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Cabades, and his fire-worshipping followers when they conquered and overran the country two hundred years before, as well as the ferocious tyranny of the Mahometan Saracens, who subdued both Persia and Georgia, and endeavoured to enforce their intolerant creed with the fiercest penalties of fire and sword. Like the other divisions of the Eastern Church, Georgia uses the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, and she possessed only written copies of the entire Bible till as late as 1743, when the Georgian version was printed at Moscow in the printing-office of the Holy Synod, under the direction of Prince Vakuset of Georgia ; but rather earlier Peter the Great of Russia presented a printing-press to the Georgian sovereign, who in consequence caused some copies of the Psalms and New Testament to be struck off.
The Saracens continued in possession of Georgia till the beginning of the tenth century, when they were expelled by the aid of the ancestors of the noble Georgian family, known as Orbeliani, who tradition states were offshoots of the royal family of China, and who, being driven from the throne by a great revolution in their native land, entered Georgia through the pass of Dariel, and offered their swords to the dispirited native king to free his country from its foreign oppressors.
The Saracens retreated into Asia Minor, whence they precipitated themselves on Judea, and from the sensation which their conquest of Jerusalem caused in Europe, and the consequent expeditions called the Crusades which were fitted out against them, their history from this period seems almost to belong to Europe ; but they were followed in Georgia by still more savage Mahometan depredators—the Seljuk Turks-who in 1046, under their leader Togrul Beg, invaded and wasted the country, but could not hold it, so that it remained independent for two hundred years.
This period was the golden age of independent Georgia, and a small portion of her literature dates from that time, the poem of Tariel by General Rusteval, a History of Queen Tamar, a Georgian Queen Elizabeth, some heroic songs, and two prose works by Serge of Mogir and Moses of Khoni. The Georgian language resembles the Armenian more than the Slavonian, and contains many Greek words. The Greek language was used in its Church services till the fifth century, and the Armenian alphabet, which was invented A.D. 420, and introduced into Georgia by the Armenian Patriarch Isaac, is still employed in books of an ecclesiastical nature, though a more modern one invented by themselves is used for secular purposes. They have many chronicles, collections of hymns, and records of travels, chiefly written by ecclesiastics during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and some theological treatises composed in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Their kings at different times founded eleven Churches in Palestine, and the history of the Georgian Church by Plato Jossilian, shows how faithfully this outpost of Christianity has adhered to her creed, against heathen and infidel aggression, during centuries of isolation amidst ignorance and persecution. Possibly the ritual, which we consider excessive, may have assisted in preserving her identity, just as the ceremonial law of the Jews kept them apart from idolaters under the old dispensation, and still preserves them as a distinct people.
In 1220 the Christians throughout Western Asia felt the first terrible shock of the invasion of the Mogul Tartars, who under their celebrated leader, Zingis Khan, had fourteen years before left their homes in Southern Siberia, and already subdued Northern China, and the Mahometan States in Central Asia and Northern Persia. These savages worshipped nothing but a naked sword, and like their descendants the Kalmucks at the present day, were unpleasing in appearance, but possessed wonderful powers of endurance. Finding that Georgia interrupted their communications between Russia and Persia, and being unaccustomed to mountain warfare, they wished at first to march quietly through the country and leave her subjection to a future day. They announced themselves to Queen Rouzadan when they entered
of Derbend, as fellow Christians and allies come to assist her against the Mahometans; and to carry out the deception, they dressed up some of their slaves in priests’ vestments captured from the Russians, and placed them in front of the army, bearing a cross as a standard.
But sated with victory, they could not refrain from falling upon an unsuspecting Georgian battalion which had just been engaged with the Persians, and killed 6000 of them, though the encounter ended in the temporary discomfiture of the Moguls. At this time the Georgian Queen wrote to Pope Honorius III. to warn him of the danger wbich menaced Christendom if the Moguls were allowed to continue their progress; and in her letter she says that she had been unable to send the assistance she had promised against the Saracens, because she had need of all her armies to resist a sudden invasion of barbarians.
The great preparations which were required for the invasion of Northern Russia, perhaps more than the courage of the Georgians, recalled the Mogul army to Tashkend, whence the expedition was to set out under Toushi, the eldest son of Zingis Khan; and Queen Rouzadan spent the few years' respite in appealing again and again to the Greek Emperor and to the Pope to unite the Christian princes in resisting the approaching storm. The Greeks showed the same indifference to the sufferings of their fellow Christians in Georgia, as Western Europe afterwards showed to Greece and Constantinople when they were likewise crushed by infidels ; but Gregory IX., who had succeeded to the Papacy, wrote a letter of sympathy to the Georgian Queen, telling her how deeply he mourned the evils suffered by her country, but that he was unable to help her, because the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had just raised a tempest within the Church. As she had offered to separate herself from the Eastern Church, and to join that of Rome, he said he greatly approved of her idea, and would send her some Dominican monks to assist her in bringing Georgia within the pale of the holy See. He also published a crusade against the Moguls and their allies, as he termed the Russians, because after nearly a third of the population had fallen in struggling with the infidels, Russia like Bulgaria and Servia in later times, had been forced to become tributary to her conquerors, whose armies were recruited with Russian slaves; and the Pope promised the same privileges and indulgences to all who took up arms in this new crusade, as to those who had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
“Many affairs of grave importance," wrote Gregory IX., " are at this time incessantly occupying our thoughts; the melancholy state of the Holy Land, the tribulations of the Church, the deplorable condition of the Roman Empire ; but we forget all these causes of affliction, and even what most particularly concerns us, when we think of the evils caused by the Tartars, and that the Christian name may be destroyed.”
The Emperor Frederick of Germany was accused by his contemporaries of encouraging the Mogul invasion, and some years later was invited by the Grand Khan to do homage at the camp of the Golden Horde in Tartary. He wrote to Edward I. of England, —"A people issuing from the utmost confines of the world, where they had long been hidden under a frightful climate, have suddenly and violently seized on the countries of the north, and multiplied there like grass
hoppers. We know not where this savage race derives the name of Tartar, but it is not without a manifest judgment of God that they have been reserved for these later times as a chastisement for the sins of men, and perhaps for the destruction of Christendom. This ferocious and barbarous nation knows nothing of the laws of humanity. They have, however, a chief whom they venerate and blindly obey, calling him the god of the earth. They are short and thick-set, but strong, hardy, of immoveable firmness, and at the least sign from their chief rush with impetuous valour into the midst of perils of every
kind. They have broad faces, eyes set obliquely, and utter the most frightful cries and yells, which correspond but too well with the feelings of their hearts. They have no other clothing than the hides of oxen, asses, and horses, and up to the present time they have had no other armour than rough and ill-joined plates of iron. But already—and one cannot utter it without a groan—they are beginning to equip themselves better from the spoils of Christians, and soon the wrath of God will perhaps permit us to be shamefully massacred with our own weapons," &c.
The brave and virtuous Louis IX. of France, answered his mother Queen Blanche's fears lest the Moguls should have been sent to accomplish the ruin of Christendom, with a species of pun which was frequently quoted by his contemporaries to support the idea that the Moguls were demons sent to chastise mankind. “Let us look to Heaven for support and consolation, my mother,” he said, “and if they come, these Tartars, we will drive them back into Tartarus, whence they have issued; or it may be that they will send us to Heaven to enjoy the bliss that has been promised to the elect.”
The Mogul chiefs of the first army which invaded Russia in 1224 were recalled to Central Asia by the death of Zingis Khan, and the necessity of electing a new Emperor, while they were besieging the city of Kief; but in 1235 a second irruption of these barbarians brought all north-eastern Europe beneath their sway, and they had advanced as far as Leignitz where they gained a great battle over the united forces of the Silesians, Poles, and Teutonic Knights, and into Hungary and Bohemia, when another election became necessary by the death of Zingis Khan's successor. In the interval Georgia and Armenia were both overrun by the Moguls, and forced to see the noblest of their sons carried off to serve in the vanguard of the Tartar force; but their subjection to one Mahometan empire, as that of the Moguls soon became, did not exempt them from the fiercest ravages of another, and in 1399 they were invaded by the armies of Timur the Great, or Tamerlane, and Georgia especially was the scene of incessant warfare and almost incredible sufferings during five years. On the capture of Sebaste in Armenia, finding that 4000 of the garrison were Christians, Timur ordered them to be buried alive in vaults constructed on purpose. It was his favourite scheme to unite all the Mahometan nations for a war of extermination against the European Christians, but the jealousy of his co-religionists, who feared to become his vassals, prevented it; and the war which he waged against Bajazet, the Ottoman Sultan, in order to force his alliance upon him, delayed the fall of Constantinople, humanly speaking, by at least fifty years; his wars with Toktamish, the Mogul chief of Russia and the Crimea, so effectually weakened the Mahometan power in those parts, that Russia gained her first victory, that of the Don, over her oppressors, and exhibited such proofs of resuscitation that Poland allied herself with Toktamish in the hope of keeping her down. The Moguls in Russia never, in fact, recovered from their wars with Timur ; and in spite of their
savage retaliation in the burning of Moscow in 1382, and Timur's subsequent invasion of Russia, when he burned and pillaged every town to Kolomna, she threw off the yoke of her Mahometan oppressors during the following century.
The Persian historian, Shereffedin Ali, was an officer in Timur's army on this occasion, and with the pride with which he always describes the slaughter and plunder of Christians, evidently thinking that such deeds ensured for Mussulmans a glorious reception in Paradise, he tells us that “the Muscovites never saw their empire before in so terrible a state ; for while their fields were covered with the slain, the army loaded itself with the most precious spoil of their cities, and every soldier obtained so large a share of gold ingots, silver blades, Antioch flax, armed skins of Condoz, cloth woven in Russia with great skill, black sables and ermines, furs unknown to the Zagataians, (the Tartars of Samarcand and Bokhara,) and horses and young unshod colts, that it was sufficient to furnish both himself and his children to the end of their lives. From Little Russia, or the Ukraine, they also took enormous droves of cattle and multitudes of women and girls of all ages, of wonderful grace and beauty.” Russian girls were in great request for the Turkish slave market at Kaffa, and more than one chief Sultana at Constantinople was a Christian captive from Moscow. Marco Polo