Demetrius I of Georgia

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Demetrius I
დემეტრე I
King of Kings of Georgia
Demetre I (Matskhvarishi).jpg
"Coronation of Demetrius I, a fresco by Michael Maglakeli from the Matskhvarishi monastery, 1142
6th King of Georgia
Reign 1125–1154
Predecessor David IV
Successor David V
George III
Born c. 1093
Died 1156
Burial Gelati Monastery
Issue David V
George III
Dynasty Bagrationi
Father David IV of Georgia
Mother Rusudan of Armenia
Religion Georgian Orthodox Church

Demetrius I (დემეტრე I) (c. 1093 – 1156), from the Bagrationi dynasty, was King of Georgia from 1125 to 1156. He is also known as a poet.


Demetrius was the eldest son of King David the Builder by his first wife Rusudan. He was brought up in Kutaisi. As a commander, he took part in his father’s battles against Seljuks, particularly at Didgori (1121) and Shirvan (1123). In 1117, he was sent by David at the head of a Georgian army into Shirvan, where Demetrius reduced the fortress of Kaladzor (later Alberd, now Ağdaş[1]) and put to flight the men of Sukman, "commander of all the forces of Persia"—as a Georgian chronicler suggests. This Sukman was probably a Shah-Armenid prince, and subsequently, ruler in his own right, Sökmen II, whom the Shirvanshah Afridun I must have applied for help.[2]

Demetrius succeeded on his father’s death on January 24, 1125. With his ascent to the throne, the Seljuk Turks attacked the Georgian-held city of Ani, Armenia. Demetrius I had to compromise and ceded the city to a Seljuk ruler under terms of vassalage.

In 1139, he raided the earthquake-ridden city of Ganja in Arran (the present day Azerbaijan). He brought the iron gate of the defeated city to Georgia and donated it to Gelati Monastery at Kutaisi, western Georgia. Despite this brilliant victory, Demetrius could hold Ganja only for a few years.

In 1130, Demetrius revealed a plot of nobles, probably involving the king's half-brother Vakhtang. The King arrested the conspirators and executed one of their leaders, Ioanne Abuletisdze, in 1138 (or 1145). In 1154 David, Demetrius's elder son forced his father to abdicate and become a monk, receiving the monastic name Damian (Damianus). However, David died six months later and King Demetrius was restored to the throne. David was survived by his son Demna who was regarded by the aristocratic opposition as a lawful pretender.

Although Demetrius was not as successful as his father David the Builder, Georgia remained a strong feudal power with a well-organized military and political system and a developed cultural and economical life.

He died in 1156 and was buried at Gelati Monastery.

He is regarded as a saint in the Orthodox Church and his feast day is celebrated on May 23 on the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar.[3]

Marriage and children

The name of Demetrius's wife is unknown, but he had several children:



King Demetrius I was an author of several poems, mainly on religious themes. Shen Khar Venakhi (Georgian: შენ ხარ ვენახი, English: Thou Art a Vineyard), a hymn to the Virgin Mary, is the most famous of them.

See also


  1. ^ Hewsen, Robert H. (1992). The Geography of Ananias of Širak: Ašxarhac'oyc', the Long and the Short Recensions. Wiesbaden: Reichert. p. 249. ISBN 3-88226-485-3. 
  2. ^ Hasan, Hadi (1929). Falakī-i-S̲h̲irwānī: His Times, Life, and Works. London: Royal Asiatic Society. p. 8. 
  3. ^ (in Greek) Ὁ Ὅσιος Δαμιανὸς ἐκ Γεωργίας. 23 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.

External links

  • The Bagrationi Dynasty
  • Listen to the hymn “Thou Art the Vineyard”
  • St Damiane (Demetrius) the King and Hymnographer Orthodox synaxarion
Preceded by
David IV
King of Georgia
Succeeded by
David V (1154)
Succeeded by
George III (1156)
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