Condominial Sovereignty and Condominial Messianism in the Timurid Empire: Historiographical and Numismatic Evidence

in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



This article problematizes the use of messianic discourse in the articulation of political sovereignty in the early fifteenth century Timurid context. It argues that the concept of condominium was among the alternatives that the Timurid authorities considered in order to formulate a novel constitutional framework for the Timurid Empire after the death of Timur, and in specific political circumstances especially in Fars, messianic and condominial principles of sovereignty conflated. To further this argument, the article focuses on one particular case, the Timurid historian Muʿīn al-Dīn Naṭanzī, who formulated the concept of condominial sovereignty, in which both Shāhrukh and Iskandar appear as equal sovereign with messianic prerogatives. Naṭanzī’s concept of condominial messianism was connected to Iskandar’s unique formulation of condominial sovereignty through his coinage. This article further argues that too many religio-political concepts are used interchangeably in secondary literature, even though our sources clearly distinguish them in terms of their specific constitutional associations.

Condominial Sovereignty and Condominial Messianism in the Timurid Empire: Historiographical and Numismatic Evidence

in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient



AlbumStephen. 2001. Iran after the Mongol Invasion. Sylloge of Islamic Coins IX. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum.

Ḥāfiż-i Abrū. 2001-2002. Zubdat al-tavārīkh. 4 vols. Ed. Sayyid Kamāl Hājj Sayyid JavādīTehran: Sāzmān-i Chāp va Intishārāt-i Vizārat-i Farhang va Irshād-i Islāmī.

NaṭanzīMuʿīn al-Dīn. Muntakhab al-tavārīkh-i Muʿīnī. 1336 ed. Jean Aubin. Tehran: Khayyam: 1-407.

NaṭanzīMuʿīn al-Dīn. Muntakhab al-tavārīkh-i Muʿīnī. Paris Bibliothèque Nationale de France Ms. Suppl. Pers. 1651.

NaṭanzīMuʿīn al-Dīn. “Iskandar Anonymous.” 1336 ed. Jean Aubin. Tehran: Khayyam: 409-435.

NaṭanzīMuʿīn al-Dīn. “Iskandar Anonymous.” London British Library Ms. Or. 1566.

NaṭanzīMuʿīn al-Dīn. “Iskandar Anonymous.” St Petersburg Institut Vostokovedeniia Ms. C 381.

NaṭanzīMuʿīn al-Dīn. “Iskandar Anonymous.” Tabriz Kitābkhāna-yi Millī Ms. 5311.

NaṭanzīMuʿīn al-Dīn. “Iskandar Anonymous.” Mashhad Kitābkhāna-yi Āstān-i Quds-i Rażavī Ms. 4269.

NaṭanzīSynoptic Account 1989. A Century of Timurid Princes. Sources on Timurid History and Art trans. Wheeler M. Thackston. Cambridge, MA: The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 237-246

NaṭanzīSynoptic Account 2001. Anonymous Synoptic Account of the Timurid House, ed. Wheeler M. Thackston in Album Prefaces and Other Documents on the History of the Calligraphers and Painters. Leiden: Brill: 88-98.

NaṭanzīSynoptic Account. Istanbul Topkapı Sarayı Kütüphanesi Ms. B. 411: ff. 140a-142b159a.

William of Rubruck. 1990. The Mission of Friar William of Rubruck trans. Peter Jackson. Cambridge: The Hakluyt Society. [oriental coins database]. “Iskandar 812-817AH.” (Accessed 03 April 2016).

AigleDenise. 1992. Les tableaux du Muntaḫab al-tavārīḫ-i Muʿīnī. Une originalité dans la Tradition historiographique persane. Studia Iranica 21: 67-83.

AlbumStephen. 1976. A Hoard of Silver Coins from the time of Iskandar Qarā-Qoyūnlū. The Numismatic Chronicle 136: 109-157.

AlbumStephen. Coins and Coinage ii. Later Persian Coinage. Encyclopaedia Iranica: VI14-41.

AlbumStephen. 2011. Checklist of Islamic Coins. 3rd ed. Santa Rosa, CA: n.p.

BabayanKathryn. 2002. Mystics, Monarchs, and Messiahs. Cultural Landscapes of Early Modern Iran. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Middle Eastern Monographs.

Bartol’dV.V. 1977. Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion. 4th ed. Trans. V. MinorskyLondon: E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust.

Bartol’dV.V. 1956-62. History of Semirechyé. In Four Studies on the History of Central Asia trans. V. and T. Minorsky. Leiden: Brill: I73-171.

Bartol’dV.V. 1964. Narodnoe dvizhenie v Samarkande v 1365g. In Sochineniia. Moscow: Nauka: II/2362-379.

Bartol’dV.V. 1966. Khalif i sultan. In Sochineniia. Moscow: Nauka: VI15-78.

Bartol’dV.V. 1973. Opredelenie ‘Anonima Iskendera’. In Sochineniia. Moscow: Nauka: VIII481-482.

Bartol’dV.V. 1973. Eshche ob Anonime Iskendera. In Sochineniia. Moscow: Nauka: VIII491-503.

BashirShahzad. 2003. Messianic Hopes and Mystical Visions. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

BashirShahzad. 2005. Fazlallah Astarabadi and the Hurufis. Oxford: Oneworld2005.

Binbaşİlker Evrim. 2016. Intellectual Networks in Timurid Iran: Sharaf al-Dīn ‘Alī Yazdī and the Islamicate Republic of Letters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Binbaşİlker Evrim. 2014. Timurid Experimentation with Eschatological Absolutism: Mīrzā Iskandar, Shāh Niʿmatullāh Walī, and Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī in 815/1412. In Unity in Diversity: Patterns of Religious Authority in Islam ed. Orkhan Mir-Kasimov. Leiden: Brill: 277-303.

Binbaşİlker Evrim. 2013. Anatomy of a Regicide Attempt: Shāhrukh, the Ḥurūfīs, and the Timurid Intellectuals in 830/1426-27. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 23: 391-428.

Bregel’ Yuri. 1968. Novaia rukopis’ sochineniia Mu’in ad-Dina Natanzi. Narody Azii i Afriki 4: 164-165.

DicksonMartin. 1963. Uzbek Dynastic Theory in the Sixteenth Century. In Trudy dvadtsat’ piatogo mezhdunarodnogo kongressa vostokovedov. Moscow: Izd-vo Vostochnoi Literatury: III208-216.

DoerferGerhard. 1963. Türkische und mongolische Elemente im Neupersischen. 4 vols. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag.

FleischerCornell H. 1992. The Lawgiver as Messiah: The Making of the Imperial Image in the Reign of Süleymân. In Soliman le magnifique et son temps ed. Gilles Veinstein. Paris: Documentation française: 159-177.

Garcia-ArenalMercedes. 2006. Messianism and Puritanical Reform. Mahdīs of the Muslim West. Leiden: Brill.

GoodyJack ed. 1966. Succession to High Office. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

GrantJohn P. and J. Craig Barker. 2009. Encyclopædic Dictionary of International Law. 3rd ed.Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Green-MercadoMayte T. 2013. The Mahdī in Valencia: Messianism, Apocalypticism and Morisco Rebellions in Late Sixteenth-Century Spain. Medieval Encounters 19: 193-220.

HinzWalther. 1936. Quellenstudien zur Geschichte der Timuriden. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 90: 357-398.

HodgsonMarshall G.S. 1960. The Unity of Later Islamic History. Journal of World History 5: 879-914.

IudinV.P. 1992. Ordy: Belaia, Siniaia, Seraia, Zolotaia…. In Utemish Hadzhi Chingiz-Name ed. V.P. IudinIu. G. Baranova and M.S. Abuseitova. Almaty: Gylym: 14-56.

JacksonPeter. 2005. The Mongols and the West. London: Routledge.

JacksonPeter. 1978. The Dissolution of the Mongol Empire. Central Asiatic Journal 22: 186-244.

JendorffAlexander. 2010. Condominium. Typen Funktionwesen und Entwicklungspotentiale von Herrschaftsgemeinschaften in Alteuropa anhand hessicher und thüringischer Beispiele. Marburg: Historische Komission für Hessen.

KöhlerMichael A. 2013. Alliances and Treaties between Frankish and Muslim Rulers in the Middle East. Cross-Cultural Diplomacy in the Period of the Crusades trans. Peter M. Holt. Leiden: Brill.

KöhlerMichael A. Munāṣafa. Encyclopaedia Islamica2: VII564.

ManzBeatrice F. 2007. Power Politics and Religion in Timurid Iran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McChesneyRobert D. 1991. Waqf in Central Asia. Four Hundred Years in the History of a Muslim Shrine 1480-1889. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

McChesneyRobert D. 2009. The Chinggisid Restoration in Central Asia: 1500-1785. In The Cambridge History of Inner Asia—The Chinggisid Age ed. Nicola di CosmoAllen J. Frank and Peter B. Golden. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 277-302.

MoinAzfar. 2012. The Millenial Sovereign. Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam. New York: Columbia University Press.

MorganDavid. 1982. Who Ran the Mongol Empire? Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1: 124-136.

NagelTilman. Buyids. Encyclopaedia IranicaIV578-586.

PaulJürgen. 2016. Lokale und imperiale Herrschaft im Iran des 12. Jahrhunderts. Herrschaftspraxis und Konzepte. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

PeacockAndrew C.S. 2015. The Great Seljuk Empire. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

RanjbarMuḥammad ʿAlī. 1382 Mushaʿshaʿiyan. Mahiyyat-i fikrī-ijtimāʿī va farāyand-i taḥavvulāt-i tārīkhī. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Āgāh.

RieuCharles. 1879-83. Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum. London: British Library.

SoucekPriscilla P. 1992. The Manuscripts of Iskandar Sultan: Structure and Content. In Timurid Art and Culture. Iran and Central Asia in the Fifteenth Century ed. Lisa Golombek and Maria Subtelny. Leiden: Brill: 116-131.

SoucekPriscilla P. 1996. Eskandar b. ‘Omar Šayx b. Timur: A Biography. Oriente Moderno 15: 73-87.

StoriCh. A. and Yuri Bregel’. 1972. Persidskaia Literatura. Bio-Bibliograficheskii obzor. 3 vols. Moscow: Nauka.

SubrahmanyamSanjay. 2003. Turning the Stones Over: Sixteenth‑Century Millenarianism from Tagus to the Ganges. Indian Economic and Social History Review 40: 129-161.

SubtelnyMaria. 2007. Timurids in Transition: Turko-Persian Politics and Acculturation in Medieval Iran. Leiden: Brill.

SubtelnyMaria E. and Anas B. Khalidov. 1995. The Curriculum of Islamic Higher Learning in Timurid Iran in the Light of the Sunni Revival under Shāh-Rukh. Journal of the American Oriental Society 115: 210-236.

Toganİsenbike. 1994. Uluğ Bey Zamanında Yasa ve Şeriat Tartışmaları. Tarih Çevresi 10: 9-16.

Toganİsenbike. 1998. Flexibility and Limitation in Steppe Formations. The Kerait Khanate and Chinggis Khan. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

ToganZeki Velidi. 1981. Umumî Türk Tarihine Giriş. 3rd ed. Istanbul: Enderun Kitabevi.

VásáryIstván. 2009. The Jochid Realm: The Western Steppe and Eastern Europe. In Inner Asia—The Chinggisid Age ed. Nicola Di CosmoAllen J. Frank and Peter B. Golden. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 67-85.

WoodsJohn E. 1999. The Aqquyunlu: Clan Confederation Empire. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

WoodsJohn E. 1990. The Timurid Dynasty. Bloomington, IN: Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies.

WoodsJohn E. The Timurid Aristocratic Order: forthcoming.

WoodsJohn E. 1987. The Rise of Tīmūrid Historiography. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 46: 81-108.

WoodsJohn E. 1990. Timur’s Genealogy. In Intellectual Studies on Islam: Essays Written in Honor of Martin B. Dickson ed. Michel M. Mazzaoui and Vera B. Moreen. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press: 85-125.


  • View in gallery
    Iskandar’s coin depicting him as an independent ruler. The formula on the reverse reflects Sunni characteristics (Zeno #49785. See also #40310).
  • View in gallery
    Oxford Ashmolean museum No.933.45
  • View in gallery
    Iskandar’s coin depicting him as an independent ruler. The formula on the reverse reflects Sunni characteristics (Zeno #62448).
  • View in gallery
    Tübingen University coin collection 95-31-137.
  • View in gallery
    Tübingen University coin collection HI2 D2.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 46 46 16
Full Text Views 69 69 57
PDF Downloads 8 8 3
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0