Vizir, Or Vesir Arabic, Bearer Of A Burden (Vizier), a title given to the ministers of the Ottoman Porte, and other dignitaries. It was formerly applied to the grand vizier and the viziers of the bench, who formed his divan, to the beglerbegs or governors of Roumelia, Anatolia, Damascus, and Cairo, and to the four high judges, the grand equerry, the sirdaror field marshal, the chief master of the forests, and others; but its application is now more limited. Viziers are distinguished by a velvet dress, embroidered with gold, pearls, and precious stones, by a turban ornamented with diamonds, and by a standard on the top of which are three horse tails, and which is carried before them. Hence the title pasha of three tails. The grand vizier is the highest officer in the empire, represents the sultan, presides over the divan, commands the centre of the army in battle, and is the only subject who is saluted with the alJcish, a kind of benediction. He receives from the sultan a seal, on which the name of the monarch is engraved, which he is obliged to wear always on his bosom, and by authority of which he rules.
The caliph's lieutenant was called vizier by the Arabs at a very early date; but the first officer of that name in the Turkish empire was Ala edDin, who was appointed in 1326 to that position by his brother, the sultan Orkhan. There was originally only one; but the number was afterward increased, so that the prime minister was called vizir azim, grand vizier. Mohammed II. had seven viziers, Amurath III. six, and Amurath IV. nine; but from the reign of Ahmed III. only seven could be really called ministers.