CHRONICLES OF KARTLI
,,Chronicles of Kartli” is an integral part of a well known code of medieval Georgian chronicles, namely ,,Kartlis Tskhovreba” (,,Life of Kartli”). Obviously, the very first compilators of this code, node, not later than in the 12th century, included into it the-,,Chronicles of Kartli”.
,,Chronicles of Kartli” embraces the period from the 8th century to the seventies of the 11th century, the years of life and creative activity of the anonymous author. The main theme of the Chronicles is the history of the political unification of Georgia into a feudal kingdom. The author begins this theme when he tells how by the end of 8th century the ruler of the Abkhazian princedom Leon with the aid of Khazars declared his independence from the Byzantine Empire and established his Abkhazian Kingdom with its centre in Kutaisi.
It is proved that the author of the ,,Chronicles of Kartli” could be nobody but a Kartlian himself. When he tells about Kartli, he uses a possessive pronoun. When he tells of enemy invasions into Kartli, he says that ,,they came here” (or ,,to us”). Besides, when he writes about Kartli, his text is full of the smallest details, both in toponymies and description. However, his accounts of various tribes and areas outside the limits of Kartli are often quite thorough and reliable and well in agreement with the data of other sources. It is also proved that the author was contemporary to the Georgian king Bagrat IV (1027 — 1072) and probably died during the reign of George II (1072 — 1089). „Chronicles of Kartli” marks a new step in the development of ancient Georgian historical literature. Contrary to earlier historical — literary texts, it belongs completely to the domain of history, without any additions or interventions of Celles letters type, deviating from the main theme. However, this is not to diminish its literary merits. No doubt, the author was a talented writer, and his creation occupies an important place in the history of ancient Georgian literature. But first of all it is an important historical source. It gives a correct understanding of the political climat in Georgia when a united and independent state was forming there. The main part in this event, which predetermined the historical perspective of the Georgian people for many centuries to come, was played by the factors of internal economic, political and ethnocultural development. The unity of culture was among the most important factors in the consolidation of the Georgian nationality and an important prerequisite for establishment of the unified Georgian statehood in the feudal times (10th — 13th centuries).
A particular attention is devoted by the author of Chronicles to the raise of' Tao — Klardjetian princedom in the South — Western Georgia. Here at the frontiers of the Byzantine Empire the Georgians managed to establish their cultural domination. The social, political and cultural forces of the Eastern Georgia were concentrating in Tao — Klardjeti. The spiritual -foundation of the Georgian feudal nationality, laid down early in the middle of the first millennium A. D., was further strengthened here. Here, in Tao-Klardjeti, in the 9th — 10th centuries the idea of unity of the Georgian nationality, based on the unity of its language and spiritual culture, has finally formed. In its flourishing period Tao-Klardjeti had given a mighty impetus to the Georgian colonizing movement far beyond the limits of Georgia proper. In 9th — 10th centuries Georgian colonists from Tao-Klardjeti were disseminating in various parts of the civilized world of that time. The Abkhazian Kingdom of the Western Georgia was under the impact of this cultural and political movement. The striving of rulers of Abkhazian Kingdom to subordinate alt remaining Georgian lands to their hegemony was a reflexion of the tendency in the cultural development of this kingdom. The determination, with which Leon II moved eastwards, had beerr prepared by the preceding developments in Abkhazia. This is testified not only by the author of Chronicles but also by epigraphic monuments of Abkhazia, written in ancient Georgian script and belonging to the best examples of lapidary inscriptions in Ancient Georgia.
The Chronicles tell a good deal about the part played in the process of unification of Georgia by neighbour peoples. The international situation was always exploited by great powers, like Iran, Byzantine Empire, Arabian Khalifate, to serve their aggressive interests, to disadvantage of smaller countries and peoples. Georgians, Armenians, Albanians, peoples of the Northern Caucasus were under a constant danger not only of an enslavement by the great powers, but also of a total elimination as independent ethnic entities. In such circumstances of a continuous confrontation with a danger from outside, the interests of various peoples of the Caucasus objectively most often coincided. Chronicles of Kartli give correct and bright evaluations of historical events, classes, social groups, and many historical persons, who influenced the course of historical and political development in that time.
The data on various peoples of our Motherland, contained in ,,Chronicles of Kartli”, place this text among the most important historical sources, to be included in the compendium ,,The ancient sources for the history of peoples of the USSR”, planned by Institute of History of the USSR.
This translation of Chronicles is accompanied by comments, aimed to provide short historical and bibliographical references to some not too well known facts, connected with the text of Chronicles and the more general historical circumstances.