Alexander Chavchavadze

Portrait of Alexander Chavchavadze

Alexander Chavchavadze was a Georgian poet, nobleman and military General and is regarded as the father of Georgian Romanticism. He was born in 1786 in Saint Petersburg, Russia and died on 6th November 1846 in Tsinandali, Georgia aged 60.

Major Works

“Woe to This World and Its Tenants” (1804)
Listen, listener” 
“Sikvarulo Dzalsa Shensa”

Biography Timeline

Aleksandr Garsevanovich Chavchavadze was born on 10th July 1786 in St Petersburg, Russia. His father was Prince Garsevan Chavchavadze, an envoy of Heraclius the Second of Georgia, entitled Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary of the Kartli-Kakhetian Kingdom to the Court of the Russian Emperor. His mother was Mariam Avalishvili, a Georgian aristocrat related to the famous Georgian dramatist, Giorgi Avalishvili and she was responsible for giving her son an all-round education. The Tsarina Catherine the Second of Russia was his godmother.

1801: He sees Georgia for the first time aged thirteen when he moves to Tiflis with his family after the Russian annexation of eastern Georgia.

1804: He joins Prince Parnaoz, a member of the Georgian Royal Family in a rebellion against the Russians which takes place in the mountains of Mtiuleti. He is arrested by the authorities and put in the Kizlar prison but is pardoned because of his father’s standing in the Russian Court. Whilst in prison he writes the poem “Woe to This World and Its Tenants” which becomes very popular and brings him national fame as a Georgian Romantic.

1809: He graduates from Petersburg Boys’ Military School and is transferred to a Hussar Regiment as a junior lieutenant. 

1810: He is promoted to lieutenant. 

1811: Death of his father.

1812: He marries the Georgian Princess Salome Orbeliani, daughter of Ioann Avalishvili on 19th February. He is appointed Aide-de-Camp to Marquise Paulucci and is wounded in the fighting during the rebellion in Kakheti. 

1813: He serves as an Aide-de-Camp to the Russian Field Marshall Barclay de Tolly. 

1814: On 31st March he is wounded in the leg at the Battle of Paris whilst fighting Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces during the War of the Sixth Coalition. He is awarded the French Order de la Légion d’Honneur by the restored Bourbon Kings of France. He is impressed by French Romanticism, particularly the works of Alphonse de Lamartine and Victor Hugo.

1817: He becomes a Colonel in the Russian army.

1828: He is promoted to Major-General after helping liberate the Armenian City of Yerevan from the Persians during the Russo-Turkish War between 25th August and 9th September. He is appointed Governor of the Armenian Military District.

1829: He becomes an administrator of the military board of Kakheti where his father’s estates were located. He receives foreign guests at his Italianate summer mansion in Tsinandali, including Alexandre Dumas, Alexandre Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov. He also establishes a vineyard and winery on the estate which is still in existence today.

1832: He becomes one of the organisers of the National Independence Conspiracy of the Georgian Nobility and is arrested once again and exiled to Tambov for five years but the Tsar, needing his services, quickly forgives him.

1836: His mother dies. He writes “A Brief Historical Essay of Georgia from 1801 to 1831”. He frees the serf Grigol Maisuradze, who will later found a fine arts press, and he pays for him to study at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. During his time away from the army he translates the works of many writers into Georgian including Aesop, Voltaire, La Fontaine, Hugo and Pushkin and is influential in setting up a Georgian National Theatre.

1841: He is promoted to Lieutenant-General and serves in the Caucasus.

1842: He becomes head of the civil administration of the Caucasus region 

1843: He fights his last battle against the rebellious Dagestani tribes in the northern Caucasus and is appointed a member of the Council of the Chief Administration of Transcaucasus.

Alexander Chavchavadze died from head injuries on 6th November 1846 as a result of an accident whilst returning to his palace in Tsinandali during the night. Some accounts say that he fell under a carriage and others say he fell from his horse after an unknown person threw water at him and a Russian assassination plot has even been rumoured. He was buried at the Shuamta Monastery, Tsinandali Georgia.