ATĀBAKĀN-E LORESTĀN, rulers of Lorestān, part of the Zagros highlands of southwestern Iran in the later middle ages. Lorestān had a mixed population of Lors (q.v.), Kurds, and others. There were two dynasties, the atābaks of Great Lorestān (Lor-e Bozorg) and those of Little Lorestān (Lor-e Kūček). Only an outline of their political history is known, and the chronological data in the scanty sources often differ considerably. Practically nothing has been reported about internal economic or religious developments in the region. Moreover the reports which have come down are not always consistent.
Atābaks of Great Lorestān, ruled from about 550/1155 until 827/1424, and had their seat at Īḏaǰ (the later Mālamīr, now Īḏa). The dynasty bore the surname Fażlūya (Fażlawayh), and claimed to be of Syrian origin and to have settled in northern Lorestān about 500/1106. The first to distinguish himself was Abū Ṭāher b. Moḥammad, who supported the Salghurid prince Sonqor (543/1148-556/1161) on a campaign into Šabānkāra and was rewarded with the governorship of the Kūhgīlūya district, whence he extended his sway over Lorestān. He assumed the title Atābak from then onward and made himself independent of Sonqor about 550/1155.
Abū Ṭāher’s son Malek Hazārasp (some of these rulers were also entitled Malek, see ʿOmarī, ed. M. Ē. Quatremère, “Notice de l’ouvrage qui a pour titre Mesalek al-Absar,” Notices et extraits des Man. de la Bibl. du Roi XIII, Paris, 1838, p. 330) succeeded in 600/1203-04 and ruled for an uncertain length of time, the end of his reign being variously given as 626/1229 and 650/1252-53. He strengthened his family’s position by expelling the Šūl tribe, who migrated to Fārs, and by warring successfully with the Salghurids. The caliph al-Nāṣer granted him (confirmed?) the title Atābak. He supported the last Ḵᵛārazmšāh Jalāl-al-dīn Mengüberdi in his struggle against the Mongols, and gave a daughter in marriage to Jalāl-al-dīn. It is not clear whether Malek Hazārasp was followed first by two sons, ʿEmād-al-dīn in 646/1248-49 and Noṣrat-al-dīn in 649/1251-52, and only then by Takla (Tekla), his son by a Salghurid princess, or whether Takla was the immediate successor. Takla, whose reign is said to have begun in 655/1257 or 656/1258, accompanied Hūlāgū (Hülegü) on the march to Baghdad, but deserted because of the killing of the last caliph and escaped to his own country; eventually he was caught and, on Hūlāgū’s order, executed. His brother and successor Šams-al-dīn Alp Arḡūn had the task of repairing the damage left by the Mongol sweep through the country; he spent most of his time in Lorestān, where he had two summer and two winter residences.
He was succeeded in 673/1274-75 by his son Yūsofšāh I, who was received in audience by the il-khan Abāqā and allowed to return home without trouble. He obtained a confirmation of his status and the addition of Ḵūzestān, Kūhgīlūya, and also Fīrūzān (near Isfahan) and Golpāyagān to his territory. Like his father, he showed concern for the country and people. He had been loyal to the il-khan during an incursion by Baraq (Borāq) Khan from Transoxiana (Mā Warāʾ al-Nahr). In 681/1282 he hastened to the help of the new il-khan Aḥmad, but after the latter’s defeat he was able to mollify Arḡūn, Aḥmad’s brother and successor, and thus to return home unscathed.
Yūsofšāh’s son Afrāsīāb I, who succeeded about 687/1288, sent his brother Noṣrat-al-dīn Aḥmad as a hostage to the il-khan’s court. After the death of Arḡūn in 690/1291 and the murder of the Mongol governor of Isfahan (which he temporarily occupied with a force under his cousin Qızıl), he attempted to extend his authority to the Persian Gulf, at first with the consent of the Mongols, later against their strong opposition. They sent troops from several points, including Shiraz, and defeated the army of Great Lorestān at Kūhrūd near Kāšān. Afrāsīāb fled to the castle of Mānǰašt and had to surrender; but the il-khan Gayḵātū pardoned and reinstated him. He was left to himself until after the accession of the il-khan Ḡāzān in 694/1295. On the insistent advice of his generals, Ḡāzān ordered the arrest of Afrāsīāb and his execution on 28 Ḏu’l-ḥeǰǰa 695/26 October 1296.
Afrāsīāb’s successors appreciated the lessons of the past and refrained from military adventures, while seeking to secure the internal and external peace of their territory. His son and heir Noṣrat-al-dīn Aḥmad, who had spent a long time at the court of the il-khans (see above), allotted one third of his governmental revenue to the army (and presumably public expenses in general), one third to his family and servants, and one third to religious purposes; this attitude prompted several theologians to dedicate their works to him. After his death in 730/1329-30 or 733/1332-33, his son Rokn-al-dīn Yūsofšāh II inherited the domain and according to the reports was also a benevolent ruler. He died at Šūštar in 740/1339-40 at the age of 43 (lunar) years and was followed by his son (or brother?) Moẓaffar-al-dīn Afrāsīāb II, in whose reign relations with the il-khans ceased as the Il-khanid empire broke up. His successor was his son Nawr-al-ward (Rose Blossom), who reigned for an unspecified time and is said to have been blinded by the Mozaffarid Mobārez-al-dīn Moḥammad in 756/1355. He was followed by his cousin (or nephew?) Šams-al-dīn Pašang, who was perhaps a son of Yūsofšāh II. During his reign fighting with the Mozaffarids continued and Īḏaǰ fell for a time into their hands, until the Mozaffarid family’s internecine strife changed the situation to Pašang’s advantage. After his death in 780/1378-79 his (or Nawr-al-ward’s) son Malek Pīr Aḥmad and Malek Hūšang contended for the succession. Malek Hūšang soon died, and Malek Pīr Aḥmad was ousted by the Mozaffarid Shah Manṣūr and replaced for a time by a notable named Malek Oways; but in 795/1393 Pīr Aḥmad was able to return, thanks to help given by Tīmūr, who also permitted the return of 200 countryfolk driven out by the Mozaffarids. In 798/1395-96, however, Pīr Aḥmad and two of his brothers were forcibly removed to Samarkand. Later Tīmūr divided the territory between him and his brother Afrāsīāb III. From 807/1405 to 811/1408-09, Pīr Aḥmad was imprisoned by Mīrzā Pīr Moḥammad, but he again recovered the kingship, only to lose his life shortly afterward in a popular uprising. His son Abū Saʿīd reigned until about 820/1417; the latter’s son Shah Ḥosayn was murdered in 827/1424 by his relative Ḡīāṯ-al-dīn, a grandson of Hūšang. In the same year, the Timurid Šāhroḵ expelled Ḡīāṯ-al-dīn and thereby ended the rule of the atābaks of Great Lorestān.
Atābaks of Little Lorestān (580/1184?-1006/1597), ruled from Ḵorramābād. The dynasty, which stemmed from the Jangrūʾī (or Jangardī) tribe, bore the surname Ḵoršīdī (after the first ruler).
Šoǰāʿ-al-dīn Ḵoršīd b. ʿAlī became an independent ruler after the death of his former suzerain Ḥosām-al-dīn in 580/1184-85 (or earlier, in 570/1174-75?) and assumed the title Atābak. He conducted various military operations against tribes and obtained the district of Ṭarazak in Ḵūzestān from the caliph in exchange for certain castles. He divided his time between summer and winter quarters and is said to have died at the age of 100 (lunar) years in 621/1224. His nephew Sayf al-dīn Rostam then seized power by force, and proved to be a competent ruler. Rostam’s successors were his brother Šaraf al-dīn Abū Bakr and then ʿEzz-al-dīn Garšāsp, who married his predecessor’s widow. The next ruler, Ḥosām-al-dīn Ḵalīl, lost his life in a family conflict. The caliph refused to recognize his brother Badr-al-dīn Masʿūd, who then obtained Mongol backing which enabled him to maintain his position; a share of the booty taken at Baghdad was allotted to him, but he died in 658/1260. A succession struggle between two of his sons was ended by Abāqā, acting on behalf of his father Hūlāgū, and their cousin Tāǰ-al-dīn Šāh b. Ḵalīl was installed. No information about the reign of Tāǰ-al-dīn has come down except that he was executed on the il-khan’s order in 677/1278-79. The territory was then divided between two other sons of Badr-al-dīn Masʿūd, the district of Delār being awarded to Falak-al-dīn Ḥasan and the royal estates (īnǰū) to ʿEzz-al-dīn Ḥosayn. Both led campaigns to enlarge their possessions, which eventually stretched from Hamadān to Šūštar and from Isfahan to the Arab-populated zone. In 692/1293, however, the il-khan Gayḵātū deposed them both and appointed Jamāl-al-dīn Ḵeżr, a son of Tāǰ-al-dīn, to succeed them. Tāǰ-al-dīn, was killed near Ḵorramābād by his own troops in 693/1294, and his heir Ḥosām-al-dīn ʿOmar had to cede power in the same year to Ṣamṣām-al-dīn Maḥmūd, who was executed by Ḡāzān in 695/1296 for complicity in the murder of Ḵeżr. The succession then passed to ʿEzz-al-dīn Aḥmad Ḥosayn under the guardianship of his cousin Badr-al-dīn Masʿūd, a son of Falak-al-dīn; the territory was divided between the two, but ʿEzz-al-dīn later gained sole control and reigned until 716/1316-17 or 720/1320. The principality then passed to his widow Dawlat Ḵātūn, who abdicated in favor of her brother ʿEzz-al-dīn II Maḥmūd, with whom a new line of princes began. He was confirmed in office by the il-khan Abū Saʿīd and reigned until 730/1329-30, when he was succeeded by his son Šoǰāʿ-al-dīn Moḥammad, who was killed in 750/1349-50 or perhaps not until 770/1368-69.
Šoǰāʿ-al-dīn’s son ʿEzz-al-dīn III, who bore the title Malek, eased the task of asserting himself in the realm by giving one daughter in marriage to a Mozaffarid prince and another to the Jalayerid Aḥmad b. Oways; but reports, rightly or wrongly alleging that he extortionately overtaxed the Lors, gave Tīmūr a pretext to invade the territory in 788/1386, when Borūǰerd was devastated and Ḵorramābād completely destroyed. What happened to ʿEzz-al-dīn at that time is unknown, but in the sequel he reappeared, was temporarily banished to Turkestan, was allowed after three years to return to Lorestān, and was able to escape when Tīmūr made a second incursion in 795/1392-796/1393, which again did considerable damage to the Lors; his territory was placed for the time being under the rule of the viceroy of Fārs, and he was put to death in 806/1403-04. His son Sīdī Aḥmad recovered the family’s domain after Tīmūr’s death in 807/1405 and reigned until 815/1412-13 or 825/1422. Sīdī Aḥmad’s brother Shah Ḥosayn, who put out a claim to descent from ʿAlī, gained ground in the directions of Hamadān and Isfahan through several campaigns before his death in battle in 871/1466-67 or 873/1468-69.
His son Shah Rostam and grandson Oḡūr (or Oḡūz) rallied to the Safavids, thereby provoking a chronologically uncertain series of family conflicts in which the Safavids repeatedly intervened. After the death of Shah Esmāʿīl II in 985/1577, the contemporary ruler Moḥammadī acknowledged the suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan Morād III (of whose empire Mesopotamia was then a part), but later renewed his allegiance to the Safavids. His son Šāhverdī remained loyal to them, and Shah ʿAbbās I (996/1588-1038/1629) married Šāhverdī’s daughter, who was considered to be an ʿAlid; but when Shah ʿAbbās approached, Šāhverdī fled to Baghdad. He was reinstated in 1003/1594-95 but again became insubordinate and was captured and put to death in 1006/1597-98. The dynasty of the Atābaks or Maleks of Little Lorestān was thereby ended, yet the subsequent wars of Lorestān (later of Pošt-e Kūh only) also traced their descent to this dynasty.
V. Minorsky “Lur-i Buzurg,” EI1 III, pp. 52-55. B. Spuler “Hazāraspids,” EI2, pp. 336-37.
Idem, Mongolen4, esp. pp. 134-36 (all with particulars of sources).
D. Krawulsky, Īrān—das Reich der Īḷḫāne. Eine topographisch-historische Studie, Beihefte zum Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients, Reihe B (Geisteswissenschaften), no. 171 , Wiesbaden, 1978.
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 17, 2011
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Vol. II, Fasc. 8, pp. 896-898