|Emir of the Samanids|
Coin of Nasr II, minted in Nishapur, 933/4.
|Reign||12 January 914 - 943|
|Died||6 April 943 (aged 38)|
Nasr II (Persian: نصر), nicknamed "the Fortunate", was the ruler (amir) of Transoxiana and Khurasan as the head of the Samanid dynasty from 914 to 943. His reign marked the high point of the Samanid dynasty's fortunes. He was the son of Ahmad ibn Isma’il.
Nasr became amir at the age of eight following his father’s assassination in January of 914. Due to his youth, his prime minister Abu ’Abd-Allah al-Jaihani undertook the regency. Almost immediately a series of revolts broke out within the state, the most serious being the one led by his great-uncle Ishaq ibn Ahmad. Ishaq’s sons took part in the rebellion; one son, Abu Salih Mansur, took control of Nishapur and several other cities in Khurasan. Eventually, Ishaq was captured, while Abu Salih Mansur died in Nishapur.
Nasr’s ascension also brought instability to the peripheries of the Samanid state. The Abbasids managed to recover Sistan for the last time, while Ray and Tabaristan were taken by the Alid Hasan al-Utrush. Despite being unable to recover the provinces, the Samanids employed numerous local Dailamite and Gilite leaders and remained active in the struggles there.
In 919, the governor of Khurasan, Husayn ibn Ali Marvarrudhi, rebelled against Samanid authority. Nasr responded by sending an army under Ahmad ibn Sahl to suppress the rebellion, which the latter managed to accomplish. After a few weeks, however, Ahmad shortly rebelled himself at Nishapur, made incursions into the Samanid city of Gurgan, and then fortified himself in Merv to avoid a Samanid counter-attack. Nevertheless, the Samanid general Hamuya ibn Ali managed to lure Ahmad out of Merv, and defeated him in a battle at Marw al-Rudh. Ahmad was captured during the battle and imprisoned in Bukhara, where he remained until his death in 920. In 921, the Zaydids under the Dailamite general Lili ibn al-Nu'man invaded Khorasan, but were defeated by the Simjurid general Simjur al-Dawati.
In 922, Jaihani was removed as prime minister by Nasr, it is not known if this was on account of his suspected Shi’i beliefs. He was replaced by Abu'l-Fadl al-Bal'ami, who for the most part continued his predecessor’s policies. In 928, Asfar ibn Shiruya, an Dailamite military leader, who now served the Samanids, conquered Tabaristan and Ray. One year later, Nasr had his commander Muhammad ibn Ilyas imprisoned after angering him. He was, however, shortly freed after receiving the support of Nasr's vizier Bal'ami and was sent on a campaign in Gurgan.
In 930 a revolt by Nasr’s brothers broke out. They proclaimed one of their own, Yahya, as amir. Bal’ami managed to quell the rebellion by turning the brothers against each other. Another Dailamite military leader, Makan ibn Kaki, used this opportunity the seize Tabaristan and Gurgan from the Samanids, and even take possession of Nishapur in western Khurasan. He was, however, forced to abandon these regions one year later, due to the threat that Samanids posed. Makan then returned to Tabaristan, where he was defeated by the Ziyarid Mardavij, who managed to conquer the region. He then took refuge in Khorasan, and was appointed by Nasr as the governor of Kirman.
A threat of mobilization by Nasr in 933 prompted Mardavij, who had become the dominant power in the region, to surrender Gurgan and pay tribute for his possession of Ray. One year later, Nasr sent Makan against Muhammad ibn Ilyas, who had mutinied against the Samanids. Muhammad attempted to gain the support of the Abbasid general Yaqut but failed, was defeated by Makan and forced to flee. Mardavij was assassinated by his Turkish slaves in 935 and was succeeded by his brother Vushmgir.
Makan, after having heard of Mardavij's assassination at the hands of his own Turkish slaves, immediately left Kirman, secured his appointment as governor of Gurgan from Nasr, and with the support of Samanid troops tried to recover Tabaristan. Vushmgir managed to repel the attack and even conquer Gurgan, but Buyid pressure on his western flank forced him to reach a settlement, recognizing Samanid overlordship and ceding Gurgan to Makan. Samanid armies from that point on were heavily involved in protecting the Ziyarids from the Buyids, who were rising in central Persia. In 938 Jaihani was reinstated as prime minister, a post he held until 941.
During the same period, relations between Makan and Vushmgir improved to the point where they declared independence against the Samanids. As a result, in 939, Nasr sent a Samanid army under Abu 'Ali Chaghani which attacked Makan at Gurgan. Following a seven-month siege of his capital, Makan was forced to flee to Ray. The Samanid army pursued him, and in a battle fought on 25 December 940 at Iskhabad near Ray, the Samanid forces were victorious. Makan himself was killed by an arrow, and then beheaded by the victors, who sent his head to Nasr in Bukhara.
Nasr’s ministers helped turn the Samanid court into a cultural center. Jaihani was known as an author and wrote a geographical work. His interest in the subject caused him to invite geographers from many places to Bukhara. Scientists, astronomers, and others also flocked to the city. Bal’ami likewise was interested in the arts and patronized intellectuals and authors.
In 943 several Samanid army officers, angry at Nasr’s support of Isma’ili missionaries, formed a conspiracy to murder the amir. Nasr’s son Nuh, however, learned of the plan. He went to a banquet designed to organize the plot and decapitated their leader. To placate the other officers, he promised to stop the Isma’ili missionaries from continuing their activities. Nasr was then convinced by Nuh to abdicate; he died shortly after of tuberculosis on 6 April 943.
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Ahmad ibn Isma'il
|Amir of the Samanids