Queen Tamar

A 13th-Century Description

This passage is from the Georgian Royal Annals, which is a compilation of several texts. The section about Queen Tamar is dated to the thirteenth century.

Source, p. 288.

A 13th-Century Coin

Tamar’s coin with the date and her initials (and those of her husband) in Georgian on the left; Arabic inscription with the titles Queen of Queens and Sword of the Messiah on the right.

A 13th-Century Mural

This mural at Vardzia shows Tamar and her father presenting to the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

A 13th-Century Description

This was written by Vardan Arewelc’i, a 13th century Armenian historian who wrote about the Zakarid brothers – Zakare and Ivane – who served the Kingdom of Georgia during the reign of Queen Tamar. The years here are according to the Armenian calendar.

In the days of those times lived the glorious princes Zak’are and Ivane, sons of Sargis, son of Varham, son of Zak’are, son of Sargis, of Kurdish origin. Emigrating to the kings of Joroget, who were of the Bagratuni family, they believed in Christ and gained respect. He gave them Xosorni as a dwelling place. And since they were very courageous, they increased daily in rank and honor. In the days of T’amar they became even more glorious, and she gave them Lori. By their own valor they expelled the Turks from all fortresses and provinces in a short time. For in 640 they took the land of Shirak; in 645 they took Anberd; in 648 they took Ani; in 650 they took Bjni; in 652 they took Dvin; in 655 they took the royal [city] Kars, then Getabakk’ and C’arek’. Their fame spread over the whole country. But Ivane, deceived by queen T’amar, weakened in the faith. Things went badly for him; he was captured and imprisoned in Xlat’. By the repute of his brother’s valor he was freed, after giving his daughter in marriage to [the Ayyubid] Melik’ Asraf, the lord of Xlat’. However, Zak’are, Ivane’s brother, remained in his own faith…

Now in the days of the reign of T’amar, queen of Georgia, the Christians waxed strong, although she dismissed her Russian husband and took the Ossete Soslan, who filled Georgia with captivity and pillage from the Turks. By him she bore an only child and named him Lasa. She held the crown for 23 years and then died. To the throne succeeded Lasha, who was called Georg by the army, in 657. In 659 locusts ruined many provinces. At the same time the great Zak’are ravaged the land of Persia as far as the city of Artawil, exacting vengeance from them for the blood of the Christians. Accordingly, he ordered their house of prayer to be burned when it was full of men, as a sacrifice to the princes who [had been killed] in the churches of Naxchavan; and readers of the Quran and mullas’ [were killed as a sacrifice] for the priests who had been sacrificed in Baguan, by whose blood the wall of the church had been colored. In that attack he was martyred to the Lord, orthodox and pure of faith. He was buried in the holy monastery of Sanahin in 661, leaving a single child of five years called Shahanshah-named in honor of the principality of Ani-whom Xoshak’, the spouse of Ivane, converted to the sect of Chalcedon.