Kingdom of Varkana
|Kingdom of Varkana|
|-||Union with Aetolia||1428|
The Kingdom of Varkana (Varkan: საქართველოს სადედოფალო/სამეფო, sakartvelos sadedopalo/samepo) was the predominantly Varkan-speaking union the Varkan peoples into a unified monarchy that emerged in the late Antiquity and ended in the Middle Ages with a dual monarchy with Aetolia. Its capital city was initially Senaki, before moving to Zestafoni in 1268.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Culture and society
- 4 Art and architecture
- 5 Legacy
The Kingdom of Varkana was known by most sources as a "Kingdom", although the name in Varkan was literally "Queendom". The word სადედოფალო (sadedopalo, “queendom”) comes from სა- (sa-) + დედოფალი (dedopali, “queen”) + -ო (-o), while the word სამეფო (samepo, “kingdom”) comes from სა- (sa-) + მეფე (mepe, “king”) + -ო (-o). In fact, the name of the country in official documents changed from Queendom to Kingdom when a King sat on the Varkan throne, most notably during Giorgi's and Otari's respective reigns.
Meanwhile, the name for Varkana in Varkan, საქართველო, comes from Old Varkan საქართველო (sakartvelo), equivalent to სა- (sa-) + ქართველი (kartveli, “Varkan”) + -ო (-o), and literally means “a place where Varkans dwell”.
Unification of Varkana
During the Antiquity, three main kingdoms were present on modern Varkana's territory: the Kingdom of Valyria, the Kingdom of Gali and the Kingdom of Kartli. These kingdoms were vassals, client states of Aetolia. However, a later ruler of Kartli, Pharsman IV (448-450), preserved his country's autonomy and decided to cease paying tribute to Aetolia. Aetolia prevailed, and they began to appoint a viceroy to keep watch on their Kartli vassal. This new viceroy, was Tarasicodissa, an Aetolian sympathetic to the Varkans, favoring them over Aetolian nobility. A theologian, he was fascinated by the Varkan culture and its religion, Armazism.
In 455, Viceroy Tarasicodissa orchestrated an anti-Aetolian uprising and restored Kartli statehood, proclaiming himself the King. After this, the armies of Tarasicodissa launched several campaigns against Aetolia, the Valyrians and the Galians. His struggle for the independence and unity of the Varkan state did have lasting success, with him easily conquering both Valyria and Gali. The new King of the Varkans married a Varkan woman in 457, Elene Ochokochi. The Kingdom of Varkana followed primogeniture enatic-cognatic succession laws, following Kartli's tradition. After Tarasicodissa's death in 472, and the continued reign of Elene, the kingdom was facing an immediate threat from the southeast: the Vasaras Empire. They had conquered modern-day Tourkia and Sakalia, were ignoring the primitive Christian kingdoms of Central Illypnia, wanting instead to conquer the rich Dinarides, dominated by Aetolia. Seeing Varkana as the perfect opportunity to surprise Aetolia by the south, Vasaras invaded in 486. Having only mountain passages to protect, Varkans were initially successful against the Vasari armies, but they lacked something important: they couldn't counter-attack. Varkana's army at the time was an ancient organization similar to the modern concept of militias. They were good at guerrilla warfare, defending a territory using its natural landscape, but couldn't dominate a regular army. The Vasari armies nevertheless retreated, and concentrated on attacking Aetolia from the east, directly. A Varkan legend tells the tale of a Varkan girl living in the mountains bordering Vasaras, who followed the Vasaras retreat with her siblings, giving their gathered information to the Varkan monarchy. In reality, it is more likely to assume that the Parnavazianni had military scouts, watching the Vasaras army's every movements and reporting back, acting as medieval spies. Realizing the situation, Varkana's Queen Agathe I sent a message to the Aetolians, informing them of the Vasaras numbers, rations, encampments, etc. The Aetolians crushed the Vasari invaders and stopped their expansion towards the Dinarides, marking the beginning of military partnerships between Varkana and Aetolia against Orientals (Vasaras, Parani, Lagashi, etc.) on one side, and Christians on the other. Queen Agathe I wrote to her Hand, Archil Sabinin: "Should Vasaras conquer Aetolia, we are doomed. Should we be conquered first, they are doomed. Aetolia is a vital ally at this time."
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
In May 999, Queen Elene VIII emerged victorious against the Kingdom of Tavros, winning in the Battle of Klow, alongside their ally the Kingdom of Hiererikon, which brought the Klovian coast (modern-day Northern Varkana) to the Varkan Crown. Elene VIII intended to subjugate the rest of the Kingdom of Tavros to Varkan rule but the Armazist Church intervened and forbade any attack on Theodosia. The three involved kingdoms negotiated a peace treaty, mediated by the Church in November 999, the Treaty of Vani.
Late Middle Ages
In 1226, after Queen Elene IX's short reign, she leaves no suitable female heir, prompting her eldest son to access the throne as King Giorgi. His reign is one of the longest for a Varkan monarch, at 34 years, and ...
Upon Giorgi's death on 21 February 1262, the Ochokochi dynasty ended in the main female line. His eldest daughter, Esukan VI, succeeded him, starting the Margania dynasty. However, her reign was opposed by the House of Nersiani, a cadet branch of the Ochokochi, culminating in the Varkan Succession War (1262–1267). The Kingdom of Echia supported the cause of the Nersiani while the First Aetolian Republic supported the Margania. Noble support, initially more supportive of the Nersiani, shifted to the Margania after Echia's involvement. At the conclusion of the civil war, the Nersiani were exterminated by royal forces under Esukan VI's orders.
Union with Aetolia
The unification of the Dinarides had long been a goal of the Varkan monarchs, especially during the Aposyndetic Period. There were many attempts to unite the different kingdoms since the Aposyndetic Period, especially through a policy of intermarriage. The Union was a result of the Treaty of Abasha of 1416 and came into existence on 21 February 1428, when Prince Otari and Princess Tatiania married in the Didymatheous. The United Kingdom consisted of one monarchy ruled by the House of Xenakis. According to the Treaty of Abasha, the Aetolian and the Varkan portions were co-equal. Under the union, foreign affairs and the military came under joint oversight, but all other governmental faculties were divided between the respective states.
Early modern history
Culture and society
Economy and agriculture
Agriculture was the most important sector of the economy whose development was favored by the fertile soils of the Alazani and Mtkavari valleys. The land was divided into "lord's lands" and "communal lands". The most widespread cereals were wheat, rye, millet and the Alazani red rice that were the staple food for the populace. Other crops of significance were grapes, orchards, olives and linen. Animal husbandry was well developed, the main stocks being cattle, oxen, buffaloes, sheep, pigs and horses. Animal stocks were vital for farming, transport, military, clothing and food.
Small-scale mining was developed in the Dalian Mountains, the Apennine Mountains and the Kaspian Mountains. A number of diverse handicrafts thrived in the urban centers and some villages. Senaki had workshops that processed metals (especially gold and silver), stone and wood, and produced ceramics, glass and jewelry. Trade had an important weight in the economy, as Varkana lays between Aetolia, Central Illypnia, and Christian Northern Illypnia. The density of the network of towns was high. The economic historian Stefanos Metallinos estimated that in 1000, Kaspi had 45,000 inhabitants and Senaki had 60,000, making them two of the largest cities in the Dinarides at the time. By 1200 AD, Klow supplanted both of them and reached 85,000 inhabitants.
Society and politics
The Kingdom of Varkana was divided into provinces, communes and villages, ruled by a lord (უფალო, upalo), a duke (ჰერცოგი, hertsogi) and a prefect (პრეფექტთან, p’repekt’tan), respectively. The lord's job was to deal with estates and other things relating to legal matters. Varkan royal rule was characterized by considerable centralization, ambitious urban planning, agricultural development, and technological improvements. Below the king, a powerful bureaucracy carried out much of the affairs of government; the head of the bureaucracy was the Hand (chancellor or prime minister). Within this bureaucracy the Armazist priesthood was immensely powerful. The head of the priestly class, the hierophant of the capital, along with the commander-in-chief, the Megas Konostaulos, the head of treasury and finance, the Megas Logariastes, and the spymaster, the Megas Mystikos, were, below the monarch, the most powerful positions of the Kingdom as Great Officers of the Crown.
The Varkan monarchs always considered the advice of their Great Officers. An Aetolian historian, FF, praised the "excellent administration of the Varkan queens, their well-ordered policy, their care for their subjects, and the prosperity of their domains". The monarchical office was hereditary and followed primogeniture enatic-cognatic succession laws. The Varkan nobility was a mixture of old Kartolian clans, Varkan aristocratic families, and noble families from subjected territories. In general, nobles from Varkan families held the most powerful positions in the royal administration, including lordships of border provinces. Most of these positions were matrimonial or patrimonial, and many were passed down through a single family for generations.
Culturally, the Varkans implemented a system of social stratification. This system was supported by Dinaric tradition and Armazism, which was established as the state religion. Other religions appear to have been largely persecuted, although this claim has been debated. Women, children, foreigners, laborers, and slaves all had defined roles, but there was interaction between the classes and there was also some movement between social groups, particularly for second-generation offspring and during times of stress such as wars.
The society of Varkana was largely composed of the following groups: landed nobility, the clergy, artisans, merchants, peasants, semi-free laborers (the meurneobebi), children (categorized as below 16 years generally), slaves and foreigners.
The Varkan medieval military relied heavily on Dinaric horses and light cavalry lancers called Lakari. The Varkans used lance both overarm and underarm, couched (held horizontally). Forces under the command of the Kingdom of Varkana were trained, organized, and equipped for mobility and speed. Varkan soldiers were more lightly armored than many of the armies they faced but were able to make up for it with maneuverability. Traditionally known for its prowess with ground forces, Varkana rarely used naval power. Around the Iremian Sea, the Varkan campaigns were almost exclusively land-based, with the sea controlled by the Aetolians. After the union with Aetolia, it was a common saying that the Dinaric army was "Aetolian at sea and Varkan on land".
The Varkan monarchy was irrevocably linked to the Armazist Church, and the Treaty of Abasha that established the United Kingdom of the Dinarides had made these links explicit: it was primordial for the monarch to be crowned in the Pantheion in Theodosia, while any royal wedding had to be held in the Didymatheous in Abasha. The Church acted as chief mediator during conflicts between Armazist countries and could declare a city, region or whole country protected by a god to dissuade an other country from invading it or to protect itself from a powerful state. A notable example was when, in 999, Matriarch Aglaia III declared Theodosia to be a city blessed by Zeus and forbade any military attack on the city amidst tensions between the Kingdom of Varkana and the Kingdom of Tavros. As a result, Varkana refrained from invading Tavros beyond the Sinora River that year. Other temporal powers of the Church included playing a political role as one of the Great Officers of the Crown of Varkana through the Hierophant of Senaki and subsequently the Hierophant of Zestafoni.
Art and architecture
Varkana has been often identified in Christian Illypnia with intolerance, pagan spirituality, orientalism and exoticism, while the terms "Varkan" and "Varkanism" have been used as bywords for decadence, complex bureaucracy, and repression. Both Northern and Southern Illypnian authors have often perceived Varkana and its neighbor Aetolia as a body of religious, political, and philosophical ideas contrary to those of the West.
This traditional approach towards the Kingdom of Varkana has been partially or wholly disputed and revised by modern studies, which focus on the positive aspects of Varkan culture and legacy.