1902 Encyclopedia > Mirkhond (Mir-Khvand)

(also written as: Mir-Khvand)
Noted Persian-language historian

MIRKHOND (1433-1498). Mohammed bin Khawandshah bin Mahmud, commonly called Mirkhwand or Mirkhhwand, more familiar to Europeans under the name of Mirkhond, was born in 1433, the son of a very pious and learned man who, although belonging to an old Bokhara family of Sayyids or direct descendants of the Prophet, lived and died in Balkh. From his early youth he applied himself to historical studies and literature in general. In Herat, where he spent the greater part of his life, he gained the favour of that famous patron of letters, Mir `Alishir (born 1440), who served his old school-fellow the reigning sultan Husain (who as the last of the Timffrides in Persia ascended the throne of Herat in 1468), first as keeper of the seal, afterwards as governor of Jurjan. At the request of this distinguished statesman and writer Mirkhond began about 1474, in the quiet convent of Khilasfyah, which his patron had founded in Herat as a house of retreat for literary men of merit, his great work on universal history, the largest ever written in Persian, and to the present day an inexhaustible mine of information both to Eastern and Western scholars. It is named Caliphs. That the author has made no attempt at a critical examination of historical traditions can scarcely be called a peculiar fault of his, since almost all Oriental writers are equally deficient in sound criticism ; more censurable is his flowery and often bombastic style, but in spite of this drawback, and although, in our own age, the discovery of older works on Asiatic history has diminished to some extent the value of Mirkhond's Razqat, it still maintains its high position as one of the most marvellous achievements in literature from the pen of one man, and often elucidates, by valuable text-corrections, various readings, and important additions, those sources which have lately come to light. It comprises seven large volumes and a geographical appendix; but internal evidence proves beyond doubt that the seventh volume, the history of the sultan Husain (14381505), together with a short account of some later events down to 1523, cannot have been written by Mirkhond himself, who died in 1498. He may have compiled the preface, but the main portion of this volume is probably the work of his grandson, the equally renowned historian Khwandamfr (1475-1534), to whom also a part of the appendix must be ascribed.

The following is a summary of the contents of the other six volumes. Vol. i. : Preface on the usefulness of historical studies, history of the creation, the patriarchs, prophets, art3 rulers of Israel down to Christ, and the Persian kings from the mythical times of the Peshdadians to the Arab conquest and the death of the last Sasanian Yazdajird III. in 30 A.11. (651 A.D.). Vol. ii. : Mohammed, Abdbekr, 'Omar, 'Othman, and 'Ali. Vol. iii. : The twelve imams and the Omayyad and 'Abbasid caliphs down to 656 A.11. (1258 A.D.). Vol. iv.: The minor dynasties contemporary with and subsequent to the 'Abbasids, down to 778 A. u. (1376 A.D.), the date of the overthrow of the Kurds by Timor. Vol. v. : The Moghuls down to Timor's time. Vol. vi.: Timar and his successors down to Sultan Husain's accession in 873 A. u. (1468 A.D.). The best accounts of Mirkhond's life are De Sacy's " Notice sur Mirkliond " in his Memoires sur diverses antiquiles de la Perse, Paris, 1793 ; Jourdain's " Notice de l'histoire universelle de Mirkhond" in the Notices et Extraits, vol. ix., Paris, 1812 (together with a translation of the preface, the history of the Ismailians, the conclusion of the sixth volume, and a portion of the appendix) ; Elliot, History of India, vol. iv. p. 127 sq. ; Morley, Descriptive Catalogue, London, 1854, p. 30 sq. ; Ricu, Cat. of Persian MSS. of the Brit. Mus., vol. i., London, 1879, p. 87 sq. Mirkhond's patron, Mir, 'Alishir, to whom the Rauat is dedicated, died three years after him (1501).

Besides the lithographed editions of the whole work In folio, Bombay, 1853, and Teheran, 1852-56, and a Turkish version, Constantinople, 1842, the following portions of Mlrkhond's history have been published by European Orientalists: Early Kings of Persia, by D. Shea, London, 1832 (Oriental Translation Fund); L' Histoire de la dynastic des Sassan ides, by S. de Saey (in the above-mentioned bfe'moires); Ilistoire des Sassanides (terse Person), by Jaubert, Pails, 1843; Historia priorum regum Persarum, Pers. and Lat., by Jenish, Vienna, 1782; Nirehondi historia Taheridarum, Pers. and Lat., by 3litscherlik, Gottingen, 1814, 2d ed., Berlin, 18I9; Historia Samanidarum, Pers. and Lat., by Wilkes, Gtittingen, 1808 ; Histoire des Samanides, translated by Defrdmery, Paris, 1845; Hist oria Ghaznevidarurn, Pers;and Lat., by Wilken, Berlin, 1832; Geschichte der Sultaneaus dem Oeschtechte Bujeh, Pers. and German, by Wilken, Berlin, 1835; followed by Erdmann's Erliiuterung und Ergansung, Kazan, 1836 ; Historic Seldschuckidarum, ed. Vullers, Giessen, 1S37, and a German translation by the same; Histoire des Sultans du Rharezm, in Persian, by Defremery, Paris, 1842; History of the eitabeks of Syria and Persia, In Persian, by W. Morley, London, 1848 ; Historia Ohuridarum, l'ers. and Lat., by Mitseherlik, Frankfort, 1818 ; Histoire des Sultans Ghurid,es, translated into French by Def rem ery, Paris, 1844; Vie de Bjenghir-Khan, in Persian, by Janbert, Paris, 1841 (see also extracts from the same 5th volume in French translation by Langles in vol. vi. of Notices et Extra its, Paris, 1799, p. 192 sq., and by Hammer in Sur les origines Busses, St Petersburg, 1825, p. 52 sq.); "Tinnir's Expedition against Tuktamish Khdn," Persian and French, by Charmoy, in Me'moires de l' Acad. Impe'r. de St Pitershourg, 1836, pp. 270-321 and 441-471. (H, E.)

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