Uzun Hassan

Uzun Hassan

Uzun Hasan or Hassan (1423 – January 6, 1478) (Azerbaijani: اوزون حسن, Uzun Həsən; Turkish: Uzun Hasan, where uzun means "tall"; Persian: اوزون حسن‎), Sultan of the Aq Qoyunlu dynasty, or White Sheep Turkmen. Hassan ruled in parts of present-day western Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia between 1453 and 1478.

Timur appointed his great-grandfather, Kara Yülük Osman, as a governor of Diyarbakır (in modern-day Turkey), with the cities of Erzincan, Mardin, Roha (or Urfa), and Sivas. Uzun Hasan defeated Jahan Shah, prince of the Kara Koyunlu or Black Sheep Turkmen in 1467. Upon the defeat of Jahan Shah, Timurid ruler Abu Sa'id Mirza answered Jahan Shah's son's request for aid, taking much of Jahan Shah's former land and going to war with Uzun Hasan despite the latter's offers of peace. Uzun Hasan then ambushed and captured Abu Sa'id at the battle of Qarabagh, whereupon he executed him.

In 1463, the Venetian Senate, seeking allies in its war against the Ottomans, sent Lazzaro Querini as its first ambassador to Tabriz, but he was unable to persuade Uzun Hassan to attack the Ottomans. Hassan sent his own envoys to Venice in return. In 1471, Querini returned to Venice with Hazzan’s ambassador Murad. The Venetian Senate voted to send another to Persia, choosing Caterino Zeno after two other men declined. Zeno, whose wife was the niece of Uzun Hassan’s wife, was able to persuade Hassan to attack the Turks. Hassan was successful at first, but there were no simultaneous attack by any of the western powers.

Uzun-Hassan met the Ottomans in battle near Erzincan in 1471 and at Tercan in 1473. He was defeated by Mehmed II at Battle of Otluk Beli in the late summer of 1473.

In 1473, Giosafat Barbaro was selected as another Venetian ambassador to Persia, due to his experience in the Crimean, Muscoy, and Tartary. Although Barbaro got on well with Uzun Hassan, he was unable to persuade the ruler to attack the Ottomans again. Shortly afterwards, Hassan’s son Ogurlu Mohamed, rose in rebellion, seizing the city of Shiraz.

After another Venetian ambassador, Ambrogio Contarini arrived in Persia, Uzun Hassan decided that Contarini would return to Venice with a report, while Giosafat Barbaro would stay. Barbaro was the last Venetian ambassador to leave Persia, after Uzun Hassan died in 1478. While Hassan’s sons fought each other for the throne, Barbaro hired an Armenian guide and escaped.

According to Ambrose Contarini, Venetian ambassador to Uzun-Hassan's court from 1473 to 1476, "The king is of a good size, with a thin visage and agreeable countenance, and seemed to be about seventy years old. His manners were very affable, and he conversed familiarly with every one around him; but I noticed that his hands trembled when he raised the cup to his lips." His name means "tall" and Contarini reported that he was also "very lean."

Contarini also wrote, "The empire of Uzun-Hassan is very extensive, and is bounded by Turkey and Caramania, belonging to the Sultan, and which latter country extends to Aleppo. Uzun-Hassan took the kingdom of Persia from Causa, whom he put to death. The city of Ecbatana, or Tauris, is the usual residence of Uzun-Hassan; Persepolis or Shiras ..., which is twenty-four days journey from thence, being the last city of his empire, bordering on the Zagathais, who are the sons of Buzech, sultan of the Tartars, and with whom he is continually at war. On the other side is the country of Media, which is under subjection to Sivansa, who pays a kind of yearly tribute to Uzun-Hassan. It is said that he has likewise some provinces on the other side of the Euphrates, in the neighbourhood of the Turks. The whole country, all the way to Ispahan... is exceedingly arid, having very few trees and little water, yet it is fertile in grain and other provisions.

"His eldest son, named Ogurlu Mohamed, was much spoken of when I was in Persia, as he had rebelled against his father. He had other three sons; Khalil Mirza, the elder of these was about thirty-five years old, and had the government of Shiras. Jacub beg, another son of Uzun-Hassan, was about fifteen, and I have forgotten the name of a third son. By one of his wives he had a son named Masubech, or Maksud beg, whom he kept in prison, because he was detected in corresponding with his rebellious brother Ogurlu, and whom he afterwards put to death. According to the best accounts which I received from different persons, the forces of Uzun-Hassan may amount to about 50,000 cavalry, a considerable part of whom are not of much value. It has been reported by some who were present, that at one time he led an army of 40,000 Persians to battle against the Turks, for the purpose of restoring Pirameth to the sovereignty of Karamania, whence he had been expelled by the infidels.

Read more about Uzun Hassan:  Marriage and Children

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