Serbadar Revolts

Serbadar Revolts


uprisings by the Serbadars in 14th-century Iran and Middle Asia against the oppression of Mongol and local feudal lords.

The first major Serbadar revolt broke out in March 1337 in Khorasan. in the village of Bashtin, whose inhabitants were incensed by the extortions of a Mongol official. In August 1337 the rebels took the city of Sabzevar, which they made the capital of their state. After defeating an armed force raised by the Mongol-Turkic nomad elite, the rebels took the cities of Nisha-pur and Tus, and their leader, Wajih al-Din Masud, assumed the title of sultan. In the 1340’s they defeated the last Hulaguid il-khan; in 1353 they slew him, routed his horde, and annexed Gorgan and the city of Astrabad. The Serbadar state then included all of western Khorasan and Gorgan.

In the Serbadar state the moderates were at odds with the leftists, the dervishes, who sought economic and social equality. The rulers of the state had to deal with the leftists until 1364, when the moderates triumphed and crushed their opponents. This weakened the Serbadar state in Khorasan and ultimately led to its destruction by Tamerlane in 1381.

In 1365 a Serbadar revolt broke out in Samarkand in response to an invasion of nomads from Mogolistan (eastern Turkestan), who routed the emirs of Samarkand—Husayn and Timur—and besieged the city. The defense of Samarkand was entrusted to Mawlana-zadeh, a moderate, and Abu Bakr Ke-levi, a leftist and, as such, with close ties to the urban poor. A municipal guard led by the Serbadars repelled the attack and attempted to put some of the Serbadar rallying cries into practice, especially to impose limits on the rights and property of the rich. After the victory, the two groups of Serbadars quarreled, a circumstance exploited by the leaders of the feudal elite, Husayn and Timur, who drew the moderate wing of the rebels to their side and, with their help, crushed the rebellion in 1366.

In 1373 a Serbadar revolt broke out in Kerman. It was directed against local feudal lords and fueled by the urban poor and peasantry. The Serbadars confiscated the property of the feudal lords and arrested many officials. The rebellion was suppressed in 1374 by Shah Shuja Mozafferid (Muzaffarid).

In 1383 a major Serbadar revolt broke out against Tamerlane in Sabzevar. Tamerlane laid siege to the city, took it, and destroyed it; he carried out horrible reprisals against the city’s defenders, immuring 2,000 captives in the fortress walls. The Sayyid movement, which was much like the Serbadar revolts, flourished in Mazanderan in the 1350’s and 1360’s.


Bartol’d, V. V. “Narodnoe dvizhenie v Samarkande v 1365 g.” Soch, vol. 2, part. 2. Moscow, 1964.
Stroeva, L. V. “Serbedary Samarkanda.” Uch. zap, LGU, 1949, no. 98.
Petrushevskii, I, P. “Dvizhenie serbedarov v Khorasane.” Uch. zap. Inta vostokovedeniia AN, 1956, vol. 14.
Petrushevskii, I. P. Zemledelie i agrarnye otnosheniia v Irane XIII–XIV vekov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960. Pages 412–72. (Includes bibliography.)


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