EV-OḠLĪ family


EV-OḠLĪ (or Īv-ōḡlī), name of a family that served three Safavid kings (ʿAbbās I, Ṣafī, and ʿAbbās II) as ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī (q.v.) of the harem, for a period of twenty-seven years (1026-53/1617-43). They first appear at the court of ʿAbbās I in 1006/1598, shortly after the transfer of the capital from Qazvīn to Isfahan that allowed Shah ʿAbbās I to break the power of the qezelbāš. The ḡolāms were a key element introduced by ʿAbbās I to abate the qezelbāš. The ev-oḡlīs belonged to a category of ḡolāms, referred to in the Taḏkerat al-molūk (tr. Minorsky, p. 57, comm. p. 127) as the ḡolām-e sāda, i.e., ḡolāms who had not yet grown beards and so were not eunuchized. Minorsky postulates that the Turkish term ev-oḡlī (son of the house), often mentioned in the annals of ʿAbbās I’s reign, refers to this category of ḡolāms educated at court for the shah’s personal service.

The two Ev-oḡlīs who first appear in the Safavid chronicles (Abu’l-Qāsem Beg in 1006/1598 and Walī Beg in 1009/1601) are qūrčīs, the standing corps of troops distinct from the new troops (tofangčīs “musketeers” and ḡolāms) that were introduced by ʿAbbās I (Eskandr Beg, I, pp. 537, 603). The composition of the qūrčīs may have been changing as well in this period. The title qūrčī in the context of the ḡolāmān-e sāda may have had a different meaning; perhaps these two qūrčīs were the masters of the non-eunuch ḡolāms of the inner service (ev-oḡlāns) and held a military function as well.

In 1026/1617 Abu’l-Qāsem Beg was awarded the position of ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī of the harem. He now acted as the channel of communication between the harem and the outer court. He held this post for thirteen years and was dismissed in the midst of Ṣafī’s accession (1038/1629). Since his dismissal coincided with the assassination of Zaynal Khan Šāmlū, the ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī of the dīvān, a collaboration must have existed between these two officials. Although Zaynal Khan, Abu’l-Qāsem Beg, and Zaynab Begom (aunt of ʿAbbās I) supported Ṣafī’s candidacy, Rostam Beg’s (dīvānbegī) faction attempted to eliminate these powerful figures to consolidate power in his hands (Babayan, pp. 105-22). In the age of the qafas (cage; a term borrowed from the Ottomans, see Inalcik, p. 98) system (post 1000/1591-92), when the princeswere raised in the harem, mothers of princes as well as other members of the household, such as eunuchs and ḡolāms—whose function was to maintain the power of the Safavid family, gained in prominence. The post of ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī as intermediary between the harem and the outer court was key for any faction to control the political scene in this phase.

Instead of Abu’l-Qāsem Beg, his brother Čelebī Beg was named to that post. He died seven years later (1046/1637). His nephew, Ḥaydar Beg, Abū’l-Qāsem’s son, replaced him. It was during Ḥaydar Beg’s tenure as ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī (1046-53/1636-43) that he collected official correspondences which he later compiled in his Majmaʿ al-enšāʾ and dedicated to Shah Ṣafī (Storey, I, p. 317). Six years later he withdrew to Qom due to a misunderstanding with the grand vizier, Sārū Taqī, whom he seems to have offended (Walīqolī Šāmlū, fol. 75a; Monajjem Yazdī, fol. 96a). At this point Ṣafī had died and Sārū Taqī along with ʿAbbās II’s mother had consolidated their power at court, ending the hegemony of the Rostam Beg cabal of ḡolāms. Čelebī Beg must have been a member of that cabal and a client of Ṣafī’s mother. With the waning of the power of Rostam Beg’s faction, the Ev-oḡlīs lost their monopoly over the post of ešīk-āqāsī-bāšī. Twenty two years later (1075/1665) ʿAbbās II took his revenge for Sārū Taqī and killed Čelebī Beg (Walīqolī Šāmlū, fol. 75b)


Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):

Doerfer, Elemente II, pp. 226-28.

Abu’l-Qāsem Ḥaydar Beg Ev-oḡlī, Majmaʿ al-enšaʾ, MS. London, British Library, Add. 7668.

Mīrzā Rafīʿā, Dastūr al-molūk, ed. M.-T Danešpažūh, MDAT 16, 1347-48 Š./1968-69, 1-2, pp. 62-93; 3, pp. 298-322; 4, pp. 416-40; 5-6, pp. 540-64.

K. Babayan, “The Waning of the Qizilbash: The Spiritual and the Temporal in Seventeenth-Century Iran,” Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1993.

H. Inalcik, The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600, New York, 1973.

Kamāl-al-Dīn b. Jalāl Monajjem Yazdī, Zobdat al-tawārīḵ, MS. London, Royal Asiatic Society, Morley 43.

Moḥammad-Yūsof Walī and Eskandar Beg Torkamān, Ḏayl-e Tārīḵ-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿabbāsī, ed. A. Sohaylī Kᵛānsārī, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938, pp. 198, 200, 267, 286.

Moḥammad-Ṭāher Waḥīd Qazvīnī, ʿAbbās-nāma, ed. E. Dehgān, Arāk, 1329 Š./1950, pp. 55-56.

Moḥammad-Yūsof Wāleh Qazvīnī, Ḵold-e barīn, MS. London, British Library, Or 4132, fol. 172b-73a.

Walīqolī Šāmlū, Qeṣaṣ al-ḵāqānī, MS. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Suppl. Pers. 227.

(Kathryn Babayan)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: January 20, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. IX, Fasc. 1, p. 85