Allahverdi Khan (Persian: اللّه وردی خان, Georgian language: ალავერდი-ხანი ) (ca. 1560 – June 3, 1613) was an Iranian general and statesman of Georgian origin who, initially a ghulām ("military slavery"), rose to high office in the Safavid state.
Allahverdi was born a Christian Georgian, surnamed Undiladze, and, like many of his compatriots and fellow Christian Armenians and Circassians, was taken prisoner in the course of one of the Caucasian campaigns of Shah Abbas I of Persia and converted to Islam to be trained for service in the ghulam army, a special military structure consisting of Christian captives and created by Abbas I to counterpoise the power of the Turkic Kizilbash, which constituted the nucleus of he Safavid military aristocracy.
In 1589, he took part in the assassination of the powerful minister (wakil) and kingmaker Morshed-Kholi Khan Ostaglu, who was secretly condemned to death by Shah Abbas. As a result, he was made sultan and a governor of Jorpadagan near Isfahan, the Safavid capital. He then rapidly rose to higher offices and was appointed commander of the ghulam army, thus becoming one of the five principal officers in the Safavid administration by 1595/6. In the same year, Abbas appointed him the governor of Fars, a move that made him the fist ghulam to attain equal status with the Kizilbash emirs. This act also meant that the large provinces would no longer be administered by semi-autonomous and frequently self-minded Kizilbash emirs, but by officers appointed directly by the shah.
In 1596/7, he was transferred to the governorship of Kohgiluyeh. In August 1598, Allahverdi Khan, as a sardar-e-lashkar (commander-in-chief), was instrumental in recovering Herat from the Uzbek tribes and shortly after this victory was ordered by the shah to put a powerful Kizilbash emir Farhad Khan Qaramanli to death. This act turned Allahverdi Khan into the most powerful man in the Persian Empire after the shah. From 1600 onwards, counseled by the English gentleman of fortune, Sir Robert Sherley, he reorganized the army and strengthened it by increasing the number of ghulam troops from 4,000 to 25,000.
Allahverdi Khan led the Persian armies in a number of successful campaigns on both the eastern and the western frontiers of the Safavid empire, including the 1601-2 conquest of Bahrain.
He died on 3 June 1613.
He is remembered for having constructed a number of public buildings, including the well-known Pol-e Sio-Seh bridge across the Zayandeh River in Isfahan which bears his name to this day, and charitable foundations.
- Imam-quli Khan, his son
- Daud Khan, his son
- Georgians in Iran
- Shah ʹAbbas & the arts of Isfahan, by Anthony Welch, pg. 17
- Roger M. Savory, Allāhverdī Khan, Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition (LINK)
- Mikaberidze, Alexander (ed., 2007). Allahverdi Khan. Dictionary of Georgian National Biography.
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