Friday, October 21, 2011

David the Builder

David IV "the Builder", also known as David I of the Bagrationi dynasty, was a king of Georgia from 1089 until his death in 1125.opularly considered to be the greatest and most successful Georgian ruler in history, he succeeded in driving the Seljuk Turks out of the country, winning the major Battle of Didgori in 1121. His reforms of the army and administration enabled him to reunite the country and bring most of the lands of the Caucasus under Georgia’s control.
The only son of King George II (1072–1089) by his wife Helena, he was born in Kutaisi, western Georgia in 1073. David was raised during one of the darkest chapters of Georgian history, amidst the strife of the so-called Great Turkish Onslaught (didi turkoba) when the Seljuk tribes began massive migrations to the southern Caucasus.
Despite his age, he was actively involved in Georgia’s political life. Backed by his tutor and an influential churchman George of Chqondidi, David IV pursued a purposeful policy, taking no unconsidered step. He was determined to bring order to the land, bridle the unsubmissive secular and ecclesiastic feudal lords, centralize the state administration, form a new type of army that would stand up better to the Seljuk Turkish military organization, and then go over to a methodical offensive with the aim of expelling the Seljuks first from Georgia and then from the whole Caucasus. Between 1089–1100, King David organized small detachments of his loyal troops to restore order and destroy isolated enemy troops.

In 1101, King David captured the fortress of Zedazeni, a strategic point in his struggle for Kakheti and Hereti, and within the next three years he liberated most of eastern Georgia.

In 1093, he arrested the powerful feudal lord Liparit Baghvashi, a long-time enemy of the Georgian crown, and expelled him from Georgia (1094). After the death of Liparit’s son Rati, David abolished their duchy of Kldekari in 1103.He slowly pushed the Seljuk Turks out of the country, recovering more and more land from them as they were now forced to focus not only on the Georgians but the newly begun Crusades in the eastern Mediterranean.Next year, David’s supporters in the eastern Georgian province of Kakheti captured the local king Aghsartan II (1102–1104), a loyal tributary of the Seljuk Sultan, and reunited the area with the rest of Georgia.

Following the annexation of Kakheti, in 1105, David routed a Seljuk punitive force at the Battle of Ertzukhi, leading to momentum that helped him to secure the key fortresses of Samshvilde, Rustavi, Gishi, and Lorri between 1110 and 1118.

Problems began to crop up for David now. His population, having been at war for the better part of twenty years, needed to be allowed to become productive again. Also, his nobles were still making problems for him, along with the city of Tbilisi which still could not be liberated from Arab grasp. Again David was forced to solve these problems before he could continue the reclamation of his nation and people. For this purpose, David IV radically reformed his military. He resettled a Kipchak tribe of 14.000 families from the Northern Caucasus in Georgia in 1118–1120.In 1120 David IV moved to western Georgia and, when the Turks began pillaging Georgian lands, he suddenly attacked them. Only an insignificant Seljuk force escaped. King David then entered the neighbouring Shirvan and took the town of Qabala.

In the winter of 1120–1121 the Georgian troops successfully attacked the Seljuk settlements on the eastern and southwestern approaches to the Transcaucasus.

, King David routed the enemy army on the fields of Didgori, achieving what is often considered the greatest military success in Georgian history. The victory at Didgori signaled the emergence of Georgia as a great military power and shifted the regional balance in favor of Georgian cultural and political supremacy.

David the Builder died on January 24, 1125, and upon his death, King David was, as he had ordered, buried under the stone inside the main gatehouse of the Gelati Monastery so that anyone coming to his beloved Gelati Academy stepped on his tomb first, a humble gesture for a great man. He had three children, the son Demetrius, who succeeded him and continued his father's victorious reign; and two daughters, Tamar, who was married to the Shirwan Shah Akhsitan (Aghsartan in Georgian), and Kata (Katai), married to Isaakios Comnenus, the son of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus.

King David the Builder gave close attention to the education of his people. The king selected children who were sent to the Byzantine Empire "so that they be taught languages and bring home translations made by them there". Many of them later became well-known scholars.

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