In the VI cen. there already reigned Feudalism on the territory of Georgia though in the Highland regions the communal regime remained for a long time. The old tribal and slave-owning aristocracy gradually formulated to the feudal class – noblemen (aznaurs in Georgian). The layer of the free peasants was decomposing, the unimportant part of which passed in the category of aznaurs, and the majority gradually became the independent serfs.
The large feudals of Kartli opposed the government and on the ground of strengthening their political requirments and civil rights began to make the union with the Shah of Iran. Shah of Iran used this situation well and in 523 after the rebellion of Georgians, abolished the King’s Government in Kartli. The supreme government of the country passed in the hands of the Vice-Gerent of Shah, the residence of which became Tbilisi.
After beginning the reign in Eastern Georgia, Iran drew its look to the Western Part of the country – Lazika, as Iberian rebels always looked for help there. Besides, by the conquerring Lazika, Iran would get a good bridge-head against Eastern Rome Empire, or Bizantium. By their side, Bizantinnes strengthened the press on Lazika too, which was considered as the vassal Kingdom of the Empire. They brought their armies in these countries. Bizantium statesmen and military-men were torturing the population of Lazika, they ignored the local government too. This forced the King of Lazika, Gubaz II to rebel and ask for help to Shah of Iran in 541. Shah of Iran was holding the war with the Empire of Bizantium. Iranians entered Lazika and with the help of Gubaz II, cleaned the coutnry from Bizantinnes. But after the real aims of Shah towards Lazika were known, (to kill Gubaz, to exile Lazs in Iran and to settle Iranian colonies on their territories), Gubaz II took the side of Bizantinnes again and in 562, finally banished Iranians from the territory of Western Georgia. This part still remained under the political influence of Bizantium.
At this time, the reign of Iranians in Eastern Georgia became unbearable for noblemen, who by the wide support of the population banished Iranians from Georgia in 70s of the VI cen. and the reigns of the government took in their hands. But at the end of the VI cen. and in the first half of the VII cen. East Georgia still was suffering from the frequent invasions of the armies of Iran and Bizantium, which tried to make this rich and situated on the suitable place, by the strategical view, country obey.
Although the frequent invasions and wars in the V-VI cen. were the important period for the Georgian culture. To this period belongs the oldest literatural works: “Torturing of Shushanik” of Iakob Tsurtaveli (V cen.) and “Torturing of Evstati Mtskheteli” of the unknown writer (VI cen.). Were built the ecclestiastical architectural works – Bolnisi (V cen.); Djvari (VI cen.) etc. To the development of civil architecture point the ruins of the fortresses of that period – Ujarma, Cheremi, Tsikhegoji, etc.
In the middle period of the VII cen. at the borders of Georgia came Arabs. After the destroying attack they managed to make the main provinces of the country obey and put the tributes on them. The governor of Arabs, Emir accomodated in Tbilisi and governed the conquerred part of Georgia from there. But Georgian people didn’t stand the reign of foreigners. From the end of the VIII cen. new rebellions began, which gradually ruined the basis of the government of Arabs in Georgia. The Punisher Expeditions, sent from the centre of Khalifat, although their small successes, couldn’t manage to abolish the resistence of Georgians. Besides, this was supported by the process of weakening of Khalifat in the IX-X cen.
At the end of the VIII cen. and in the beginning of the IX cen. in the conditions of struggles with the foreign conquerrors, on the territory of Georgia were established new feudal Kingdoms: Kakheti Principality, Hereti Kingdom, Abkhazia Kingdom, Tao-Klarjeti Kingdom. These Kingdoms released a big part of Georgia from the slavery. So at the X cen. Arabs only had Tbilisi and a small region near it.
At the second half of the X cen. the necessary political social-economical and ethnical foreconditions of unifying Georgia as a whole Kingdom appeared. Because of all that, the King Bagrat III Bagrationi (975-1014), who was the representative of the dinasty of the Kingdom of Tao-Klarjeti, from the side of his father, and the representative of the governing dinasty of Abkhazia, from the side of his mother, managed to unify the large part of the country. The Capital of politically unified Georgia became Kutaisi.
At the same time with the struggle for political union of Georgia, there was a natural process of creation feudal Georgian nations, which tractically ended by the X cen. The main kernel of Georgian people were Karts, which occupied the largest and the most important part of the country, Megrelians and Svans. Besides, some other tribes of Paleocaucasian origin entered Georgian nation. The word, Kartveli, which meant only the inhabitants of Kartli (Iberia) in early times, became the common autoethnonime for all Georgians since the X cen. Approximately in the same period there appeared also the term “Sakartvelo” which meant the entire counrty. (“Sakartvelo” is a Georgian word for Georgia). The language for writing and devine service for Georgians was Georgian (georg. “Kartuli Ena”), though in some provinces the local languages were spread.
by Dr. George Anchabadze