Tamar of Georgia was born circa 1160 as the daughter of George III, King of Georgia and his consort Burdukhan, who was a daughter of the King of Alania, a Kingdom just above Georgia. Tamar was born and grew up during troubled times in Georgia. In 1177 her father faced rebels who intended to dethrone him in favour of his nephew, Demma. However, Demma was eventually forced to surrender, and he was blinded and castrated on the orders of Tamar’s father. He died soon after. Her father responded by involving Tamar in government affairs, and he crowned her as his co-ruler in 1178.
She co-ruled with him for six years, until his death in 1184. She was crowned for a second time at the Gelati Cathedral. At that time the kingdom was relatively stable and strong. There was some opposition to her succession, mostly because of her gender. She was Georgia’s first female ruler. She was forced to concede to the powerful aristocracy to legitimize her rule. Her first husband, Yuri, was forced on her by the nobles. They married in 1185. He was an able soldier but had quite a difficult personality, which led to a strained relationship with Tamar. After the death of the powerful Catholicos (head of the Georgian Orthodox Church) Michael, Tamar finally managed to gradually expand her own power by elevating nobles loyal to her.
After this, she was finally able to divorce Yuri, who was sent off to Constantinople (Istanbul). He made two more attempts for power, but he failed, and he disappeared into obscurity after 1191. Tamar was now free to choose a new husband. His name was David Soslan, a prince from Alania. He was a capable military leader, and he was involved in defeating the rebellions orchestrated by Yuri.
Tamar and David had a son, the future George IV and a daughter, Rusudan, who would later succeed her brother as Queen of Georgia. David had the status of a King-consort, while Tamar was styled as “King of Kings”. David derived any power he had from her. David died in 1207.
Tamar outlived David by about six years. She apparently died of a “devastating disease”. She had already crowned her son as co-ruler before her death. She was initially buried in the Cathedral of Mtskheta and was later moved to the Gelati monastery, though it’s possible her body was transported to the Holy Land. It appears her grave has been lost in time.
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