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Borrowed from Turkish atabeg, first used by the Seljuks, probably from Turkish ata (father; ancestor) and Persian بگ (beg, chief, lord, prince), from its original role as a guardian and tutor of the crown prince.


atabeg (plural atabegs)

  1. (historical) A high medieval Turkish feudal title, originally charged with the caretaking and mentoring of the realm's crown prince.
    • 1780, The Modern Part of an Universal History, Vol. III, Ch. IV, §9, p. 128:
      It has been remarked, that this prince established Saad Ebn Zenki, who had been his governor, lieutenant-general of all his dominions, under the title of atâbek; which signifying Father of the Prince, and being given to the tutors of the Seljûkian princes, became afterwards a title of dignity.
    • 1986, P.M. Holt, The Age of the Cruades, p. 75:
      The most powerful office which came to be held by Mamluks was that of atabeg... The function of the atabeg was to act as the tutor and guardian of a young Seljukid prince, and where his ward was the holder of an appanage, the atabeg was in effect a regent with plenary powers.
    • 2001, Kenneth Allin Luther (trans.), The History of the Seljuq Turks from the Jamiʿ al-Tawārīkh, p. 160:
      The Atabeg was watching for this opportunity.
    • 2006, Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History, p. 75:
      In 1115 Tughtigin took a big step forward by joining a diverse war coalition comprising the atabeg of Aleppo, the powerful Turkish warlord Najm al-Din Ilghazi, and Roger of Salerno, the regent of Antioch.


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