Sunday, December 14, 2008

Georgian Musings

Irakli II as a young man

The Republic of Georgia has (thankfully) been out of the recent headlines. After the disasters of the summer, the Georgians can stand a period away from the spotlight. The struggling little country hasn't fared well as a pawn in Russo-American geo-political power plays. I do want to recommend an article posted on First Principles. Virgil P. Nemoianu visited Georgia last April, and wrote of his observations in Georgia: An Ancient and Troubled Country.

Queen Tamar

This story caused me to follow some other Georgian leads online, and in so doing, I stumbled across an article I missed during the war last August. Gerald Warner, writing for the Telegraph, suggests, here, that restoration of the Bagratid dynasty might be of benefit to the nation. What a capitol idea! It certainly makes more sense than some things coming out of Tbilisi in recent years. Restorations are always fascinating to contemplate, though they hardly ever come to pass (Spain being the only example that comes to mind). But apparently, there is substantial Georgian support for the proposal.

Democrats have been talking about monarchy on the British model and citing the example of King Juan Carlos in Spain to prove the practicability of a restoration. What brought things back to the boil, however, was a sermon preached by the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch Illia II, on October 7 last year, in which he publicly called for the restoration of the monarchy as the "desirable dream of the Georgian people". That led to the question being debated in parliament.

The Bagratid dynasty goes back to the earliest days of the Georgian nation, in the 6th century. The Bagrations, as the family is now known, were dynasts through Georgia's glory days in the 11th - 13th centuries, and in the troubled centuries since; that is, until Russia arbitrarily ended their rule and absorbed the country in 1801. The Georgian royal family was never remote from their subjects; often sympathetic figures in their country's many trials. Quite a few are recognized as saints and martyrs in the Georgian Orthodox Church--most notably King Davit the Builder and Queen Tamar.

The current claimant to the throne is Davit Bagration, who would be in the royal reckoning--Davit XIII. He is a young man of 32 years and is close to the Patriarch, Illia II--which is about the best recommendation one can have in Georgia.

David Bagration and the Patriarch Illia II

The Bagrations are buried in the historic Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mskheta. Patriarch Illia officiated the funeral earlier this year of Davit's father, Giorgi Bagration (George XIII).

Davit Bagration at his father's funeral in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Davit's great-aunt, Leonida Bagration, is the widow of Vladimir Kirillovich Romanov (Vladimir II, I suppose), claimant to the vacant Russian throne through his father Kirill Vladimirovich (Kirill I), first cousin of Nicholas II. Her daughter, Maria Vladimirovna, is the current, and perhaps most legitimate, candidate for the phantom throne of Russia. Some Romanov purists dispute her claim, citing the restrictive nature of the 1797 succession law. But the post-Revolution Romanovs have been something of a mixed bag, and Maria is perhaps their best claimant. She is half Georgian--and looks it. And her Romanov side is far more German than Russian in its bloodline. So, it is not without irony that if there is ever a Romanov restoration, the "Empress of all the Russias" would be more Georgian than anything else.

(With an economic depression, political turmoil and daily crises at home, and wars and rumblings of wars abroad, I find it refreshing to contemplate something of true significance--the restoration of the Georgian monarchy. Ha!)


Milton Burton said...

Well, Cathrine the Great was a kraut and she did pretty will by the Russians. Might work.

The Scylding said...

As a Constitutional Monarchist, I like the idea!

Mimi said...

I also think this is a great idea.

John said...

I'm a fan of monarchy, constitional or otherwise. Tradition and continuity rank high with me, and these civic virtues seem to flourish under monarchies.

The Ochlophobist said...

If they do ever decide to enthrone Davit XIII, you should consider leading a tour of American Orthodox to Georgia around that time - especially were there any way to be there during the time of the coronation. If such a thing were to happen, come hell or high water, I would find a way to secure the funds to go.

John said...

Were there to be such an event--the coronation of the first Orthodox monarch since the end of the Second World War--I think you and I would definitely be there, Depression or no Depression.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Georgian Bagrationi dynasty is an offshoot of Armenian Bagratuni dynasty?