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The Principal Offices of the Ṣafawid State During the Reign of Isma'īl I (907–30/1501–24)

  • R. M. Savory

Isma'īl's defeat by the Ottomans at Chāldirān—his first defeat—destroyed the legend of his invincibility. This legend was based on his pretensions to a quasi-divine status, and, after Chāldirān, the qizilbāsh, although they continued to pay lip-service to this idea, showed clearly by their actions that they no longer accorded any special reverence to the person of their ruler. They had lost their faith in Isma'īl's supernatural powers, and this impaired their fundamental relationship with him. Although in theory Isma'īl was still the murshid-i kāmil, and the qizilbāsh were his murīas, the qizilbāsh were no longer prepared to follow him with the fanatical devotion and indifference to personal danger which had been noted by a Venetian merchant in 1518, only two years before Chāldirān. Once the religious bond between Isma'īl and the qizilbāsh had been broken, and their relationship reduced in practice (though not in theory) to a secular plane, it was but a short step to disobedience to his commands and an open flouting of his authority, especially as this authority was further reduced by his virtual withdrawal from the conduct of state affairs and by the fact that after Chāldirān he ceased personally to lead his troops into battle. The oppressive rule of Amīr Khan Turkmān in Khurāsān during 922–8/1516–22, and his arrogant disregard of Isma'īl's express commands, constituted a challenge to Isma'īl's authority which he seemed reluctant or unable to meet.

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1 See ProfessorMinorsky, 's introduction to the Tadhkirat al-mulūk (Gibb Memorial Series, NS, XVI), London, 1943, 13.

1 Aḥsan al-tawārīkh, ed. Seddon, , Baroda, 1931, 125–6 [AT].

2 See ProfessorMinorsky, 's commentary on the Tadhkirat al-nadūk, 125–6.

3 du Mans, R., Estat de la Perse en 1660, 16. See also Sanson's statement quoted in ProfessorMinorsky, 's introduction to the Tadhkirat al-mulūk, 1314.

4 Browne, E. G., A literary history of Persia, IV, 404, quoting the Qiṣaṣ al-'ulamā' of Muḥammad b. Sulaymān Tunukābūnī.

1 Tadhkirat al-mulūk, commentary by Professor Minorsky, 126.

2 In A narrative of Italian travels in Persia in the 15th and 16th centuries, London, 1873, 223.

3 cf. Lambton, A. K. S., ‘Quia custodiet custodes’, Studia Islamica, VI, 1956, 128 ff.

1 It is interesting to note that under the Ottoman sultan Muḥammad II (1451–81), the chief minister was referred to as the Sultan, 's ‘absolute representative’ ( Vekīli muṭlaq) (Gibh and Bowen, 1, 108–9 and 109, n. 1).

2 Ḥabīb al-siyar, Bombay 11th. ed. 1273/1856–7, 111, 4, 107 [HS].

3 The term lala, signifying ‘mentor’, ‘tutor’, ‘guardian’, seems to have been adopted from the Aq Qoyunlu; the latter, in addition to the word lala, used the term atabeg, and it is clear that there are marked similarities between the lala of the Ṣafawids and the Aq Qoyunlu and the atabeg of the Seljuq Turks. Under the Aq Qoyunlu and the Safawids, as formerly under the Seljuqs, the guardians of young princes acquired great power, and frequently used their wards without scruple to further their own ambitions. In this instance, the fact that Ḥusayn Beg Shāmlū combined the offices of lala and wakīl-i nafs-i nafīs-i humāyūn naturally enhanced his power. Isma'īl was fourteen years of age at the time of his accession in 907/1501–2.

4 HS, 111, 4, 35.

5 ibid., 47: dar silk-i ashrāf wa a'yān-i rasht … muntaẓam būd.

6 BM MS Or. 3248, f. 31b.

7 ibid., 32b.

1 HS, 111, 4, 47. Cf. Aubin, J., ‘Études safavides. I. Šah Ismā'īl et les notables de l'Iraq persan’, Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, 11, 1, 1959, 65 ff.

2 For the various muqarrabs of the court, see Professor Minorsky's translation of the Tadhkirat al-mulūk, 55 ff.

3 HS, 111, 4, 47.

4 AT, 110.

5 AT, 111, has Muḥammad, but the majority of the sources have Aḥmad.

6 From Khūzān, a district of Iṣfahān.

7 He had been appointed wazīr the previous year (914/1508–9) (Sharaf-nāma, ed. Véliaminof-Zernof, , St. Petersburg, 18601862, 11, 145 [Shar.].

8 AT, 111.

9 HS, 111 4, 53.

10 BM MS Add. 6734, f. 359a.

1 f. 458b.

2 HS, 111, 4, 69.

3 BM MS Or, 3248, f. 216b; Shar., 11, 153.

4 Shar., 11, 153.

1 HS, 111, 4, 71. Amir ‘Abd al-Bāqī, at the time of his appointment to the wikālat, also held the office of ṣadr , to which he had been appointed earlier the same year (Dhu'l-Ḥijja 917/Feb. 1512) (AT, 128).

2 HS, 111, 4, 88, 106.

3 AT, 374.

4 AT, 150.

5 Sitar., 11, 159.

6 MS in the Kitābkhāna-yi Millī, Tehran.

7 Falsafī, Naṣr Allāh, ‘Jang-i Chāldirān’, Majalla-yi Dānishkada-yi Adabiyyāt-i Tihrān, 1–2, 19531954, 106–9.

1 HS, 111, 4, 106.

2 Tārīkh-i īlchī-yi Niẓāmshāh, f. 462b [TIN].

3 BM MS Or. 3248, f. 92a.

4 HS, 111, 4, 83.

5 ibid., 111, 4, 80.

6 TIN, f. 463a.

7 HS, 111, 4, 106.

8 TIN, f. 463b.

9 Haft iqlīm, BM MS Add. 6734, f. 360a.

10 AT, 177–8.

11 During the wikālat of Mīrzā Shāh Ḥusayn, Qāḍī Jahān Qazwīnī and Khwāa Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Tabrīzī were joint wazīrs (AT, 374).

12 AT, 180.

1 HS, 111, 4, 107.

2 TIN, f. 463b.

3 AT, 184.

4 Shar., II, 167.

5 AT, 181.

6 ibid., 184.

7 See AT, 110; Shar., 11, 145; TIN, f. 454a.

8 BM MS Or. 3248, f. 76b.

9 TIN, f. 448a.

10 See above for his appointment to the wikālat.

11 AT, 107.

12 TIN, f. 453b.

1 Professor Minorsky considers the reference in the Aḥsan al-tawārīkh to the appointment of Amīr Najm al-Dīn to the amīr al-umarā'ī to be a mistake (see his commentary on the Tadhkirat al-mulūk, 115, n. 1).

2 TIN, f. 454a.

3 cf. the case of Abdāl Beg Dada the same year (915/1509); in this instance the ulkā of a Dhu'l-Qadar chief was given to a Shāmlū, (AT, 110).

4 In addition, ‘Abbās I appointed non-Turkoman ghulāms to be amīrs of qizilbāsh tribes; cf. Professor Minorsky's introduction to the Tadhkirat al-mulūk, 17.

1 Thus Shar., 11, 169, and Jawāhir al-akhbār, f. 293b.; contra: AT, 181, which states that Dīw Sulṭān Rūmlū succeeded Chāyān Sulṭān as amīr al-umarā in 930/1523–4.

2 AT, 88.

3 BM MS Or. 3248, f. 119a.

4 Shar., 1, 311.

5 Shar., 11, 158; AT, 149.

1 HS, 111, 4, 35.

2 Nusakh-i Jahān-ārā (BM MS Or. 141), f. 200b.

3 AT, 54. He died in 918/1512 (AT, 136).

4 TIN, f. 448a.

5 AT, 81.

6 He had been the wazīr of Ya'qūb Sulṭān Aq Qoyunlu (regn. 1478–90). For further details concerning the earlier career of these two wazīrs, see Aubin, J., op. cit., 60 ff.

7 There is in fact one further mention of the wizārat, in the Aḥsan al-tawārīkh, which states that in 909/1503–4 Qāḍī Muḥammad Kāshī was appointed wazīr (AT, 81). The British Museum MS of the Aḥsan al-tawārīkh, Or. 4134, confirms the reading of the printed text, but in spite of this I feel that wizārat is probably a misreading for ṣadārat, as it is not supported by any of the other chronicles.

8 AT, 374.

9 There were, however, compensations. As the qizilbāsh had no wish to fill the ranks of the wizārat, the holder of the post of wazīr usually enjoyed a longer and more peaceful tenure of office than his more powerful colleagues in the wikālat, an office which the qizilbāsh considered their prerogative and to which ambitious Persians continually aspired.

1 Roemer, H. R., Staatsschreiben der Timuridenzeit, 143.

2 HS, 111, 3, 140.

3 For a detailed study of the position and function of the ṣadr under the Ṣafawids, see Lambton, A. K. S., op. cit., 133 ff.

4 BM MS Or. 3248, f. 247a-b.

5 TIN, f. 479a.

6 See A. K. S. Lambton, loc. cit.

7 AT, 82.

8 Shar., 11, 136; cf. Aubin, J., op. cit., 58.

9 AT, 124.

10 HS, 111, 4, 35.

11 ibid., 111, 4, 37.

12 AT, 110.

13 Jawāhir al-akhbār (Leningrad MS Dorn 288), f. 288a.

1 TIN, f. 454a.

2 BM MS Or. 3248, f. 208a.

3 AT, 128.

4 HS, 111, 4, 71.

5 Jāmi'-i mufīdī, BM MS Or. 210, f. 48b.

6 HS, 111, 4, 71.

7 BM MS Or. 3248, f. 221b.

8 TIN, f. 459b–460a.

9 HS, 111, 4, 80.

10 TIN, f. 461b.

11 AT, 190.

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