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Principality of Iberia

Principality of Iberia and Principate of Iberia (Kartli to the natives and as Iberia to Classical and Byzantine authors. Its borders fluctuated greatly as the presiding princes of Iberia confronted the Persians, Byzantines, Khazars, Arabs, and the neighboring Caucasian rulers throughout this period.

The time of the principate was climacteric in the history of Georgia; the principate saw the final formation of the Kingdom of Georgia by the early eleventh century.


  • History 1
  • Presiding princes of Iberia 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4


When the king of a unified Iberia, Bakur III, died in 580, the Sassanid government of Persia seized on the opportunity to abolish the Iberian monarchy. The Iberian nobles acquiesced to this change without resistance, while the heirs of the royal house withdrew to their highland fortresses – the main Chosroid line in Kakheti, and the younger Guaramid branch in Klarjeti and Javakheti. However, the direct Persian control brought about heavy taxation and an energetic promotion of Zoroastrianism in a largely Christian country. Therefore, when the Eastern Roman emperor Maurice embarked upon a military campaign against Persia in 582, the Iberian nobles requested that he helped restore the monarchy. Maurice did respond, and, in 588, sent his protégé, Guaram I of the Guaramids, as a new ruler to Iberia. However, Guaram was not crowned as king, but recognized as a presiding prince and bestowed with the Eastern Roman title of curopalates. The Byzantine-Sassanid treaty of 591 confirmed this new rearrangement, but left Iberia divided into Roman- and Sassanid-dominated parts at the town of Tbilisi.[1]

Thus, the establishment of the principate marked the ascendancy of the dynastic aristocracy in Iberia, and was a compromise solution amid the Byzantine-Sassanid rivalry for the control of the Caucasus. The presiding princes of Iberia, as the leading local political authority, were to be confirmed and sanctioned by the court of Great King and from the Emperor confirming them in their duchies."[1]

Through offering their protection to the Iberian principate, the Byzantine emperors pushed to limit Sassanid and then Islamic influence in the Caucasus, but the princes of Iberia were not always consistent in their pro-Byzantine line, and, as a matter of political expediency, sometimes recognized the suzerainty of the rival regional powers.[3]

Guaram’s successor, the second presiding prince Khuzayma ibn Khazim, an Arab viceroy (wali) of the Caucasus.[6]

The extinction of the Guaramids and near-extinction of the Chosroids allowed their energetic cousins of the Bagratid family, in the person of

  • Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-20915-3.
  • Georgetown University Press.


  1. ^ a b Suny, p. 25.
  2. ^ Toumanoff, p. 388.
  3. ^ Rapp, Stephen H., "Sumbat Davitis-dze and the Vocabulary of Political Authority in the Era of Georgian Unification", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 120.4 (October–December 2000), pp. 570-576.
  4. ^ Suny, p. 26.
  5. ^ Suny, p. 29.
  6. ^ Suny, p. 28.
  7. ^ Suny, pp. 29-30.


  • Bagrat III, 1008–1014

Unified Kingdom of Georgia

These rulers reigned as titular kings:

Presiding princes of Iberia


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