to subordinate the ruling nobility to the central administrative apparatus of the royal court created by the feudal monarchy. He turned public officials into public officials and gave preference to the latter. The royal-official institution of the vizier, strengthened during David’s time, attacked the old institution of the nobility in order to destroy it. Davit considered the eristvay to be unsuitable for a centralized, feudal state and oppressed it in every way and tried to abolish it.

Cessation of tribute for the Turks.
The effective measures that Davit Aghmashenebeli carried out at the end of the 11th century, took the country on the way to progress. The king of Georgia was no longer dealing with Seljuk Turks. The Royal Court of Georgia considered it possible to stop paying tribute in 1099. It is conceivable that the years 1097-98 were the years of the end of the process of raising and strengthening Georgia, and the already strengthened country could refuse to pay tribute to the enemy, because it already had the strength and the opportunity to go on the attack itself. With this act, Georgia finally regained its lost independence.

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