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Matrimonial Alliances and the Transmission of Dynastic Power in Kurdistan: The Case of the Diyādīnids of Bidlīs in the Fifteenth to Seventeenth Centuries

In: Eurasian Studies
Author:
Sacha Alsancakli Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 / UMR 7528 Mondes iranien et indien

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Abstract

The Diyādīnids of Bidlīs, one of the important Kurdish principalities of the early modern period (fourteenth to seventeenth centuries), have constantly claimed a central role in the political powers of Kurdistan. This article will explore the ways in which the Diyādīnid’s matrimonial alliances helped bolster that claim and otherwise secure and enhance the political standing of the dynasty.

The Diyādīnids of Bidlīs, sometimes known by the name Rōžikids, referring to the tribal confederation which supported their rule for several centuries, are one of the most well-known Kurdish dynasties of the modern era.1 There are several reasons to this. For most of this period, the city of Bidlīs stood at a commercial and economical crossroads in the region, meaning it was frequently visited by merchants and travellers, including Europeans, some of whom have left brief accounts of the city.2 It also represented a highly strategic spot on the road to Tabriz, in the Ottoman-Safavid border area. Control of the city and its surroundings was thus paramount for both empires in their struggle for regional supremacy.3 As a result, the Diyādīnid princes had important leverage in their dealings with these regional powers, while also having to constantly fend off their attempts at subjugating the principality.

During most of the period under scrutiny, Bidlīs was also the seat of a vibrant culture supported by a rich courtly life. It is the only Kurdish principality where a local historiography began to develop, with the composition of the Šarafnāma, a chronicle of Kurdish dynasties, written by the ruling prince Šaraf Ḫān II (r. 986-1009/1578-1600) in 1004-7/1596-9.4 This work allows us to benefit from an internal perspective on dynastic and regional matters; it is, before the nineteenth century, unique in that respect. For the seventeenth century, the Šarafnāma is supplemented by the travel memoirs of Evliyā Çelebī.5 However, this wealth of information has not been utilized to its fullest extent and potential. While books and articles have appeared on individual rulers or specific aspects of the dynasty’s past, a comprehensive account of the history of the Diyādīnid princes of Bidlīs has yet to be written.6

This article is conceived as a first step towards such an account. It will address the problems facing the transmission of dynastic power during a critical period in the history of the dynasty, from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century. More specifically, I will study the physical and political reproduction of the dynastic line through the Diyādīnids’ matrimonial practices. Šaraf Ḫān II’s Šarafnāma provides some information on the matrimonial alliances formed by the Diyādīnids of Bidlīs, notably from the time of Malik Šams al-Dīn Walī, the fourth “historical” prince of the dynasty, in the early fifteenth century. This stands in stark contrast with the situation of other Kurdish dynasties, for which we have close to no information – and what little we do have also comes from the Šarafnāma. The marriage politics of the Diyādīnids operated in two modes: alliances with neighbouring Kurdish houses, on the one part, and alliances with regional powers, on the other. While the first of these strategies represented the usual course of action, the more important Kurdish dynasties also occasionally saw it in their best interests to intermarry with the higher layers of the hierarchy of the central states.

More often than not, this included marrying directly into the central state’s ruling dynasty. Several Kurdish dynasties intermarried with the Akkoyunlu in Uzun Ḥasan’s time (r. 861-82/1457-78),7 and different Kurdish princes also wed Safavid princesses.8 Barring a direct connection, alliances could also be concluded with the local representatives of these regional powers in Kurdistan; for example, the marriage of Mīr Diyādīn Sulaymānī, prince of Qulāb (modern-day Pasûr; early 910s/late 1500s), to Bīkīsī Ḫānim, daughter of Muḥammad Ḫān Ustājlū, Safavid governor of Diyārbakr.9 However, we do not have any information on Kurdish intermarriage with the Karakoyunlu, except in the case of the Diyādīnids of Bidlīs. As for the Ottoman princes and princesses, they traditionally married concubines and high-ranking servants of the Porte.10

In addition to the two operating modes I have mentioned, a third way of marrying will also be examined in this article. It relates to the matrimonial practices of princes in exile, of which the Diyādīnids provide interesting examples. While the local and regional alliances concluded by Kurdish houses served to secure their grip on their dynastic lands, alliances made in exile had a different purpose: they were a means by princes to integrate into the new societies in which they were exiled. As we will see, this is especially manifest in the case of the Diyādīnids.

Interdynastic Marriages among Kurdish Lineages

In the Šarafnāma, Šaraf Ḫān II gives a colourful description of the celebrations held for the wedding of his father, Šams al-Dīn Ḫān (d. 984/1576-7) with the daughter of Muḥammad Beg, prince of Ṣāṣūn, around 50 kilometres to the west of Bidlīs. This week-long reception was hosted by Šams al-Dīn Ḫān’s father, Šaraf Ḫān I, on the Gökmeydan in Bidlīs. The Kurdish prince writes:

This joyful gathering was so well-adorned that the celestial sphere, trading places with the world, opened its thousands of astonished eyes to contemplate it, thus offering on a plate, as tokens of congratulation and silver coins for the guests, the diamond-like stars it had fostered for years in its pocket and garment. As the banquet assembly, gathered in the tent pavilion, was dressed with the beauty and elegance of all sorts of bliss and delights, the most illustrious princes of Kurdistan, such as Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥakkārī, Šāh ʿAlī Beg Boḫtī, Malik Ḫalīl Ayyūbī and Ḥasan Beg Pālūhī, partook in the pleasures and cheerfulness of this flamboyant feast. During these days, the young princes of Kurdistan were constantly occupied with games of polo and archery; they offered, as gifts, plates of gold coins and polished gold to the newly-weds. After carrying out the duties associated with the etiquette of feasts and banquets, he [Šaraf Ḫān I] gave worthy presents and splendid robes of honour to the great and noble ruling princes and granted them leave.11

The attendance of these powerful guests, to which should of course be added Muḥammad Beg of Ṣāṣūn, father of the unnamed bride,12 is a testimony to the power and prosperity of the principality of Bidlīs at that time. Indeed, it would have been very costly for Šaraf Ḫān I to entertain such a company for a whole week and bestow upon them the gifts that he did.13 It also demonstrates the functioning of the Kurdish princes as a tight-knit group strengthened by this pattern of matrimonial relations. In that sense, the mention by Šaraf Ḫān II of the games played by the young princes of Kurdistan is particularly meaningful, as it gives us a rare glimpse into the socialization of these princes. This scene shows that they had had long-standing habits of being around each other from an early age, thus creating a natural dynamic of group solidarity, which translated into political alliances.

Šams al-Dīn Ḫān’s wedding with Muḥammad Beg’s daughter took place around 925/1519.14 Šaraf Ḫān I’s decision to have the daughter of the prince of Ṣāṣūn as a bride was in line with a well-established tradition. According to Šaraf Ḫān II, the princes of Ṣāṣūn were “cousins” of the princes of Bidlīs, with whom they shared a common mythical ancestor.15 As in many pastoral societies, the marriage of patrilateral parallel cousins was often favoured by Kurdish communities, and such unions can be viewed as symbolic forms of this type of marriages. Šaraf Ḫān I himself had married a daughter of ʿAlī Beg of Ṣāsūn and sister of Muḥammad Beg, the latter thus being both maternal uncle and father-in-law to Šams al-Dīn Ḫān.16 It should be noted that alliances of these kinds worked both ways: we know, for example, that in the middle of the seventeenth century, a daughter of Abdāl Ḫān (grandson of Šaraf Ḫān II) was married to Murtażà Beg, prince of Ṣāṣūn (Fig. 2).17

FIGURE 1
FIGURE 1

Simplified genealogical table of the Diyādīnid dynasty of Bidlīs in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Citation: Eurasian Studies 15, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/24685623-12340037

© S. Alsancaklı, 2017. drawing by E. Giraudet, CNRS.
FIGURE 2
FIGURE 2

Simplified genealogical table of the Diyādīnid dynasty of Bidlīs in the seventeenth century.

Citation: Eurasian Studies 15, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/24685623-12340037

© S. Alsancaklı, 2017. drawing by E. Giraudet, CNRS.

While the princes of Ṣāṣūn were privileged partners of the Diyādīnids, matrimonial alliances were also concluded with other dynasties. This can be witnessed in the marriage of the Diyādīnid prince Amīr Šaraf b. Malik Šams al-Dīn (ca. 825/1422) to a woman named Šāhum Ḫātun, daughter of the prince of Ḥisn-Kayfā. Even though the Diyādīnids and Ayyūbids of Ḥisn-Kayfā were not linked by a supposed common ancestry, they represented the two most important Kurdish houses at the time, at least in northern Kurdistan, a fact that is explicitly stated by Šaraf Ḫān II.18 It was thus in the interest of both dynasties to establish kinship relations.

Amīr Šaraf was, according to Šaraf Ḫān II, a weak and demented ruler, who did not outlive his father by very long. In this context, Šāhum Ḫātun had apparently obtained a fatwā from local clerics, allowing her to remarry while her husband was still alive.19 This was of course deeply uncharacteristic, and Šaraf Ḫān II does not provide a basis for this ruling. In any case, after the death of Amīr Šaraf and while their son Šams al-Dīn was still a child, Šāhum Ḫātun took control of the affairs of government with her new husband, a man of unknown origins named Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad Nāṣiruddīnī (Fig. 1).

As could be expected, this government by a woman, furthermore a princess from outside the dynasty, was not well received by the Rōžikids. The joint regency of Šāhum Ḫātūn and Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad is implicitly presented by Šaraf Ḫān II as a form of loss of Diyādīnid/Rōžikid sovereignty over the principality of Bidlīs. In the words of the Kurdish author:

From the beginning of these events, the Rōžikid aghas started to be restless and rebellious. Every one of them got the idea that he would rule over one of the districts of Bidlīs, and Mīr Aḥmad Nāsiruddīnī seized the district of Aḫlāt, while ʿAbd al-Raḥman Āġā Qawālīsī took control of the districts of Čuqūr and Mūš. Anarchy broke out among the Rōžikid tribal communities, and all pretended to govern and aspired to be prince.20

This state of affairs changed at the behest of a Rōžikid man named ʿUmar Yādigārān of the Bāyagī tribe, who convinced the young prince Šams al-Dīn that his mother and stepfather’s takeover of the principality of Bidlīs was, indeed, a “spoliation and a loss”.21 Šaraf Ḫān II gives a very novelized account of the way by which ʿUmar Yādigārān approached Šams al-Dīn, pretexting to insult him in order to secretly tell him to come visit him. This suggests that Šāhum Ḫātun and Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad were watching Šams al-Dīn, in fear of a potential rebellion.22

Upon the advice of ʿUmar Yādigārān, Šams al-Dīn started holding secret gatherings of small committees of Rōžikid warriors at his house, in order to prepare to overthrow the usurpers. Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad heard of this project and fled to Boḫtān, asking for the protection of the prince Mīr Abdāl, after which Šams al-Dīn proceeded to kill Šāhum Ḫātūn, his own mother, and to come to Boḫtān with an army. Mīr Abdāl accepted to surrender Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad to him, in exchange for a man named Ḥasan Šīrawī, presumably a prince of Šērwān, who had killed a Boḫtī prince and was a refugee at the court of Bidlīs. But, thanks to a deceptive plan and the bravery of the Rōžikid warriors, Šams al-Dīn managed to capture Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad and had him executed, without delivering Ḥasan Šīrawī to the Boḫtī. The two parties agreed to cease hostilities, and Šams al-Dīn went back to Bidlīs with a new nickname, “Dušwār” or “the Grim”.23

This story gives us interesting insights on the relations between the Diyādīnids and the Rōžikid tribal confederation that supported the dynasty. In periods of uncertainty or external meddling within the dynastic line, the Rōžikids took it upon themselves to address these problems, an approach that is even clearer in times of loss of Diyādīnid sovereignty over the principality of Bidlīs (as demonstrated, for example, by the tireless efforts of Muḥammad Āġā Galhokī to get a Diyādīnid prince back on the throne of the dynasty in the late fifteenth century, during the Akkoyunlu rule).24 We also witness further examples of the intricate set of connections established inside the group of Kurdish princes: when Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad Nāsiruddīnī fears for his life, he takes shelter with the prince of Boḫtān, while Ḥasan Šīrawī had earlier done the same in the principality of Bidlīs.

It is unknown if either of them had kinship relations at these courts. However, it is certain that matrimonial relations also served the purpose of creating solidarity networks that could be enabled whenever the principality was under attack. This explains why the Diyādīnids favoured alliances with powerful neighbouring dynasties capable of sending them immediate support in such cases. Such a purpose is, for example, manifest in the many crises that marked the eventful relationship between Abdāl Ḫān, prince of Bidlīs in the long seventeenth century (r. ca. 1019-78/1610-68), and the Ottoman central power, represented in the region by the successive governors of Van.

Thus, when Melek Aḥmed Paşa, Evliyā Çelebī’s boss, attacked Bidlīs in full force in the year 1065/1655, most of the princes of Kurdistan sent troops to both parties, waiting to see which way the pendulum would swing. Abdāl Ḫān’s son-in-law Murtażā Beg of Ṣāṣūn, however, fought alongside Abdāl Ḫān.25 This was also the case nine years later, in 1074/1663-4, when another Ottoman governor of Van, Amīr Yūsuf Paşa, led an expedition against Abdāl Ḫān. That time, another of the ḫān’s son-in-laws, Evliyā Beg of the Maḥmūdī – a Yezidi-majority Kurdish principality centered around the city of Ḫošāb, to the southeast of Lake Van –, made an unsuccessful attempt at reinforcing his father-in-law.26 Interestingly, when Evliyā Çelebī had visited Bidlīs, a few months before Melek Aḥmed Paşa’s attack, he had found both Murtażā Beg and Evliyā Beg staying in the city with Abdāl Ḫān.27

The princes of Ṣāṣūn also sometimes acted as advisors to the princes of Bidlīs. For example Sulaymān Beg cautioned his brother-in-law Šams al-Dīn Ḫān to join Šāh Ṭahmāsp in Arjīš, rather than to follow the orders of the sultan and go to Malaṭyā, where he risked being executed.28 After Šams al-Dīn Ḫān’s exile (in 941/1434-5), the Rōžikid tribes of Bidlīs grew restless: for three years, they fought off the Ottoman representatives in the area, and it was only through the mediation of Bahāʾ al-Dīn Beg, Sulaymān Beg’s brother and successor in Ṣāṣūn, that peace could be concluded.29

Conversely, the princes of Bidlīs also heavily meddled in the affairs of the ʿIzīzānids of Ṣāṣūn. Thus, when conflict erupted between Malik Ḫalīl of Ḥisn-Kayfā and Muḥammad Beg b. ʿAlī Beg of Ṣāṣūn in the district of Arzan (around 65 kilometres to the southwest of Bidlīs), occupied by Malik Ḫalīl, Šaraf Ḫān I, along with Šāh ʿAlī Beg of Boḫtān, provided support to his brother-in-law Muḥammad Beg.30 Likewise, Šaraf Ḫān II, along with Amīr Šaraf of Boḫtān, interfered greatly in the dynastic dispute that broke out in 1004/1595-6 between the ʿIzīzānid princes Muḥammad Beg and Aḥmad Beg, both sons of Ḫiżr Beg, also involving their cousin Bahāʾ al-Dīn Beg b. Murād Ḫān.31 Furthermore, if Šaraf Ḫān II had, eighteen lunar years prior, been able to regain rulership of the principality of Bidlīs, it was in large part thanks to the mediation of the Ḥakkārī and Maḥmūdī princes.32 Indeed, around forty years later, in 1026/1617, when Żiyāʾ al-Dīn Ḫān b. Šaraf Ḫān II deserted the camp of Tekeli Meḥmed Paşa, governor of Van, on the way to fight Šāh ʿAbbās, Meḥmed Paşa sent for the Ḥakkārī prince Yaḥyā Beg, whom he believed was also going to flee because, in the words of Ibn-i Nūḥ, the princes of Bidlīs and Ḥakkārī “always acted in concert”.33 Things got out of control and a general melee ensued, in which both Yaḥyā Beg and Meḥmed Paşa lost their lives.34

Many more examples of this sort could be provided. However, this short sample is sufficient to assert that at least some of the Kurdish princes shared a strong consciousness of a common group identity, implying the existence of dynamics of power and solidarity between the different dynasties. Accordingly, matrimonial alliances, among other factors, played an important role in these dynamics, and the connections thus established by many of these princes certainly had an impact on the way they chose to settle their internal and external disputes.

There also seemed to exist cultural, and perhaps political, differences between the northern Kurdish principalities (Bidlīs, Šērwān, Ṣāṣūn/Ḥazzō, Ḥakkārī, Maḥmūdī, Boḫtān, Ḥisn-Kayfā, Mayyāfāriqīn, etc.) and the southern Kurdish ones, eg. ʿImādiyya, Sohrān, Bābān, Mokrī or Ardalān. Though they were all part of the larger group of the princes of Kurdistan, as described by Šaraf Ḫān II in his Šarafnāma, we do not have any examples of intermarriage between these two groups of dynasties. Even when the Diyādīnids were exiled in Safavid Iran, they chose as privileged partners the Turkman dynasty of the Mawṣillū, rather than one of the great Kurdish dynasties of the realm. The alliance with the Mawṣillū was also a way for them to integrate the Safavid family tree, albeit in a very indirect fashion. This was then a common occurrence, as it had been the case before, when the Diyādīnid Malik Šams al-Dīn had, very directly, entered an alliance with Ḳarā Yūsuf Karakoyunlu. In the next sections, these different instances of Diyādīnid intermarriage with some of the regional powers will be examined.

Matrimonial Alliances with Regional Powers

As with many of the local dynasties of the region, it was not uncommon for Kurdish princes to conclude matrimonial alliances with foreign sovereigns. We have already mentioned several examples of this phenomenon, notably involving dynasties such as the Ayyubids of Ḥisn-Kayfā or the Ardalāns, as well as the Akkoyunlu and Safavid states. For the Diyādīnids, however, we know of only one case of direct intermarriage with a regional power. It is the wedding of Malik Šams al-Dīn Walī, the iconic third “historical” prince of the dynasty who ruled in the early fifteenth century, with the daughter of Ḳarā Yūsuf Karakoyunlu.

This marriage contrasts with all the other known examples of Kurdish mingling with foreign powers in an important way. While Uzun Ḥasan Akkoyunlu’s policy was to marry the daughters of Kurdish princes to himself or to his sons, and the Safavids Šāh Ismāʿīl and Šāh ʿAbbās had wed their sisters to Malik Ḫalīl Ayyubī and Ḫān Aḥmad Ḫān Ardalān, it is Ḳarā Yūsuf’s daughter who entered the Diyādīnid household. This suggests a much more balanced power dynamic between the two rulers than the usual ties of subordination binding the Kurdish rulers to their partners, a situation easily explained by the context in which the wedding took place.

Indeed, when Ḳarā Yūsuf returned to Kurdistan from Cairo and Damascus, he was in flight and did not possess a territorial basis from which to reconstruct his principality. He wished to acquire such a land base by retrieving his former territory to the north of Lake Van and east of Erzurum, which had been the summer pastures of the Karakoyunlu since the fourteenth century. Much of this territory was controlled by Malik Šams al-Dīn Walī. As for the castle of Awnīk, which was then occupied by the Timurid Dōladāy, Ḳarā Yūsuf also needed Malik Šams al-Dīn’s help to retrieve it.35 Once this was done, the Karakoyunlu ruler placed the fortress under the jurisdiction of his new ally.36 After he had taken back most of his territory in Kurdistan and Azerbaijan and successfully expelled the Timurids from Tabriz (in 810/1407-8), Ḳarā Yūsuf delivered a letter of investiture to Malik Šams al-Dīn, who officially became his vassal in the Lake Van area, while mostly governing independently.

Malik Šams al-Dīn’s marriage with Ḳarā Yūsuf’s daughter took place in 808/1405-6, just after the arrival of the Karakoyunlu leader in Kurdistan (Fig. 1). It must have seemed extraordinary to the Rōžikid confederation and the people of Bidlīs, for a folk story still circulated almost two centuries later, in Šaraf Ḫān II’s time, on how the Turkman princess had been responsible for Malik Šams al-Dīn’s execution at the hands of Ḳarā Iskandar, Ḳarā Yūsuf’s son and successor. According to this account, Ḳarā Yūsuf’s daughter, as a Turkman princess (دختر تراکمه), loved to ride horses and practise polo and archery. Despite the admonitions of her husband, telling her: “We are Kurds, and the rules of the Turkmans are unacceptable to our people” (ما طایفۀ اکرادیم و قاعدۀ تراکمه در نزد مردمان ما مستحسن و مقبول نیست), she refused to stop.37 Angered at this, Malik Šams al-Dīn struck her in the face and broke one of her teeth. After this episode, the princess wrote a letter to her brother Ḳarā Iskandar, who was stationed in Arjīš, in which she included this tooth, rolled up in a piece of paper. The Karakoyunlu ruler, whom Šaraf Ḫān II calls an “irascible tyrant, nicknamed ‘Mad Iskandar’” (آن ظالم بیباک که بدلو اسکندر موصوف بود), then had Malik Šams al-Dīn executed.

This is most likely a folk story, and Šaraf Ḫān II himself notes that “this story is, in the opinion of the composer of these folios, far from the truth, as it appears that the great amīr was murdered because of the demonstrations of loyalty and attachment that he had made to the threshold of [the Timurid] Mīrzā Šāhruḫ” (اما باعتقاد راقم حروف این قول مستبعد می نماید ظاهراً باعث قتل امیر کبیر اظهار اخلاص و یکجهتی اوست که بآستانۀ میرزا شاهرخ کرده بود).38 Indeed, Ḳarā Iskandar’s motivations were much more pragmatic: he wished to use Malik Šams al-Dīn’s life as a bargaining chip in his planned conquest of Aḫlāt and Bidlīs. Still, the existence, diffusion and transmission of such a story attests to the impact made on the contemporaries of Malik Šams al-Dīn by this Kurdish-Turkman interdynastic union.39

For obvious reasons, the Diyādīnids were not among the dynasties to intermarry with Uzun Ḥasan Akkoyunlu, who wished to remove them from power, as former allies of the Karakoyunlu. The successor states of the Akkoyunlu in Kurdistan, the Safavids and the Ottomans, had contrasting policies regarding intermarriage with local dynasts. The Safavid Šāh Ismāʿīl I walked in the footsteps of the Turkman confederations and continued the practice, as attested by the wedding of one of his sisters to Malik Ḫalīl of Ḥisn-Kayfā. However, after the Safavid defeat at Čaldirān in 920/1514, Safavid Iran was cut off from the northern Kurdish principalities by a fluctuating frontier. The union of Safavid princes and princesses with scions of local dynasties ruling parts of the realm went on, but it mostly involved the principalities of the Caspian and the Caucasus. The only dynasties which directly integrated the Safavid lineage were dynasties of southeastern Kurdistan, namely the Ardalāns and Lesser Lors, during the reign of Šāh ʿAbbās.

As for the Ottomans, they also practised interdynastic marriage in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, usually with “a local Rumelian-Anatolian pool of states”, including “the Christian Byzantine and Serbian royal houses and the Anatolian and Muslim principates of Germiyan, Aydın, Saruhan, Jandar, Karaman and Dulkadır”.40 However, by the time the Ottomans extended their influence into Kurdistan, in the early sixteenth century, they had all but abandoned this policy. In its stead, the Ottoman princes and sultans had children with slave concubines, while the Ottoman princesses were married to high-ranking members of the kul, the slave elite that trusted the most important political and military positions in the Ottoman state.41

While they could not directly marry into the Safavid and Ottoman lines, the Diyādīnids, like other Kurdish dynasts, were still able to integrate the kinship circle of these dynasties through indirect means. Evliyā Çelebī’s Seyāḥatnāme provides us with the notable example of the marriage of Abdāl Ḫān with a woman named Ḫānim Sulṭān, who was a great-granddaughter of the Ottoman sultan Selīm II (r. 974-82/1566-74) (Fig. 2). Ḫānim Sulṭān’s paternal grandparents were Selīm II’s daughter Şāh Sulṭān and the Ottoman vizier Zāl Maḥmūd Paşa.42 Evliyā Çelebī does not disclose the identity of her father; however, he was most likely a son of Zāl Maḥmūd Paşa named Meḥmed Paşa, mentioned by Iskandar Beg Turkmān as the restless Ottoman governor of the sancaks of Arjīš and Adiljawāz, to the north of Lake Van, in 1017-8/1608-10.43

In the absence of means to directly interact with the Ottoman dynasty, the Kurdish princes had to rely on Kurdish agents of the Ottoman central power or on members of the kul class that had served and formed client networks in Kurdistan.44 It is probably in the context of such a local clientele relationship that the marriage between the Diyādīnid Abdāl Ḫān and Ḫānim Sulṭān, daughter of the sancakbey of Arjīš, was concluded. Furthermore, it served the additional purpose of linking the Diyādīnids, albeit in a distant way, with the Ottoman bloodline: thus, Abdāl Ḫān’s successor, Šaraf Ḫān III, was a great-great-grandson of both Šams al-Dīn Ḫān and Selīm II.

This of courses raises the difficult question of the external boundaries of kinship: how far does family extend? Could Šaraf Ḫān III, a third cousin once removed of the Ottoman sultan Meḥmed IV (r. 1058-99/1648-87), really have been considered the latter’s kin? This same problem arises when we consider the wedding, a century before Abdāl Ḫān, of Šams al-Dīn Ḫān with the daughter of the powerful Amīr Ḫān II Mawṣillū, who was a second cousin of Tājlū Begum, Šāh Ismāʿīl I’s wife, and had been lala (tutor) of Šāh Ṭahmāsp in Herat. This meant that Šaraf Ḫān II, the author of the Šarafnāma, was in fact also a third cousin once removed of Šāh Ṭahmāsp.45 Another interesting aspect of this Diyādīnid – Mawṣillū alliance lies in the conditions in which it was concluded: Šams al-Dīn Ḫān, demoted from his principality of Bidlīs, had gone into exile in Iran, much like his ancestor Amīr Ibrāhīm had done a century before him. In examining this issue further, we turn now to examining the role played by these matrimonial alliances in the social and political integration of these two exiled princes.

Princes without Principalities: How to Marry in Exile?

In the early fifteenth century, a strong Diyādīnid principality had developed in the region of Bidlīs, in large part thanks to the efforts of Malik Šams al-Dīn Walī and his alliance with the Turkman Karakoyunlu. Through ups and downs, this principality was maintained by Šams al-Dīn Walī’s successors until the accession of Uzun Ḥasan to the throne of the Akkoyunlu. The Akkoyunlu had a long-standing rivalry with the Karakoyunlu, prompting Uzun Ḥasan to try and subjugate some of the Kurdish amīrs and notably the Diyādīnids, which were the latter’s foremost allies in the region.46 It is in this context that, in the early 870s/late 1460s, after a siege of three years, Amīr Ibrāhīm II b. Ḥājī Muḥammad was forced to relinquish his principality and submit to Uzun Ḥasan, who sent him in exile to Qum.

The siege, conducted by the Akkoyunlu commander Suleymān Bījenoġlu, lasted three successive years, and it is vividly described by Šaraf Ḫān II.47 The Kurdish author claims that, at the end of the siege, only seven Rōžikid warriors remained with Amīr Ibrāhīm II, the rest having fallen victim to starvation and diseases. A treaty was then concluded, and Amīr Ibrāhīm II and his men were granted safe-conduct, provided they would surrender the fortress. The Diyādīnid prince then paid his respects to Uzun Ḥasan in Tabriz, along with twelve other Rōžikid families, and the Akkoyunlu monarch sent him to Qum, on the other side of the realm.48

There, Amīr Ibrāhīm strove to build a new life for himself and his people. This involved forming new alliances, so as to be able to maintain his social status until political changes allowed him to foresee a return to Bidlīs. To this effect, he married a woman from the urban elite of Qum (ضعیفه … از اکابر قم; see Fig. 1) and he apparently weaved sustainable relationships within this new social network, to the point that half of a century later, his grand-nephew Šams al-Dīn Ḫān, another exiled prince of Bidlīs, was sent in the region of Qum as well. It also seems that Amīr Ibrāhīm II converted to Shiism, as his children were named Ḥasan ʿAlī, Ḥusayn ʿAlī and Šāh Muḥammad (the latter would reestablish Diyādīnid sovereignty on the principality in 900/1494-5).

Amīr Ibrāhīm II was not the only Diyādīnid prince forced to exile because of the Akkoyunlu occupation of the principality. His brother, Amīr Šams al-Dīn b. Ḥājī Muḥammad, father of Šaraf Ḫān I (not to be confused with the latter’s son, Šams al-Dīn Ḫān), also had to leave Bidlīs at that time. In contrast to his brother, however, Amīr Šams al-Dīn did not pay homage to Uzun Ḥasan, and chose instead to take shelter in the principality of Jazīra. There, he married the daughter of Amīr Muḥammad Arūḫī, ruler of the tribe and fortress of Arūḫ which was, according to Šaraf Ḫān II, “one of the most solid and reliable fortresses of Kurdistan” (از قلاع استوار و معتبر کردستان).49

Thus, the late-fifteenth century period of Akkoyunlu occupation of Bidlīs led the two sons of Ḥājī Muḥammad into exile, after which they adopted different strategies. These two strategies, however, had a common goal: surviving and, most importantly, securing the dynasty’s survival by maintaining the continuity of the dynastic line. To this effect, Amīr Šams al-Dīn chose to seek asylum in a smaller Kurdish fortress, where he probably stayed in hiding, for even Muḥammad Āġā Galhokī, closest advisor to the Diyādīnids, was unaware of his whereabouts. This meant that he had to “marry down”, as the petty rulers of Arūḫ were of a lower standing than the Diyādīnids of Bidlīs.

While Amīr Šams al-Dīn had the benefit of finding himself on familiar ground (if we are to believe Šaraf Ḫān II, the princes of Jazīra were long-term allies of the princes of Bidlīs),50 and had probably chosen his place of exile, Amīr Ibrāhīm II had to make do in a completely foreign environment, possibly alone or with a very small number of affiliates. Thus, he had to improvise and “marry out” into the Shiite urban nobility of Qum, a group which was completely alien to the usual tribal alliances of the Diyādīnids.

This union was, however, successful: half a century later, in 941/1534-5, when Amīr Ibrāhīm II’s grand-nephew Šams al-Dīn Ḫān (the grandson of Amīr Šams al-Dīn and the daughter of Amīr Muḥammad Arūḫī) defected to the Safavids, he also wound up in Karahrūd, in the region of Qum, where he received a piece of land. The fact that his son, Šaraf Ḫān II, future author of the Šarafnāma, was born in the house of the qadis of the city, who claimed descent from the famous Qāżī Šurayh, attests to the continued relations the Diyādīnids maintained with the urban nobility and clergy of the region. It is perhaps also there that Šaraf Ḫān II received his early education, until he was nine years-old and, with that in mind, it is possibly into this family of clerics that Amīr Ibrāhīm II had married about 65 years earlier.51

In contrast to Amīr Ibrāhīm II, Šams al-Dīn Ḫān had not come to Iran alone, for shortly after his exile, he was joined by about 400 Rōjikid warriors and their families. This highly increased Šams al-Dīn’s standing in the Safavid realm, and it is at that moment that Šāh Ṭahmāsp bestowed upon him the title of ḫān.52 A few years later, Šams al-Dīn Ḫān married the daughter of Amīr Ḫān II Mawṣillū, who had been one of the most powerful amīrs of the state. Šams al-Dīn Ḫān already had several wives when he emigrated to Iran, in 941/1534-5, and we know that his household accompanied him.53

As far as can be gathered from the life and times of other princes, the Diyādīnids usually had one principal wife and, as long as she was alive, or at least able to produce offspring, they would not marry a woman of similar standing.54 In the case of Šams al-Dīn Ḫān, this wife was the daughter of Muḥammad Beg of Ṣāṣūn, whom he married around 925/1519, as we have seen earlier. It is unknown what happened to her. She must have been in her thirties when she followed Šams al-Dīn Ḫān to Iran, but she apparently died or was otherwise discarded, for we do not hear about her anymore in the Šarafnāma. The birth of Šaraf Ḫān II, the first child of Šams al-Dīn Ḫān and Amīr Ḥān II Mawṣillū’s daughter, in 949/1543 suggests that the ʿIzīzānid princess probably passed away in the late 940s/early 1540s (see Fig. 1).

Šams al-Dīn Ḫān had found a partner of choice in Amīr Ḫān II Mawṣillū’s daughter. The relationships between the two families actually went back to at least thirty-five years prior, when Šaraf Ḫān I of Bidlīs, Šams al-Dīn Ḫān’s father, had been imprisoned at Šāh Ismāʿīl I’s ordu and placed in the care of the same Amīr Ḫān II Mawṣillū. Šaraf Ḫān I ultimately escaped, perhaps with the tacit help of Amīr Ḫān, although this is not indicated anywhere. Šams al-Dīn Ḫān was two years old when this episode happened, which means he was a man in his late 30s when he married Amīr Ḫān’s daughter. The Mawṣillu commander had died about two decades earlier, in 928/1522, after having led a long and distinguished career in the Safavid state.55 A former Akkoyunlu governor of Āmid, he had joined the Safavids in 913/1507, after which he served as muhrdār (keeper of the seal), tutor (lala) of Šāh Ṭahmāsp in Herat and governor of Khurasan. It is possible that Šāh Ṭahmāsp and Amīr Ḫān’s daughter knew each other. Furthermore, another branch of the Mawṣillū was, as we have seen, directly related to the Safavid shahs: Šāh Ṭahmāsp’s mother, Tājlū Begum, was a Mawṣillū, as was his wife Sulṭānum Begum, mother of Ismāʿīl II and Muḥammad Ḫudābanda.56

This Mawṣillu connection had a tremendous importance in the career of Šams al-Dīn’s son Šaraf Ḫān II. After his early schooling in Karahrūd, he was sent to Qazvīn in 958 or 959/1551-2, where he spent three years completing his education in the royal palace, along with the children of the shah. At twelve years old, he was appointed amīr of Sāliyān and Maḥmūdābād, in Šīrvān, under the guardianship of his vakīl, the Rōjikid Šayḫ Amīr Bilbāsi, who had emigrated around twenty years earlier with his father Šams al-Dīn Ḫān. Three years later, around 965/1558, Šayḫ Amīr Bilbāsī died after years of depression and addiction to opium, and Šaraf Ḫān II was entrusted to the care of his maternal uncle, Muḥammad Beg Mawṣillū, who acted like a father to him.57 He married his maternal uncle’s daughter, exactly as Šams al-Dīn Ḫān had done, 40 years earlier, by wedding the daughter of his own maternal uncle, Muḥammad Beg of Ṣāṣūn.58

This family connection remained strong, even after Šaraf Ḫān II had switched to the Ottomans, in 986/1578, and been reinstated as ruler of his ancestral principality of Bidlīs. Thus, eight years later, when a Mawṣillū-Tekelu /Tekelū? rebellion was crushed by the Safavids, he gave shelter to the Mawṣillū exile Gulābī Ḫān, son of his brother-in-law Amīr Ḫān III.59 This is a testimony to the enduring relations that existed between the two clans, beyond the initial contingency of strategic interests.

Concluding Remarks

In this article, I have described the different ways in which the Diyādīnids conducted their matrimonial politics. They usually intermarried with powerful neighbouring Kurdish dynasties, notably with members of the “cousin” dynasty of the ʿIzīzānids of Ṣāṣūn, who were their privileged partners in this respect. Some other Kurdish dynasties with which the Diyādīnids intermarried included the Ayyubids of Ḥisn-Kayfā, the Maḥmūdī of Ḫošāb, and certainly others.

Starting from at least the middle of the fourteenth century, this process of matrimonial alliances had produced a close-knit group of powerful Kurdish principalities, inside of which younger members of the various dynasties socialized with each other from an early age, through feasts and occasional holidays in each other’s realms. When they came to power, this translated into a complex web of Kurdish internal politics, in which all the principalities reserved the right to interfere in each other’s business to a certain extent, while disenfranchised or demoted princes always had a place to take shelter in case of need.

This also allowed for strengthened bonds of solidarity at times of attack by the central powers of the region, which repeatedly targeted the Kurdish principalities, including the principality of Bidlīs, in large part due to their strategic location at the crossroads of empires. As we have seen, direct kinsmen of the princes under attack were then more likely to send them military assistance, while the other Kurdish princes either participated on the side of the attackers or stood by as onlookers. In order to avoid such attacks, it was also beneficial for the Kurdish princes to intermarry with the higher layers of the hierarchy of the central states, directly with the ruling dynasty if possible.

The Diyādīnids had done this with the Karakoyunlu and an almost egalitarian alliance between Malik Šams al-Dīn and Ḳarā Yūsuf, owing to the latter’s dire situation and need for the military power of the former. In Uzun Ḥasan’s time, this policy had also been developed, although we mostly see the Akkoyunlu ruler marry princesses of minor Kurdish dynasties to himself or to his sons. However, in the Ottoman-Safavid period, this practice quickly came to an end: both states had their seat of powers cut from the bulk of the Kurdish principalities, either because of geographical distance, in the case of the Ottomans, or by the existence of a frontier for the Safavids (the notable exception to this being the dynasties of Safavid Kurdistan). Furthermore, the Ottoman policy was, by then, not to conclude matrimonial alliances with local dynasts. Thus, Kurdish princes turned to local representatives or prominent political figures of these central states, so that they would serve as mediators between them and the centres of power.

In the context of the incessant regional power struggles ongoing in Kurdistan, many Kurdish princes were also forced to go into exile at one point or another, and I have tried to demonstrate how the marriages they concluded far from their home countries had a somewhat different purpose: providing for a better integration into their new environment, and securing the survival of the dynastic line, so that the prince or his descendants could return to fight another day. This is particulary manifest in the history of the Diyādīnids, as told by Šaraf Ḫān II in the Šarafnāma, and their indefatigable efforts to return to power in their principality of Bidlīs. Such was, indeed, always the ultimate purpose of the Kurdish princes: secure their rule on their ancestral lands and extend the dynasty’s power and the principality’s territory, autonomy and prosperity as much as possible. This more often than not put them at odds both with the representatives of the central states and with the neighbouring Kurdish dynasties, and the intermarriages connecting these various political forces were thus part and parcel of the constantly redefined power dynamics that ensued.

Bibliographical References

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Biographical Note

After completing a BA in Kurdish Studies and a Master in Histoire, Sociétés et Territoires du Monde (HSTM) – mention Moyen-Orient-Méditerranée (History of the Middle East) at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO) in Paris, Sacha Alsancakli is currently a PhD candidate in Langues et Civilisations des Sociétés Orientales – Études iraniennes at the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3. His research is devoted to the processes of composition, transmission and reception of the Šarafnāma of Šaraf Ḫān Bidlīsī in the seventeenth century.

1

The use of the name “Diyādīnids”, derived from the name of the supposed founder of the dynasty, Żiyā’ al-Dīn, is suggested by the author of the Šarafnāma, Šaraf Ḫān II (r. 986-1009/1578-1600), himself a prince of that dynasty. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Vladimir, Scheref-nameh ou histoire des Kourdes, par Scheref, Prince de Bidlis (St. Petersburg: Imperial Academy of Sciences, 1860-2): I, p. 364.

2

See, for example: Tavernier, Jean-Baptiste, Les six voyages (Paris: G. Clouzier et C. Barbin, 1676): pp. 273-5; English transl. by John Phillips, see Tavernier, Jean-Baptiste, The Six Voyages of John Baptista Tavernier, translated by John Philipps (London: R. L. and M. P., 1678): p. 105.

3

Thus, J.-B. Tavernier writes that “it is in the interest of those two Potentates [the Ottoman and Safavid rulers] to correspond with him [the Diyādīnid prince]; for it’s an easier thing for him to stop up the passage from Aleppo to Tauris, or from Tauris to Aleppo; the Streights of the Mountains being so narrow, that ten Men may defend them against a thousand.” (See Tavernier, The Six Voyages: p. 105.) Likewise, the situation of the city as a regional hub for travellers, pilgrims, merchants and the like, is highlighted by Šaraf Ḫān II, who writes that “the qaṣaba of Bidlīs is a mountain pass at the crossroads of Azerbaijan, Diyār Bakr, Diyār Rabīʿa and Armenia, and the pilgrims from Turkistān and Hindūstān who wish to go from Iran, Iraq and Ḫorāsān to the Holy Shrines, may God increase the honour and reverence shown to them, as well as the sailors of Jidda and Zanzibar, the traders from northern China, Ḫotan (Xinjiang), Russia, Sclavia and Bulgaria, the Arab and Iranian merchants and the travellers of the better part of the world, cannot proceed in their journey without going through the pierced rock of Bidlīs.” (قصبۀ بدلیس دربندیست در ما بین آذربیجان و دیار بکر و ربیعه و ارمن که اگر حاجیان ترکستان و هندوستان از ایران و عراق و خراسان به زیارت حرمین الشریفین زادهما اللّٰه تعالی تشریفاً و تعظیماً توجه فرمایند و اگر سیاحان جده و زنگبار و تاجران خطا و ختن و روس و سقلاب و بلغار و سوداگران عرب و عجم و روندگان اکثر عالم تردد نمایند مادامی که از سنگ سوراخ بدلیس مرور و عبور نکنند میسر نیست; see Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 339).

4

The text of the Šarafnāma was first published by Vladimir Veliaminov-Zernov (1830-1904) in St. Petersburg in 1860-2, on the basis of the autograph manuscript Dorn 306, kept in the National Library of Russia (formerly Asiatic Museum) in St. Petersburg. All subsequent editions were based on V. Veliaminov-Zernov’s work, which unfortunately lacks an index and critical notes. An index was provided for the first four books of the edition by Dehqan, Mustafa, Index to Sharaf-nāma (Istanbul: Nûbihar, 2015; published as a supplement to the 2nd issue of the journal Nûbihar Akademî).

5

Edited by Robert Dankoff: Dankoff, Robert, Evliya Çelebi in Bitlis. The relevant section of the Seyahatname, edited with translation, commentary and introduction by Robert Dankoff (Leiden: Brill, 1990).

6

The greater number of studies has, of course, been devoted to the Šarafnāma and Šaraf Ḫān II. Among recent articles, see Bajalan, Djene Rhys, “Şeref Xan’s Sharafnama: Kurdish Ethno-Politics in the Early Modern World, Its Meaning and Its Legacy”, IrSt, XLV/6 (2012): pp. 795-818; Dehqan, Mustafa, “Literary Citations in the Sharaf-nāma”, Nûbihar Akademî, I/2 (2014): pp. 11-32; Dehqan, Mustafa, and Genç, Vural, “Reflections on Sharaf Khān’s autobiography”, Manuscripta Orientalia, XXI/1 (2015): pp. 46-61; Dehqan, Mustafa, and Genç, Vural, “Why was Sharaf Khān killed?”, Manuscripta Orientalia, XXI/2 (2015): pp. 14-9; Alsancakli, Sacha, “From Bidlīs to Ardabīl Via Aleppo and Iṣfahān: On the Circulation of a Manuscript of Šaraf Ḫān Bidlīsī’s Šarafnāma Revised by the Author (1007/1599)”, ES, XIII (2015): pp. 133-52; Alsancaklı, Sacha, “What’s old is new again: A study of sources in the Šarafnāma of Šaraf Xān Bidlīsī (1005-7/1596-9)”, Kurdish Studies, V/1 (2017): pp. 11-31. For a more in-depth bibliography, see Glassen, Erika, “Bedlīsī, Šaraf-Al-Dīn Khan”, EIr, IV/1 (1989): pp. 76-7, and the Introduction to my forthcoming PhD dissertation, “Le Šarafnāma de Šaraf Xān Bidlīsī: composition, transmission et réception d’une chronique kurde entre Ottomans et Safavides”, in preparation at Sorbonne Nouvelle University (Paris) under the supervision of Prof. Maria Szuppe. Some other works of interest are: Köhler, Wilhelm, Die Kurdenstadt Bitlîs nach dem türkischen Reisewerk des Ewlijâ Tschelebî (17. Jahrhundert) (München: Roth, 1928), published in Turkish as Köhler Wilhelm, Kürt şehri Bitlis ve halkı (Istanbul: Alan, 1989, translated by Haydar Işık); Arık, M. Oluş, Bitlis yapılarında Selçuklu rönesansı (Ankara: Selçuklu tarih ve medeniyeti enstitüsü, 1971); Pektaş, Kadir, Bitlis tarihî mezarlıkları ve mezar taşları (Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı Yayınları, 2001); Bacqué-Grammont, Jean-Louis, and Adle, Chahriyar, “Quatre lettres de Šeref Beg de Bitlis (1516-1520) (Études turco-safavides, XI)”, Der Islam, LXIII/1 (1986): pp. 90-118; Demir, Abdullah, “16. Yüzyılda Safevî ve Osmanlı hâkimiyetinde arşiv belgeleri ışığında Bitlis beyleri”, in Bilen, Mehmet, Gürhan, Veysel and Gümüş, Ercan (eds.), I. Uluslararası dünden bugüne Tatvan ve çevresi sempozyumu bildirileri (Istanbul: Beyan, 2008): pp. 253-84 and Sinclair, Thomas Alan, “The Armenians and the Kurdish Emirs of Bidlis under the Kara Koyunlu”, in Hovannisian, Richard G. (ed.), Armenian Baghesh-Bitlis and Taron-Mush (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 2001): pp. 55-74.

7

Uzun Ḥasan married the daughter of ʿUmar Beg, prince of the Zirqī Kurds of Tarjīl and ʿAtāq, around 850/1446-7, as well as the daughter of Dawlatšāh, Mardāsid ruler of Agīl. Their son, Uġurlū Muḥammad b. Uzun Ḥasan, married his maternal cousin, the daughter of ʿIsà II b. Dawlatšāh. Meanwhile, Sulṭān Ḫalīl b. Uzun Ḥasan married the daughter of Suḫrāb Beg of Čamišgazak in 863-4/1459. See Woods, John E., The Aqquyunlu: Clan, confederation, empire (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1999 [1st edition: 1976]): pp. 186-7, 197-8.

8

Thus, in the early sixteenth century, Malik Ḫalīl of Ḥisn-Kayfā was married to a sister of Šāh Ismāʿīl. A little more than a century later, Šāh ʿAbbās married the sister of Šāh Verdī, prince of

the Lor-i Kūčak (she had been the spouse of his brother Ḥamza Mīrzā), who in turn wed the daughter of a cousin of Šāh ʿAbbās and granddaughter of Bahrām Mīrzā Ṣafavī. Šāh ʿAbbās also married one of his sisters, nicknamed Zarrīn Kulāh and identified by ʿAbd al-Qādir Bābānī as Sayyida Begum, to Ḫān Aḥmad Ḫān Ardalān, who had been raised at the Safavid court in Iṣfahān. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 53, 156; Soltanî, Anwar, Du zeylî Şerefnamey Bitlîsî (deqî farsî wa turkî wa wergêrawî kurdî) (Silêmanî: Jîn, 2005): p. 154; Zandi Karimi, Sara, “History of Ardalānids (1590-1810) by Sharaf al-Dīn bin Shams al-Dīn”, Kurdish Studies, V/1 (2017): p. 61, and ʿAbd al-Qādir Bābānī, Siyar al-Akrād dar tārīḫ va juġrafyā-yi Kurdistān, ed. Muḥammad Ra’ūf Tavakkulī (Baghdad: Intišārāt-i Tavakkulī, 1367š./1987): p. 42.

9

See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 264-5.

10

On the matrimonial practices of the Ottomans, see notably: Peirce, Leslie P., The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).

11

مجلس شادمانی را چنان آراسته که سپهر جهان گشته با هزاران دیده چشم حیرت بنظاره آن کشاد و زواهر جواهر انجم که سالها در جیب و دامن پرورده بود برسم تهنیت و نثار بر طبق عرض نهاد و چون مجلس بزم و حضور در خیمه و خرگاه بانواع بهجت و سرور زیب و زینت یافت امراء ذی شان کردستان مثل سید محمد حکاری و شاه علی بیگ بختی و ملک خلیل ایوبی و حسن بیگ پالوهی در آن جشن دلگشا حاضر گشته داد عیش و خرمی دادند و در آن ایام علی الدوام جوانان کردستان بچوگان باختن و قبق اندختن اشتغال نموده طبقهای زر و طلا ایثار و نثار میکردند و بعد از تقدیم مراسم جشن و سور امراء عظام و حکام کرام را پیشکشهای لایقه و خلعتهای فاخره داده رخصت انصراف فرمودند ; Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 434-5.

12

In the Šarafnāma, most of the women are unnamed and presented only as daughters or sisters of personalities. For example, Šaraf Ḫān II never gives the name of his mother, nor that of his wife, which he refers to as, respectively, daughters of Amīr Ḫān II Mawṣillū and Muḥammad Beg Mawṣillū. However, women who went on to play a role in political affairs are duly identified.

13

Šaraf Ḫān I gave another banquet, described even more eloquently by Šaraf Ḫān II, for Šāh Ṭahmāsp in Aḫlāt in 938/1531-2 (see Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 425-7). On the description of banquets in the Šarafnāma, see Bacqué-Grammont, Jean-Louis, “Visions du festin au palais dans la chronique de Şaraf-ddîn, prince de Bitlîs”, JA, CCXCIX/2 (2011): pp. 557-67.

14

This can be ascertained from the dates of reigns of some of the princely guests, notably Malik Ḫalīl of Ḥisn-Kayfā, who ruled from 887/1482 to 916/1511, and again from 920/1514 to 926/1520. According to Šaraf Ḫān II, his father Šams al-Dīn was two years old in 915/1509-10, making him 13 years old in 926/1520, which would have been a common age to marry. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 424.

15

This was the Sassanid prince Bahwās, son of Jamāsp (r. 496-8 AD), an otherwise unattested figure who had allegedly migrated to Aḫlāt. Two brothers from his descendants, Żiyāʾ al-Dīn and ʿIzz al-Dīn, are then said to have founded the Diyādīnid dynasty of Bidlīs and the ʾIzīzānid dynasty of Ṣāṣūn (see Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 359, 362-3).

16

Šaraf Ḫān II also ended up marrying the daughter of his maternal uncle, Muḥammad Beg Mawṣillū. Marrying the daughter of one’s paternal uncle – one of the most common types of marriage in muslim societies – did not serve the purpose of strengthening alliances with other houses, since it equated to marrying inside the dynasty. This does not mean that patrilateral parallel cousin marriage did not happen at the dynastic level: for example, Šaraf Ḫān II mentions the example of the princes of Šērwān, with the marriage of Šāh Muḥammad Šīrawī’s son to the daughter of his paternal uncle, Zaynal Beg Šīrawī (see Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 203).

17

See Dankoff, Evliya Çelebi in Bitlis: pp. 194-5.

18

When a group of Kurdish princes went to pay homage to Šāh Ismāʿīl I, the Safavid monarch locked them up. He subsequently freed some of them, and asked them who were their leaders, to which they unanimously replied that they were Šaraf Ḫān I of Bidlīs and Malik Ḫalīl of Ḥisn-Kayfā. Both princes stayed in captivity, while the others were released. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 411-2.

19

Šaraf Ḫān II makes this claim on the authority of a written source; however, we were not able to find it. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 382.

20

از صدور این واقعه آقایان روزکی آغاز عناد و سرکشی کرده هر کس ناحیۀ از نواحی بدلیس بصرافت خود متصرف گشت چنانچه میر احمد ناصر الدینی اخلاط را و عبد الرحمن آغا قوالیسی ناحیۀ چقور و موش را ضبط کرده هرج و مرج در میانۀ طوایف روزکی افتاده هرکس بزعم خود دعوی حکومت و اراده امارت نمودند; Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 382. The name of Mīr Aḥmad Nāṣiruddīnī bears a striking similarity to that of Šāhum Ḫātun’s husband, and it might have been the same person.

21

خذلان و … نقصان ; Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 384.

22

It is unknown how old Šams al-Dīn was at that time, but on the basis of Šaraf Ḫān II’s retelling of his conversation with ʿUmar Yādigārān and his subsequent actions, he must have been a teenager.

23

See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 384-6. The level of details given suggests the existence of a source for this episode, most likely an oral one, that would have been part of a corpus passed down generations by storytellers (dengbêjs) in Bidlīs.

24

Šaraf Ḫān II has much to say on the support given by the Rōžikids to the Diyādīnids, and on the bravery of the Rōžikids in general. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 360-1.

25

See Dankoff, Evliya Çelebi in Bitlis: pp. 194-5.

26

See Ibn-i Nuh, Van tarihi, ed. Zeki Tekin (Van: Ahenk Yayınevi, 2003): p. 73.

27

This echoes with Šaraf Ḫān II’s contention that “most of the time, the sons of the princes of Kurdistan come to Bidlīs to spend leisure time, whilst the sons of the Rōjikid aghas and princes do not go to the courts of the princes of Kurdistan” (اکثر اوقات امیرزادگان کردستان ببدلیس می آیند و اوقات بفراغت میگذرانند و میرزادگان و آغازادگان روزکی بدرخانه امراء کردستان نمیروند ; Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 361). For Abdāl Ḫān’s family tree (simplified), see Fig. 2.

28

See ibid.: I, pp. 196, 442.

29

To persuade the Rōžikids, Bahāʾ al-Dīn Beg had obtained from Sulaymān I a tax exemption for the Bāyagī tribes and the dwellers of the Kafandūr valley, to the southwest of Bidlīs. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 360-1.

30

Owing to his status, it seems that Šaraf Ḫān I often intervened in the affairs of the neighbouring Kurdish principalities. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 194-5 and 436-7.

31

It is worth mentioning that, before the beginning of the dispute, Muḥammad Beg b. Ḫiżr Beg was ruling in the qaṣaba of Siʿrt, as a vassal of Amīr Šaraf of Boḫtān, while Bahāʾ al-Dīn Beg b. Murād Ḫān had taken shelter, along with several of his commanders, in the city of Bidlīs and the neighbouring principality of Šērwān. Furthermore, Muḥammad Beg b. Ḫiżr Beg had explicitly sent an envoy to Bidlīs requesting assistance. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 201-9.

32

See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 454-5.

33

“Hakkâri hâkimi Yahya Beg ile sözleri birdir deyu pâşâya i‘lâm itdiler.” See Ibn-i Nuh, Van tarihi: p. 60. This was already the case two centuries earlier when, after the death of Ḳarā Yūsuf Karakoyunlu, both Malik Šams al-Dīn of Bidlīs and Malik ʿIzz al-Dīn of Ḥakkārī had chosen to pay homage to the Timurid Šāhruḫ, rather than to Ḳarā Yūsuf’s son Ḳarā Iskandar.

34

For a detailed account of this episode, see Iskandar Beg Turkmān, Tārīḫ-i ʿĀlam-ārā-yi ʿAbbāsī, ed. Iraj Afšār (Tehran: Amīr Kabīr, 1350š/1971): II, pp. 922-4.

35

The castle of Awnīk had already served as a background for clashes between the Karakoyunlu and Timurids before Ḳarā Yūsuf’s exile to Syria. About ten years earlier, in 796/1394, Tīmūr had besieged Ḳarā Yūsuf’s brother Miṣr Ḫwāja in the fortress and conquered it. A year later, Ḳarā Yūsuf had taken it back, imprisoning its governor, Atlamiš, but Tīmūr’s return from India to Azerbaijan had pushed Ḳarā Yūṣuf to withdraw to Mosul (see Sümer, Faruk, “Karakoyunlular”, İslam Ansiklopedisi [Istanbul: Türkiye Diyanet vakfı, 2001]: XXIV, p. 435). Tīmūr had warned Dōladāy about Ḳarā Yūsuf only two years before the latter’s return, in 806/1404, saying: “Do not worry about Aḥmad the Jalāyirid, for his Persian manners have softened his temper, but be very wary of the Turkman Ḳarā Yūsuf.” (احمد جلایر، تاجیک مزاج افتاده و از او اندیشه ای نیست، اما از قرا یوسف ترکمان نیک بر خبر باشید) See Šaraf al-Dīn ʿAlī Yazdī, Ẓafarnāma, ed. ʿAbd al-Ḥusayn Navāʾī (Tehran: Kitābḫāna, mūza va markaz-i asnād-i Majlis-i šurā-yi islāmī, 1387š./2008-2009): II, p. 1238.

36

See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 376.

37

Ibid.: I, pp. 380-1.

38

Ibid.

39

There are numerous references, throughout the Šarafnāma and particularly in the fourth book on the rulers of Bidlīs, to the ethno-cultural distinctions between Kurdish and Turkman dynasties, the latter referring to either the Karakoyunlu or Akkoyunlu. See, for example: Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 146, where ʿIzz al-Dīn Šēr Ḥakkārī sends a message to Suleymān Bījenoġlu, the Akkoyunlu commander besieging his fortress on Uzun Ḥasan’s orders, telling him that “as long as the fortresses of Gūrgīl and ʿImādiyya, and the castles of Bāy and Sūy attached to Bidlīs will be in our hands, we shall never be scared of you, and your tents are nothing more than buffalo dungs in the eyes of the Kurds” (هرگاه قلعۀ گورگیل و قلعۀ عمادیه و قلعۀ بای و قلعۀ سوی من اعمال بتلیس در دست ماست اصلاً از شما بیم و هراس نداریم و خیمهای شما در نظر اکراد حکم سرگین گاومیش دارد).

40

See Peirce, The Imperial Harem: pp. 29, 38-9, 41 and 72-9.

41

For reasons on this shift in reproductive policy, ibid.: pp. 29-31.

42

The Bosnian-born Zāl Maḥmūd Paşa started his career as kapıcıbaşı (Head guardian of the Porte), and was promoted to the governorship of Aleppo and Anatolia (972/1564-5). In 975/1567-8, he became sixth vizier of Suleymān I and married Şāh Sulṭān, the daughter of Suleymān’s son and future sultan Selīm II. Zāl Paşa was appointed third vizier in 985/1577 and died in 988/1580. See Süreyya, Mehmet, Sicill-i Osmani, ed. N. Akbayar and S. A. Kahraman (Istanbul: Tarih vakfı yurt yayınları, 1996): I, p. 43, V, p. 1705 and VI, p. 1743. Evliyā Çelebī regularly mentions Ḫānim Sulṭān (also called Ḫānima Sulṭān once) as a “daughter of Zāl Paşa” (Ḫānuñ ehli Süleymān Ḫān veziri Zāl paşanuñ kerimesi duḫteri, Dankoff, Evliya Çelebi in Bitlis: pp. 76-7; Ḫānuñ ehli Zāl paşa ḳızı, pp. 162-3; Zāl paşanuñ duḫter-i pākize-aḫter, pp. 274-5; ehlimiz Zāl paşa ḳızı, in a speech by Abdāl Ḫān, pp. 354-5); however, in a dialogue reconstructed by Evliyā Çelebī, Ḫānim Sulṭān talks about her “grand-father” Zāl Paşa (dedem ġāzī Zāl Paşa, pp. 312-3), and she is also called a “daughter of Zālpaşazāde”, that is a daughter of the son of Zāl Paşa (Zāl-paşa-zāde ḳızı, pp. 306-7); which is probably more in line with reality, given that Zāl Maḥmūd Paşa died in 988/1580. Furthermore, Zāl Maḥmūd Paşa was, apparently, also in charge of the building of the Ottoman city of Aḫlāt, following the destruction of the old fortress by Šāh Ṭahmāsp in 955/1548. According to Evliyā Çelebī, this construction was finished in 963/1554-1555 and realized under the supervision of Mīmār Sīnān and Zāl Paşa. See Evliyā Çelebī, Seyāḥatnāme, ed. Ahmet Cevdet (Istanbul: Ikdam matbaası, 1314/1896-7): IV, p. 138; see also: Bosworth, Clifford Edmond, and Crane, Howard, “Aḵlāṭ”, in EIr, I/7 (1984): pp. 745-7; an updated version (2011) is available online at: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/aklat-or-greek-khliat-khleat-armenian-khlat-a-town-and-medieval-islamic-fortress-in-eastern-anatolia-in-the-former- (last accessed on 2/8/2017).

43

There is another known son of Zāl Maḥmūd Paşa, also named Meḥmed Paşa, who became governor of Tunisia in 1001/1593 and died there (see Süreyya, Sicill-i Osmani: IV, p. 1030); however, the spatial and geographical distance between this man and Abdāl Ḫān in Bidlīs make it highly unlikely that he was Ḫānim Sulṭān’s father. The other Meḥmed Paşa b. Zāl Maḥmūd Paşa, sancakbey of Arjīš and ʿĀdiljawāz, is described by Iskandar Turkmān as “arrogant and presomptuous” (به بال نخوط و غرور) and “wishing to accomplish some major feat on the Qizilbash border” (میخواست که در سرحد قزلباش دستبردی چند نموده), where he was “always stirring up trouble” (متعرض سرحد قلمرو همایون میشد). He was captured in 1017-1018/1608-1610 by Salmān Sulṭān Dunbilī, Kurdish governor of Safavid Čors (about forty kilometres to the north of Ḫōy), and sent to the shah’s court, before being imprisoned by Pīr Budāq Ḫān, governor of Tabriz. He died in captivity (see Turkmān, Tārīḫ-i ʿĀlam-ārā-yi ʿAbbāsī: II, pp. 783-4). Given the great proximity between ʿĀdiljawāz, Arjīš and Bidlīs, it is likely that Ḫānim Sulṭān was the daughter of this Meḥmed Paşa, who died in 1017-8/1608-10. This is confirmed by a passage from Evliyā Çelebī’s Seyāḥatnāme, in which he mentions that, when Abdāl Ḫān’s goods were auctioned off in 1065/1655, the people of Bidlīs opposed the seizure of several chests full of precious objects by saying that these were “chests and jewelry from ʿĀdiljawāz, constituting the trousseau of Zālpaşazāde’s daughter Ḫānima Sulṭān” (ol ṣandūḳalar cümle Zāl-paşa-zāde ḳızı Ḫānıma Sulṭānuñ ʿAdilcevazdan cihāzıyle gelen ṣandūḳalar ve cevāhirlerdir; Dankoff, Evliya Çelebi in Bitlis: pp. 306-7). Ḫānim Sulṭān was the second wife of Abdāl Ḫān, whom she likely married around 1050/1640, when he was already about 50 years old. Abdāl Ḫān had first married a woman named ʿArab Ḫānim, and it is probable that he wed Ḫānim Sulṭān after ʿArab Ḫānim’s death, for she does not appear as a character in the Seyāḥatnāme. Since Ḫānim Sulṭān’s father had died in 1017-8/1608-10, she must have been in her thirties when she married Abdāl Ḫān, and he was possibly also her second husband.

44

The Šarafnāma provides many examples of this phenomenon. Thus, Šaraf Ḫān II mentions Darwīš Maḥmūd Kalajīrī, a Rōjikid man and former vazīr of Šaraf Ḫān I, who had entered Ottoman service, and discusses how “his situation had slowly reached such a point that most of the princes of the Kurdistan relied on him” (آهسته آهسته کار و بار او بجایی رسید که مراجعت اکثر حکام کردستان بدو بود; see Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 132-3). We could also mention Bakr Beg Rūzbihānī, a Kurdish man who served as Ottoman sancakbey of ʿĀdiljawāz in the early 940s/1530s (see Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 441). Prominent Ottoman politicians that had served in Kurdistan, such as Köse Ḫüsrev Paşa, Serdār Muṣṭafà Paşa and Ciġālazāde Sīnān Paşa, as well as high-ranking members of the administration like Idrīs Bidlīsī and Ḫocā Saʿdeddīn, were also instrumental in mediating between the Kurdish princes and the Ottoman central government.

45

See the genealogical table of the Mawṣillū clan in Woods, The Akkoyunlu: p. 193. Note that the author confused Šams al-Dīn Ḫān with his father, Šaraf Ḫān I.

46

In the words of Šaraf Ḫān II, “the rulers of Bidlīs and Ḳarā Yūsuf Karakoyunlu had always had a father-son relationship and family-like connections” (همواره میانه حکام بدلیس و قرا یوسف قرا قوینلو عقد پدر فرزندی و خویش منعقد بود; Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 387).

47

This description notably includes a Turkish poem by a man named Maḥmud Oġlu, panegyrist (مداح) of Suleymān Bījenoġlu, praising the bravery of the besieged: “O Great King! This Kurd from Bidlīs, to Sulaymān will not submit / They will fight for their country, as an immemorial habit” (شها اول بدلیسک کردی مطیع اولمز سلیمانه / ازلدن قالمه/قالمش عادت در چالشورلر اوجاق اوستنه/Şaha ol Bidlīsiñ Kurdi muṭiʿ olmaz Süleymana / ezelden ḳalma/ḳalmış ʿadetdur çalışurlar ocaḳ üstüna; only the first line of the poem is printed in Véliaminov-Zernov’s edition (Scheref-nameh: I, p. 389); the second line can be found in the manuscripts Elliott 332, f. 131r, ll. 20-21 and Hunt. Don. 13, f. 142v, l. 13, both kept in Oxford’s Bodleian Library).

48

For a full description of this episode, see Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 387-90.

49

Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 117. The Jazīra principality was apparently, at that time, also occupied by the Akkoyunlu; it is, however, likely that they took a conciliatory approach towards the commanders of local fortresses such as Muḥammad Arūḫī. See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 123-4.

50

During the episode of Šams al-Dīn Dušwār’s expedition to Boḫtān, Šaraf Ḫān II has the Boḫtī prince Amīr Abdāl say the following to Šams al-Dīn: “O Šams al-Dīn! Your great fathers and ancestors have been, since long time past, the wise elders of our ancestors. The doors of loyalty and friendship were always kept open between them, and the ways of sincerity and benevolence have always guided their conduct.” (ای امیر شمس الدین آبا و اجداد عظام شما از قدیم الایام بزرگ و سفیدریش اجداد ما بودهاند و همواره در میانه ایشان ابواب مصادقت و محبت مفتوح و طریقه مخالصت و مودت مسلوک بوده; Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 386).

51

See Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 449.

52

Ibid.: I, pp. 442-3.

53

Ibid.: I, pp. 424, 442.

54

We have seen earlier that Abdāl Ḫān only remarried after the death of his first principal wife, ʿArab Ḫānim. Abdāl Ḫān also had a child named Nūr al-Dīn with a concubine, but this does not seem to have been a common occurrence. In any case, these children were not considered credible candidates to Diyādīnid rule. We only know of one other child from the union of a Diyādīnid prince and a concubine: a son of Amīr Ibrāhīm III, whom the latter’s rival Šaraf Ḫān I had imprisoned after he had killed his father. As he was Amīr Ibrāhīm III’s sole remaining son, and the Rōjikids were just out of a civil war between supporters of the two princes, it is obvious that Šaraf Ḫān I considered him a threat. This son was named Sulṭān Murād, an unusual name for a Diyādīnid, perhaps chosen by his mother.

55

Amīr Ḫān II Mawṣillū should not be confused with his renowned grandfather, Amīr Ḫān I (d. 877/1472), commander-in-chief of Uzun Ḥasan’s army and Akkoyunlu conqueror of Erzurum, or with his grandson, Amīr Ḫān III, main protagonist of the Tekelu-Turkman revolt against Hamzā Mīrzā and Muḥammad Ḫudābanda in 994/1586. On this revolt, see Turkmān, Tārīḫ-i ʿĀlam-ārā-yi ʿAbbāsī: I, pp. 321-42.

56

For more information on the Mawṣillū, including a dynastic table, see Woods, The Akkoyunlu: pp. 191-3. Also see Szuppe, Maria, “La participation des femmes de la famille royale à l’exercice du pouvoir en Iran safavide au XVIe siècle”, Part 1: StIr, XXIII/2 (1994): pp. 211-58, see especially tables 5 and 6; Part 2: StIr, XXIV/1 (1995): pp. 61-122.

57

He calls him his “maternal uncle and father figure” (خالوی پدر منزلت; Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, p. 451). Exile had not been kind to the Rōžikids: like Šayḫ Amīr Bilbāsī, Šams al-Dīn Ḫān was apparently depressed and addicted to opium, and he does not seem to have been very present in Šaraf Ḫān II’s life. At only 47 years old, in 961/1554-1555, he retired from military and political service. The author of the Šarafnāma mentions him in respectful and sometimes affectionate, but distant terms. See the biography of Šams al-Dīn Ḥān by his son in Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 437-47.

58

For more information on Šaraf Ḫān II’s life, see his autobiography in Véliaminof-Zernof, Scheref-nameh: I, pp. 447-59, as well as the two articles by Mustafa Dehqan and Vural Genç: “Reflections on Sharaf Khān’s autobiography” and “Why was Sharaf Khān killed?”.

59

See Iskandar Beg Turkmān, Tārīḫ-i ʿĀlam-ārā-yi ʿAbbāsī: I, p. 340; the Safavid historian mistakenly calls Šaraf Ḫān II the “son-in-law” of Amīr Ḫān III.

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