The History of Beyhaqi Series

This project was sponsored by the Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University through National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant funding. This series includes three volumes.

Cover image of History of Beyhaqi

The History of Beyhaqi Series Books

Abu'l-Fażl Beyhaqi's monumental history of the reign of Sultan Mas'ud of Ghazna (1030-1041) translated with a detailed commentary by C. E. Bosworth and revised by Mohsen Ashtiany was published in September 2011 under the auspices of the Center for Iranian Studies  (Columbia University), the Center for Hellenistic Studies (Harvard University), and the Ilex Foundation. It was distributed by Harvard University Press in three volumes:

  1. Vol. I: Introduction and Translation of the Years 421-423 A.H. (1030-1032 A.D.)
  2. Vol. II: Translation of Years 424-432 A.H. (1032-1041 A.D.)
  3. Vol. III: Commentary, Bibliography and Index

Abu'l Fażl Beyhaqi, a secretary at the court of a number of Ghaznavid rulers in Iran and Afghanistan, was an acute commentator on his age, the early medieval period. The surviving volumes of his massive historical project, covering the years 1030-41, display wry humor as well as erudition in the sciences and literature of the time. By a deft manipulation of different styles, and timely introduction of the authorial voice as a framing device to induce a sense of heightened drama, Beyhaqi describes the fall of the great notables at the court of a doomed king.  Each episode retains its inner cohesion while the incremental repetition of one sudden fall after another brings a momentum of its own, leading inexorably, like a deadly game of chess, to checkmate and the downfall of the remover of the pawns, the perfidious monarch himself.  There are already a number of articles and books in Western languages analyzing different aspects of his art, but this is the first complete translation of the extant volumes with a detailed commentary and glossary.

C. Edmund Bosworth is a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He was, until his retirement, Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Manchester, and for almost thirty years British Editor of the second edition of the Encylopaedia of Islam. He is the author of many books on different aspects of Middle Eastern culture and history. A collection of some of his articles has been published in three volumes in the Variorum Collected Studies series.

Mohsen Ashtiany is an associate research scholar at Columbia University, a Fellow of the Stockholm Collegium of World Literary History and an editor at the Encyclopaedia Iranica. He is also a member of the editorial board of A History of Persian Literature project, and the editor of one of its forthcoming volumes.