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Lala (Persian: لل‍ه‎, Turkish: Lala) was a Turkish and Persian title (of Persian origin) meaning tutor and statesman in the Ottoman and Safavid Empire.[1]



In Ottoman tradition, lalas were the experienced statesmen who were assigned as the tutors of young princes (Turkish: Şehzade). While still teenagers, the princes were sent to provinces (sanjak) as provincial governors (Turkish: sanjak bey). They were accompanied by their lalas who trained them in statesmanship. The purpose of this practice was to prepare the princes for the future duty of regency. Later, when the prince was enthroned as the sultan his lala was usually promoted to be a vizier. Up to the 13th sultan Mehmet III (the end of the 16th century) all sultans enjoyed a period of provincial governorship prior to their reign. However, 14th sultan Ahmet I (1603–1617) who was enthroned in early teens without a period of provincial governorship, banned this practice.[citation needed] This meant the decrease in the status of the lala.[2]

Atabeg vs lalaEdit

The practice of lala was even older than the Ottoman Empire. During the Seljuk Empire, the experienced statesmen accompanying the princes were called Atabeg or Atabey ( a Turkish composite title meaning ancestor-lord). However, Seljuk Empire was highly feudalistic and atabeys frequently used their power for separatist policies whenever they felt a weakness in the central authority. (like Eldiguzids in Azerbaijan and Zengids) [3] The Ottoman Empire, on the other hand was more centralist and almost no lala tried to follow a separatist policy.

Some grand viziers of lala backgroundEdit