BOROWSKY, ISIDORE, (b. Vilna, Poland ca. early 1770/d. Herat, ca. 1838,) Polish officer in the Persian army. His brother was said to be a well-known poet, perhaps the literary historian Leon Borowsky (1784-1846). According to family traditions (Tavakkoli, pp. 26-27), Borowsky fled to England, “when the Russians attacked Poland, together with the king of the country,” which presumably refers to the third partition of Poland in 1795. Bāmdād writes that Borowsky left Poland in 1793 (Bāmdād, II, p. 129). Later he served in South Africa and India, before coming to Persia on the instigation of the prince regent ʿAbbās Mirzā. Enjoying the confidence of both the Shah and the Crown Prince, he made a successful military career in Persia and was instrumental in modernizing the Persian army. Eventually he was given the rank of a general. Sir Percy Sykes writes that in 1833 prince Moḥammad Mirzā, commander of the Persian forces besieging Herat, was “aided by a Polish officer named Berovski,” (II, p. 325). Borowsky remained loyal to Moḥammad Mirzā, and took part in the war that followed upon his succession to the throne after the death of ʿAbbās Mirzā, in October 1883 and that of Fath-ʿAli Shah a year later. Together with Qahramān Mirzā and Masʿūd Mirzā he collected the troops in Khorasan and succeeded in defeating the Uzbek invaders and the rebellious Turkemans (Kuznecova, p. 69).

According to the family traditions (Tavakkoli, p. 28), Borowsky was fatally injured by a bullet in the abdomen during the second siege of Herat in 1837-38 and died soon thereafter. His remains were brought to Isfahan and were buried in the Armenian cemetery of Julfa. At the time of the siege of Herat he had made friends with another foreign officer in the Persian service, the Italian Barthelemy Semino, who married his widow, an Armenian from Julfa, and took care of his children after his death. Borowsky is believed to have accumulated a considerable fortune during his years in Persia (Bāmdād, II, p. 129), but most of it seems to have disappeared during the execution of his will, which had been left in the trust of his compatriot Alexandre Chodzko (1806-1884), the then Russian consul in Rašt, who later became a celebrated orientalist and a professor at the College de France in Paris (Utas, pp. 175-76).

Borowsky had two sons. Stanislaus Borowsky became a teacher at the Dār-al-Fonun and died in Tehran in 1898. His second son entered the service of the Persian government as well, but committed suicide soon afterwards.



Bāmdād, Rejāl. N. A. Kuznecova, Iran v pervoj polovine XIX veka, Moscow, 1983.

Sykes, History of Persia. A. Tavakkoli, “Varaqi az tāriḵ-e qājāriyā: do nafar ṣāhib-mansab-e ḵāreji dar ḵedmat-e Irān, Siminuva Borovski,” Yādgār 5, 1327-28 Š./1948-49, 1-2, pp. 18-31.

B. Utas, “A 19th. century inscription at Persepolis and the Swedish physician C. G. Fagergren,” in Turcica et Orientalia. Studies in honour of Gunnar Jarring on his eightieth birthday, Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, Transactions 1, Stockholm, 1988, pp. 167-77.

(Bo Utas)

Originally Published: July 20, 2002

Last Updated: July 20, 2002