Adarnase IV of Iberia

Adarnase IV
King of Georgians
Reign 888-923
Successor David II of Iberia
Died 923
Issue David II of Iberia
Sumbat I of Iberia
Dynasty Bagrationi dynasty
Father David I of Iberia
Religion Georgian Orthodox Church

Adarnase IV (Georgian: ადარნასე) (died 923) was a member of the Georgian Bagratid dynasty of Tao-Klarjeti and prince of Iberia/Kartli, responsible for the restoration of kingship, which had been in abeyance since it had been abolished by Iran in the sixth century, in 888.[1][2]

The numbering of successive rulers in the early Bagratid period is very confused in that it moves between the different branches of the family. Hence, Adarnase, known as “IV” for being the fourth Adarnase as the prince of Iberia, is also known as “II” as a sovereign of Tao-Klarjeti and “I” as the king of Iberia.

Dynastic strife

Adarnase was the only son of David I, the prince of Iberia with the Byzantine title of curopalates, who was murdered by his cousin Nasra in 881. As Adarnase was still a minor, the Byzantine emperor – pursuant to the policy of division – appointed as curopalates, not Adarnase, but his cousin Gurgen. Nasra’s subsequent attempt to dispossess Adarnase of patrimonial inheritance was defeated with the help of the Armenian king Ashot I in 888.[2] The victory allowed Adarnase to claim a royal status for him. The historian Valeri Silogava has surmised that Adarnase's crowning as king might have occurred, in a symbolic move, at the ancient Iberian capital of Mtskheta, as suggested by an asomtavruli inscription—probably a 17th-century reinstatement of an earlier epigraph—at the Samtavro Monastery.[3]

Allied with the resurgent Armenians, Adarnase then launched, from his base in Lower Tao, a policy of expansion. Not being a curopalates and having Armenia's example before him, Adarnase assumed the title of king and subsequently defeated his rival curopalates Gurgen. The Byzantine government adapted itself to the circumstances and, upon Gurgen death in 891, recognized Adarnase as curopalates.[2]

Switching alliances

Adarnase rewarded Ashot of Armenia’s assistance with steadfast loyalty which continued into the reign of Ashot’s successor Smbat I whom Adarnase aided to win the crown in dynastic struggles in 890 and later joined him against Ahmed ibn-'Isâ of Diyarbakır, the Caliph’s former governor of Armīniya. In turn, Smbat recognized Adarnase’s royal status and personally crowned him in 899. The two men collaborated in defeating, in 904, the Abasgian king Constantine III, their common relative, who competed with Adarnase for hegemony in Inner Iberia (Shida Kartli) and with Smbat in Gogarene. Adarnase captured Constantine and turned him over to Smbat. But the latter, inclined to balance Adarnase’s growing power and extend Armenian influence to west Georgia, freed his captive. This move turned Adarnase against Smbat and the ensuing break and enmity weakened the both monarchs: Adarnase was dispossessed by Constantine of Inner Iberia (Shida Kartli) in 904, while Smbat was defeated and tortured to death by Yusuf, a Sajid ruler of Azerbaijan in 914.[1] As a result of these events, Adarnase was relegated to his portion of the Bagratid hereditary lands in Tao.[2] He rebuilt the church of Bana in Tao and made it a bishop's seat.[4]


Adarnase's wife is not known. He was survived by five children:


  1. 1 2 Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation, pp. 30-31. Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-20915-3
  2. 1 2 3 4 Toumanoff, Cyril (1967). Studies in Christian Caucasian History, pp. 490-493. Georgetown University Press.
  3. Silogava, Valeri (2008). "მცხეთის სამთავროს უცნობი წარწერა ადარნასე ქართველთა მეფის შესახებ" [An unknown inscription of the Samtavro monastery of Mtskheta about Adarnase, the king of Georgians] (in Georgian).
  4. Thomson, Robert W. (1996), Rewriting Caucasian History, p. 247. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-826373-2
Preceded by
King of Iberia
Succeeded by
David II
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