In the half century from the Russian annexation of eastern Georgia (Kartli-Kakheti) to the outbreak of the Crimean War, Transcaucasian society underwent a deep and irreversible transformation which, in its effects, was as fundamental a metamorphosis for Armenians and Georgians as were the contemporary political and industrial revolutions for “western Europeans. Whether the move into the Russian orbit was “progressive,” as Soviet historians insist, or a fatal perversion of these nations’ natural development, as some nationalists argue, is not really a historical judgement capable of empirical demonstration. What can be shown, however, is that with the Russian occupation a historical process began which rent the fabric of traditional Georgian and Armenian society and produced both new opportunities and loyalties for some and a persistent, if ultimately futile, resistance to centralized bureaucratic rule by others. Responding to that resistance, the tsarist administration enticed the nobility of Georgia into participation in the new order, and at the end of the first fifty years of Russian rule, the once rebellious, semiindependent dynasts of Georgia had been transformed into a service gentry loyal to their new monarch. At the same time, the Armenian merchants and craftsmen of Caucasia's towns benefited from the new security provided by Russian arms and, while competing with privileged Russian traders, oriented themselves away from the Middle East toward Russian and European commerce. In the process they laid the foundation for their own fortunes and future as the leading economic and political element in Russian Georgia. The peasantry of Transcaucasia was forced in the meantime to submit to new exactions as their status became increasingly more similar to that of Russian peasants. And the respective churches of Georgia and Armenia made fundamental and irreversible accommodations to the new political order.