ḠAFFĀRĪ, ḠOLĀM-ḤOSAYN KHAN Amīn-e Ḵalwat (b. Tehran, 5 Moḥarram 1276/5 August 1859, d. 8 Farvardīn 1326 Š./28 March 1947; Figure 1), Qajar official from the time of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah to the time of Aḥmad Shah. He was the son of Mīrzā Hāšem Khan Amīn-al-Dawla and the nephew of Farroḵ Khan Amīn-al-Dawla (q.v.).
Following in the footsteps of his father, he began his career as one of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah’s personal pages. He had already received the title amīn(-e) ḵalwat (Šawwāl 1299/August-September 1882) when he accompanied the shah on his second journey to Khorasan in 1300/1883. His promotion to the position of chief musketeer (tofangdār-bāšī) in 1301/1883-84 was followed by two other appointments, namely the head of the court personnel (ʿamala-ye ḵalwat) and shah’s personal secretary (monšī-e ḥożūr). In the latter capacity, he became closer to the shah and was responsible for reading letters and reports addressed to the shah, and also for writing the shah’s replies or farmāns; and this, despite the fact that he was suspected several years earlier of spying on the shah by secretly reading his personal letters (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Rūz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, p. 291). During the shah’s final trip to Europe in 1306-7/1889, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn was among the shah’s entourage and kept for him his manuscript diary, the original of which is now held in the Archive of National Documents (Sāzmān-e asnād-e mellī-e Īrān). During the same trip he received the British Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Rūz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, p. 654). In 1310/1892-93, he became special minister (wazīr-e maḵṣūṣ). Under Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Shah, he held two ministerial posts: first as court minister (Wazīr-e darbār-e aʿẓam; Jomādā II 1314/November 1896) and then, from 1317/1899 to 1320/1903 as minister of justice (wazīr-e ʿadlīya; Ṣadīq-al-Mamālek, pp. 264, 326-27, 354-55).
On the eve of the constitutional movement, in Šawwāl 1323/November-December 1905, he was chosen as the new governor of Fārs to replace the shah’s son, Malek-Manṣūr Mīrzā Šoʿāʿ-al-Salṭana, who had left Shiraz for Tehran under public pressure. One of Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan’s objectives in this assignment was to prepare for the return of Šoʿāʿ-al-Salṭana, but an investigation, which he communicated to Moẓaffar-al-Dīn and his premier ʿAbd-al-Majīd ʿAyn-al-Dawla (q.v.), revealed and documented the atrocities that had been committed under Šoʿāʿ-al-Salṭana. Within six months, the shah and his premier recalled the governor (this whole episode is well documented in Qāʾem-maqāmī), and in compensation he was named governor of Tehran. The assassination of Mīrzā ʿAlī-Aṣḡar Khan Atābak (q.v.) in Rajab 1325/August 1907 caused fear for those closely associated with Atābak, including Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan, now titled ṣāḥeb(-e) eḵtīār, who as a result immediately resigned as governor of Tehran. His return to Fārs in Moḥarram 1326/February 1908, again as governor, proved no safer, for he soon became the target of an assassination attempt by the revolutionaries (Malekzāda, I, p. 648; Bašīrī, I, p. 175). After three terms of governorships in Kermān (1326-27/1908-9), Khorasan (1328-29/1910-11), and Gīlān (around 1330/1912), Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan became Aḥmad Shah’s chief of staff (raʾīs-e daftar; Bašīrī, I, p. 322, V, p. 998; Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, Waqāyeʿ, p. 161). In 1332/1914 and 1333/1915 he served as minister of war in two short-lived governments of Mostaw fī-al-Mamālek (Zāvoš, p. 112-13). Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan is considered one of the more congenial figures of the Qajar bureaucracy. His inability to deal effectively with critical situations and with individuals participating in them (due in some respects to his overestimating the importance of foreign powers in Persia (Šayḵ-al-Eslāmī, pp. 30-31) was often a political liability for him. His well-known collection of Qajar photographs is impressive both in terms of its size and his explanatory and identifying captions. The collection itself is owned by his family, but a duplicate set is currently housed in the Central library (Ketāb-ḵāna-ye markazī) of Tehran University (Afšar, intro., p. 75).
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Originally Published: December 15, 2000
Last Updated: February 2, 2012
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Vol. X, Fasc. 3, pp. 249-250