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Marwanid, (990-1085), was a Kurdish dynasty in Northern Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) and Armenia, centered around the city of Amed (Diyarbakır). Other cities under rule were Arzan, Mayyāfāriqīn (today Silvan), Hisn Kayfa (Hasankeyf), Khilāṭ, Manzikart, Arjish. The founder of the dynasty was a Kurdish shepherd, Abu Shujā Bādh bin Dustak. He left his cattle, took up arms and became a valiant chief of war, obtaining celebrity. When a member of the Iranian dynasty of Buyid, Adud al Dawla, who ruled the Islamic empire, died in 983, Badh took Mayyāfāriqīn, a city of the North-Eastern Diyarbakır. Formerly it was Martyropolis, and nowadays it calls Silvan. He took Akhlat and Nisibis, too.


List of Marwanid Rulers

  1. Abu Shujā' Badh bin Dustak (983-990)
  2. Al-Hasan ibn Marwān (990-997)
  3. Mumahhid al-Dawla Sa’īd (997-1010)
  4. Sharwin ibn Muhammad (1010), usurper
  5. Nasr al-Dawla Ahmad ibn Marwān (1011-1061)
  6. Nizām al-Dawla Nasr (1061-1079)
  7. Nasir al-Dawla Mansur (1079-1085)

Bādh bin Dustak

He founded the Kurdish emirate and conquered Diyarbakır, as well as a variety of urban sites on the northern shores of Lake Van in Armenia. During the Phocas revolt, Bādh took advantage of the mayhem inside Byzantium to raid the plain of Mus in Taron, an Armenian princedom annexed by Byzantium in 966.

Abu Ali Al-Hasan bin Marwān

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 Amed (Diyarbakır) in 997 by insurged 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, Basil II was able to negotiate a lasting peace with the Kurdish emirate.

Mumahhid al-Dawla Sa’id

Mumahhid, a skilful diplomat, could make use of the Byzantines'ambitions, who were present in Northern-Anatolia. The relations of this prince with the Emperor Basil II (976-1025) were quite friendly. When Basil learnt the murderer 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 ed Daula merrily and made peace with him. Mumahhid ed Daula took advantage of peace for restoring the walls of his capital Maïpherqat (Mayyafarikin), the siege of his sovereignty, and made inscribe on it his name, that is still shining nowadays.

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 [1].

Sharwin ibn Muhammad, usurper

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

Nasr al-Dawla Ahmad ibn Marwan

He was the third Marwan's son, acceded to the throne. As a clever politician, he could skillfully impose on the Buyid emir Sultan al-Dawla, the Fatimid caliph of Egypt Al Hakim and on the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. All of them sent him congratulations. They represented the great powers that surrendered the state-plug of Mayyafarikin. Elias of Nisibis has written that Nasr al-Dawla Ahmad bin Marwan, "the victorious emir", subdued Ibn Dimne, his vassal in Diyarbakır, in 1011. He signed with the Empire of Constantinople, a pact of mutual non-aggression, but violated it once or twice. The renown of this Kurdish Muslim prince grew so such that the inhabitants of al-Ruha, (Edessa)(present-day Sanli Urfa), at the west, called him for being released of an Arabian chief. Nasr al-Dawla b. Marwan took the city of Edessa in 1026, and added it to his possessions. This event has been reported by the famous western-Syriac author Abu’l Faradj Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286). So Nasr al-Dawla annexed Edessa, but the city was retaken by the Byzantine Empire in 1031. In 1032 he sent an army of 5000 horsemen, under the command of the 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 Nasr-ad-Daula asking for reinforcements "if you want to save your Lordship on Kertastan (Kurdistan)". The long rule of Nasr al-Dawla Ahmad meaning the apogee of Marwanids' power. He built a new citadel on a hill of Mayyafariqin where stood the Church of Virgin, he built bridges and public baths. He restored the observatory. Some libraries fit out the mosques of Mayyafarikin and Amed. He invited well-known scholars, historians and poets to his royal court, among them Ibn al-Athir, ‘Abd Allah al-Kazaruni (poet), al-Tihami. He sheltered political refugees as the future Abbassid caliph Al-Muqtadi(1075-1099). Nasr al-Dawla b. Marwan, in 1054, had to acknowledge as his own liege Toghrul Beg the Seljuk, who ruled on the largest part of 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 b. Marwan left in Diyarbakır monumental inscriptions that show still now the artistic brightness of its reign.


After Nasr al-Dawla's death, the Marwanids' power declined and grew weak. His second son, Nizam, succeeded him and ruled until 1079, then followed his son Nasir al-Dawla Mansur. The end of the Marwanid dynasty minced along, in a scent of treason. Ibn Jahir, a former vizir, left the Diyarbakır, and went to Baghdad. There, he could convince the sultan Malik Shah I (1072-1092), a grand-nephew of Toghrul Beg, and the famous vizir Nizam al-Mulk, to allow him for assaulting Mayyafarikin. When the city was taken, Ibn Jahir took off the great treasures that belonged to the Marwanids and detained them greedily for himself. Since and after, the Diyarbakır fell almost entirely under the direct rule of Seljukids. The last emir, Nasir al-Dawla Mansur, kept only the city of Jazirat Ibn ‘Umar (present-day Cizre in south-eastern Turkey).

See also


  1. ^ 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 9004120971, 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-Fāriqī, Ahmad b. Yûsuf b. `Alī b. al-Azraq, Tārīkh al-fāriqī (ed. Badawī `Abd al-Latīf `Awwad). Beirut: Dār al-Kitāb al-Lubnānī, 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. 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.

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