BAGHDAD ii. From the Mongol Invasion to the Ottoman Occupation

The Persian influence had increased in recent decades through Iranian viziers and officials serving the caliphs, the rise of Shiʿite power and their theological literature.

 

BAGHDAD

ii. From the Mongol Invasion to the Ottoman Occupation.

Baghdad on the eve of the Mongol invasion. The Mongol capture of Baghdad in 1258 came at a time when Persian influence was on the rise but the city as a whole in decline. The Persian influence had increased in recent decades through Iranian viziers and officials serving the caliphs, the rise of Shiʿite power (especially in West Baghdad) and their theological literature, the spread of Sufi ideas and convents (ḵānaqāhs) as well as the patronage of Persian and Persian poetry by some caliphs and their officials (Ṣafā, Adabiyāt III/1, pp. 118-24; Eqbāl, Tāriḵ-e Moḡol, pp. 178-81). But gradual decay, repeated fire and flood, and factionalism had deprived the metropolis and cultural center of Islam of much of its former glory (see PLATE 1). Sectarian fights between the Shiʿites and Sunnites were not infrequent, and in a recent incident, the son of the caliph al-Mostaʿṣem had massacred the Shiʿites of Karḵ and plundered the shrine of Imam Musā al-Kāẓem. The mob (ʿāmma)and ʿayyārun (see ʿAYYĀR. ii) frequently engaged in looting, arson and murder (e. g., in 1246, 1255, 1256), and the caliphs and their officials remained weak and corrupt (Duri, p. 902). Baghdad had become a cluster of quarters, isolated from each other by wastelands, and only sparsely protected. East Baghdad (al-Šarqiya) was mainly Sunnite and more densely populated. It contained the caliphal quarter, numerous mosques, madrasas, palaces and gardens, but a good part of it was also in ruins. A semicircular wall with both ends resting on the Tigris protected it. West Baghdad (al-Ḡarbiya) was mainly Shiʿite, but it consisted of a series of separate units, most notably Karḵ to the south, each surrounded by a wall and an area of wasteland. Most had their own Friday mosque. Only two bridges connected the two sections, and repeated floods (in 1243, 1248, 1253, 1255, and the worst of them in 1256) greatly damaged the city’s quarters and hampered repairs (ibid., pp. 901-2 with literature).

As was usual in gloomy times, apocalyptic ideas found fertile ground. “Disorder and lawlessness had engulfed Baghdad and its inhabitants had lost their affection for the Abbasids and hated them and interpreted the disasters as portents of the end of their state, and had consequently become totally divided by partisanship” (Rašid-al-Din, p. 698). The Shiʿites alleged that in al-Jafr (said to have been the book on celestial conjunctions composed by Yaʿqub b. Esḥāq al-Kendi, astrologer to al-Maʾmun), the history of the Abbasids had been fully forecast, with the indication that “the fall of Baghdad would take place in the middle of the seventh century [i.e., 13th cent. C.E.]” (Ebn Ḵaldun, II, p. 218). The invasion by Hülegü (Hulāgu) was spurred on, some said, by Persians who co-operated with him (Ṣafā III/1, pp. 137-42; Eqbāl, pp. 186-88), partly out of their hatred for the caliphate because the Abbasids had earlier denied them help in their stand against the Mongol invaders (Ṣafā, p. 119 citing Ebn-al-Aṯir). Even some of the Persian ministers of the caliph were accused of betrayal (Ṣafā, pp. 137-41; Eqbāl, pp. 186-87). The Christians of Baghdad were also suspected of collaboration, hoping, it was said, to terminate the Islamic caliphate at the hand of the pro-Christian Mongols (Menhāj-e Sarāj p. 705, cited by Ṣafā, p. 114; for the relations between Hülegü and the Christians see Spuler, Mongolen2, pp. 206-14).

The fall of Baghdad and its subsequent administration. The capture of Baghdad by Hülegü was a momentous event that shook the Muslim world. The city suffered heavily. Many of its inhabitants and country people who had taken refuge there were put to the sword, and numerous buildings, including the Caliphal mosque (Jāmeʿ al-ḵolafāʾ) and the shrine of the Kāẓemayn, madrasas, and houses were ruined, and “Baghdad became a provincial centrer in all respects” (Duri, p. 902; for detail see Boyle, pp. 346-9).

With the capture of Baghdad, Persians became instrumental in the intellectual, cultural, and political revival of that city. The event did not affect a number of people who seem to have been Persian. For instance, the merchants who used to travel to Khorasan had already formed a connection with Mongol rulers and had secured decrees from them in their own favor. After the city fell, those merchants applied to the Mongol commanders, entreating them to appoint guards to watch over their houses and to protect their lives and possessions and those of other individuals who had taken refuge with them (Ebn al-Fowaṭi, p. 329). The administration of Mesopotamia in general and Baghdad in particular followed the normal Mongol system. Each province was given to an overall governor (wāli or ḥākem; for Khorasan and Mesopotamia the term used was wazir), a deputy-governor (nāʾeb), a military commander (šeḥna), and a number of judges (Spuler, p. 339, n. 13). A complete list of such officials for ʿErāq-e ʿArab under the Il-khanids has been collected by ʿAzzāwi (pp. 201-370) and Spuler (pp. 348-51). The great number of Persians included in this list is indicative of the important role they played in the life of Baghdad and Mesopotamia after the Mongol invasion. Only the šeḥnas of Baghdad were invariably chosen from the Mongol notables.

Amongst the notable Persians whose houses were exempted from pillage and became places of refuge was Faḵr-al-Din, known as Ebn al-Dāmḡāni, the ṣāḥeb-diwān (approximately ‘Civil and Financial Administrator-General’ of Iraq under the Caliph al-Mostaʿṣem [on the office see Spuler, Mongolen2, pp. 295, 309-11, 348-50; Boyle, pp. 336-7]). Hülegü reinstated him in his post, because, unlike Ebn-al-ʿAlqami, he was not accused of previous connection with the Mongols. Faḵr-al-Din died in 1259 and was succeeded by Najm-al-Din b. al-Moʿin. Two wālis also served at that time: Najm-al-Din Abu Jaʿfar Aḥmad ʿAmrān (called wazir-e rāstdeh) for East Baghdad and its suburbs, and Tāj-al-Din ʿAli b. al-Dawāmi for the Euphrates region. From 1260, the whole of Mesopotamia and Fārs were governed by a Mongol lord, Sujunjāq, but he usually delegated his authority to his nāʾeb, ʿAlāʾ-al-DinʿAṭā-Malek Jovayni (see below).

The Jovaynistewardship. The political sway of Persians in Baghdad after the Mongol takeover reached its high point during the tenure of ʿAlāʾ-al-Din ʿAṭā-Malek Jovayni (brother of Šams-al-Din Moḥammad Jovayni, the ṣāḥeb-diwān of the Il-khanid empire during the reigns of Hülegü, Abaqa, and Aḥmad Tegüder [Takudār]). In 1258/59, Hülegu appointed as deputy-governor of Mesopotamia and Khuzistan his own secretary, the learned historian and shrewd politician ʿAlāʾ-al-Din ʿAṭā-Malek Jovayni. He was not the sole authority in Baghdad, however: a certain ʿEmād-al-Din ʿOmar b. Moḥammad Qazvini shared the administration of the city. With those nominations Baghdad and Iraq came under the civil and fiscal control of Persians, although they were nominally subordinate to the Mongol military commander of Baghdad. In practice, Sujunjāq left the running of the affairs mainly in the hand of ʿAlāʾ-al-Din (Eqbāl, pp. 200-1), which task he performed with remarkable efficiency and determination, so much so that he was at time called the ṣāḥeb-diwān of ʿErāq (Spuler, p. 341). ʿAlāʾ-al-Din was a benevolent official and truly loyal in furthering the Il-khanid regime. But his position and prestige provoked envy among his colleagues, both Mongol and Persian, and several times he was the object of plots by them. One of his great enemies was the nominated leader (naqib) of the ʿAlids, Tāj-al-Din ʿAli b. Moḥammad ʿAlawi, better known as Ebn al-Ṭeqṭaqā, who, having acquired great wealth, requested Abaqa Khan to dismiss ʿAlāʾ-al-Din. His missive fell into the hands of the latter, who secretly had him murdered by a gang outside the walls of Baghdad. That happened while Abaqa Khan was in the city. ʿAlāʾ-al-Din subsequently had the murderers of this eminent man put to death, but he confiscated his landed properties on the pretext that he had tax arrears.

ʿAlāʾ-al-Din and his brother suffered greatly because of the intrigues of another opponent, Majd-al-Molk Yazdi, who had been nominated Mošref-al-mamālek, i.e., Controller-General of revenues for the entire Il-khanid state. Although Majd-al-Molk owed his rise and position to Šams-al-Din Moḥammad Jovayni, the ṣāḥeb-diwān, he proved to be the most ardent enemy of the Jovayni brothers. He accused them of being in league with the Mamluks of Egypt, and Yesü-Buqā, a son-in-law of Hülegü, brought the charge to the notice of Abaqa. When it could not be substantiated, the brothers were restored to favor (Boyle, p. 363; cf. Eqbāl, p. 201). In 1279 Majd-al-Molk again accused the brothers of the same treason and added that Šams-al-Din had embezzled huge sums (2,500,000 dinars) from the Treasury. Hülegü, then in Syria, tried ʿAlāʾ-al-Din and issued his death warrant, but later pardoned him.

They were saved by the intercession of a wife of Abaqa (Boyle, p. 363; Eqbāl, pp. 217-8; Spuler, p. 348). After several more attempts of this nature, Majd-al-Molk himself was exposed and brutally killed when Solṭān Aḥmad Tegüder ascended the throne, and ʿAlāʾ-al-Din was set free and his properties restored, and he was once again installed as governor of Baghdad. But this latest success was short-lived. One of the plotters was Aṟḡun, the eldest son of Abaqa, who sought to seize power from the new Il-khan Solṭān Aḥmad Tegüder and saw the Jovayni brothers as obstacles to his cause (Spuler, p. 79). He came to Baghdad in 1283, revived the old accusations and began arresting and torturing ʿAla-al-Din’s agents. The news reached the latter while in Arrān, and he died of a stroke (Barthold-Boyle, p. 606; Eqbāl, pp. 220-24). He was buried in Tabriz. He had lived for sixty years and had held the office of ṣāḥeb-diwān of Iraq and Baghdad for 21 years and a few months.

ʿAlāʾ-al-Din came from a scholarly family with a long history of vizierate at the courts of various dynasties (see Barthold-Boyle, p. 606) and, like his father and brother, had been for years in the service of Mongol rulers. He had spent some time in Mongolia at the court of the Great Khan and had commenced there (in 1252) the composition of his masterfully documented history of the Mongol conquest (Tāriḵʾ-e jahān-gošāy), which he completed in about 1260 (ibid., p. 607). With this background, he was eminently qualified to run the affairs of the state in the domain entrusted to him. In addition, ʿAlāʾ-al-Din showed shrewd diplomacy. He married Šams-al-Żoḥḥā, the widow of the Abbasid prince Abu’l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad, probably to gain the favor of the common people in Baghdad because she was a charitable lady and benevolent toward them (Ebn Fowaṭi, p. 410). The union proved effective in strengthening his standing among the populace. During ʿAlāʾ-al-Din’s tenure, she endeavored to aid them and to supply their needs. She founded a madrasa outside Baghdad and, naming it ʿEṣmatiya, dedicated it to the followers of all the four schools of Sunni law in an attempt to bring about some reconciliation between them. Close by she had a mausoleum built for herself, wherein she was buried in 1279. Her daughter by Abu’l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad, Rābeʿa, was married in 670/1271-72 to Šaraf-al-Din Hārun, son of Šams- al-Din the ṣāḥeb-diwān, receiving a marriage settlement (ṣadāq) of 100,000 gold dinars, and with the stipulation by her mother that the bridegroom should not drink wine, a condition that was accepted. Rābeʿa died in 1286 and was buried beside her mother. A little later her husband was killed by Aṟḡun’s order to exterminate Šam-al-Din’s family members.

ʿAlāʾ-al-Din worked hard for the prosperity of Iraq and for the revival of Baghdad (see ʿAzzāwi, pp. 236-314; Spuler, p. 348 with further references). It is said that he spent 10,000 gold dinars in digging a canal linking Anbār to Kufa and Najaf and founded 150 villages along its banks (Barthold-Boyle, p. 606). He also abolished the poll tax that the Mongols had levied on the people of Baghdad (Ebn al-Fowaṭi, p. 239). In 1266 he built, outside Baghdad and opposite Ẓafariya Gate, a mansion with porticoes and a bathhouse, the whole surrounded by a large garden where various fruit trees (even pistachios) were cultivated (ibid., p. 358). Two years later he ordered the construction of a water mill below the dyke of Mostanṣeriya College, by means of which system water was raised from the Tigris and transferred to a cistern, from which it would flow into the pond in the College courtyard, and thence to another cistern outside the College in front of Ayvān-e sāʿāt. The surface covering the open space in the college itself, as well as the paintings on its walls, were repaired. These works were carried out and supervised by an Iranian named Šams-al-Din ʿAmid Ḵorāsāni. ʿAlāʾ-al-Din also restored the dyke of Qamariya Mosque (on the west bank of the Tigris), which had been ruined under al-Mostaʿṣem. In 1271 he ordered the minaret of the Jāmeʿ al-Ḵolafāʾ to be rebuilt. A month after its completion it collapsed, but fortunately caused no casualty (Ebn al-Fowaṭi, p. 371). It was rebuilt by order of Šams-al-Din the ṣāḥeb-diwān in 1279. In 1271 a fire heavily damaged the Neẓāmiya College in Baghdad and killed many people. ʿAlāʾ-al-Din ordered the reconstruction of the college building out of its endowments. He likewise constructed an inn (rebāt) at Najaf. He further built a maʾman (‘place of safety’, i.e., a warehouse complex with a divān or office, mosque, caravansery, bathhouse and market) at a place called Nahr Jaʿfar for the merchants who used to bring in their goods from Baṣra (ibid., p. 372). When in 1276 many fires broke out in Baghdad markets and houses, ʿAlāʾ-al-Din caused cisterns to be built in various districts and streets; these were kept filled with water to be used in extinguishing future fires.

During of ʿAlāʾ-al-Din’s twenty-one years of administration, several Persians were appointed to high juridical positions in Baghdad. The first was Neẓām-al-Din Bondijāyeni, the Supreme Judge (qāżi al-qożāt) of Baghdad (Spuler, p. 348). His successors were Serāj-al-Din Hanāyesi, Qāżi Faḵr-al-Din ʿAbd-Allāh b. ʿAbd-al-Jalil Ṭehrāni, deputy of Neẓām-al-Din Bondijāyeni, who was also nominated as inspector of weights and measures (moḥtaseb) of Baghdad, and Qāżi Neẓām-al-Din Moḥammad Heravi, titled Šayḵ-al-Eslām, who was the judge of West Baghdad from 1274 to 1279.

One of the Persians who took a part in the administration of Baghdad was the famous mathematician and philosopher Ḵᵛāja Naṣer-al-Din Ṭusi. He visited the city in 1263-4 to look into the state of pious foundations or endowments (awqāf), and to inspect the situation of the soldiers and the slaves. From there he made for Wāseṭ and Baṣra. He collected in Iraq a large number of books for the observatory that he was setting up in Marāḡa (Ebn al-Fowaṭi, p. 350). Four years later he revisited Baghdad, this time accompanying Abaqa Khan, after whose departure he remained there, inspecting and reorganizing the awqāf, paying monthly salaries and the pensions (aḵbāz, lit. ‘pieces of bread’) of the jurists, theology teachers and Sufis (ibid., p. 376). It seems that after the death of Ḵᵛāja Naṣir-al-Din the supervision of awqāf in Iraq was entrusted to his son Ṣadr-al-Din and to his brothers, who held it for a long time except for a brief period when it was assigned to the “governor” of Baghdad (ibid., p. 456).

In 1283 Ḵᵛāja Šaraf-al-Din Hārun succeeded his uncle at Baghdad while Šams-al-Din Zardeyār became deputy-governor (Spuler, p. 349). The inhabitants, who liked Ḵᵛāja Šaraf-al-Din on account of his marriage to the daughter of Aḥmad, son of al-Mostaʿṣem, welcomed him, and poets composed poems in his praise (Ebn al-Fowaṭi, p. 423). The same writer (p. 427) commends him for following his uncle’s policy characterized by “justice and good conduct.” He was so learned that on one of his earlier visits to Baghdad he had occupied the “chair” in Neẓāmiya College and taught for an audience, which included his uncle and other senior officials as well as theology teachers, scholars, and jurists. Like his father, Šaraf-al-Din patronized science, art and literature. He continued to honor and patronize Ṣafi-al-Din ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen Ormavi, the famous Persian musicologist, who had served the caliph al-Mostaʿṣem and after him Hülegü and Šams-al-Din. This artist died in 1285 at the age of eighty. Almost immediately, Šaraf-al-Din himself was captured and killed by the newly enthroned Aṟḡun (see above).

The tenure of Saʿd-al-Dawla. Aṟḡun appointed the two Mongol princes Jüškeb and Baidu (Bāydu) to the government of Baghdad and Diārbakr respectively. In the same year he sent over a Mongol chief named Tunskā to Baghdad as military governor. The latter appointed a Persian Jew, Saʿd-al-Dawla, son of Hebat-Allāh Abhari, as his own lieutenant and also as his ḥājeb (major-domo). This extraordinarily capable and efficient person was soon running the affairs of Baghdad so well that the governor, Qotloḡš@ā@h, was unable to assert himself (Rašid-al-Din Faẓl-Allāh, p. 2080). Consequently, Saʿd-al-Dawla’s opponents suggested to Aṟḡun that, being also an incomparable physician, Saʿd-al-Dawla had better wait on the Il-khan; Aṟḡun accepted the suggestion, and summoned him to Tabriz. When in attendance on Aṟḡun, Saʿd-al-Dowla accused his enemies in Baghdad of mishandling fiscal affairs, and undertook to collect from Baghdad tax arrears amounting to 500 tumans (5 million dinars). Accordingly, Aṟḡun dispatched him to Baghdad, where he exacted that sum from suitable donors with the help of beating and torture, and presented it to the Il-khan.

In 687/1287-8 Aṟḡun entrusted the governorship of Baghdad to Arduqiā, one of Saʿd-al-Dowla’s allies, and concurrently nominated a certain Bāydu as the šeḥna, Šaraf-al-Din Semnāni as the “malek of Baghdad,” and Saʿd-al-Dawla as the mošref. A year later Arduqiā and Saʿd-al-Dawla brought Aṟḡun a coffer full of money and other valuables. Elated, Aṟḡun ordered all the opponents of Saʿd-al-Dawla to be killed and appointed him to the vizierate. Saʿd-al-Dawla reached a very high position in the administration, and assumed semi-regal power. He entrusted the government of Baghdad to his brother Faḵr-al-Dawla, and appointed as his aides Mohaḏḏeb-al-Dawla and Jamāl-al-Din Dastejerdiāni. But Saʿd-al-Dowla’s power did not last long; in 1291 when Aṟḡun fell ill (he died in the same year), Saʿd-al-Dawla was overpowered and killed by his enemies. Faḵr-al-Dawla, and Mohaḏḏeb-al-Dawla were arrested and tortured to reveal their treasures, and then executed (Ebn al-Fowaṭi, pp. 446-7).

Baghdad in the later Il-khanid period. Geyḵātu, the second son of Abaqa Khan, succeeded Aṟḡun. His reign was marked by revolts and financial problems. His governor of Baghdad was a certain Qawām-al-Molk, a cousin of Qoṭb-al-Din, governor of Tabriz, while two Mongol amirs were responsible for financial administration (Spuler, p. 350). Geyḵātu’s murder in 1294 was followed by political unrest. In the same year, through the efforts of Amir Nowruz, Aṟḡun’s eldest son Ḡāzān embraced Islam in the presence of Ṣadr-al-Din Ebrāhim Ḥamuʾi, and in Ḏu’l-ḥejja of the same year, again thanks to Amir Nowruz’s endeavor, he ascended the throne. Two Persians, Emām-al-Din Yaḥyā Qazvini and Faḵr-al-Din al-Rāzi al-ʿAlawi, were entrusted with the administration of Mesopotamia (including Baghdad). A year later, Nur-al-Din ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān b. Tāšān became the governor and ṣāḥeb-diwān. In the following year,Jamāl-al-Din Dastejerdiāni was appointed the governor and his brother ʿEmād-al-Din replaced Nur-al-Din, who had recently died. Ḡāzān sent Amir Toḥta as governor of Mesopotamia and executed Dastejerdiāni, giving his place and the title ṣāḥeb-diwān to Zayn-al-Din Moḥammad Ḵāledi, brother of Ṣadr-al-Din (Spuler, p. 350 with literature). In the meantime, Ḡāzān himself came to Baghdad, whence he made the pilgrimage of the tombs of Emām Musā al-Kāẓem and Abu Ḥanifa and attended the Friday prayers held at Suq-al-Solṭan mosque. He left Baghdad after a few months. A year later Ḡāzān put Ṣadr-al-Din Ḵāledi to death and had his fugitive brother Zayn-al-Din captured and killed. In the same year, Shaikh Ẓahir-al-Din Kāzeruni, a learned man who had performed various important administrative services in Baghdad, passed away.

In 1298 Ḡāzān revisited Baghdad, and engaged in works of public utility. He ordered a canal to be dug upstream of Ḥella, and named it Nahr Ḡāzāni. He also ordered fiscal reforms, including the stabilization of the weight of gold and silver coins. Emām-al-Din Yaḥyā Qazvini’s office was made independent, with a view to guaranteeing Baghdad’s tax revenues. According to Kāšāni (p. 82), Buluḡān Ḵātun Ḵorāsāni, daughter of Amir Tesu, had built a town near Baghdad, and had named it Ḵorāsān. After her death, a ḵānaqāh was built there, the custodianship of which was entrusted to Ḵᵛāja Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh Hamadāni.

In 708/1308 the vizier Saʿd-al-Din Sāvaji, wishing to discredit and eventually to eliminate Ḵᵛāja Aṣil-al-Din, son of Ḵᵛāja Naṣir-al-Din Ṭusi, appointed him governor of Baghdad and Iraq: no sooner had Aṣil-al-Din settled down in Baghdad than he gave way under the pressure of drafts and payment orders issued to him as part of Saʿd-al-Din’s machination. Ḡāzān’s successor Öljeitü (r. 1304-1316) set out for Baghdad in 1309, on the way visiting the Ayvān-e Madāʾen (the remains of the Sassanian palace at Ctesiphon), where he knelt three times in front of the Ṭāq-e Kesrā. In Baghdad, at the instigation of Saʿd-al-Din Sāvaji, he committed Aṣil-al-Din to be tortured, bringing to an end the influence of the family of Ḵᵛāja Naṣer-al-Din Ṭusi. Öljeitü’s devotional shift from Sunnism to Shiʿism occurred at this time (see Eqbāl, pp. 318-9; Boyle, pp. 401-2).

Baghdad had a famous textile factory named Ferdows Factory. Saʿd-al-Din Sāvaji nominated a rival, the vizier Tāj-al-Din ʿAlišāh Tabrizi, as manager of this factory in order to keep him away from the court. When Öljeitü visited Baghdad in 1311, Saʿd-al-Din charged one of his close associates to audit the account of the factory and to point out the malpractice of Tāj-al-Din. The latter, outmaneuvering Saʿd-al-Din, displayed and then presented to Öljeitü rich costumes and pieces of fine cloth made there. Saʿd-al-Din apparently snubbed Tāj-al-Din and Ḵᵛājā Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, also present there, which contributed to his later downfall and execution.

Öljeitü was succeeded in 1316 by his son Abu Saʿid, then ten or twelve years old, with Amir Čobān (Čubān/Čupān) acting as regent. Early during Abu Saʿid’s reign, Kᵛāja Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, who had long served Ḡāzān and Öljeitü as vizier, was put to death at the instigation of Tāj-al-Din and some other officials. In 737/1326, Abu Saʿid entrusted the vizierate to Rašid-al-Din’s son Ḡiāṯ-al-Din Moḥammad. Ḡiāṯ-al-Din was “angelic in nature” and forgiving in the extreme (Boyle, p. 412 citing Mostawfi). He built in Baghdad the mosque known as Jāmeʿ Moḥammad Fażl, which still stands in Roṣāfa district (ʿAzzāwi, II, pp. 47-48). In 1340 a part of the Ṭāq-e Kesrā in Madāʾen collapsed (ibid., II, p. 49, quoting Taqwim al-tawāriḵ). Early in Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s tenure, a Persian named Serāj-al-Din ʿOmar Qazvini built a Friday mosque in Baghdad, and to this day a quarter in the city bears the name Serāj-al-Din. Ebn Baṭṭuṭa reports having visited this mosque, where he heard that very Shaikh Serāj-al-Din preach (ʿAzzāwi, II, p. 165). Abu Saʿid died in 1335, and the disintegration of Il-khanid power and a period of civil wars followed.

The Jalayerids’ rule in Baghdad. ShaikhḤasan who had divorced his wife Baḡdād Ḵātun, Amir Čobān’s daughter, on Abu Saʿid’s orders, was the son of AmirḤosayn called Gurkān (‘son-in-law,’ since he was Aṟḡun Khan’sson-in-law), son of Āqbuqā, son of Ilkā Nuyān, of the Jalāyer, one of the large clans of the Mongols. After Abu Saʿid’s death, ShaikhḤasan rose in rebellion and succeeded in establishing his rule in Iraq by about 1340 and founding the Jalayerid dynasty (Boyle, p. 415). Better known as Shaikh Ḥasan-e Bozorg, he reigned till 1357. His relative, MalekAšraf Čubāni (grandson of Amir Čobān), ruler of Azerbaijan, attacked him in 1347, but he fortified Baghdad, and with the help of his wife Delšād Ḵātun and his aide Ḵᵛāja Marjān defied all assaults on the city. Under the Jalayerids Baghdad became the capital of a Persian dynasty. Ḥasan-e Bozorg left a good name, and was praised for his equity and his fair policy. He did a great deal for the prosperity of Baghdad and the welfare of its inhabitants (ʿAzzāwi, II, p. 79). He welcomed the Persian poet Ḵᵛāju Kermāni, and earned his praise. The poet’s Divān contains pleasant memories from his days at his court. When Ḥasan died, another famous poet, Salmān Sāvaji, composed a moving elegy. His governor of Baghdad, Kᵛāja Marjān, a former Greek slave belonging to Öljeitü (hence his neṣba Oljāyeti), also sponsored the building of many charitable establishments in the city, including a mosque(with a madrasa appended to it), and a hospital (see the detailed study in ʿAzzāwi, II, pp. 84-129). The Marjān madrasa /mosque still exists. It has two stories built in the same fashion as that of the Neẓāmiya College. With its exquisite architecture, calligraphic inscription, and decoration, it seems to have been designed by Iranian architects. Certainly, the endowment inscriptions (dated 758/1357) set into its walls were executed by a famous Persian artist named Aḥmad-šāh the Tabrizi Painter (ibid., II, pp. 84-94). A caravansary he built in Baghdad also survives and still functions (Blair and Bloom, pl. 22).

Ḥasan-e Bozorg was succeeded by his son Moʿezz-al-Din Šayḵ-Ovays (r. 1357-75), a handsome youth much loved by the people of Baghdad for his sagacity, many talents and patronage of art. He was a fine painter and well versed in music. In poetry he was a disciple of Salmān Sāvaji, his court poet and boon companion, whose divān is full of poems in praise of the ruler and bears witness to many an event of his reign (for details, see his Divān, introd. by Avestā). Šayḵ-Ovays was eulogized by Šaraf-al-Din Rāmi, Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad ʿAṣṣār, ʿObayd Zākāni, and Nāṣer Boḵāri (ʿAzzāwi, II, pp. 136-40). In 1359 he conquered Azerbaijan and chose Tabriz as his summer residence, but he was faced with several rebellions by Kᵛāja Marjān. The two eventually reconciled (see ʿAzzāwi, II, p. 110). Kᵛāja Marjān’s successor as the governor of Baghdad, Ḵᵛāja Sorur, was also extolled by Salmān Sāvaji.

In 1373 the Tigris flooded, submerging between forty and sixty thousand houses, and reportedly ruining two-thirds of Baghdad (for an idea of the flooding of Baghdad see PLATE 2). At that time, Shaikh Najm-al-Din Šuštari and fifty companions were on their way to Mecca for pilgrimage. He spent their collective coffer, amounting to 10,000 dinars, on building a dam on a part of the Tigris. From Tabriz Šayḵ-Ovays requested his amirs to volunteer their aid to offset the damage caused by the flood. Amir Esmāʿil, son of the minister Amir Zakariā, a member of the Rašidi family, supervized the repairs of the city and farming lands. Šayḵ-Ovays also built houses, a school, caravansarais and bazaars, but the governor Ḵᵛāja Sorur was so grief-stricken that he fell ill and died in the same year.

Šayḵ-Ovays was followed by his adolescent son Jalāl-al-Din Ḥosayn, who lost Baghdad to his rebellious brother, Šayḵ-ʿAli. The next Jalayerid, Solṭān-Aḥmad (r. 1382-1410), presents a dual personality. He is characterized as cruel, scheming, weak-minded, reckless and pleasure-seeking, with the added vice of addiction to opium. At the same time, he was a remarkable intellectual, talented in both poetry and music. His exquisitely illustrated Diwān contains many elegant poems, and he is known to have collected a library of masterfully illustrated books. He patronized many painters, including ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy (the sultan’s instructor), and Junayd Baḡdādi. They created the Jalayeri style, and it has been rightly remarked that only with the reign of Solṭān-Aḥmad Jalāyer at Baghdad “does the evolution of Persian illustrated manuscripts become clear” (Blair and Bloom, p. 33). During his reign, Shaikh Šams-al-Din Kermāni, a Persian scholar, jurisprudent and traditionalist, preached in Baghdad and wrote a great many works on feqh and on the Prophet’s Traditions. He died in 1384 and was buried there.

Solṭān-Aḥmad’s rule in Baghdad ended with the westward thrust of Timur and his capture of Baghdad in 1393. In consequence of Solṭān-Aḥmad’s bloodthirstiness and of Timur’s massacre, pillage and vandalism, Baghdad suffered a devastating blow unprecedented in its history. Timur extorted heavy ransom from the remainder of its inhabitants (Roemer, p. 65), and when he left after two months of revelry, to conquer Takrit, he enslaved and deported many people, including scholars and artists such as “the masters of the renowned Baghdad school of book illumination, who had enjoyed the protection of Sulṭān Aḥmad” (Roemer, loc. cit.). His governor of Baghdad was Ḵᵛāja Masʿud Sabzavāri, a Sarbadāri prince, whom Neẓām-al-Din Šāmi (p. 145) praises as a benevolent man eager to bring relief to the survivors of Timur’s devastation and “to honor the learned and feed the poor.”

Solṭān-Aḥmad took refuge in Egypt with the Mamluk ruler al-Malek-al-Ẓāher Barquq, who welcomed him warmly and send him with an army to Aleppo. Hearing that Timur was engaged in a long campaign on the Qipchaq (Qepčāq) steppe and in southern Russia, the Jalayerid reentered Baghdad in 1394 and forced Ḵᵛāja Masʿud to leave the city. In the same year, plague broke out in Baghdad, and people had to leave the city (ʿAzzāwi, II, p. 224). Solṭān-Ahmad’s debauchery and the depredations of his supporters alienated the citizenry, and he retired to Tabriz in the spring of 1395, leaving Ḵᵛāja Yaḥyā Semnāni in charge of Baghdad.

A year later Solṭān-Aḥmad returned and successfully resisted the attack on Baghdad by Timur’s son Mirānšāh, governor of Azerbaijan, and in 1398 foiled a plot to assassinate him instigated by Timur. One year later in the face of an advance by Timur he fled the city with his riches, taking refuge with the Qara Qoyunlu leader Qara Yusof, and both sought asylum with the Ottoman sultan Bāyezid I Yïldïrïm. After a short siege Timur sacked Baghdad, put many of the populace to the sword, and demolished houses, city walls, and most of the monuments, including some from the Abbasid period; only mosques, schools and Sufi conventswere spared. Then Timur left Baghdad for Tabriz. The following year Solṭān-Aḥmad returned to Baghdad, but again Timur sent a large army against him, and this time the Jalayerid ruler, with nothing but the shirt on his back, fled Baghdad in a boat with his son Ṭāher (Mirḵᵛānd, Tehran, III, pp. 502-3).

Soon after this, Qara Yusof established himself in Baghdad. The fleeing Solṭān-Aḥmad reached Aleppo, where he was seized and imprisoned by Sultan Faraj, son and successor of the Mamluk ruler al-Malek-al-Ẓāher Barquq, who feared Timur’s vengence. Meanwhile Timur defeated Bāyezid Yïldïrïm, in 1402 and recaptured Baghdad after overcoming Qara Yusof, who took to flight (ʿAzzāwi, II, pp. 257-58). In 1405 Timur died, and in less than six months his vast empire was parceled out between quarreling sons and grandsons. Qara Yusof and Solṭān-Aḥmad Jalāyer were both set free by the Mamluks. While in Egypt, they had secretly pledged to one another that, if their fortune returned, Azerbaijan would belong to Qara Yusof and Baghdad to Aḥmad. Qara Yusof rejoined his Turkman clan, and Aḥmad, disguised as a dervish, entered Baghdad, forced out the Timurid governor Dawlat Ḵᵛāja Ināq, and again established his own authority. He also twice occupied Tabriz. (Ḥasan Rumlu, p. 38), but was defeated and captured by Qara Yusof, who put him to death for his having broken their covenant. Meanwhile Šāh-Moḥammad, son of Qara Yusof, marched on Baghdad from Erbil, and the Jalayerid governor Solṭān-Moḥammad fled to Šuštar.

Baghdad in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Thus the government of Baghdad passed from the Jalayerids to the Qara Qoyunlu, who held it till 1469 (first as nominal vassals of the Timurids, and not without internecine squabbles) through rulers the most notable of whom were Šāh-Moḥammad (d. 1434), Espān (or Espand, Eṣbahān, or Eṣfahān; d. 1445), and Pir Budāq (d. 1466; son of Jahānšāh, who besieged and captured the city after the death of Espān). Uzun Ḥasan, chief of the Āq Qoyunlu Turkmans and ruler of Diārbakr, after subduing Jahānšāh Qara Qoyunlu and the Timurid Solṭān-Abu Saʿid, laid hold of the greater part of the Persian territory, and in 1469 his son Maqṣud Beg took Baghdad from the Qara Qoyunlus. Āq Qoyunlu rule over Baghdad continued under Uzun Ḥasan, his son Yaʿqub, and his son Solṭān-Morād. But Āq Qoyunlu power collapsed under the onslaught of Shah Esmāʿil I Ṣafawi, who defeated Solṭān-Morād in 1502 near Hamadan. Solṭān-Morād fled to Baghdad, where he ruled about five years; however, constantly harassed, he sought asylum with ʿAlaʾ-al-Dawla Ḏu’l-Qadr, governor of Diārbakr. Shah Esmāʿil seized Diarbakr, and appointed Moḥammad Beyg Ostājlu governor of the region. Six years later he sent Ḥosayn Beg Lala to take Baghdad from its Āq Qoyunlu governor. The people of Baghdad released Sayyed Moḥammad Komuna, a prominent supporter of Shah Esmāʿil, from the governor’s prison, and acclaimed him their leader. He went to the Jāmeʿ mosque on Friday, and delivered the customary sermon in the name of Shah Esmāʿil. Then the city was surrendered to the latter’s general Ḥosayn Beg without bloodshed.

In Jomādā II 914/ October 1508, Shah Esmāʿil himself was welcomed into Baghdad. He hastened to Karbalā to visit Imam Ḥosayn’s tomb, which he covered with a cloth interwoven with gold; he also suspended twelve golden lanterns from the vault of the shrine. Then he went on a pilgrimage to the town of Najaf, where he donated valuable gifts to the shrine of Imam ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb. Back in Baghdad, he paid devotional visits and donated gifts to the shrines of the imams Musā al-Kāẓem and Moḥammad al-Javād, and likewise in Sāmarrā, at the shrines of the imams ʿAli al-Naqi and Ḥasan al-ʿAskari. He ordered the old chests above the tombs of the six imams (in Karbalā, Najaf, Kāẓemayn, and Sāmarrā) replaced with six new inlaid (ḵātam) chests, with arabesque and Ḵatāʾi designs. He appointed as governor of Iraq and Baghdad a certain Ḵādem Beg, on whom he conferred the title Ḵalifat al-Ḵolafā (ʿAzzāwi III, pp. 336-43). During his sojourn he is reported to have visited the Ṭāq-e Kesrā in Madāʾen, where he also went hunting and killed a lion. Some historians have reported that he murdered many leading Sunnites of Baghdad and plundered their assets, and profaned the tombs of Sunni saints (see also Duri, p. 903). With the Safavid takeover, “many Persian merchants came to Baghdad and increased commercial activity” (ibid.).

Esmāʿil died in 1523 and was succeeded by his ten year-old son Ṭahmāsp. A few years later his governor of Baghdad, Ebrāhim Khan Kalhor, was killed by his own nephew, the chief of the Kalhor Kurds, who seized ʿErāq-e ʿArab (Ḥasan Rumlu, pp. 208-9). In 1530, Shah Ṭahmāsp besieged and recaptured Baghdad, appointing Sultan Šaraf-al-Din governor of Baghdad with the title “khan.” Three years later, however, the Ottoman sultan Solaymān I set out with a large army to conquer Azerbaijan and Baghdad (his painter illustrated Baghdad in a campaign chronicle, see PLATE 3). On Ṭahmāsp’s order, his governor of Baghdad left the city for Baṣra. His deputies presented the key of the city gate to Sultan Solaymān, and thenceforth Baghdad and ʿErāq-e ʿArab became a dominion of the Ottoman empire, except for brief interludes of Iranian occupation under ʿAbbās I Ṣafawi and Nāder Shah Afšār.

Bibliography: M. Avestā, introd. to the Divān of Salmān Sāvaji, Tehran, n.d. Abbās ʿAzzāwi, Tāriḵ al-ʿErāq bayn al-eḥtelālayn, 3 vols., Baghdad, 1935, 1939. W. Barthold and J. A. Boyle, “Djuwayni,” EI2 II, pp. 606-7. Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom, The art and architecture of Islam 1250-1800, New Haven and London, 1994. Barbara Brend, “The little people: miniature cityscapes and figures in Persian and Ottoman painting,” in Charles Melville, ed., Proceedings of the Third European Conference of Iranian Studies held in Cambridge, 11th to 15th September 1995, Pt 2, Wiesbaden, 1999, pp. 367-83. J. A. Boyle, “Dynastic and Political History of the IlÚ-Khāns,” in Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 303-421. A. A. Duri, “Baghdad,” EI2 I, pp. 894-908. ʿAbd-al-Razzāq b. Aḥmad Ebn-al-Fowaṭi (attrib), al-Ḥawādeṯ al-jāmeʿa wa’l-tajāreb al-nāfeʿa, Baghdad, 1932. Robert Hillenbrand, Islamic architecture. Form, function and meaning, New York, 1994. Ebn Ḵaldun, The Muqaddima II, tr. F. Rosenthal, New York, 1958. Abu’l-Qāsem Kāšāni, Tāriḵ-e Oljāytu, Tehran, 1969. Faṣiḥ Ḵᵛāfi, Mojmal-e faṣiḥi, Mašhad, 1969. Mohạmmad Qazvini, introd. to Jovayni’s Tāriḵ-e Jahāngošāy I, Leiden, 1911. H. R. Roemer, “Tīmūr in Iran,” in Camb. Hist. Iran VI, pp. 42-98. Neẓām-al-Din Šāmi, Ẓafar-nāma, ed. Felix Tauer, Prague, 1956. Aḥmad Sohayli Ḵᵛānsāri, introd. to Ḵᵛāju Kermāni, Divān, Tehran, 1957

(ʿABBĀS ZARYĀB)

PLATE CAPTIONS

PLATE 1. Map of Baghdad, with historic sites (after [adapted from] EI2 I, opp. p. 908).

PLATE 2. Baghdad with the Tigris in flood. From an Anthology dated 873/1468 in the British Library, London (Add. 16561, fol. 60a. After Brend, Pl. 4).

PLATE 3. Baghdad in 1530s. From the Ottoman campaign chronicle Beyān-e manāzel-e sefer-e ʿErāqeyn, completed in 994/1537 (Istanbul University Library, after Brend, Pl. 6).

(ʿAbbās Zaryāb)

Originally Published: July 20, 2002

Last Updated: August 22, 2011