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Kingdom of Transcaucasia by CyberEagleWarrior Kingdom of Transcaucasia by CyberEagleWarrior
I finally returned from my long hiatus and submitted this as my most recent creation for my alternate history flag project: "It's A Wonderful World." I wanted to go for an elegant, nice design that would've effectively made a good flag for a Czechoslovakian-esque country that is primarily composed of Georgians and Armenians. My two influences for the design of this was the flag of the medieval Kingdom of Georgia and the basing it off the flag of the old medieval Georgian kingdom and the Armenian flag designed by Father Ghevont Alishan on behalf of the Armenian Students Asssociation of Paris. And I have to admit that it looks better than the OTL flag that ended up as the banner for the short-lived Transcaucasian Federation.

For throughout much of recorded history, the region of the Caucasus has been an arena for political, military, religious, and cultural rivalries where countless empires have duked out against one another. Historically part of the greater Iranian world, much of the Caucasus was conquered by the invading Arabs, Turks and Mongols, to name just a few out of the many people who have passed through and ruled the Caucasus. The region itself has had a record of being divided amongst one another based on lines of religion, culture, ethnicity, and nationality and served as the sandbox for more powerful empires such as the Romans and Sassanids or the Russians and Ottomans - it has only been united once as an independent state for a little less than two months in 1918 but what if the idea of an independent and united Transcaucasia stuck through, at least with the Armenians and Georgians?

Unlike the Czechs and Slovaks who share similarities in language, the Armenians and Georgians are very distinct from one another in culture, religion and language but share the same exact experience of their homelands having been conquered over the ages, time and time again, by invaders - be it Roman, Persian, Turk, Mongol, or Russian. At one time or the other, Armenians and Georgians were ruled by the same dynasty - the Bagratids. They are one in their resolve to unite forces and maintain their homeland as a free and independent nation, under the ideology of Transcaucasianism - a concept that spun out of the arrival of the values of the European Enlightenment onto the non-Muslim minorities of the Ottoman Empire who, combined with pressure from the states of western Europe and Russia, demanded increasing reforms - which were eventually introduced during the era of the Tanzimat. Under these new and relatively liberal conditions, schools were opened throughout the lands of the Ottoman Turk, and many cultural associations established. The idea of a united, multiethnic Caucasian state was a fringe concept that held little support amongst the Armenian nationalists and the Georgians who had come to embrace the idea of Christian Russia protecting them, at least throughout much of the nineteenth century and the beginning years of the twentieth century.

In 1801, Czar Paul I of Russia signed a decree which declared the annexation of Georgia into the Russian Empire and General Karl von Knorring was appointed as the first Commander in Chief of what would be known as the Viceroyalty of the Caucasus. The annexation happened more or less without bloodshed, though there was some minor protest from a small part of the local Georgian nobility until General Knorring gathered them all in Tbilisi's Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath of loyalty to the Czar. Any who refused were arrested. During the first decades of Russian rule, the Viceroyalty was under military rule due to the land being at the frontline in Russia's continual tug of war against the Persian and Ottoman Turk and it would expand into nearby Armenia and Azerbaijan at the expense of these two empires. The authorities in charge of Transcaucasia desired the region's complete's integration into the Russian Empire and did much to foster much assimilation.

Much like the rest of Russia during the nineteenth century, Georgia remained a feudal society. At the top were the royal families of the various Georgian principalities, despised by the Russians during their annexation of Georgia, and sent into internal exile. Below them were the feudal nobility who owned the majority of the land, tended to by the serfs; they held much power and wealth while the average Georgian peasant lived a life of misery and poverty. During Ottoman and Persian rule, the rural economy of Georgia was depressed, and famine was a common occurrence. As the 1800s progressed, members of the prosperous Armenian middle class, already having established themselves with a reputation as excellent entrepreneurs decades ago, migrated in droves to the rest of Transcaucasia. The Armenians were much more skilled at adapting to the new economic circumstances of capitalism and industrialization and thus became an important element in Tbilisi and numerous other cities throughout the region. With the emancipation of the serfs by the Russians, the Georgian nobility lost much of its remaining wealth and power and their lands were sold to Armenian mercantile families, bringing an ethnic element to the already existing class tensions.

Things were not swell as well for the Armenians during the rise of Russian chauvinism and racism towards non-Russians at the end of the nineteenth century. The treatment and abuse of the Russian Armenian community was comparable to that of the Jews and seen with much suspicion due to their economic dominance over the Transcaucasian economy. Armenian parish schools were put under increasing control of the Czar. The use of the region's local languages such as Armenian and Georgian were discouraged in favor of Russian. As the Georgian Orthodox Church's independence was abolished and put under the administration of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Armenian church suffered much persecution. Russian attitudes towards the Armenians and to the Georgians reversed; with the Russians authorities in Transcaucasia becoming disturbed by revolutionary nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire and feared their spread amongst their ethnic brethren in Russian Transcaucasia. During the reign of Czar Nicholas II, Russian authorities encouraged the migration of religious minorities, such as the likes of the Molokans and Doukhobors, from Russia's heartland provinces into Armenia and Georgia. The intent was both to isolate the troublesome heretics from the Orthodox Russians whom they could "corrupt" with their ideas, and to boost the demographic presence of Russians in Transcaucasia.

It was around this time period that the idea of a state composing the people of the Caucasus emerged in the late nineteenth century, a product of visionary thinking of writers and philosophers who believed that the only way for the Caucasus to get their freedom after centuries of occupation under the various empires would be to unite and free themselves from tyrannies and dictatorships. It started gaining momentum after the excesses of the socialists and separatist elements who instigated the failed Russian Revolution of 1905 forced the Russians to allow some limited degree of reform into the administration of Transcaucasia. The Grand Duchy of Transcaucasia, a semi-autonomous state in personal union with Russia, was established in March of 1906; the old Viceroyalty's Caucasus Committee was replaced by an elected Parliament. The right to vote was tied to amount of tax paid. Thus, the Armenian mercantile class and what remained of the Georgian nobility as well as Russian transplants could cast votes while the poor were disfranchised. The voting system would eventually be changed in 1917 when the Bolsheviks toppled the Russian provisional government. On February 1918, the Transcaucasian Parliament led by Chairman Nikoloz Chkheidze gathered in Tbilisi and voted on independence. A few weeks later, the Grand Duchy of Transcaucasia declared independence from Russia.

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk marked the conclusion of Russian involvement in World War I and in the terms, much of the land held by the independent Transcaucasian state had been allotted to the Ottoman Empire. A delegation sent by the Transcaucasian Parliament in Tbilisi refused to abide by the terms and thus attempted to build up a large enough army capable enough to keep the Ottoman Turk forces at bay until British soldiers led by General Lionel Charles Dunsterville would arrive. Though disorganized and ill-equipped compared to the much larger and professional Ottoman Army led by Vehib Pasha, the Transcaucasian Army and the few White Russians that stayed behind managed to keep the Turks from penetrating too deeply into their territory, even with the secession of the Azerbaijanis from the Grand Duchy of Transcaucasia in the latter half of 1918. During the last two years of the First World War, Georgian émigrés under the guidance of Nikoloz Chkheidze began traveling all over the countries of western Europe, requesting someone from an established royal dynasty to take up the empty throne of Transcaucasia. One idea was put forward by Otto von Lossow who suggested the idea of crowning the German prince Joachim of Prussia as the Grand Duke of Transcaucasia; another suggestion made by Movses Silikyan was to crown George V of the United Kingdom in order to secure British military assistance against the Ottoman Turks and the Bolsheviks. In the end, George Bagration of Mukhrani in December 1919 was crowned King George I of Transcaucasia and the rest is history.
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:iconskripter888:
skripter888 Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2013
amazing <3
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:iconurban-guy:
Urban-Guy Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2012
This is amazing!
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:iconcybereaglewarrior:
CyberEagleWarrior Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2012  Student Interface Designer
Thanks man
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:iconurban-guy:
Urban-Guy Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012
;)
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:iconmomachan:
momachan Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wooo I learnt a lot today, this is the first time I read about the transcaucasianism so I really don't have a lot to say besides that I think this flag is really well made, I liked it. Good work!
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:iconcybereaglewarrior:
CyberEagleWarrior Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Student Interface Designer
Thanks!
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:iconnre86:
NRE86 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012
You know the idea of a united Transcaucasia is something I too have toyed with in my own literary works. I came up with an idea of a flag too but nothing as nicely done as your own. I'm not sure I entirely enjoy the color scheme BUT, it certainly fits and I think it turned out very well. Thanks for sharing!
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:iconcybereaglewarrior:
CyberEagleWarrior Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012  Student Interface Designer
No problem!
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