Dīvānbegī was the designation for the highest-ranking officer in the Timurid office of finance and justice (dīvān-e aʿlā). The dīvānbegī (cf. Pers. amīr-e dīvān) was responsible for placing the seal on decrees and was particularly concerned with increasing tax revenues and associated problems (Herrmann, p. 188). The Timurid administration was organized in two main branches, the top personnel of which consisted of tovāčībegīs (Pers. tovāčī), military inspectors, and of dīvānbegīs, respectively. These two amir-/beg-groups together constituted the grand amirs (omarāʾ-e ʿeẓām), with the title oloḡ beg. The chiefs of both branches were called amīr al-omarāʾ (q.v.), which explains why in Timurid sources two amīr al-omarāʾ are sometimes reported as having simultaneously served a single ruler. The office of the dīvānbegīs, i.e., dīvān-e aʿlā, is already attested under Tīmūr (771-807/1370-1405), but the earliest mention of the office of tovāčībegīs (i.e., dīvān-e tovāčī, dīvān-e laškar, or tork dīvānī) is after the reign of Šāhroḵ (807-50/1405-47). Other synonyms for dīvān-e aʿlā were dīvān-e molk wa māl, dīvān-e māl, and sart dīvānī (Mīr ʿAlī-Šīr, p. 29; Ando, pp. 224-27). Ḵᵛāndamīr reported (fols. 20b, 21a) that, according to the Mongol customary law (yāsā, tūrā), the omarāʾ-e dīvān-e māl ranked second after the omarāʾ-e dīvān-e tovāčī. It seems that at the same time several dīvānbegīs were attested. For example, in 771/1370 Tīmūr named eight members of his entourage as tovāčī and six as amīr-e dīvān (dīvānbegī; Yazdī, fol. 141b). Most dīvānbegīs were of Turkish origin, but especially under Solṭān-Ḥosayn Bayqarā (875-912/1470-1506) there were reports of the activities of Persian dīvānbegīs. The Timurids tended not to appoint members of tribes considered aristocratic, like the Barlās or the Arlāt, to influential posts as dīvānbegīs, but rather only personal intimates of the ruler (Ando, pp. 234-39).
ʿAbd-Allāh Morvārīd, Šaraf-nāma, facs. ed. and tr. H. R. Roemer as Staatschreiben der Timuridenzeit. Das Šaraf-nāmä des ʿAbdallāh Marwārīd, Wiesbaden, 1952, pp. 169 ff.
Mīr ʿAlī-Šīr Navāʾī, Waqfīya, ed. A. Ḥekmat and B. Čūbānzāda, Baku, 1926.
S. Ando, Timuridische Emire nach dem Muʿizz al-ansāb, Berlin, 1992.
G. Herrmann, Der historische Gehalt des “Nāmä-ye nāmī” von Ḫāndamīr, Ph.D. diss., Göttingen University, 1968.
Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Moḥammad Ḵᵛāndamīr, Nāma-ye nāmī, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, ms. Suppl. pers. 1842.
Moʿezz al-ansāb, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, ms. Pers. ancien fonds. 67.
Šaraf-al-Dīn ʿAlī Yazdī, Ẓafar-nāma, ed. A. Urunbayev, Tashkent, 1972.
A. Z. Velidi Togan, “Ali Şîr,” İA I, pp. 349-57.
In the Safavid administrative system, the dīvānbegī was one of the high-ranking amirs (addressed ʿālī-jāh) residing at court (omarā-ye dawlat-ḵāna). From the time of Shah ʿAbbās I onwards, there were normally seven ʿālī-jāhamīrs who together constituted the council of state (dīvān, jānqī)). As an official of the internal palace administration, the dīvānbegī had the status of moqarrab al-ḵāqān (Taḏkerat al-molūk, ed. Minorsky, pp. 44, 56ff; Savory, p. 355). Minorsky’s designation of the dīvānbegī as “Lord High Justice” (Taḏkerat al-molūk, p. 119) is close to the mark. Although the dīvānbegī could not rule on cases involving one of the four capital crimes under šarīʿa law (murder, rape, the breaking of teeth, and blinding) unless the ṣadrs were present (Taḏkerat al-molūk, pp. 42. 50), the dīvānbegī’s court was the highest appellate court in the land, and received appeals from the courts of the qāżīs and from that of the šayḵ al-eslām (Taḏkerat al-molūk, p. 120, quoting Chardin, ed. Langlès, VI, pp. 54-55).
On four days a week, including Saturdays and Sundays when he was joined by the ṣadr-e ḵāṣṣa, the dīvānbegī presided over a court in the kešīk-ḵāna (guard house) at the ʿĀlī Qāpū palace. On other days he heard cases involving customary law (ʿorf) in his own home. In both courts, if the case concerned dīvān revenue, or was a suit brought against an official of the central bureaucracy, the case was sent on to the vizier. If the case concerned qūrčīs, ḡolāms or members of other military units, or employees of the royal workshops (see BOYŪTĀT-E SALṬANATĪ), it was referred to the senior official (rīš-safīd) of the appropriate department. Cases not involving dīvān revenue were decided by the dīvānbegī himself. Plaintiffs from the provinces who had grievances against provincial governors and other officials and had not presented their cases heard in the vizier’s court, could apply to have their cases heard before the dīvānbegī (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, p. 88; Taḏkerat al-molūk, pp. 42, 50-51). The salary of the dīvānbegī was set at 500 toman, but could be as much as 1,000 toman; in addition, he received a toyūl (assignment; Taḏkerat al-molūk, p. 152) officially evaluated at 15 toman but yielding in reality 92 toman, 3,845 dīnārs; Mīrzā Rafīʿā (p. 88) states that this toyūl had “recently” been cancelled.
Although the dīvānbegī was one of seven ʿālī-jāh amīrs, his was not “high-profile” position, and the holders of this office are mentioned relatively rarely in the sources. The first person recorded as holding this office is Mīrzā ʿAlī Solṭān Qājār, who was the dīvānbegī at the time of the death of Shah Ṭahmāsb (984/1576; Eskandar Beg, I, p. 140; tr. Savory, I, p. 226). This leads one to suppose that, during the earlier, formative period of the Safavid state, the legal functions of the dīvānbegī were performed by officials such as the qāżī al-qożāt, the qāżī ʿaskar, and the šayḵ al-eslām. Qezelbāšamirs continued to hold the post of dīvānbegī until toward the end of the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I, when the appointment is recorded in 1036/1626-27 of the aide-de-champ (yasāvol-e soḥbat) Rostam Beg, who continued to hold the office under Shah Ṣafī (Eskandar Beg, II, p. 1060; tr. Savory, II, p. 1283) and was succeeded in office by his son, Ṣafīqolī Beg (Waḥīd Qazvīnī, p. 221). Occasionally, the holder of the office of dīvānbegī also held that of ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī (e.g., ʿAlīqolī Khan Šāmlū and Kalb-ʿAlī Khan; see Eskandar Beg, II, pp. 887, 1040, tr. Savory, II, pp. 1104, 1261; Mofīd Bāfqī, III, p. 214). The office of dīvānbegī also existed in the Uzbek administrative system in Transoxania in the late 16th and early 17th centuries (e.g., Eskandar Beg, I, pp. 456, 548, 553, II pp. 706, 927; tr. Savory, II, pp. 629, 728, 734, II, p. 898, 1145).
Mīrzā Rafīʿā, Dastūr al-molūk, ed. M.-T. Dānešpažūh, MDAT, nos 63-70, 1347-48 Š./1968-69.
Moḥammad Mofīd Mostawfī Bāfqī, Jāmeʿ-e mofīdī, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran 1340 Š./1961.
R. M. Savory, “The Safavid Administrative System,” in Cam. Hist. Iran VI, 1986.
Moḥammad-Ṭāher Waḥīd Qazvīnī, ʿAbbās-nāma, ed. E. Dehgān, Arāk, 1329 Š./1950.
(ROGER M. SAVORY)
(Shiro Ando, Roger M. Savory)
Originally Published: December 15, 1995
Last Updated: November 28, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 4, pp. 439-440
Shiro Ando, Roger M. Savory, “DĪVĀNBEGĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, VII/4, pp. 439-440, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/divanbegi- (accessed on 30 December 2012).