This substantial and largely unknown Persian chronicle of the reign of Shah `Abbas I (1587-1629) exists in a unique manuscript, recently discovered in the Library of Christ's College, Cambridge. Its author, Fazl-Allah Khuzani Isfahani, member of an important bureaucratic family, provides an insider's account of this crucial period in Persian history, with a wealth of detail about the central and provincial administration and much information not found in other sources. Shortly after the succession of Shah Safi I, Fazl-Allah left for India, where he continued to work on his chronicle. So far, three volumes of the Afzal al-tawarikh have come to light, covering the reigns of Shah Isma`il, Shah Tahmasp and Shah `Abbas; none of them is complete and each exists only in a sole copy.
Volume 3 on Shah`Abbas is a composite work, containing many of the author's handwritten corrections and marginalia, making it a fascinating example of the composition of a work in progress. The complete text of 579 folios has been edited by Kioumars Ghereghlou (Columbia University); the publication is accompanied by detailed indexes and a substantial introduction by Kioumars Ghereghlou and Charles Melville (University of Cambridge) on the life and career of Fazl-Allah, the significance of his work and the manuscripts on which it is based. Two-volume set.
Charles Melville is Professor of Persian History, University of Cambridge, and Vice-President of the British Institute of Persian Studies. His main research interests are in the history and historiography of medieval Iran, with a concentration on the Mongol-Safavid periods (13th-17th centuries), and text-image studies of Persian manuscripts, particularly the Shahnama of Firdausi and historical texts (chronicles). His most recent publication is The Mongols' Middle East: Continuity and transformation in Ilkhanid Iran (co-edited), Leiden 2016.