ESḤĀQ KHAN QARĀʾĪ TORBATĪ (ca. 1156-1231/1743-1816), one of the wealthiest and most powerful chieftains in Khorasan during the reigns of Āḡā Moḥammad Khan and Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah Qājār. The son of a shepherd, he initially served under Najafqolī Khan Tātār, the chief of the Qarā Tātār tribe. He eventually succeeded the chief when his efforts to incite rebellion in the tribe bore fruit and the chief was killed by his own men. Soon afterwards, Esḥāq Khan managed to transform Torbat-e Ḥaydarīya into a prosperous and safe district, while also making a fortune through farming, leasing camels to merchants, and developing an export/import trade (Malcolm, II, pp. 227-28; Ḥakīm, pp. 760-61; Bāstānī Pārīzī, II, p. 954).
Esḥāq Khan’s allegiance to Tehran (and also to Herat) remained nominal, and his display of submission to Āḡā Moḥammad Khan and Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah at the time of their marches on Mašhad in 1210/1796 and 1217/1802, respectively, was anything but genuine. Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah’s appointment in 1218/1803 of his young son, Moḥammad-Walī Mīrzā, as governor of Khorasan was probably perceived by Esḥāq Khan as a move designed to exact his allegiance and thus did not please the ambitious chief (Fasāʾī, ed. Rāstgār, p. 663, tr. Busse, pp. 69, 104; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Montaẓam-e nāṣerī , p. 1464; Bāmdād, Rejāl I, pp. 107-8, IV, pp. 26-33). Ultimately, Esḥāq Khan’s increasingly independent behavior and control of his region, combined with a few attempts at revolt against the royal governor, led to his death: in 1231/1816 he and his son, Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan, were strangled by the order and in the presence of Moḥammad-Walī Mīrzā. The executions, however, only exacerbated the situation, forcing Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah (who also feared an Afghan attack) to remove his son from the post of governor of Khorasan and replace him with his other brother Ḥasan-ʿAlī Mīrzā Šojāʿ-al- Salṭana, until then governor of Tehran (Fraser, p. 26; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Montaẓam-e naṣerī, pp. 1529-30). The latter’s marriage in 1235/1819 to Esḥāq Khan’s daughter was in fact part of an agreement between the governor and Moḥammad Khan, the disgruntled and tyrannical son of Esḥāq Khan who by then had gained control of the same area, to compromise and recognize each other’s respective strength. The marriage also produced a line of descendants from which the most notable is the Qahramān family of Mašhad (Sepehr, I, p. 188; Bāstānī Pārīzī, II, p. 950).
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Originally Published: December 15, 1998
Last Updated: January 19, 2012
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Vol. VIII, Fasc. 6, pp. 597-598