JĀBERI, MIRZĀ SALMĀN, vizier and prominent statesman during the reigns of Shah Esmāʿil II (1576-77) and Shah Moḥammad Ḵodābanda (1577-88). Mirzā Salmān began training as an administrator under the tutelage of his father who was the vizier to the governor of Shiraz, Ebrāhim Khan, in the latter years of Shah Ṭahmāsp’s reign. After his father died, Mirzā Salmān moved to the central court in Qazvin, and thanks to political sponsorship from Mirzā ʿAṭāʾ-Allāh, the powerful vizier of Azerbaijan, he soon entered Shah Ṭahmāsp’s service as both an intimate (moqarrab), and supervisor of the departments in the service of the royal household (nāẓer-e boyutāt-e sarkār-e ḵāṣṣa-ye šarifa). After Esmāʿil II ascended the throne, Mirzā Salmān was made the vazir-e aʿlā on June 13, 1577 after Mirzā Šokr-Allāh was dismissed from the post. Mirzā Salmān proved himself to be a wily operator in the turbulent politics and machinations of the day, initially aligning himself with Esmāʿil II’s sister, Pari Ḵān Ḵānom (q.v. at iranica.com), but later abandoning her and joining the retinue of Mo-ḥammad Ḵodābanda and his wife, Mahd-e ʿOliyā, in Shiraz after Esmāʿil II died mysteriously less than a year later. The new shah confirmed Salmān in his post as vazir-e aʿlā, but the Persian administrator involved himself in a number of military campaigns, the most spectacular of which resulted in the defeat of a joint Ottoman-Tatar force and capture of the Tatar prince, ʿĀdel Gerāy Khan. Mirzā Salmān succeeded in handling the shifting political relationships skillfully upon learning that the de facto ruler, Mahd-e ʿOliyā, was targeted by disgruntled Qezel-bāš amirs for elimination; he promptly joined the opposition (led by Pira Moḥammad Khan Ostājlu and Moḥammad Khan Torkmān) and secured a new sponsor from the royal family by marrying his daughter to the heir apparent, Ḥamza Mirzā.
There is little doubt that Mirzā Salmān Jāberi transgressed boundaries in terms of the traditional division between Turks and Tajiks; in fact, he was described by al-Qommi (p. 685) as “lord of [both] the sword and pen” (ṣāḥeb al-sayf wa’l-qalam). This was best manifested in 1581 when he emerged as the principal architect of a major diplomatic arrangement whereby the Georgian Kārtel and Kāketi dynasties, led by Simon Khan and Alexander Khan respectively, were subordinated to the Safavid household. This new suzerain status, whereby each Georgian ruler sent a son and a daughter to the Safavid court (the daughters were married to Ḥamza Mirzā and the sons were held as hostages) was negotiated by Mirzā Salmān, and it was he who personally presided over the ceremony in Georgia when robes of honor were exchanged and monies were remitted (Falsafi I, p. 70; Eṣfahāni, p. 636). The most serious threat to Salmān’s position came in 1582 when Moršedqoli Khan and his charge, prince ʿAbbās Mirzā, revolted in Herat. Despite the waning appeal of Shah Ḵodābanda, Salmān exhorted the Qezelbāš amirs in the court to join their liege and march against these royal rebels to the east. A number of lengthy sieges ensued at Herat and Torbat, but Šāmlu and Ostājlu amirs circumvented Mirzā Salmān and secretly concluded a cease-fire with Moršedqoli Khan. Mirzā Salmān’s brinkmanship in Khorasan (sources such as Ḵolāṣat al-tawārikò and Noqāwat al-āṯār emphasize his control over the Qezelbāš amirs) contributed to the coalescing of a conspiracy around the qorči bāši (commander of royal cavalry) Qoli Beg Afšār, the mohrdār (seal holder), Šāhroḵ Khan Ḏu’l-Qadar, and Moḥammad Khan Torkmān. Assassins were dispatched after Mirzā Salmān on May 12, 1583 when he left Herat to organize a celebratory feast at the shrine of his ancestor, ʿAbd-Allāh Anṣāri, in Gāzorgāh (q.v.), but supporters alerted him to this threat. He quickly returned to Herat and sought asylum in the madrasa of Solṭān-Ḥosayn Bayqarā where Ḵodābanda and Ḥamza Mirzā had set up their royal apartments. Surrounded by Qezelbāš amirs who argued that only strife and civil war would result from Salmān’s continued presence, the shah acceded to the conspirators’ demands. Qezelbāš amirs killed the Persian vizier in the Bāḡ-e Zāḡān, after which his head was sent to ʿAliqoli Khan Šāmlu and his body was hung publicly in Herat. Later, a military judge (qāżi-e moʿaskar), Mir Abu’l-Wāli Inju, decreed that his body be interred properly at the Gonbad-e Mir Wāli in Mashad (al-Qommi, pp. 746-47). Mirzā Salmān was not noted for any scholarly or literary endeavors, but the text of one of his letters, to the Ottoman noble Sinān Pasha, was preserved by al-Qommi in Ḵolāṣat al-tawāriḵ (pp. 717-21).
Qāżi Aḥmad b. Šaraf-al-Din al-Ḥosayn al-Qommi, Ḵolāṣat al-tawārikò, 2 vols., ed. E. Ešrāqi, Tehran, 1980.
Maḥmud b. Hedāyat-Allāh Afuštaʾi Na-ṭanzi, Noqāwat al-āṯār, ed. E. Ešrāqi, Tehran, 1971.
Eskandar Beg Monši, Tāriḵ-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿAbbāsi, 2 vols., ed. and tr. R. Savory, Boulder, 1978.
Moḥammad Yusof Vāleh Eṣfahāni, Ḵold-e barin, ed. M. H. Moḥaddeṯ, Tehran, 1993.
Manučehr Pārsādust, Šāh Esmāʿil-e dovvom: šojāʿ-e tabāh šoda, Tehran, 2002.
Naṣr-Allāh Falsafi, Zendagāni-e Šāh ʿAbbās-e awwal I, Tehran, 1966.
R. Savory, “The Significance of the Political Murder of Salman Mirza,” Islamic Studies 3, 1964, pp. 181-91.
(Colin Pual Mitchell)
Originally Published: December 15, 2007
Last Updated: April 5, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. XIV, Fasc. 3, pp. 313-314