Ispahbads of Gilan

Realm of Sipahbad

Persian: مملکت سپهبد[1]
?–15th century
Map of the domains of the Ispahbads of Gilan
Map of the domains of the Ispahbads of Gilan
Status Autonomous under suzerainty of Umayyad Caliphate, Abbasid Caliphate, Ilkhanate, Timurid Empire and Safavid Empire
Capital Shandan [2]

Astara [3]

(from 14th century)
Government Principality [3]
• 12th century
Kiyā Livāshīr
• 13th–14th century
• 14th–15th century
• ?–1408/09[4]
Historical era Middle Ages
• Established
• Disestablished
15th century
Succeeded by
Safavid Talish
Today part of   Iran

Ispahbads of Gīlān[3][5] (Persian: اسپهبدان گیلان‎) or Esfahbad of Gīlān[3] was a small principality in Iran.[3] In the 14th century, Āstārā became the seat of the principality.[3]

History [ edit ]

According to Minorsky, no detailed record seems to be extant of a principality which for a long time existed on the territory between Gilan and Mūqān (Mūghān) and whose rulers had the title of ispahbad or sipahbad.[5] According to Ibn Khurdādhbih (who wrote not later than in 885) Mūqān belonged to Shekla. Towards 936, the isfahbadh of Mūqān, Ibn-Dalūla, sided with a rebel chief of Gilan, Lashkarī ibn-Mardī, and opposed the Kurdish ruler of Azarbayjan, Daysam ibn-Ibrāhīm. His headquarters seem to have been on the northern bank of the Araxes and we cannot say whether he was of the same family as the later sipahbads of Gilan, whose activities centered more to the south, in Tālish.[5] The late A. Kasravi discovered in the dīvān of the poet Qatran a curious ode on an expedition which the Rawādī ruler of Tabriz, Vahsūdān (circa 1025-59) sent to Ardabil, under the leadership of his son Mamlan. As a result, a fortress was built in Ardabil and the sipahbad of Mūqān had to submit to the conqueror.[5]

As of Gilan, Mustawfī mentions the little town of Iṣfahbad, which Yāḳūt spells Isfahbudhān, adding that stood two miles distant from the coast of the Caspian, but nor otherwise indicating its position; corn, rice, and a little fruit were grown here, ind in neighboring district were near a hundred villages. The name of the township came from the Iṣfahbads.[6]

Gilan province

In later Seljuk times we hear of «Nusrat al-dīn Abul-Muzaffar Ispahbad Kiyā Livāshīr», to whom Khaqanī dedicated several poems in which he praised his liberality and mourned his untimely demise. In a threnody written after his death, he says farewell to Shandān and Archavān, of which the former is an ancient fortress (north of the Astara river) and the latter a village lying some 7–8 km. to the N.W. of Astārā.This may have been only a splinter of the ancient territory of the sipahbads, but the fact is that in it they survived even in the days of the Mongol Ilkhans.[7] The History of Uljāytū, quoting the description of Gilan by one Asil al-din Muhammad Zauzanī (at the time of the arrival of Hulagu, circa 1256), also names Shandān as the capital of the sipahbads.[8]

According to the Safvat, when Safi al-din was inquiring in Fars about the whereabouts of Shaykh Zāhid, he was told that the latter lived in the part of Gilan belonging to the Ispahbad (Gīlān-i Ispahbad). It further tells how Shaykh Zāhid interceded in favour of Malik Ahmad Isbahbad of Gilan, when Ghazan fell foul of him and arrested him, and how Malik Ahmad entertained the shaykh.[2] According to Hāfiz-i Abrū, at the time of Uljāytū's campaign in Gilan (1307), the Sipahbad's name was Rukn al-din Ahmad and he served as a guide to the troops of Amir Chopan. Consequently, it becomes probable that the Malik Ahmad mentioned in Abu-Sa'īd's decree (Melig Aqmad) as having given the three villages (Kenleče, Sidil, and Aradi) to Badr al-dīn Mahmūd was the same local ruler.[9]

Qāsim al-anvār who lived in 1356–1433 and was closely connected with the Safavid family, tells in one of his poems a story about the sipahbad of Gilan Jalāl al-dīn Hūsayn whose throne (takht) was in Astārā.[2]

Decline [ edit ]

According to Minorsky, we do not know whether the later governors of Astara still continued the line of the ispahbads. Even after the conquest of Northern Tālish by the Russians (1813) the family of the Tālish-khans maintained some special rights but the degree of its connexion with the ancient sipahbads would require painstaking investigation.[10]

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Minorsky 1954, p. 525: "Mamlakat-i Sipahbad"
  2. ^ a b c Minorsky 1954, p. 525.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bazin 1987, p. 837.
  4. ^ a b Hariri 2006, p. 166.
  5. ^ a b c d Minorsky 1954, p. 524.
  6. ^ Le Strange 1905, p. 175.
  7. ^ Minorsky 1954, pp. 524–525.
  8. ^ Minorsky 1954, p. 525: "mustaqarr-i sarīr-i mamlakat-i sipahbad"
  9. ^ Minorsky 1954, p. 525: "W. B. Henning seeks the three villages granted to Badr al-dīn Mahmūd in the basin of the Vīlāž-rūd in the northern part of Tālish, and in fact the name Aradi sounds very much like the present-day Arat Such a hypothesis would lead us to admit that the sipahbad's writ went so far north as the Vīlāž-rūd, which, at present, forms the northern frontier of the Tālishī-speaking population with their prevailing neighbours, the Azarbayjan Turks. The local toponymy suggests that the Iranian Talishī dialect originally spread considerably further north and, if the sipahbad was actually the ruler of the Tālish people, nothing stands in the way of his making assignments of lands on the Vīlāž-rūd and the outskirts of the Mūqān steppe."
  10. ^ Minorsky 1954, p. 526.

Sources [ edit ]

  • Bazin, Marcel (2012) [1987]. "ĀSTĀRĀ i. Town and sub-province". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica. Fasc. 8. II. New York City: Bibliotheca Persica Press. pp. 837–838.
  • Ḥarīrī, Ašraf (2006). Āstārā dar guḏargāh-i tārīḫ (in Persian). Rasht: Dihsarā. ISBN 9789648575385.
  • Le Strange, Guy (1905). The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate: Mesopotamia, Persia, and Central Asia, from the Moslem Conquest to the Time of Timur. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc. OCLC 1044046.
  • Minorsky, Vladimir (October 1954). "A Mongol Decree of 720/1320 to the Family of Shaykh Zāhid". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. London: SOAS, University of London. 16 (3): 515–527. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00086821. JSTOR 608620.
What is this?