Georgian–Seljuk wars

Georgian–Seljuk wars

Georgian rider at Didgori field
LocationGeorgian region of Tao-Klarjeti and the rest of Georgia.
Result Decisive Georgian victory
Kingdom of Georgia Great Seljuq Empire
50,000–90,000 250,000–450,000 (400,000–700,000)

The Kingdom of Georgia had been a tributary to the Great Seljuq Empire since the 1080s. However, in the 1090s, the energetic Georgian king David IV of Georgia was able to exploit internal unrest in the Seljuq state and the success of the Western European First Crusade against Muslim control of the Holy Land, and established a strong monarchy.

David IV reorganized the military of Georgia and created very well armed and trained army in this medieval period.

First armed clashes

Soon after David IV's reforms Georgia became united. David IV reorganised the Georgian army and began a war against the Great Seljuq Empire in 1099-1121, until the Seljuks invaded Georgia with a vast army.

Battle of Didgori

Main article: Battle of Didgori

In 1121 the Great Seljuq Empire, under command of Ilghazi, invaded Georgia with an army of 100,000-250,000 (modern estimate) or 400,000-800,000 (various Muslim, Christian chronicles).[1][2]

David gathered 40,000 Georgian warriors, 15,000 South Caucasian Kipchaks, 300 Alans and 100 French Crusaders to fight against Ilghazi's vast army.

The Battle of Didgori (Georgian: დიდგორის ბრძოლა) was fought between the armies of the Kingdom of Georgia and the crumbling Great Seljuq Empire at Didgori, 40 km west of Tbilisi, (the modern-day capital of Georgia), on August 12, 1121. The battle resulted in King David's decisive victory over a Seljuk invasion army under Ilghazi and the subsequent reconquest of a Muslim-held Tbilisi, which became the royal capital. The victory at Didgori inaugurated the medieval Georgian Golden Age and is celebrated in the Georgian chronicles as a "miraculous victory" (ძლევაჲ საკვირველი, dzlevay sakvirveli). Modern Georgians continue to remember the event as an annual September festival known as Didgoroba ("[the day] of Didgori").[3]

Battle of Basian

Main article: Battle of Basian

The Seljuq sultan Rukn ad-Din Suleiman Shah decided to crush Georgia and invaded into Georgia with an army of allegedly 300,000. Suleiman sent a messenger to Georgia's ruler, Queen Tamar, and said that Georgia would surrender and Tamar would become one of his wives. After hearing these words, Georgian General Zakaria Mkhargrdzeli punched the messenger.

Queen Tamar's husband, David Soslan gathered 80,000 warriors and moved to meet Suleiman. The Battle of Basian was fought in the Basian vale, Georgia. The battle is variously dated between 1202 and 1205, but 1203 or 1204 has lately been given preference. The contemporary Muslim annalist Ibn Bibi places the battle in 598 AH (October 1, 1201 - September 19, 1202). The modern Turkish historians identify the castle of Micingerd (Mazankert) as the location of the battle.

The Georgian centre was composed by Kartlians and Javakhs (40,000) led by David Soslan, the right wing was composed by Abkhazians and Svans (20,000) and the left wing by Kakhetians and Heretians. The Georgians attacked at night, crushed Seljuks and captured vast number of prisoners. Suleiman was wounded but managed to return to Seljuk lands.

See also


  1. Mikaberidze, Alexander. "'Miraculous Victory:' Battle of Didgori, 1121". Armchair General. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  2. Anatol Khazanov. Nomads in the Sedentary World. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  3. Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation, p. 36. Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-20915-3
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