THE LIFE OF THE QUEEN OF QUEENS TAMAR

 

Summary

 

The period of, reign of Georgian celebrated Queen Tamar (reigned in 1184—1207) is described in two sources of Old Georgian historical literature (a) ,,The Histories and Eulogies of the Sovereigns” by an anonymous author and(b)a work, also of an anonymous writer, that I. Javakhishvili entitled ,,The Life of the Queen of Queens Tamar”. The present publication is a Russian translation of the latter work.

The text of the latter anonymous writer's work was discovered by I. Javakhishvili in 1923. It had been preserved only in one MS of Kartlis Tskhovreba (copied in the 16th century and now preserved at the Institute of Manuscripts, fond Q, ¹ 207). The indicated MS lacks the concluding part, breaking off at the events of early 13th century. Hence the narration of Tamar's history in it is incomplete. The missing and part of this MS was filled in by Eraj Chalashvili in 1731, using the text of the Vakhtang's redaction. In Vakhtang's redaction, however, Tamar's period is represented through the merging of the text of ,,The Histories and Eulogies of the Sovereigns” with the text of a hitherto unknown historian. On comparing the Eraj Chalashvili text of Tamar's history with the complete text of ,,The Histories and Eulogies of the Sovereigns”, contained in the so-called Mariam's ,,Kartlis Tskhovreba” Javakhishvili deleted what clearly belonged to the flatter historian. He attributed the remaining text to the   second historian of Tamar's reign.

The text edited in the way just cited was entitled by Javakhisvili ,,The Life of the Queen of Queens Tamar”. Basil the majordomo, mentioned in the text, was tentatively considered by Javakhishvili to be the author of the work. He transferred the reconstructed text to V. D. Dondua for translation into Russian. Dondua's translation was included in the collection ,,Documents of Rustaveli's Epoch”, published in Leningrad in 1938.

The Georgian text, prepared for publication by Javakhishvili, was printed only in 1944. In 1S59 it was included in vol. II of Kartlis Tskhovreba, ed. by S. Qaukhchishvili.

There is no consensus in Georgian historiography regarding the identity of the historian and the dating of the work. Researchers are anonymous in declaring the author to have been a contemporary of Tamar. But some researchers believe that the work was written immediately after Tamar's death, while others assume a definite time interval between Tamar's death and the writing of the work.

According to S. N. Kakabadze, the work in question could not have been  written later than 1225 (for in that year the Georgians were defeated in a battle with Jalal ad-Din's army; the Georgians went into that battle under the banner of David the Builder, as was their custom; in the history of Tamar, however, ,,David's banner” is referred to as one that has never been defeated;. this could not have been said by a historian that had witnessed the defeat of 1225). At the same time, the text refers to Tamar's aunt Rusudan, who was 80 years old at the time of writing of the work. Rusudan must have reached the age of 80 around 1210. The historian describes the death of the former Byzantine emperor Alexis III, which occurred in 1211. Thus, this history of Queen Tamar must have been written between 1210 — 1211 and 1225.

Judjing by his outlook, this second historian of Tamar advocates antocracy. Hence he avoids the description of the political events that occurred Tamar's reign; he endeavours to assure the reader that all the occurrences of Tamar's reign were willed by her. In other respects the work is an impeccable source, containing a narration of many facts unknown from other sources. The language is clear and vivid, the author being an educated and knowledgably person. From the viewpoint of coverage of events and reliability of evidence the author under discussion is one of the best among the historians represented in Kartlis Tskhovreba.

The present edition of the Russian translation of ,,The Life of the Queen of Queens  Tamar” is furnished with notes and indexes.