Ottoman period

The beginning of Ottoman interest to the Georgian

The beginning of Ottoman interest to the Georgian princedoms in the northeast of Anatolia dates back to mid-fifteenth century. Georgian chronicles state, tough there is no such information in Ottoman sources, that the Ottoman navy conquered Sohumi in 1455 yet they could not establish a permanent administration and left the province to the former rulers in exchange of tribute. Genoese sources note that an Ottoman army composed of fifty six warships bombarded west coast of Georgia. Thus, a serious relationship with Georgia was established through Abkhaz and Dadian / Megrel regions on the Black Sea coast. Ottoman raids took place to southeast Georgia after Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet II, the Conqueror) conquered Trabzon. Ajara (Batumi) and environs were captured in 1479. Machael region which included Borchka and Lower Ajara was taken under Ottoman rule in that year. Yavuz Sultan Selim, when he was the governor of Trabzon in 1508, had Güryel and İmeret Kingdoms obey to Ottomans and took their tribute. Thus, the Ottoman rule reached beyond the Black Sea coast, up to interior regions of Georgia. As a result of Çaldıran victory of Sultan Selim (1514), Eastern Georgia which includes Kartli and Kahet Kingdoms were taken under Ottoman rule. The rule of these regions, however, was taken by Safavids after the decease of Sultan Selim. In the period of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (the Magnificent) Ottomans captured some regions in south and southwest Georgia. Shah Tahmasb attacked four times to Kartli, east Georgia between 1541 and 1554, captured some fortresss and 30.000 prisoners and took them to İran. Georgia was in a difficult position because it was swinging between the Ottoman Empire and Iran, the two powerful neighbors. Georgians, backed by Safavids, were attacking Ottoman soils when the Sultan was on military expedition to Europe. Ottomans at last replied to these attacks. Vizier Kara Ahmed Pasha, during the second expedition to Iran (1549) captured Tortum, Ağcakale, Livane creek, Artvin and Kamhis, along with twenty fortresss in Georgia within a month and half. In 1551 Ardanuç, Şavşat, Göle and Ardahan were taken under Ottoman rule. According to the Amasya pact (1555) which terminated the Ottoman-Safavid wars, İmeret, Dadyan (Megrel and Svanet), Güryel, Daveli/Tao-eli were left to the Ottomans, Kartli, Kahet and Mosuk to Safavids. Georgia, once a battlefield for the Ottoman-İran wars, kept the divided status determined by the Amasya treaty until 1578, and this stable status ended. Taking the advantage of the chaos emerged in Safavids upon the death of Shah Tahmasb, Ottomans assigned Lala Mustafa Pasha to an expedition to İran in order to stop the activities creating disorder in the Ottoman Empire (1578). The victory over Safavids in Çıldır made it easy for Ottomans to capture Georgia. Ottoman army conquered Posof, Akhiska, Tümük, Hırtıs, Çıldır, Ahılkelek, Kobliyan and Azgur. Meliks of Dadian and Güryel and the prince of Minuçihr accepted the letter from Lala Mustafa Pasha that proposed them to obey Ottoman rule. Minuçihr further converted to Islam and took a Muslim name, Mustafa. Azgur was granted to him as has, a royal domain. Three villages were also bestowed to Dedis-İmedi, mother of Minuçihr as has, and Oltu to Kuarkuare, his brother as sancak, a subdivision of the province. In other regions captured later, Ottomans founded Çıldır State. Ottomans took the obedience of Georgian Beys in Gori and Muhran during the expedition of Lala Mustafa Pasha in 1578 captured Tbilisi without battling. After capturing the city, the rulers of İmeret and Kahet presented their obedience to Ottomans and accepted to give Ottomans thirty thousand-lira-worth silk, ten male and ten female servants as tribute per year. Kahet was left to the former ruler Alexandre as Ocaklık (family estate given by Sultan). Kartli and Kahet were converted to Tbilisi province. Two churches in Tbilisi transformed to mosques. Also three mosques were built, two in the name of Murad III and one in the name of Lala Mustafa Pasha. Ottomans made some changes in the administration of the region. They founded Tumanıs province in the south of Tbilisi (1584) and Gori province in the western region in the time of Ferhad Pasha (157). Thus, those lands once under the rule of Georgian beys and later conquered by Ottomans were annexed to Tbilisi, Tumanıs, Gori and Çıldır provinces. To create a chaos in the regions captured in 1578 through 1584, Shah Tahmasb freed Simon, the former ruler of Kartli and his prisoner since 1569, and sent him back to Kartli. Following the war caused by this case, a treaty was signed between Serdar Ferhad Pasha and Simon (1588). According to the treaty, Simon, as the ruler of Kartli, accepted the rule of Ottomans as vassal and was obliged to pay tribute. Sultan Murad III approved that Simon would rule other regions except for the fortresss that remained under the Ottoman rule until then (1589). But Simon rebelled and captured Gori fortress. Then Ottomans took the fortress back, captured Simon and sent him to Istanbul (1601). 1578-1590 Ottoman-Iran wars spoiled the political stability in Safavid state and caused additional burdens on the economy and army of the Ottoman Empire. According to the treaty signed between the two countries in Istanbul (1590), Georgia was taken to the Ottoman rule along with Tebriz, Karacadağ, Gence, Şirvan, Karabağ, Nihavend, Luristan and Şehrizor. A regular, systematic administration was established in Georgia during the Ottoman rule between 1590 and 1614. All provinces were surveyed and registered, and law codes were enacted. As understood from the letter written by Simon of Bagrat to Istanbul, Tbilisi, which included east and west Kartli in 1588, consisted of four subdivisions. When Tbilisi was under the Safavid administration, there were 36 villages in Gori, 16 villages in Tbilisi, 34 villages in Tumanıs, and 20 villages in Lori subdivisions. Ottomans made a survey and registration of Çıldır province in 1592 through 1595. According to this registration, Çıldır was composed of Akhıska, Altınkale, Osıkha, Çeçerek, Aspinze, Hırtıs, Ahılkelek and Posof subdivisions, in addition to the central subdivision. A detailed domesday book, prepared in 1595, indicates that Akhıska province included Altınkale, Osıkha, Aspinze and Çeçerek and also a new subdivision, Bedre, was established. The code of Domesday Book of 1595 documents that Ottomans determined the legal and fiscal principals of agricultural economy in Akhıska, like they did in all other provinces of the Empire. With political stability established, 711 villages were surveyed and registered in this province. Grain, cotton wool, viniculture and fruit production were developed and certain taxes are determined. During the Ottoman period, stockbreeding, fishery, apiculture and viniculture were developed. The grain production level reached to that of some European countries of that time. Ottomans applied the tımar system in Georgia. In order to maintain the political stability in the region and prevent the Georgian leaders to cooperate with Safavid against the state, Ottomans gave these leaders some parts of the lands that they owned before the Ottoman rule. In 1603 Shah Abbas I captured Tbilisi from the Ottomans and declared Kartli as Khanate. He established the Sultanate of Yenisel in Kahet and captured Lori and Tumanıs in 1606. Although Kartli and Kahet were taken to the Ottoman rule according the Istanbul treaty (1612), Georgian rulers who were under the Ottoman supervision could not resist the attacks of Shah Abbas I. Shah Abbas finally captured Kartli ruler Luarsab II and (1616) and beat the uprising led by Nodar Corciadze and David Candiyeri. Shah Abbas were planning to totally capture Kartli and Kahet. Therefore he sent Karçiha-han and Giorgi Saakadze to this region with the army in 1625. But these commanders cooperated with Tavads, great land owners of Kartli and Kahet, and started a war against Safavids. In order to find a fundamental solution, Shah Abbas then recognized Teymuraz, who had escaped to Imeret, as the King of Kartli and Kahet, with the support of Russia. In 17th century the rule of Georgia moved several times back and forth between Ottomans and Iran. In the Iranian period, Georgian kings converted to Islam. Iran could not, however, reach up to the western Georgia coasts and Black Sea. Kartli and Kahet, that were taken to the Sieved rule in 1625, became an Ottoman province again under the name of Tbilisi in 1632 and Rostom, who converted to Islam, were assigned as the governor. Kartli and Kahet were ruled by Georgian-originated Muslim governors until 1770s. Evliya Çelebi, the most famous Turkish voyager-writer in the history, visited Georgia too. He introduced Tbilisi as a Muslim province where many Muslim scholars and mosques existed. Ottomans established good relations with Georgian princes who recognized the Ottoman sovereignty and accepted to pay tax after the Karlofça treaty (1699). Russia took advantage of the political instability in Safevids in early 18th through their policy related to reaching the warm seas and began to capture west coasts of the Caspian Sea in 1723. Ottomans in turn moved its army against Safavids to secure the eastern part of the Empire. Russia took all the provinces on west coast of Caspian Sea including Derbend and Bakü. Ottomans captured Kartli, Gori and Tbilisi and granted these lands to Kartli Czar Vahtang’s son Ibrahim, who converted Islam. According to the treaty singed in Istanbul with the mediation of France (1724), Kartli and Kahet left to the Ottoman rule. In order to establish a regular administration, Ottomans made the survey and registration of these lands in 1728. This survey was prepared in the form of a book under the name of “Defter-i Mufassal-ı Eyalet-i Tiflis.” Thus, Ottomans began to improve the province. Tiflis governor-general Recep Pasha and İshak Pasha, Gence governor-general Ahmed Pasha, Şirvan ruler Davud Khan founded endowments in this province. Ottomans merged Kartli and Kahet and established Tbilisi province that was composed of six subdivisions: Tbilisi, Somruhut, Ağcakale, Gori, Tıryaled and Kaygulu. Ottomans also founded Tbilisi, Gori and Tıryaled subdivision centers in Tbilisi province. In order to maintain political stability in this region, Ottomans employed 1113 janissaries, 342 artillerymen, 163 cuirassiers, and many volunteer soldiers in Tbilisi, Gori, Topkaraağaç and Havlabar fortresss. The costs of this force were financed by the local farm revenues. Nadir Shah, who took the governance of Savefids in 1732, captured many provinces back as a result of the war against Ottomans. Tbilisi and other fortresss in the province surrendered to Nadir Shah without fight. He took the lands from Ottomans and Russians in a short time and merged Tbilisi, Şirvan, Gence-Karabağ, Tebriz and Çukursaad (Revan) provinces as an Azerbaijani province. But the uprisings occurred in Kartli and Kahet in 1735 through 1744 made him to separate Tbilisi from Azarbaijan. Then Nadir Shah recognized Teymuraz II as the czar of Kartli and his son Irakli as the czar of Kahet. After the death of Teymuraz II, Irakli merged Kartli and Kahet under one administration in 1762. The region had long been in the middle of the struggle between Ottomans, Iran and Russia. Kartli Czar Irakli II preferred the Russian patronage on his country with the condition that Russia would recognize his political independence and signed a treaty with Russia (1783). In 1795 Iran Shah Aga Muhammed surged into Georgia and destroyed many provinces, especially Tbilisi. Then, Russian Czar Pavel I abolished the Czardoms of Karli and Kahet in 1800 and declared the region as a province of Russia in 12 September 1801. He began to establish the Russian administration system in the region. Since then, Georgia started to lose its independence and has become a colony of Russia in terms of politics and economy. Soon after, Megrelia (1803), İmeretia and Guriya (1810) Abkhaz Knezdom (1810) and Svanetia (1856) were annexed to Russia. Meanwhile, some uprisings happened in Georgia against the annexation of the country with Russia. According to the Edirne Treaty (1829) signed between Ottomans and Russia, which captured the major proportion of the region until 1828-1829 Ottoman-Russian war, the west coast of the Black Sea from Anapa to Batumi and Akhıska were given to Russia and Russian sovereignty over Georgia were confirmed. In 1840 Georgia, Georgia-Imeretia Gubernia was declared; in 1846 it was divided into two gubernia as Tbilisi and Kutais. After the Crimean War, Megrelia, Svanetia and Abkhaz Knezdoms were abolished.


  • 29/01/2015
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