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  • Kerry Chaput

King Tamar of Georgia (Yes, I said King)


Back in the twelfth century, when Tamar was the first woman ruler of Georgia, the title "king" didn't have a gender specification, so you might come across her referred to as King Tamar.


She ruled through what was called the Golden Age of Georgia. Born to King George III, she was named co-monarch by her father around the age of twelve. The aristocracy and clergy resisted a female ruler and nearly overthrew the king to appoint his only male heir, a nephew, but King George had the poor man blinded and castrated so Tamar could take the throne.


Tamar watched and learned, and when her father passed, she took the throne around the age of twenty-one. It was no surprise that all the male leaders fought to control her.

Still young, a bit naïve, and eager to grow her power, she agreed to let the aristocracy choose her husband. They chose a Russian Prince named Yuri. As he spent most of his time drinking and beating his wife, Tamar demanded an annulment, which she was granted.


With her husband gone and the leader of the clergy passing away, Tamar stepped into her role of power. She cleaned house and hired her own advisors, commanders, and ministers who would be loyal to her. She also married a man of her choosing and bore two children with him.


As fighting erupted all around Georgia's territory, Tamar took a diplomatic approach and avoided battles when possible.

A team of rebels developed on the edge of her territory led by Yuri, her scorned ex-husband. Tamar ordered an army to deal with them. She decided not to execute them, but exiled Yuri to Constantinople.

As tension rose between Georgia and their Muslim neighbors, Yuri appeared AGAIN pledging allegiance to her enemies. Yuri would fade from the historical record, but Tamar would be remembered as "Tamar the Great."


A Sultan sent a letter to Tamar calling her a "simpleton of a queen" and demanded that she convert to Islam so he could take her as a wife. He offered the role of concubine if she didn't convert. She formed an army and took out the Sultan.


Georgia became a political powerhouse in the middle ages. Under Queen Tamar's leadership, Georgia forged a cultural identity, solidified power, made architectural advances and widened their territory.


Tamar led with compassion and dignity and left a legacy of power. Her son inherited the throne, and sadly ten years after her death, Georgia would fall to the Mongols. This Queen left a lasting effect on her people and world history. Badass indeed.

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