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Military Manpower in Late Mongol and Timurid Iran

Beatrice Forbes Manz
p. 43-55

Texte intégral

1It is common to introduce a neglected historical source at a conference; I want to do something a little different and introduce a neglected group of people – the local military population of Iran in the late Mongol and the Timurid period. We know that Iranian troops were widely used during the Mongol period, and we also know that under the Timurids the local military of Iran took part in most large campaigns and many minor ones, but these troops and most of their commanders have remained shadowy figures. There has been little study of the character and makeup of the military population or of their impact on political dynamics. In this paper I will not go beyond a beginning; I will introduce a few examples of military figures and attempt a preliminary characterization of the military classes of Iran, suggesting some ways in which they influenced politics.

  • 1 See for instance A.K.S. Lambton, Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia: Aspects of Administrativ (...)

2Our problem in understanding local military personnel stems from the conventions of the sources at our command. Medieval historians portrayed society according to the divisions prevalent in Perso-Islamic theoretical and advice literature, which sharply divided “men of the sword” from “men of the pen”. During the Mongol and Timurid period, when the ruling class consisted of Mongols and Turks commanding a large nomad army, this divide was characterized along ethnic lines:a Turco-Mongolian military class, with a Perso-Islamic elite providing bureaucracy, ulama (olamâ) and urban notables1. Most historians originated from either the ulama or the bureaucracy and had a strong bias in favor of their own kind. It is these classes who emerge most fully and vividly from the collections of biographies and local histories which form major sources for social and regional history. The military classes figure primarily in the dynastic court histories written for rulers, and only the most powerful commanders within the ruler’s entourage achieve significant characterization.

  • 2 See for instance, Lambton, Continuity and Change, p. 255, 297-298; B.A.F. Manz, The Rise and Rule o (...)

3The local military elites, those outside the Turco-Mongolian following of the ruler, appear clearly only under special circumstances, when no superior central power covered their activities. They are mentioned, though rarely well described, in the histories of local independent dynasties, such as the rulers of Sistan, the Mozaffarids of Kerman and Fars, and the Karts of Herat. There are two ways we can use the histories of these dynasties for our purposes. One way is to examine the history of their founders, whose stories provide telling vignettes of local politics. Another is to use historians’ accounts of the disorders at the end of Ilkhanid rule. Local commanders achieved prominence when central rule collapsed, and the rivalries of smaller dynasties in Iran gave scope and opportunity to local military adventurers. When central rule is reimposed, the histories once again confine their activities to the margin, and politics again belong to the ruler and his military entourage, upheld by Persian bureaucrats and notables, a vision which has been followed by modern historians of the period2. To achieve a more detailed understanding of the relations between government and society under the Mongols and the Timurids, I want to examine what this schema leaves out:the holders and users of military power outside the entourage of the ruler.

Local military elites

  • 3 J.A. Boyle, “Îndjû”, in: EI2; J.W. Limbert, “Shiraz in the Age of Hafiz”, Doctoral Dissertation, Ha (...)
  • 4 H.R. Roemer, “The Jalayirids, Muzaffarids and Sarbadârs”, CHI, vol. 6, p. 11; Limbert, “Shiraz”, p. (...)

4Let us look first at the rise of regional dynasties in the Mongol period. These were founded by the sword, by people who arose from the local elites serving under the Mongols, and it seems logical to assume that for each person who rose to a position of rule, other similar men must have continued to be active at a lower level. Among dynastic founders we find people of a variety of ethnic origins, some moving to new areas where opportunities opened up, others remaining within their region of origin. The dynasties of southern Iran offer us examples of this first type. The Injuid dynasty of Fars (c. 1303-1357), was founded by Sharaf al-Din Mahmud-Shah, who claimed descent from the great 11th-century theologian and mystic ‘Abdallah Ansari of Khorasan. Sent to Fars originally by the Ilkhan Öljeytü to administer the royal estates, Sharaf al-Din succeeded over time in seizing power over much of the region for himself and his family3. The Mozaffarid dynasty of Kerman and Fars belonged to a Khorasanian family of Arab descent, which retreated to Kerman on the Mongol invasion. The family settled in Maybod and various of its members served under Hülegü. Its rise began when the founder of the family fortunes, Sharaf al-Din Mozaffar, was appointed to guard the region against robbers. His son Mobarez al-Din Mohammad served at the Ilkhanid court in his youth, then returned to his family’s region on Oljeytü’s death and began to expand his power, taking Yazd from its Atabeg, fighting the unruly Negüderi Mongols, and increasing his power at the expense of the Inju family4. Like the Injuids, the Mozaffarids rose through a combination of service to the Ilkhans and local military activity, and then, profiting from the collapse of central government, they achieved independence, which they held until defeated by Timur (Temür).

  • 5 Lambton, Continuity and Change, p. 15; V. Minorsky, “Kutlugh-Khânîds”. in: ET.
  • 6 CE. Bosworth, The History of the Saffarids of Sistan and the Maliks of Nimruz (247/861 to 949/1542- (...)

5The rulers of Kerman under the Mongols represented a different type of military actor – the remnants of the Turkic ruling class pushed out by the Mongols. These were the Qutlugh-Khanid or Qara-Khitay dynasty, founded in 1222 by Baraq Hajib, a Qara-Khitay who had served ‘Ala’ al-Din Mohammad Khorezm-shah5. Like the Injuids and Mozaffarids, they were able to make use of Mongol overlordship to carve out local power for themselves in a region to which they were foreign. Another commander from the realm of the Khorezmshahs, Taj al-Din Inaltegin Khorezmi, moved to the south where he became involved in local struggles and founded a minor dynasty in Farah6.

  • 7 J. Aubin, Emirs mongols et vizirs persans dans les remous de l’acculturation, Paris, 1995, p. 71-72 (...)

6Several local dynasties of the Mongol period originated from the Iranian semi-nomadic and tribal populations which maintained their military character throughout Arab and Mongol rule. This was the case with the dynasty of Shabankara, which arose before the Mongols and lasted under their domination until the disturbances at the end of the Ilkhanid period. The Shabankara rulers based their power on a peripheral region of Fars with a pastoralist economy. They were themselves Iranian and claimed descent from the Sassanian dynasty, but their population and armies were heterogeneous; the districts they controlled held both Arab and Turkmen nomads. When they went to war they commanded troops from the local population, augmented by Turkic slaves. Like a number of other contemporary dynasties they cemented their position through marriage with the Mongol elite7.

  • 8 L.G. Potter, “The Kart Dynasty of Herat: Religion and Politics in Medieval Iran”, Doctoral Disserta (...)

7In Khorasan we find two dynasties representing different segments of the local population. The Kartid dynasty of Herat was similar to that of Shabankara in its dependence on a semi-pastoralist nomad population. The Karts enjoyed an obscure origin; they were Tajiks claiming descent from the Seljukid sultan Sanjar, and closely connected to the Ghurid population of the mountain regions, who formed a significant part of their armies. The ancestors of their eponymous founder rose to prominence in the service of the Ghurid dynasty, for whom they governed the region of Herat. When the Mongols arrived the Kartid leader quickly paid his respects and obtained a patent for the region, with permission to reconquer it. After this he and his successors ruled Herat for the Mongols and served conspicuously in their armies, with local troops8.

  • 9 J. Masson Smith, The History of the Sarbadâr Dynasty 1336-1381 A.D. and its Sources, La Haye-Paris, (...)

8The Sarbadar movement of Sabzevar which achieved prominence in Khorasan on the collapse of the Ilkhanids was also of local origin. This began with ‘Abd al-Razzaq b. Fazlallah Bashtini and his brother, identified as local amirs and great men of Bashtin near Sabzevar. They organized first a rebellion and then a band of brigands, consolidating their power by serving as allies or agents of nearby Mongol powers. They soon found other sources for their military manpower and support in the Shi’ite “darvish” organization, controlling armed followers, presumably futûwwa groups, and the landed aristocracy from Sabzevar. These three groups formed the central leadership of the Sarbadars up to Timur’s conquests, and their rivalry for power lay behind many of the dynasty’s vicissitudes. The common soldiers at their command included a motly group of adventurous young men:ex-soldiers, futûwwa groups and Turkic ghulams9.

  • 10 Aubin, Emirs mongols, p. 25-29.
  • 11 Ibid., p. 25-29; Manz, Rise and Rule, p. 111.

9What we see when we put all these stories together is not a set of earlier dynasties surviving with difficulty under foreign rule, but a group of active men taking advantage of new conditions to carve out power for themselves. Some came from local families; others moved to new regions for safety or opportunity. These men resemble the Persian bureaucratic families of Semnan and Qazvin, who also used the opportunities opened by Mongol rule to rise to new prominence and power10. It is not clear indeed how impermeable a line we should draw between the military and bureaucratic elites of Iran. Certainly we know of viziers who served as governors or fortress keepers for part of their careers, and bureaucrats are mentioned in battle, leading troops11.

  • 12 Bosworth, History of the Saffarids, p. 405, 406, 444-451, 457.
  • 13 Naṭanzi, Muntakhab, p. 6, 8, 12; Bosworth, History of the Saffarids, p. 456, 464-466.
  • 14 Naṭanzi, Muntakhab, p. 10. Whether or not this particular story is true, the history of this dynast (...)

10Once rulers had achieved local power they then had to keep it, and this involved not only maintaining good relations with their overlords, but also controlling the milieu from which they themselves had arisen. We should not let the spectacular traumas of Turco-Mongolian rule blind us to the continuing contentiousness of local populations. The histories of local dynasties, however brief, make it clear that local rulers manoeuvred within a politically active society with widely disseminated military power. The history of Sistan shows an endless series of uprisings by the holders of regional fortresses, who had to be subdued or placated by each ruler in turn. When they could not manage to do this on their own, the kings of Sistan turned to outside powers for help, as did their rivals12. The accession of a new ruler often depended on the choice of candidates made by notables and amirs13. The leading men of Shabankara, when the last of their rulers had been killed, invited in another branch of the dynasty from Isfahan, but according to one source these men, having heard that the notables and amirs of Shabankara had been consistently faithless towards their former rulers, refused to take over leadership14.

  • 15 [Neẓâm al-Din Shâmi], éd. F. Tauer, Histoire des conquêtes de Tamerlan, intitulée Ẓafarnâma, par Ni (...)
  • 16 [Ḥâfeẓ-e Abru], éd. F. Tauer, Cinq opuscules de Ḥâfiẓ-i Abrû concernant l’histoire de l’Iran au tem (...)
  • 17 ZNS, vol. II, p. 56; Cinq opuscules, p. 55.
  • 18 J. Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr du Khorassan”, Journal Asiatique 262 (1974), p. 114-115; Boswo (...)
  • 19 Shabânkâra’i, Majma’, p. 170; Cinq opuscules, p. 9, 55.

11We have another good opportunity to study local military figures in the accounts of the political activity in Iran at the time of Timur’s rise to power. At this time, the dynasties I have mentioned above were competing for men and territory, along with several new Turco-Mongolian dynasties filling the vacuum left by the Ilkhans. The rivalries of these states gave scope to the ambitions of local commanders, some of whom appear quite prominently in the histories. When we look at these men the first thing that strikes us is their heterogeneity. We find a wide variety of both ethnic group and social or occupational class. Among the people who came voluntarily into Timur’s service with personal troops there were amirs of Mongol background, such as Saru ‘Adel (Sâru ‘Âdel), descended from a group formed by Abaqa Khan as helpers to the palace troops. He had started out in charge of the sheep enclosure at Baghdad, and worked his way up in the service of the Jalayirid amirs to a position of enormous power – sufficient to be dangerous to the dynasty and thus to him15. Another was Eskandar-e Sheykhi, of the princely lineage of Amol, who had embarked on a career of military adventure after his father had been deposed, and eventually joined Timur with 1000 men16. We also find several amirs from Khorasan leaving the service of the Karts to join Timur. The rulers and commanders mentioned above represent a variety of people, at quite different levels of power. The sources as usual are unreliable on numbers of troops, but give a few hints. We find Saru ‘Adel at the head of a sizeable force of 17 qoshun, while Eskandar-e Sheykhi led a personal following of 1000 horsemen17. Where the figures of troops commanded by the Sarbadars are mentioned, they number from one to three thousand, probably largely footmen. The troops under the command of the rulers of the Sistan seem to have been of about equal size18. Elsewhere we find the figure of two to three hundred men attached to independent military figures19.

Characteristics of the military elite

  • 20 J. Aubin (ed.), Matériaux pour la biographie de Shâh Ni’matullâh Walî Kirmânî, Paris-Téhéran, 1956, (...)
  • 21 Mo’in al-Din Zamchi Esfezâri, Rowżât al-jannât fi owṣâf-e madinat-e Herât, ed. Seyyed Moḥammad Kâẓi (...)
  • 22 J. Aubin, “Un santon quhistani à l’époque timouride”, Revue des études islamiques 35 (1967), p. 198 (...)

12We have observed the variety of local military figures in Iran; what is more striking is their mobility. There seems to have been considerable movement up and down the social scale, and we might see this class as another conduit for social mobility in the medieval Middle East. This should not surprise us, as the active and cutthroat dynasties of Iran clearly offered both opportunity and danger to local holders of power. We find the spectacular rise of relatively minor figures either through their own initiative, as in the case of the Bashtini founders of the Sarbadar state, or through favor from rulers and clever manoeuvring within their service, as with the Kartid and Mozaffarid dynastic founders under the Ilkhans, and Saru ‘Adel under the Jalayirids. We also find examples of mobility downward, in the murder and dispossession of the numerous amirs who landed up on the losing sides of battles. There were other less dramatic ways in which fortunes of this class rose and fell. One of the lives of Shah Ne’matallah Kermani recounts the story of Nezam al-Din Kiji, a military man from the region of Kij and Makran, many of whose men had left his following to follow the governor of Kerman. He came into the province with his remaining troops planning on revenge, but meeting up with Shah Ne’matallah, instead joined his order and distributed his goods among his armed followers, whom he released20. We also find some vignettes of the landed gentry class from which many military men arose. Esfezari recounts the story of a man living alone in a ruined fortress previously belonging to relatives, who was accompanied now only by crows he had trained to hunt. When the Timurid ‘Abd al-Qasem Babor (r. Khorasan c. f450-57) met him, he asked what favour he would like and granted his request that the fortress be attached to him21. We find accounts of the ruin of local landlords in Sufi lives, which might explain what lay behind this story22.

  • 23 ZNS, vol. I, p. 97, and vol. II, p. 58-59; Maḥmud Kotobi, Târikh-e Âl-e Moẓaffar, ed. ‘Abd al-Ḥosey (...)
  • 24 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 100-103; Cinq opuscules, p. 54-57, 33-34; Sharaf al-Din ‘Ali (...)

13What is much more extreme is the geographical mobility of many military men of Iran. When we look for instance at the career of the Mongol Saru ‘Adel, we find him starting his career in Baghdad, under the Jalayirids, but after the rise of Soltan-Ahmad after 1382, his arrogance and power proved too great a threat, and he soon transferred into the service of the Mozaffarids, always glad to receive amirs from outside. By the time Timur took over northern Iran in 786-7 H., Saru ‘Adel had become disillusioned about his prospects in Fars, and scenting a new opportunity, he sent an agent to sound out Timur’s entourage. His advance was well received, and he switched allegiance again, for which he was rewarded by the governance of Tabriz and Soltaniya23. Eskandar-e Sheykhi had an even livelier career, leaving his region for Firuzkuh when his father lost his position, then about 1374 moving to Khorasan where he joined one of the dissident Shi’ite leaders of Sabzevar, Darvish Rokn al-Din, in an attempt at power. When this failed, Rokn al-Din fled to the welcoming Mozaffarids in Fars, and Eskandar-e Sheykhi to the Kartids, who received him well and gave him governorship first of Fushanj and then of Nishapur. When Rokn al-Din returned to Khorasan accompanied by a Mozaffarid force, he succeeded in taking Sabzevar and several neighboring fortresses, and Eskandar-e Sheykhi was quick to join him. They were soon attacked by most of the local dynasties;Rokn al-Din attempted flight but was captured and killed, while Eskandar-e Sheykhi again returned to the Karts, who forgave him24.

  • 25 ZNY, vol. I, p. 236.
  • 26 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 108-109.
  • 27 ZNY, vol. I, p. 207.

14The Kartids, probably the strongest and most stable of the Khorasanian dynasties, had attracted and welcomed several adventurous amirs into their service. As Timur’s fortunes rose, he also served as a magnet, and a number of amirs left Kartid service to join him. One of these was Eskandar-e Sheykhi, whom Timur may have seen as someone likely to switch allegiance. Sharaf al-Din ‘Ali Yazdi reports that when Timur conquered Herat in 1381, he held Eskandar-e Sheykhi back from the rest of the Kartid emissaries in order to ask information about the internal situation of Herat25. Another amir left Kartid service even earlier to join Timur; this was Sheykh b. Da’ud b. Khitatay, whose family appears to have served the Kartids as governors and military commanders for at least one generation before him. When Timur invaded Khorasan in 1381, Sheykh b. Da’ud was with him and was rewarded with the governorship of Esfezar26. These military men were not simply living in their own regions and serving whatever rulers took them over, but moving from one region or state to another to find a more advantageous situation. Ambitious men did not necessarily wait until they were in straits before moving; several of the Kartid amirs who left to serve Timur did so well before his invasion of Khorasan27.

The political impact of local amirs

  • 28 Shabânkâra’i, Majma’, p. 324; Cinq opuscules, p. 32.
  • 29 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 99; J. Aubin, “L’Ethnogenèse des Qaraunas”, Turcica 1 (1969) (...)

15We should consider what impact these amirs had on the political picture in Iran. First of all we should recognize that the territorial ambitions of local dynasties and the frequent movement of amirs from one master to another meant that the post-Ilkhanid states of Iran all contained significant numbers of outside people. To illustrate this we can look at the military personnel of two of the larger and more explicitly Iranian dynasties who followed the Mongols in 14th century Iran:the Karts of Herat and the Mozaffarids of Fars. Both expanded their territories at the expense of neighboring powers, and the list of the groups they ingested is instructive. The Kartids had in their armies Tajiks, Khalaj Turks, Baluch and Ghurids, and, when they absorbed central Khorasan, they brought into their service among others some of the descendants of Kadbugha Noyan, and some Mongol Negüderi28. As we have seen, they were also welcoming to Eskandar-e Sheykhi. We likewise find in their service renegade darvishes from the Sarbadars, Darvish Amir Kamal al-Din and Darvish Mohammad Hendu, to whom they gave charge of the border fortress Farhadjerd29.

  • 30 Târikh-e Âl-e Moẓaffar, p. 50-58, 70, 75, 142-143, n. 34.
  • 31 Târikh-e Âl-e Moẓaffar, p. 57; Shabânkâra’i, Majma’, p. 316.
  • 32 Khwândamir, Ḥabibu’s-siyar, Tome Three, trans. W. Thackston, Cambridge, MA, 1994, vol. I, p. 176-17 (...)

16The Mozaffarids held the region of the Jurma’i and Awghani Mongols of Kerman, a local grouping apparently descended from troops whom the Ilkhan Arghun had appointed to the Qutlugh-Khanids of Kerman for border defense. These were a troublesome population, constantly in rebellion despite a marriage alliance with the royal house. Nonetheless those not killed in reprisal continued to serve prominently in the Mozaffarid armies30. The dynasty also had under its control a less troublesome group of Mongols from Kerman known as “Nowruzi”, and some of the Mongol amirs who had served the Injuids of Shiraz and entered the Mozaffarid forces on the defeat of their former masters31. In addition to these, we know of several Khorasanian amirs in their service, with some Khorasanian troops. The Mozaffarids were consistently welcoming to the dissident amirs of their rivals. From the Jalayirids they took in the powerful amir of Hamadan, Pir ‘Ali Badak, as well as Saru ‘Adel, and from the Sarbadars, Darvish Rokn al-Din. During their last year, the rebellious Sarbadar amir Moluk Sabzevari deserted Timur’s service for theirs32.

  • 33 Aubin, Matériaux, p. 100, 104,185-186, 193, 203. One should note that the lives of Shah Ne’matallah (...)

17What we see then is a varied and a shifting military population, many of whom moved back and forth between different states according to inclination and advantage. There was no definite ethnic stratification here; Mongol amirs sometimes served above Iranians, and sometimes below, and, we must assume, often simply alongside. Almost no group was totally without military activity; the Shi’ite darvishes of Sabzevar, openly and consistently leading troops, may have been at one end of the scale, but they are neither the only religious figures to appear in military activity, nor are their armed city followers unusual. It is known that Sufi orders sometimes engaged in military activity, and indeed we find Shah Ne’matallah Kermani’s son, Khalilallah Ne’matallahi, joining battle in India. Considering this, the presence of Nezam al-Din Kiji as a prominent disciple of the order, and the presence also of another military figure, Baba Mohammad Baghdadi, supposedly a member of the Jalayirid dynasty, may take on significance33. As we have seen, members of the bureaucracy might also lead troops.

  • 34 Târikh-e Âl-e Moẓaffar, p. 108-109.
  • 35 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 108-110; ZNS, vol. II, p. 58-60.
  • 36 ZNY, vol. II, p. 408-416.

18The men who switched allegiance so freely were adventurers, and if they succeeded in gaining influence over their patrons, it was often in encouraging them towards conquest. We find Rokn al-Din encouraging the Mozaffarids to attempt power in Khorasan, and Pir ‘Ali Badak going against Baghdad to take it away from his former masters, the Jalayirids, for the Mozaffarids34. As followers themselves, such adventurers left something to be desired. Large numbers of the men who joined Timur for advantage rebelled; indeed such rebellions punctuated his reign at fairly regular intervals, though they seem to have done him little harm. Sheykh b. Da’ud b. Khitatay, who had deserted the Karts for Timur and had participated in the conquest of Khorasan, led a rebellion in Esfezar in 1383, which Timur put down with exemplary violence. Saru ‘Adel likewise lasted only a short time, as he quickly used Timur’s absence in the east to appropriate local taxes and build up his troops. He was suspected of ambitions in Azarbaijan and killed in 788/138635. Eskandar-e Sheykhi lasted longer, but in 1403 he attempted independence in the homelands Timur had returned to him, and was again chased out36.

  • 37 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 98; Ahmad b. Ḥoseyn b. ‘Ali Kâteb, Târikh-e jadid-e Yazd, ed (...)

19If we read the histories watching for local military actors, we may find more continuing political activity than we have previously thought, even under strong dynasties. As rulers passed through regions, or governors arrived at their posts, the local leaders and commanders came to pay their respects, but sometimes their ambitions continued to exist. When in 798/1396 Yazd rebelled from the Timurids, we find a Khorasanian amir who had formerly served the Mozaffarids, raising to the throne Soltan-Mohammad b. Abu Sa’id, descended from a servitor of the Mongol family of ‘Abdallah b. Mulay, who had for a while achieved independence in Raqa and Halvan in southern Qohestan37.

  • 38 Târikh-e jadid-e Yazd, p. 228-244; R. Quiring-Zoche, Isfahan im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert, Freiburg-i (...)

20It is possible that we should see the influence of local military men also in the rebellion of Shahrokh’s grandson Mohammad-Soltan in Isfahan and Fars in 1445-6, which is usually ascribed to an invitation issued to him by the city notables and ulama of Isfahan. What was happening here was probably something more widespread;we see in 1442-3 the beginnings of restiveness under an ill and aging ruler. The disturbances started with local rulers, first in the Caspian region with the king of Rostamdar, and then in Hamadan, whose commander was the one local leader refusing to recognize Soltan-Mohammad’s appointment as governor over the region. Soltan-Mohammad himself soon showed signs of independence which roused Shahrokh to remonstrance. When in 1445-6 the Isfahan notables looked for support against Shahrokh’s tax agents, Soltan-Mohammad was a likely ally, and indeed he was quick to accept their invitation. What is striking about this uprising is how fast it developed beyond Isfahan. When Soltan-Mohammad sent out envoys to regional notables and governors, he received a wide positive response. Money and young men began to flock to him from all over Iraq and even from some of the Qara Qoyunlu, so that he soon had a sizeable army, containing apparently Chaghatay, local and foreign troops. Thus at the end of Shahrokh’s reign, as at the beginning of Timur’s, the military population of Iran was mixed, volatile and ready for adventure38.

Conclusion

21In assessing the political map of Iran under the Mongols and the Timurids we have to consider the Iranian lands as containing a mixed population of militarily and politically active people. The local military class of Iran fails to appear prominently in the dynastic histories, but we are used to making up for this in the case of Sufi sheykhs, ulama and urban notables, all of whom have other sources which inform us of their importance. I suggest that despite the silence of the sources, the composition and activity of military elites was a significant factor which we must explicate if we are fully to understand the relations between government and society, between Turco-Mongolian and Iranian populations, between city and village. It is possible that most local amirs stayed in one small region for generations serving whatever rulers controlled the area and thus provided a source of stability and continuity. Many of those who appear in the histories however had a different character and function. These were ambitious and mobile men, moving from one ruler and region to another, and encouraging adventurism in the dynasties they served. We must regard the regional military population as a changing one, frequently incorporating new figures. This was not a passive force, and in considering what such conquering dynasties as the Timurids inherited when they took over Iran, it is important to recognize that it was a region with a population of mixed ethnic origin, Iranian, Mongol and Turk, tribal, agricultural and urban, nomad and settled, all used to fighting together, whether as allies or as enemies. Even if we cannot discern the activities of most of this large in-between group, we should at least wonder what existed below the tip of the iceberg.

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Notes

1 See for instance A.K.S. Lambton, Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia: Aspects of Administrative, Economic and Social History, 11th-14th Century, Columbia Lectures on Iranian Studies, No. 2, Albany, NY, 1988, p. 221-224, 255, 297, and R. Bulliet, “Local Politics in Eastern Iran under the Ghaznavids and Seljuks,” Iranian Studies 11 (1978), p. 35-56.

2 See for instance, Lambton, Continuity and Change, p. 255, 297-298; B.A.F. Manz, The Rise and Rule of Tamerlane, Cambridge, 1989, p. 22, 107; H.R. Roemer, “The Successors of Timur”, CHI, vol. 6, p. 127-135.

3 J.A. Boyle, “Îndjû”, in: EI2; J.W. Limbert, “Shiraz in the Age of Hafiz”, Doctoral Dissertation, Harvard University, 1973, p. 45-48.

4 H.R. Roemer, “The Jalayirids, Muzaffarids and Sarbadârs”, CHI, vol. 6, p. 11; Limbert, “Shiraz”, p. 62-66; Mohammad b. ‘Ali b. Mohammad Shabânkâra’i, Majma’ al-ansab, ed. Mir Hâshem Mohaddes, Tehran, 1984-85, p. 316.

5 Lambton, Continuity and Change, p. 15; V. Minorsky, “Kutlugh-Khânîds”. in: ET.

6 CE. Bosworth, The History of the Saffarids of Sistan and the Maliks of Nimruz (247/861 to 949/1542-3), Costa Mesa – New York, 1994, p. 407-409, 431, 446, 455.

7 J. Aubin, Emirs mongols et vizirs persans dans les remous de l’acculturation, Paris, 1995, p. 71-72; Shabânkâra’i, p. 164-178 (for marriage, p. 173); Mu’in al-Din Naṭanzi, Extraits du Muntakhab al-tavarikh-i Mu’ini (Anonyme d’Iskandar), éd. J. Aubin, Téhéran, 1957, p. 2, 10.

8 L.G. Potter, “The Kart Dynasty of Herat: Religion and Politics in Medieval Iran”, Doctoral Dissertation, Columbia University, 1992, p. 25-48.

9 J. Masson Smith, The History of the Sarbadâr Dynasty 1336-1381 A.D. and its Sources, La Haye-Paris, 1970, p. 103-124.

10 Aubin, Emirs mongols, p. 25-29.

11 Ibid., p. 25-29; Manz, Rise and Rule, p. 111.

12 Bosworth, History of the Saffarids, p. 405, 406, 444-451, 457.

13 Naṭanzi, Muntakhab, p. 6, 8, 12; Bosworth, History of the Saffarids, p. 456, 464-466.

14 Naṭanzi, Muntakhab, p. 10. Whether or not this particular story is true, the history of this dynasty gives many illustrations of disagreements between the ruler and the local elites and amirs on whom he depended. Ibid., p. 5-10; Shabânkâra’i, Majma’,p. 164, 167-168, 175-176.

15 [Neẓâm al-Din Shâmi], éd. F. Tauer, Histoire des conquêtes de Tamerlan, intitulée Ẓafarnâma, par Niẓâmuddîn Sâmî, Prague, 1937 (vol. I), 1956 (vol. II, containing additions by Ḥâfiẓ-i Abrû), vol. II, p. 58-59 [hereafter: ZNS].

16 [Ḥâfeẓ-e Abru], éd. F. Tauer, Cinq opuscules de Ḥâfiẓ-i Abrû concernant l’histoire de l’Iran au temps de Tamerlan, Prague, 1959, p. 33, 54 [hereafter: Cinq opuscules].

17 ZNS, vol. II, p. 56; Cinq opuscules, p. 55.

18 J. Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr du Khorassan”, Journal Asiatique 262 (1974), p. 114-115; Bosworth, History of the Saffarids, p. 464-465.

19 Shabânkâra’i, Majma’, p. 170; Cinq opuscules, p. 9, 55.

20 J. Aubin (ed.), Matériaux pour la biographie de Shâh Ni’matullâh Walî Kirmânî, Paris-Téhéran, 1956, p. 185.

21 Mo’in al-Din Zamchi Esfezâri, Rowżât al-jannât fi owṣâf-e madinat-e Herât, ed. Seyyed Moḥammad Kâẓim Imâm, 2 vol., Tehran, 1959, vol. I, p. 110-111.

22 J. Aubin, “Un santon quhistani à l’époque timouride”, Revue des études islamiques 35 (1967), p. 198-199, 209.

23 ZNS, vol. I, p. 97, and vol. II, p. 58-59; Maḥmud Kotobi, Târikh-e Âl-e Moẓaffar, ed. ‘Abd al-Ḥoseyn Navâ’i, Tehran, 1985-6, p. 107-110.

24 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 100-103; Cinq opuscules, p. 54-57, 33-34; Sharaf al-Din ‘Ali Yazdi, Ẓafar-nâma, ed. Moḥammad ‘Abbâsi, Tehran, 1336 Sh./1957, vol. I, p. 236 [hereafter: ZNY].

25 ZNY, vol. I, p. 236.

26 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 108-109.

27 ZNY, vol. I, p. 207.

28 Shabânkâra’i, Majma’, p. 324; Cinq opuscules, p. 32.

29 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 99; J. Aubin, “L’Ethnogenèse des Qaraunas”, Turcica 1 (1969), p. 89.

30 Târikh-e Âl-e Moẓaffar, p. 50-58, 70, 75, 142-143, n. 34.

31 Târikh-e Âl-e Moẓaffar, p. 57; Shabânkâra’i, Majma’, p. 316.

32 Khwândamir, Ḥabibu’s-siyar, Tome Three, trans. W. Thackston, Cambridge, MA, 1994, vol. I, p. 176-178; Târikh-e Âl-e Moẓaffar, p. 99-103, 108; Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 113-114.

33 Aubin, Matériaux, p. 100, 104,185-186, 193, 203. One should note that the lives of Shah Ne’matallah report that when he lived in Transoxiana, early in his career, he achieved sufficient power among the nomads of the area to appear as a threat to Timur (Ibid., p. 12-13, 42-43, 122-123). See also Cinq opuscules, p. 54, for Amir Qavam al-Din, who started out as darvish, attracting disciples and pushing out Eskandar-e Sheykhi’s father. The involvement of ulama in the defense of cities is frequently mentioned; see for example Esfezâri, p. 221.

34 Târikh-e Âl-e Moẓaffar, p. 108-109.

35 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 108-110; ZNS, vol. II, p. 58-60.

36 ZNY, vol. II, p. 408-416.

37 Aubin, “La fin de l’État Sarbadâr”, p. 98; Ahmad b. Ḥoseyn b. ‘Ali Kâteb, Târikh-e jadid-e Yazd, ed. Iraj Afshâr, Tehran, 1345 Sh./1966, p. 89-91.

38 Târikh-e jadid-e Yazd, p. 228-244; R. Quiring-Zoche, Isfahan im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert, Freiburg-im-Brisgau, 1980, p. 34-42; ‘Abd al-Razzâq Samarqandi, Maṭla’ al-sa’dayn va majma’ al-bahrayn, ed. Moḥammad Shafi’, Lahore, 1360-68 H./1941-49, vol. II/2, p. 772, 795, 853-855, 860-861.

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Beatrice Forbes Manz, « Military Manpower in Late Mongol and Timurid Iran », Cahiers d’Asie centrale, 3/4 | 1997, 43-55.

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Beatrice Forbes Manz, « Military Manpower in Late Mongol and Timurid Iran », Cahiers d’Asie centrale [En ligne], 3/4 | 1997, mis en ligne le 03 janvier 2011, consulté le 29 mai 2017. URL : http://asiecentrale.revues.org/470

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Beatrice Forbes Manz

History Department, Tufts University, Medford, USA

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