History of the Samanids


Mir Khvand (1433‒98) was a leading 15th-century historian and historiographer in the service of the Timurid court at Herat, Afghanistan, under the patronage of Mir ʻAli-Sir Navaʼi. Mir Khvand wrote a world history in seven volumes extending up to 1506, the last volume of which was completed by his grandson, Khvand Mir, also a leading Persian historian. Histoire des Samanides (History of the Samanids) is a translation by the French orientalist Charles François Defrémery (1822‒83) of a part of the larger work. The book includes a brief introduction, the Persian text, the French translation, and a detailed set of notes that reflect Defrémery’s careful historical and linguistic scholarship. The Samanid Empire (819‒999) was founded by Saman Khuda, a landowner originally from Balkh in northern Afghanistan, in what are now eastern Iran and Uzbekistan. At its peak, the empire extended over parts of present-day Iran, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. The Samanids were known for their patronage of commerce, science, and the arts. They extended Persian and Islamic culture deep into Central Asia and even conducted trade with parts of Europe. The works of the poet Firdawsi, Samanid silver coins, and new forms of pottery are among the high points of Samanid culture. Defrémery also published an edited edition of another part of Mir Khvand’s history, L’histoire des sultans du Kharezm (1842). Defrémery was educated at the Collège de France and the École des Langues Orientales in Paris and taught for many years at the Collège de France. He published important scholarship on both Arabic and Persian literature and history and completed a translation from Chagatai Turkish into French of the memoirs of the Mughal emperor Babur.

Last updated: July 27, 2016