T. Shamba, A. Neproshin



T. Shamba, A. Neproshin

2004 г.


А: Абхазия, Агрба, Амичба...
Б: Басария, Барцыц, Бройдо...
В: Воробьев, Воронов...
Г: Гулиа, Гунба...
Д: Данилов, Дасаниа, Джемакулова, Джихашвили...
Е, Ё: ...
Ж: Жидков...
З: ...
И: Инал-Ипа Ш.Д....
К: Капба, Козэль, Кудрявцев, Кунижева...
Л: Лакоба...
М: Мандельштам, Монперэ...
Н: Неруда...
О: Олонецкий...
П: Паустовский, Приключения нарта Сасрыквы, Прокопий Кесарийский...
Р: Рихтер, Румянцев...
С: Сенковский, Сент-Совер, Студеникин...
Т: Тарнава, Торнау, Тхайцухов...
У: ...
Ф: Франгуланди...
Х: Хотко...
Ц: Цвижба...
Ч: Челеби, Чкадуа, Чурсин...
Ш, Щ: Шамба, Шанава, Шария...
Э: ...
Ю: ...
Я: ...

Родственные проекты:

Т.М. Шамба и А.Ю. Непрошин


Legal basis of statehood and sovereignty

Chapter 2. Statehood of Abkhazia

2.1. Statehood formation

The first Abkhazian kingdom arose under the influence of the Roman empire, with its direct participation, and existed in the territory of modern ­ Abkhazia from I century AD, and  from then on Abkhazia actually possessed all the signs of statehood. The early types of  states forming Abkhazia were the ­"kingdoms" Sanigia, Apsilia and Abasgia, appearing ­ in sources since I century AD, which covered all the territory of the present ­ Republic of Abkhazia. These political structures were dependent upon the Roman emperors who appointed local tsars and had control over them through the seaside settlements Sebastopolis and Pitiunt, in which the Roman garrisons took residence. In the beginning of II century ­ Apsils were ruled by Julian, Abasgs by Resmag, Sanigs by  Spadag, and at the change from III-IV centuries Rigvadin reigned in Аbasgia.

After the transfer of the capital of the Roman empire to Constantinople, political,­  economic and cultural Roman-Byzantian presence in the area increased. In the first half of VI century, in connection with the invasion of Persians and their ­ North Caucasian allies into Colchis, Byzantium made an attempt to unite ­ proto-Abkhazian (Apsils, Abasgs, Misimianians, etc.) and west Caucasian (Lazikans, Svans) nationalities within the limits of vassal buffer formation - the Lazikan kingdom. In Colchis there appeared a situation similar to that occurring ­ in the middle of XX century – Abkhazia, as an independent entity, was included in the state ­ of Lazikans (though territorially they were divided) which, in turn, actually became a part of the Byzantian empire.

Abkhazia as a state declared itself independent for the first time in 545, and already in 550 it was subordinated by Byzantium. Throughout the following period of more than 200 years, the territory of Abkhazia was included in the east Black Sea coast province of the Russian empire and considered as “Roman territory”, management of which was carried out by imperial logofets (deputies). In D. Chachhalia's work “the chronicle of the Abkhazian tsars” (2000) names of these governors­ operating in the territory of Abasgia (Opsit and Skeparna in VI century; Anos, Gozar, Justinian, Filiktos, Barnuk, Dimitri, Feodosi and two ­ Constantines from VII to the beginning of VIII century) and Apsilia (Marin and Evstafi in ­ first half of VIII century) are given­­­.

Independent Abkhazian statehood arose from the moment when ­ the rule of the protege of Byzantium, Leon I, began. The Caesar, ­ the Byzantian emperor, in VIII century granted to the Abkhazian lords, his vassals, the right to sovereign rule the country. Leon welcomed on his land the governors of Kartli, who were pursued by armies of Mervan ibn-Mohammed (Mervan-Crewe) to the borders of Abkhazia, and helped Kartls in the battle of Anakopia. After this, the emperor of Byzantium, who was interested in ­ expansion of the borders with the Caucasus, gave Leon the right to rule Abkhazia hereditarily. “Henceforth it is my hereditary possession from Klisur to the river of the Big Hazaria where reaches the end of  Caucasus”.

So, Abkhazia received its own governor Leon I, the tsar of the newly-formed Abkhazian kingdom, later occupying a considerable part of Transcaucasia. Approximately in VIII century,  the Abkhazian tsars moved to the east of Transcaucasia, and seized regions ­ of Central Transcaucasia up to the borders of Albania. Tao-Klardjeti’s Bagratids (the owners of Kakhetia), the emir of Tiflis, and Armenian tsars all took part in this struggle. The definitive victory went to the Abkhazian­ tsars who seized and incorporated almost all of Kartli. Kartlis Tshovreba says that “at this time Abkhazia was the only part of Caucasus which due to its own safety and fertile soil promoted physical and moral ­ strengthening of its tsars”. Leon I occupied Mingrelia, Imeretia and all space to the Suramsky ridge, and  based a fortress called Kota (Kutysh, Kutatis, Kutais) on the river Rioni. He named this state “Metropolia of Abkhazia” and divided it into districts: 1) actual Abkhazia, 2) Tskhom  (from  the river Inguri to Alania), 3) ­ Bedia, 4) Guria, 5)  Ratcha-Lekhum, 6) Svan, 7) Tsenis-Tskhali to ­ the Suramsky ridge and to the south along the river Rioni. With him, the dynasty ruling this territory for two centuries commenced­.

In VIII century in the territory of central Transcaucasia, an Arab caliphate dominated. All princedoms paid a huge tribute to Arabs.  Abkhazia ­ remained out of reach of them, and the victory over Arabs at the walls of the main Abasg fortress Anakopia promoted a strengthening of the new state. In the end, Abkhazia as an independent country was established in VIII century. The nephew of Leon I, Abkhazian tsar Leon II, was the founder and the builder of the sovereign Abkhazian state., Other princedoms of Transcaucasia at that time, and especially Kartli, ­ took no part in the formation of the Abkhazian ­ state, partly because of the absence of their own statehood.

At the end of VIII century Leon II, having taken advantage of the weakening of empire and ­ strengthening of the Khazar kaganat, declared independence and transferred ­the capital of the Abkhazian kingdom to ancient Kutais, which represented the natural ­ centre of the western Transcaucasia.

According to Kartlis Tshovreba, this was the peak moment of history in the formation of the Abkhazian (not Kartvelian or Imeretian, and especially not "Georgian") kingdom: “Having established this, Leon, having seized all  Egrisi, named it not Egrisi, but Abkhazia, and  divided this Egrisi, and henceforth Abkhazia,­  into eight eristavstvos (princedoms). That Leon assigned Abkhazia to himself and ruled (it), and ­ after a safe reign died  in 806 (year) of Christian (era)”.

Kartlis Tshovreba informs us that later, at the beginning of X century, Abkhazian tsars Constantine ­ and George gained the next territories, including Kartli, Kakheti and Ereti, thereby incorporating all of western and eastern Transcaucasia into the state structure. The Abkhazian kingdom blossomed at the time of George II, in the middle of X century, having incorporated a part of modern east Georgia. In X-XII centuries Abkhazians played the leading role in the creation of the Abkhazian kingdom, formed due to dynastic union and the announcement of its leader as the representative of  the Tao-Klardjeti dynasty of Bagrat III, the nephew of the childless Abkhazian tsar Feodosi the blind. During that time Abkhazia in the southeast bordered ­ Armenia.

In our opinion, this period in the evolution of Abkhazia can be divided into two parts, the first of which (before the reign of Leon II) is an epoch of the formation of Abkhazian statehood, and the second an epoch of the Abkhazian kingdom. This kingdom, arising at the end of VIII century and existing under this name, as confirmed in  history annals (and by Georgian ­ historians, who do not forget to note in brackets – “the Georgian kingdom”), throughout two centuries covered considerable territory in Transcaucasia. Following vigorous internal and foreign policies, it became amongst the largest states in the region, simultaneously solving questions ­ of difficult international mutual relations with Armenian Bagratids and with rising new princedoms Tao-Klardjeti, Kakheti, Ereti, etc.

As R. Honelia notes, during this period there was actually a struggle for hegemony ­over Transcaucasia; all policy of Abkhazia was directed to the east, and in this process she competed first of all with the Armenian kingdom, which carried out a similar policy and at times achieved considerable success. So, at the beginning of X century tsar Ashot I (Bagratid) seized Kartli and Imeretia and ­ became “the Prince of Princes”.

After Ashot, Sombat (Smbat in the Armenian transcription) attached some more princedoms to the borders of the Caucasian ridge, and the Abkhazian tsars (till 898) undertook a  dynastic marriage between Prince Musheg (son of Sombat) and the Abkhazian Princess (daughter of Abkhazian tsar Constantine). This meant a close relationship with Armenian Bagratids, and the beginning of a new dynasty in the Abkhazian kingdom. The presence during this period of a common border ­ between the Abkhazian and Armenian kingdoms on the Suramsky ridge is assumed­. With ­the weakening of the Armenian kingdom after Arabs in 901 seized Armenia,­  “in 904 entered Constantine, the tsar of Abkhazia, who both took hold of Kartlia and became the enemy of the Armenian tsar Sombat” (Kartlis Tshovreba Vol..1, P. 262).

In the war with Sombat and his allies the Abkhazian tsar Constantine suffered ­ defeat, but, despite this, proceeding from the internal political situation in the region, Sombat returned seized lands to Constantine later. Having returned ­home to Kutais from captivity, Constantine began to rule the Abkhazian kingdom autocratically.

Thus, for all the period before the capture by Abkhazians of central Transcaucasia, and during the existence of the Abkhazian kingdom, Kartvelian tribes constantly depended upon Arabs, Persians, and Khazars, or were a part of the Abkhazian or Armenian kingdoms. They lacked not only statehood, but also independence, throughout five centuries until the disintegration of the Abhaz-Imeretian kingdom.

Rivalry in the realisation of effusive plans occurred not only with the Armenian tsars. Tao-Klardjeti’s Kuropalat Adarnase, being the father-in-law of the Abkhazian tsar, pursued his own political ends and acted on the side of  Sombat against tsar Constantine. In 888 Adarnase proclaimed himself “the Kartvelian tsar” and put forward claims for Kartli and  all eastern territory, and for his superiority in the system of these kingdoms and princedoms. Nevertheless, as I.A.Djavahashvili notes in “History of the Georgian ­ people”, Kartli remained a component of the Abkhazian kingdom. Having kept good relations with Constantine, Sombat was able, after Arabs ­ had seized Armenia and Kartli, to find protection in Abkhazia, to which many inhabitants of the country escaped during this period. Moreover, Abkhazians managed to show such ­ resistance to Arabs, that the latter did not manage to subdue the Abkhazian kingdom (except for Kartli), as the Abkhazian army at that time ­ had already been equipped and armed in the Byzantian manner. Later, in 920 Abkhazia rendered military assistance to Ashot II during the last major battle with Arabs. Constantine, having expelled the rest of the Arab military garrisons from Kartli, restored the status of the Abkhazian kingdom in central Transcaucasia. Kahetian ­ governor Kvirike recognised himself as the vassal of the Abkhazian tsar, and they began to struggle together against Ereti where the Abkhazian kingdom was then established­. Henceforth, domination and advantage appeared in the hands ­ of the Abkhazian tsars, and Constantine III became one of the most powerful ­ sovereigns on the Abkhazian throne.

As a result of military opposition by possessors of various princedoms and kingdoms in Transcaucasia, the Armenian line of Bagratids received priority status, due to which the Abkhazian kingdom under its aegis was strengthened. Bagrat III, who represented the Armenian line, and formerly the Persian line of Khanaenians from Tao-Klardjeti, came to power. His mother was Abkhazian, i.e. he had nothing in common with the Kartvelian tribe. His kingdom is quite often called Abkhaz-Kartvelian because Bagrat III subdued Kartls as a result of wars and extended his power to their territory, having thereby accepted the title “The tsar Abkhazian and Novelissimus all East” which was confirmed by a parchment roll dated 1058 from Tiflis church repository “Mkhedruli”. Immediately after a victory over Kartvelians, the following memorable inscription devoted to this ­ event was cut­ in a temple in Kutais, the capital of the Abkhazian kingdom, in 1003: “ Oh, Tsar, ruling all tsars, extol powerful Bagrat, kuropalat, the tsar of Abkhazians and Kartvelians “. This inscription confirming ­the gain of a princedom of Kartli by the Abkhazian tsars is represented by Georgian historians as the creation of " the Abhaz-Kartvelian kingdom”, though this does not correspond to reality.

Successors of Bagrat representing the elite of other princedoms did not keep this name, and during the subsequent period it carried the name “kingdom Abkhaz-Imeretian”, a kingdom of Armenians and Iverians. Miriam,   mother of Bagrat IV, had­ the title of the tsarina of Abkhazians and Armenians. The appurtenance of the subsequent tsars - Bagratids - to the Abkhazian line and imperial elite is confirmed by the text on the coins of Bagrat IV – “Christ, glorify Bagrat, the tsar of Abkhazians and Novelis”.

Confirming his lawful accession to power, Bagrat III produced­ the manifesto known as “Divan of the Abkhazian tsars” in which he lists his predecessors on the Abkhazian throne. He gives 20 names of tsars and the years of their reigns (for the whole period from VII - the end of IX century) and continues: “And after these, God wished - and I, Bagrat Bagrationi, the son of blissful Gurgen , the son ­ of the daughter of the Abkhazian tsar George, have seized the country of Abkhazia, my mother’s inheritance, and I will reign for the time God wills!” On coins of his period is engraved “Bagrat the Tsar of Abkhazians”. His reign is marked ­ by the unification of all inherited territories, and a political, economic and cultural uplift of the Abkhazian kingdom. In 1001 he received the title of Kuropalat from Byzantian ­ emperor Vasily II. In the list of his possessions ­ Kartli is registered also.

With the accession of Bagrat III, the Tao-Klardjeti dynasty came to power in the country, and Kartvelians who were subdued and incorporated into the Abkhazian kingdom gradually began to represent a certain proportion of the population. This situation could have led to a regeneration of the Abkhazian kingdom. The most influential aristocratic  clan of  Abkhazian origin, nicknamed Abazasdze  (or sons of Abaza, Abkhaz)  in the  beginning of  XI  century headed ­ opposition and led a vigorous offensive against tsar Bagrat IV for the purpose of obtaining power. The political status of Abkhazia was above the state formations ­ inherited by Bagrat III. This state throughout several ­ centuries still carried the name "Abkhazian", and its capital until the second quarter ­of XII century would be Kutais. Abkhazia became a foundation of the new, larger state ­ which inherited the political, economic and cultural achievements ­ of former Abkhazia.

Transfer of the capital of the Abkhazian kingdom, firstly from primordial Abkhazian centre Anakopia to Kutais, in the territory occupied by Mingrelians, and later to Tiflis, lowered the influence of Abkhazian culture and decreased administrative influence ­ on commoners and the nobility within princedoms and kingdoms. ­The self-created national elite advanced their rulers to the throne, therefore there was a replacement of the Abkhazian tsars by tsars from Tao-Klardjeti (a branch of the Armenian tsars), and later by rulers from Imeretian and Kartvelian dynasties.

Let's consider how modern Georgian history treats these events. From M. Miansarov's "Chronicles" it can be seen that Bagratids, the Armenian rulers from 787 AD, sat on the Kartlian throne and in other princedoms ­ of Transcaucasia, yet it is stated that “Bagratids enter on the Georgian throne for a second time”, which is certainly untrue. Firstly, there was no invitation to rule. Ordinary capture of territory took place, as a result of which rule passed to the Armenian lords­. Local tribes and princedoms recognised them as their tsars.

Secondly, “the Georgian throne” is a mythical concept thought up by later historians, as time and again it has been stated that during that period no Georgians or Georgian kingdom existed.

Moreover, the beginning of the reign of the Bagratid dynasty can only be historically accurate since the time of family connection of tsars of the Abkhazian state, occupying ­ practically all territory of central and western Transcaucasia, with Armenian Bagratids. In modern Georgian historical materials, very little is spoken about the existence of the Abkhazian kingdom in this territory or about reigns of the Abkhazian tsars. Apparently from the text of  "Chronicles", instead of research into the existence of the Abkhazian kingdom from 780 to 1003, after which, according to many Georgian historians, the change to the Kingdom of Abkhazians and Kartvelians occurred, this period (200 years plus) was deliberately omitted, and instead was devoted to Armenia. But to hide the truth is difficult, therefore, for example, information on the Abkhazian tsar Leo IV suddenly emerges.

M. Miansarov in "Chronicles" states: “since 1089 - the beginning of the reign of Georgian tsar David III the Restarter”5. Actually, at the end of XI - ­ the beginning of XII century David IV the Builder ruled. He was not Georgian by definition­; his accession occurred in Kutais - capital at that time of the Abhaz-Imeretian kingdom; he was related to a descendant of Abhaz-Tao-Klardjeti Bagratids. Ruling at the end of X century (he died in 1001), tsar David III the Restarter was also from the Tao-Klardjeti Bagratids, governors of the Abhaz-Imeretian kingdom. He conquered Tiflis, which for a long time had been in the­ hands of Moslems (thereby winning Kartli and Kakhetia from the Arabs, and again attaching them to the Abhaz-Imeretian kingdom).

According to M. Miansarov, in 1139 “Georgian tsar Dimitri I devastates ­ the city of Ganzhe (Gandzha), and in 1184 - 1212 tsarina Tamara defeats the Armenians, Turks and Persians, and all mountain tribes submit”. But neither Dimitri nor Tamara represented a Kartli dynasty, and, especially, they were not Georgian tsars. All of these from the Armenian  Bagratid dynasty, related to the Abkhazian Leonids, owned eastern provinces ­ of Transcaucasia as a result of successful invasions. After 1225, following the ruin of Tiflis by Djelal ad-Din Khorezmshakh, the next loss for Kartli occurred when it no longer benefited from the power of the Abkhaz-Imeretian kingdom, which once again confirms the negligible role of a princedom of Kartli ­ in the functioning of the Abkhazian or Abkhaz-Imeretian kingdom.



5 M.Miansarov made an appreciable error - David IV the Builder ruled from 1073 to 1125. SES. P. 358.

In 1239 disintegration of the Abkhazian kingdom began, with the invasion of Mongol-Tatar­ hordes accelerating this process. By the beginning of 1240 Mongols had conquered Azerbaijan ­ and the eastern part of an incorporated kingdom (including Kartli), and by 1243 all Armenia had been conquered by them. From then on the given territories ­ were occupied by nomads, and the people of central Transcaucasia rendered tribute to Mongols,­  and provided soldiers for their army and slaves for the markets. Such a situation actually existed till the end of XIV century. During the same period, in 1323 the Mingrelian, Gurian, Svan and Abkhazian­ eristavstvos (princedoms) declared themselves independent. By 1469 in the territory of the former Abkhaz-Imeretian­ kingdom three independent kingdoms were formed: Kartli,­ Kakhetia and Imeretia, and independent Ahaltsikhski atabekstvo, between ­ which there were constant wars. Abkhazia during this period avoided invasion by the Mongolian Khans, and kept its independence in the ­ management of its own territory. As before, it represented accurately defined independent political formation.

So, during four and a half centuries (X - the middle of XIV centuries) Abkhazia was included within an incorporated kingdom (latterly existing ­ purely formally) which some modern sources ­name Georgia, and others the Kingdom of Abkhazia and Kartvelia. The first name is­ completely incorrect, and the last, as we have shown, is inexact ­ as this state formation was the successor of the Abkhazian­ kingdom and Abkhazia was the principal part of it.­ Tsars of the Abkhaz - Tao-Klardjeti dynasties ruled it,­  and the cultural, economic, and political centre was gradually displaced into Tiflis, in the eastern territories. At this time it subordinated a considerable part of the Armenian ­ lands, territories of northern Azerbaijan, and some mountain tribes of the north Caucasus.

Consideration of this period of Abkhazian history shows that the ­ state of Abkhazia was created independently on the primordial earth. Throughout ­ several centuries the Abkhazian state was the strongest among its neighbours­. We will underline for comparison that Kiev Russia arose in IX century, ­ the Polish state in X century, and the English kingdom in XI century, so Abkhazian ­ statehood is older than these states participating in world politics. ­ Aggressive policy of the Abkhazian tsars finally  led to the Abkhazian kingdom, occupying territory of practically all modern Georgia, breaking up (like the Roman empire) into separate princedoms.

As later historians, for example tsar Vakhtang and P. Iosselian explained: “Georgia was usually called Kartli, which in 1469,­ existing as an incorporated kingdom, definitively broke up into a number­ of independent kingdoms and eristavstvos (princedoms)... From this moment each of these state formations was independent and ruled by its own princes. All of them kept their  independence till XIX century”.

Tsar Vakhtang IV (1703-1724), who edited and added to the­ annalistic collection Kartlis Tskhovreba created on the basis of legends and ­ historical materials, considers that with the disintegration of the Abkhazian or Abkhaz-Imeretian ­ kingdom there appeared an idea of the association of Kartl tribes, which he introduced. Historical errors have been continuing since that moment. Diligence ­ of Georgian patriots during ХIХ-ХХ centuries, to have their own history released from historic facts undesirable to them, has led to the majority ­ of events in Abkhazian history having received tendentious explanation. Therefore the historical shape of the centuries-old Abkhazian state has been deformed­. Some Russian scientists helped in this as well. Academician N. J. Marr in 1912 said: “in Abkhazia, in a broad sense of this word, the new Georgian state has revived” and “the history of Abkhazians is the beginning of the history of Georgia”.

Abkhazian researchers at times also distort terms, and names of kingdoms and princedoms of Transcaucasia. The work of the historian G. A. Amichba contains equally important errors, characteristic of both Georgian and Abkhazian historians. Citing quotations from publications describing ­ events of VI-XVI centuries, the author gives them in two variants – with and without quotation marks. Where inverted commas occur, there is no mention of "Georgia" as ­ such (which is the valid historic fact). Only  Kartli, Colchis, Kakhetia etc. are spoken about. But where inverted commas are absent, for an unknown reason the terms "Georgia" and "Georgians" appear. They ­ are presented not only as an analogue for Sakartvelo (Kartli-Kakhetia), but also transferred ­to the earlier independent state of Colchis or Lazika, and to the later independent states of Mingrelia, Svanetia, Guria, Imeretia, and also Abkhazia. To the real historian ­ it is inadmissible to deform history either intentionally or involuntarily. Similar errors are characteristic of other Abkhazian historians, for example I. Damenia who writes: “In historical sources the term “Sakartvelo”, meaning united Georgia, occurs for the first time only in XI century. By the same time the Georgian nationality is also consolidated”. The instances of free interpretation of historical facts are inadmissible.

About 1325 Bagratids, ruling in an incorporated kingdom, actually ­ recognised Abkhazian line Chachba-Sharvashidze as a ruling family of Abkhazia, and in 1462 the representative of this line was confirmed by the prince of Abkhazia. In an old charter concerning Abkhazian sovereign princes and the resettlement of Apsua in Samurzakan the following appears:

“During the reign of tsarina Tamar, Abkhazia was ruled by Dogato Sharvashidze. His descendants living in ХVI-ХVII centuries, three Sharvashidze brothers named Rostom, Djikeshia and Kvapu, sons of Zegnak, separated. The elder Rostom took the first land, Abkhazia, ­ located from the river Bzyb to the river Kodor; the middle brother Djikeshia received possession from ­ the river Kodor to the river Galidzga, which in the Abkhazian language is even today called Abzhua, which means the average country or village; and youngest Kvapu from the river Galidzga to the river Enguri. This last territory, because of troubled times, became more deserted and consequently Kvapu transferred from Bzyb, that is from the possession of his eldest brother, some families of princes and aznaurs, namely: Anchabadze, Emukhvari, Inalishvili, Margania, Zvanbaia, Lakerbaia and Akirtava, among whom he divided these lands.For himself he left villages: Bedia, Pakhulani, and Borbalo (modern village Koki). Kvapu died leaving his son Murzakan, ­ who equipped this territory, named it Samurzakan after his own name of Murzakan, and ruled in it.

After Murzakan his son Khutunia ruled, and then Khutunia’s sons Leon and Solomon. The elder of them, Leon, became the  governor of Samurzakan, and Leon and Solomon  divided fiscal ­ villages. The senior Leon received the village of Bedia which ­his sons own till now,­  and Solomon obtained Borbalo (Koki). The village of Pakhulani remained undivided,­ at the disposal of the elder  brother Leon as a summer [residence] of governors of Samurzakan. From Solomon there come six sons: Manuchar, the last governor of  Samurzakan,­ Bezhan, Sorekh and others”. (The Site Abkhazia, doc. № 127).

In XII and XIII centuries Tskhum (Sukhum) served as the residence of Abkhazian sovereign princes Chachba-Sharvashidze. This family ruled Abkhazia until the middle of ХIХ century. Gradually princes Chachba achieved full political, economic and church independence from an incorporated kingdom. It had been reached after an intense struggle of the people with Megrel and Imeretian governors.

“The Abkhazian princedom” - so Abkhazia was officially named throughout XV - middle ХIХ centuries. The history of the   given period is filled by struggle­ of the people and ruling princes for the preservation of independence, and when it was impossible to obtain such status, to defend the relative independence of the state. In this struggle there were limits. It is characterised in XVI century by the strong influence of Genoa merchants whose trading stations were disseminated all along ­the Abkhazian coast. Restoration of wide Mediterranean connections had not only economic, but also political and cultural value. Abkhazia­ had communication with European civilisation, the national coin was minted in its capital Sukhum,­ and European culture extended among the people. But in the same century Turkish presence also accrued. On the boundary of ХVI-ХVII centuries, Abkhazia found itself with a strong dependence upon the Ottoman empire.

Connections with Europe were severed, and ХVII-ХVIII centuries saw the time of Turkish ­ domination. This was a time of increasing political connections with the Ottoman empire, whose government, with a view towards expansion of its influence in the Caucasus, had focused upon Abkhazia, considering its special position in the­ region. Turkish garrisons stood in Sukhum-Kale and Anakopia, and Turkish galleys travelled along the coast. Resisting aggressors, the Abkhazian population ­ many times organised revolts which were severely smothered. A proportion of Abkhazians accepted Sunni Islam. But even in these conditions the Abkhazian princes retained a certain independence in the management of the country. Unlike Adjaria which was included administratively into the structure of the Ottoman empire, Abkhazia remained an autonomous (vassal) state.

So, summing up the first stage of  Abkhazian statehood, it is possible to say:

1. The Abkhazian state, localised in a limited territory practically within the borders of modern Abkhazia, was able by VIII century to strengthen its political, economic and military structure to such a degree that it was allowed by means of diplomacy and military force to create a new state formation – “the Abkhazian kingdom”. It  united numerous kingdoms and  princedoms which were situated during that time in Transcaucasia, and then expanded its­ borders to territories of adjacent states such as Persia, Turkey, etc.

2. Abkhazian statehood was formed in VII century AD on the basis of, and with assistance from,­ the Byzantian empire.

3. Throughout two centuries the Abkhazian kingdom was ruled by Abkhazian tsars. Their reign was intelligent and active, which allowed the country to remain within its former ­ borders, to resist the invasion of enemies, and to support the well-being of the peoples and maintain calm within the country.

4. The peoples who were conquered by Abkhazians  or  voluntarily joined ­ the Abkhazian kingdom expressed humility to the Abkhazian tsars, which testified to the state wisdom and political maturity of those sovereigns.

5. The political, administrative and military elite of the Abkhazian nobility was­ constantly under the influence of an   environment of numerous representatives of other ethnic and national groups. In these conditions, an assimilation of different anthropological and language groups within the population therefore took place as a result of noble-dynastic marriages. It is known that the wife of Leon I was Kartvelian, and the mother of Leon II was Khazarian. Such interaction also occurred at­ lower levels of the Abkhazian nobility and led to a time at which it was difficult to define the nationality of inheriting tsars. There arose a situation when Kartvelian princes, and also grandees – Colchians or Kartvelians - began to have Abkhazian surnames. Such confusion­ had no importance during this period, although this fact is now actively explored ­ by some Georgian historians, trying to prove that Abkhazians have no relation to the Abkhazian kingdom.

6) Princedoms or kingdoms of central Transcaucasia, including Kartli, had no relevance to the occurrence, origin or formation ­ of the Abkhazian state.



Shamba T., Neproshin А. Abkhazia: Legal basis of statehood and sovereignty. М: Open Company "In-Oktavo", 2005, 240 pages.

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Редактор Вячеслав Румянцев

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