George II of Abkhazia

George II (Georgian: გიორგი II) was King of the Abkhazians (Georgian: აფხაზთა მეფე) from 916 AD until 960 AD. His lengthy reign is regarded as a zenith of cultural flowering and political power of his realm.

Façade stone of the church with the Georgian asomtavruli inscription commemorating its construction by George II

A member of the purported Anchabadze dynasty, he was born to Constantine II, whom he succeeded in 916. It took him, however, some time to assume full ruling powers as his half-brother Bagrat also claimed the crown,

George continued the expansionist policy of his predecessor aimed primarily at retaining the control of central Georgia, namely eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Iberia. To secure the allegiance of local nobility, he appointed his son Constantine a viceroy (eristavi) of Kartli, but the latter engineered a coup against his father three years later (circa 920). George entered Kartli and placed the rock-hewn city of Uplistsikhe (literally, the Fortress of Lord in Georgian) under siege. He lured Constantine by treachery and had him blinded and castrated. George installed his another son, Leon (the future king Leon III), as an eristavi of Kartli and proceeded to campaign against the easternmost Georgian principality of Kakheti whose ruler (chorepiscopus) Kwirike also pretended on parts of Kartli. Kwirike was defeated and imprisoned, and released only after he had submitted to vassalage. To secure his supremacy over Kartli, George allied himself with the Georgian Bagratids (Bagrationi) of Tao-Klarjeti, and gave his daughter, Gurandukht, to Gurgen Bagrationi in marriage. Soon Kvirike returned to offensive and incited also the rebellion in Kartli. George sent a large army under his son, Leon, but the king died amid the expedition, and Leon had to make peace with Kvirike, ending his campaign inconclusively.

George was also known as a promoter of Orthodox Christianity and a patron of Georgian Christian culture. He helped to establish Christianity as an official religion in Alania, winning the thanks of Constantinople. The contemporary Georgian annals knew him as a "builder of churches". Among others, he constructed a cathedral at Chkondidi (later known as Martvili) in Samegrelo (Mingrelia).

See also

Preceded by
Constantine III
King of Abkhazia
Succeeded by
Leon III
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