Telavi was one of Georgia’s main medieval trade centres, but it was caught in the onslaught of the 13th-century Mongol invasion and then twice devastated by Persia’s Shah Abbas I in the early 17th century (Abbas killed around 60,000 Kakhetians and carted another 100,000 off to Persia). In 1744 Persia's Nader Shah installed the local prince Erekle II here as ruler of Kakheti. Erekle united Kakheti with Kartli, to the west, as a more or less independent state, ruling with a progressive Westernising policy. He still occupies an honoured place in Kakheti annals.