AMĪR(-E) NEẒĀM GARRŪSĪ, ḤASAN-ʿALĪ KHAN, known also as Sālār-e Laškar (1236-1317/1820-1900), officer, diplomat, statesman, and literary figure of the Qajar period. He was born in Bīǰār to a family of Kurdish Kabūdvand chiefs with a long history of official service (for the family lineage and service under previous dynasties see the biographical introduction to Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan Garrūsī, Monšaʾāt, ed. Mīrzā Abū Torāb Khan, Tabrīz, 1321/1903, pp. 4-5; R. Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā-ye Nāṣerī, Tehran, 1339 Š./1960, IX, pp. 394, 483; ʿA. Donbolī, Maʾāṯer-e solṭānīya, Tabrīz, 1241/1825-26, pp. 149, 245). His mother was an ex-concubine of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah given as a royal favor to his father, Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Khan, the governor of Garrūs (S. A. ʿAżod-al-dawla, Tārīḵ-e ʿAżodī, ed. ʿA. Navāʾī, Tehran, 2535 = 1355 Š./1976, pp. 67-68). Ḥasan-ʿAlī’s education, unusually broad for a man of his background, included Arabic and Persian composition, history, calligraphy, and perhaps even some theology; this may be a sign of the influence of Qāʾem-maqām’s literary circle on the court of the crown prince in Tabrīz to which his father and grand-father were attached (Monšaʾāt, p. 5; cf. Donbolī, Maʾāṯer, p. 291 ). Three phases can be distinguished in Ḥasan-ʿAlī’s sixty-four years of service under three monarchs, one of the longest and most versatile in the history of Qajar statesmanship:

Military service. In his first major mission as the colonel of the Garrūs regiment, he participated in Moḥammad Shah’s abortive Herat campaign of 1253-54/1837-38 (Rawżat al-ṣafā X, p. 235). Later he was assigned to garrison Tabrīz (1254-57/1838-41) and to pacify the Kermānšāh region (1257-59/1841-43); in 1260/1844 he was summoned to the capital. Following his father’s death in suspicious circumstances (c. 1262/1846), he left Bīǰār and took sanctuary in the shrine of ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓīm near Tehran. He was charged with patricide, said to have been in revenge for an alleged incest (Momtaḥan-al-dawla, Ḵāṭerāt, p.89; Tārīḵ-e ʿAżodī, editor’s notes, pp. 238-39; M. ʿA. Sayyāḥ, Ḵāṭerāt-e Ḥāǰǰ Sayyāḥ, ed. Ḥ. Sayyāḥ and S. Golkār, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967, p. 257). However, Nāṣer-al-dīn’s accession to the throne (1264/1848) opened new prospects for Ḥasan-ʿAlī, who had suffered under Ḥāǰǰī Mīrzā Āqāsī, presumably because of his association with the Qāʾem-maqām administration. Amīr Kabīr, in his usual policy of rehabilitation, reinstated Ḥasan-ʿAlī’s command of the Garrūs regiments and returned governorship to his family (ʿA. Eqbāl, “Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan Amīr Neẓām Garrūsī,” Yādegār 3, pp. 9-10). Throughout the first decade of Nāṣer-al-dīn’s rule Ḥasan-ʿAlī served with distinction and participated in all major campaigns, mostly to quell uprisings against the central government. During the Sālār revolt (1263-67/1847-51) his regiment was sent to aid Prince Morād Mīrzā Ḥosām-al-salṭana and played some part in the siege of Mašhad (1265/1849); (Rawżat al-ṣafā X, p. 403). On his return he was promoted to the rank of sartīp and sent to Zanǰān to join the troops already fighting the Bābī uprising of 1266-67/1850-51. The Garrūs regiments succeeded in capturing the citadel of ʿAlī-Mardān Khan, in the heart of the city (The Dawn Breakers, Nabīl’s Narrative, ed. and tr. Shoghi Effandi, Wilmett, 1932, p. 569; M. T. Sepehr, Nāseḵ al-tawārīḵ [Qāǰārīya] III, pp. 293-98; A. Gobineau, Religions et philosophies dans l’asie central, Paris, 1965, p. 247; M. Momen, ed., The Bābī and Bahāʾī Religions 1844-1944, Some Contemporary Western Accounts, Oxford, 1981, p. 122). Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan was decorated and promoted to the rank of adjutant-general. After a short visit to Isfahan in the company of the shah, he was assigned to garrison the city of Mašhad (1271/1854). A year later he joined Solṭān-Morād Mīrzā Ḥosām-al-salṭana during the second Herat campaign; after a long siege during which Ḥasan-ʿAlī was wounded, the fortress was captured and his troops were the first to hoist the Persian flag (Rawżat al-ṣafā X, pp. 673-708). His last active post was the command of the Garrūs regiments stationed in the capital with the main task of guarding the royal citadel. As the army diminished in size and strength, Ḥasan-ʿAlī sought alternative outlets to demonstrate his abilities.

Diplomatic missions. In the aftermath of the Anglo-Persian war of 1856-57 and the subsequent treaty of Paris, Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan was commissioned to convey to the British minister Charles Murray, then in Baghdad, the shah’s regrets for “the offensive imputations upon the honor of Her Majesty’s Minister” (D. Wright, The English Amongst the Persians, London, 1977, p. 24; for Garrūsī’s correspondence in this mission see Maǰmuʿa-ye asnād o madārek-e Farroḵ Ḵān Amīn-al-dawla, ed. K. Eṣfahānīān and Q. Rowšanī, Tehran, 1346-50 Š./1967-71, I, pp. 317-26, 357-78, II, pp. 110-52, 346, III, pp. 172-95). The Baghdad mission was followed by the post of resident minister plenipotent to the courts of Europe (1275-83/1859-67) to replace Farroḵ Khan Amīn-al-dawla. Between 1276-78/1859-61 Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan visited several European capitals, transmitting Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah’s message of friendship (Monšaʾāt, pp. 8-9). The real objective of his mission was to gain some recognition for Iran’s territorial integrity and possibly forge alliances with other European powers in the face of growing Russo-British rivalry. His amicable relations with Napoleon III—including frequent dinners at Tuileries and chess games with the emperor—seem to have resulted in some sort of preliminary understanding for the promotion of relations and possible concession to France in the Persian Gulf, but little came out of the negotiations. As Persian envoy in Europe, Garrūsī was also responsible for the education of sixty-four Persian students, mostly graduates of Dār al-Fonūn. His careful and sometimes rigorous supervision resulted in the graduation of most of the students before the end of Garrūsī’s mission in 1283/1867; no other large-scale attempt at such a program was made before the 20th century. By the time he left Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan himself could speak French “with perfect facility” (Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, 2 vols., London, 1892, I, p. 431; for Garrūsī’s residence in France and supervision of the Persian students see Momtaḥan-al-dawla, Ḵāṭerāt, pp. 48-85, 90-95; Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī, Tārīḵ-emoʾassasāt-e tamaddonī-e ǰadīd dar Īrān I, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975, pp. 320-54; A. Sohaylī Ḵᵛānsārī, “Sefārat-e Amīr Neẓām . . .,” Waḥīd I, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 18-20). Garrūsī’s embassy in France came to an end for reasons of bad health, though it is not unlikely that his return to Iran was also due to his failure to bring about a Franco-Persian alliance. Nevertheless, under his auspices, the Persian government ordered a consignment of firearms from France and negotiated for the purchase of battleships from Belgium and employment of officers and technicians from France and Austria (for his correspondence with Tehran see Fehrest-e baḵš-ī az asnād . . . dawra-ye Qāǰārīya [wezārat-e omūr-e ḵāreja-ye Īrān] II, ed. K. Bayānī, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975, sawād-e mokātabāt, files 65, 85; S. Bakhash, Iran: Monarchy, Bureaucracy and Reform under the Qajars 1858-96, London, 1978, pp. 33-35; F. Ādamīyat, Andīša-ye taraqqī wa ḥokūmat-e qānūn, Tehran, 1351 Š./1972, pp. 338-40). In 1288/1871 Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan was dispatched to Istanbul to replace Mīrzā Ḥosayn Khan Mošīr-al-dawla as Persian ambassador to the Porte. The most important achievement of his fourteen-month embassy was to convince the Ottoman authorities to return ʿAbbās Mīrzā Molkārā to Baghdad, where he had lived in exile for the past eighteen years ( ʿAbbās Mīrzā Molkārā, Šarḥ-e ḥāl, ed. ʿA. Navāʾī, 2nd ed., 2535 = 1355 Š./1976, pp. 81-82; M. Farhād Moʿtamed, Tārīḵ-e rawābeṭ-e sīāsī-e Īrān o Oṯmānī II, Tehran, 1326 Š./1947, pp. 8-15). Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan attributed the short duration of his mission to his incapacity to deceive the Ottomans the way his predecessor had (Momtaḥan-al-dawla, Ḵāṭerāt, pp. 85-86; for diplomatic correspondence in this period see Fehrest, sawād-e mokātabāt, file 96).

Administrative service. After returning from Paris in 1283/1867 Ḥasan-ʿAlī was appointed to the government consultative council (maǰles-e šūrā-ye dawlatī), first established in 1858 with the task of advising the shah on legislation and reforms. The lack of effective power had already crippled the council and turned it into a ceremonial body. During five years of membership (1883-88/1867-71), Ḥasan-ʿAlī remained largely inactive and relied on the revenue of Garrūs, of which he was in effect governor. Upon his return from Istanbul he was invited by Mīrzā Ḥosayn Khan Mošīr-al-dawla to cooperate in the reorganization of the government; promoted to the rank of Amīr Tūmān, he was put in charge of the newly founded ministry of public works (fawāʾed-e ʿāmma), a position he maintained for the next decade (1289-99/1872-82). A sincere advocate of reforms and foreign investments, he played an important role both in granting and canceling concessions. During his embassy in Istanbul, still optimistic of French cooperation, he had tried without success to ratify a concession with the French investor Merton for construction of a railroad and the establishment of a national bank (Ādamīyat, Andīša-ye taraqqī, pp. 299-302). As Wazīr-e Fawāʾed he, among others, signed the controversial Reuter concession of 1289/1872. Less than a year later he joined the growing wave of opposition to it; he announced its official cancellation in December, 1873 (E. Teymūrī, ʿAṣr-e bīḵabarī yā tārīḵ-e emtīāzāt dar Īrān, Tehran, 1332 Š./1953, pp. 112, 139; Momtaḥan-al-dawla, Ḵāṭerāt, p. 218). He was in charge of the negotiations for granting a concession to the retired Russian general Falkenhagen for the construction of the Tabrīz-Jolfā railroad (F. Kazemzadeh, Russia and Britain in Persia 1864-1914, New Haven, 1968, pp. 134-147; Ādamīyat, Andīša-ye taraqqī, pp. 369-85). In spite of a temporary lessening of relations with the now (after 1873) demoted Mošīr-al-dawla, Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan maintained an informal alliance with the reformist faction, including Moḥammad Khan Maǰd-al-molk Sīnakī, Maḥmūd Khan Nāṣer-al-molk, Ḥāǰǰ Moḥsen Khan Moʿīn-al-molk (later Mošīr-al-dawla), and to a lesser degree, Yūsof Khan Mostašār-al-dawla. In its early years the ministry of public works under Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan carried out some useful work including the construction of a new carriage road linking Tehran with Māzandarān via Lārīǰān (1289-91/1872-74; Monšaʾāt, intro., p. 10; Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Rūz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, p. 56; idem, al-Maʾāṯer wa’l-āṯār, Tehran, 1306 Š./1888-89, p.76); more ambitious projects were shelved after the dismissal of Mošīr-al-dawla from the premiership (Momtaḥan-al-dawla, Ḵāṭerāt, p. 215). The dual and later tripartite divisions of authority in the mid-Nāṣerī period (1291-98/1874-80) greatly reduced the sphere of the ministry of public works and in effect demoted its minister, who by the end of the 1870s was at the low ebb of his career.

In the 1880s and 90s a wave of tribal uprisings and urban dissent gave Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan new prominence, since he was assigned the familiar task of crushing unrest. In 1297/1879 he was instructed to join the aging Ḥamza Mīrzā Ḥešmat-al-dawla in quelling the Kurdish secessionist movement of the Naqšbandī leader Shaikh ʿObaydallāh. In a joint expedition in 1298/1880 the forces of Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan from Garrūs and Afšār and those of Ḥosayn Khan Mošīr-al-dawla Sepahsālār from western Azerbaijan advanced in a pincer movement towards Sāvoǰbolāḡ (present-day Mahābād) to assist the garrison. The heavy-handed suppression of the movement temporarily extinguished the Kurdish hopes with ʿObaydallāh taking refuge in Ottoman territory. Other chiefs were killed, subdued, or fled, but loss of life and destruction in many Kurdish border villages created new ground for discontent (for the first phase of the Kurdish uprising and Garrūsī’s role, see, e.g., Nāder Mīrzā, Tārīḵ o ǰoḡrāfī-e Dār-al-salṭana-ye Tabrīz, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1351 Š./1972, pp. 304-52; Molkārā, Šarḥ-e ḥāl, pp. 152-58; Curzon, Persia, I, pp. 553-54). At the recommendation of Mošīr-al-dawla, now minister of war, the districts of Sāvoǰbolāḡ and Sāʾīn Qaḷʿa (present-day Šāhīn Dež) were annexed to Garrūs; after hard bargaining with the shah, the districts of Ḵoy and Urmia also came under Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan’s control (1298/1880-81). In 1298-99/1880-81 Kurdish resistance reemerged under the chief of the Mangor Ḥamza Āqā, who mobilized the Yazīdī tribes of the frontier and raided the district of Sāvoǰbolāḡ. Realizing the difficulty of a military victory, Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan established contact with Ḥamza Āqā and, giving him a written guarantee of safe-conduct, persuaded him and his allies to enter his tent for negotiations; there they were massacred by government troops positioned around the camp. In spite of some embarrassing repercussions arising from a Russian protest, the murder of Ḥamza Āqā and pacification of Kurdistan greatly enhanced Garrūsī’s position (Eqbāl, “Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan,” pp. 14-26 citing M. Y. Heravī, ʿAyn al-waqāyeʿ; Sayyāḥ, Ḵāṭerāt, pp. 256-57; Amīn-al-dawla, Ḵāṭerāt-esīāsī, ed. Ḥ. Farmānfarmāʾīān, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962, pp. 75-76; Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Rūz-nāma, p. 113). He was promoted to the rank of Sālār ʿAskar (later Sālār Laškar) and made commander of the Azerbaijan army (1299/1881-82); a year later—after the death of Moḥammad-Raḥīm Khan Amīr Neẓām—he was officially appointed to the highly sensitive post of chief stewardship (pīškārī) of the crown prince Moẓaffar-al-dīn Mīrzā, and governorship of Azerbaijan (1300/1882-83). Two years later he received the title Amīr Neẓām, the second highest rank in the army; for the following nine years he remained in full control of Azerbaijan. He restored some security and order to the province, isolated the crown prince, removed, exiled, or restrained all notorious elements in Moẓaffar-al-dīn’s entourage, established amicable relations with the local notables, and maintained total and often autocratic hold over administration, taxation, and the army (see M. A. Ḡaffārī, Ḵāṭerāt o asnād [Tārīḵ-e Ḡaffārī], ed. M. Etteḥādīya, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982, pp. 91-368 for an eye-witness account of affairs; also E. Ṣafāʾī, Nāmahā-ye tārīḵī, Tehran, 2535 = 1355 Š./1976, pp. 66-70; idem, Asnād-e now yāfta, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, pp. 161-65). In 1889 Curzon described him as a man of strong will who “reduced turbulence in Azerbaijan to a minimum, and was the best provincial administrator in Persia” (Persia I, p. 431); but Amīr Neẓām remained vulnerable because of the increasing influence of both the Russians and the Tabrīz ʿolamāʾ, which he put up with in order to combat interference from other quarters, most notably that of the prime minister ʿAlī-Aṣḡar Khan Amīn-al-solṭān. In the highly polarized political milieu of the time Amīr Neẓām was notorious for his “unconcealed Russian proclivities” (ibid.). His role in the Tobacco Regie of 1891-92 bears witness to a genuine opposition to the concession but also indicates pro-Russian sentiments. During public protest he declined to make any serious reprisals and later defied instructions from Tehran to arm the Tabrīz garrison as a precaution against further unrest. His position was already jeopardized when, in a move to appease the public, he publicized the content of the shah’s secret telegram and delayed action against the refusal of the Tabrīzīs to allow the shah’s special envoy to enter the city. He was recalled to the capital for consultation and there he resigned in Ṣafar, 1309/September, 1891 (E. Taymūrī, Taḥrīm-e tanbākū, Tehran, n.d.; F. Kazemzadeh, Russia and Britain, pp. 257-62; N. R. Keddie, Religion and Rebellion in Iran, London, 1966, pp. 74-86; F. Ādamīyat, Šūreš bar emtīāz-nāma-ye Reżī, Tehran, 1360 Š./1981 pp. 34-45; Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Rūz-nāma, pp. 877-86; Ḥ. Karbalāʾī, Tārīḵ al-doḵānīya, ed. E. Dehgān, Arāk, 1333 Š./1954). Two months later he was appointed governor of Kurdistan and in 1310/1892-93 a new administrative unit (eyālat-e markazī) was created by annexing districts of Hamadān, Nehāvand, Malāyer, and Tūyserkān to his government. More than being a sign of appreciation for Amīr Neẓām’s service in Tabrīz, the appointment was a device to keep him away from the capital at a time when Russian influence endangered Amīn-al-solṭān’s position. The assassination of Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah and the subsequent crisis of 1313/1896 frustrated Amīr Neẓām’s hope to become premier or minister of foreign affairs; he was appointed to the pīškārī of the new heir apparent, Moḥammad-ʿAlī Mīrzā, in Azerbaijan (1314/1896), but this new term of office in Azerbaijan was marred by bitter rivalry and the interventions of Moḥammad-ʿAlī Mīrzā and his entourage. Moẓaffar-al-dīn’s strong retributions had little influence on the power-hungry prince and eventually led to Amīr Neẓām’s resignation in early 1317/1899 (see M. Hedāyat, Ḵāṭerāt o ḵaṭarāt, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 98-99, 109). Amīr Neẓām, in his eighties, was now appointed governor of Kermān. Upon his arrival in Rabīʿ II, 1317/September, 1899, he started with his usual vigor to reestablish order in the troubled province. He was soon able to report to the shah that the oppressive measures customary in the province had been abandoned. In Ramażān, 1317/January, 1900 he died and was buried in the shrine of Shah Neʿmatallāh in Māhān (see A. ʿA. Wazīrī Kermānī, Sālārīya [Tārīḵ-e Kermān], ed. E. Bāstānī Pārīzī, Tehran, 1340 Š./1961, pp. 653-56; Y. Aḥmadī, Farmāndehān-e Kermān, ed. Bāstānī Pārīzī, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975, pp. 164-65).

As a skilled letter-writer, šekasta calligrapher, and patron of literature, Amīr Neẓām is a well-known follower of Qāʾem-maqām. His style is simple, witty, and free from cumbersome artificiality, though sometimes solemn and homiletic. His published Monšaʾāt, a collection of 164 friendly letters (eḵwānīyāt), is only a fragment of his correspondence. His Pand-nāma-ye Yaḥyawīya (Monšaʾāt, pp. 13-20), a didactic essay written for his son Yaḥyā (d. 1283/1866-67), combines the conventional ethics of his time with a touch of pragmatism (for his literary work see Y. Āryanpūr, Az Ṣabā tā Nīmā, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, I, pp. 165-72; Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia IV, p. 347; Eqbāl, “Ḥasan-ʿAlī Khan,” pp. 30-33; Bayānī, Ḵᵛošnevīsān I, p. 63).

Amīr Neẓām was a distinguished figure in the history of the 19th century not only because of the posts he held or decisions he made, but even more so because his career mirrored the aspirations, achievements, and failures of the Qajar ruling elite for over half a century. Symbolically, he rose to prominence during the time of Amīr Kabīr and died before the constitutional revolution, a period of relative political stability during which haphazard and often abortive attempts at reform led to a more centralized state machinery with increasing reliance upon figures like Amīr Neẓām to contain defection and dissent. A capable administrator with great determination and charisma, he was praised in his own time as an example of honesty, integrity, and loyal service to the monarch and the state. As time passed, he became convinced that western-style reforms were incompatible with the political structure of which he was a part. Instead he resorted to the traditional method of rule by coercion and consent as the only means of maintaining the status quo.

Bibliography: Given in the text.

(A. Amanat)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: August 3, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 9, pp. 966-969

Cite this entry:

A. Amanat, “AMĪR NEẒĀM GARRŪSĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/9, pp. 966-969, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).