Abu Sa'id Mirza

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Abū Saʿīd Mirza
Mirza (royal title)
Abu Said seated on a throne.png
Mughal illumination of Sultan Abu Sa'id Mirza
ReignSamarkand: 1451–1469
Herat: 1459–1469
Born1424 (1424)
Herat, Timurid Empire (present-day Uzbekistan)
Died1469 (aged 44–45)
Cairo, Egypt (head only)
DynastyHouse of Timur
FatherMuhammad Mirza
MotherShah Islam Agha

Abū Saʿīd Mirza (Chagatay/Persian: ابو سعید میرزا‎) was an important member of the Timurid dynasty. He was the ruler of a large area in Transoxiana, Khurasan and the southern Caspian region. However, his greater claim to fame lies in his bloodline and subsequent lineage: Abu Sa'id Mirza was a male-line great-grandson of Timur the Great, and he was the paternal grandfather of Babur, who would found the Mughal empire of India.


Sultan Abu Said Mirza.jpg

Abū Saʿīd was the great-grandson of Timur, the grandson of Miran Shah, and the nephew of Ulugh Beg. He was the grandfather of Babur, by his son Umar Sheikh Mirza, the founder of the Mughal Empire in South Asia. As a young man his ancestry made him a principal in the century-long struggle for the remnants of Timur's empire waged between Timur's descendants, the Black Sheep Turkomans, and the White Sheep Turkomans (1405–1510).[1] He was the son of Muhammad Mirza son of Miran Shah son of Amir Timur (Herat, 1424–1469), and was a Timurid Empire ruler in Transoxiana, Khurasan and the southern Caspian region, what is today parts of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan.



He raised an army but failed to gain a foothold in Samarkand or Bukhara (1448–1449); established his base at Yasi and conquered much of Turkestan in 1450. In June 1451, he captured Samarkand with the aid of the Uzbek Turks under Abūl-Khayr Khān, thus securing rulership of the eastern part of Timur's Empire, Transoxiana.[2] He fought an inconclusive war with Mirza Abul-Qasim Babur bin Baysonqor of Khorasan in 1454; and took advantage of his cousin Jahan Shah's capture of Herat late in 1457 to capture it for himself in 1458, thus acquiring the rest of Timur's heartland and becoming the most powerful of the Timurid princes in central Asia. Also in 1457 he had the ruler's mother Gorhashad executed, even though she was over 80. He defeated an alliance of three other Timurid princes at the Battle of Sarakhs in March 1459, and conquered eastern Iran and most of Afghanistan by 1461, agreeing with Jahan Shah to divide Iran between them; when the White Sheep Turkoman chieftain Uzun Hasan attacked and killed Jahan Shah, Abu Sa'id spurned Uzun Hasan's peace offer and answered Jahan Shah's son's request for aid.


Captured (on 11 February 1469 [NS]) by Uzun Hasan with a small force at the calamitous Battle of Qarabagh (in modern Republic of Azerbaijan) during a campaign against the Ak Koyunlu (White Sheep) Turkomans,[3] he was handed over to Yadgar Muhammad Mirza on 17 February 1469, who executed him, ostensibly in retribution for Abū Sa'id's execution of Yadgar Muhammad Mirza's grandmother Queen Gawhar Shad,[4] who had been intriguing against him. Uzun Hasan had his decapitated head sent to Qaitbay, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, who gave it an Islamic burial.[5]

Political Connections[edit]

Abu Sa'id formed many political connections during his rule, including to the Uzbeks, the Qara Qoyunlu Turkmen, and a variety of Sufi figures. He has been linked to Khwāja ʿUbaydullah Aḥrār (d. 895 AH/1490 CE) at the time of his accession (1451 CE) in Samarqand.[6] He also sought support at the shrine of Ahmad Yasavi in Yasi.[7]


Abu Sa'd had thirty nine wives;

  • Khanzada Begum, daughter of Abu'l Khayr Khan;
  • Rabia Sultan Begum, daughter of Muhammad Timur Mirza and Khand Sultan Begi;
  • Aqa Begum, Taghay Shah, daughter of Ulugh Beg bin Shahrukh Mirza;
  • Qutluq Sultan Khanum, a Genghisid lady;
  • Malika Sultan Begum, daughter of Ordu Bugha Tarkhan;
  • Shah Sultan Begum, a Mughal lady;
  • Shahzada Begum, daughter of Shah Sultan Muhammad of Badakshan;
  • Khanzada Makhdum Begum, daughter of Khanzada Taj-al-Din Tirmizi;
  • Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, daughter of Ala-ud-dawla Mirza bin Baysonqor bin Shah Rukh;
  • Saliha Sultan Agha, daughter of Jakah Barlas;
  • Jamal Begi Agha, a Barlas lady;
  • Daulat Bakht Agha, daughter of Qaran Shaikh Mughal;
  • Kanizak Begi Agha, daughter of Shaikh Yusuf Lakah;
  • Umid Agha, daughter of Sultan Ahmad Ghiyas Beg and niece of Sultan Muhammad Ghiyas Beg;
  • Qatak Begi Agha, daughter of Muhammad Khudaidad, former wife of Ibrahim Mirza bin Ala-ud-Daulah Mirza bin Baysonqor bin Shah Rukh;
  • Khurshid Begi Aghacha, daughter of Murad Akhtaji;
  • Dilshad Aghacha, daughter of Amir Buzurg bin Amir Bayan;
  • Bey Mulk Aghacha, daughter of Jan Darwaish;
  • Aafaq Aghacha, foster sister of Ibrahim Mirza bin Ala-ud-Daulah bin Baysonqor; bin Shah Rukh;
  • Shamim Aghacha, daughter of Amir Yahya Qushji;
  • Hanifa Sultan Aghacha, daughter of Amir Ajab Mughal;
  • Daulat Sultan Aghacha, daughter of Rustam Amir Tuta;
  • Bolghan Aghacha;
  • Makhdum Aghacha, relative of Sultan Ahmad Ghiyas Beg;
  • Sa'adat Bakht Aghacha, daughter of Ali Araka, Pirzada of Baghdad;
  • Afaq Aghacha;
  • Gawhar Sultan Aghacha, daughter of Khwaja Rapasti;
  • Gulshah Aghacha;
  • Shah Sultan Aghacha;
  • Subur Sultan Aghacha, daughter of Abdul Shaikh;
  • Khadija Begi Aghacha, daughter of Mulana Nasr-al-Din;
  • Nusrat Sultan Aghacha, daughter of Shah Saqd Wali Suldoz;
  • Begi Sultan Aghacha, daughter of Farrukh Shad Kohasan;
  • Gulrukh Sultan Aghacha, daughter of Yusuf bin Hamza;
  • Zainab Begi Aghacha, daughter of Sultan Ahmad Suldoz;
  • Khadija Begum, daughter of Amir Muhammad Sarik bin Amir Muhammad Khawaja;
  • Habiba Sultan Begum, daughter of Amir Jalal-ud-din Suhrab;


Much has been made of Abū Saʿīd’s removal of tamgha taxes at the request of Khwāja Aḥrār,[8] but these taxes were removed by earlier Timurids as well,[9] and the action may have been as much a reversal of an earlier, little-liked ruler as a shift in policy toward Islamic taxation systems.[10] Khwandamir reports that court officials were deposed and sometimes killed for misappropriating funds, including the same Quṭb al-Dīn Ṭaʾūs Simnanī who later is responsible for the construction of the Juy-i Sulṭānī.[11] Women could also be caught up in the court intrigues. As mentioned in Aubin and discussed more fully by Manz,[12] Abū Saʿīd’s execution of Gawhar Shād, the wife of Shāh Rukh b. Timur (779-850/1377-1447) was viewed negatively by the contemporary chroniclers.

Abū Saʿīd does not seem to have personally engaged in large-scale building projects, perhaps because of the time he spent on campaigns.[13] Quṭb al-Dīn Ṭāʾūs, a vizier under Abū Saʿīd, built the Jūy-i Sulṭāni canal in Herat,[14] which created the possibility for future building under Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqara as it was completed while Abū Saʿīd was on his final campaign to Azerbaijan.[15] This and the Aq Sarāy (white palace) shifted the elite living space while the ruler was in Herat to outside the city walls, “marking a conscious break with the past.”[16] Other public works credited to Abū Saʿīd include repairs to the Gulistān dam “while at the same time appropriating the lands it watered”.[17] Buildings include an aiwan at the musalla in Herat,[18] repairs to Ghār-i Karukh which includes an inscription,[19] and construction of a spa and bath at Ūba (Obeh), a “resort for the Timurids” in their summer quarters.[20]


  1. ^ Jean Aubin, "Abū Saʿīd", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., vol. I (1960), pp. 147–148.
  2. ^ Soucek, Svat, A History of Inner Asia (2000), page 136.
  3. ^ Jean Aubin, "Abū Saʿīd", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., vol. I (1960), page 148.
  4. ^ Aubin, "Encyclopaedia of Islam", 2nd ed., 1:148
  5. ^ Matthew Melvin-Koushki The Delicate Art of Aggression: Uzun Hasan's "Fathnama" to Qaytbay of 1469, Iranian Studies Vol. 44, No. 2 (2011), p. 193
  6. ^ Jo-Ann Gross, Khoja Aḥrār. A Study of the Perceptions of Religious Power and Prestige in the Late Timurid Period. New York University Ph.D dissertation 1982, p. 102; Khwāndamīr, "Habibu’s-siyar. Tome Three. The Reign of the Mongol and the Turk." Trans. W. M. Thackston. Edited by Şinasi Tekin and Gönül Alpay Tekin. 2 vols. Sources of Oriental Languages and Literatures. Cambridge, MA, 1994, p. 208
  7. ^ Gross p. 99-102, Beatrice Forbes Manz. "Power, Politics and Religion in Timurid Iran." Edited by David Morgan, Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization. Cambridge / New York 2007, p. 215 n.33
  8. ^ V. V. Bartold. "Four Studies on the History of Central Asia." 3 vols. Leiden 1956-1963; Aubin 1:148; H. R Roemer, "The Successors of Tīmūr", In "The Cambridge History of Iran. Volume 6. The Timurid and Safavid Periods", edited by Peter Jackson and Laurence Lockhart. (Cambridge 1986) 117
  9. ^ Manz "Power" 81-2
  10. ^ Manz "Power" 267
  11. ^ Khwandamir/Thackston, 203, 204
  12. ^ Beatrice Forbes Manz, "Women in Timurid Dynastic Politics", in "Women in Iran from the Rise of Islam to 1800", edited by G. Nashat and L. Beck (Urbana / Chicago 2003), 134-5
  13. ^ Terry Allen, "Timurid Herat", Beihefte zum Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients. Reihe B, Geistwiss. Weisbaden 1983, p. 24
  14. ^ Allen "Timurid Herat" 49, 53; Terry Allen, "A Catalogue of the Toponyms and Monuments of Timurid Herat", Studies in Islamic Architecture. Cambridge 1981, p. 20-21
  15. ^ Allen "Timurid Herat" 23-4
  16. ^ Allen "Timurid Herat" 49, 52-3
  17. ^ Bernard O'Kane, "Timurid Architecture in Khurasan", Islamic Art and Architecture. Costa Mesa, CA 1987 15
  18. ^ O’Kane 20
  19. ^ O’Kane 251-2; Lisa Golombek and Donald Wilber, "The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan". 2 vols, Princeton Monographs in Art and Archeology. Princeton, NJ 1988 1:327
  20. ^ Allen "Timurid Herat" p. 24
Abu Sa'id Mirza
Preceded by
Timurid Empire (in Samarkand)
Succeeded by
Sultan Ahmad
Preceded by
Ibrahim, then Interregnum (Black Sheep)
Timurid Empire (in Herat)
Succeeded by
Yadigar Muhammad