Assassin's Creed

The Georgian Golden Age’s Potential as a Setting

The country of Georgia is situated in the Caucasus Mountains on the Black Sea with Azerbaijan separating it from the Caspian Sea and has always held significant ties to Greece and Turkey, being controlled by Persia for a sizeable part of its history. During the crusades, its golden age began with Demetrius I and George III, alleged descendants of King David from the bible. In 1177, during the reign of George III, his nephew Demna claimed the throne and began an uprising as a pretender. George quickly subdued the rebellion, and attempting to stop another, he made his daughter, Tamar, co-ruler in 1178. Upon her father’s death, her aunt pushed for her to become the first sole Queen of Georgia in 1184.

Under influence from her Aunt, Rusudan, Tamar elevated Michael IV to the archbishop, though a year later would fail to remove him from office using a church-led synod. Around the same time, she was married to Yury Bogolyubsky, a prince from Novgorod. Soon after his marriage to her, he began to cheat on and beat his wife, but within a few years, Michael IV died (perhaps an assassination or failed protection). See, by around this time, Tamar’s influence had begun to grow, and she came into her own as a leader. It was also in the late 1180s that she met David Soslan. With Michael’s death around 1187-1188, she replaced him with a loyal archbishop, Anton Gnolistavisdze. That year, she divorced Yury, exiling him, and married David.

In 1191 Azerbaijan, a functional client state of Georgia, a civil war broke out, leading David to lead a decisive campaign throughout Azerbaijan at Barda, Erzurum, Geghark'unik', Beylaqan and Ganja. While David was at war, Yury came back to Georgia to declare a rebellion in 1191, and many of the nobles disgraced by Tamar and her father joined him. One of the few who stayed with Tamar was Gamrekeli Toreli who led forces against Yury at Tmogvi and Erusheti. During the latter battle, Gamrekeli captured Yury, who was pardoned by Tamar only to immediately rebel again in 1193 and be captured at Kambechani, where he was imprisoned and then was likely killed.

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By 1195, the Dynastic War in Azerbaijan had been won by Abu Bakr and had his elder brother Quntluq Inandj assassinated. His younger brother, Amir, fled to his rival's Akhsitan's court, where the two made their way to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia to appeal to Tamar. She agreed and sent David with them to the capitals of Shrivan and Baku (they were then moving the capital to Baku due to an earthquake in 1191). David would lead them in the battle against Abu Bakr at Shamkur and would force Abu Bakr and Shamkur to swear fealty. Abu Bakr did resume his reign of part of Azerbaijan a year later but never was able to actually resist them. Most notably about this is that Baku actually holds an important temple, likely containing a PoE like an apple. In Valhalla, this was even called out as a temple. Some references made it sound like it could be under the current Fire Temple, which was only built in the 17th century, though an older temple likely existed where it is now, due to references to a Temple of Fire existing back to the 10th century.

Following this success, David and Tamar turned their focus on Armenia and Trebizond, bringing them into conflict with the Seljuks and Ayyubid Dynasty. Following the battle at Basian in 1204, Trebizond became a firm ally of Georgia, leading them into Armenia where the capture of Kars and Araxes gave them most of Armenia by 1205. David died soon after in 1207, leading a Muslim army summoned by the Ayyubids to attack Georgia. In 1209, Ardabil was razed, and in retaliation, Tamar sent forces into Persia, where following several successful battles, they agreed to a 30 years of peace with Georgia, with Georgia granting the Lake of Van to the Ayyubids. With this, Georgia reached its zenith, controlling the northern Caucasus to lake Van, and the kingdom of Pontus/ Trebizond on the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea.

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I think a fairly compelling story could be Assassins fighting Templars in this time and unraveling a plot that David has been manipulating the court and Tamar for years as the Templar Grand Master, but by his assassination, Tamar was too far gone and had to be assassinated in 1213. Alternatively, maybe they were Assassin Allies or completely neutral to the assassins. Assassins were definitely active in Georgia at the time, both historically and in Lore. This setting, besides being hinted at in Valhalla, could also be a great way to examine the changes of the brotherhood during Altair’s lifetime with story moments coming such as Altair succeeding Al Mualim. We could even see him visit Georgia in the late 1190s or early 1200s. Maybe the DLC could take us back to Masyaf after 1213. Perhaps, even, we could see the DLC or the main game as a background for the character Swami who killed Sef and framed Malik. There’s a ton that can be done with the setting of Medieval Georgia in terms of story, matched with a fantastic landscape and architecture.

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