Samshvilde Operation of 1110

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Mamuka Tsurtsumia


By 1110 the disposition of the opposing sides on the Georgian-Seljuk front was as follows: Tbilisi, Rustavi, Samshvilde and Lower Kartli were in them hands of the Muslims, while Trialeti and Kldekari were held by Giorgi Chqondideli’s niece Tevdore. Lower Kartli was occupied by the Turkmen nomads who were coming to the Mtkvari and Iori valleys every autumn, and wintering on the pastures. They were looting and plundering the country, taking the population captive.

In order to dismantle the nomadic footholds and to besiege Tbilisi strategically, the Georgians had to return the Samshvilde and Lower Kartli fortresses. Samshvilde was one of the most important centers of Lower Kartli, whith a special geographical location crossed by the trade routes, connecting Georgia with Byzantium, Armenia and Iran.

It was very difficult to take such a stronghold as Samshvilde by an ordinary siege. The chronicler describes the course of events in just a few words: “Giorgi Chqondidel-mtsignobartukhutsesi, Tevdore, Abuleti, and Ioane Orbeli gathered and together captured Samshvilde by a ruse.” Despite the lack of information, it is still possible to reconstruct events. The crucial factor in the operation was the secret mobilization of the army and the hidden approach to the fortress, which the Georgians successfully overcame and managed to capture Samshvilde with a surprise attack. During the operation, the detachments under the command of Tevdore (Kldekari Eristavi), Abuleti, Ivane Orbeli (owner of Orbeti fortress) and Giorgi Chqondideli unite. The identities of Giorgi Chqondideli, Tevdore and Ivane Orbeli are certain. The issue of Abuleti remained open, which N. Shoshiashvili considered a Kakhetian noble feudal lord. Based on the story of David’s historian, we can conclude that Abuleti was a feudal lord from Kartli. Other detachments participating in the Samshvildi operation are concentrated in the vicinity of the road from Kartli to Algeti, and, obviously, Abuleti would not be an exception.

It is clear that the Georgian troops are gathering in parts, thus avoiding the general gathering and the turmoil caused by it, which would not escape the Turkish intelligence. The detachments of Chqondideli and Abuleti go unnoticed to the Kldekari, then, together with Tevdore, pass through Manglisi to the Algeti gorge and reach Partskhisi, where they are joined by Ivane Orbeli. The combined army manages to suddenly reach Samshvilde and take the city.

The seizure of Samshvilde was an important event: “This gave great joy to all, for the territories of the kingdom were expanding daily.” This conquest resulted in the annexation of Lower Kartli, the eradication of the nomadic encampments and the isolation of the Tbilisi Emirate from the south, and later made possible the Georgian expansion towards the Tashir-Dzoraget.

Published: Aug 25, 2021

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