ḤASAN-ʿALI BEG BESṬĀMI, one of Nāder Shah’s closest associates, held the title moʿayyer al-mamālek or “chief assayer” and played an important advisory role throughout Nāder’s reign.
Apparently a slave of Armenian or Georgian origin, Ḥasan-ʿAli had entered royal service in Sultan Ḥosayn’s time, becoming an important Safavid official by the 1720s. In 1138/1726, Ṭahmāsb II dispatched him to report on the activities of Nāder, who was then campaigning around Abivard. Ḥasan-ʿAli persuaded Nāder to join Ṭahmāsb in crushing the rebel Malek Maḥmud of Sistān and appointed him deputy governor of Abivard on Ṭahmāsb’s behalf. This encounter marked the beginning of a long and close connection between Ḥasan-ʿAli and Nāder.
In the early 1140s/1730s, Ḥasan-ʿAli resided in Isfahan, carrying messages and gifts between Nāder and Ṭah-māsb as well as overseeing fiscal affairs there. He kept Nāder informed about the situation of the royal court, and played a part in Ṭahmāsb’s deposition and the crowning of the infant ʿAbbās III in 1144/1732 (Mo-ḥammad Kāẓem Marvi, Tāriḵ-e ʿalamārā-ye nāderi I, ed. M. A. Riāḥi, Tehran, 1985, pp. 232-34). By 1148/1736, Ḥasan-ʿAli had become one of Nāder’s principal advisors and was at his side during the Moḡān coronation ceremony (ibid., II, pp. 448-49). From that time until Nāder’s death, Beṣtāmi resided permanently in the shah’s camp. When Nāder was assassinated in 1160/1747, Ḥasan-ʿAli escaped alive, causing Nāder’s Jesuit doctor, Bazin, to believe that he had some involvement in the plot (Père Louis Bazin, “Seconde letter . . . conte-nant les révolutions qui suivrent la mort de Thamas Kouli-Khan,” Lettres édifiantes et curieuses IV, Paris, 1780, pp. 322-64, particularly pp. 346-47; Bāmdād, Rejāl I, p. 434).
After Nāder’s demise, Ḥasan-ʿAli served briefly as an important advisor to ʿĀdel Shah, Nāder’s nephew and successor. He then made his way back to Isfahan, where he is said to have counseled Karim Khan Zand to enthrone Abu Torāb Mirzā as Shah Esmāʿil III in 1163/1750 (Abu’l-Ḥasan Golestāna, Mojmal al-tawāriḵ, ed. Modarres Rażawi, Tehran, 1965, p. 172). Ḥasan-ʿAli’s descendants took the title moʿayyer al-mamālek as their family name. One of them, Ḥasan-ʿAli, served as an official of Fath-ʿAli Shah and married one of his daughters around 1249/1834.
Bibliography: Given in the text.
Originally Published: December 15, 2003
Last Updated: March 20, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. XII, Fasc. 1, pp. 40-41