BEDLĪSĪ, MAWLĀNĀ ḤAKĪM-AL-DĪN EDRĪS B. ḤOSĀM-AL-DĪN ʿALĪ (d. 926/1520), scholar, historian, poet, and statesman under the Ottoman Sultan Salīm I (916-26/1512-20). Edrīs was born and educated in Bedlīs, where his father, probably a Kurd, was a respected scholar and Sufi, a disciple of ʿAmmār b. Yāser. Edrīs became dīvān secretary and eventually chancellor (mowaqqeʿ, nešānjī) to the Āq Qoyunlū Sultan Yaʿqūb (r. 883-96/1478-90) (Bedlīsī, 1860-62, I, p. 342; Saʿd-al-Dīn, II, p. 566; Hammer-Purgstall, II, p. 290, citing Abu’l-Fażl’s Ḏayl; Taşköprüzade, p. 190). In 907/1501-02 Edrīs declined Shah Esmāʿīl’s invitation to service and fled Tabrīz for Istanbul, where the following year Sultan Bāyazīd II (r. 886-918/1481-1512) commissioned him to compose in Persian a history of the Ottoman house “from its establishment in 710 [1310-11] until the present.” Edrīs presented this work, the Hašt behešt, by 912/1506, but Bāyazīd did not deliver the promised rewards because jealous courtiers claimed that the history praised the kings (ḵosravān) of Iran. Five years later (917/1511), following the death of his chief enemy, the grand vizier Ḵādem-ʿAlī Pasha, the bitter Edrīs was granted long-awaited permission to go to Mecca, where he remained for a year until the newly-enthroned Sultan Salīm (r. 918-26/1512-20) invited him back to court. Edrīs wrote a conclusion (ḵātema) in verse to the Hašt behešt and returned to Istanbul to present the work to Salīm, whose intimate he became (Sükrī, pp. 133-35, citing Hašt behešt, ḵātema; Bedlīsī, 1860-62, I, p. 432).
Salīm took Edrīs with him on his 920/1514 campaign against the Safavid Shah Esmāʿīl. For about two years after the battle of Čālderān in that year Edrīs remained in Dīārbakr; because of his knowledge of the Kurds and his prestige within these former Āq Qoyunlū dominions Salīm gave him special authority (including blank firmans) to persuade the Sunni Kurdish begs to accept an Ottoman allegiance and to expel Safavid forces from the region. Edrīs won over twenty-five chieftains and brought most of Kurdistan under Ottoman control. He further organized these territories into districts, some of them to be administered directly by the Ottomans, some by Kurdish appointees, and five by autonomous Kurdish princes who retained hereditary rights while acknowledging Ottoman suzerainty. After the conquest of Mārdīn Edrīs joined Salīm in Cairo and was handsomely rewarded for his successes (Saʿd-al-Dīn, II, pp. 299-323; Moṣṭafā-ʿAlī, fols. 211b-15b; Hammer-Purgstall, II, pp. 432-57). In Egypt Edrīs warned Salīm of abuses being perpetrated in the new province by several high officials, and while returning to Istanbul Salīm appointed Edrīs’s son Abu’l-Fażl qāżī of Tripoli (Hammer-Purgstall, II, pp. 518-19; Monajjembāšī, p. 495). Abu’l-Fażl later became chief treasurer (bāšdaftardār) of the Ottoman empire.
Edrīs died in Istanbul two months after his sultan, in Ḏu’l-ḥejja, 926/November-December, 1520. He was buried at Ayyūb at the mosque established there by his wife Zaynab Ḵātūn (Babinger, citing Abu’l-Fażl’s Ḏayl; Ayvānsarāʾī, I, p. 262).
Although he was noted as a poet and calligrapher, Edrīs’s fame rests largely on the command of Persian chancery style he exhibited in the Hašt behašt. This treatment of the reigns of the first eight Ottoman sultans was the first comprehensive and formally commissioned Ottoman dynastic history, and it served as the model for later Turkish-language chroniclers, starting with Ebn Kamāl (Kamāl-Pāšāzāda, d. 940/1534). The book is divided into an introduction ṭalīʿa), eight chapters (katība or daftar), each devoted to the reign of a single sultan, and a conclusion (ḵātema) giving the account of the civil war, which culminated in the accession of Sultan Salīm; there is also an account of his pilgrimage to Mecca and subsequent recall to Istanbul. Edrīs’s son Abu’l-Fażl composed a continuation (ḏayl) carrying the narrative through the reign of Salīm I, and he also edited a separate Salīm-nāma that his father had left unfinished (Babinger, pp. 95-97). Despite its importance for Ottoman and Anatolian history, the Hašt behešt is still unpublished; one ʿAbd-al-Bāqī Saʿdī made a Turkish translation (of uneven quality) in 1146/1733-34. In addition to these historical works Edrīs composed some fifteen translations (Arabic to Persian) and treatises, including commentaries on the Foṣūṣ al-ḥekam of Ebn ʿArabī, the Golšan-e rāz and Ḥaqq al-yaqīn of Shaikh Maḥmūd Šabestarī, and the Ḵamrīya of Ebn al-Fāreż.
Basic accounts of Edrīs’s life are provided by Ayvānsarāʾī, Ḥadīqat al-jawāmeʿ, Istanbul, 1281/1865, I, pp. 262-63; F. Babinger, Die Geschichtsschreiber der Osmanen und ihre Werke, Leipzig, 1927, pp. 45-49 (including a summary of the contents of the Hašt behešt; Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, Geschichte des osmanischen Reiches, Pesth, 1827-35; V. L. Ménage, “Bidlīsī, Idrīs,” in EI2 I, pp. 1207-08; Moṣṭafā-ʿAlī, Konh al-aḵbār, ms. Fatih 4225 (events 7-9, on Edrīs’s activities in Kurdistan); Saʿd-al-Dīn, Tāj al-tawārīḵ, Istanbul, 1280/1863, II, pp. 299-323, 566; Šaraf-al-Dīn Bedlīsī, Šaraf-nāma, ed. V. Vélïaminof-Zernof, St. Petersburg, 1860-62, I, pp. 342-44; Taşköprüzade, al-Šaqāʾeq al-noʿmānīya, Beirut, 1975, pp. 190-91.
Biographical information from Hašt behešt and Salīm-nāma is cited in Rieu, Persian Manuscripts, I, pp. 217-19; and M. Şükrü, “Das Hešt Bihišt des Idrīs Bitlīsī. 1. Teil: Von den Anfängen bis zum Tode Oṛḫans,” Der Islam 19, 1931, pp. 131-57 (analysis of the Istanbul MSS and contents through the reign of Orḵan).
Additional information on Abu’l-Fażl is found in Babinger, pp. 95-97, and Monajjembāšī (Müneccimbaşı) Aḥmad, Ṣaḥāʾef al-aḵbār fī waqāʾeʿ al-aʿṣār, tr. I. Erünsal, Istanbul, n.d., p. 495.
For a full list of Edrīs’s works see Ménage and B. Ṭāher, ʿOṯmānlï moʾalleflarï, Istanbul, 1333-42/1914-25, III, pp. 6-7.
The fullest survey of the manuscripts of Edrīs’s historical works is that of Yu. E. Bregel’, Persidskaya literatura, Moscow, 1972, II, pp. 1255-61.
Extracts from the Hašt behešt are found in F. Babinger, “Schejeh Bedr ed-dīn, der Sohn des Richters von Simāw,” Der Islam 11, 1921, pp. 42-49 (Turkish translation); F. Giese, “Die Verschiedenen Text-rezensionen des ʿĀšiqpāšāzāde,” APAW 4, 1936.
Translated extracts from the Salīm-nāma occur in H. Massé, “Sélim Ier en Syrie, d’après le Sélimnamè,” in Mélanges syriens offerts à M. René Dussaud, Paris, 1939, II, pp. 779-82.
Two of Edrīs’s letters have been reproduced, one by F. R. Unat in Belleten 7, 1943, p. 198, and one by İ. H. Uzunçaṛşılı, Osmanlı tarihi, Ankara, 1949, II, pl. xxi.
On the importance of the Hašt behešt in the Ottoman historiographical tradition see H. İnalcık, “The Rise of Ottoman Historiography,” in Historians of the Middle East, ed. B. Lewis and P. M. Holt, London, 1962, pp. 166-67, and V. L. Ménage, “The Beginnings of Ottoman Historiography,” ibid., pp. 176-77. See also Storey, I/1, pp. 412-16.
(Cornell H. Fleischer)
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 1, pp. 75-76