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The Safavid Empire. Basics. Today known as Iran – then Persia Unique identity – not Arab Language - Farsi Surrounded by empires on both sides. In the beginning…. Descended from Safi-od Din – 1252-1334 Leader of a Sufi religious order in NW Persia.

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basics
Basics
  • Today known as Iran – then Persia
  • Unique identity – not Arab
  • Language - Farsi
  • Surrounded by empires on both sides
in the beginning
In the beginning…
  • Descended from Safi-od Din – 1252-1334
  • Leader of a Sufi religious order in NW Persia.
  • Tomb and shrine of Safi became home of Esmail’s family
  • Sa fa vid
esmail isma il
Esmail/Isma’il
  • Age 14 – entered at the head of an army to claim the title of Shah- King of Kings
  • 1500’s Esmail head of the kizilbash
  • By 1501 – controlled Iran and Iraq
  • Ruled until 1524- many considered him a saint
  • When he became shah he forced Persians to convert to Shiia. – Twelver Shiism
  • Controlled all accounts of his rise to power
twelver shiism
Twelver Shiism
  • 12 Imams after Muhammad beginning with Ali
  • 12th Imam had gone into hiding around 874 to escape persecution
  • 12ers believe that he was still alive and would return to take power and spread the religion.
slide9
Kizilbash – military group known for their red hats

Esmail’s father instructed his followers to wear a distinctive red hat with 12 pleats in memory of the 12 imams

Also a theory that Esmail was a hidden Imam- Divine?

Kizilbash believed that Esmail would make them invincible in battle- super loyal

Sunni Ottomans became the enemy

battle of chaldiran 1514
Battle of Chaldiran -1514
  • Ottomans deployed heavy artillery and thousands of Janissaries equipped w/firearms behind a barrier of carts
  • Safavids would not use gunpowder b/c they saw the new technology as unreliable and unmanly.
  • Ottomans inflicted devastating casualties on the Safavids but lacked resources to destroy them.
later
Later…
  • Esmail secluded himself and drank – a lot.
  • Empire became unstable
  • Tahmasp took over
  • Later rulers relied more on Persian bureaucracy than emperors.
  • Abandoned extreme ideology that associated emperor with Allah
  • Kizilbash no longer loyal to shah
shah abbas the great 1587 1629
Shah Abbas the Great – 1587- 1629
  • Reformed military – slave soldiers and administration
  • Increased use of gunpowder
  • Got help from infidel Europeans
  • Standing army of 40,000
  • 1598 – control of N. Persian by beating Uzbeks
  • Got back territory that the Safavids had lost
abbas continued
Abbas continued
  • 1599 moved capital to Esfahan – a planned city
  • Manufacturing and foreign trade
  • Carpet weaving, tiles and silks
  • Died in 1629
  • Paranoid that another member of the family would challenge – kept sons confined to palace – killed or blinded relatives he suspected
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