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Tsotne Dadiani and the Kokhtastavi Conspiracy

 

The 13th century was a challenging time for Georgians. The Mongols conquered the region and, in 1246, introduced conscription for Georgian men. The nobles of Georgia resented this, and a number of them gathered in Kokhtastavi to plot a rebellion against their common Mongol enemy.

Fresco of Tsotne Dadiani

Unfortunately, the Mongols found out about the gathering while it was in progress, and quickly descended on Kokhtastavi. The rebels were arrested and taken to the town of Anisi for questioning, where all repeated a cover story upon which they had previously agreed: they had gathered to discuss economic matters, not to challenge Mongol rule. The Mongols refused to believe this, and resorted to torture to get at the truth. Stripping the Georgians naked, they tied them up, put honey on their skin, and left them in the burning sun.

One noblemen who was at Kokhtastavi but had not been captured was the Archduke (eristavt-eristavi) of Odishi and Interior Minister of the Kingdom of Georgia, Tsotne Dadiani. Along with one other conspirator, he had fortuitously departed shortly before the Mongol raid. When he learned that his compatriots had been captured and taken to Anisi, he immediately set out for the town, accompanied by only two men. Upon arriving and seeing the torment and humiliation of his fellow Georgian nobles, he came forward, removed his clothes, had his own men tie him up, and sat down next to the others.

The Mongols were stunned. Their leader, Noin, asked Tsotne why he had done this. In response, Tsotne told them that he wished to speak the truth, and if the others deserved an agonizing death, then he did as well. When queried further about what the truth was, Tsotne repeated the same cover story as the others.

The Mongols surely admired Tsotne’s courage. Perhaps they were even finally convinced that the Georgians’ alibi was true. Whatever the reason, they set the Georgian noblemen free, and spared Georgia the terrible retribution that they usually visited upon rebellious regions.

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