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"Vizier" has been used to designate the person and the institution who represented the ruler towards his subjects. The vizier was in many respects the prime minister of his time. The term comes from old Iranian Pahlavi vçir which was used for a judge.
The 2 main empires which used the institution of vizier were the Abbasids (750 CE- 1258) and the Ottomans (1300-1922). The term "vizier" has also been used for the head of the administration in Ancient Egypt from around 2575 BCE. But the Egyptians never used the term "vizier" themselves, this is a term modern historians have used when translating.
The representative function in the Abbasid caliphate and the Ottoman empire, is central — many other kingdoms and empires before and after was ruled directly by the formal ruler. The Umayyads who preceded the Abbasdis is a good example of direct rule.
At first the office among the Ottomans was called pervane, which was formed according to Seljuq patterns. In 1380, the term "vizier" was introduced, and could be used for several persons at the same time. These persons had the highest rank in the ruling institutions.
From the mid-15th century under sultan Mehmed 2, the title "vizier" came to be used for the chief minister, just with the epithet "grand". To him a number of lower (called "dome") viziers were appointed. During war, of which there were numerous, the grand vizier served as military commander. At such times, the lower viziers represented the grand vizier in the daily administration.
Later on, the title "vizier" was given also to provincial governors and high officials.
In 1654 the grand vizier acquired an official residence. In this, called Babiali, the main administration for the empire was located.
In the beginning of the 19th century, the grand vizier had a council of ministers which were appointed by the sultan.
From 1908 the grand vizier got the right to appoint the ministers himself. With the end of the empire in 1922, the title and institution of the vizier disappeared.

By Tore Kjeilen