Islamic period

Islamic period

The marches of Muslim forces towards Georgia first began in the period of the Caliph Omar. In 643, (22 H.) Süraka b. Amr made a treaty with Şehr-Beraz, the King of Babülebvab. In the aftermath of the agreement Habib b. Mesleme continued to surge forward and conquered some places in the region. Habib b. Mesleme later in the Caliph Othman period was assigned to conquer Irminiye. After taking Duvin, he surged to Tbilisi and conquered the city. Then, he made an agreement with Georgians. (645-46 A.D., 25 H.) According to this agreement, lives and sacred places of Georgian people would be safe. The Georgians in turn would give 1 dinar of jizyah (tax) per family, become friends with Muslims and become enemies to the enemies of Allah (c.c.) and His Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) (Belazuri, s. 289). Habib b. Mesleme later sent Abdurrahman b. Cez to Tbilisi to teach Islam. With his efforts, many Georgians converted to Islam. Georgia was assigned under the Irminiye governorship in the period of Caliph Othman and Caliph Ali, and later under the al-Jazirah governorship in the Emevi period. Emevis continued the conquer of Georgia in the time of Hişam b. Abdülmelik (724-743) and they took over the entire country. Then a military encampment was established in Berdea, capital of Arran. A major province was founded including Azarbaijan, Arran, Irminiye and Georgia. Beginning from 689, Islam and Byzantine armies got into struggle over Georgia. Mervan b. Muhammed tried to save the western Georgia from the Byzantine Empire in 736. In 740s the influence of the Byzantine Empire was felt again. Huzeyme b. Hazim, who was assigned by Harun Reşid as the governor of Irminiye in 786, surged into Iberia of Kart that rebelled against Muslims, and killed prominent rebels. Sources say that Huzeyme severely punished the people of this region. Beginning from 683, the Khazar attacks to Georgia continued periodically until 764-765. In that time Khazars occupied Kur and Aras regions and took over Tbilisi with a large army and settled down in Georgia. When Irminiye and Şirvan were separated as distinct provinces in the period of Abbasis, an Islamic Emirate was founded in Tbilisi by İshak b. İsmail (833-852). In the time of Caliph Mütevekkil Alellah some disagreements emerged between Tbilisi and Baghdad. Then the caliph assigned Boğa El-Kebir, a well-known Turkish commander, to bring order in the region. Boğa captured Ishak and his son and killed them, terminating the Emirate in Tbilisi. Some historians assert that destroying this emirate was a big mistake that could not be compensated. They further say that this was the beginning of the collapse of Islamic dominance in Caucasus. One of the ruling tribes in Georgia in 3rd and 4th century (H.) 9th -10th century (A.D.) was Benî Ca’fer. Tbilisi governor Ca’fer b. Ali his successors issued currency on behalf of the Abbasid caliphs and identified them as dependents. After 1020 some parts of the Georgian soil was annexed by Byzantine Emperor Basileios II and a new administrative and military region was established. The existence of Turks in Georgia began through those Turks who came in as paid-soldiers within the Abbasid army and settled there along with other Turks who came from the north. Seljuks began to surge into Georgia in 1049. Turkmen leader Tugtekin told Sultan Alparslan that there had been rebellion, chaos and paganism in Georgia and convinced the Sultan to take action for it. Alparslan then started a military expedition towards Georgia, believing that it would be dangerous to struggle with Byzantine without controlling this region first. King Bagrat IV hardly escaped from being captive by the Seljuk pioneers and accepted the Seljuk rule, signing a peace agreement (456 H., 1064 A.C.). Because the Alans threatened the regions under the Seljuk rule in 1068, Alparslan began a second expedition towards Georgia. Şeddadis and Şirvanşahs obeyed to the Sultan. After taking control of Şekki region, he surged to King Bagrat and conquered some regions. In 1068 he returned from the expedition which took five months. After Sultan Melikşah ascended throne, rebellion began in some provinces and fortresss of Georgia. Then Melikşah, accompanied by Yuane who remained loyal to Sultan, organized a military expedition into Georgia. He went up to Karthili and captured many prisoner and spoils, leaving the responsibility of the region to Serhenk Savtekin (1076). But King Giorgi II defeated Savtekin after several battles and recaptured some regions from the Seljuks. Upon these incidents, Sultan Melikşah started a new expedition and entered Georgia via Aras (471 H., 1078-79 A.C). Plundering the Somkheth region, he captured Yuane, left Savtekin there with reinforced troops, and returned back. As Savtekin was defeated by Georgians again, Melikşah assigned Melik Ahmed to a new raid to Georgia. Emir Ahmed defeated King Kouel severely and captured back Kars and other places under the Georgian occupation. Emir Ebu Yakub and Emir İsa Böri continued the expeditions to Georgia and captured all coastal regions down to Trabzon. Worrying that his country was about to be totally invaded, King Georgi went to İsfahan to present his obedience to Melikşah. Sultan Melikşah promised him to protect his country with the conditions that he would accept the Seljuk sovereignty, pay tribute and provide military aid. Melikşah finally came to Caucasia in 1086 and took total control of the whole region. There were ten thousands of Turkish inhabitants in Eastern Georgia towards the end of the 10th century. Because of that, Georgians called this region “Didi Turkoba” (Great Turkishland). When King David II started a new expedition for invasion with a large army composed of Kıpçaks and went up to Gence, Seljuks’ Sultan Muhammed Tapar surged into Georgia. He defeated Georgian troops and destroyed some provinces (503 H, 1110 AC). Kıpçaks played an important role on the history of Georgia. They dominated the economic life of the country in the end of the 12th century. In the time of Queen Tamara (580 H 1184-85 AC), Kutlu Arslan was so powerful that he took the total control of the state. Meanwhile the Muslim Kıpçaks entered Azarbaijan via Daghestan and, together with Turks, struggled against Georgians. When King David required tribute from the cities under the Muslims’ rule such as Tbilisi and Gence, Muslim inhabitants requested help from Seljuk Sultan Mahmud b. Muhammed Tapar. The Sultan then assigned his brother Tuğrul, the Melik of Gence, Atabeg Gündoğdu, Dübeys b. Sadaka and Artuklu İlgazi to an expedition to Georgia. But they were defeated by the Georgian army that composed of Georgians, Armenians, and Kıpçaks. Subsequent to this battle that took place around Didgori in 12 August 1211, Georgians invaded Tbilisi and Ani, which was under Muslim rule for centuries. Tbilisi became the capital of Georgia. Upon a request from Şirvan inhabitants for help, Sultan Mahmud organized a new expedition to Georgia, yet he could not achieve a success (517 H 1123 AC). King David annexed Şirvan in the same year. Georgians invaded Ani in 1161 and Kars and Duvin in the following year. They killed many Muslims, destroyed mosques and houses, undressed Muslim female captives and took them to Tbilisi. When Georgian women saw Muslim women naked, they found this scene so weird and dressed them. This case caused a great anger within Muslim society. Azarbaijan Atabeg İldeniz, Ahlatşah Sökmen, İzzeddin Saltuk, Meraga Emir İbn Aksungur, Iraqi Seljuk Sultan Arslanşah and begs of Anatolia went to Gence via Nahcivan. More than 50.000 mujahids surged into Georgian soil, invaded the country in 1163 and captured many Georgians. Seljuks, who ruled the eastern Georgia until 12th century, also İldenizans, Mengücüks, Saltuks and Ahlatşahs struggled with Georgians. As Georgians kept attacking Turkish soils, Süleyman Shah II, Sultan of the Anatolian Seljuks, marched to Georgia in 1202. Yet his military camp was busted by Georgians while they were resting. The army of Süleyman Shah was severely defeated. Behram Shah, Bey of Mengucuk, was among those prominent leaders who were captured. Suleyman Shah II deceased when he was on the second expedition to Georgia in 1204. Kemaleddin Kamyar and Mübaruziddin Çavlı marched into Georgia in 1232, the period of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat, and captured several fortresss. Queen Rusudan proposed a peace agreement, as she could not cope with the Seljuk army. According to the agreement, the Queen accepted to marry her daughter Tamara with Gıyaseddin Keyhusrev II, son of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat. Celaleddin Harizmşah, after settling in Tebriz, began to prepare an expedition to Georgia. When the diplomatic attempts did not provide a solution, he conquered Duvin (622 H. 1225 A.C.). He also captured Kerbi and Zun and returned Azarbaijan. In the following year he marched to Georgia again and conquered Tbilisi (Rabiulahir 624 H. April 1227 A.C.). He also surrounded Ani and Kars; organized raids to northern Georgia and obtained many spoils. Celaleddin Harizmşah, while he was busy with surrounding Ahlat, heard from Şerefülmülk, his Vizier, that Georgians were preparing to capture Tbilisi back. Then he confronted the allied forces composed of Georgian, Armenian and Kıpçaks around Betak Lake. After managing to overcome Kıpçaks with diplomatic means, he defeated the remaining Georgian army and entered Tbilisi (627 H. 1229 A.C.). Mongols, who had fought Georgians firstly in 1220 and defeated them, entered Georgia in 1231 again. Queen Rusudan asked for help from Pope Gregorios IX, yet could not get any help. Thus, she had to leave Tbilisi. When Mongols invaded Georgia again, they sent prominent Georgians to Mongolia and these Georgians stayed there for years. Mongols employed many Georgian soldiers in their expeditions. When the Queen realized that she cannot cope with the Mongols, she officially recognized the rule of Büyük Khan in 1243 and accepted to pay tribute to them. After the death of Rusudan, Mongols divided Caucasia into eight provinces. Great Mongol Khan Mengü, after ascending throne in 1251, assigned two Georgians who were living in Karakorum to go back to Georgia. These Georgians came to Georgia and ruled the country together. After this period, Batu Khan and Hülagu tried to take control of Georgia. Berke Khan marched towards the region came up to Tbilisi in 1266. Georgia was very prosperous under the rule of İlhanlis. King David IV sent a group of diplomatic envoy including the highest-level Orthodox priest and Kadi to Gazan Khan, the ruler of İlhanlis of his time. İlhanlis used the Georgians in their military expeditions and encouraged them to convert to Islam. King Georgi V, taking the advantage of the chaotic political environment towards the end of İlhanlı period, terminated the rule of Mongols over Georgia. However Georgian kings tried to establish good relations with Byzantine Empire, Timur made an expedition to Georgia in 1386. King Bagrat, who sheltered into Tbilisi fortress, was captured along with Queen Anna. Some Georgian historians say that the King converted to Islam, while some believe that this conversion was actually a maneuver to save his soils. In the aftermath, Timur went to Şeki via Tbilisi and captured the city. King Giorgi VI, son and successor of Bagrat, accepted the sovereignty of Timur and paid tribute to him after his expedition in 1399-1400. Timur returned Caucasia via Sivas-Baghdad-Tebriz in 1401 and granted mercy to the King with the condition that he would provide soldiers to Timur’s army and take care of Muslims (1402). Yet Timur decided to punish him later on the ground that he did not congratulate Timur on his victory against Yıldırım Bayezid. Although Giorgi apologized and sent presents to him, Timur did not accept his apology and started an expedition to Georgia. He destroyed many cities and villages. When the Ulama (Muslim scholars) issued fatwa (juridical decision) declaring that safety guarantee could be granted to the people of Georgia, Timur stopped the slaughter in the region, yet destroyed all the monasteries and churches, and went to Beylekan from Tbilisi. He assigned the lands located between Beylekan and Trabzon to Halil Mirza. After Timur’s rule, Alexendre I (1412-1442), a Bagrats descendant, established the sovereignty and unity. But some time later Georgia was separated again to three Kingdoms and five beyliks. Karakoyunlu Kara Yusuf attacked to Georgia (815 H. 1412-13 A.C.) and destroyed some regions. In 841 H. 1437 A.C. when Şahruh entered Georgia, King Alexandre sent valuable gifts to him. Karakoyunlu Cihan Shah raided to Akhıska in 848 H. (1444 A.C.). Uzun Hasan surged into Georgia in 1466. Although he could not conquer Akhiska, he managed to save some Muslim captured by Georgians. Yakub, Sultan of Akkoyunlu, captured Samtslehe and assigned Sufi Halil Bey to conquer Georgia. After a long-lasted siege, Halil Bey seized Tbilisi (894 H. 1489 A.C.). Safavid Ruler Shah İsmail organized raids to Georgia beginning from 501. Shah Tahsmab also made four expeditions to this country and captured Tbilisi in 1540.


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