Excerpt from the book “Sketches of Georgian Church History”
by T.E. Dowling,    London/New York, 1912, pp. 96-98

     Text: Archdeacon Theodore E. Dowling
     Maps: Dr. Andrew Andersen








"There is also in the East another Christian people, who are very warlike and valiant in battle, being strong in body and powerful in the countless numbers of their warriors. They are much dreaded by the Saracens and have often by their invasions done great damage to the Persians, Medes and Assyrians on whose borders they dwell, being entirely surrounded by infidel nations. These men are called Georgians, because they especially revere and worship St. George, whom they make their patron and standard-bearer in their fight with the infidels, and they honor him above all other saints. Whenever they come on pilgrimage to the Lord's Sepulchre, they march into the Holy City with banners displayed, without paying tribute to anyone, for the Saracens dare in no wise molest them. They wear their hair and beards about a cubit long and have hats on their heads."

Jacques de Vitry, Patriarch of Jerusalem










Joseljan in his Short History of the Georgian Church, ch. vi. p. 110, states that “” History tells us that the Georgians, although separated from Europe, were yet near enough to it to share in the spirit which at that time roused the whole of Europe , and with it they also took up arms for the Crusades. Flattered at the thought of conquering the world, and of rescuing the grave of our Lord from the enemies of Christianity, Georgia sent a few troops on that expedition; but those courageous defenders of the Faith were wrecked in the Black Sea. This untoward accident, however, did not hinder fresh attempts on the part of Georgians.


The glory of the victories, and the report of disasters carried here and there over the world, and as he Greek writer (Anna Comnenna Hist. of Emp. Alexis) says, shaking the whole of Europe to her foundations, led the Georgians to set on foot another expedition. The success thereof is not known; but the Georgian Crusaders probably joined the Syrian Christians and the Armenian princes who went forth on an expedition after the victory of the Saracens, and who joined it under the name of the Captains of the West.”[1]


The following extracts are translated from Michaud’s Histoir des Croisades, Vol 1, p.131: “Another Christian power had developed in the vast regions of Iberia or Georgia.


“William of Tyre[2] celebrates the bravery and the services of the Georgian people, who about the middle of the twelfth century checked the power of the Persian nations, and closed the passage of the Caspian ports to the barbarians of Tartary.” In Vol. III. p.5 he adds: “Rumours of Frederick’s preparations had reached the peoples of Georgia. The Queen of this country wrote to the head of the Church of Rome that the constable (chief of army of her kingdom) and a great number of her subjects were only awaiting the arrival of the German Emperor[3] to fly to the help of Palestine. The Georgians were considered a warlike people; they were feared by the Moslems; their pilgrims had the privilege of entering Jerusalem without paying the tribute imposed on other Christians… but the Tartar invasion prevented their leaving their own territory.”


If Michaud’s statement is correct, it probably explains why there is no allusion to The Georgians in Stevenson’s The Crusaders in the East, 1907, and Besant’s and Palmer’s Jerusalem the City of Herod and Saladin, Chatto and Windus, 1908.


Mr. Walther Gordon, M.A., who constantly studies in the Bodleian library, informs me hat he has read through more than one account of the taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders on July15, 1099, without finding mentioning of Georgians or Iberians.[4]

Gibbon’s History of the Decline and fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. VI, pp. 7, 191, 1789, is also silent. So that it seems that Joselian’s remarks must be received with hesitation.


Archdeacon Ward, of Alexandria, has drawn my attention to Dean Stanley’s following nine words: “The nation [Georgia] bore a considerable part in the Crusades”[5] Gibbon speaks of the Iberians, and it appears that they were known by the name “Georgians” only since the Crusades among the Latins and Orientals.



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[1] Archdeacon Sinclair, The Churches of the East, p.33, 1898


Eliot Stock, under the heading of the Eleventh Century, speaks of Armenia and Georgia being conquered by the Turks in 1063.

[2] William of Tyre, at the end of A.D. 1174, became Chancellor, and in June, 1175, was consecrated Latin Archbishop of Tyre.

[3] Frederick II of Germany took the Crusader’s vow, A.D. 1215, on the day when he was consecrated king.


[4] Neale, History of the Holy Eastern Church, Vol. I. p. 63, asserts that the second Georgian armament was moore successful than the first, and shared the peril and glory of the capture of Jerusalem.

[5] Lectures on the History of the Eastern Church, p.12, London, John Murray, 1884.