Vakhtang ruled in V Century. The name “Gorgasali” was given to him by the Persians, it means – “Wolf Head”. He was an outstanding reformer and has reigned for 45 years! He ascended to the throne at the young age of 15, nevertheless went into history as one of the most celebrated kings of Georgia and a legendary and fearless leader. He is recognized as a saint by the orthodox church of Georgia.
A Young Leader
From the moment of his Coronation, his first order was to mobilize the army. And at the age of 16, he has launched a massive campaign against the kidnappers of his sister from the north Caucasus – Alans. He emerged victoriously and freed his sister from the enemy’s imprisonment, by this glorious conquest he established dominance in the north. This success made Vakhtang a hero and in one of the Georgian folk songs, it’s described how mountains would “crumble” from the power of the young king.
The Great conquest
After Settling internal problems, Vakhtang was called to raise arms as an ally in the war for central Asia by Sassanian Sultan Peros I. Georgian wolf assembled 40,000 men and wandered far from their homeland to help Persia in their conquest of India.
After defeating India and collecting massive tribute, they went to Syndia, where Vakhtang himself was challenged by Syndian King. Vakhtang accepted the challenge and defeated him easily. Being the man of honor, he spared his life and in return, he earned two times more gold than in India and was celebrated by the Persians for his courage.
Vakhtang understood that Georgia could no longer be under the control of the Sassanids, he used the wealth that he acquired to start the war for independence. In one of the battles, in 502 AD Persians outnumbered Georgians 5:1, Vakhtang fought bravely for the entire day but got severely injured. By many accounts, this was his last battle of Georgian Wolf and he died due to his injuries.
Most important is the founding of Tbilisi. During Vakhtang’s reign, the royal city was Mtskheta. One day King was haunting in the woods with his hunting bird when he found and shot a small deer from his bow. The dear survived the arrow and ran away. King started following it and soon found it lying next to the natural hot spring. Vakhtang was amazed and ordered a new city to be founded and he named it Tbilisi – “the Warm City”
The second biggest reform was getting independence from the greek orthodox church. This was a Huge culturally significant step for Georgia. It involved that we no longer needed Greece for the fulfillment of our religious customs. We were free from the major foreign influence and the title of Georgian Arch-Bishop was created.
The successful wars of Vakhtang gave Georgia huge financial possibilities. During his time many roads bridges and other important infrastructure were created also improved the defensive power of Georgia by building new castle-towns and created the whole defensive system which was a huge help during the war with Persia. Many churches also were built, the most notable one being the start of the construction of that times’ biggest Georgian Church – Svetitskhoveli