SAMANIDS, the first great native dynasty which sprang up in the 9th century in E. Persia, and, though nominally provincial governors under the suzerainty of the caliphs of Bagdad, succeeded in a very short time in establishing an almost independent rule over Transoxiana and the greater part of Persia. Under the caliphate of Mamun, Saman, a Persian noble of Balkh, who was a close friend of the Arab governor of Khorasan, Asad b. Abdallah, was converted from Zoroastrianism to Islam. His son Asad, named after Asad b. Abdallah, had four sons who rendered distinguished services to Mamun. In return they all received provinces: Nuh. obtained Samarkand; Ahmad, Ferghana; Yahya, Shash; Ilyas, Herat. Of these Ahmad and his second son Isma'il overthrew the Saffarids (q.v.~) and the Zaidites of Tabaristan, and thus the Samanids established themselves with the sanction of the caliph Motamid in their capital Bokhara.
The first ruler (874) was Nasr I. (Nasr or Nasir b. Ahmad b. Asad. b. Saman). He was succeeded by his brother Isma'il b. Ahmad (892). His descendants and successors, all renowned for the high impulse they gave both to the patriotic feelings and the national poetry of modern Persia (see PERSIA: Literature), were Ahmad b. Israa'il (907-913); Nasr II. b. Ahmad, the patron and friend of the great poet Rudagi (913-942); Nuh I. b. Nasr (942-954); Abdalmalik I. b. Nuh (954-961); Mansur I. b. Nuh, whose vizier Bal'ami translated Tabarl s universal history into Persian (961- 976); Nulj II- b. Mansur, whose court-poet Daqiqi (Dakiki) began the Shahndma (976-997); Mansur II. b. Nuh (997-999); and Abdalmalik II. b. Nuh (999), under whom the Samanid dynasty was conquered by the Ghaznevids. The rulers of this powerful house, whose silver dirhems had an extensive currency during the 10th century all over the N. of Asia, and were brought, through Russian caravans, even so far as to Pomerania, Sweden and Norway, where Samanid coins have been found in great number, were in their turn overthrown by a more youthful and vigorous race, that of Sabuktagin, which founded the illustrious Ghaznevid dynasty and the Mussulman empire of India Under Abdalmalik I. a Turkish slave, Alptagin, had been entrusted with the government of Bokhara, but, showing himself hostile to Mansur I., he was compelled to fly and to take refuge in the mountainous regions of Ghazni, where he soon established a semi-independent rule, to which after his death in 977 (367 A.H.), his son-in-law Sabuktagin. likewise a former Turkish slave, succeeded. Nuh II., in order to retain at least a nominal sway over those Afghan territories, confirmed him in his high position and even invested Sabuktagin's son Mahmud with the governorship of Khorasan, in reward for the powerful help they had given him in his desperate struggles with a confederation of disaffected nobles of Bokhara under the leadership of Fa'iq and the troops of the Dailamites, a dynasty that had arisen on the shores of the Caspian Sea and wrested already from the hands of the Samanids all their western provinces. Unfortunately, Sabuktagin died in the same year as Nub II. (997, 37 A.H.), and Mahmud (q.v.). confronted with an internal contest against his own brother Isma'il, had to withdraw his attention for a short time from the affairs in Khorasan and Transoxiana. This interval sufficed for the old rebel leader Fa'iq, supported by a strong Tatar army under the Ilek Khan Abu'l Hosain Na?r I., to turn Nub's successor Mansur II. into a mere puppet, to concentrate all the power in his own hand, and to induce even his nominal master to reject Mabmud's application for a continuance of his governorship in Khorasan. Mafmud refrained for the moment from vindicating his right ; but, as soon as, through court intrigues, Mansur II. had been dethroned, he took possession of Khorasan, deposed Mansur's successor Abdalmalik II., and assumed as an independent monarch for the first time in Asiatic history the title of " sultan." The last prince of the house of Saman. Montasir, a bold warrior and a poet of no mean talent, carried ori for some years a kind of guerilla warfare against both Mahmud and the Ilek Khan, who had occupied Transoxiana, till he was assassinated in 1005 (395 A.H.). Transoxiana itself was annexed to the Ghaznevid realm eleven years later, 1016 (407 A.H.).
See S. Lane Poole, Mohammedan Dynasties (1894), pp. 131-133; Stockvis, Manuel d'histoire (Leiden, 1888), vol. i. p. 113; also articles CALIPHATE and PERSIA : History, section B, and for the later period MAHMUD, SELJUKS, MONGOLS.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)