ḤASAN BEG RUMLU (b. Qom, 937/1530-31), author of Aḥsan al-tawāriḵ (q.v.) and a cavalryman(qurči) of the Rumlu Turkman tribe of qezelbāš during the reign of Shah Ṭahmāsb Ṣafawi. Eskandar Beg Torkamān (I, p. 54, tr. Savory, I, p. 89) called him Ḥasan-Solṭān Rumlu and mentioned him as one of the doyen amirs of qezelbāš.
Ḥasan Beg was the grandson of Amir Solṭān Rumlu, the governor of Qazvin and Sāvoj Bolāḡ, and a well-known qezelbāšleader during the reign of Shah Esmāʿil. After his grandfather’s death in 946/1539-30, Ḥasan Beg was unable to take over the command of his grandfather’s army because, according to his own account, he was busy with his unpleasant duties as a qurči (meḥnat-e qurčigar, Ḥasan Rumlu, ed. Navāʾi, II, p. 382).
Most of what is known about Ḥasan Beg is found in his Aḥsān al-tawāriḵ (q.v.),an important Safavid chronicle originally intended as a twelve-volume general history, of which only the last two volumes have survived. Although he was a military officer, he received the sort of training that was typical of a Persian administrator and bureaucrat. For example, both Ḥasan Beg and Qāżi Aḥmad Qomi note that Ḥasan Beg studied the art of calligraphy under the renowned calligrapher Mawlānā Malek Qazvini, with whom he had also studied the commentary (ḥāšia) of the Šamsiya, a work on logic by Najm-al-Din ʿAli Qazvini (Ḥasan Rumlu, ed. Navāʾi, II, p. 186; tr. Seddon, pp. 67, 229; Qomi, tr. Minorsky, p. 141). He also studied with Mawlānā Abu’l-Ḥasan, a son of Maw-lānā Aḥmad Bāvardi. Ḥasan Beg described this teacher of his as “the most learned of the learned of the age,” with whom he read the commentary of ʿAlāʾ-al-Din ʿAli Qušji on the Tajrid al-ʿkalām of Naṣir-al-Din Ṭusi (Rumlu, ed. Navāʾi, II, pp. 525-26, tr. Seddon, pp. 179, 228).
In 948/1541-42, Ḥasan Beg accompanied Shah Ṭah-māsb on an expedition to Dezful, and from then on he “was with the royal camp in all its journeys, and saw most events with his own eyes” (ed. Navāʾi, II, p. 389, tr. Seddon, p. 136), thus becoming an eyewitness to most of the subsequent military events that he described. In 953/1546-47, approximately five years after the Dezful expedition, Ḥasan Beg fought in the Georgian campaign. He mentions the battle of his own contingent of qurčis with “a group of infidels” (fawj-i azgabrān, i.e., Christians), and how he, accompanied by Šāhqoli, a Čapani qurči, wounded, killed, and captured a group of them (ed. Navāʾi, II, p. 409, tr. Seddon, p. 143). The final military episode in which he explicitly relates his involvement was the 957/1550 battle against the Ardalān Kurds. In this case, Ḥasan Beg describes how he and his friend Ḥosaynqoli Ḵalifa attacked a group of Kurds near the fortress of Zalam (ed. Navāʾi, II, p. 446, tr. Seddon, pp. 156-57).
Although Ḥasan Beg does not mention his involvement in succession matters after the death of Shah Ṭahmāsb, ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Navāʾi, in the introduction to his edition of Aḥsan al-tawāriḵ (pp. 18-19), on the basis of the fact that Rumlu praised Shah Esmāʿil II, to whom he dedicated his book, and referred to Ḥaydar Mirzā’s ambition as demonic persuasions and wishful aspirations (taswilāt-e šayṭāni wa taḵayyolāt-e nafsāni), suggests that Ḥasan Beg sided with the other Rumlu partisans who wanted to install Esmāʿil Mirzā as the next king and opposed the Ostajlu qezelbāš and others who were supporting Ḥaydar Mirzā (ed. Navāʾi, pp. 601, 603, 623). Navāʾi further suggests that Ḥasan Beg might have been among the Rumlu qurčis who participated in the murder of Ḥaydar Mirzā. After the death of Shah Esmāʿil II, Ḥasan Beg met Moḥammad Ḵodābanda, the next king, in Qom, where he was received at the court as a member of the royal retinue (ed. Navāʾi, II, p. 652).
Ḥasan Beg’s most enduring legacy is historiographical. Subsequent generations of Safavid historians, such as Eskandar Beg Torkamān (q.v.), the author of Tāriḵ-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿAbbāsi, mentioned Ḥasan Beg primarily in connection with his Aḥsān al-tawārikò, and reproduced significant portions of this history in their sections devoted to the period of Shah Ṭahmāsb. Later chroniclers who did not mention Ḥasan Beg by name still quoted from his work, thereby preserving his words in their own texts. Ḥasan Beg’s history also survives in Fażli Esfah-āni’s Afżāl al-tawārikò and a very late cluster of mostly anonymous semi-fictional accounts of early Safavid history such as the ʿĀlamārā-ye Šāh Esmāʿil (Morton, 1990, 1996).
A. H. Morton, “The Early Years of Shah Ismaʿil in the Afzal al-tavarikh and Elsewhere,” in Charles Melville, ed., Safavid Persia: The History and Politics of an Islamic Society, London, 1996, pp. 27-51.
Idem, “The Date and Attribution of the Ross Anonymous: Notes on a Persian History of Shâh Ismâʿil I,” in Charles Melvile, ed., Pembroke Papers I: Persian and Islamic Studies in Honour of P. W. Avery, Cambridge, 1990, pp. 179-212.
Qāżi Aḥmad Monši Qomi, Golestān-e honar, ed. Aḥmad Sohayli Ḵᵛānsāri, Tehran, n.d.; tr. Vladimir Minorsky as Calligraphers and Painters, Freer Gallery of Art Occasional Papers 3/2, Washington, D.C., 1959.
Ḥasan Beg Rumlu, Aḥsān al-tawārikò, ed. ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Navāʾi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1349-57 Š./1970-78; ed. and tr. C. N. Seddon as A Chronicle of the Early Safawis, Baroda, India, 1931-34.
C. N. Seddon, “Hasan-i Rumlu’s Ahsanu’t-tawarikh,” JRAS, 1927, pp. 307-13.
Ṣafā, Adabiyāt V/3, pp. 1669-75.
Roger Savory, “Ḥasan-i Rumlu,” in EI2 III, p. 253.
Originally Published: December 15, 2003
Last Updated: March 20, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. XII, Fasc. 1, pp. 31-32