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GARHNI, BATTLE OF (1225). Major battle between the Georgian army led by Ivane Mkhargrdzeli and the Khwarazmean forces of Jalāl al-Dīn. The Khwarazmean forces were displaced by the Mongol invasion of Central Asia, which claimed the powerful Empire of Khwarazm. After escaping to India and then eastern Persia, Jalāl al-Dīn rallied his forces, but instead of engaging the Mongols, he led them against neighboring Georgia. In the summer of 1225, his army of more than 100,000 men (some estimates place its strength at 200,000 men) approached the Georgian borders in Armenia, where Ivane Mkhargrdzeli gathered about 70,000 men. The Georgian advance guard was composed of the Meskhian troops under Lords Shalva and Ivane Akhaltsikheliwhile the main forces were deployed on the hills near Gahrni.

The battle started with the attack of the Georgian advance guard but feuding among the Georgian commanders predetermined the battle outcome. Despite repeated pleas from the Akhaltsikheli brothers, Ivane Mkhargrdzeli refused to commit his forces in support of his rivals and watched as the Khwarazmean troops slaughtered the Meskhs. Ivane Akhaltsikheli fell on the battlefield, while Shalva was captured and later executed. The battle had a tremendous impact on Georgia, which had not experienced foreign invasions for almost a hundred years. The battle effectively signaled the end of the Golden Age of Georgia and the start of a long twilight. Jalāl al-Dīn soon captured Tbilisi and ravaged the country for the next five years until the arrival of the Mongols.