Anos I, Prince of Abkhazia

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Anos I of Abkhazia, Prince

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Abkhazia
Death: Died in Abkhazia
Immediate Family:

Husband of Princess of Abkhazia
Father of Ghozar I, Prince of Abkhazia

Managed by: Douglas John Nimmo
Last Updated:

About Anos I, Prince of Abkhazia

The Kingdom of Abkhazia (Georgian language: აფხაზეთის სამეფო; Aphkhazetis Samepo), also known as the Kingdom of the Abkhazes (აფხაზთა სამეფო) refers to an early medieval feudal state in the Caucasus between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, which lasted from the 780s until being united, through dynastic succession, with the Kingdom of Georgia (see Tao-Klarjeti) in 1008.

According to The Georgian Chronicles the first inhabitants of what is now Abkhazia' and the whole western Georgia were Egrosians, the descedants of Egros son of Togarmah, grandson of Japhet, son of Noah, who came from the land known as Arian-Kartli. [1] Japhet is said to be the ancestor of the Khazars who lived just north and converted to Judaism.

Prehistoric Era: Lower Paleolithic hunting-gathering encampments formed the first known settlements on the territory of modern-day Abkhazia. Upper Paleolithic culture settled chiefly the coastline. Mesolithic and Neolithic periods brought larger permanent settlements, and marked the beginning of farming, animal husbandry, and the production of ceramics. The earliest artifacts of megalithic culture appeared in the early 3rd millennium BC and continued into the Bronze Age as the so-called dolmens of Abkhazia, typically consisting of four upright mass stones and a capstone, some of them weighting as much as 50 tonnes. A dolmen from the Eshera archaeological site is the best studied prehistoric monument of this type. The Late Bronze Age saw the development of more advanced bronze implements, and continued into the Iron Age as a part of the Colchian culture (c. 1200-600 BCE), which covered most of what is now western Georgia and part of northeastern Anatolia.

Origins of Abkhazia of Greek Antiquity: The written history of Abkhazia largely begins with the coming of the Milesian Greeks to the coastal Colchis in the 6th-5th centuries BC. They founded their maritime colonies along the eastern shore of the Black Sea, with Dioscurias being one of the most important principal centers of trade with the neighboring tribes, that of slaves not excluded. This city, said to be so named for the Dioscuri, the twins Castor and Pollux of classical mythology, is presumed to have subsequently developed into the modern-day Sukhumi. Other notable colonies were Gyenos, Triglitis, and later Pityus, arguably near the modern-day coastal towns of Ochamchire, Gagra, and Pitsunda, respectively.

Languages during Greek Antiquity: The peoples of the region were notable for their number and variety, as classical sources testify. Herodotus, Strabo, and Pliny appreciate the multitude of languages spoken in Dioscurias and other towns. The mountainous terrain tended to separate and isolate local peoples from one another and encouraged the development of dozens of separate languages and dialects complicating the ethnic makeup of the region.

Roman Era: Along with the rest of Colchis, Abkhazia was conquered by Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus between c. 110 and 63 BC, and then taken by the Roman commander Pompey.

Lazic Era: With the downfall of the Roman Empire, the tribes living in the region gained some independence, nominating their rulers who were to be confirmed by Rome. In the 3rd century AD, the Lazi tribe came to dominate most of Colchis, establishing the kingdom of Lazica, locally known as Egrisi. According to Procopius, the Abasgi chieftains were also subdued by the Lazic kings.

Byzantine Era: Colchis was a scene of the protracted rivalry between the Eastern Roman/Byzantine and Sassanid empires, culminating in the Lazic War from 542 to 562. The war resulted in the decline of Lazica, and the Abasgi in their dense forests won a degree of autonomy under the Byzantine authority. During this era the Byzantines built Sebastopolis in the region. Their land, known to the Byzantines as Abasgia, was a prime source of eunuchs for the empire.

Christian Era: The people remained pagan until a mission sent by the emperor Justinian I (527-565) converted the people to Christianity, though at the 325 Council of Nicaea a bishop had attended from the port city of Pityus.[2] Byzantines constructed defensive fortifications that may have partially survived to this day as Kelasuri Wall.

Medieval Abkhazia: As the Abasgi grew in relative strength, the name Abasgia came to denote a larger area populated by various ethnic groups including Mingrelian- and Svan-speaking South Caucasian tribes, and subordinated to the Byzantine-appointed princes (Greek: archon, Georgian: eristavi) who resided in Anacopia and were viewed as major champions of the empire’s political and cultural influence in the western Caucasus. The Arabs penetrated the area in the 730s, but did not subdue it; about then the term Abkhazeti ("the land of the Abkhazians") first appeared in the Georgian annals, giving rise to the name Abkhazia, which is used today in most foreign languages. Through their dynastic intermarriages and alliance with other Georgian princes, the Abasgian dynasty acquired most of Lazica/Egrisi, and in the person of Leo established themselves as "kings of the Abkhazians" in the 780s.[4] With the Khazar help, Leo ousted the Byzantines and expanded his kingdom, transferring his capital to the Georgian city of Kutaisi. Although the nature of this kingdom's ruling family is still disputed, most scholars agree that the Abkhazian kings were Georgian in culture and language. In order to eliminate the Byzantine religious influence, the dynasty subordinated the local dioceses to the Georgian Orthodox patriarchate of Mtskheta.[5][6]

Golden Age: The most prosperous period of the Abkhazian kingdom was between 850 and 950, when it dominated the whole western Georgia and claimed control even of the easternmost Georgian provinces. The terms "Abkhazia" and "Abkhazians" were used in a broad sense during this period – and for some while later – and covered, for all practical purposes, all the population of the kingdom regardless of their ethnicity.[7]

In 989, the Bagratid ruler Bagrat III came to power in Abkhazia which he inherited from his mother Guranduxt Anch'abadze. In 1008 Bagrat inherited K'art'li from his father and united the kingdoms of Abkhazia and Georgia into a single Georgian feudal state.[8]

Queen Tamar: This state reached the apex of its strength and prestige under the queen Tamar (1184–1213). On one occasion, a contemporary Georgian chronicler mentions a people called Apsars. This source explains the sobriquet 'Lasha' of Tamar's son and successor George IV as meaning "enlightenment" in the language of the Apsars. Some modern linguists link this nickname to the modern Abkhaz words a-lasha for "clear" and a-lashara for "light", identifying the Apsars with the possible ancestors of the modern-day Abkhaz, though the exact identity and location of this tribe is unclear.

According to the Georgian chronicles, Queen Tamar granted the lordship over part of Abkhazia to the Georgian princely family of Shervashidze. According to traditional accounts, they were an offshoot of the Shirvanshahs (hence allegedly comes their dynastic name meaning "sons of Shirvanese" in Georgian). The ascendancy of this dynasty (later known also as Chachba by the Abkhaz form of their surname) in Abkhazia would last until the Russian annexation in the 1860s.

The Genoese Era: Genovese traders established trading factories along the Abkhazian coastline in the 14th century to access the goods from land-routes to China via the Black Sea, but they functioned for a short time due to the opening of the sea routes to the Americas, China and India. The presence of the Genovese helped the area to be relatively spared from the Mongol and Timur's invasions, which terminated Georgia's "golden age". As a result, the kingdom of Georgia fragmentized into several independent or semi-independent entities by the late 15th century. The Principality of Abkhazia was one of them. The Abkhazian princes engaged in incessant conflicts with the Mingrelian potentates, their nominal suzerains, and the borders of both principalities fluctuated in the course of these wars. In the following centuries, the Abkhazian nobles finally prevailed and expanded their possessions up to the Inguri River, which is today's southern boundary of the region. Several medieval historians like Vakhushti and a few modern ones claimed that the Kelasuri Wall was built by prince Levan II Dadiani of Mingrelia as a protection against Abkhaz.[9]

Ottoman Era: In the 1570s, the Ottoman navy occupied the fort of Tskhumi on the Abkhazian coastline, turning it into the Turkish fortress of Suhum-Kale (hence, the modern name of the city of Sukhumi). In 1555, Georgia and the whole South Caucasus was divided between the Ottoman and Safavid Persian empires, with Abkhazia, along with all of western Georgia, remaining in the hands of the Ottomans. As a result, Abkhazia came under the increasing influence of Turkey and Islam, gradually losing its cultural and religious ties with the rest of Georgia. According to the Soviet historical science Turkey after the conquest has aimed at obliterating the material and spiritual culture of Abkhazia and forcibly convert the population to Islam, which led to numerous insurrections (in 1725, 1728, 1733, 1771 and 1806) [10]

Towards the end of the 17th century, the principality of Abkhazia broke up into several fiefdoms, depriving many areas of any centralized authority. The region became a theatre of widespread slave trade and piracy. According to several Georgian scholars, it was when a number of the Adyghe clansmen migrated from the North Caucasus mountains and blended with the local ethnic elements, significantly changing the region's demographic situation.

In the mid-18th century, the Abkhazians revolted against the Ottoman rule and took hold of Suhum-Kale, but soon the Turks regained the control of the fortress and granted it to a loyal prince of the Shervashidze family.

Russian Era: The Russian annexation of two major Georgian kingdoms between 1801 and 1810 facilitated the empire’s expansion far into the Caucasus region. During the Russo-Turkish War, 1806-1812, in 1810, a Russian force took hold of Suhum-kale and installed their protégé Sefer Bey (Georgi), who agreed to incorporate Abkhazia as a vassal principality within the Russian empire, as a prince. Initially, the Russian control hardly extended beyond Suhum-kale and the Bzyb area, with the rest of the region chiefly dominated by the pro-Turkish Muslim nobility. In a series of conflicts with the Ottoman Empire and the North Caucasian tribes, the Russians acquired possession of the whole Abkhazia in a piecemeal fashion between 1829 and 1842, but their power was not firmly established until 1864, when they managed to abolish the local princely authority.

The last prince of Abkhazia, Michael Shervashidze (Chachba), was exiled to Russia where he soon died.[11]

in 1870, bound peasants, including slaves, were liberated in Abkhazia as a part of the Russian serfdom reforms. This reform triggered the moderate development of capitalism in the region. Tobacco, tea and subtropical crops became more widely grown. Industries (coal, timber) began to develop. Health resorts started to be built. A small town of Gagra, acquired by a German prince Peter of Oldenburg, a member of the Russian royal family, turned to a resort of particular tourist interest early in the 1900s (decade).

In the Russian revolution of 1905, most Abkhaz remained largely loyal to the Russian rule, while Georgians tended to oppose it. As a reward for their allegiance, tsar Nicholas II officially forgave the Abkhaz for their opposition in the 19th century and removed their status of a "guilty people" in 1907. This split along political divisions led to the rise of mistrust and tensions between the Georgian and Abkhaz communities which would further deepen in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Abkhazia from 1917 to 1921:

The Bolshevik coup in October 1917 and the ensuing Russian Civil War forced the major national forces of South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – to unite into fragile federative structures. Abkhaz leaders created, on November 8, 1917, their own post-revolutionary body, Abkhaz People’s Council (APC), but Abkhazia became embroiled into a chaos of the civil unrest. It was torn between supporters of the short-lived Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus, a pro-Bolshevik faction, a pro-Turkish nobility, and a pro-Georgian Menshevik group.

In March 1918, local Bolsheviks under the leadership of Nestor Lakoba, a close associate of Joseph Stalin, capitalized on agrarian disturbances and, supported by the revolutionary peasant militias, kiaraz, won power in Sukhumi in April 1918.

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