Grigol Orbeliani

Portrait of Grigol Orbeliani

Grigol Orbeliani was a Georgian poet, Prince and a general in Imperial Russian Army. He was born in Tbilisi, Georgia on 2nd October 1804 and died there on 21st March 1883 aged 78.

Major Works

“Laralis” 
“Mukhammas” (1835)
“The Thought of Scholars for the Creation of Our Planet or Earth” (1837) 
“Sadghegrdzelo anu omis shemdeg ghame lkhini Erevnis siakhloves”
“I have become old”. (1882)

Biography Timeline

Grigol Orbeliani was born on 2nd October 1804 in Tbilisi the Capital of Georgia. His family were prominent aristocrats although three years before Grigol was born the Russian government had annexed the Kingdom and deposed the Bagrationi family. His father Dimitri was a Prince while his mother Khoreshan (née Andronikashvili was a granddaughter of Erkel the Second King of Georgia. The poet Nikoloz Baratashvili was the son of Grigol’s sister. Grigol was educated at the local gymnasium for the nobility and then at artillery school fro the Russian military service.

1826: As a member of the Grenadier Regiment he fights off an attack by the Persian cavalry on 1st August. 

1827: On 27th January he is awarded the Order of St. Anna, Fourth Class, for his bravery. His father dies in October.

1829: He receives the rank of the First Lieutenant on 12th January. He writes “To the tearful” in Tbilisi. In July he is in Tsinandali and writes the poem “The Rose of Tsinandali”.

1830: He returns to the Georgian Grenadier Regiment in September. 

1831: He arrives in Moscow on 8th October with soldiers of the Novgorod Exemplary Infantry Regiment and sees the ceremony of entry of Emperor Nikolai I to the Kremlin on the 12th. 

1832: He attends the ceremony of appearance of Nikolai the First at the Emperor’s Palace. He spends time in Novgorod with the Novgorod Exemplary Infantry Regiment and writes a two-line poem “When the Nightingale” during March. Later at the headquarters of the Heir of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm the Fourth in Novgorod he has time to write several poems. In May he is taken ill and doctors with lung problems and he is transferred to the Training Battalion of the Guards in St. Petersburg. On 30th August he attends the inauguration of the monument to Alexander the First in St. Petersburg. He writes several more poems during September and October. He is linked with an anti Russian conspiracy by the authorities.

1833: The Investigation Commission of the Conspiracy of 1832 accuse Orbeliani of conspiracy against the Russian authorities and study all his manuscripts for evidence. On 11th March he is arrested in Novgorod and gives his testimony. In June he is sent to the Avlabari prison in Tbilisi. His mother dies in August and the Orbelianis’ estate remains without an owner. He is released from prison in September and is transferred to the Navagin Infantry Regiment. 

1834: A storm floods Orbeliani’s boat while crossing the River Don on 24th March and it capsizes. He is saved by a miracle. 

1835: In May he is in Riga and writes a poem “Mukhammas”. He is ill again and hands over the command of his unit and attends Riga hospital. He writes several poems whilst there as well as “The Story Told in Riga Hospital”.

1836: He is awarded with a rank of Staff-Captain on 8th September and writes to the Emperor for leave. However, in October he is ill again with chest pains and sent to Dinaburg hospital. 

1837: He writes the essay “The Thought of Scholars for the Creation of Our Planet or Earth”, in which he quotes the views of famous scientists. 

1839: He writes a poem “My Epitaph”.

1840: He receives the rank of Captain for outstanding bravery during expeditions on 18th January. In June he is promoted to Major for outstanding bravery in the fight against the Murids. 

1842: He is awarded the Order of St. Stanislaus, Second Class for his chivalry in the Naur expedition. 

1843: He is appointed as a ruler of Avaria at the end of March. In December he is transferred from the Khanate of Avaria to Mekhtuli Khanate as a governor. 

1844: He receives the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. 

1845: In January he is promoted to the rank of Colonel. His nephew, Nikoloz Baratashvili, dies on 21st October although Orbeliani does not find out until much later.

1846: He is awarded the Order of St. Anne, Second Class on 20th February. In December he takes over the Governorship of Mekhtuli Khanate completely.  

1847: He is awarded the Order of St. Vladimir, Second Class on 25th March and in July he is appointed Commander of the Apsheron Infantry Regiment. 

1848: He is promoted to Major-General.

1849: His sister, Ephemia (mother of Nikoloz Baratashvili) dies on 7th March. In September he is awarded the Order of St. Stanislaus, First Class. 

1850: He is appointed Commander of the First Brigade of the 20th Infantry Regiment in March. 

1851: In May the Orbeliani family sign a petition about the division of their ancestral lands into four households and sends it to the Viceroy to mediate between them and the Emperor. In August he is awarded St. Anna’s Order, First Class.

1852: He is elected Honorary Member of the Caucasian Society of Agriculture.

1853: He is promoted to Lieutenant General on 3rd October. His brother Ilia dies of wounds from the battle against Bashkadiklar in December.

1854: During April he writes the last part of the poem “The Toastmaster” dedicated to Emperor Nikolai the First,

1855: In April Orbeliani is appointed Commander of the 21st Infantry Division. 

1856: He is elected a member of the Caucasus Department of the Russian Geographical Society. In November he is enrolled in the retinue of Emperor Alexander the Second.

1857: He receives a rank of Adjutant-General.

1858: On 6th February he is appointed Deputy Viceroy of the Caucasus. In July his cousin, the famous General Ivane Andronikashvili, visits him in Tabakhmela. In October the magazine Tsiskari publishes his poem “To Iarali”.  

1859: He is appointed Chairman of the Council of the Viceroy of the Caucasus on 9th February and on 8th September he is awarded the Order of the White Eagle. 

1860: He is appointed the Governor-General of Tbilisi. He publishes several poems in the magazine Tsiskari. 

1861: He continues to publish in Tsiskari and on 11th September he meets Emperor Alexander the Second. He is awarded the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky. 

1862: On 30th August he is appointed as an Infantry General. 

1863: He meets with the heir to the throne of the Russian Empire, Nikolai Romanov, on 24th August in Poti and travels to Kutaisi with him. He is awarded the Order of the Red Eagle of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Italian Order of St. Maurice and Lazarus.

1864: He is awarded the Star of St. Alexander Nevsky with diamonds. He is in Koda and translates Goethe’s poem “Wanderers Nachtlied”.

1865: The Russian Emperor Alexander the Second thanks Orbeliani for the suppression of the 1865 uprising. 

1866: On 28th October he is elected a member of the Russian State Council. 

1867: He leaves the position of Chairman of the Chancellery of the Viceroy’s Council on 25th December. He is awarded the Portrait of the Shah of Persia, First Class decorated with a ribbon.

1868: In February He publishes his poem “My Epitaph” in “The Ecclesiastical Herald of Georgia”. In November he attends an exhibition by the artist Ivan Aivazovsky in Tbilisi. 

1869: In September Orbeliani suffers with inflammation of the gallbladder and then with a fever.

1870: He is elected Chairman of the Caucasus Department of the Russian Imperial Society for the Acclimatization of Animals and Plants and President of the Main Committee of the Horse Racing in the Caucasus and abroad.

1871: Orbeliani celebrates fifty years of military service in Tbilisi. He is awarded the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called. 

1872: He writes the poem “The Reply to Unworthy Sons” and in reply Akaki Tsereteli writes the satirical “To the General of Dung Beetles”. In October he is annoyed that the Theological Seminary intends to ban the teaching of the Georgian language and introduce the Greek language instead. 

1873: In September the dispute between the Orbelianis and the Treasury over land ownership is settled in favour of the family.

1874: The Sasoplo Newspaper publishes an advertisement for Grigol Orbeliani’s collection of poems. 

1875: He is elected Chairman of the District Department of the Society for the Care of Wounded and Sick Warriors in the Caucasus.

1877: He writes the poem “King Tamar’s Image in the Church of Betania”, “A Worker Bikuladze” (under the pseudonym “Ksniskheveli”) and “The Voice from Lopiana’s Tomb”.

1878: He convenes a meeting at his house in January to discuss the charter of the Society for the promotion of literacy among Georgians and prepares the text for submission to the government. 

1879: He is awarded the Order of St. Vladimir, First Class in January. On 18th May he attends a meeting of the Society for the Restoration of Christianity.

1880: His collection of poems are published after a relaxation in the censorship laws during the previous November. In January he attends a meeting of the Board of the Society for the promotion of literacy among Georgians. 

1881: On 6th February he chairs the first session of the Editorial Committee of “The Knight of the Panther’s Skin”. On 15th March he attends the requiem at Sioni Cathedral on the day of the funeral of Emperor Alexander the Second. 

1882: The newspaper Droeba writes that the public will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the work of Grigol Orbeliani on 10th September. He writes the poems: “On the bowl” and “I have become old”. 

Grigol Orbeliani died on the 21st March 1883 of typhoid after two months unsuccessful treatment. He is buried at the Kashveti Church of St George in Tbilisi.

Further Information

Mammoth 3675 page site on Orbeliani. (Note: takes a while to download).