(Memorial for kings), Persian manual from the transitional period between the collapse of the Safavid empire at the end of the reign of Shah Solṭān Ḥosayn (r. 1694-1722) and the early Afghan period in Persia.


TAḎKERAT al-MOLUK (Memorial for kings), Persian manual from the transitional period between the collapse of the Safavid empire at the end of the reign of Shah Solṭān Ḥosayn (r. 1694-1722) and the early Afghan period in Persia. Together with Dastur al-moluk, it constitutes a pre-eminent source of the Safavid administrative system.

Manuscript, edition, translation. The manuscript, which is kept in the British Library (Or. 9496), appears to be complete. It was published for the first time in facsimile, along with an English translation and a detailed commentary as Tadhkirat al-Mulūk. A Manual of Ṣafavid Adminstration, by Vladimir Minorsky in 1943 in the E. J. W. Memorial Series and reprinted in 1980. In 1989, the Iranian scholar Moḥammad Dabir-Siāqi published an edition of Taḏkerat al-moluk, together with a Persian translation of Minorsky’s commentary, in Tehran. Author. In contrast to the Dastur al-moluk (q.v.; see bibliography for manuscript, editions, and translations), a manual similar in character and, at times, even in wording, the author’s introduction to Taḏkerat al-moluk does not contain information on his name or position. Dabir-Siāqi (introd.), however, opts in this regard for a certain Mirzā Samiʿā.

Contents. The manual consists of an introduction, five chapters, and an “epilogue” or “conclusion” (ḵātema). Chapter I deals with the responsibilities of the religious authorities, among them the Šayḵ-al-Eslām (see Marcinkowski, 2000), at the capital city of Isfahan. Chapter II deals with provincial governors and major officials (mostly military), who were present at the royal court and who were styled ʿāli-jāh, or “high-ranking.” Chapter III elaborates on the dignitaries with the rank of moqarrab or “confidant” (with several sub-categories), among them the major palace eunuchs and the heads of the royal workshops (boyutāt-e salṭanati, q.v.). Chapter IV deals with the officials of the financial administration, whereas Chapter V focuses on those dealing with the affairs of the capital city and its surrounding district. The “conclusion” is actually an appendix in three parts dealing in great detail with the incomes of officials and with provincial revenues. Taḏkerat al-moluk contains 164 entries which describe the responsibilities of the major and minor officials of the Safavid state, from the grand vizier down to the staff of the royal palace kitchens. However, some of the entries actually appear twice, first in their respective chapter, and again in the “conclusion,” which deals for the most parts with salaries and other kinds of income.

In the words of Minorsky (p. 203), “the language of the T.M. [Taḏkerat al-moluk] is negligent and approaches the type of an official jargon intelligible to a limited group of initiated. The meaning of many terms which the author takes for granted could be ascertained only through the context, or merely hypothetically” (For further particularities of style see idem, p. 204; on differences and interrelations between Taḏkerat al-moluk and Dastur al-moluk see DASTUR AL-MOLUK, and Marcinkowski, 2002, pp. 53-57; idem, 2003c).

Historical context and date of compilation. The factors that contributed to the collapse of the Safavid state in 1722, that is, the historical background for the composition of Taḏkerat al-moluk, have been dealt with elsewhere and from different perspectives (see bibliography). Here, it is sufficient to mention that among the immediate causes for the Safavid disaster was the loss of the strategically important eastern town of Kandahar (in present-day Afghanistan) to the rebellious Sunnite Ḡilzay (q.v.) Afghans (subjects of the Safavids) under their leader Mir Vais in 1709. This incident had dramatically revealed the weakness of the central government in Isfahan (see AFGHANISTAN x). In 1719, Mir Vais’ successor Maḥmud was even able to attack and loot the important province of Kerman without any active opposition on the part of the Safavid central government in Isfahan. Maḥmud and his followers took this as an invitation to return with a stronger army, now heading directly for the Safavid capital. On 3 March 1722 a decisive battle was fought at Golnābād (q.v.), by the gates of Isfahan. Finally, in October 1722 starvation and the outbreak of epidemics had forced the city to surrender to the mercy of the Afghans. Shah Solṭān Ḥosayn went over to Maḥmud’s camp in order to declare his abdication.

In the aftermath, the Afghans were unable to secure complete control over the entire country, let alone to capture the designated heir-apparent Tˈahmāsp Mirzā. The same year 1722 saw the Russians invading Persia in large scale from the north, occupying the Caspian costal regions. They were followed by the Ottomans, who, on the pretext of intervening on behalf of the deposed Shah Solṭān Ḥosayn, occupied much of Azerbaijan and western Persia. This was the signal for Ašraf (q.v.), the successor of Maḥmud, to execute the imprisoned Shah Solṭān Ḥosayn in 1725.

The Afghan invaders were in desperate need of acquiring practical knowledge of administrative practices in Safavid Persia, a country they had unexpectedly been able to defeat. In Taḏkerat al-moluk, Maḥmud is spoken of as dead (Taḏkerat al-moluk, ed. Minorsky, p. 60), and in the view of Minorsky, the manual, “hurriedly compiled,” was presented to his successor Ašraf (ibid., p. 10). The author explicitly states in his introduction that he wrote his handbook “by the supreme order” (al-amr al-aʿlā; ibid., p. 41). In light of the historical background referred to above, this could only mean the Afghan ruler. As argued by the present writer elsewhere, Dastur al-moluk precedes Taḏkerat al-moluk (for a detailed discussion of this still controversial issue see Marcinkowski 2002, pp. 29-52; idem 2003c; DASTUR AL-MOLUK).

Significance. Up to Dānešpažuh’s edition of the Dastur-al-moluk in the late 1960s, Minorsky’s work constituted the main source on Safavid administration. Both Dastur al-moluk and Taḏkerat al-moluk are of prime importance, since they deal with administrative practice rather than theory. It is this particular fact that gives them their unique character vis-à-vis the genre of “advice (naṣiḥa) literature”, also known as “mirrors-for-princes”.

It is also interesting to note the existence of a similar genre in Georgia (a Safavid vassal state), where it was known as dasturamali (from Pers. dastur al-ʿamal, “imstructions,” “regulations”). According to Minorsky, a particular dasturamali from around 1706, “epitomizes the administrative make-up of the Georgian kingdom, strongly influenced by the institutions and terminology of the suzerain Persia. In its object it is identical to, and in its date slightly earlier than the T.M. [Taḏkerat al-moluk]” (Minorsky, p. 205; for the manual in question see Umik’ashvili; see also GEORGIA, especially ii, “History of Iranian-Georgian relations”).



On Taḏkerat al-moluk see Mohaṃmad Dabir-Siāqi, ed., Taḏkerat al-moluk, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1989.

M. Ismail Marcinkowski, “A Brief Demarcation of the Office of Shaykh al-Islam Based on the Two Late Safavid Administrative Manuals Dastur al-Muluk and Tadhkirat al-Muluk,” Islamic Culture 74/4, October 2000, pp. 19-51.

V. Minorsky, ed. and tr., Tadhkirat al-mulūk: A Manual of Safavid Administration (circa 1137/1725), GMS, London, 1943.

On Dastur al-moluk (including its relationship to Taḏkerat al-moluk) see Moḥammad-Rafiʿ-e Anṣāri [Mirzā Rafīʿā], Dastur al-moluk, microfilm in the Central Library of Tehran University, Pers. MS no. 1,357 (“Sar-Yazdi-Library, ʿAbd-al-Raḥim Khan Madrasa, Yazd” [Iran]).

Idem, “Dastur al-moluk,” intro. and ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Dānešpažuh, MDAT 63-64/5-6, July 1968, pp. 475-504 (intro.); 65-66/1-2, November 1968, pp. 62-93; 67/3, February 1969, pp. 298-322; 68/4, April 1969, pp. 416-40; 69-70/5-6, August 1969, pp. 540-64.

Idem, Dastur al Muluk, Russ. tr. A.B Vil’danova, Tashkent, 1991.

Moḥammad-Taqi Dānešpažuh, [descriptive notes on the Dastur al-moluk], Našriya-ye Ketābḵāna-ye Markazi-ye Dānešgāh-e Tehrān 4, 1966), pp. 359-60, 417, 420-21.

Idem, [descriptive notes on the Dastur al-moluk], MDAT 63-64/5-6, July 1968), p. 495.

M. Ismail Marcinkowski, Mīrzā Rafīʿāʾs Dastūr al-Mulūk: A Manual of Later Ṣafavid Administration. Annotated English Translation, Comments on the Offices and Services, and Facsimile of the Unique Persian Manuscript, Kuala Lumpur 2002.

Idem, “Mīrzā Rafīʿā’s Dastūr ol-Molūk. A Prime Source on Administration, Society and Culture in Late Safavid Iran,” ZDMG 153/2, 2003c, pp. 281-310.

Idem, “The Dastūr ol-Molūk Again. Recently Discovered Additions to the Manuscript of Mīrzā Rafīʿā’s Manual of Safavid Administration,” ZDMG (forthcoming in 2005).

For the most recent text edition of the Dastur al-Moluk see: Iraj Afšār, ed., Daftar-e tāriḵ I: Majmuʿa-ye asnād wa manābaʿ-e tāriḵi,Tehran, 2001, pp. 475-621.


On the historical context, and for introductions to the Safavid administrative system see Martin B Dickson, “The Fall of the Ṣafavi Dynasty,” JAOS 82, 1962, pp. 503-17.

Raphaël Du Mans, Estat de la Perse en 1660, ed. Charles Schefer, Paris, 1890.

Willem M. Floor, Safavid Government Institutions, Costa Mesa, Calif., 2001.

John Foran, “The Long Fall of the Safavid Dynasty: Moving Beyond the Standard Views,” IJMES 24/2, 1992, pp. 281-304.

Bert G. Fragner, “Ardabil zwischen Sultan und Schah: Zehn Urkunden Schah Ṭamāsps II.,” Turcica 6, 1975, pp. 177-225.

Engelbert Kaempfer, Am Hofe des persischen Großkönigs (1684-85). Das erste Buch der Amoenitates Exoticae, tr. Walther Hinz, Leipzig, 1940.

Laurence Lockhart, The Fall of the Ṣafavi Dynasty and the Afghan Occupation of Persia, Cambridge, England, 1958.

M. Ismail Marcinkowski, “The Reputed Issue of the “Ethnic Origin” of Iran’s Ṣafavid Dynasty (907-1145/1501-1722): Reflections on Selected Prevailing Views,” JPHS 49/2, April -June 2001, pp. 5-19.

Idem, Persian Historiography and Geography: Bertold Spuler on Major Works Produced in Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, India and Early Ottoman Turkey, Singapore, 2003a.

Idem, Measures and Weights in the Islamic World. An English Translation of Professor Walther Hinz’s Handbook “Islamische Maße und Gewichte, Kuala Lumpur, 2003b.

John R. Perry, “The Last Ṣafavids, 1722-1773, Iran 9, 1971, pp. 59-69.

Klaus Röhrborn, Provinzen und Zentralgewalt Persiens im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert, Berlin, 1966.

Idem, “Staatskanzlei und Absolutismus im safawidischen Persien,” ZDMG 127, 1977, pp. 313-42.

Idem, “Regierung und Verwaltung unter den Safawiden,” HO, 1. Abteilung, 6. Band, 5. Abschnitt, Teil 1, Leiden and Cologne, 1979, pp. 17-50.


On influences from Safavid Persia on administration in Georgia see P. Umik’ashvili, ed., Dasturamali, Tbilisi, 1886 [in Georgian].

(M. Ismail Marcinkowski)

Originally Published: April 7, 2008

Last Updated: April 7, 2008