Imam-Quli Khan (Persian: امامقلی خان، Emāmqolī Khan) (died 1633) was an Iranian military and political leader of Georgian origin who served as a governor of Fars, Lar and Bahrain for the shahs Abbas I and Safi.
Imam-Quli Khan was the son of Allahverdi Khan (Undiladze), the celebrated Georgian general in the service of Iran’s Safavid Dynasty. Imam-Quli Khan is first mentioned as governor of Lar in Fars in 1610. He succeeded his father as governor-general (beglarbeg) of Fars in 1615, but retained his position at Lar and was granted the rank of an amir of the divan by Shah Abbas I. In 1619-20, Imam-Quli Khan oversaw Abbas’s project to link the headwaters of the Karun and Zayandarud rivers in order to enhance the water supply of his capital, Isfahan. Shah Abbas placed complete trust in Imam-Quli Khan who grew in influence and prestige and became one of the wealthiest khans of the Safavid empire. One day, Shah Abbas even jokingly said to Imam-Quli: "I request, Imam-Quli, that you will spend one dirham less per day, that there may exist some slight difference between the disbursements of a khan and a king!"
Being in charge of the Safavids' southern possessions, Imam-Quli Khan continued his father’s policy of undermining the Portuguese positions in the Persian Gulf. In 1621, he persuaded the English East India Company to cooperate with the Persians by threatening to cancel the trading privileges that had been granted to the company by the shah in 1615. As a result, Imam-Quli Khan’s army aided by the English navy captured the strategic Portuguese fort on the island of Qeshm and laid a siege to Hormuz, which surrendered after a defence of ten weeks in May 1622. The khan’s military exploits are commemorated in the works by the poet Qadri from Fars.
Fall and death
After the death of Abbas, Imam-Quli Khan found himself in disagreement with new favorites of Shah Safi, Abbas’s successor to the throne of Persia, and became marginalized, until he and his family were put to death at Safi's orders and vast possessions converted into the crown domain in 1633. Only his brother, Daud Khan, survived as he had fled to Georgia. A statue to Imam-Quli Khan was erected in Qeshm in the 1990s.
- Roger M. Savory, Emāmqolī Khan. Encyclopædia Iranica Online Edition. Accessed on September 20, 2007.
- Andrew J. Newman (2006), Safavid Iran: Rebirth of a Persian Empire, p. 65. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-667-0
- Sussan Babaie (2004), Slaves of the Shah: New Elites of Safavid Iran, p. 120. I.B.Tauris, ISBN 1-86064-721-9
- "Iran: Qeshm islanders await a second invasion". MEED 5 July 1996