Buyids at the Height of Their Power

  January 23, 2024   Read time 7 min
Buyids at the Height of Their Power
'Imad al-Daula died just under two years after the conference of Arrajan where questions concerning the future position of Iraq with regard to the other parts of the Buyid empire had been discussed.

Some months before, he had resolved the question of his succession by summoning Fana-Khusrau ('Adud al-Daula), the eldest son of Rukn al-Daula, to Shiraz and nominating him as his successor. Fana-Khusrau was barely thirteen years old, but was the only Buyid prince of the second generation to have grown up to that age. This decision shows that 'Imad al-Daula had every intention of preserving the two or even threefold division of the empire. He does not appear to have contemplated the alternative solutions of adding Fars to the territories of Rukn al-Daula or of nominating Mu'izz al-Daula, his viceroy and representative in the west, to the overlordship of Fars, Khuzistan and Iraq. He does not seem to have attached any great importance to the question of who was to inherit the title of senior amir, though he must have realized that during the minority of his adoptive heir the latter's father would enjoy the title. Rukn al-Daula was indeed quick to seize the senior amlrate, particularly as his son's position in Shiraz was at first by no means certain.

At the news of his brother's death he promptly went to Shiraz and spent no less than nine months there, despite the fact that his own province was still being threatened by the Samanids. His efforts had the practical result of restoring the unity of the empire. Fana-Khusrau discovered that he was not the ruler of an independent province but that he occupied in Fars a position towards Rukn al-Daula similar to that which Mu'izz al-Daula had occupied towards 'Imad al-Daula; in other words, he was his father's viceroy and representative, as is borne out by the existence of coins bearing his name and that of his father. No opposition was offered in Baghdad to this reorganization of the empire. Mu'izz al-Daula had sent troops to Shiraz to ensure 'Adud al-Daula's accession, and he accepted his brother's new position without demur, carrying out the khutba in his name and altering the design of his coinage accordingly. The only change, as far as Iraq and Khuzistan were concerned, was that Rukn al-Daula was now in 'Imad al-Daula's place. Nevertheless the changeover at Shiraz was not entirely without friction.

Shortly after his accession, the new ruler of Shiraz was honoured by the caliph with the title "'Adud al-Daula". The earliest evidence we have for it occurs on a coin now in the Berlin Numismatic Collection, which bears the date 340/951-2. As he was the Buyid representative in Baghdad, Mu'izz al-Daula would have had the last say in the negotiations with the caliph, who alone could bestow such titles. The question of a suitable title was thus the last opportunity for raising a protest, and sure enough, it soon became evident that the changes in the east did not meet with complete approbation in Baghdad. From the Rusiim ddr al-kbildfa "The Etiquette of the Court of the Caliph" by Hilal al-Sabi' we learn that it was initially intended that the title "Taj al-Daula" should be conferred on Fana-Khusrau, but Mu'izz al-Daula not agreeing with this, the title "'Adud al-Daula" was chosen instead.

The original choice seemed to Mu'izz al-Daula to anticipate Fana-Khusrau's claim to the senior amirate, and he therefore opposed it. Certainly "Taj " (crown) differed from all the earlier titles borne by the Buyids, which had all been based on the epithets "pillar" ('Imad, Rukn) or "strength" (Mu'izz). Mu'izz al-Daula considered that, in the event of Rukn al-Daula's death, the leadership of the Buyid Empire should pass to him by virtue of that very principle of seniority which Rukn al-Daula had just asserted in his own favour. In fact his own death during Rukn al-Daula's lifetime exempted him from pursuing any such claim. The disagreement over the title did however result in laying the foundations of an increasing estrangement between Baghdad and Ray/Shlraz, which was to become open after Mu'izz al-Daula's death, and which finally led to the exclusion of the Baghdad branch from the succession.

Provisionally, however, the seeds of this controversy were to some extent concealed by the lavish gifts which Rukn al-Daula sent from Shiraz to Baghdad and which may well have had a direct connection with the vexed question of the title. In the eyes of Miskawaih, who was on the side of his patron 'Adud al-Daula, and who was out to justify the latter's claims to suzerainty, there was no doubt whatsoever that Rukn al-Daula had been officially declared senior amir by the caliph himself.1 It was to be of decisive importance for the future that through Rukn al-Daula's assumption of the senior amirate the centre of the empire shifted from Fars to Northern Iran.

Whereas the Buyid hold on Fars had long been assured and Buyid rule in Iraq was well on the way towards consolidation, Rukn al-Daula's hold on his own province was still far from secure. Now, as senior amir and eldest Buyid, he was able to turn his moral claims to support from the rest of the empire into official obligations, and in consequence he was repeatedly assisted in the struggles of the next few decades by military support from Mu'izz al-Daula, who was thereby compelled to forgo pressing tasks of his own, for in Mesopotamia the Hamdanids of Mosul were still a source of constant danger to Buyid supremacy. Strangely enough we do not hear of any support from 'Adud al-Daula until later, when he fought a diversionary campaign into Khurasan during the Samanid onslaught of 356/966-7. This was his first sign of military activity. Fars was an oasis of peace; it was not attacked, nor did it start any offensive, and its young ruler could grow accustomed to the tasks of government undisturbed and emerge as the great monarch who was later to play such an important part in the history of Iran.

Rukn al-Daula meanwhile was being constantly assailed from within and without. During his absence in Shiraz for the enthronement of c Adud al-Daula, the Samanid governor of Khurasan overran Jibal; it was providential for Rukn al-Daula that the governor's sudden death halted this advance. In 342/95 5-6 he was forced to sign a humiliating treaty with the Samanids, followed by a second the same year. These conflicts also resulted in Khurasan's virtual independence from the Samanids, which was to last twelve years and allow Rukn al-Daula to advance to the Caspian Sea, annex the henceforth tributary states of Tabaristan and Gurgan, and receive the recognition of Bisutun b. Vushmgir. In 3 61/971-2 he was in a position to sign a more favourable treaty with the Samanids, though his pride still had to suffer the humiliation of paying tribute.

The end of Rukn al-Daula's chequered career was overshadowed by the insubordination of cAdud al-Daula concerning claims to Iraq. The Mesopotamian Buyids were facing problems similar to those of Rukn al-Daula in northern Iran, although their rule was less urgently threatened than was the case in Ray and Isfahan. In Mesopotamia the Hamdanids provided this threat, and political changes on its frontiers could easily have had a disastrous effect. Such changes were lurking on the horizon when, in 967, Mu'izz al-Daula died in the midst of a campaign against the Shahinids in the Mesopotamian marshlands. Just before this he had taken 'Urnan, which could command the Persian Gulf, with the help of troops from Fars. This success was however of little consequence for his larger Mesopotamian policies. It was at this time that Saif al-Daula died in Aleppo, and with him the chief bastion against Constantinople disappeared. This was followed by Byzantine advances in Syria. The Biiyids were forced to act. The Islamic world would be threatened by dire perils if they failed to take action. But Mu'izz al-Daula's son and successor, 'Izz al-Daula Bakhtiyar, contented himself with half-measures; an army of the faithful was assembled to wage the Holy War but never marched - its presence merely aggravated the state of tension. It should be noted that these events coincided with the invasion of Egypt by the Fatimids from North Africa.

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