History of Nadir Shah


Tārīkh-i Nādirī (The history of Nadir) is a historical work that chronicles the political and military career of Nadir Shah, who was born in 1688 and rose to power in Iran during the 1720s; he became shah in 1736. (This work is also known as Jahāngushāy-i Nādirī in reference to the celebrated history of Genghis Khan, whom Nadir Shah admired.) Nadir Shah is known as a military warrior famous for his campaigns in Iran, Afghanistan, northern India, and Central Asia. He was assassinated by his officers in June 1747. The name of the author of this work, Muhammad Mahdi Munshi’ ibn Muhammad Nasir (also seen as Mahdi Khan Astarabadi), appears on page four. Mahdi Khan was a court secretary, historian, and close confidante of Nadir Shah, whom he accompanied on many of his campaigns, so the work is an important historical source. The manuscript is organized chronologically and recounts about 100 military and political events. The preliminary pages contain a preface outlining the political developments in Iran and Qandahar (or Kandahar) that led to the Afghan invasion of Persia in 1722 and the emergence of Nadir Shah as a ruler who would confront and eventually defeat the Afghans and other enemies. The manuscript is incomplete, with the scribe having stopped mid-sentence after completing several lines from the penultimate section of the work, “On the end of the [Nadir Shah] and the manner of his murder...”. Virtually all of this penultimate section (chronicling the cruel and bloody final years of Nadir’s reign) and the final section (on the rule of ʻAli Quli Khan and Ibrahim Khan, nephews of Nadir, who each claimed the throne for a brief period after the assassination of their uncle) are therefore missing from the manuscript. The missing parts correspond roughly to six pages of text. In the manner typical of Persian court historiography, the author emphasizes throughout the restoration of order, the introduction of justice, and the defeat of the enemies of the state. Various poems and verses from the Qur’an appear throughout the text. The manuscript is written by a single hand in a uniform nastaliq, the calligraphic Persian script. All of the events recounted have a rubricated title. The first word of every other page is repeated as a “catchword” in the bottom margin of the previous page to ensure the proper order of the pages prior to binding, as was common practice in Persia and elsewhere.

Last updated: September 30, 2016