HORMOZĀN, one of the last military leaders of Sasanian Persia. The correct form of his name is *Hormazdān, attested as Hormezdān by the 7th-century anonymous Khuzistan Chronicle, also known as Guidi’sChronicle (q.v.; tr. Nöldeke, p. 42), which also calls him “a Mede” and a leading general of Yazdegerd III. He was a member of one of the seven great families of Sasanian Persia (Ṭabari, I, p. 2534; see also HAFT), who had the right to wear crowns less elaborate than those of the great kings as “king of Ahvāz” (Ṭabari, I, p. 2558; Balʿami, ed. Rowšan, p. 490; cf. Eṣṭaḵri, p. 140). Hormozān ruled over Ḵuzestān, which contained “seventy towns,” all counted as his family domain (Balʿami, ed. Rowšan, p. 490). His position is further indicated by the fact that he was the brother-in-law of Ḵosrow Parvēz and the maternal uncle of Šērōya (Dinavari, ed.ʿĀmer and Šayyāl, p. 129). His own home was Mehragān-kadag (Mehrajān-qaḏaq), a fertile district southwest of Media (Balāḏori, Fotuhá, p. 380 with Marquart, Ērānšahr, p. 20), hence his nesba Mehrajāni (*Mehragāni; Ṭabari, I, p. 2560). He commanded the right wing of the Persian army at the battle of Qādesiya (Jomādā I 16/June 637); and as the defeat came he retreated to Bābel and thence to Ahvāz, that is, Ḵuzestān (Ṭabari, pp. 2258, 2266, 2345, 2420-21; Masʿudi, Moruj IV, p. 221). He strengthened the defenses of his province (Ṭabari, pp. 2422-24, 2533-34; Dinavari, ed. ʿĀmer and Šayyāl, pp. 130-33; cf. Maqdesi, Badʿ V, p. 179), participated in the battle of Jalulā (Ḏu’l-qaʿda 16/November-December 637), and opposed Arab incursions into Dašt-e Meyšān (Dinavari, ed.ʿĀmer and Šayyāl, pp. 136-37; Balāḏori, Fotuhá, pp. 380-81). The Arabs formerly subject to Persia assisted the invading forces in defeating Hormozān near Nahr-e Tirā, and this forced him to accept a treaty which ceded all territory west of the Dojayl (Kārun) River to the Arabs (Ṭabari, I, pp. 2537-38, 2540-43, 2545, 2550-53; Balā-ḏori, Fotuhá, pp. 380). Soon the Arabs increased their land claims, and a commander sent to defend Šūš surrendered it (Balāḏori, Fotuhá, p. 374). Yazdegerd III, who had gone to Eṣṭaḵr, urged Hormozān to resist the Arabs. He fought and lost a battle near Šuštar; 900 of his men were killed, and 600 were captured “and afterwards beheaded” (Balāḏori, Fotuhá, p. 380; cf. Ṭabari, I, pp. 2552, 2555-56; Balʿami, ed. Rowšan, pp. 491-92). When Fārs fell to the Arabs, Hormozān’s position became untenable (Balāḏori, Fotuhá, pp. 301-2, 377-79, 386-87; Ṭabari, I, pp. 2538-39, 2545-550; Balʿami, ed. Rowšan, pp. 497 f.; Dinavari, ed. ʿĀmer and Šayyāl, pp. 140-41); and he was besieged in the city of Šuštar, which also fell after heroic resistance, forcing Hormozān to surrender in 21/642 (Ṭabari, I, pp. 2543 ff., 2551-556, 2569; Maqdesi, Badʿ V, p. 180; Balāḏori, Fotuhá, pp. 301, 379-80; Balʿami, ed. Rowšan, pp. 498-99; Dinavari, ed. ʿĀmer and Šayyāl, pp. 137-38). He was taken to Medina (together with his companions and relatives: Dinavari, ed. Āmer and Šayyāl, p. 132), where his magnificent attire amazed everyone. He resisted converting to Islam and lived as a detainee, but eventually ʿAbbās b. ʿAbd-al-Moṭalleb persuaded him to embrace it (Dinavari, ed. ʿĀmer and Šayyāl, p. 169; Qomi, p. 303); and he became related by marriage to the house of Imam ʿAli (Eṣṭaḵri, p. 140; see further Qomi, pp. 297, 299-303). He lived in Medina as an advisor to the Caliph ʿOmar I (Ṭabari, I, pp. 2558-60, 2569, 2600-2601, 2642; Yaḥyā b. Ādam, pp. 42-43; Balʿami, ed. Rowšan, pp. 499-501; Masʿudi, Moruj IV, pp. 230-31). The most important instances of his council were the establishment of a divān (q.v.) for the land tax (Ṣuli, p. 190) and the institution of the Islamic calendar (Biruni, Āṯār, tr. Sachau, p. 34; cf. Ḥamza Eṣfahāni, p. 7). When Fēruz Abu Loʾloʾ (q.v.), a Christian captive of Persian origin, assassinated ʿOmar (November 644), the caliph’s son ʿObayd-Allāh accused Hormozān of involvement in a conspiracy and murdered him (Balāḏori, p. 381; Ṭabari, pp. 2795-97, 2800-2801; Balʿami, ed. Rowšan, pp. 574-75). This crime was promptly pardoned by the next caliph ʿOṯmān, who offered to pay monetary compensation (Yaʿqubi, Taʾriḵò II, p. 188; Ṭabari, I, pp. 2795-97; Balʿami, ed. Rowšan, pp. 574-75; Masʿudi, Moruj IV, p. 353; see also Maqdesi, Badʿ V, p. 201). He even exiled a poet who had blamed the murderer (Ṭabari, I, pp. 2796-97). The tradition (Ṭabari, I, p. 2801) that ʿObayd-Allāh was forgiven by Hormozān’s son, Q/Ḡobāḏiān (with variants, Ṭabari, I, p. 2801, n. b, evidently a rendition of *Kavādiān), is contradicted by the fact that the Ṭālebi clan considered ʿOṯmān’s act of pardon unlawful; and indeed Imam ʿAli later tried to punish ʿObayd-Allāh for the very crime, but he escaped to Moʿāwiya (Dinavari, ed. ʿĀmer and Šayyāl, pp. 161, 169; Masʿudi, Moruj IV, pp. 353, 357; see also Robinson). Hormozān’s life has impressed many authors (cf. the poet in Aḡāni IV, p. 125, elevating him to the ranks of Persian kings and Roman caesars), and two 19th-century European writers wrote novels about him (Vaglieri, p. 586).
Theodore Nöldeke, tr., “Die von Guidi herausgegebene syrische Chronik, übersetzt und commentiert” Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. Kl. 128, 9, Vienna, 1893, pp. 1-48 (with comm.).
L. Veccia Vaglieri, “al-Hurmuzān,” in EI2 II, pp. 586-87 (a comprehensive account).
Ḥasan b. Moḥammad b. Ḥasan Qomi, Ketāb-e tāriḵ-e Qom,tr. Ḥasan b. ʿAli b. Ḥasan Qomi, ed. Sayyed Jalāl-al-Din Ṭehrāni, Tehran, 1934.
C. F. Robinson, “ʿUbayd Allāh b. ʿUmar,” in EI2 X, p. 763.
Yaḥyā b. Ādam, Ketāb al-ḵarāj, Leiden, 1896.
Abu Bakr Moḥammd b. Yaḥyā Ṣuli, Adab al-kottāb, ed. Moḥammad Bahjat Aṯari, Cairo, 1341/1922.
(A. Shapur Shahbazi)
Originally Published: December 15, 2004
Last Updated: March 23, 2012
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Vol. XII, Fasc. 5, pp. 460-461