Mirza Salman Jaberi

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Mirza Salman Jaberi Isfahani (Persian: میرزا سلمان جابری اصفهانی‎; also spelled Jabiri) was a prominent Persian statesman in Safavid Iran, who served as the grand vizier of Ismail II (r. 1576-77) and Mohammad Khodabanda (r. 1577-1588).

Mirza Salman Jaberi
Jealousy among Rivals.png
"Jealousy among Rivals" attributed to Muhammadi. Miniature painting contained in a Persian volume entitled Busta by Sa'di in 1579, possibly under the patronage of Mirza Salman Jaberi. E.M. Soudavar Trust, Houston, Texas.
Grand Vizier of the Safavid Empire
In office
MonarchIsmail II
Mohammad Khodabanda
Preceded byMirza Shokrollah Isfahani
Succeeded byMirza Hedayatollah
Personal details
DiedMay 1583
Herat, Khorasan, Iran
RelationsAgha Mirza Ali Jaberi (father)
ChildrenMirza Abdallah Jaberi
FamilyJaberi family
Military service
Allegiance Safavid Empire
Years of service1540s–1583
Battles/warsOttoman–Safavid War (1578–90)

Background and riseEdit

Mirza Salman was the son of Agha Mirza Ali Jaberi, and belonged to the Jaberi family of Isfahan,[1] which had earlier served the Aq Qoyunlu, and was descended from the famous Persian Sufi poet Khvajeh Abdollah Ansari.[2] Mirza Salman had received his education in administration at Shiraz under the guidance of his father, who then served as the vizier of the city's governor, Ebrahim Khan Zu'l-Qadar.[3] After his father's death in 1548, Mirza Salman left for the Safavid capital of Qazvin, where he speedily was listed under the service of Shah Tahmasp I (r. 1524–1576) as a result of patronage by the prominent vizier of Azerbaijan, Mirza Ata-Allah Isfahani. There Mirza Salman served as an "intimate" (moqarrab), and "supervisor of the departments in the service of the royal household" (nāẓer-e boyutāt-e sarkār-e khāṣṣeh-ye sharifa).[3]

On 14 May 1576, Tahmasp I died—a dynastic war shortly ensured between his two sons Haydar Mirza and Ismail Mirza, where the latter emerged victorious with the aid of his half-sister, Pari Khan Khanum. Ismail Mirza ascended to the crown under the dynastic name of Ismail II on 22 August 1576.[4] On June 13, 1577, Mirza Salman was appointed by Ismail II as his grand vizier, thus succeeding Mirza Shokrollah Isfahani.

Term as grand vizierEdit

Under Ismail IIEdit

Ismail II, 16th-century Iranian miniature

Ismail II's 19 years of imprisonment in the Qahqaheh Castle had affected him heavily, and thus he was not inclined to allow displays of authority by any other individual at his own cost, which made him alienate Pari Khan Khanum and the Qizilbash.[5][6] On 24 November 1577, Ismail II was poisoned by the concubines of the harem under the orders of Pari Khan Khanum, which resulted in his death. In order to stop another anarchy to take place in the country, Mirza Salman speedily convinced the Qizilbash chieftains to vow a pledge of friendship. Alarmed that the announcement of Ismail II's death would start discontent in the capital, the aristocracy kept the doors of the palace locked until a resolution was reached about the succession. According to some accounts, after Ismail II's death a group of statesmen asked Pari Khan Khanum to succeed her brother, which she, however, declined.[7]

In order to clear up the succession crisis, the Qizilbash chieftains agreed to appoint the future shah after a conference with each other and then notify Pari Khan Khanum of their settled choice. At first, they discussed the resolution that Shoja al-Din Mohammad Safavi, the eight-month-old infant son of Ismail II, should be crowned as shah while in reality state affairs would be taken care of by Pari Khan Khanum. This suggestion, however, did not get the green light of most of the assembly since it would have swayed the balance of power among many Qizilbash clans. Ultimately the assembly agreed to appoint Mohammad Khodabanda, the elder brother of Ismail II, as shah[5]—a decision which was supported by Mirza Salman.[8]

The appointment of Mohammad Khodabanda was also supported and approved by Pari Khan Khanum, due to him being a man of old age, almost blind, and pleasure-seeking. Thus he was the appropriate successor, so Pari Khan Khanum could take advantage of his weakness and rule herself. She made an agreement with the Qizilbash chieftains that Mohammad Khodabanda would remain shah in name, whilst her and her envoys would continue controlling the interests of the state.[5]

Under Mohammad KhodabandaEdit

Coin minted during the reign of Mohammad Khodabanda.

When Khodabanda ascended the throne, he confirmed Mirza Salman as the grand vizier. Mirza Salman, who was aware of what was happening in the changing circumstances, was shortly was deserted by Pari Khan Khanum, who became the practical ruler of the country.[8] She was, however, murdered the following month at the instigation of Khodabanda's Mazandarani wife, Khayr al-Nisa Begum, who was better known by her title of Mahd-e Olya.[5]

Mirza Salman became a close ally of Mahd-e Olya, who became the de facto of the country. One of her primary intents was to have her favourite son, Hamzeh Mirza, ascend the throne in the future. Mirza Salman, who was aware of this, sought to gain more influence and authority by giving his daughter in marriage to Hamzeh Mirza. Furthermore, in August 1580, he managed to have Hamzeh Mirza's vizier Hossein Beg Shamlu dismissed and took over the office himself. He later appointed his son Mirza Abdallah Jaberi as the latters vizier.[9]

The shah relied increasingly on Mirza Salman who positioned himself as a "lord of the sword and the pen". This was further manifested in 1581, when he acted as a principal architect of a critical diplomatic arrangement, wherein the Georgian rulers—Simon I of Kartli and Alexander II of Kakheti—resumed their allegiance to the shah, undermining the Ottoman position in this part of the Caucasus region.[10] Mirza Salman's authority and influence continued to grow, which in turn made the antagonism of the Qizilbash towards him increase. Mirza Salman was not fond of the Qizilbash either, whom he deemed "thorns in the rose-garden of his felicity".[9] He treated them in an unfavourable fashion, and considered how possibly could deprive them of their power. Mirza Salman's foreign policy in Khorasan (references such as Kholasat al-tawariko and Noqawat al-athar highlights his curb over the Qizilbash chieftains) played a major role in start of the plot against him organized by the qurchi-bashi (head of the royal bodyguard) Qoli Beg Afshar, the mohrdar (seal holder), Shahrokh Khan Zu'l-Qadar, and Mohammad Khan Torkman.[11]


The tomb of Khvajeh Abdollah Ansari in Gazorgah, Herat.

On May 12, 1583, the Qizilbash chieftains sent assassins after Mirza Salman, who had left for the nearby village of Gazorgah, where he arranged a feast in memory of his forebear, Khvajeh Abdollah Ansari. He was, however, informed of the Qizilbash plot to murder him, and speedily went back to Herat, where he found refuge in a madreseh, which had been used as royal accommodation by Mohammad Khodabanda and Hamzeh Mirza.[12] Mirza Salman was killed by the Qizilbash chieftains in Bagh-e Zaghan—his head was sent to the Qizilbash governor of Herat, Ali Qoli Khan Shamlu, whilst his body was hung in front of the inhabitants of the city. His body was later buried in Mashhad under the order of the military judge Mir Abol-Vali Inju.[12] Another Isfahan-born nobleman, Mirza Hedayatollah, succeeded him as grand vizier.


Mirza Salman was a prominent and influential statesman of his age, which gained him the title of E'temad-e daulat ("Pillar of the State"), and made historians compare him to Asif ibn Barkhiya, who was the vizier of Solomon in the Quran. Later Safavid chronicles rated Mirza Salman with several prominent Iranian statesmen—the Seljuq vizier Nizam al-Mulk, the Ilkhanate viziers Shams al-Din Juvayni and Rashid al-Din Hamadani, and the early Safavid vakil (vicegerent) Najm-e Sani.[13]


  1. ^ Newman 2008, p. 44.
  2. ^ Mitchell 2009, p. 163.
  3. ^ a b Mitchell 2007, pp. 313-314.
  4. ^ Savory 2007, p. 69.
  5. ^ a b c d Parsadust 2009.
  6. ^ Blow 2009, p. 21.
  7. ^ Gholsorkhi 1995, p. 153.
  8. ^ a b Blow 2009, p. 22.
  9. ^ a b Savory 1964, p. 183.
  10. ^ Mitchell 2007, pp. 162–163.
  11. ^ Savory 2007, pp. 313–314.
  12. ^ a b Mitchell 2007, pp. 313–314.
  13. ^ Mitchell 2009, p. 164.


  • Newman, Andrew J. (2008). Safavid Iran: Rebirth of a Persian Empire. I.B.Tauris. pp. 1–281. ISBN 9780857716613.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Savory, Roger (2007). Iran under the Safavids. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–288. ISBN 978-0521042512.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Roemer, H.R. (1986). "The Safavid period". The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 5: The Timurid and Safavid periods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 189–351. ISBN 9780521200943.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Blow, David (2009). Shah Abbas: The Ruthless King Who became an Iranian Legend. London, UK: I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84511-989-8. LCCN 2009464064.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Matthee, Rudi (2011). Persia in Crisis: Safavid Decline and the Fall of Isfahan. I.B.Tauris. pp. 1–371. ISBN 978-0857731814.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Mitchell, Colin P. (2009). The Practice of Politics in Safavid Iran: Power, Religion and Rhetoric. I.B.Tauris. pp. 1–304. ISBN 978-0857715883.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Mitchell, Colin Paul (2007). "Jāberi". Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. XIV, Fasc. 3. pp. 313–314.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Savory, Roger (1964). "The Significance of the political murder of Mirzā Salmān Jāberi". Islamic Studies. Islamic Studies, vol. 3, no. 2. 3 (2): 181–191. JSTOR 20832740.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further readingEdit

  • Soudavar, Abolala (2013). "The Patronage of the Vizier Mirza Salman". Muqarnas. 30: 213–234. JSTOR 42751921.
Preceded by
Mirza Shokrollah Isfahani
Grand vizier of the Safavid Empire
Succeeded by
Mirza Hedayatollah