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Fereydun Khan Cherkes

Fereydun Khan Cherkes

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Fereydun Khan Cherkes (also spelled Faridun or Feridun; died 1620/21) was a Safavid official and military commander of Circassian origin, who served as the governor-general (amir-al-omarāʾ) of Astarabad (1605/06–1620), during the reign of king Abbas I (r. 1588–1629).


Fereydun was kidnapped at a young age, and spent more than seven years in captivity. Finally, he was bought as a gholam by merchants acting on behalf of the Safavid royal court, and made an eunuch. Afterwards, he was promoted to the position of the keeper of the king’s armor (qurči-e zereh), and by that became part of the expanding Safavid elite military corps (ḡolāmān-e ḵāṣṣa-ye šarifa). When in late October 1605, during the Ottoman-Safavid War of 1603-1618, amidst a period of heavy fighting in Azerbaijan against the Ottomans a Kurdish prisoner attempted to murder king Abbas I, Fereydun Khan Cherkes managed to save his life. As a reward for his bravery Abbas appointed him in either December 1605 or November 1606 as the governor of the Astarabad province. During the Safavid era, the Astarabad province encompassed most of today’s provinces of Golestan, Semnan, and North Khorasan.

Fereydun Khan's main task as a governor was to ensure the safety and protection of the Astarabad province from the various Turkmen nomads of Khwarezm, as well as from those indigenous Turkmens of the northern fringes of the Astarabad province, who were keen on expanding their attempts to extend their territory and to carry out raids often — the latter which caused major problems for the rural and urban people who were living close to these border regions of the Safavid realm. As a result, he had to conduct several wars against these nomands on the northern fringes of the province. These successful wars led by Fereydun Khan (as well as a brief coverage of his early life) were described by Moḥammad Ṭāher b. Ḥasan (Ḵādem-e Besṭāmi’) in his short history entitled Fotuḥāt-e Feriduniya. He was succeeded as governor by Behbud Khan Cherkes.

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