AḤMAD B. ḤASAN MAYMANDĪ, ŠAMS-AL-KOFĀT ABU’L-QĀSEM (d. 424/1032), Ghaznavid vizier, statesman, and foster brother and schoolfellow of Sultan Maḥmūd of Ḡazna (r. 388-421/998-1030). His father was the ʿāmel of Bost under Maḥmūd’s father Seboktegīn before he was crucified on Seboktegīn’s orders, a victim of intrigues. Seboktegīn is reported to have regretted the act (Jorfādeqānī, Tarǰama-ye Tārīḵ-eYamīnī, ed. J. Šeʿār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, p. 337). Maymandī enjoyed Maḥmūd’s favor until, like his father, he fell because of intrigues; but he survived and after imprisonment was rehabilitated. He died during his second term as vizier, under Maḥmūd’s son Masʿūd (r. 421-32/1030-41). Bayhaqī discusses Maymandī’s short second vizierate in detail, but information about his early career is sparse. He began his administrative duties in 384/994 as head of Maḥmūd’s dīvān-e rasāʾel (department of correspondence), when Maḥmūd was appointed military commander of Khorasan during the reign of the Samanid Amir Nūḥ b. Manṣūr. He was rapidly promoted to mostawfī (chief accountant) and ʿāreż, head of the dīvān-e ʿarż (department of the army). During this period Maymandī was also ʿāmel of Bost and Roḵḵaǰ.

Maḥmūd’s first vizier (384-401/994-1010) was Abu’l-ʿAbbās Fażl b. Aḥmad Esfarāyenī. According to ʿOtbī (in Jorfādeqānī’s version), Maḥmūd wanted Maymandī for the post but selected Esfarāyenī on Seboktegīn’s insistence. This account is not convincing, since Esfarāyenī remained in office for thirteen years following Seboktegīn’s death (d. 387/997), and Maymandī did not gain the post until 404/1013, three years after Esfarāyenī’s dismissal. ʿOtbī, through Maymandī’s favor, later was appointed ṣāḥeb-e barīd (postmaster) of Ganǰ Rostāq, perhaps in appreciation of his account of these events (N. Falsafī, Hašt maqāla-ye tārīḵīo adabī, Tehran, 1330 Š./1951, pp. 85, 86, 91). Following Esfarāyenī’s fall, Maḥmūd ordered Maymandī temporarily to assume the civil governorship of Khorasan and to collect its revenues. He was able both to win the praise of the Khorasanians for his administration (Nāṣer-al-dīn Monšī Kermānī, Nasāʾem al-asḥār men laṭāʾem al-aḵbār, ed. J. Moḥaddeṯ Ormavī, Tehran, 1338 Š./1959, p. 41) and to present Maḥmūd, whose financial demands were never modest, with copious revenues (Bosworth, Ghaznavids, p. 87; cf. Ḡ. Ḥ. Yūsofī, Farroḵī Sīstanī: Baḥṯ-ī dar šarḥ-e aḥwāl o rūzgār o šeʿr-e ū, Mašhad, 1341 Š./1962, pp. 197-201, 266-71). Maḥmūd recognized his competence and appointed him vizier in 404/1013.

While little detailed information about Maymandī’s first vizierate survives, an anecdote preserved by Neẓām-al-molk suggests a policy of centralizing the state’s fiscal administration. To obtain an accurate picture of Ḵᵛārazm’s yield, Maymandī ordered all revenues to be sent to Ḡazna, where the gold could be assayed and weighed, before the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Āltūntāš received his allowances. The practice had been for provincial tax officials to deduct their own pay before forwarding the balance to the central dīvān (Sīāsat-nāma, ed. J. Šeʿār, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969, pp. 370-72). He also reinstituted Arabic as the language of his chancery: Orders, records, and correspondence were to be in Arabic unless addressed to persons ignorant of the language; this reversed the policy of Esfarāyenī, who had introduced Persian for official use. Maymandī was a trained scribe with a mastery of Arabic (Jorfādeqānī, Tarǰama, pp. 337, 343, 345-46; Kermānī, Nasāʾem, pp. 41-42; Sayf-al-din ʿAqīlī, Āṯār al-wozarāʾ, ed. J. Moḥaddeṯ Ormavī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, p. 153; Ḵᵛāndamīr, Dastūr al-wozarāʾ, ed. S. Nafīsī, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938, p. 139; Neẓāmī ʿArūżī, Čahār maqāla, ed. M. Qazvīnī and M. Moʿīn, Tehran, 1335 Š./1956, pp. 22, 29-31). In contrast, Esfarāyenī’s knowledge of Arabic was minimal, at least according to ʿOtbī—who, however, was probably a partisan of Maymandī’s against Esfarāyenī in the conspiracy-ridden court of Ḡazna (see Falsafī, Hašt maqāla, pp. 93-94; cf. Yūsofī, Farroḵī, pp. 322-28).

Whether or not rivalry had anything to do with language policy, intrigues surely contributed to Maymandī’s dismissal from his first vizierate and his imprisonment. A detailed record of Maymandī’s fall has been preserved (ʿAqīlī, Āṯār, pp. 154-61, 171-76). His influential enemies included the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Āltūntāš, Ḥasanak (Maḥmūd’s last vizier and Maymandī’s successor), prominent courtiers such as ʿAlī Qarīb and Abū Bakr Ḥaṣīrī, Amir Moḥammad (Maḥmūd’s son and successor of brief tenure, who allowed Maymandī to languish in prison), and even Maḥmūd’s sister. His few supporters included Masʿūd, who rehabilitated Maymandī upon attaining the throne, Arslān Jāḏeb and Abū Naṣr Moškān, whose Maqāmāt is quoted by ʿAqīlī in his account of the affair. Maymandī had accumulated enormous wealth during his administration, arousing the suspicion of the avaricious Maḥmūd (other sources also mention Maymandī’s wealth; cf. ʿAqīlī, Āṯār, p. 176; Ebn al-Aṯīr, IX, p. 167; ʿOnṣorī, Dīvān, ed. M. Dabīrsīāqī, Tehran, 1342 Š./1963, p. 91; Bayhaqī, p. 681). Unmoved by Maymandī’s large cash offers, Maḥmūd ordered his and his family’s arrest and confiscation of their property. Still dissatisfied, Maḥmūd brought in two of Maymandī’s worst enemies (Sārūḡ and ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd) from remote areas to act as interrogators and “extractors” (mostaḵreǰ). Maymandī was finally sent to India and imprisoned in the castle of Kālanǰar. Maḥmūd resisted the urgings of Maymandī’s enemies to have him executed (ʿAqīlī, Āṯār, pp. 172, 174). Bayhaqī (pp. 464-65), however, tells of a written order from Maḥmūd to Abu’l-Qāsem Kaṯīr to have Maymandī killed. He remained in prison six years, through the rest of Maḥmūd’s reign and the brief reign of Moḥammad.

Masʿūd deposed his brother and assumed the throne in 421/1030. He soon ordered Maymandī’s release and summoned him to Balḵ with many tokens of favor. When after a few days he offered Maymandī the vizierate, he refused, much correspondence passing between them. In the Ghaznavid court, there was a lively rivalry between the supporters of the old regime (the Maḥmūdīān or Pedarīān) and the new (the Pesarīān), which must have put Maymandī on his guard. His pretext for refusal was that he had sworn to accept no appointment, but more probably he sought a clear delineation of his authority and responsibility, for when Masʿūd agreed to sign a contract (mowāżaʿa), item by item, and to swear to uphold it, Maymandī accepted the appointment and on 4 Ṣafar 422/31 January 1031 he assumed the vizier’s robe of honor (ḵeḷʿat) (Bayhaqī, pp. 72, 87, 95, 105, 181-91; ʿAqīlī, Āṯār, pp. 178-86, including the text of the mowāżaʿa). He demanded full authority over financial affairs, particularly in the dīvān-e ʿarż and the dīvān-e wekālat which “administered the crown lands and supervised the financial side of the running of the Royal Household” (Bosworth, Ghaznavids, p. 68). In another item of the mowāżaʿa he claimed the right to appoint deputy ṣāḥeb-e barīds and mošrefs (inspectors). “It was the Vizier who was ultimately responsible for safe collection of the taxes. Consequently, he kept as close a watch as was possible, by means of the Barīd [courier] system, over the collectors, ʿommāl, and the forwarding of the sum assessed for each collector’s district was strictly required” (ibid., p. 72).

On entering his second vizierate, Maymandī took tactful measures to avoid the jealousies which had led Maḥmūd to dismiss him. He distributed food and money to the poor on his first day, and, although indigent at the time, sent to the sultan’s treasury the many valuable gifts given him by the wealthy upon his rehabilitation. On his second day and thereafter he wore a simple robe; many believed he had but one garment, although his wardrobe was full of them (Bayhaqī, pp. 191-95). Bayhaqī reports that Maymandī took vengeance against his enemies (p. 196), but he was equally capable of forbearance, as when he attempted in vain to save the life of the vizier Ḥasanak, imprisoned and executed by Masʿūd (ibid., pp. 225-27, 229-32, 236). Similarly, he intervened, successfully this time, on behalf of the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Āltūntāš, who was the object of an ill-advised plot of Masʿūd’s in 423/1032. After this incident the sultan agreed to yield to his vizier’s judgment in affairs of state (ibid., pp. 402-06, 409-10, 413-17).

It is as a statesman that Maymandī’s biographers memorialize him. Bayhaqī reports his tact in dealing kindly with personal enemies who were in favor with Masʿūd, his policy vis-à-vis the encroachments of the Saljuqs, his opposition to Masʿūd’s invasion of India, his handling of the Āltūntāš affair, and his skill at making appointments (pp. 197-212, 348-53, 374-76, 430-32, 462-65, 515). Farroḵī and later ʿAwfī compare him to the great Buyid vizier, Ṣāḥeb b. ʿAbbād (Farroḵī Sīstānī, Dīvān, ed. M. Dabīrsīāqī, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, p. 154; ʿAwfī, Lobāb, p. 62): Both were men of letters and are cited as scribal models (Neẓāmī ʿArūżī, Čahār maqāla, pp. 22, 29-31 ), and both are remembered for their generosity with poets. Maymandī is the object of fifteen panegyrics by Farroḵī (Dīvān, pp. 23, 48, 153, 155, 156, 201, 240, 303, 305, 306, 308, 310, 355, 358, 394) and two by ʿOnṣorī (Dīvān, pp. 91, 265; see also ʿAwfī, Lobāb, pp. 278-79). ʿOtbī, who was a boon companion (nadīm) of the vizier, may have praised him in gratitude for his patronage. Neẓāmī ʿArūżī’s report that Maymandī attempted to sponsor Ferdawsī when he sought Maḥmūd’s patronage for the Šāh-nāma is improvable (Čahār maqāla, pp. 78-80, 82), and his story of Maymandī’s support for Bīrūnī against Maḥmūd (p. 93) has been questioned (see Yūsofī, Farroḵī, pp. 305-07).

Maymandī was severe and unforgiving with his officials, and devoted to the maintenance of the state (EI1 III, p. 153; ʿAqīlī, Āṯār, p. 155). Bayhaqī depicts him in his last days as ruinously severe with his tax collectors, while in the same breath he mourns him as one “with whom bravery, honesty, ability, and greatness all passed away” (pp. 465-66). He died in Herat on 25 Moḥarram 424/31 December 1032, less than two years after beginning his second vizierate. 


See also Gardīzī, ed. Ḥabībī, pp. 196, 198.

A. Ḡaffārī, Tārīḵ-enegārestān, ed. M. Modarres Gīlānī, Tehran, 1340 Š./1961, pp. 9-10.

Ferešta, I, (lith.) n.d., p. 38.

M. Nazim, The Life and Times of Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghazna, Cambridge, 1931, pp. 135-36.

M. Ḥabīb, Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghaznīn, 2nd ed., Delhi, 1951, pp. 72-73.

Dehḵodā, s.vv. “Aḥmad b. Ḥasan Maymandī,” “Abu’l-Qāsem Aḥmad b. Ḥasan Maymandī.” R. Gelpke, Sulṭān Masʿūd I. von Ġazna. Die drei ersten Jahre seiner Herrschaft (421/1030-424/1033), Munich, 1957, pp. 59-66, 141-44.

(Ḡ. Ḥ. Yūsofī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, pp. 650-652

Cite this entry:

Ḡ. Ḥ. Yūsofī, “AḤMAD MAYMANDĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, pp. 650-652, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahmad-b-19 (accessed on 30 December 2012).