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Marwanid dynasty

Marwanids rule areas (990 - 1085)
Marwanids rule areas (990 - 1085)
Sunni Islam
o Established
o Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by

The Marwanids (990-1085) were a Kurdish Muslim[1][2][3][4][5][6] dynasty in the Diyar Bakr region of Upper Mesopotamia (present day northern Iraq/southeastern Turkey) and Armenia, centered on the city of Amid (Diyarbak?r).[7] Other cities under their rule were Arzan, Mayy?f?riq?n (today Silvan), Hisn Kayfa (Hasankeyf), Khil, Manzikart, Arjish.

According to most academic sources,[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] the Marwanids were a Kurdish dynasty. Encyclopaedia of Iran consider them as an Arab dynasty in one article,[16] and refers to them as a Kurdish dynasty in another article.[17]

List of Marwanid rulers

  1. Abu Shuj?' Badh ibn Dustak (983-990)
  2. Al-Hasan ibn Marw?n (990-997)
  3. Mumahhid al-Dawla Sa'?d (997-1010)
  4. Sharwin ibn Muhammad (1010), usurper
  5. Nasr al-Dawla Ahmad ibn Marw?n (1011-1061)
  6. Niz?m al-Dawla Nasr (1061-1079)
  7. Nasir al-Dawla Mansur (1079-1085)

B?dh ibn Dustak

The founder of the dynasty was a shepherd, Abu Shuj? B?dh ibn Dustak. He left his cattle, took up arms and became a valiant chief of war, obtaining popularity. When a member of the Buyid dynasty, Adud al-Dawla, who ruled Iraq, died in 983, Badh took Mayy?f?riq?n. He also conquered Diyarbak?r, as well as a variety of urban sites on the northern shores of Lake Van.

During the rebellion of Bardas Phokas the Younger in the Byzantine Empire, B?dh took advantage of the chaotic political situation to raid the plain of Mush in Taron, an Armenian princedom annexed by the Byzantine Empire in 966.[18]

Abu Ali Al-Hasan ibn Marw?n

Elias of Nisibis, a Syriac chronicler, mentioned shortly the life of Abu 'Ali al-Hasan. After the death of his uncle Badh, the elder son of Marwan came back to Hisn-Kayfa, married the widow of the old warrior chief. He fought the last Hamdanids, confused them and took again all the fortresses. Elias related the tragic end of this prince who was killed in Amid (Diyarbak?r) in 997[19] by rebellious inhabitants. His brother Abu Mansur Sa'id succeeded to him, under the name of Mumahhid al-Dawla. In 992, after Bad's death and a series of Byzantine punitive raids around Lake Van, Emperor Basil II (r. 976-1025) was able to negotiate a lasting peace with the Kurdish emirate.

Mumahhid al-Dawla Sa'id

Merwanid Said, 391 AH (ca. 1000 AD), Silvan, Diyarbak?r, Turkey

Mumahhid, a skilful diplomat, could make use of the Byzantines' ambitions. The relations of this prince with the Emperor Basil II were quite friendly. When Basil learnt of the murder of the Georgian potentate David III of Tao, who had left by testament his kingdom to the Byzantine Empire, he stopped the campaign that he had begun in Syria for making sure of Arabian emirs' obedience and he crossed the Euphrates. He annexed David's state, received Mumahhid al-Dawla with honours and made peace with him.

Mumahhid al-Dawla took advantage of the peace to restore the walls of his capital Maïpherqat (Mayyafariqin), where an inscription still commemorates this event.

In 1000 when Basil II travelled from Cilicia to the lands of David III Kuropalates (Akhlat and Manzikert), Mumahhid al-Dawla came to offer his submission to the emperor and in return he received the high rank of magistros and doux of the East.[20]

Sharwin ibn Muhammad, usurper

In 1010, Mumahhid al-Dawla was assassinated by his ghulam, Sharwin ibn Muhammad, who assumed rulership. He legitimized his rule with the ancient 'law of the Turks', that who kills the ruler becomes himself the successor. However this archaic rule and Sharwin's rule were soon contested, and Sharwin was overthrown. Coins are known from his brief reign.

Nasr al-Dawla Ahmad ibn Marwan

Inscription with Nasr al-Dawla's name, 405 AH (ca. 1014 AD), Silvan, Diyarbak?r, Turkey

He was the third son of Marwan to ascend the throne. A clever politician, he skilfully navigated between the surrounding great powers: the Buyid emir Sultan al-Dawla, the Fatimid caliph of Egypt al-Hakim and Basil II. Elias of Nisibis has written that Nasr al-Dawla Ahmad ibn Marwan, "the victorious emir", subdued Ibn Dimne, his vassal in Diyarbak?r, in 1011. He signed with the Byzantine Empire a pact of mutual non-aggression, but violated it once or twice. The renown of this Kurdish Muslim prince grew so much that the inhabitants of al-Ruha, (Edessa, present-day Sanli Urfa), at the west, called him for being released of an Arab chief. Nasr al-Dawla took the city of Edessa in 1026, and added it to his possessions. This event has been reported by the famous western-Syriac author Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286). So Nasr al-Dawla annexed Edessa, but the city was retaken by the Byzantine general George Maniakes in 1031. In 1032 he sent an army of 5000 horsemen, under the command of his general Bal, to re-take the town from Arab tribes supported by Byzantium. The Kurdish commander Bal took the city and killed the Arab tribal chief, then he wrote to his lord asking for reinforcements "if you want to save your Lordship on Kertastan (Kurdistan)".

Inscription with Nasr al-Dawla's name, 410 AH (ca. 1019 AD), Silvan, Diyarbak?r, Turkey

The long rule of Nasr al-Dawla represented the apogee of Marwanid power. He built a new citadel on a hill of Mayyafariqin where stood the Church of Virgin, as well as built bridges and public baths. He restored the observatory. Some libraries fit out the mosques of Mayyafarikin and Amid. He invited well-known scholars, historians and poets to his royal court, among them Ibn al-Athir, Abd Allah al-Kazaruni (poet), and al-Tihami. He sheltered political refugees such as the future Abbassid caliph al-Muqtadi (1075-1099). In 1054 he had to acknowledge as his own liege Toghrul Beg the Seljuq, who ruled on the largest part of the Jazira, but he kept his territories. This fine period of peace and good feelings between Kurds and Syriacs was rich in creations in the field of cultural life. It was dense for trade, active for arts and crafts, impressive in short. Nasr al-Dawla left in Diyarbak?r monumental inscriptions that show still now the artistic brightness of its reign.

Inscription with Nasr al-Dawla's name, 416 AH (ca. 1025 AD), Silvan, Diyarbak?r, Turkey


After Nasr al-Dawla's death, the Marwanids' power declined. His second son, Nizam, succeeded him and ruled until 1079, then followed his son Nasir al-Dawla Mansur. The end of the Marwanid dynasty came about by treason. Ibn Jahir, a former vizier, left the Diyar Bakr and went to Baghdad. There, he convinced the Seljuq sultan Malik Shah I (1072-1092), a grand-nephew of Toghrul Beg, and the famous vizier Nizam al-Mulk, to allow him to assault Mayyafarikin. When the city was taken, Ibn Jahir took off the great treasures that belonged to the Marwanids and detained them for himself. Henceforth, the Diyar Bakr fell almost entirely under the direct rule of the Seljuqs. The last emir, Nasir al-Dawla Mansur, kept only the city of Jazirat Ibn 'Umar (present-day Cizre in south-eastern Turkey).

Inscription with Nizam al-Dawla's name, 464 AH (ca. 1072 AD), Amida, Diyarbak?r, Turkey

See also


  1. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties, (Columbia University Press, 1996), 89
  2. ^ Ozoglu, Hakan. "Kurdish notables and the Ottoman state." Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004 "another Kurdish family, the Marwanids"
  3. ^ Michael M. Gunter, Historical Dictionary of the Kurds The Marwanids were a Kurdish dynasty that held sway from Diyarbakir..."
  4. ^ Julia Ashtiany, Abbasid Belles Lettres like the Hasanuyids of the central Zagros mountains or the Marwanids of Mayyafaraqin were Kurdish
  5. ^ Marwanids, Carole Hillenbrand, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. VI, ed. C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, B.Lewis and C. Pellat, (Brill, 1991), 626.
  6. ^ Hugh Kennedy, The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates The Kurdish dynasties which emerged in the second half of tenth century...Marwanids of southeastern Anatolia
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East "In the West were the Marwanids, based at Diyarbakr.."
  8. ^ Boyle, J. A. (1968). The Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge University Press. p. 24. ISBN 9780521069366.
  9. ^ El-Azhari, Taef (2016). Zengi and the Muslim Response to the Crusades: The Politics of Jihad. Routledge. p. 42. ISBN 9781317589396.
  10. ^ Setton, Kenneth Meyer (1969). A History of the Crusades: The first hundred years. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 152. ISBN 9780299048341.
  11. ^ Peacock, Andrew C. S. (2010). Early Selj?q History: A New Interpretation. Routledge. p. 154. ISBN 9780415548533.
  12. ^ Shaban, M.A. (1978). Islamic History: Volume 2, AD 750-1055 (AH 132-448): A New Interpretation. Cambridge University Press. p. 174. ISBN 9780521294539.
  13. ^ Payaslian, Simon (2007). The history of Armenia: from the origins to the present. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 69. ISBN 9780230600645.
  14. ^ Ashtiany, J. (1990). Abbasid Belles Lettres. Cambridge University Press. p. 15. ISBN 9780521240161.
  15. ^ Ghazarian, L. (2006). "Les kurdes Ardalân entre la Perse et l'Empire ottoman". Iran and the Caucasus. 10: 312-314.
  16. ^ Tilman, Nagle (15 December 1990). "Buyids". Iranica Online. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ Bosworth, C.E. (19 July 2011). "A?L". Iranica Online. Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ Catherine Holmes, Basil II And the Governance of Empire, 976-1025, (Oxford University Press, 2005), 309.
  19. ^ Marwanids, Carole Hillenbrand, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. VI, ed. C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, B.Lewis and C. Pellat, (Brill, 1991), 626.
  20. ^ J. C. Cheynet, Basil II and Asia Minor, pp.71-108 in Byzantium in the Year 1000 edited by Paul Magdalino, International Congress of Historical Sciences, 284 pp., Brill Publishers, 2003, ISBN 90-04-12097-1, p.98


  • Bar Hebraeus, Chronique universelle, Mukhtassar al-Duwal, Beirut.
  • Chronography of Elias bar-Sinaya, Metropolitan of Nisibe, edited and translated by L.J. Delaporte, Paris, 1910.
  • al-F?riq?, Ahmad b. Yûsuf b. `Al? b. al-Azraq, T?r?kh al-f?riq? (ed. Badaw? `Abd al-Lat?f `Awwad). Beirut: D?r al-Kit?b al-Lubn?n?, 1984. English summary by H. F. Amedroz, "The Marwanid dynasty at Mayyafariqin in the tenth and eleventh centuries AD", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1903, pp. 123-154.


  1. Blaum, P., "A History of the Kurdish Marwanid Dynasty (983-1085), Part I", Kurdish Studies: An International Journal, Vol.5, No.1-2, Spring/Fall 1992, pp. 54-68.
  2. Blaum, P., "A History of the Kurdish Marwanid Dynasty (983-1085), Part II", Kurdish Studies: An International Journal, Vol.6, No.1-2, Fall 1993, pp. 40-65.
  3. Ripper, Thomas. Die Marw?niden von Diy?r Bakr. Eine kurdische Dynastie im islamischen Mittelalter. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2000.
  4. Stefan Heidemann: A New Ruler of the Marwanid Emirate in 401/1010 and Further Considerations on the Legitimizing Power of Regicide. In: Aram 9-10 (1997-8), pp. 599-615.

External links

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