Tamar the Great

Mosaic of Tamar the Great

Mosaic of Tamar the Great

Tamar of Georgia (c.1160—1213) was a member of the royal Bagrationi Dynasty in Georgia, and was the daughter of George III, King of Georgia, and Burdukhan of Alania. Her father’s reign was not altogether easy, and he faced rebellion in 1177 from nobles who questioned his right to the throne. George III stopped the revolt, but decided to bring his daughter into politics with him, knowing that he had to legitimize his line. In 1178 he crowned his daughter as co-ruler, to stop any disputes over succession after his death. In 1184, George III died, and Tamar was crowned Queen regnant that same year, the first woman to rule Georgia in her own right. Because of the backlash against George III’s oppressive politics, and the fact that Tamar was a woman, she faced a lot of opposition. She was forced to make many unpleasant concessions to the aristocracy, including those of marriage, religions, and politics. Due to the nobles, Tamar married Yuri, the son of an assassinated prince in 1185. This marriage proved to be unsuccessful, and Tamar strongly disliked her new husband. At around the same time, she began to be far more assertive with her nobles, as she expanded her power and influence. In 1187, she divorced Yuri on the grounds of “sodomy” and alcoholism. Yuri and many upset nobles tried to stage a coup twice, but failed on both counts. Tamar was able to choose her next husband, and took David Soslan, and Alan prince, as her spouse. He was one of her supporters, and was a fine war leader, stopping many rebellions on her behalf. Throughout their marriage, he remained a subordinate to Tamar, and she continued to carry the title, “King of Kings”.

Throughout her reign, Tamar exhibited an expansionist outlook on foreign powers. In the early 1190s, Shirvan was taken into Georgia as a tributary state. And in 1199 Georgia took Ani, the capital of Armenia. The Georgians began a long conquest of Armenia, and took Bjni in 1201, and Dvin in 1203. Suleymanshah II, Sultan of Rûm, began to fear for his own lands, and preemptively attacked Tamar’s forces. At the Battle of Basian, Tamar’s husband David was victorious. In 1204 Tamar helped to establish the Empire of Trebizond on the Black Sea, and began an alliance with them.

Throughout her reign, Tamar made efforts to weaken Byzantium, as she was concerned over the Georgian monastic centers in the Holy Land. Nevertheless, Georgia became quite wealthy, due to the flourishing trade epicenters and brought in commerce. Tribute taxes and war spoils also helped in increasing Georgia’s wealth. Living was good for almost everyone, peasants reportedly living like nobles, nobles like princes, and princes like kings.

In 1213, Tamar died, passing on her rule to her son, George IV.

Legacy: Tamar’s leadership brought Georgia to the peak of its existence. Many hail it as The Golden Age.

The Georgian Orthodox Church later canonized her as St. Tamara.






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