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Jahan Shah

Jahan shah
padishah-i Iran (in Persian)[1]
Reign 1438–1467
Predecessor Ispend bin Yusuf
Successor Hasan Ali ibn Jahan Shah
Born 1397
Died 1467

Muzaffar al-Din Jahan Shah ibn Yusuf (1397 in Khoy – 1467 in Tabriz) (Persian: جهان شاه‎; Azerbaijani: Cahan Şah/جهان شاه) was the leader of the Kara Koyunlu oghuz Turks dynasty in Azerbaijan and Arran who reigned c. 1438 – 1467. During his reign he managed to expand the Kara Koyunlu’s territory to its largest extent, including Eastern Anatolia, most of present-day Iraq, central Iran, and even eventually Kerman. He also subjugated neighbouring states. He was one of the greatest rulers of the Kara Koyunlu. He was also allegedly fond of drinking and entertainment. During his reign Jahan Shah had the Gökmedrese and Muzafferiye theological schools constructed in his capital city Tabriz.

Jahan Shah comes to power

Around 1420 Jahan Shah married the daughter of Alexios IV of Trebizond and Theodora Kantakouzene, part of the agreement being that Alexius would continue paying to the Kara Koyunlu the tribute that Trebizond had formerly paid to Timur. During the reign of his brother Qara Iskander (1420–36), as a potential rival to the throne, Jahan Shah’s life was not safe and he took refuge with his other brother Ispend who was ruling Baghdad. In 1436 he obtained the help of the Timurid ruler Shah Rukh to defeat Qara Iskander and seize the throne for himself. Having been helped to power by Shah Rukh he ruled at first as a vassal of the Timurids.

In the year 1462, Abd al-Razzaq described Jahan-shah's rule in the following terms: "Owing to the benevolent administration (husn-i 'inayat va lutf-i atifat) of Mirza Jahan-shah, Azarbayjan was a highly thriving state. That well-meaning sovereign was anxious to practice justice, to secure prosperity of the country, and to treat his subjects honourably. The capital, Tabriz, by its numerous population and the prevalence of tranquility, emulated Egypt (misr-i jami). The rumours of the good behaviour of that felicitous king spread throughout the world. The inhabitants of his God-protected kingdom, indifferent to the arrows of events, enjoyed peace".[2]

Campaigns against Georgia

In 1440, King Alexander I of Georgia refused to pay tribute to Jahan Shah. In March Jahan Shah responded by invading Georgia with 20,000 troops, destroyed the city of Samshvilde and sacked Tbilisi before returning to Tabriz. He also mounted a second military expedition against Georgia in 1444. His forces met those of Alexander’s successor, King Vakhtang IV at Akhaltsikhe, but the fighting was inconclusive and Jahan Shah returned to Tabriz once more.

Conquest of Baghdad

Jahan Shah’s brother Ispend, who had ruled over Baghdad and its environs for twelve years, died in 1445 and he bequeathed the government of the state to his nephew Elvend since his son Fulad was too young at the time. However most of the emirs preferred Fulad, as did Jahan Shah. He decided to organise a military expedition against Baghdad with the backing of some of the emirs, who had sought refuge with him. After a siege of seven months, Baghdad was captured in June 1446.[3]

Independence from the Timurid Empire

Upon the death of the Timurid ruler Shah Rukh in 1447, Jahan Shah became an independent ruler of the Kara Koyunlu, and started to use the titles of sultan and khan. At the same time, the Timurid Empire took advantage of the struggles among the Turkoman princes and captured the cities of Sultaniya and Qazvin.

Conflict with the Ak Koyunlu

From around 1447 Jahan Shah was involved in a struggle against the Ak Koyunlu who had always been sworn enemies of the Kara Koyunlu. Jahan Shah wanted to defeat the Ak Koyunlu ruler Uzun Hasan and make him his vassal. This struggle lasted until 1451, causing both sides terrible casualties and losses.

Jahan Shah Grave at Southern Part of Goy Macid.

Jahan Shah set out from Tabriz with a great army on 16 May 1466, and came to the basin of Lake Van. While there, he was furious to learn that Uzun Hasan was raiding his lands with 12,000 cavalry. Meanwhile, Uzun Hasan, suspecting that Jahan Shah was planning to attack him, had carefully guarded the mountain passes. Envoys went back and forth between them, but because of Jahan Shah’s heavy demands, an agreement could not be reached. Having advanced as far as Muş, Jahan Shah had to postpone his attack because of the onset of winter. As his troops began to complain, he decided to withdraw to a winter residence. Uzun Hasan caught his army by surprise and totally defeated them in a sudden attack on 11 November 1467 at the Battle of Chapakchur. Jahan Shah was killed in battle, and with his death the great era of Kara Koyunlu history came to an end. He was succeeded by his son Hasan Ali. Jahan Shah had been buried in southern part of Goy Macid, Tabriz.


Jahan Shah, along with being a poet, promoted culture, learning and architecture.[4] Using the pseudonym "Haqiqi",[4] Jahan Shah wrote poetry in Azeribajani Turkic[5] and Persian.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Fragner, Bert G. (1998). "Shah Isamil's Fermans and Sanads: Tradition and Reform in Persophone Administration and Chancellery Affairs". Khazar Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. Khazar University Press. Vol. 1;No 1. ISSN 1027-3875. Subsequently, lahanshah (sic) Qara-Qoyunlu presented himself as padishah-i Iran immeuiately after the takeover of Tabriz (...) 
  2. ^ Minorsky 1954, p. 277.
  3. ^ Minorsky 1954, p. 275.
  4. ^ a b c Sumer 1997, p. 588.
  5. ^ Minorsky 1954, p. 283.


Preceded by
Qara Iskander
Kara Koyunlu Beys
Succeeded by
Hasan Ali