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ESMĀʿĪL, b. Seboktegīn
(371 words)

Ghaznavid prince and briefly amir in Ḡazna in 997-98.

A version of this article is available in print

Volume VIII, Fascicle 6, pp. 627

ESMĀʿĪL B. SEBOKTEGĪN, Ghaznavid prince and briefly amir in Ḡazna in 387-88/997-98. Esmāʿīl was one of Seboktegīn’s younger sons by a daughter of his old master Alptegīn. Seboktegīn had appointed him as his successor in Ḡazna and Balḵ, so that on his death in Šaʿbān 387/August 997, Esmāʿīl was able immediately to assume power there as the vassal of the Samanid amir, Manṣūr b. Nūḥ, and of the then deposed ʿAbbasid caliph, al-Ṭāʾeʿ. It is difficult to discern Seboktegīn’s motives for settling the succession on Esmāʿīl in preference to his elder son Maḥmūd, the commander of the Samanid forces in Khorasan; the reason adduced by C. E. Bosworth (1962) no longer seems tenable. At all events, the forceful and more experienced Maḥmūd refused to accept the situation. He demanded recognition as supreme overlord in the Ghaznavid dominions, enlisted the help of his brother Abu’l-Moẓaffar Naṣr, governor of Bost, and of his uncle Boḡrāčoq of Herat, and marched on Ḡazna, defeating Esmāʿīl outside the town in Rabīʿ I 388/March, 998. Esmāʿīl’s short reign of seven months thus ended, and he spent the last years of his life in captivity in Gūzgān under the tutelage of the vassal line of Āl-e Farīḡūn (q.v.). He is said to have been a man of culture and to have been literate in Arabic and Persian.


W. Barthold, Turkestan3, p. 265.

Bosworth, “A Turco-Mongol Practice amongst the Early Ghaznavids?” Central Asiatic Journal 7, 1962, pp. 237-40.

Idem, Ghaznavids, pp. 44-45.

Idem, Later Ghaznavids, pp. 136-37 (tr. of a section in Ebn Bābā).

Ebn al-Aṯīr, IX, pp. 129-31.

Ebn Bābā Qāšānī, Ketāb raʾs māl al-nadīm, ed. M. S.ṟ Badawī, Ph. D. dissertation, University of Manchester, 1975. Gardīzī, ed. Ḥabībī, p. 172.

M. Nāẓim, The Life and Times of Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghazna, Cambridge, 1931, pp. 38-41, 179.

Abū Naṣr Moḥammad ʿOtbī, Taʾrīḵ al-yamīnī, Cairo, 2 vols., 1286/1869; Pers. tr. by Nāṣeḥ Jorfādaqānī, ed. J. Šeʿār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, pp. 158-65, 169, 181.

Moḥammad b. ʿAlī Šabānkāraʾī, Majmaʿ al-ansāḇ, ed. M. H. Moḥaddeṯ, Tehran, 1343 Š./1964, pp. 45-47.

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “ESMĀʿĪL, b. Seboktegīn”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 16 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_9291>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 19981215

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