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George II Gurieli

Giorgi II Gurieli (Georgian: გიორგი II გურიელი; died 1600), of the House of Gurieli, was Prince of Guria from 1564 to 1583 and again from 1587 to 1600. Succeeding on the death of his father Rostom Gurieli, Giorgi's rule over his small principality, located in southwest Georgia, was a period of conflict with the neighboring Dadiani of Mingrelia and increasing assertiveness of the Ottomans whom Gurieli submitted in 1581. His reign was interrupted, from 1583 to 1587, by a Mingrelian invasion, but Giorgi was able to resume the throne with Ottoman support.


Giorgi II Gurieli succeeded on the death of his father Rostom Gurieli in 1564. The entire length of his reign saw continuation of political strife, territorial disputes, plots and counterplots, jealousies and feuds among the rulers of a now-fragmented Georgia, occurring against the background of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into western Georgia and the Ottoman–Safavid rivalry in the Caucasus. In modern historiography, he is sometimes assigned the regnal number "III" by virtue of his being the third Giorgi with the style of Gurieli, the first being a son of Kakhaber I Gurieli in the 14th century and the second being Giorgi Gurieli, ruling from 1483 to 1512.[1]

Conflict with Dadiani

In 1568, Gurieli supported his nominal royal suzerain, King George III of Imereti, against Levan I Dadiani, who was expelled from Mingrelia. Beyond political and territorial disputes, the Gurieli–Dadiani conflict also had personal dimensions: Gurieli's pride was wounded by repudiation of his sister by her husband, Levan Dadiani's son Giorgi; Giorgi Gurieli responded by marrying and then divorcing Levan's daughter. The ousted Dadiani returned with an Ottoman force and compelled Gurieli to buy peace for 10,000 dirhams.[2][3][4]

Shortly after Levan's death in 1572, Giorgi Gurieli invaded Mingrelia and deposed Levan's successor and his former son-in-law Giorgi Dadiani in favor of Mamia IV Dadiani, whom he then gave his sister in marriage. The king of Imereti intervened in 1578 and, having extracted territorial concessions from Giorgi Dadiani, brokered a deal between the two Giorgis: the deposed Dadiani was allowed to resume his reign in exchange of paying an indemnity to Gurieli for the past offences such as his abandonment of his first wife, Gurieli's sister. As Giorgi Dadiani was short of money, he had to surrender to Gurieli Khobi until the due amount of gold was extracted in full from that town.[2]

Around 1580, Giorgi Gurieli profited from yet another disorder in Mingrelia. Giorgi Dadiani's uncle Batulia, the lord of Sajavakho, whom the Mingrelian ruler had earlier humiliated by taking his wife, plotted a revolt. Dadiani mobilized his loyal forces in time; Batulia had to flee to Guria. In exchange of capturing the rebel, Gurieli took Sajavkho for himself and then allowed Dadiani's agents to kill Batulia in a prison in Ozurgeti.[2]

Raid in Kartli

While the Georgian rulers were preoccupied with their own struggles, a new war between the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia had erupted in 1578. The Ottomans, who claimed suzerainty over all of western Georgia, compelled the king of Imereti, Gurieli, and Dadiani to join war efforts against the Safavid-dominated Kingdom of Kartli in eastern Georgia in 1581. The three crossed into the marchlands of Kartli, found the locals in flight, burned down the emptied villages, and returned with no losses.[2]

Deposition and comeback

In 1582, Giorgi Gurieli's old adversary Giorgi Dadiani died and the princely throne of Mingrelia was taken over by his brother Mamia IV Dadiani, Gurieli's son-in-law, who persuaded Gurieli to capture and incarcerate his underage nephew Levan. Mamia then exploited the boy's death in a defenestration accident as a pretext to attack Guria in 1583. Giorgi Gurieli was defeated and replaced with Dadiani's protégé, Vakhtang I Gurieli. In his flight from Guria, Giorgi had to recourse to the Ottoman support and repaired to Constantinople. In 1587, aided by the death of Vakhtang, he succeeded in resuming his rule.[2][5]

Intervention in Imereti

In 1589, Giorgi Gurieli intervened in a chaotic civil war in the Kingdom of Imereti. He had his own nominee to the throne of Imereti, Bagrat IV, whom he installed as king after defeating and expelling Rostom, a Mingrelian protégé, from Kutaisi. Gurieli left his son Mamia, to protect Bagrat and, with the help of a Turkish force, destroyed the fortress of Sebeka, possessed by the Chijavadze family, in the Imeretian borderlands, on his way back to Guria. Bagrat was quickly deposed by King Simon I of Kartli, who sought to bring all of Georgia under his scepter.[2]


According to the 18th-century historian Prince Vakhushti, Giorgi Gurieli died in 1600, the dating supported also by one contemporary document and generally accepted in modern scholarship. On the other hand, a note attached to the 17th-century liturgical collection (gulani) from the Shemokmedi Monastery dates Giorgi's death to 1598. He was succeeded by his son Mamia II Gurieli.[6]


Giorgi II Gurieli was married twice. He first married, c. 1566, a daughter of Levan I Dadiani, whom he divorced and married, c. 1582, Tamar, of the Shervashidze family, the widow of Giorgi III Dadiani. He had three children:[1]


  1. ^ a b Grebelsky, P. Kh.; Dumin, S.V.; Lapin, V.V. (1993). Дворянские роды Российской империи. Том 4: Князья Царства Грузинского [Noble families of the Russian Empire. Vol. 4: Princes of the Kingdom of Georgia] (in Russian). Vesti. p. 37.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bagrationi, Vakhushti (1976). Nakashidze, N.T. (ed.). История Царства Грузинского [History of the Kingdom of Georgia] (PDF) (in Russian). Tbilisi: Metsniereba. pp. 133–138.
  3. ^ Egnatashvili, Beri (2007) [1959]. Kaukhchishvili, Simon (ed.). ქართლის ცხოვრება, ტ. 2 [The Georgian Chronicle, Vol. 2, Part No. 497] (in Georgian). TITUS version by Jost Gippert. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  4. ^ Church, Kenneth (2001). From dynastic principality to imperial district: the incorporation of Guria into the Russian Empire to 1856 (Ph.D.). University of Michigan. pp. 127–129.
  5. ^ Rayfield, Donald (2012). Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia. London: Reaktion Books. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-1780230306.
  6. ^ Khakhutaishvili, Davit (2009). "ნარკვევები გურიის სამთავროს ისტორიიდან (XV-XVIII სს.)" [Studies in the history of the Principality of Guria (15th–18th centuries)]. სამტომეული, ტ. 2 [Works in three volumes, Vol. 2] (in Georgian). Batumi: Shota Rustaveli State University. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-9941-409-60-8.
George II Gurieli House of Gurieli Regnal titles Preceded byRostom Gurieli Prince of Guria 1564–1583 Succeeded byVakhtang I Gurieli Preceded byVakhtang I Gurieli Prince of Guria 1587–1600 Succeeded byMamia II Gurieli
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George II Gurieli
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