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The Missed Political Chances - King Bagrat IV & Liparit Bagvash (Part 2)

Professor SIMON MASKHARASHVILI (SM) continues telling the story.
Madonna Siharulidze (MS)

There were three kingdoms situated on the historical territory of Georgia in the first half of the 11th century. Kvemo (lower) Kartli was ruled by the Bagratuns, Kakhet-Hereti Kingdom was headed by the Kakhet-Hereti royal dynasty, West Georgia and Shida (inner) Kartli was under the jurisdiction of King Bagrat the Fourth, and Tbilisi was still in the hands of Arab rulers, headed by Emir Jafarid, one of the representatives of the powerful Jafarid family.
MS - Professor, we have left the story off where the Georgian aristocracy, blinded by the glitter of the Byzantine gold, shamelessly surrendered their fortresses to Emperor Basil without any resistance, and the smaller part of the Georgian patriots had united around two armed bishops Saba Mtbevari and Ezra Archeli in defense of the Georgian statehood. How would the events develop further? What would the two valiant monks do to protect the motherland? How would they manage to build the resistance of the limited number of their supporters to the enraged Byzantine military power? Many nations and sovereigns have lost battles and wars against Byzantium, haven't they?
SM - The make-shift camp and the fortress, named 'Sveti' (pillar) by Bishop Saba Mtbevari, was besieged by the huge army of Greeks, Vikings and the collaborating Georgians (now having their stomachs full and their minds blurred), totally mystified by their Christian fellowship with the Byzantines. They sent a message to bishops Saba and Ezra saying that nobody was intending to terminate the Georgian independent statehood. The only intention was to let another branch of the Bagration royal family rule the country.

MS - What will Saba answer? Will he not consider the battle lost having looked at that huge army ready to gobble them up completely?
SM - Bishop Saba will shout from his dungeon cell raising his blade: We may not be bought by your money or sweetened tongue - the Georgian state is held above that all! Battles and confrontations followed, but the fortress had stood firm, probably protected by providence. Strategically speaking, to take that fortress was more than simple, but it continued standing. Right at that moment, Emperor Constantine was taken ill and he sent a word to his army to let Iberia (Georgia) alone, to drop the siege and return home. The Emperor had died soon after this. The Byzantine commander removed his army from the fortress to lead it back to Byzantium. And that was it! They have never after revisited Georgia. Starting from that time, the Tbeti bishops would always bear their swords while being sworn in because they were since then considered the principals of the nation on top of their spiritual leadership. And this was done in token of Saba's heroism.

MS - A Bishop with a sword?
SM - So it happened! It was the year of 1029. Bag-rat's rule had eventually strengthened. Katholikos of Georgia, Melkisedek, supported by the mother queen Mariam, kept trying to revive relations with Georgia. Initially, an attempt would be made to unite in royal matrimony King Bagrat and Irina, the family member of Emperor Romanoz. They were at that time the youngsters between ten and twelve. Irina fled the palace. She was followed by the Angel who gave her an apple seed. She buried the seed in the soil of which the tree grew. That tree is still standing in the capital of Greece Athens. People say the fruit of that tree has the power of endowing the barren women with child. Incidentally, my first child was conceived using that power.

MS - Is that where the name of your child is coming from - Irina?
SM - Yes, there a cathedral in New-York, named after Irina, where the icon of Irina Crisovolonda is rested. The icon produces the healing oil. Many cases of cured cancer are known by the way. Because Irina rejected the marriage with Bagrat and went to nunnery, Mariam and Bagrat were accompanied to Georgia by another female member of the emperor's family named Helen. The ten-year old queen died in a year's time. This was of-course a formal marriage. This is exactly when a new leaf of Georgia's history was turned - the epopee of King Bagrat the Fourth and Liparit Bagvash. Liparit of Trialeti (Kldekari) - principal among all princes - was the man who sacrificed the lives of his own family members for the service to Georgia and it's King. He had never betrayed the King and fought the Byzantines shoulder to shoulder with him. At the moment, the attacks of Byzantium were somehow curbed, the relations were normalized and other issues were given priority.

MS - By other issues you probably mean the internal political affairs, especially the issue of finalizing of process of creation of unified Georgia.
SM - That's right! In the first place, Tbilisi had to be liberated from the Arab rule once and for all. On top of that, there were three more states on the territory of Georgia: Lower Kartli, Kakhet-Hereti and West Georgia together with Inner Kartli, where Bagrat was the King. Once during hunting, Liparit Bagvash laid in ambush to capture the Arab Emir and bring him in front of Bagrat. Interestingly enough, Liparit had already brainwashed the Emir and prepared him for letting Tbilisi surrender to Bagrat becoming the Georgian King's vassal. This was the Emir who represented the noble Arab family of Jafarids who were the ancestors of today popular family name of Japaridze. They had turned into Georgians finally. But Bagrat's royal court was full of evil people who viciously envied Bagvash's courage, heroism and gallantry. They told the King to beware of Bagvash and not make himself obligated to him because of liberating Tbilisi from Arabs. They insisted that the King got rid of Liparit. As a result, King Bagrat made the Emir promises the loyalty, let Tbilisi remain under the Arab rule and free the Emir himself. This was a tremendous insult for Liparit Bagvash. It was not a simple thing to get hold of the Emir after all. He had risked a lot to do it because Emir was not hunting all by himself, there was the whole retinue accompanying him. Liparit Bagvash. It was not a simple thing to get hold of the Emir after all. He had risked a lot to do it because Emir was not hunting all by himself, there was the whole retinue accompanying him. Liparit had magnanimously taken Nagrat's stupidity (What else could one call a behavior like that!) into his stride, having considered the King's thoughtless step as a blunder of a youth. Five years elapsed and forgetting the terrible offence, Liparit Bagvash organized a strong military campaign to incorporate Tbilisi into the Georgian territory.

Published in the Georgian Journal on February 21 - 28, 2008


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