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Uzun Hasan

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Uzun Hasan
Padishah of Iran[1]
Sultan of the Aq Qoyunlu
ReignAutumn of 1452[2] – 6 January 1478
SuccessorSultan Khalil
DiedJanuary 6, 1478 (aged 54–55)
SpouseSeljuk Shah Khatun
Jan Khatun
Tarjil Khatun
Despina Khatun
IssueUghurlu Muhammad
Yaqub Beg
Maqsud Beg
Yusuf Beg
Masih Beg
Zegnel Beg
Alamshah Halima Khatun[4]
Two other daughters
Uzun Hassan bin Ali bin Qara Yoluq Osman
DynastyAq Qoyunlu
FatherAli Beg
MotherSara Khatun
ReligionSunni Islam
TughraUzun Hasan's signature

Uzun Hasan or Uzun Hassan (Azerbaijani: Uzun Həsən اوزون حسن; Persian: اوزون حسن; where uzun means "tall" in Oghuz Turkic; 1423 – January 6, 1478) was a ruler of the Turkoman[5] Aq Qoyunlu state and is generally considered to be its strongest ruler.[6] Hasan ruled between 1452 and 1478, and would preside over the confederation's territorial apex when it included parts or all of present-day Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Transcaucasia and Syria.


The Aq Qoyunlu empire by the end of Uzun Hassan's reign in 1478

Timur, the founder and ruler of the Timurid Empire, had appointed Uzun Hasan's grandfather, Kara Yülük Osman, as a governor of Diyarbakır, with the cities of Erzincan, Mardin, Ruha (or Urfa), and Sivas. Later, Persia was divided between two Timurid rulers, Jahan Shah of Qara Qoyunlu (the Black Sheep Turkoman) and Uzun Hasan. After twenty years of fighting, Uzun Hasan eventually defeated Jahan Shah in a battle near the sanjak of Çapakçur[7][8] in present-day eastern Turkey on October 30[9] (or November 11[10]), 1467. Upon the defeat of the latter, another Timurid ruler, Abu Sa'id Mirza, answered Jahan Shah's son's request for aid, taking much of Jahan Shah's former land and going to war with Uzun Hasan despite the latter's offers of peace. Uzun Hasan then ambushed and captured Abu Sa'id at the Battle of Qarabagh, whereupon he was executed by Yadgar Muhammad Mirza, a rival.[11]

In 1463, the Venetian Senate, seeking allies in its war against the Ottomans, sent Lazzaro Querini as its first ambassador to Tabriz,[12] but he was unable to persuade Uzun Hassan to attack the Ottomans.[13] Hassan sent his own envoys to Venice in return.[12]

In 1465, Hassan attacked and captured Harput from the Beylik of Dulkadir.

In 1471, Querini returned to Venice with Hazzan's ambassador Murad.[12] The Venetian Senate voted to send another to Persia, choosing Caterino Zeno after two other men declined.[14] Zeno, whose wife was the niece of Uzun Hassan's wife, was able to persuade Hassan to attack the Turks. Hassan was successful at first, but there was no simultaneous attack by any of the western powers.[13]

Uzun Hasan met the Ottomans in battle near Erzincan in 1471, advanced as far as Akşehir, pillaging and destroying Tokat,[15] and fought a battle at Tercan in 1473. He was defeated by Mehmed II at Battle of Otlukbeli in the late summer of 1473.[16]

In 1473, Giosafat Barbaro was selected as another Venetian ambassador to Persia, due to his experience in the Crimean, Muscovy, and Tartary.[17] Although Barbaro got on well with Uzun Hassan, he was unable to persuade the ruler to attack the Ottomans again.[13] Shortly afterwards, Hassan's son Ughurlu Muhammad, rose in rebellion, seizing the city of Shiraz.[18]

Ambrogio Contarini, Viaggio al signor Usun Hassan re di Persia ("Voyage to Sir Usun Hassan King of Persia"), 1487

After yet another Venetian ambassador, Ambrogio Contarini, arrived in Persia,[13] Uzun Hassan decided that Contarini would return to Venice with a report, while Giosafat Barbaro would stay.[19] Barbaro was the last Venetian ambassador to leave Persia after Uzun Hassan died in 1478.[20][21] While Hassan's sons fought each other for the throne, Barbaro hired an Armenian guide and escaped.[22]

According to Contarini, ambassador to Uzun Hasan's court from 1473 to 1476, "The king is of a good size, with a thin visage and agreeable countenance, and seemed to be about seventy years old. His manners were very affable, and he conversed familiarly with everyone around him, but I noticed that his hands trembled when he raised the cup to his lips." His name means "tall" and Contarini reported that he was also "very lean".

Contarini also wrote, "The empire of Uzun-Hassan is very extensive and is bounded by Turkey and Caramania, belonging to the Sultan, and which latter country extends to Aleppo. Uzun-Hassan took the kingdom of Persia from Causa, whom he put to death. The city of Ecbatana, or Tauris, is the usual residence of Uzun-Hassan; Persepolis or Shiras ...,[23] which is twenty-four days journey from thence, being the last city of his empire, bordering on the Zagathais, who are the sons of Buzech, sultan of the Tartars, and with whom he is continually at war. On the other side is the country of Media, which is under subjection to Sivansa, who pays a kind of yearly tribute to Uzun-Hassan. It is said that he has likewise some provinces on the other side of the Euphrates, in the neighbourhood of the Turks. The whole country, all the way to Ispahan... is exceedingly arid, having very few trees and little water, yet it is fertile in grain and other provisions.

"His eldest son, named Ogurlu Mohamed, was much spoken of when I was in Persia, as he had rebelled against his father. He had other three sons; Khalil Mirza, the elder of these was about thirty-five years old, and had the government of Shiras. Yaqub Beg, another son of Uzun-Hassan, was about fifteen, and I have forgotten the name of a third son. By one of his wives, he had a son named Masubech, or Maksud beg, whom he kept in prison because he was detected corresponding with his rebellious brother Ogurlu, and whom he afterward put to death. According to the best accounts which I received from different persons, the forces of Uzun-Hassan may amount to about 50,000 cavalries, a considerable part of whom are not of much value. It has been reported by some who were present, that at one time he led an army of 40,000 Persians to battle against the Turks, for the purpose of restoring Pirameth to the sovereignty of Karamania, whence he had been expelled by the infidels.


A flag of Uzun Hasan, located in Topkapı Palace


Uzun Hasan had four wives:

  • Seljuk Shah Khatun, daughter of his paternal uncle, Kur Muhammad[24]
  • Jan Khatun, daughter of Daulat Shah Buldukani
  • Tarjil Khatun, daughter of Omer Zaraki
  • Theodora Megale Komnene, better known as Despina Khatun. She was the only daughter of Emperor John IV of Trebizond. They married in 1458.[25]


Uzun Hasan had at least seven sons:

  • Ughurlu Muhammad (before 1441–1477) – with Jan Khatun. After failing to seize the throne, he fled to Constantinople, where he was taken in by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, who gave him his daughter Gevherhan Hatun in marriage. Their son, Ahmad Beg, in turn married an Ottoman princess, Aynışah Sultan, daughter of Bayezid II, and managed to seize the throne for himself, but died soon after in an attempt to keep it.
  • Mirza Khalil Beg (c. 1441–1478) – with Seljuk Shah Khatun. He took the throne after his father and proclaimed himself sultan.
  • Ya'qub Beg (c. 1461–1490) – with Seljuk Shah Khatun. After defeating and executing his brother Khalil, he became sultan.
  • Maqsud Beg (? – 1478) – with Despina Khatun. Executed by Khalil in 1478.
  • Yusuf Beg (? – ?) – with Seljuk Shah Khatun. Exiled by Khalil in 1478.
  • Masih Beg (? – before 1473) – with Despina Khatun
  • Zegnel Beg (? – before 1473) – with Tarjil Khatun


Uzun Hassan had at least three daughters:


Contarini described him as "tall and thin" and "had a slightly Tartar expression of countenance, with a constant colour on his face".[29]


Uzun Hasan was the first Aq Qoyunlu ruler who openly disembarked on a campaign to transform the Aq Qoyunlu tribal confederation into a Perso-Islamic sultanate.[30] This transformation campaign commenced after his conquests of northwestern and central Iran, where he, as a byproduct, displaced the waning authority of the Timurids.[30] As his realm grew to preside over ever more Iranian land, he employed Iranian bureaucrats with experience in working for previous local polities to administer the newly obtained Aq Qoyunlu provinces.[30] Although these Aq Qoyunlu-era Iranian bureaucrats did not have the same level of political authority as Nizam al-Mulk (died 1092) did under the Seljuks, they did share the same role of conducting the assimilation of Turkic tribesmen into a political tradition characterized by Perso-Islamic facets.[30] Uzun Hasan also provided for the Islamic aspect of his rudimentary Perso-Islamic state, for he took great care in nourishing Islamic organizations and Sufi orders, including the ever more powerful Safavid order.[30] In the process, he married off his sister to Shaykh Junayd, the then leader of the Safavid order, and one of his daughters to Junayd's son and successor, Shaykh Haydar.[30]

Uzun Hasan also ordered the Quran to be translated into Turkic.[31]

He initiated some financial and administrative reforms to weaken the separatism of the military and tribal nobility and to strengthen his vast state.[citation needed]

The sources do not provide detailed information about Uzun Hasan's reformist activities. Although the texts of his laws have not reached us, it is possible to judge the reforms on the basis of little information about the laws that the chroniclers called "King Hasan's Laws" or "Dasturi-Hasan Bey". Some documents related to the western territories of the Aq Qoyunlu state, which became part of the Ottoman Empire (Diyarbakir, Mardin, Urfa, etc.) are kept in the Turkish archives. These sources are important in terms of studying feudal relations in the provinces of the Aq Qoyunlu. The general nature of Uzun Hasan's reform is stated in "Tarikh al-Qiyasi":[32]

"Uzun Hasan was fair and kind. He wanted to abolish taxes throughout the country. But the emirs did not agree with him. The Sultan then reduced the taxes by half to twenty-one dirhams ... He clarified the amount of taxes collected in the whole country. Uzun Hasan demanded that lawbreakers be severely punished. The Sultan "sent the law to every province of the State to put into effect."[citation needed][according to whom?]

After the conquest of eastern Anatolia in 1517–18, and of Iraq in 1537, the Ottomans preserved the laws of Uzun Hasan (Qānūn-nāma-ye Ḥasan Pādšāh).[33][34] It was after 1540, that the Ottoman regulations replaced the Aq Qoyunlu code.[33] Large parts of his tax and trade laws are recorded in Ottoman sources.[34]


  1. ^ H.R. Roemer, "The Safavid Period", in Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. VI, Cambridge University Press 1986, p. 339: "Further evidence of a desire to follow in the line of Turkmen rulers is Ismail's assumption of the title 'Padishah-i-Iran', previously held by Uzun Hasan."
  2. ^ Ehsan Yar-Shater (1982). Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. 2. Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 165. Uzun Ḥasan successfully resumed the war with the Qara Qoyunlū and in the autumn of 856/1452 seized Āmed in a bloodless coup while Jahāngīr was away on a military expedition in Kurdistan.
  3. ^ Kia, Mehrdad. The Ottoman Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 Volumes.] ABC-CLIO, 2017.
  4. ^ Called Martha by Christian sources
  5. ^ V. Minorsky. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 17, No. 3 (1955), pp. 449–462: "There still remain many interesting and important problems connected with the emergence in the 14th century of the Turkman federations of the Qara-qoyunlu (780–874/1378–1469) and Aq-qoyunlu (780–908/1378–1502). The roots of the Persian Risorgimento under the Safavids (1502–1722) go deep into this preparatory period."
  6. ^ V. Minorsky, "The Aq-qoyunlu and Land Reforms (Turkmenica, 11)", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 17 (1955), pp. 449–462: "There still remain many interesting and important problems connected with the emergence in the 14th century of the Turkman federations of the Qara-qoyunlu (780–874/1378–1469) and Aq-qoyunlu (780–908/1378–1502). The roots of the Persian Risorgimento under the Safavids (1502–1722) go deep into this preparatory period."
  7. ^ Alexander Mikaberidze (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 907. ISBN 978-1598843361. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  8. ^ Peter Jackson, Lawrence Lockhart (1986). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 6. Cambridge University Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0521200943. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  9. ^ Edward Granville Browne (2009). A History of Persian Literature Under Tartar Dominion (A.D, 1265–1502). Cambridge: The University press Publication. p. 89. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  10. ^ Peter Jackson, Lawrence Lockhart (1986). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 6. Cambridge University Press. p. 1120. ISBN 978-0521200943. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  11. ^ Stevens, John. The history of Persia. Contains, the lives and memorable actions of its kings from the first erecting of that monarchy to this time; an exact Description of all its Dominions; a curious Account of India, China, Tartary, Kerman, Arabia, Nixabur, and the Islands of Ceylon and Timor; as also of all Cities occasionally mentioned, as Schiras, Samarkand, Bukhara, &c. Manners and Customs of those People, Persian Worshippers of Fire; Plants, Beasts, Product, and Trade. With many instructive and pleasant digressions, being remarkable Stories or Passages, occasionally occurring, as Strange Burials; Burning of the Dead; Liquors of several Countries; Hunting; Fishing; Practice of Physick; famous Physicians in the East; Actions of Tamerlan, &c. To which is added, an abridgment of the lives of the kings of Hormuz, or Ormuz. The Persian history was written in Arabic, by Mirkond, a famous Eastern Author of Ormuz, by Torunxa, King of that Island, both of them translated into Spanish, by Antony Teixeira, who lived several Years in Persia and India; and now rendered into English.
  12. ^ a b c Mehmed the Conqueror & His Time, Franz Babinger, Trans. Ralph Manheim, Princeton University Press; 1992, p. 305 [1] ISBN 0-691-01078-1
  13. ^ a b c d The Cambridge history of Iran, William Bayne Fisher, Peter Jackson, Laurence Lockhart, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986, p. 377 [2] ISBN 0-521-20094-6
  14. ^ Mehmed the Conqueror & His Time, Franz Babinger, Trans. Ralph Manheim, Princeton University Press; 1992, p. 306 [3] ISBN 0-691-01078-1
  15. ^ Lambton, Lewis & Holt 1985, p. 299.
  16. ^ Babinger, Franz (1978). Mehmed the Conqueror and his Time. Bollingen Series XCVI. ed. by William C. Hickman, trans. by Ralph Manheim. Princeton University Press. pp. 314–315. ISBN 0-691-09900-6.
  17. ^ Historical account of discoveries and travels in Asia, Hugh Murray, Edinburgh, A. Constable, and Co; 1820. p. 10 [4]
  18. ^ Historical account of discoveries and travels in Asia, Hugh Murray, Edinburgh, A. Constable and Co; 1820. p. 15 [5]
  19. ^ Historical account of discoveries and travels in Asia, Hugh Murray, Edinburgh, A. Constable and Co; 1820. p. 19 [6]
  20. ^ "Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne", J Fr Michaud; Louis Gabriel Michaud, Paris, Michaud, 1811–28., p. 327 [7]
  21. ^ Mehmed the Conqueror & His Time, Franz Babinger, Trans. Ralph Manheim, Princeton University Press; 1992, p. 322 [8] ISBN 0-691-01078-1
  22. ^ Historical account of discoveries and travels in Asia, Hugh Murray, Edinburgh, A. Constable and Co; 1820. p. 16 [9]
  23. ^ Project Gutenberg e-book A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume II, by Robert Kerr
  24. ^ John E. Woods, The Aqquyunlu: Clan, Confederation, Empire (1999), p. 62
  25. ^ Caterino Zeno, Iosafat Barbaro, Antonio Contarini, and a "Merchant in Persia," Travels to Tana and Persia, (London: Hakluyt Society, 1883), p. 74 n. 1
  26. ^ Also Halime, Alamşah, Alemshah, Alemşah
  27. ^ a b Roger Savory, "Iran Under the Safavids", p. 18
  28. ^ Zeno, Caterino (144-14 ) Auteur du texte; Zeno, Nicolò (1323?-140 ?) Auteur du texte; Zeno, Antonio (133 ?-140 ?) Auteur du texte (1558). De i commentarii del viaggio in Persia di M. Caterino Zeno il K. : et delle guerre fatte nell'imperio persiano, da tempo di Ussuncassano in quà : libri due. et dello scoprimento dell'isole Frislanda, Eslanda, Engrovelenda, Estotilanda, et Icaria, fatto sotto il polo Artico : libro uno,... ([Reprod.]) / da fratelli Zeni, M. Niccolò il K. e M. Antonio.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ Edward G. Browne (2013). A History of Persian Literature Under Tartar Dominion (AD 1265-1502). p. 406.
  30. ^ a b c d e f Dale, Stephen Frederic (2020). "Turks, Turks and türk Turks: Anatolia, Iran and India in Comparative Perspective". In Peacock, A.C.S.; McClary, Richard Piran (eds.). Turkish History and Culture in India: Identity, Art and Transregional Connections. Brill. p. 73.
  31. ^ Langaroodi & Negahban 2015.
  32. ^ V. Minorsky, “A Civil and Military Review in Fārs in 881/1476,” BSOAS 10, 1939, pp. 141–178
  33. ^ a b Halil İnalcık (1973). The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300–1600. p. 71.
  34. ^ a b "AQ QOYUNLŪ". Encyclopaedia Iranica.

External links

Preceded by Ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu
Succeeded by


Further reading