The New International Encyclopædia/Georgia (Transcaucasia)

GEOR′GIA (Pers. Gurjistān, Arm. Vrastan, Lat. Iberia, Russ. Grusia; influenced in popular etymology by the name of the patron saint George). A region in Transcaucasia, constituting, until the year 1799, an independent kingdom, and now forming the main part of the Russian governments of Tiflis and Kutais. It comprises the ancient Iberia, Colchis, and Albania. The native name of the country is Kathli, or Sakarthvélo.

Tradition traces the origin of the Georgians to Thargamos, a great-grandson of Japhet. Mtskhathos, the supposed builder of Mtsketha, the ancient capital, near Tiflis, is a prominent figure in their legendary history. They are known to have submitted to Alexander the Great, and to have been freed from foreign rule and united in one kingdom by Pharnabazus (B.C. 324). Georgia was Christianized during the fourth century. A Sassanide dynasty was established in A.D. 265, and continued with a half-century's interregnum until 787, when the long line of Bagratian sovereigns (see Bagratides) came to the throne. The latter drove out the Arab invaders who had subjected the Sassanide princes, reunited the disorganized country, and advanced its civilization and material welfare. In the eleventh century the country was temporarily brought under the yoke of the Seljuk Turks, but regained its independence under David III. (1090-1125). Until the thirteenth century, when it was conquered by the Mongols, Georgia prospered greatly, and increased in extent under a series of able sovereigns. Under Queen Tamara (1184-1212), who married a Russian prince, and thus initiated the intimate connection of Georgia with Russia, the country attained the height of its prosperity and power. Toward the end of the fourteenth century Timur subdued Georgia, but was expelled in the beginning of the next century by George VII. Alexander I., who succeeded George VII., divided the kingdom among his three sons. Each of these States was again divided, and at one time twenty-six different princes reigned in Georgia. The history of Georgia now falls into two parts: that of the Eastern States, Karthli and Kakheth; and that of the Western States, including Imeritia, Mingrelia, and Guria. This division was fatal to the independence and power of Georgia. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century the Eastern States were oppressed by Persia, and in 1799 George XIII. resigned in favor of Paul, Emperor of Russia. In 1802 the Emperor Alexander proclaimed the territory a Russian province. Of the three States forming Western Georgia, Guria fell into the hands of Russia in 1801, and formally surrendered itself to that empire by the treaty of 1810; Mingrelia was virtually added to Russia in 1803; Imeritia had been acquired by Russia toward the close of the eighteenth century. See Georgian Language; Georgians.