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Correcting Misinformation on the Monarchy of Georgia
The following shows a number of serious error’s in a well-known book. They are historically inaccurate and should be corrected. The indented bluish sections present accurate historical facts. Underlinging has been added to the report to highlight some things considered especially important.
This ancient ruling family purportedly descends from Ambat I, Prince of the Bagratids in 314, ancestor of Varaz-Tirot's, appointed Viceroy of Armenia by the Shah of Persia in the 620, where he was ruling until circa 645 when this post was confirmed by the Bizantine Emperor; He was great-grandfather of Ashot III (726-61), ancestor of the lines of the Kings of Georgia, and of the Kings of Armenia (the Latter extinct in the male line); his grandson, Ashot (I), became Eristav of Kartli in 809. The Latter's great-grandson, Adarnase II, farther consolidated his rule and a later descendant, George I (996-1027), united the Kingdoms of Abasgia and Iberia into the Kingdom of Georgia.
*Historically the Bagrations family goes back to the VIII century B.C. The antiquity of this family has been confirmed from Georgian, Armenian and Byzantine historical sources. The oldest representative of this family confirmed through historical sources is Bagadat, who lived about 716 B.C. (T. Dundua. “Bagrat, son of Bivrat” from “Scientific and cultural heritage of the Bagrationis”, Tbilisi, 2003, p. 74.). According to Armenian historical sources, the origins of the Armenian Bagratids go back to the second century B.C. (N. Adonts, Armenia in the age of Justinian, St. Petersburg, 1908, p 413.)
Besides, the real name of Ambat I (Prince of the Bagratids), mentioned in the previous paragraph was Smbat. Varaz-Tirots was the chief (Marzpan) of Hyrcanus (the area located on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea). In 628 he was appointed as Marzpan (ruler) of Armenia by the Shahin Shah of Iran Kavad II. The Byzantine Emperor Heraclius I (610-641) appointed Varaz-Tirots as first among equals (Primus Inter Pares) Prince of Armenia. The representatives of the Bagratids from the VII century to the IX century, with a few exceptions, were the bearers of this title.
The Bagratids became powerful and from the IX century onwards they assumed royal power, particularly in Armenia (885), Georgia (898), Hereti (east of Kakheti) in 893, and Kakheti (1037). (Ovanes Draskhanaketsi, History of Armenia (786-925), Yerevan, 1986, p 119; Sumbat Davitis dze. History and the story of Bagratids. Tbilisi, 1976, p. 34-54; Chronicler of Kartli (Georgia), Tbilisi, 1976, p. 48.)
As regards Ashot I Kurapalate, this was not the Eristavi of Kartli, but the Erismtavari of Kartli which is quite different. In 813, following the Arab conflict, Ashot was forced to move in southwest Georgia, where he established the Principality of Tao-Klarjeti. He received the title of Kurapalat from the Byzantine Emperor Leon V (815-820). In 898 his great-grandson Adarnase II Kurapalat became King of the Kartvelians (Georgians). The great-great-grandson of Adarnase II (King Bagrat III) became ruler of Kartli in 975. Three years later, in 978, he also became King of Abkhazia (Abazgia). After the demise of his stepfather, David III, Kurapalat received the title of Kurapalat from the Byzantine Emperor Basil II "the Bulgar-slayer" in 1008. But after demise of his father, Gurgen II, he received the title of King of Kings. Therefore, it was Bagrat and not Giorgi I who succeeded in unifying Georgian territories into a centralized state, which continued to exist till 1466 under its last king Giorgi VIII (1446-66).
George I was an ancestor of the existing lines of the family which, at various times, shared sovereignty of Georgia and its dependent and neighboring principalities and Kingdoms, later rejecting the over-lordship of the Emperor at Constantinople.
This Giorgi I was the son of the first King of United Georgia and so he was a common or shared ancestor for all the existing lines of the present Bagrations, as well as were all his later descendant Kings, except the last King of all Georgia Giorgi VIII, who became founder of only the Kakhetian royal branch.
Bagrat V was King of Georgia (1360-95) and King of Imeretia (1360-86), but dissension among his descendants left Imeretia independent while Georgia itself was ultimately divided into Kartli and Kakhetia until reunited in the eighteenth century.
King Bagrat V the Great (1360-1393) did not die in 1395 as indicated. He was the King of all Georgia and never was king of Imeretia separately. As a result of the conquests of the central Asian ruler Tamerlane, the power of the Georgian king was attenuated and in parallel the same influence occurred on the provincial rulers (Eristavi) of western Georgia, who were the descendants of Queen of Queens Rusudan I of Georgia. Thus, for many years they managed to become the rulers of west Georgia and not just of Imeretia.
Bagrat V's second son, Constantin I (1405-12) was founder of the two lines of Bagration (Kings of Georgia, Princes of Mukhrani) and of Kings of Imeretia (recently extinct in the male line). Alexander I (died 1446), was father of George VIII, Tsar of Kartli, and Dmitri III, founder of the line of Tsars of Kakhetia (died 1476), the last to rule in Georgia.
Firstly, the second son of King Bagrat V, Constantine I, was King of all Georgia between 1407 and 1412 and not from 1405 as indicated. Constantine I was the father of the King of all Georgia Alexander I and the grandfather of the last King of all Georgia, Giorgi VIII.
As for his elder brother Prince Dimitri from whom the senior genealogical claim of the Muhlrani’s came from, he died in 1452 childless. Thus the senior claim of the Muhkrani line is a historical falsehood. This issue which was discovered by the Genealogical Society of Georgia with regard to the real and true ancestoral origin of Kartlian royal branch will soon be published and available.
Last King of all Georgia, Giorgi VIII was forced to settle in Kakheti in 1466 where eventually he founded the Kingdom of Kakheti. At that particular time the princes of Mukhrani did not yet exist. They became an offshoot branch from the Royal House of Kartli later in 1512. King David XI of Kartli (1505-1525), from the domain lands of the Kartlian Kingdom had allocated territories of lands to his younger brother, Prince Bagrat. Later on, this land became a Princelet, however without any sovereign rights. Similar princelets without sovereign rights, were established for other noble houses, for example: the Eristavi of Aragvi, the Eristavi of Ksani, Tsitsishvili, Orbeliani and others.
The author of World Orders of Knighthood and Merit mentions that King Constantin I was founder of two lines of Bagration (the Kings of Georgia and the Princes of Mukhrani) and of Kings of Imereti (recently extinct in the male line). This is misleading. The different lines mentioned were not all created at the end of reign of last King of all Georgia Giorgi VIII. Only three lines were created – the Kartlian, Kakhetian and Imeretian royal lines (there were no other lines at that time). The Princely offshoot lines (like the Mukhranskis) appeared later and from already founded independent royal houses. Therefore if we talk about offshoot princely branch of Mukhrani then one should mention about others too like Davitishvilis, Gochashvilis, Babadishis. Quite strange but the author only mentions the Mukhranskis and inappropriately puts them on the same level as the Kings of Georgia and Kings of Imereti. This is historically misleading and provides a distorted view of what really happened.
Besides, King Giorgi VIII was never King of Kartli since he was the last ruler of all Georgia. Prince Dimitri was not the founder of the Tsars of Kakhetia. The Royal House of Kartli was established by the last King of Georgia, Giorgi VIII, in 1466.
Succession to the Georgian throne and the thrones of Kartli and Kakheti was not dictated by primogeniture, nor was it limited to males. Nonetheless, the succession remained confined primarily to the male line descendants of the House and when females inherited they married into other branches of the Bagratid family. The throne often passed from father to eldest son, but not necessarily so, occasionally passing to brothers before reverting to a senior representative line.
When a female inherited the throne there was no mandatory requirement for her to marry into other branches of the Bagratids. Otherwise the first husband of Queen Tamar wouldn't have been Yury Bogolyubsky, the Son of the Grand Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal. The same applies for Queen Russudan I; she married Ghias ad-Din, a younger son of 'Abdu'lHarij Muhammad Mughis ad-dinTughril Shah, the Emir of Erzurum.
After the failure of the King (Queen) Tamar’s first marriage with the Russian Prince Yuri Bogolubski, she married David Soslan, who stemmed from an offshoot branch of the Bagrationis, he was consort husband to Queen Tamar and therefore the child born from this marriage (the future King Giorgi IV) continued the royal succession of the King of Kings (Queen of Queens) Tamar (Life of Kartli, V. 1, text established according to all the general manuscripts by S. Kaukhchishvili, Tbilisi, 1955, p. 369).
In all historical sources King Giorgi IV is mentioned as son of Queen Tamar. Same with King of Georgia David VI Narin who in every source mentioned as son of Queen Rusudan. Therefore in Georgia the succession law was similar to a mix between the Byzantium/Roman/Persian laws that if there is no male in the royal house then female could inherit a throne and the line of succession continues through her.
The last ruling Kings were from a junior branch that deposed the senior line in 1725. The system of succession was such that while it would seem more likely that the legitimate claim rests with the surviving Gruzinski Princes, the claim by the Bagrations of Mukhrani cannot be dismissed and this branch has energetically pursued its claim to represent the House, as the senior male representative line.
Teimuraz II, who became King in 1725 was able to demand greater autonomy from Persia, while remaining an ally. He appointed his elder son , Irakly II, Tsar of Kakhetia, in 1744 and he later united Georgia as Tsar of Kartli and Kakhetia on his father's death.
If one talks about the last ruling Kings as a junior branch it would seem a rather strange because in Georgia a pure Salic/Primogeniture law was never followed, but a conglomeration of the Persian-Byzantium law of succession as we already pointed out above. However, it was important to ensure that the line should have always be royal.
The offshoot branches, for example Princes Mukhrani and Princes Davitishvili, no matter how senior or junior they were from a genealogical point of view, were never considered for the succession or inheritance of the Georgian throne. Besides, the issue about the real origin of the line of the Kartlian Kingdom is still under research, but relying on most recent data, the branch of Kartli turns out to be the most junior rather than senior. In recent times, scholars found more evidences which proves that the father of King Constantine II, was not prince Dimitri. And he was not the elder brother of the last King of all Georgia, Giorgi VIII. The father of King Constantine was the other prince Dimitri. He was a distant cousin from the junior line of King Bagrat V. Until this research is fully concluded we are not going to elaborate more on this issue, but the fact that Prince Dimitri, the supposed elder brother, had no children male or female and could not have been the father of King Constantine II.
What this means is the royal line of the kings is the senior line genealogically, not the noble Myhkrani line. However, again, senior or junior is meaningless and irrelevant in Georgian succession.
A note about Vakhtang VI of Kartli, in 1724 (not in 1725), the King of Kartli was forced to renounce the Kartlian throne, but he was never compelled to leave the country, although he did. In 1724 he resettled to Russia with his whole family including all his male heirs. However, this dethroned king’s daughter was the wife of the Georgian King Teimuraz II and the mother of 4 year old Prince Heraclius, who later reigned as King Erekle II of all Georgia.
King Vakhtang VI was the grandson of King Vakhtang V, who was a Muhkrani, but this noble relationship was legally terminated by his adoption by King Rostom (1633-1658), which made him a member of the royal family of Kartli. He succeed King Rostom as Vakhtang V. Rostom was the last genealogical representative of the Kartlian royal line.
From 1727 to 1735 the throne of the independent Kartli Kingdom was vacant. In 1735 the Shah of Iran Nader appointed the nephew of Teimuraz II, Aleksander III (1735-37) as King of Kartli and Kakheti. But in 1744 Shah Nader recognized Teimuraz II as King of Kartli and his son Erekle as King of Kakheti. Through this act eastern Georgia was de facto unified under the sovereign father and son and later, in 1763, de jure. All this led to the legal unification of the entire Georgia territory under the "Treaty of the Iberians" which was implemented by King Erekle II in 1790.
Irakly II, after breaking with the Shah of Persia placed Georgia under the protection of Russia by treaty of 24 July 1783. This stated that Georgia had never been a vassal of the Shah of Persia, or any other power, and that the Georgian Tsar recognised for himself and his descendants the supreme power and protection of Russia, swearing to support the Russian Crown and come to the aid of Russia if in need, while the Russian Emperor reciprocated by guaranteeing the sovereign integrity of Georgia. Russia farther undertook to assist the Georgian Tsar in the recovery of those former possessions of the Kingdom that had been alienated earlier.
Irakly's son, George XII, died on 28 December 1800 and, on 12 September 1801, the latter's son and heir King David was dispossessed by the annexation of Georgia to Russia in breach of the 1783 Treaty. Russia confered on the children of the exiled King and his family the title of Princes of Georgia (Prince Gruzinsky) and Serene Highness, for all the male line descendants of King George XII (by Imperial Ukase 26 July 1865). This line, was believed to have become extinct in 1935 with the death of Prince Michael Alexandrovich of Georgia, when the line of Princes Bagration of Mukhrani, founded by Constantine I, 8th Prince of Mukhrani (ruling 1658-68), younger brother of King Vakhtang V of Georgia, assumed the headship of the House.
Actually, since 1749 when King Erekle finally banished all Persian troops from the citadel of Narikala (Tbilisi), Georgia was no longer considered a sovereign vassal.
From 1804 the children and grandchildren of both King Erekle II and Giorgi XII started to bear the title of Tsarevich/Tsarevna - Prince/Princess of Georgia. The surname Gruzinsky means Georgia. From 1865 onwards the Gruzinsky royals received the higher distinction of “Serene Highness.” While, they were acknowledged as royals of Georgia by Imperial Russia, the Mukhrani noble house, were confirmed as Prince Bagration of Moukhrani, not of royal Georgia.
It is wrongfully stated in this book that the royal line was believed to have become extinct with the demise of Tsarevich Michail Aleksandrovich Bagration-Gruzinsky. This is an unsubstantiated statement, especially when considering that in 1935 both Princes Constantine and Peter (II), the sons of the former Head of the Royal House of Georgia, the late Prince Peter (I) (1857-1922), were still in good health and pursued the headship of the royal house.
As regards “Constantine I” (Prince Konstantin Muhkranbatoni), in reality he was a merely a simple prince of Mukhrani who had no sovereign rights. The princes of Mukhrani never ruled their princelets. This idea is simply incorrect. The princes of Mukhrani were never considered as ruling princes, same with all other similar degree princes of the Kartli-Kakhetian Kingdom. It is likely that this myth was fabricated in the early 1900’s, when this princely branch emigrated and claimed rights and distinctions that they did not have.
In reality, the position of the princes Mukhranbatoni in Geogia were administrative governors without sovereignty, they just served for Kings. This administrative position eventually has transformed into hereditary form (which happened to other princely houses in Georgia) and thus this position title was transformed into their surname.
In Georgia, there were some real sovereign Princes, mostly in western Georgia, but the Muhkranski’s were not among this elite group. These sovereign dynasties were: Prince Dadiani, ruler of Mengrelia, Prince Gurieli, ruler of Guria, Prince Shervashidze, ruler of Abkhazia, Prince Jakeli, ruler of Samtskhe, Prince Dadeshkeliani, ruler of Svanetia. Despite their semi-sovereign power they still were subordinates to the Georgian Kings. If someone tries to give the Mukhranski’s the same rank with the above listed sovereign Princes, then he/she is serious mistaken.
Two surviving lines, however, have emerged from the chaos of the former Soviet Union, and are presently represented by Prince Nugzar Petrovich Gruzinsky, born at Tbilisi 25 August 1950, a film director, who succeeded his father as senior representative of the Royal House of Kartli and Kakheti. He is married with two daughters. The only other surviving line is presently represented by a distant cousin (descended from a younger son of the penultimate King Giorgi Iraklievich), Prince Eugene Petrovich Gruzinsky, born in 1947, married (it is not known whether he has issue) and living in Moscow. The Princes of this line have not made any claim, nor have they apparently challenged the claim to the Georgian throne by the senior representative line of Prince Bagration-Mukhranski.
How they could challenge the true claim when author himself writes that these two lines have emerged from the chaos of the former Soviet Union. We prefer using the word “survived” instead of “emerged”, but how they could make a claim when they were still under the threat of the Soviet regime? It would be more correct to write that the princes Bagration-Mukhranskis, whilst living abroad and knowing that the royal family was under the pressure of the Bolsheviks took wrongful advantage of the situation and began to assert that they are members of the royal house of Georgia, which was not only erroneous, but impossible.
The Bagration-Mukhrani line is descended from Constantine II, Tsar of Kartli, who had with other issue, two sons; the elder David VIII (died 1525/6), founded the line of Kings of Georgia extinct in the male line with Rostom, Tsar of Kartli, died 1658. The younger son, Bagrat I (died 1539), was Prince of Mukhrani 1512-39), grandfather of Bagrat II (died 1624), forth Prince of Mukhrani, Regent of Kartli 1573-74, father of (1) Vakhtang II, seventh Prince of Mukhrani, succeeded as Vakhtang V, Tsar of Kartli 1658 (converted to Islam as Shah Naway I and died 1675), grandfather of Vakhtang VI, Tsar of Kartli (1675-1737), deposed and exiled 1725, whose descendants became extinct in the male line in the late nineteenth century. (2) Constantine I, 8th Prince of Mukhrani 1658-68), father of Prince Teimuraz, confirmed as ruling Prince of Mukhrani 1687. The members of this family were confirmed as Prince Bagration of Mukhrani by several decrees of the Council of the Russian Empire between 1825 and 1872.
King David VIII (indeed David X, died in 1525) was not the one who established the line of the Kings of Kartli, but his father Constantine II of Kartli (1478-1505).
The real name of King Vakhtang V, before being adopted at age 30 by the King of Kartli Rostom, was Bakhuta and not Vakhtang as indicated. We want to emphasize that he was adopted before he became king, thus he left his noble princely status and by the adoption and became a royal in line of his stepfather, King Rostom.
It is extremely important to note that this did not mean that the entire princely house of Mukhrani became part of the Royalty of Kartli; just one representative became a royal and that through the act of adoption. This is interpretation of the facts was later confirmed through the written list of nobility made by Vakhtang VI (1703-1724), the grandson of Vakhtang V Shah Nawaz), where the princes of Mukhrani appear among the noble families of Kartli. This list of royal retinue (amounting to approximately 2,000 people) included all the members of the royal family, the nobility, and servants. Every person was listed according to their rank and status. This important historical document reveals once again that the Mukhrani line was part of the nobility, not part of any Royal House. (David Guramishvili within the Georgian Hussar’s Regiment by S. Kubaneishvili, Tbilisi, 1955, p.122). Prince Constantine (1668) was never a ruling prince of Mukhrani. At best, he was an administrator.
According to past and present legislation an adopted person loses one’s own origin (that is, his/her hereditary surname) and becomes an integral part of his/her adoptive parent’s family (thus, a heir of their estate). Following his adoption, Prince Bakhuta became the successor of King Rostom-Khan, and thus established the continuation of the Royal House of Kartli until it became extinct in 1919. Parallel to this, the princely offshoot branch of Mukhranbatoni continued to exist till the present day, without royal status or any kind of valid or legitimate fons honorum.
The superiority of the Royal House of King Erekle II over all the others branches is confirmed by the fact that the highest echelons of the Imeretian Kingdom (both secular and religious) had requested King Erekle II to put the Imeretian kingdom under his Crown. In 1789 King Erekle II elected his grandson, Prince David, to succeed as king of the Imereti kingdom. The latter took the name of Solomon II and ruled over the Imereti kingdom between 1789 and 1810. This political act was intended to speed up the unification of Georgia, which was supported by the Imereti people. In the same year, approximately after six months since the enthronement of Solomon II, an important document was signed. This was known as the Treaty of the Iberians (Georgians), which once again emphasizes the precedence of the Royal House of Kartli-Kakheti over all the many other offshoot princely branches. (G. Veshapeli, Georgia and Russia, Tbilisi, 1918).
The inferiority of the Muhkrani line was again confirmed on 23rd July 1783, in a written authorization, wherein King Erekle II refers to Princes Garsevan Chavchavadze and Ioan Bagration-Mukhranbatoni as “Our faithful servants” (Giorgi Paichadze, The Treaty of Georgievsk, Tbilisi, 1983, p. 26) They were not peers in the kingdom, but subservient to the line of the kings.
An official letter from the ruling king would not only declare title or titles, but offices and rights. However, in 1687 the King of Kartli, Giorgi XI gave Prince Teimuraz a house located in Tbilisi without any recognition of any special rights for he had none -- beyond being a servant to the royal house. (Central State Historical Archive of Georgia, Fund 1448, Census I, Case ? 610, (1687).
Imperial Russian’s recognition of the Royal House can be observed by the fact that even after the annexation of Georgia, the representatives of the Royal House of Kartli-Kakheti, in particular the sons of King Giorgi XII, his grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons and great grand-daughters retained their royal titles of Princes and Princesses of Georgia. (Russian State Historical Archive, Department of General Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Fund ? 1284, Inventory 235: Inventory Affairs of the Chief Inspector in Terms of the Former Royal Houses of the Caucasus, 1804-1861, Letters of the Princes and Princesses of Georgia and their Children: Case ? 44 (1807), Case ? 58 (1815), Case ? 60 (1811), Case ? 251 (1861).
From the second half of the 19th century onwards the Russian Empire distinguished the representatives of the former Royal House of Georgia from all the other branches of Bagrationis, including the Muhkrani’s by granting them the higher title of “Serene Highnesses.”
Another correction is that between 1573 and 1574 there was no Regent Prince of Kartli. Between 1569 and 1578 the ruling king of Kartli was David XI (Daut khan), the elder brother of King Simeon I of Kartli (1556-1600).
Prince Irakly Bagration (1909-1977) proclaimed himself Head of the Royal House of Georgia and claimant to the throne after the presumed extinction of the senior branch of the surviving Princes Gruzinsky (1935), following the death of his father in 1957. In 1946 he married as his third wife the D. Maria de las Mercedes de Baviera y Borbon, Infanta of Spain, daughter of Prince Ferdinand of Bavaria, Infant of Spain, by his first wife, Infanta Pilar de Borbon y Austria, youngest sister of King Alfonso XIII. He had issue by his second wife, Maria Antonietta Pasquini dei Conti di Costafiorita, Prince George Bagration, born in 1944, a leading rally driver, who is married with issue and has continued his father's claims.
The Georgian Order of the Eagle of Georgia and the Tunic of Our Lord Jesus Christ has its origins according to tradition in a collar given for loyalty by the Bagratid Kings in the later middle ages, which was reputedly reformed in the eighteenth century. There is little historical evidence to support that any chivalric institution on the western European model existed in any of the Georgian kingdoms at this early date.
Prince Irakly Bagration (1909-77) should be labeled as self-styled or self-proclaimed as this was a false and therefore wrongful assertion.
Prince Irakli Bagration-Muhkrani amidst the confusion of Nazi Germany in 1942 proclaimed himself “Head of the Royal House of Georgia.” A so-called election took place between him and Simon Tsitsishvili. These two men, created a genealogical tree on a hotel sheet, (a copy of which is in my possession) where the last King of Georgia Giorgi XII is shown without offspring, even though they knew about the existence of three generations of the Royal House. These men willfully and dishonestly hide the reality of the true royal line. Bagrationis, who had higher rank than prince Mukhranski, such as royal representatives of the Imeretinski branch in Europe, were not invited to participate in this illegal two man show. It did not represent a true vote of sovereign princes, but underlings. Their bogus election was then sent to 14 simple Georgian emigrants after the fact. This is how prince Irakli perpetrated his fraudulent claim upon the world.
The mentioned tradition “in a collar” never applied to Georgia. This is completely wrong. There were other traditions in Georgia to recognize one’s loyalty, but not this. In Georgian history we find that the first person who apparently developed orders of chivalry in Georgia was Prince Ioan (1768-1830), the second son of King Giorgi XII (1778-1800) of all Georgia.
His Royal Highness Prince Nugzar is from the line of the Kings of all Georgia and is the only person holding legal, non-territorial sovereignty in that land. The Muhkrani line being a non-sovereign house has no legitimate entitlement as a fons honorum or valid fountain of honor. They are therefore operating several self-styled or bogus orders of chivalry. They are counterfeits of what is real, authentic and true. Their spurious claim was born out of outright lies and misrepresentations.