Mirza Mehdi Khan Astarabadi
Mirza Mehdi Khan Esterabadi
|Died||Sometime between 1759 and 1768|
Mirza Mehdi Khan Astarabadi (Persian: میرزا مهدی خان استرآبادی), also known by his title of Monshi-ol-Mamalek (منشی الممالک), was the chief secretary, historian, biographer, advisor, strategist, friend and confidant of King Nader Shah Afshar (r. 1736-1747). He who wrote and accepted the different decisions and files related to the Empire.
Even though Mirza Mehdi rose to become an eminent figure in 18th century Iran, not much is known about his life. A native of Astarabad (present-day Gorgan), he was the son of a certain Mohammad-Nasir, and he presumably spent his young life in Isfahan during the late Safavid period, where he practised to become a civil servant.
During the reign of the last Safavid king, Sultan Husayn (r. 1696-1722), the Afghans attacked Iran. When military chief Nader Shah expelled the Afghans, Mirza Mehdi Khan supported him in the Safavid court. During his long service to Nader, he first functioned as "head of the royal correspondance" (Monshi-ol-Mamalek), until Nader's coronation at the Mugan plain in 1736. Afterwards, he became his official biographer and historiographer.
In early 1747, Astarabadi was sent as an ambassador to the Ottoman Empire together with Mostafa Khan Bigdeli Shamlu in order to ratify the Treaty of Kerden (1746). However, they had only reached Baghdad when the embassy learned about the death of Nader Shah, which forced them go back to Iran. Everything remains unknown regarding the fate of his subsequent career. He must have "evidently" retired from public life in order to be able to finish the philological and historical works which he had been compiling during his service to Nader.
He was the author of historical books such as Tarikh-e-Jahangoshay-e-Naderi (History of Nadir Shah's Wars), which is a book studied in the Yale University and has this presentation : « Tarikh-i Nadiri. A history of Nadir shah Afshar, who ruled Iran from 1736 to 1747, written in Persian by Mahdi Khan Astarabadi (d. 1759), his secretary and court historian ». This book was also the object of research in 1996 by United States Naval Academy. Mirza Mehdi Khan also wrote "Dareh Nadareh" and "A Persian Guide to the Turkish Language" in 1759 with an introduction of Sir Gerard Clauson.
In 1768, King Christian VII of Denmark visited England. He took with him the book of Nader Shah, written by Mirza Mehdi Khan Astarabadi and asked Sir William Jones (1746-1794), orientalist and specialist in the history of old India, to translate it into French. This, in turn, led to the publication of the (not entirely accurate) book, "Histoire de Nader Chah", in 1770. This translation by William Jones was then later translated into German and Georgian.
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