Russian Embassies to the Georgian Kings (1589-1605)
Publisher: Hakluyt Society
2 Volumes: xxxii+368 pages with frontispiece, five folding maps and ten plates; ix+-640 pages with frontispiece, two folding maps, six plates, bibliography and index. Octavo (8 3/4" x 5 1/2") issued in blue cloth with gilt lettering to spine and gilt sailing ship to front cover. Translated by Anthony Mango. Second Series, volumes 138 and 139. First edition.
By the early sixteenth century the loosely knit kingdom of Georgia had disintegrated from the strong monarch of the middle ages to a number of small states and principalities. This internal disunity made the Georgians easy victims of the power politics of the neighboring Ottoman and Safavid empires, and by the end of the century the southward drive of the Russians intensified the struggle for military and diplomatic control over the whole of the Caucasian isthmus. As a result of this struggle seventeen embassies were exchanged between the Russian tsars and the Georgian kins ruling in Kakheti during the years 1564-1605. W E D Allen and Anthony Mango (who undertook the translation) have selected the documents relating to the embassies of 1589-90 and 1604-5. Although the writers seem to be frequently pre-occupied with questions of protocol, their observations give a clear picture both of current Russian administrative and diplomatic practice and of the life and customs of the people of the Caucasus and Georgia. The texts are further enlivened by dramas such as the murder of the Kakhian King Alexander II and the secret negotiations for the marriages of the son and daughter of the Tsar Boris Godunov. The documents are of considerable geographical interest as they provide the earliest extant accounts of the crossing of the main chain of the Caucasus from north to south. Allen provides both a detailed background introduction and full commentary and notes on the texts. The second volume also contains some valuable genealogical tables which clarify the complicated relationships between the Caucasian royal and princely families and their connection with the Russian Ottoman and Persian ruling houses.
Some light rubbing to spine ends else better than very good copies in like jackets.