Alexander II of Kakheti

Alexander II
King of Kakheti
Reign 1574–1601
Predecessor Levan of Kakheti
David I of Kakheti
Successor David I of Kakheti
Constantine I of Kakheti
Born 1527
Died March 12, 1605
Spouse Tinatin Amilakhvari
Dynasty Bagrationi dynasty
Father Levan of Kakheti
Mother Tinatin Gurieli
Religion Georgian Orthodox Church

Alexander II (Georgian: ალექსანდრე II) (1527 – March 12, 1605) of the Bagrationi Dynasty, was a king of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 1574 to 1605. In spite of a precarious international situation, he managed to retain relative economic stability in his kingdom and tried to establish contacts with the Tsardom of Russia. Alexander fell victim to the Iran-sponsored coup led by his own son, Constantine I.

Early reign and political alliances

Alexander was a son of King Levan of Kakheti by his first wife Tinatin Gurieli. Upon Levan’s death in 1574, Alexander secured his succession in a power struggle with his half-brothers – El-Mirza and Kaikhosro – and their party. He was aided by his kinsman and western neighbor, Daud Khan of Kartli, who sent auxiliary troops under the princes Bardzim Amilakhvari and Elizbar of the Ksani, and helped Alexander crush the opponents at the Battle of Torgi.

Alexander II continued a traditional policy of his predecessors aimed at keeping peace with the neighbors of Kakheti. This, for the time being, secured the economic stability and prosperity in the kingdom. However, he faced a difficult task of maneuvering between the Ottomans and Saffavid Iran as both empires vied for the hegemony in the Caucasus. Although Alexander was initially a vassal, at least nominally, of the Safavids, he repudiated his allegiance to the Shah of Iran and accepted the Ottoman suzerainty when the latter empire gained the upper hand in 1578. The move did not prevent, however, Kakheti from being attacked by the mountainous subjects of the Shamkhal of Tarki who was apparently instigated by the Ottoman agents. Alexander decided to resume his father’s efforts to establish alliance with the Tsardom of Russia. After exchanging ambassadors in 1586–1587, Alexander received the protection of Tsar Feodor I of Russia, signing the Book of Pledge in 1589. Russian troops were sent against the shamkhal in a brief campaign of 1592. Little else came of the Russian promises, leading to a series of complaints by Alexander to the tsar’s ambassadors.[1]

Between 1596 and 1597, envoys of Alexander II, Simon I of Kartli, and Manuchehr of Samtshke arrived at the Safavid court, including slave boys and girls, who were entertained by Prince Constantine (also known as Kunstandil), the son of Alexander II himself, who had been brought up at the Safavid court.[2]


Royal charter of Alexander II.

In October 1601, Alexander’s son, David, revolted from the royal authority and seized the crown, forcing his father to retire to a monastery. David died a year later, on October 2, 1602, and Alexander was able to resume the throne. Meanwhile, Iran started to regain what had earlier been lost to the Ottomans. The energetic Shah Abbas I laid a siege to the Ottoman-held fortress of Erivan in November 1603 and summoned Alexander to his headquarters. After months of hesitation, Alexander acceded and arrived at Erivan in April 1604. Early in 1605, Shah Abbas sent him back with orders to raid Shirvan. He was accompanied by his son, Constantine, who had been raised at the Saffavid court as a convert to Islam.

Back in Kakheti, Alexander found a new Russian embassy requesting his support in a projected campaign against the shamkhal. The Russian envoys had already been favorably received by Alexander’s son, George, who ran the kingdom in his father’s absence. Dissatisfied by this maneuver, Constantine demanded the loyal execution of the shah’s orders. On March 12, 1605, Alexander summoned a council at Zagem. Within hours, Constantine led his Qizilbash entourage into a bloody coup against his own father; Alexander, George and several of their nobles were massacred. Constantine was made by the shah king of Kakheti, and the Saffavid suzerainty was, for the time being, reasserted in the kingdom.[1][3]


Alexander II was married to Tinatin, daughter of Prince Bardzim Amilakhvari, who bore him five or six sons and two daughters:



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  1. 1 2 Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation: 2nd edition, pp. 48-50. Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-20915-3
  2. Willem Floor,Edmund Herzig. Iran and the World in the Safavid Age I.B.Tauris, 30 jan. 2015. ISBN 1780769903 p 481
  3. (Russian) Вахушти Багратиони (Vakhushti Bagrationi) (1745)."История царства грузинского. Возникновение и жизнь Кахети и Эрети. Ч.1". Archived from the original on 2010-09-05. Retrieved 2010-09-05. . Accessed October 5, 2007.
  4. Safavid Gynaelogy - Mohammad Khodabanda
Preceded by
King of Kakheti
Succeeded by
David I
Preceded by
David I
King of Kakheti
Succeeded by
Constantine I
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