10 Toxic Royal Unions
10 Toxic Royal Unions

10 Toxic Royal Unions

D.G. Hewitt - June 28, 2018

10 Toxic Royal Unions
Queen Tamar of Georgia had her good-for-nothing husband exiled from the country for good. The Culture Trip.

Queen Tamar of Georgia and Yury Bogolyubsky

In 1178, George III of Georgia announced he was to make his daughter, Tamar, his co-ruler. She was just 18 and, what’s more, a woman. Since the monarchy was battling unruly royals at the time, many thought this was a bad idea. But, she soon proved the doubters wrong. So much so, in fact, that when George died in 1184, Tamar took on the role on her own. She became the first – and only – female monarch of Georgia, and not even an ill-advised marriage could dethrone her.

While they were happy enough to have a lady as King, Georgia’s nobles would not tolerate her being head of the army. Nor would they be happy until their King produced an heir. Quite simply, they ordered Tamar to take a husband. Getting married through necessity rarely works out well, and this was most definitely the case here. The nobles chose for Tamar and the man they chose was Rus Prince Yuri, otherwise known as Yury Bogolyubsky, the son of an assassinated prince. The groom did have some desirable qualities. Above all, he was a skilled fighter and a smart military tactician. However, he was not suited to marriage and, before long, the differences between Yury Bogolyubsky and Tamar started to show and soon become untenable.

According to the records of the time, Yury was a raging alcoholic. He was also serially unfaithful and, some said, perverted. There were even rumours that he was homosexual. What’s more, Yury was ambitious and, after he got a sniff of power through his marriage to Tamar, he was hungry for more. Tamar, for her part, became increasingly confident in her position as ruler. And so, after just two years of a hugely unhappy marriage, she divorced her husband.

Like many divorced couples, they both wanted to get back at one another. Yury aligned himself with a small band of Georgian nobles and then proclaimed himself King of Georgia. Though she was once married to him, Tamar showed no mercy: she crushed his armies and, in 1191, he was expelled from Georgia. What happened to him after that is a mystery. Tamar ruled until her death in 1213, marrying again and enjoying a happy union. Over the centuries, tales of her doomed first marriage have been re-told countless times in Georgia, often becoming grossly exaggerated and usually focusing on the sexual deviancies of the ruler’s inadequate husband.

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“On this day in 1152: Eleanor of Aquitaine marries Henry II.” Dominic Selwood, The Telegraph, May 2017.

“Edward II marries Isabella of France.” Richard Cavendish, History Today, January 2008.

“A Brief History of Georgia’s Only Female King.” Baia Dzagnidze, The Culture Trip, February 2018.

“The True Story of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones’s Love Affair.” Katie Frost, Town and Country Magazine, December 2017.

“Isabella of Angoulême – Queen of England.” History of Royal Women, June 2017.

“Caroline Mathilde.” The Danish Royal Collection. Rosenborg Palace.

“A Royal Affair: one to remember.” Alex von Tunzelmann, The Guardian, July 2012.