KONDORI, Moḥammad b. Manṣur, ʿAmid al-Molk Abu Naṣr (b. ca. 1024; d. 29 November 1064), vizier to Ṭoḡrel Beg (r. 1040-63), the first sultan of the Great Saljuqs, and, briefly, to Ṭoḡrel’s successor Alp Arslān (r. 1063-72). The nesba may refer to the profession of selling frankincense (Pers. kondor frankincense) or to a place. There are two villages with the name Kondor, and Ṣadr-al-Din Ḥosayni (fl. 1180-1225) states explicitly that the one in Khorasan, near Ṭoreyṯiṯ, is Kondori’s most probable birthplace (p. 23; cf. Samʿāni, XI, pp. 157-58).
During the 1040s, when Ṣāḥeb Abu ʿAbdallāh Ḥosayn b. ʿAli b. Mikāʾil was one of Ṭoḡrel’s first viziers, Kondori’s skill in Arabic composition (Ar. enšāʾ) appears to have brought him to a career as secretary (Ar. raʾis al-roʾasāʾ) in the sultan’s chancery (Bowen, pp. 107-108, 110). Toward the end of 1054 or in 1055, Kondori himself became Ṭoḡrel’s vizier, and Ḏahabi (1274-1348) reports that at the time of the appointment Kondori was 31 (Bowen, p. 110; cf. Ebn al-Aṯir, IX, p. 526), which in turn suggests a date of birth around 1024. In December 1055, when the Saljuqs entered Baghdad, Kondori certainly was Ṭoḡrel’s vizier. According to Ebn Ḵallekān (1211-82; V, p. 141, and tr., III, p. 293), the sultan sent his vizier early in his reign on the mission to arrange a marriage with a Khwarazmshah princess. After Kondori had shown the temerity to marry the woman himself, he exonerated himself in Ṭoḡrel’s presence by shaving off his beard and castrating himself (Bondāri, p. 30; cf. Ebn al-Jowzi, VIII, p. 239; Ḥoseyni, p. 24; Ebn al-Aṯir, X, pp. 32-33; for the improbable placement of this event during Kondori’s brief vizierate for Alp Arslān, see Ebn Ḵallekān, V, p. 141-42, and tr., III, pp. 293-94, and the discussion below).
Kondori was by nature an intriguer. He compromised himself through his ambiguous attitude, when in 1059 Ṭoḡrel’s half-brother Ebrāhim Ināl led a rebellion in Iraq and western Persia (Maqdisi, 1963, pp. 106-108; Bosworth, p. 44). Yet Kondori managed to regain his master’s confidence when he sided with Ṭoḡrel in Baghdad in the struggle against Arslān Basāsiri, a local contender. Kondori now became involved in the protracted and tortuous negotiations with the unwilling Abbasid caliph Qāʾem (r. 1031-75) to secure for Ṭoḡrel one of his daughters in marriage. According to Ebn al-Jowzi (d. 1201), Kondori himself was the first to put the idea into the sultan’s head, perceiving it as the counterpart of the marriage already contracted between the caliph and Ṭoḡrel’s niece Arslān Ḵātun (VIII, p. 218). Marriage with an Abbasid princess became something of an obsession of Ṭoḡrel’s later years, possibly because the sultan hoped that one of his descendants might succeed to the caliphate in Baghdad. Despite ostensibly friendly relations, Kondori’s own relations with the caliph and his servants were strained, and in May 1061 Kondori opposed the appointment of Ebn Dārust Majd al-Wozarāʾ (1046-93) as the caliph’s vizier (Bondāri, pp. 22-23). At first, Kondori negotiated at Ray with Abu Moḥammad Tamimi, a Ḥanbali jurist (Ar. faqih) who served as the caliph’s envoy, and between May and June 1061 Kondori brought Arslān Ḵātun to Baghdad because Qāʾem was demanding her presence. Prolonged and often acrimonious negotiations followed, and at one point Kondori even threatened to sequester the caliph’s estates (Ar. eqṭāʿ). Between February and March 1062, Qāʾem finally agreed, on remunerative financial terms, to let the sultan marry his daughter, though he stipulated that she should not leave the caliphal palace. But Kondori did not observe the clause that Ṭoḡrel could only visit his wife in her father’s palace because the princess was transferred to the sultan’s residence in Baghdad. The marriage of six months and twenty-three days had nonetheless remained nominally, when it was abruptly terminated by Ṭoḡrel’s death on 4 September 1063 (Ebn al-Jowzi, VIII, p. 231).
Kondori now endeavored to play the role of the kingmaker, because Ṭoḡrel did not have any direct descendants. He promoted Solaymān b. Čaḡri Beg Dāwud, the sultan’s nephew and his heir apparent (Ar. wali al-ʿahd), even though he was in fact a nonentity, by proclaiming him sultan at Ray. But Alp Arslān, the other and much more able son of Čaḡri Beg Dāwud (d. 1060), had the support of his skilful vizier Neẓām al-Molk (d. 1092) and had behind him a powerful army in Khorasan. In Baghdad, the caliph, mindful of Kondori’s hostility toward him, recognized Alp Arslān as sultan, and the new ruler succeeded at defeating his second rival Qotalmeš b. Arslān Esrāʿil to gain thus control of the united Saljuq dominions. At first Alp Arslān retained Kondori as his vizier. But Neẓām al-Molk was to take his position, and the sultan soon had Kondori arrested and imprisoned. In 1064, after the vast wealth that he had accumulated as vizier had been taken from him, Kondori was executed and his sister buried his decapitated trunk at Kondor (Ebn al-Jowzi, VIII, p. 239; Ebn al-Aṯir, X, p. 31). Ebn al-Aṯir (1160-1233) mentioned that his age at death was “forty odd.”
Kondori’s opportunistic policies and devious ways thus resulted in disappointment and death for him, in contrast to the much more successful career of Neẓām al-Molk under his masters Alp Arslān and Malekšāh (r. 1073-92). As a leading figure in the Saljuq state, Kondori was much eulogized by contemporary poets, such as his protégé ʿAli b. Ḥasan Bāḵarzi (fl. 11th century) whom he had employed as secretary in his administration (divān). Ebn Ḵallekān (V, pp. 139-40, and tr., III, p. 292) quotes in extenso from a panegyric by Abu Manṣur Aḥmad b. Ḥasan, called Ṣorr Dorr (d. between 1072 and 1073). Kondori himself also wrote Arabic poetry (for a sample of his verses, see Ebn al-Aṯir, X, p. 32).
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Ebn al-Jowzi, Al-Montaẓam fi taʾriḵ al-moluk wa al-omam, 6 vols., Hyderabad, 1938-40, VIII, pp. 238-39; the set is numbered vols. V-X.
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ʿAbd-al-Karim b. Moḥammad Samʿāni, Ketāb al-ansāb, ed. ʿA. Yāmāni, 13 vols., Hyderabad, 1962-82.
C. E. Bosworth, “The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World (A.D. 1000-1217),” Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 1-203, esp. pp. 46, 48, 54-55.
H. Bowen, “Notes on Some Early Seljuqid Viziers,” BSOAS, 20, 1957, pp. 105-110.
C. L. Klausner, The Seljuk Vezirate: A Study of Civil Administration 1055-1194, Cambridge, Mass., 1973, pp. 57-58, 105.
G. Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl et la résurgence de l’Islam traditionaliste au XIᵉ siècle, Damascus, 1963; tr. as Ibn ʿAqīl: Religion and Culture in Classical Islam, Edinburgh, 1997.
Idem, “The Marriage of Ṭughril Beg,” IJMES, 1, 1970, pp. 259-75.
Idem, “al-Kundurī,” EI² V, pp. 387-88.
July 20, 2009
(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: July 20, 2009
Last Updated: July 20, 2009