ALQĀS (ALQĀSB, ALQĀṢ) MĪRZĀ ṢAFAWĪ, second of Shah Esmāʿīl’s four surviving sons (b. 10 Ṣafar 922/15 March 1516, d. 21 Rabīʿ I 957/9 April 1550) and leader of a revolt. Sām Mīrzā was probably his uterine brother, while Shah Ṭahmās b and Bahrām Mīrzā were brothers by another mother (Navīdī, Takmela, s.a. 922, f. 251a; Ḡaffārī, Jahānārā, p. 300; on the forms and origin of the name see Walsh, “Revolt,” p. 66). At age twelve Alqās began his military career at the battle of Jām (Dickson, Shah Ṭahmāsb, p. 135). In 939/1532-33 he received the governorship of Astarābād with Badr Khan Ostāǰlū as lala (regent). Over the next two years he accompanied Shah Ṭahmāsb, then embroiled in a civil war, to Herat; in 941/1534-35 he was sent to lead Safavid advance forces against the Ottoman invasion of Azerbaijan and Iraq. By 944/1537-38 Ṭahmāsb was able to quell both Qizilbāš factionalism and the revolt of Sām Mīrzā, whom the Ottoman Sultan Solaymān had recognized as a client on the urging of the Qizilbāš renegade Ḡāzī Khan Takalū (Ḡaffārī, Jahānārā, pp. 287-88, 290; Ḥasan Rūmlū, pp. 244-45; Bedlīsī, Šaraf-nāma II, p. 194, where Alqās is cited as governor of Šīrvān rather than Astarābād; Dickson, Shah Ṭahmāsb, pp. 238-39, 282-84). In Šawwāl, 944/March, 1538 Ṭahmāsb sent Alqās with Badr Khan Ostāǰlū against the rebel Šīrvānšāh and six months later appointed him governor of Šīrvān, where he remained for the next eight years (Ḡaffārī, Jahānārā, p. 293; Ḥasan Rūmlū, pp. 286, 290).

The origins of Alqās’ revolt in early 953/ 1546 remain obscure. Qāżī Aḥmad (Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, fol. 145a-b) states that Alqās had killed a certain Begoḡlī Ostāǰlū, whom Ṭahmāsb had given permission to marry Alqās’ mother. According to Maʾmūn Beg (Memoirs, fols. 12b-13a) Alqās’ disaffection was fostered by followers of the renegade Ḡāzī Khan Takalū, who had returned to Safavid service and whom Alqās had killed on Ṭahmāsb’s orders in 950/1543-44. In Rabīʿ I-Rabīʿ II, 953/May-June, 1546 Alqās sent his mother and his eldest son, Solṭān Aḥmad, to Ṭahmāsb at Sahand to ask forgiveness and express loyalty. Ṭahmāsb sent them back with an escort of prominent amirs who swore Alqās to obedience and transmitted orders to attack the Circassians in the coming Georgian campaign (Ḡaffārī, Jahānārā, p. 296; Taḏkera-ye Šāh Ṭahmāsb, p. 612; Ḥasan Rūmlū, pp. 314-15; Šaraf-nāma II, p. 198; Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, fols. 144b-46a). Defeated by the Circassians, Alqās was appointed to hold Darband. There he openly revolted by minting coins and having the ḵoṭba read in his own name. Ṭahmāsb abandoned his winter campaign in Georgia and crossed into Šīrvān; Alqās fled Darband, leaving his household in its fortress. By early spring 954/1547 Ṭahmāsb had taken Darband; Alqās, his forces decimated, fled to the Crimea with forty or sixty followers. Ṭahmāsb restored order in Šīrvān and returned to Tabrīz, where he purged the Qizilbāš of pro-Alqās elements. Now (Rabīʿ I-Rabīʿ II, 954) in Ottoman territory, Alqās went by sea to Istanbul (Jahānārā, pp. 296-97; Taḏkera, pp. 612-13; Ḥasan Rūmlū, pp. 316-26; Šaraf-nāma II, p. 198; Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, fols. 148b-150a; Walsh, “Revolt,” pp. 67-68, 70-71, where the fall of Darband is dated to early Ṣafar, 954, before the surrender of Golestān). From there he wrote to the Ottoman Sultan Solaymān, explaining his grievances and declaring his desire to return to Iran as an Ottoman client (Navāʾī, Šāh Ṭahmāsb Ṣafawī, pp. 170-72). Solaymān hurried from Edirne to meet Alqās, who promised strong Qizilbāš support for his claims and may have converted to Sunnism (Loṭfī Pāšā, Tawārīḵ, p. 435; Ramażānzāda, Tārīḵ-eNešānǰī, p. 240; ʿAlī, Konh al-aḵbār, fols. 66b-67b; Tārīḵ-ePečevī I, p. 277; Taḏkera, p. 614).

A campaign was quickly mounted and Alqās was sent to the eastern border under the supervision of Ūlāma Pāšā Takalū, a former Qizilbāš and newly-appointed beylerbeyi of Erzerum. Solaymān’s army joined them at Ḵoy, and on 20 Jomādā I 955/27 July 1548 the Ottomans occupied Tabrīz, which Ṭahmāsb had abandoned after destroying all food and water supplies. The defections promised by Alqās did not materialize and his veracity and responsibility were questioned. Four days later, plagued by supply problems and freakish weather, the Ottomans withdrew to Van (Loṭfī Pāšā, Tawārīḵ, pp. 435-38; ʿAlī, Konh, fols. 67b-69a; Jahānārā, p.297; Taḏkera, p. 614; Ḥasan Rūmlū, pp. 328-29; Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, fols. 150a-52b; Kĭrẓĭoğlu, Osmanlıar’in, pp. 182-88). In late September Solaymān camped in Dīār Bakr, where the grand vizier, Rostam Pāšā, upbraided Alqās for his misleading promises. Alqās blamed the perfidy of his Qizilbāš allies and asked to lead an attack on ʿErāq-e ʿAǰam. Solaymān granted Alqās funds, six hundred troops sent from Baghdad, and authority to raise levies. Though Safavid historians describe the expedition as a raid, Ottoman sources suggest that its aim was to establish a permanent base of operations within Safavid territory while Ṭahmāsb’s main force was occupied in Azerbaijan. Solaymān also wished to capitalize on the renegade’s tenuous allegiance while minimizing official involvement (Maʾmūn Beg, Memoirs, fols. 14b-17a; Navāʾī, Šāh Ṭahmāsb, pp. 184-87; ʿAlī, Konh, fols. 70a-70b). In early October, 1548, Alqās crossed from Kerkūk into Iran via Qaṣr-e Šīrīn and Dartang with about eight thousand tribal levies. At Hamadān he captured the household and son of his brother Bahrām Mīrzā (3 Šawwāl 955/5 November 1548). He next plundered Qom and Kāšān and unsuccessfully attacked Isfahan, where Ṭahmāsb had lodged his own household. The shah, now camped in Ūč Kelīsa, sent Bahrām Mīrzā after Alqās, who persuaded his now mutinous troops to move to Fārs and from there to Ḵūzestān. Having failed to take Šūštar and harassed by local Qizilbāš, Alqās’ forces retreated from Dezfūl into Ottoman territory (after 19 Ḏu’l-ḥeǰǰa 955/19 January 1549) and dispersed (Memoirs, fols. 17b-19a, where Alqās’ itinerary is detailed; Jahānārā, pp. 298-99; Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, fols, 154b-56a; Navāʾī , Šāh Ṭahmāsb, pp. 184-87).

Solaymān, now wintering in Aleppo, was informed of Alqās’ failure and unexpected return; Alqās camped at Mandalī to assess his options (ca. Moḥarram, 956/February, 1549). Here Alqās simultaneously opened negotiations with Ṭahmāsb for reinstatement to Šīrvān and sent to Solaymān his wakīl Sayyed ʿAzīzallāh Šīrvānī and the royal treasures captured in Iran (Memoirs, fols. 20b-21a; Navāʾī, Šāh Ṭahmāsb, p. 187; Taḏkera, p. 628; Loṭfī Pāšā, Tawārīḵ, p. 422; ʿAlī, Konh, fol. 70b). Barred from entering Baghdad by the city’s commandant, the second vizier Meḥmed Pāšā, Alqās embarked on a pilgrimage to Kāẓemayn, Naǰaf, and Karbalā. The story that he here reverted to Shiʿism reflects Ottoman awareness of his duplicity (Memoirs, fols. 21a-21b; Tārīḵ-ePečevī I,p. 277; Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, fol. 158a). In early spring Alqās fled to Šahrazūr, where the Kurdish Ottoman vassal Bīga Ardalān refused him refuge. Ṭahmāsb left his Qazvīn qešlāq and approached Šahrazūr; negotiations with Alqās resulted in the return of Bahrām’s son Badīʿ-al-zamān Mīrzā. Shortly thereafter Solaymān moved to Dīār Bakr, where at Rostam Pāšā’s urging he finally broke with Alqās and dispatched troops to the Šahrazūr area. Attacked by Meḥmed Pāšā’s forces (17 Šaʿbān/10 September) and pursued by Qizilbāš under Bahrām Mīrzā, Alqās took shelter at Marīvān (Mehrīān) with Sorḵāb (Sohrāb) Ardalān, brother and rival of Bīga. Alqās became a central figure in the Ottoman-Safavid struggle for control of Kurdistan (Memoirs, fols. 22a-26a; Loṭfī Pāšā, Tawārīḵ, p. 443; Tārīḵ-e Pečevī I, p. 282; Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, fol. 158a-b; Taḏkera, p. 630; Šaraf-nāma II, pp. 201-02; Ḥasan Rūmlū, pp. 339-40; Farīdūn Aḥmed, Monšaʾāt I, pp. 605-06. Pečevī’s statement that Solaymān’s disavowal of Alqās resulted from the latter’s refusal to obey a summons to court is simplistic and probably inaccurate; the other sources mention no specific summons, but cite Ottoman distrust and anti-Alqās intrigue at court, particularly on the part of Rostam Pāšā. Qāżī Aḥmad states that Alqās refused to deliver Badīʿ-al-zamān Mīrzā and other prisoners to Solaymān).

Bahrām Mīrzā surrounded Marīvān and demanded Alqās’ surrender. Sorḵāb, anxious for Safavid favor, suggested Alqās’ brother-in-law, Shah Neʿmatallāh Yazdī, as intermediary. On 9 Ramażān 956/1 October 1549 Alqās surrendered himself and twenty-one retainers to Bahrām Mīrzā, and the next day was taken to Ṭahmāsb’s court (Memoirs, fol. 26a; Taḏkera, p. 630; Jahānārā, p. 299; Šaraf-nāma II , p. 202; Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, fol. 158a; Ḥasan Rūmlū, pp. 339-40; Walsh, “Revolt,” p. 73, where the negotiations and surrender are dated precisely). Ṭahmāsb says that after several interviews he perceived that “Alqās does not trust me and is constantly calculating” (Taḏkera, p. 631). Bound by his oath to Alqās, Ṭahmāsb had his sister Solṭānem hand Alqās over to Ḥasan Beg Yūzbāšī and Ebrāhīm Khan Ḏu’l-Qadr, who delivered him to the prison of Qahqaha (Memoirs, fols. 26b-27b; Taḏkera, p. 631; Jahānārā, p. 299; Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, fol. 158b; while most sources state that Alqās remained two days at court, Ṭahmāsb says “čand rūz”and Maʾmūn Beg dates his departure for Qahqaha to the night of Bahrām Mīrzā’s death, 19 Ramażān/11 October). Alqās’ sons, Solṭān Aḥmad and Farroḵ, were incarcerated with him (Tarbīat, Danešmandān, p. 173). Six months later (21 Rabīʿ I 957/9 April 1550) Alqās was thrown from the ramparts of Qahqaha, perhaps with Ṭahmāsb’s connivance, by several people “whose fathers he had killed” (Taḏkera, p. 631 ; Navīdī, Takmelat al-aḵbār, s.a. 956; Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, ms. Bayānī, fol. 205b: Jahānārā, p. 300; Šaraf-nāma II, p. 202; Memoirs, fol. 27b, where Alqās’ killer is identified as Begōḡlī Ḥasan Beg, who is probably identical with Ḥasan Beg Yūzbāšī. Alqās’ abortive rebellion demonstrated the success of Ṭahmāsb’s centralization policies; the Ottomans made no further attempts to solve their Safavid problem by subversion.

Ṣādeq Beg Afšār quotes a “famous robāʿī”by Alqās and describes him as being “of poetic temperament” (Maǰmaʿ,pp. 22-23). His interest in the visual arts is attested by two illuminated manuscripts probably completed for him in Šīrvān (F. E. Karatay, Topkapĭ Sarayĭ Müzesi Kütüphanesi Farsca Yazmalar Kataloğu, Istanbul, 1961, pp. 197-98; B. W. Robinson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Paintings in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1958, p. 87; Z. V. Togan, On the Miniatures in Istanbul Libraries, Istanbul, 1963, p. 35). Alqās’ major cultural legacy went to the Ottomans; his tributary gift of royal Safavid treasures remained in Topkapi palace and provided models for the palace artisans. Alqās also left in Istanbul his nešānǰī, Fatḥallāh ʿĀref Čelebī, whom Solaymān appointed to be the first Ottoman šāh-nāma-gūy. ʿĀref was succeeded in this post by Alqās’ court poet and librarian, Aflātūn Šīrvānī. The literary and artistic šah-nāma-gūy tradition, established by Alqās’ retainers, reached its height in the late 10th/16th century with the Honar-nāma of Sayyed Loqmān Ormavī (Konhal-aḵbār, fols. 169b, 190b-91b, 419b-22a; ʿĀšeq Čelebī, Mašāʿer al-šoʿarāʾ, ed. G. M. Meredith-Owens, GMS N.S. 24, London, 1971, fols. 165a-66b; cf. ʿĀṣem, “ʿOsmānḷĭ tārīḫ-nüvīsleri ve müverriḫleri: šehnāmejīler,” Tārīḫ-e ʿOsmānḷĭ Enjümeni Mejmūʿasĭ 7, 1 Nisān 1327/1909, Istanbul, 1329/1911, pp. 425-35, and Babinger, Die Geschichtsschreiber der Osmanen und ihre Werke, Leipzig, 1927, pp. 87-88, 163-67).


Qāżī Aḥmad Ḡaffārī Qazvīnī, Tārīḵ-e Jahānārā, ed. Ḥ. Narāqī, Tehran, 1342 Š./1963, pp. 287-300 (particularly valuable for its careful dating of events, including Alqās’ birth and death).

ʿAbdī Beg Navīdī, Takmelat al-aḵbār, Ketāb-ḵāna-ye Mellī-e Malek, ms. 3890, s.a. 922, 953-56.

Shah Ṭahmāsb Ṣafawī, Taḏkera-ye Šāh Ṭahmāsb, ed.

P. Horn, “Die Denkwürdigkeiten des Šāh Ṭahmāsp I von Persien,” ZDMG 44, 1890, pp. 563-649 (on Alqās, pp. 596, 611-31).

Ḥasan Rūmlū provides the basic account of Alqās’ rebellion utilized by later Safavid chroniclers, particularly Eskandar Beg and Šaraf-al-dīn Bedlīsī. Qāżī Aḥmad Qomī, Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, Deutsche Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, ms. 2°2202, s.a. 952-56; a slightly earlier manuscript was in the possession of M. Bayānī; cf. Hans Müller, Die Chronik Ḫulāṣat at-Tawārīḫ des Qāżī Aḥmad Qumī, der Abschnitt über Schah ʿAbbās I, Wiesbaden, 1964, pp. 13-18.

The Bayānī ms. lacks the account of Alqās’ murder of Begoḡlī Ostāǰlū found in the slightly later Berlin manuscript, but does relate Alqās’ death, a detail omitted in the latter (unless otherwise noted, references are to the Berlin ms.).

See also Monzavī, Nosḵahā VI, pp. 4318-19.

Šaraf-al-dīn Bedlīsī, Šāh-nāma, ed. V. Vélïaminof-Zernof, Scheref Nameh, ou Histoire des Kourdes par Scheref, Prince de Bidlis I-II, St. Petersburg, 1860-62, I, pp. 85-86; II, pp. 194, 198-202.

Ottoman narrative sources: Loṭfī Pāšā, Tawārīḵ-e Āl-e ʿOṯmān, ed. ʿAlī, Istanbul, 1341/1922-23, pp. 435-43 (provides a contemporary account of the Alqās affair which does not appear to have been used by later Ottoman chroniclers and which corroborates details found in the Memoirs and Safavid sources).

Ramażānzāda Meḥmed Pāšā (Küčük Nešānǰī), Tārīḵ-e Nešānǰī, Istanbul, 1290/1873, pp. 240-43.

Maʾmūn (Memun) Beg Ardalān, Memoirs, in İ. Parmaksĭzoğlu, “Kuzey Irak’ta Osmanḷĭ Hakimiyetinin Kurulusu ve Memun Bey’in Haṭĭralaṛĭ,” Belleten 37, 1973, pp. 191-230, with 24 pp. facsimile; see fols. 11b-28a (supplies many details on the Alqās affair; it is the only accurate Ottoman source concerning the events of Moḥarram-Ramażān, 956/1549).

Moṣṭafā ʿAlī, Konh al-aḵbār, Nuruosmaniye Kütüphanesi, ms. 3409, fols. 66a-70b (the basic source for the later Ottoman historians Pečevī, Ṣolāqzāda, and Monaǰǰembāšī; it typifies their tendency to whitewash Solaymān and revile Alqās as a provocateur).

Pečevī Ebrāhīm Pāšā, Tārīḵ-e Pečevī, Istanbul, 1283/1866, I, pp. 267-79, 282-83.

Diplomatic sources: Ferīdūn Aḥmed, Monšaʾāt al-salāṭīn, 2nd ed., Istanbul, 1274-75/1858, I, pp. 605-06 (a fatḥ-nāma sent to Henri II of France; Solaymān states that he sent troops against Alqās because he was fomenting rebellion in Ottoman Kurdistan).

ʿA. Navāʾī, Šāh Ṭahmāsb Ṣafawī, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, pp. 170-72, 175-87 (includes two letters from the monšaʾāt collection of Ḥaydar Beg Īvōglī related to the Alqās affair).

J. R. Walsh, “The Revolt of Alqās Mirza,” WZKM 68, 1976, pp. 61-78 (includes three documents from the enšā work of Rūḥallāh Monšī addressed to the people of Shiraz).

Biographical sources: Ṣādeq Beg Afšār, Maǰmaʿ al-ḵawāṣṣ, ed. and Persian tr. ʿAbd-al-Rasūl Ḵayyāmpūr, Tabrīz, 1327 Š./1948-49 (the only near-contemporary notice of Alqās as a poet).

Tarbīat, Dānešmandān, pp. 173-97 (valuable for its utilization of ʿAbdī Beg’s Takmela).

Other sources: M. B. Dickson, Shāh Ṭahmāsb and the Ūzbeks (The Duel for Khurāsān with ʿUbayd Khān: 930-946/1524-1540), Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1958, pp. 135, 238-39, 282-84.

M. F. Kĭrẓĭoğlu, Osmanḷĭlar’in Kafkas-Elleri’ni Fethi (1451-J590), Ankara, 1976, pp. 179-97 (quotes from the contemporary unpublished accounts of Jalālzāda, Ṭabaqāt al-mamālek, and Salmān, Jāmeʿ al-ǰawāher).

(C. Fleischer)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: August 2, 2011

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Vol. I, Fasc. 9, pp. 907-909

Cite this entry:

C. Fleischer, “ALQĀS MĪRZA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/9, pp. 907-909, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).