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MARTKOPI, BATTLE OF (1625). Major battle between the Georgian troops led by Giorgi Saakadze and Eristavi Zurab of Aragvi and the Persian forces led by Qarcheghai Khan. In 1624, Shah Abbas I, victorious on all fronts, turned his attention to Georgia. He dispatched some 35,000 men under Qarcheghai Khan and Giorgi Saakadze to subdue eastern Georgia; not trusting Saakadze completely, Shah Abbas kept his son Paata as a hostage. The Shah’s anxiety was justified since Saakadze maintained covert communications with Georgian forces and devised a plan to destroy the enemy army. It was agreed that Saakadze would exterminate the Persian leadership and coordinate an attack of the main Georgian forces.

As the Persian army camped near Martkopi on 25 March 1625, Saakadze summoned the Persian war council where he personally slew Qarcheghai Khan, while his son, Avtandil, and his Georgian escorts killed other Persian commanders. Receiving a signal, Eristavi Zurab charged with his main forces, and the leaderless Persian troops were virtually annihilated. Taking advantage of his success, Saakadze and Eristavi Zurab then raised a rebellion in Kartli, captured Tbilisi and expanded their campaign to Kakheti and Ganja-Karabagh. Saakadze invited King Teimuraz of Kakheti to take the crown of Kartli and, thereby, united both principalities.