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VIZIER, more correctly VIZIR (Arabic Wazir), literally " burden-bearer " or " helper," originally the chief minister or representative of the Abbasid caliphs. The office of vizier, which spread from the Arabs to the Persians, Turks, Mongols, and other Oriental peoples, arose under the first Abbasid caliphs (see MAHOMMEDAN INSTITUTIONS, and CALIPHATE, C i) and took shape during its tenure by the Barmecides (q.v.). The vizier stood between sovereign and subjects, representing the former in all matters touching the latter. This withdrawal of the head of the state from direct contact with his people was unknown to the Omayyads, and was certainly an imitation of Persian usage; it has even been plausibly conjectured that the name is but the Arabic adaptation of a Persian title. In modern usage the term is used in the East generally for any important official under the sovereign.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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