Gurgen I, King of Iberia-Kartli

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Russian: Gurgen I
Also Known As: "გურგენი", "Gurgen II Magistros"
Death: 1008
Immediate Family:

Son of Bagrat II, King of Iberia-Kartli
Husband of Gurandukht of Abkhazia and teodora bagratun
Father of Bagrat III, king of Georgia
Brother of Sumbat of Iberia-Kartli

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About Gurgen I, King of Iberia-Kartli

GURGEN [I], son of [BAGRAT [II] "the Simple" King of Kartli & his wife ---] (-1008 or after). The Georgian Chronicle (18th century) names "son fils aîné Gourgen" as successor of "Bagrat Régouen roi des Karthles", adding he was "titré rois des rois"[243]. His parentage is uncorroborated by earlier sources. Zonaras records that "Georgium Davidis fratrem interioris Iberiæ principem" was defeated by Byzantine forces after the death of "Davide curopalata"[244], providing another perspective on Gurgen´s possible parentage. Zonaras records that "Nicephorus Bardæ Phoca filius" won a military victory "in Abasgiam" and that "Abasgorumque princeps Georgius" fled "in Iberiæ interiora"[245]. The History of Aristakes Lastivertc'l records that "the king of Abkhazia Bagarat and his father Gurgen" met Emperor Basileios I who awarded "the honour of Curopalate" to Bagrat and "that of Magister" to his father[246]. The accession of his son Bagrat as king of Abkhazia, during his father's lifetime, would be better explained if Gurgen was not directly related to the previous princes of Kartli other than by marriage. In addition, the adoption of his son Bagrat by Davit kouropalates (who died in 1001, see above) would be more easily understandable if Gurgen had married Davit's sister. Prince of Kartli. The Georgian Chronicle (18th century) records that "Gourgen roi des rois, père de…Bagrat" died in 1008[247].

m [--- of Abkhazia, daughter of LEON King of Abkhazia & his wife ---]. The Georgian Chronicle (18th century) records that the mother of "Bagrat" was "une sœur de Démétré et de Thewdos [rois des Apkhaz]"[248]. This origin is not confirmed in other earlier sources, and the question remains whether this parentage of Gurgen's wife was a later invention to explain her son's elevation as king of Abkhazia.

Gurgen & his wife had [two] children:

1. BAGRAT [III] (-[Phanascert 7 May] 1014, bur [Bedia]). The Georgian Chronicle (13th century) records that "David Curopalate king of Tayk raised Gurgen's son the lad Bagrat" and that they "sought him as king of Abkhazia"[249]. The Georgian Chronicle (18th century) names "Bagrat" as son of "Gourgen"[250]. He succeeded as King of Abkhazia. The History of Aristakes Lastivertc'l records that "the king of Abkhazia Bagarat and his father Gurgen" met Emperor Basileios I who awarded "the honour of Curopalate" to Bagrat and "that of Magister" to his father[251]. He expelled the Turks from the eastern provinces, renounced his allegiance to the Byzantine emperor, and established his rule over Abkhazia, Kartli, Rania, Kakhetia and Armenia. He assumed the title "King of Kings [Mepe-Mepeta] and Master of all the East and West". King of Kartli 1008-1014. The Georgian Chronicle (13th century) records that "Bagrat king of Abkhazia" built monasteries and churches for 36 years and died in 1014[252]. The Georgian Chronicle (18th century) records that "le roi Bagrat" died "dans la citadelle de Phanascert" 7 May 1014 and was buried at Bedia[253]. m ---. The name of Bagrat's wife is not known. Bagrat & his wife had one child:

a) GIORGI [I] ([995/96]-[Mqinwarni or Itaroni 16 Aug] [1025/27], bur Kothathis). The Georgian Chronicle (13th century) records that "his son Georgi" succeeded "Bagrat king of Abkhazia" and ruled for 16 years[254]. He succeeded his father in 1014 as King of Abkhazia. - see below, Chapter 2.A KINGS of GEORGIA 1014-1213.

2. [KATRAMIDE . ... m GAGIK I "the Great" King of Armenia, son of ASHOT III "Voghormadz/the Merciful" King of Armenia & his wife --- (-[1017/20]).]


Gurgen also known as Gurgen Magistros,Gurgen II Magistros (Georgian: გურგენი, which is also transliterated as Gourgen and in some sources Gurgan) of the House of Bagrationi, was King of Kings of the Georgians from 994 until his death in 1008. Magistros was a title bestowed upon him by the Byzantine Emperor Basil II.

Representative of the Kartli line of the Georgian Bagratids (Bagrationi) of Tao-Klarjeti, Gurgen was the son of Bagrat II, who reigned as King of the Georgians from 958 to 994. Gurgen was married to Gurandukht, a daughter of the Abkhazian king George II. She gave birth, in circa 960, to a son called Bagrat. The latter was adopted by his kinsman, the powerful prince David III Kuropalates of Tao/Tayk, as his heir. In 975, Bagrat, still in his teens, was installed by David as a ruler in Kartli under the regency of Gurgen. Three years later, Bagrat was crowned King of the Abkhazians, while Gurgen remained his co-ruler in the Kartlian lands and helped his son in an uncompromised struggle against the aristocratic opposition.

In 989, Bagrat planned to inflict a final blow to the powerful noble Rati of Kldekari who held a large fiefdom in Trialeti. Gurgen, together with his army, was waiting for his son at the boundary of Shavsheti, when David of Tao, being misinformed that his kinsmen intended to ambush his possessions, dispersed Gurgen’s troops in a sudden attack, forcing him to flee to the fortress of Tsep’ti. In this brief conflict Gurgen’s father, Bagrat II, sided with David. The Bagratids subsequently reconciled, but David’s unsuccessful uprising against the Byzantine Empire and an ensuing treaty with Emperor Basil II destroyed a previous arrangement, by which David had made his adopted son, Bagrat (Gurgen’s son) his heir to his extensive principality.

In 994, Bagrat II died, and Gurgen succeeded him, crowning himself King of Kings of the Georgians. This kingdom comprised Hither Tao, Shavsheti, Meskheti, Javakheti, Ajaria and some minor lands in historic Tao-Klarjeti. Upon David of Tao’s death in 1000, Gurgen, and Bagrat met with Basil but, unable to prevent the annexation of David’s realm to the Byzantine Empire, were forced to recognize the new borders. On this occasion, Bagrat was bestowed with the Byzantine title of kuropalates, and Gurgen with that of magistros, actually the competing titles since the dignity conferred upon the son was more esteemed than that granted to the father. This was done by the emperor, as the Georgian chronicles relate, to turn Gurgen against Bagrat, but he seriously miscalculated. Later the same year, Gurgen attempted to take David Kuropalates’ succession by force, but the Byzantine commander Nikephoros Ouranos, dux of Antioch, made him retreat.

Gurgen died in 1008, leaving his throne to his son, King Bagrat of Abkhazia, enabling the latter to become the first king of a unified Georgian realm.


Lordkiphanidze, M (1967), Georgia in the XI-XII centuries, Ganatleba, edited by George B. Hewitt. Also available online at [1]

Rapp, SH (2003), Studies In Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early Texts And Eurasian Contexts, Peeters Bvba ISBN 978-90-429-1318-9

Suny, RG (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation (2nd Edition), Bloomington and Indianapolis, ISBN 978-0-253-35579-9

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