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House of Gurieli

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Title: House of Gurieli  
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House of Gurieli

The House of Gurieli (Georgian: გურიელი) was a Georgian royal noble family and a ruling dynasty (dukes) of the southwestern Georgian province of Guria which was autonomous and later for a few centuries independent, as well as a few ducal rulers of the dynasty rose in the 17th-18th centuries to be kings of the whole western Caucasus in place of hereditary Bagrationi kings of Imereti.

Initially a hereditary title of governors (Eristavi) of Guria since the mid-13th century, Gurieli (literally, "of Guria") was adopted as a dynastic name by the Vardanisdze family (ვარდანისძე), hereditary rulers of Svaneti (a highland province in western Georgia). The other notable branch of the Vardanisdze was the Dadiani (დადიანი) of Samegrelo. Both of these branches occasionally used double names: Gurieli-Dadiani or Dadiani-Gurieli.[1]

The medieval Gurieli were vassals to the Georgian crown, but, at the same time, seem to have paid some kind of homage (Greek: προςκυνησις) to the rulers of the neighboring Empire of Trebizond,[2] whose last emperor, David Komnenos (reigned from 1459 to 1461), is documented as having been 'gambros' of Mamia Vardanisdze-Gurieli (c. 1450 - 69), which is interpreted that Mamia married his daughter or sister or close kinswoman. If the couple had issue, possibly the subsequent ruler Kakhaber (1469–83), the latter-day Gurieli should have descended from several Byzantine and Trapezuntine emperors.[3]

In the 1460s, when the power of the Bagrationi Dynasty of Georgia was on the decline, the Gurieli pursued a policy of separation and became virtually (and even formally acknowledged in occasions) independent rulers (mtavari) of the Principality of Guria[4] in the mid-16th century,[5] but were forced to pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire, nominally recognizing also the authority of the princes of Mingrelia and kings of Imereti. Throughout the following two centuries, the politics of the Gurieli dynasty were dominated by the conflicts with the neighboring Georgian rulers, Ottoman inroads, and repeated occasions of civil strife and palace coups.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, as many as four Gurieli rulers managed to get chosen kings of the whole Western Caucasus in place of hereditary Bagrationi kings of Imereti. Gurieli kings (ephemeral as some of their royal reigns were) however are usually characterized as usurpers, or as rival dynasty of counter-monarchs.

Powerful neighbors also in several occasions managed to change the rulership of Guria itself to other members of the Gurieli dynasty, there were rivalling branches of the family itself.

Having accepted Imperial Russian sovereignty in 1810, the dynasty continued to enjoy some autonomy in their home affairs until 1829, when the Russian authorities deposed David Gurieli, the last Gurieli, and abolished the Principality of Guria.[6] With the death of David in 1839, the main male line went extinct. His cousin, David Gurieli (1802–1856), and his descendants (Russian: Гуриели, Гуриеловы) were confirmed in the dignity of Prince (knyaz) by the Tsar’s decree of 1850.

Prince Gurieli Dynasty

  • c. 1385–1410 – Kakhaber I; son of Giorgi II Dadiani; eristavi of Guria and Svaneti
  • c. 1410–1430 – Giorgi I; son of Kakhaber I
  • c. 1430–1450 – Mamia I; son of Giorgi I
  • c. 1450–1469 – Mamia II; son of Liparit I Dadiani
  • 1469–1483 – Kakhaber II; possibly son of Mamia II by his Trapezuntine wife
  • 1483–1512 – Giorgi I (II); son of Kakhaber II; sovereign prince from 1491
  • 1512–1534 – Mamia I (III); son of Giorgi I
  • 1534–1564 – Rostom; son of Mamia I
  • 1564–1583 – Giorgi II (III); son of Rostom; deposed
  • 1583–1587 – Vakhtang I; son of Giorgi II
  • 1587–1600 – Giorgi II (III); restored
  • 1600–1625 – Mamia II (IV); son of Giorgi II
  • 1625 – Svimon I; son of Mamia II; deposed, died after 1672
  • 1625–1658 – Kaikhosro I (III); son of Vakhtang I
  • 1659–1668 – Demetre; son of Svimon I; deposed, died 1668
  • 1669–1684 – Giorgi III (IV); son of Kaikhosro I
  • 1685–1689 – Kaikhosro II (IV); son of Giorgi III
    • Malak'ia; son of Kaikhosro I; rival prince 1685; deposed
  • 1689–1712 – Mamia III (V); son of Giorgi III; deposed
    • Malak'ia; restored as rival prince 1689; deposed, died after 1689
  • 1712 – Girogi IV (V); son of Mamia III; deposed
  • 1712–1714 – Mamia III (V); restored
  • 1714–1716 – Giorgi IV (V); restored; deposed
  • 1716 – Kaikhosro III (V); son of Mamia III; deposed, died after 1716
  • 1716–1726 – Giorgi IV (V); restored
  • 1726–1744 – Mamia IV (VI); son of Giorgi IV; deposed, died 1778
  • 1744 – Giorgi V (VI); son of Giorgi IV; abdicated, died after 1744
  • 1744–1792 – Svimon II; son of Giorgi V; deposed
  • 1778–c. 1780 – Kaikhosro IV (VI); son of Giorgi V; abdicated, died after 1820
  • c. 1780–1792 – Svimon II; restored
  • 1792–1803 – Vakhtang II; son of Giorgi V; deposed, died after 1814
  • 1803–1826 – Mamia V (VII); son of Svimon II
    • Kaikhosro, brother of Svimon II, regent 1803-1809
  • 1826–1829 – Davit’; son of Mamia V; deposed, died 1839
    • Sophia, mother of Davit’, regent 1826-1829


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