ʿALĪ MĪRZĀ (d. 899/1494), eldest son of Shaikh Ḥaydar, head of the Safavid ṭarīqa, and ʿAlamšāh Begom, daughter of the Āq Qoyunlū ruler Uzun Ḥasan. On the death of his father in battle on 29 Raǰab 893/9 July 1488, ʿAlī Mīrzā succeeded him as head of the order; he was the first Safavid leader to assume the title pādešāh (“king”), a clear indication that by this stage the Safavids were aspiring to temporal as well as spiritual authority. It is doubtful that he also used the title solṭān conferred on him by later historians (R. M. Savory, “The Struggle for Supremacy in Iran after the Death of Timur,” Der Islam 40, 1964, p. 56). A large number of Sufis of the Safavid ṭarīqa rallied round him at Ardabīl and incited him to avenge his father’s death, in which the Āq Qoyunlū ruler Yaʿqūb had played a part. Alarmed, Yaʿqūb arrested ʿAlī Mīrzā, together with his mother and two brothers, and imprisoned them in the fortress of Eṣṭaḵr in Fārs. ʿAlī Mīrzā’s life was spared only on the intercession of his mother, Yaʿqūb’s sister (Savory, “Struggle,” p. 57).

After four and a half years of imprisonment, ʿAlī Mīrzā was released in 898/1493 by the Āq Qoyunlū prince Rostam, one of the claimants to the throne after the death of Yaʿqūb; he planned to make use of the fighting élan of the supporters of the Safavid house. In return for ʿAlī Mīrzā’s support, Rostam is said to have offered him the throne of Iran after his own death. ʿAlī Mīrzā played a vital part in the defeat of Rostam’s principal rival, Bāysonqor (Ḏu’l-qaʿda, 898/August, 1493; see Savory, “Struggle,” p. 58). But by the following year (899/1494), Rostam in his turn had come to view the nascent Safavid movement as a threat to his position and he arrested ʿAlī Mīrzā and his brothers. Hearing that Rostam planned to put him to death, ʿAlī Mīrzā escaped from Rostam’s camp with his brothers and a few close companions and made for Ardabīl. Aware of the danger if ʿAlī succeeded in reuniting himself with his followers, Rostam sent a force in hot pursuit. With a premonition of his approaching death, ʿAlī designated his brother Esmāʿīl [I] as his successor as head of the Safavid order and sent him ahead to Ardabīl. ʿAlī Mīrzā was overtaken by the Āq Qoyunlū troops at Šamasbi near Ardabīl and killed. His body, on the instructions of his mother ʿAlamšāh Begom, was subsequently taken to Ardabīl for burial.


Ḥabīb al-sīar (Bombay) III/4, pp. 11, 17.

ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandī, Maṭlaʿ al-saʿdayn, ed. M. Šafīʿ, Lahore, 1941, II/1, p. 408; B.M. Or. 3248, fols. 24a, 27a-29a. 

(R. M. Savory)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: August 1, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, p. 868

Cite this entry:

R. M. Savory, “ʿALĪ MĪRZĀ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/8, p. 868, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ali-mirza-d (accessed on 30 December 2012).