Chief minister of the aynAbbāsid caliphs and later a high government official in various Muslim countries. The office was originally held and defined by the Barmakids in the 8th century; they acted as the caliph's representative to the public, later serving a similar function for various sultans. In the Ottoman Empire the h1 could be held by several people at once; under Mehmed II the position of grand vizier, the absolute representative of the sultan, was created.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.