FARMĀNFARMĀ, ḤOSAYN-ʿALĪ MĪRZĀ (b. Lārījān, 12 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 1203/2 Sept. 1789; d. Tehran, 26 Rabīʿ I 1251/22 July 1835), the fifth son of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah (r. 1212-50/1797-1834), long-time governor of Fārs, and briefly the self-styled king of Persia. His mother, Badr-e Jahān Ḵānom, was the daughter of Qāder Khan, an amir of a prominent Arab tribe settled in Besṭām district (Solṭān Aḥmad Mīrzā, pp. 27-28, 94). She was married to Bābā Khan, the later Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah, in 1196/1781-82. Ḥosayn-ʿAlī was married in Jomādā II 1214/November 1799 to the daughter of Amīr Gūna Khan Zaʿfarānlū, a prominent Kurdish chieftain from Qūčān, and shortly thereafter he was appointed nominal governor of Fārs, with the title of Farmānfarmā. For mentor and vizier, he was given Čerāḡ-ʿAlī Khan Navāʾī, an experienced servant of the dynasty, and a bodyguard of 800 (1,000 according to Hedāyat, IX, p. 719) Māzandarānī musketeers from Nūr who, together with their families, were settled in the abandoned Mūrdestān quarter of Shiraz and constituted the new regime’s first line of security (Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana, pp. 191-92; Eʿtemād -al-Salṭana, Montaẓam-e nāṣerī, ed. Reżwānī, III, p. 1454; Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, p. 666; Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā IX, pp. 360-61).

For the next several years, Ḥosayn-ʿAlī would be under the tutelage of his mother, “a clever woman” according to John Malcolm, and his vizier, “a redoubtable personage” with a reputation for considerable learning (I, p. 123). Čerāḡ-ʿAlī was possibly the ablest of a series of at least ten viziers who served Ḥosayn-ʿAlī over three and a half decades, but he was recalled in 1220/1805 as a result of charges made by the people of Fārs against him in Tehran (Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, pp. 691-92, II, pp. 1426-27; Dīvānbīgī, II, p. 1379). He was replaced by Naṣr-Allāh Khan Qaragūzlū, who held office until 1223/1808. The next vizier seems to have unleashed a crisis in the affairs of the province. This was Moḥammad-Nabī Khan, brother-in-law of Ḥājī Ḵalīl Khan, Persian ambassador to the governor-general of India, who was killed in a brawl in Bombay in 1215/1801, and himself an ambassador to Calcutta. His regime seems to have been singularly rapacious, reaching a climax when his subordinates forced up the price of bread in Shiraz, leading to rioting and an appeal by the rioters to the šayḵ-al-Eslām for a fatwā to kill the most notorious extortioner, Mīrzā Hādī Fasāʾī, as well as the head of the bakers’ guild. The threatened officials fled for sanctuary to the prince-governor’s palace and the vizier ordered bread prices to be brought down and the city bakers bastinadoed (Morier, II, p. 102; Ouseley, II, pp. 209-10; Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, p. 686).

This incident seems to have led to the intervention of the central government in the person of Ḥājī Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Khan Amīn-al-Dawla, the mostawfī-al-mamālek, who came to Shiraz to investigate the provincial finances. Moḥammad-Nabī Khan was deposed, tortured, and forced to disgorge his wealth (1224/ 1809-10). Two years later, perhaps as a gesture to restore public confidence, Amīn-al-Dawla prevailed upon Ḥosayn-ʿAlī to appoint as mayor (kalāntar) Mīrzā Ḥājī ʿAlī-Akbar, a son of the late ṣadr-e aʿẓam, Ḥājī Ebrāhīm Khan Eʿtemād-al-Dawla (q.v.), an appointment requested by the Shirazis themselves (Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, pp. 701-2, 708).

By now Ḥosayn-ʿAlī was entering his twenties and presumably was becoming more directly involved in governmental decisions. In 1822, apparently without any authority from the Persian government, he invited Lt. William Bruce, the Resident of the East India Company (q.v.) in Bušehr, to Shiraz and signed an agreement with him to settle Anglo-Persian differences over security in the Persian Gulf (Wright, 1977, pp. 63-64). Ḥosayn-ʿAlī seems, however, to have been a lethargic ruler, very different from his older brothers, Moḥammad-ʿAlī Mīrzā Dawlatšāh (q.v.) in Kermānšāh and ʿAbbās Mīrzā in Azerbaijan. Unlike them, he had no considerable body of troops under his direct command, being largely dependent upon tribal levies whose first allegiance was to their own leaders, men on whose loyalty he could not count. An extreme example was Walī Khan Mamassanī, whom Ḥosayn-ʿAlī had sought to placate with a marriage-alliance between his son, Tīmūr Mīrzā, and Walī Khan’s daughter, but who continued to plunder at will the roads of the province (Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, pp. 768-69). At one time his sons joined forces with the tribal chiefs of Daštestān, attacked Bušehr, and plundered it after a two-day siege (Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, pp. 746-47).

In Shiraz itself, the population remained restless and unpredictable, the willing tool of the ʿolamāʾ or lūṭī-inspired violence; faced, for example, with rioting against the Jewish community, the government was powerless to intervene (Benjamin, p. 184). But Ḥosayn-ʿAlī’s subjects were themselves victims of grinding taxation and the prevailing insecurity. A foreign traveler in 1819 placed the annual revenue of Fārs at 400,000 tomans, of which half went to the central government (Dupré, II, p. 13), but there were always additional demands. In 1245/1829, Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah moved with military force to Shiraz and Ḥosayn-ʿAlī Mīrzā felt compelled to present his father with a gift of 200,000 tomans, which was accepted as tax arrears (Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, pp. 740-41; Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā IX, pp. 717-23; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Montaẓam-e nāṣerī, ed. Reżwānī, III, pp. 1599-600). Although Shiraz experienced some degree of urban renewal under Ḥosayn-ʿAlī, this was due mainly to the enterprise of the city’s merchants and their involvement in the Persian Gulf and Indian commerce. Ḥosayn-ʿAlī seems to have viewed his subjects primarily as sources of revenue. A foreign observer noted in 1818 that, unlike the well-protected palace quarter, the city walls were breached in many places, and as there was no encircling ditch, a horseman could ride in and out at will, the contrast being indicative of the regime’s indifference to the safety of the general population (Johnson, p. 65).

It may have been at the time of ʿAbbās Mīrzā’s death in 1249/1833, when Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah designated ʿAbbās Mīrzā’s son, Moḥammad Mīrzā, as heir-apparent, that Ḥosayn-ʿAlī determined to make his bid for the throne. Although he was the fifth of his father’s sons and his mother did not belong to the Qājār tribe, all five sons had been born within the same lunar year (1203/1788-89) and the first four were now dead. Ḥosayn-ʿAlī probably anticipated strong support in the south and, above all, he had primed his energetic full-brother, Ḥasan-ʿAlī Mīrzā Šojāʿ-al-Salṭana, the governor of Kermān.

Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah died in Isfahan (19 Jomādā II/22 October 1834) on his way to Shiraz to extract from Ḥosayn-ʿAlī the taxes that had been in arrears for four years. On the news of the king’s death reaching Shiraz, Ḥosayn-ʿAlī had his name read in the ḵoṭba and coins were struck in his name, gold and silver in Shiraz and silver in Yazd and Kermān. A formal enthronement took place on the 3 Shaʿbān 1250/4 December 1834. Ḥosayn-ʿAlī now mustered his forces and despatched them under the command of his brother Šojāʿ-al-Salṭana towards Isfahan where faction and anarchy were raging (Algar, pp. 108-13). But Moḥammad Shah had already been enthroned in Tehran. Ḥosayn-ʿAlī had failed to anticipate the role of the British and Russian missions which had provided the heir-apparent with funds and military assistance, and, in fact, the force that defeated Šojāʿal-Solṭana near Qomša, while led by Manūčehr Khan Moʿtamed-al-Dawla, included British officers who had marched with the new king from Tabrīz to Tehran and whose horse-artillery under Lt. Henry Lindesay-Bethune, probably determined the defeat of the southerners (Reżāqolī Mīrzā, pp. 1-172. Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, pp. 759-65; Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana, pp. 431-34; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Montaẓam-e nāṣerī, ed. Reżwānī, III, pp. 1620-21, 1630-31; Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā X, pp. 92-95, 138-40, 156-58; Watson, pp. 282-86; Wright, 1977, pp. 54-55).

As soon as Moʿtamad-al-Dawla’s forces approached Shiraz, Ḥosayn-ʿAlī’s former adherents hurried to make their submission, and Ḥosayn-ʿAlī was easily captured and sent to Tehran together with his brother. The latter was blinded and sent to Ardabīl; he survived until 1269/1852-53. Ḥosayn-ʿAlī died in confinement on 22 July 1835 from cholera. His body was sent to the ʿAtabāt (q.v.) and buried there (Eʿteżād al-Salṭana, p. 439; Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, p. 766; Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā X, pp. 159-62; Ḵormūjī, pp. 23-25).

Ḥosayn-ʿAlī built in 1225/1810 in the northeast section of Shiraz an “extensive, beautiful,” terraced garden, called Bāḡ-e Now, with cascades and water spouts along a descending canal that was fed by the Roknābād stream. The mansion at the top was fronted by a large, octagonal pool that reflected the entire building like a mirror (Buckingham, pp. 294-96). It was, however, already in a state of decay when George Curzon visited Shiraz in 1889; “woodwork [was] crumbling away and the stocco and painting [were] peeling off the wall” (Curzon, Persian Question II, p. 104; Binning, I, pp. 239-41; Forṣat, pp. 515-17; Fasāʾī, ed., Rastgār, II, p. 1235). In the 1950s, with much of its space already lost, the garden was turned into a fashionable hotel, called Pārk-e Saʿdī (Ārrīānpūr, pp. 196-200). His other mansion, Kāḵ-e Āʾīna, which he built in the Bāḡ-e Naẓar of Karīm Khan Zand, was destroyed when the new Zand avenue was laid down early in this century. To Ḥosayn-ʿAlī also belong the bas-reliefs on the face of the mountain above Bāḡ-e Now. He also wrote poetry (Moṣṭafawī, pp. 52, 59; Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, I, p. 766; II, p. 1091).

A curious postscript to the fall of Ḥosayn-ʿAlī Mīrzā concerns the adventures of three of his nineteen sons, who, with the prompting of their father and apparently assisted by some minor British consular officials acting without instructions, managed to escape from Persia and make their way to England, at first causing some diplomatic embarrassment but thereafter enjoying the protection and pensions of successive British governments (Curzon, Persian Question II, p. 98; Wright, 1985, pp. 87-101; Rāżāqolī Mīrzā; Fraser).


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(Gavin R. G. Hambly)

Originally Published: December 15, 1999

Last Updated: December 15, 1999