Tamar the Great ruled in Georgia from 1184-1213, the Georgian “Golden Age.” She is called Queen Tamar the Great by some sources, but during her rule she was referred to as “მეფე,” or “King.”
I have been fascinated with Queen Tamar’s reign since I first heard of it at orientation. As an American woman living in Georgia, I see the effects of patriarchal values in my every day life. My host brother, a boy of 11 who seems to despise me because I get more attention than him, constantly likes to remind me that I am living in “his house.” Never mind that his grandmother, father, mother, and two older sisters also live here. When he is married, his wife will move into the house, and his sisters will live in their future husband’s family homes. The little moments of male privilege in Georgia can be jarring to a foreigner, and I am no exception. I find the gender roles to be the most culturally shocking element of Georgia, which is why I am prideful that the undisputed best leader of Georgia was a woman.
Queen Tamar proved to be more than worthy of her title during her 29 years in power. Her military efforts had Georgia’s borders stretching into modern Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan with dependencies in all of it’s bordering countries, including the Black Sea coast of Turkey. These lands were held until the Mongolian invasions, which took place after her death.
Additionally, the Golden Age is so named for the major cultural changes that occurred, which we still see today. For example, Georgia wanted to cement their country as a Godly place, which led to the construction of many Orthodox domed churches. If you live in Georgia, or have visited Georgia, you know precisely the architectural style I am referring to.
Women are definitely celebrated in Georgia, which can be gathered by the still undying praise for Queen Tamar, or by the required toast at every supra, or by the Kartlis Deda statue which towers over Tbilisi. Sometimes, it is easy to forget this female adoration exists when men are still in charge of the household and an 11 year old child asserts his dominance over his 23 year old host sister. Whenever my host brother tries to tell me boys are better at something, I remind him of Queen Tamar and the Golden Age of Georgia, which usually puts a stop to his teasing.