BAZALETI, BATTLE OF (1626). Decisive battle between the supporters of King Teimuraz I and Giorgi
Saakadze. In the early 17th century, Persia emerged as a powerful state under the capable leadership of Shah Abbas I and began aggressive expansion into Georgia. The attempts of Giorgi
Saakadze, the mouravi of Kartli, to unite Georgian forces against foreign threats failed due to internal feuds of the nobility, and he was forced to flee to Persia where he became distinguished as a military commander. In 1625, Saakadze returned to Georgia where he raised a rebellion in Kartli and annihilated a Persian armed force in the battle of Martkopi on 25 March. He then quickly captured Tbilisi and campaigned in
Kakheti, Ganja-Karabagh, and Akhaltsikhe. Teimuraz of Kakheti was invited to take the crown of
Kartli, and thereby united both principalities. Although the Georgians suffered a defeat in the subsequent battle of Marabda in late 1625, Saakadze turned to guerrilla war, eliminating some 12,000 Persians in the Ksani Valley alone. His successful resistance frustrated Shah Abbas’ plans to destroy the Georgian states and set up Qizilbash khanates on Georgian territory. However, the rise of Saakadze embittered many powerful lords who feared losing their power at court and conspired against
Saakadze. Shah Abbas also took advantage of this discontent and skillfully revived the feud between the Georgian nobles. An important aspect of this was a struggle between the gentry, who rallied around
Saakadze, and the grand nobility who supported the king.