Ismail I

Ismail I (Persian: اسماعیل‎, translit. Esmāʿīl, pronounced [esmɒːʔiːl]; July 17, 1487 – May 23, 1524), also known as Shah Ismail I (شاه اسماعیل), was the founder of the Safavid dynasty, ruling from 1501 to 23 May 1524 as Shah of Iran (Persia).

The rule of Ismail is one of the most vital in the history of Iran. Before his accession in 1501, Iran, since its occupation by the Arabs eight-and-a-half centuries ago, had not existed as a unified country under native Iranian rule, but had been controlled by a series of Arab caliphs, Turkic sultans, and Mongol khans. Although many Iranian dynasties rose to power amidst this whole period, it was only under the Buyids that a vast part of Iran proper came under Iranian rule (945-1055).[1]

The dynasty founded by Ismail I would rule for over two centuries, being one of the greatest Iranian empires and at its height being amongst the most powerful empires of its time, ruling all of present-day Iran, Azerbaijan Republic, Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, as well as parts of modern-day Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.[2][3][4][5] It also reasserted the Iranian identity in large parts of Greater Iran.[6] The legacy of the Safavid Empire was also the revival of Iran as an economic stronghold between East and West, the establishment of an efficient state and bureaucracy, its architectural innovations and its patronage for fine arts.

One of his first actions, was the proclamation of the Twelver sect of Shia Islam to be the official religion of his newly-formed state, which had major consequences for the ensuing history of Iran. Furthermore, this drastic act also gave him a political benefit of separating the growing Safavid state from its strong Sunni neighbors—the Ottoman Empire to the west and the Uzbek confederation to the east. However, it brought into the Iranian body politic the implied inevitability of consequent conflict between the shah, the design of a "secular" state, and the religious leaders, who saw all secular states as unlawful and whose absolute ambition was a theocratic state.

Ismail was also a prolific poet who, under the pen name Khaṭāʾī (which means "he who made a mistake" or "he who was wrong" in Persian), contributed greatly to the literary development of the Azerbaijani language.[7] He also contributed to Persian literature, though few of his Persian writings survive.[8]

Shah Ismail I
شاه اسماعیل
Shah Ismail I
Portrait of Ismail I
Shahanshah of Iran
ReignJuly 1501 – 23 May 1524
Coronation7 November 1502
SuccessorTahmasp I
Born17 July 1487
Ardabil, Ak Koyunlu
Died23 May 1524 (aged 36)
Near Tabriz, Safavid Empire
SpouseBehruza Khanum
Tajlu Khanum
IssueSee below
Full name
Abu'l-Moẓaffar Ismā'īl ibn Shaykh Ḥaydar ibn Shaykh Junayd
Regnal name
Shah Ismail I
HouseHouse of Safavi
FatherShaykh Haydar
MotherHalima Begum
ReligionTwelver Shia Islam


1541-Battle in the war between Shah Isma'il and the King of Shirvan-Shahnama-i-Isma'il
The battle between the young Ismail and Shah Farrukh Yassar of Shirvan

Ismail was born to Martha and Shaykh Haydar on July 17, 1487 in Ardabil. His father, Haydar, was the sheikh of the Safaviyya Sufi order and a direct descendant of its Kurdish[9][10][11] founder, Safi-ad-din Ardabili (1252–1334). Ismail was the last in this line of hereditary Grand Masters of the order, prior to his ascent to a ruling dynasty. Ismail was a great-great grandson of Emperor Alexios IV of Trebizond and King Alexander I of Georgia. His mother Martha, better known as Halima Begum, was the daughter of Uzun Hasan by his Pontic Greek wife Theodora Megale Komnene, better known as Despina Khatun.[12] Despina Khatun was the daughter of Emperor John IV of Trebizond. (She had married Uzun Hassan in a deal to protect the Greek Empire of Trebizond from the Ottomans.[13]) Ismail grew up bilingual, speaking Persian and Azerbaijani.[14][15] His ancestry is mixed, having ancestors from various ethnic groups such as Georgian, Greek, Kurdish and Turkoman;[16][17][18][19] the majority of scholars agree that his empire was an Iranian one.[2][3][4][5][20]

In 700/1301, Safi al-Din assumed the leadership of the Zahediyeh, a significant Sufi order in Gilan, from his spiritual master and father-in-law Zahed Gilani. The order was later known as the Safaviyya. One genealogy claimed that Sheikh Safi (the founder of the order and Ismael's ancestor) was a lineal descendant of Ali. Ismail also proclaimed himself the Mahdi and a reincarnation of Ali.[21]


Ismail declares himself shah by entering Tabriz, Chingiz Mehbaliyev
Ismail declares himself shah by entering Tabriz, painter Chingiz Mehbaliyev, in private collection.

In 1488, the father of Ismail was killed in a battle at Tabasaran against the forces of the Shirvanshah Farrukh Yassar and his overlord, the Aq Qoyunlu, a Turkic tribal federation which controlled most of Iran. In 1494 the Aq Qoyunlu captured Ardabil, killing Ali Mirza Safavi (the eldest son of Haydar), and forcing the 7-year old Ismail to go into hiding in Gilan, where under Sultan 'Ali Mirza Karkiya he received education under the guidance of scholars.

When Ismail reached the age of 12, he came out of hiding and returned to Azerbaijan (historic Azerbaijan, also known as Iranian Azerbaijan) along with his followers. Ismail's rise to power was made possible by the Turkoman tribes of Anatolia and Azerbaijan, who formed the most important part of the Qizilbash movement.[22]


The Battle between Shah Ismail and Shaybani Khan
The battle between Ismail I and Muhammad Shaybani

Conquest of Iran and its surroundings

In the summer of 1500, about 7,000 Qizilbash troops, including members of the Ustaclu, Shamlu, Rumlu, Tekelu, Zhulkadir, Afshar, Qajar and Varsak tribes, responded to the invitation of Ismail in Erzincan.[23] Qizilbash forces passed over the Kura River in December 1500, and marched towards the Shirvanshah's state. They defeated the forces of the Shirvanshah Farrukh Yassar near Cabanı (present-day Shamakhi Rayon, Azerbaijan Republic)[24] or at Gulistan (present-day Gülüstan, Goranboy, Nagorno-Karabakh),[25][26] and subsequently went on to conquer Baku.[26][27] Thus, Shirvan and its dependencies (up to southern Dagestan in the north) were now Ismail's. The Shirvanshah line nevertheless continued to rule Shirvan under Safavid suzerainty for some more years, until 1538, when, during the reign of Ismail's son, Tahmasp I (r. 1524-1576), from then on it came to be ruled by a Safavid governor.[28] After the conquest, Ismail had Alexander I of Kakheti send his son Demetre to Shirvan to negotiate a peace agreement.[29]

The successful conquest had alarmed the ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu, Alvand, who subsequently proceeded north from Tabriz, and crossed the Aras River in order to challenge the Safavid forces, and a pitched battle was fought at Sarur in which Ismail's army came out victorious despite being outnumbered by four to one.[26] Shortly before his attack on Shirvan, Ismail had made the Georgian kings Constantine II and Alexander I of respectively the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti, attack the Ottoman possessions near Tabriz, on the promise that he would cancel the tribute that Constantine was forced to pay to the Ak Koyunlu once Tabriz was captured.[29] After eventually conquering Tabriz and Nakhchivan, Ismail broke the promise he had made to Constantine II, and made both the kingdoms of Kartli as well as Kakheti his vassals.[29]

In July 1501, Ismail was enthroned as Shah of Iran[30] choosing Tabriz as his capital. He appointed his former guardian and mentor Husayn Beg Shamlu as the vakil (vicegerent) of the empire and the commander-in-chief (amir al-umara) of the Qizilbash army.[31][32] His army was composed of tribal units, the majority of which were Turkmen from Anatolia and Syria with the remainder Kurds and Čaḡatāy.[33] He also appointed a former Iranian vizier of the Aq Qoyunlu, named Mohammad Zakariya Kujuji, as his vizier.[34] After proclaiming himself Shah, Ismail also proclaimed Twelver Shi'ism to be the official and compulsory religion of Iran. He enforced this new standard by the sword, dissolving Sunni Brotherhoods and executing anyone who refused to comply to the newly implemented Shi'ism [35]

After defeating an Aq Qoyunlu army in 1502, Ismail took the title of "Shah of Iran".[36] In the same year he gained possession of Erzincan and Erzurum,[37] while a year later, in 1503, he conquered Eraq-e Ajam and Fars; one year later he conquered Mazandaran, Gorgan, and Yazd. In 1507, he conquered Diyabakir. During the same year, Ismail appointed the Iranian Amir Najm al-Din Mas'ud Gilani as the new vakil. This was because Ismail had begun favoring the Iranians more than the Qizilbash, who, although they had played a crucial role in Ismail's campaigns, possessed too much power and were no longer considered trustworthy.[38][39]

One year later, he Ismail forced the rulers of Khuzestan, Lorestan, and Kurdistan to become his vassals. The same year, Ismail and Husayn Beg Shamlu seized Baghdad, putting an end to the Aq Qoyunlu.[1][40] Ismail then began destroying Sunni sites in Baghdad, including tombs of Abbasid Caliphs and tombs of Imam Abū Ḥanīfah and Abdul Qadir Gilani.[41]

By 1510, he had conquered the whole of Iran (including Shirvan), southern Dagestan (with its important city of Derbent), Mesopotamia, Armenia, Khorasan, and Eastern Anatolia, and had made the Georgian kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti his vassals.[42][43] In the same year, Husayn Beg Shamlu lost his office as commander-in-chief in favor of a man of humble origins, Mohammad Beg Ustajlu.[38] Ismail also appointed Najm-e Sani as the new vakil of the empire due to the death of Mas'ud Gilani.[39]

Ismail I moved against the Uzbeks. In the battle near the city of Merv, some 17,000 Qizilbash warriors ambushed and defeated an Uzbek force numbering 28,000. The Uzbek ruler, Muhammad Shaybani, was caught and killed trying to escape the battle, and the shah had his skull made into a jewelled drinking goblet.[44] In 1512, Najm-e Sani was killed during a clash with the Uzbeks, which made Ismail appoint Abd al-Baqi Yazdi as the new vakil of the empire.[45]

War against the Ottomans

Battle of Chaldiran (1514)
Artwork of the Battle of Chaldiran

The active recruitment of support for the Safavid cause among the Turcoman tribes of Eastern Anatolia, among tribesmen who were Ottoman subjects, had inevitably placed the neighbouring Ottoman empire and the Safavid state on a collision course.[46] As the Encyclopaedia Iranica states, "As orthodox or Sunni Muslims, the Ottomans had reason to view with alarm the progress of Shīʿī ideas in the territories under their control, but there was also a grave political danger that the Ṣafawīya, if allowed to extend its influence still further, might bring about the transfer of large areas in Asia Minor from Ottoman to Persian allegiance".[46] By the early 1510s, Ismail's rapidly expansionist policies had made the Safavid border in Asia Minor shift even further west. In 1511, there was a widespread pro-Safavid rebellion in southern Anatolia by the Takkalu Qizilbash tribe, known as the Şahkulu Rebellion,[46] and an Ottoman army that was sent in order to put down the rebellion down was defeated.[46] A large-scale incursion into Eastern Anatolia by Safavid ghazis under Nūr-ʿAlī Ḵalīfa coincided with the accession of Sultan Selim I in 1512 to the Ottoman throne, and became the casus belli which led to Selim's decision to invade Safavid Iran two years later.[46] Selim and Ismail had been exchanging a series of belligerent letters prior to the attack. While the Safavid forces were at Chaldiran and planning on how to confront the Ottomans, Mohammad Khan Ustajlu, who served as the governor of Diyabakir, and Nur-Ali Khalifa, a commander who knew how the Ottomans fought, proposed that they should attack as quickly as possible.[47] This proposal was rejected by the powerful Qizilbash officer Durmish Khan Shamlu, who rudely said that Mohammad Khan Ustajlu was only interested in the province which he governed. The proposal was rejected by Ismail himself, who said; "I am not a caravan-thief; whatever is decreed by God, will occur."[47]

Personal items of Shah Ismail I captured bu Selim I during Chaldiran Battle
Personal items of Shah Ismail I captured by Selim I during battle of Chaldiran. Topkapi Museum. Istanbul

Selim I eventually defeated Ismail at the battle of Chaldiran in 1514.[48] Ismail's army was more mobile and his soldiers were better prepared, but the Ottomans prevailed due in large part to their efficient modern army, and possession of artillery, black powder and muskets. Ismail was wounded and almost captured in battle. Selim entered the Iranian capital of Tabriz in triumph on September 5,[49] but did not linger. A mutiny among his troops, fearing a counterattack and entrapment by fresh Safavid forces called in from the interior, forced the triumphant Ottomans to withdraw prematurely. This allowed Ismail to recover. Among the booty from Tabriz was Ismail's favorite wife, for whose release the Sultan demanded huge concessions, which were refused. Despite his defeat at the Battle of Chaldiran, Ismail quickly recovered most of his kingdom, from east of the Lake Van to the Persian Gulf. However, the Ottomans managed to annex for the first time Eastern Anatolia and parts of Mesopotamia, as well as briefly northwestern Iran.[50]

The Venetian ambassador Caterino Zeno describes the events as follows:

The monarch [Selim], seeing the slaughter, began to retreat, and to turn about, and was about to fly, when Sinan, coming to the rescue at the time of need, caused the artillery to be brought up and fired on both the janissaries [sic] and the Persians. The Persian horses hearing the thunder of those infernal machines, scattered and divided themselves over the plain, not obeying their riders bit or spur anymore, from the terror they were in ... It is certainly said, that if it had not been for the artillery, which terrified in the manner related the Persian horses which had never before heard such a din, all his forces would have been routed and put to edge of the sword.[51]

He also adds that:

If the Turks had been beaten in the battle of Chaldiran, the power of Ismail would have become greater than that of Tamerlane, as by the fame alone of such a victory he would have made himself absolute lord of the East.[52]

Late reign and death

After the Battle of Chaldiran, Ismail lost his supernatural air and the aura of invincibility, gradually falling into heavy drinking of alcohol.[53] He retired to his palace, never again participated in a military campaign,[54] and withdrew from active participation in the affairs of the state. He left these to his vizier, Mirza Shah Husayn,[55] who became his close friend and drinking companion. This allowed Mirza Shah Husayn to gain influence over Ismail and expand his authority.[56] Mirza Shah Husayn was assassinated in 1523 by a group of Qizilbash officers, after which Ismail appointed Zakariya's son Jalal al-Din Mohammad Tabrizi as his new vizier. Ismail died on 23 May 1524 at the relatively early age of thirty-six. He was buried in Ardabil, and was succeeded by his son Tahmasp I.

The consequences of the defeat at Chaldiran were also psychological for Ismail: His relationships with his Qizilbash followers were fundamentally altered. The tribal rivalries between the Qizilbash, which temporarily ceased before the defeat at Chaldiran, resurfaced in intense form immediately after the death of Ismail, and led to ten years of civil war (930-40/1524-33) until Shah Tahmasp regained control of the affairs of the state. The Safavids later briefly lost Balkh and Kandahar to the Mughals, and nearly lost Herat to the Uzbeks.[57]

During Ismail's reign, mainly in the late 1510's, the first steps for the Habsburg–Persian alliance were set as well, with Charles V and Ludwig II of Hungary being in contact with a view to combining against the common Ottoman Turkish enemy.[58]

Ismail's poetry

1. Şah İsmayıl Xətai
Bust of Ismail I in Ganja, Republic of Azerbaijan

Ismail is also known for his poetry using the pen-name Khaṭā'ī (Arabic: خطائی‎ "Sinner").[59] He wrote in the Azerbaijani language, a Turkic language mutually intelligible with Turkish,[60] and in the Persian language. He is considered an important figure in the literary history of Azerbaijani language and has left approximately 1400 verses in this language, which he chose to use for political reasons.[60] Approximately 50 verses of his Persian poetry have also survived. According to Encyclopædia Iranica, "Ismail was a skillful poet who used prevalent themes and images in lyric and didactic-religious poetry with ease and some degree of originality". He was also deeply influenced by the Persian literary tradition of Iran, particularly by the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, which probably explains the fact that he named all of his sons after Shahnameh-characters. Dickson and Welch suggest that Ismail's "Shāhnāmaye Shāhī" was intended as a present to his young son Tahmasp.[61] After defeating Muhammad Shaybani's Uzbeks, Ismail asked Hatefi, a famous poet from Jam (Khorasan), to write a Shahnameh-like epic about his victories and his newly established dynasty. Although the epic was left unfinished, it was an example of mathnawis in the heroic style of the Shahnameh written later on for the Safavid kings.[62]

Most of the poems are concerned with love—particularly of the mystical Sufi kind—though there are also poems propagating Shi'i doctrine and Safavi politics. His other serious works include the Nasihatnāme in Azerbaijani language,[8][63] a book of advice, and the unfinished Dahnāme in Azerbaijani language,[8][63] a book which extols the virtues of love.

Along with the poet Imadaddin Nasimi, Khatā'ī is considered to be among the first proponents of using a simpler Azerbaijani language in verse that would appeal to a broader audience. His work is most popular in Azerbaijan, as well as among the Bektashis of Turkey. There is a large body of Alevi and Bektashi poetry that has been attributed to him. The major impact of his religious writings, in the long run, was the conversion of Persia from Sunni to Shia Islam.[64]

The following anecdote demonstrates the status of vernacular Turkish and Persian in the Ottoman Empire and in the incipient Safavid state. Khatā'ī sent a poem in Turkish to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I before going to war in 1514. In a reply the Ottoman Sultan answered in Persian to indicate his contempt.

Examples of his poems are:[65][66]

Poetry example 1

Today I have come to the world as a Master. Know truly that I am Haydar's son.
I am Fereydun, Khosrow, Jamshid, and Zahak. I am Zal's son (Rostam) and Alexander.
The mystery of I am the truth is hidden in this my heart. I am the Absolute Truth and what I say is Truth.
I belong to the religion of the "Adherent of the Ali" and on the Shah's path I am a guide to every one who says: "I am a Muslim." My sign is the "Crown of Happiness".
I am the signet-ring on Sulayman's finger. Muhammad is made of light, Ali of Mystery.
I am a pearl in the sea of Absolute Reality.
I am Khatai, the Shah's slave full of shortcomings.
At thy gate I am the smallest and the last [servant].

Poetry example 2

My name is Shāh Ismā'īl. I am God's mystery. I am the leader of all these ghāzīs.
My mother is Fātima, my father is 'Ali; and eke I am the Pīr of the Twelve Imāms.
I have recovered my father's blood from Yazīd. Be sure that I am of Haydarian essence.
I am the living Khidr and Jesus, son of Mary. I am the Alexander of (my) contemporaries.
Look you, Yazīd, polytheist and the adept of the Accursed one, I am free from the Ka'ba of hypocrites.
In me is Prophethood (and) the mystery of Holiness. I follow the path of Muhammad Mustafā.
I have conquered the world at the point of (my) sword. I am the Qanbar of Murtaza 'Ali.
My sire is Safī, my father Haydar. Truly I am the Ja'far of the audacious.
I am a Husaynid and have curses for Yazīd. I am Khatā'ī, a servant of the Shāh's.

Poetry example 3

"The light of all is Muhammed."

due to your desire my heart burned, will i see you ever?
i hope in the holy divan of truth, you will remember me

they call you generous, valiant oh' impeccable leader
the light of all is Muhammed, valiant thou' Ali valiant

i could not find anyone in this lone world who is like you
let me see your moon-faced effigy, so i will not stay in desire

all your servants who call your name will not be devoided in the hereafter
the light of all is Muhammed, valiant thou' Ali valiant

forgive this sinner, i lead my face to your holy dergah
my soul stayed in blasphemy, thou' will not insist on my sin

i soughed shelter and came to this revealed refuge
the light of all is Muhammed, valiant thou' Ali valiant

Hata-i says: "thou' Ali, my body is filled up with sins"
the light of all is Muhammed, valiant thou' Ali valiant[67]

Poetry from other composers about Ismail, I.

From Pir Sultan Abdal:

He makes a march against Urum
The Imam of Ali's descent is coming
I bow down and kissed his Hand
The Imam of Ali's descent is coming

He fills the cups step by step
In his stable only noble Arab horses
His ancestry, he is the son of the Shah
The Imam of Ali's descent is coming

The fields are marked step by step
His rival makes his heart aching
Red-green is the young warrior dressed
The Imam of Ali's descent is coming

He lets him seen often on the field
No one knows the secret of the saviour
Shah of the world goodman Haydar's grandson
The Imam of Ali's descent is coming

Pir Sultan Abdal, I am, if i could see this
Submit my self, if I could wipe my face at him
From ere he is the leader of the 12 Imams
The Imam of Ali's descent is coming

Emergence of a clerical aristocracy

An important feature of the Safavid society was the alliance that emerged between the ulama (the religious class) and the merchant community. The latter included merchants trading in the bazaars, the trade and artisan guilds (asnaf) and members of the quasi-religious organizations run by dervishes (futuvva). Because of the relative insecurity of property ownership in Persia, many private landowners secured their lands by donating them to the clergy as so-called vaqf. They would thus retain the official ownership and secure their land from being confiscated by royal commissioners or local governors, as long as a percentage of the revenues from the land went to the ulama. Increasingly, members of the religious class, particularly the mujtahids and the seyyeds, gained full ownership of these lands, and, according to contemporary historian Iskandar Munshi, Persia started to witness the emergence of a new and significant group of landowners.[68]

Appearance and skills

Arolsen Klebeband 01 457 1
Shah Ismail I as depicted in a 1590s engraving by Theodor de Bry

Ismail was described by contemporaries as having a regal appearance, gentlemanly in quality and youthfulness. He also had a fair complexion and red hair.[69] His appearance compared to other olive-skinned Persians, his descent from the Safavid Shaykhs, and his religious ideals, contributed to people's expectation based on various legends circulating during this period of heightened religious awareness in Western Asia.[69]

An Italian traveller describes Ismail as follows:

This Sophi is fair, handsome, and very pleasing; not very tall, but of a light and well-framed figure; rather stout than slight, with broad shoulders. His hair is reddish; he only wears moustachios, and uses his left hand instead of his right. He is as brave as a game cock, and stronger than any of his lords; in the archery contests, out of the ten apples that are knocked down, he knocks down seven.[57]


Ismail's greatest legacy was establishing an empire which lasted over 200 years. As Alexander Mikaberidze states, "The Safavid dynasty would rule for two more centuries [after Ismail's death] and establish the basis for the modern-nation state of Iran."[70] Even after the fall of the Safavids in 1736, their cultural and political influence endured through the era of Afsharid, Zand, Qajar, and Pahlavi dynasties into the modern Islamic Republic of Iran as well as the neighboring Azerbaijan Republic, where Shi'a Islam is still the dominant religion as it was during the Safavid era.

In popular culture


In the Safavid period, the famous Azeri folk romance Shah Ismail emerged.[71] According to Azerbaijani literary critic Hamid Arasly, this story is related to Ismail I. But it is also possible that it is dedicated to Ismail II.

Places and structures



Shah Ismayil is the name of an Azerbaijani mugham opera in 6 acts and 7 scenes composed by Muslim Magomayev,[73] in 1915-1919.[74]


Shah esmaeil01
Statue of Ismail I in Ardabil, Iran
  • Sons:
    • Tahmasp I
    • Prince 'Abul Ghazi Sultan Alqas Mirza (15 March 1515 – 9 April 1550) Governor of Astrabad 1532/33–1538, Shirvan 1538–1547 and Derbent 1546–1547. He rebelled against his brother Tahmasp with Ottoman help. Captured and imprisoned at the Fortress of Qahqahan. m. Khadija Sultan Khanum, having had issue, two sons,
      • Sultan Ahmad Mirza (died 1568)
      • Sultan Farrukh Mirza (died 1568)
    • Prince Sultan Rustam Mirza (born 13 September 1517)
    • Prince 'Abul Naser Sultan Sam Mirza (28 August 1518 – December 1567) Governor-General of Khorasan 1521–1529 and 1532–1534, and of Ardabil 1549–1571. He rebelled against his brother Tahmasp, captured and imprisoned at the Fortress of Qahqahan. He had issue, two sons and one daughter. His daughter, married Prince Jesse of Kakheti (died 1583) Governor of Shaki, the third son of Georgian king Levan of Kakheti.
    • Prince 'Abu'l Fat'h Sultan Moez od-din Bahram Mirza (7 September 1518 – 16 September 1550) Governor of Khorasan 1529–1532, Gilan 1536–1537 and Hamadan 1546–1549. m. Zainab Sultan Khanum. She had issue, four sons and one daughter:
    • Prince Soltan Hossein Mirza (born 11 December 1520)
  • Daughters:
    • Princess Shahnavaz Begum, m. 14 May 1513, Prince Şehzade Murad Effendi, elder son of Şehzade Ahmet, Crown Prince of Ottoman Empire, son of Bayezid II.
    • Princess Gunish Khanum (26 February 1507 – 2 March 1533) m. (first) at Hamadan, 24 August 1518, Sultan Mozaffar Amir-i-Dibaj (k. at Tabriz, 23 September 1536), Governor of Rasht and Fooman 1516–1535, son of Amir Hisam od-din Amir-i-Dibaj.
    • Princess Pari Khan Khanum (not to be mistaken with Tahmasp's daughter Pari Khan Khanum) m. on 4 October 1521, Shirvanshah Khalil II Governor of Shirvan 1523–1536, son of Shirvanshah Ibrahim II.
    • Princess Khair un-nisa Khanish Khanum (died 12 March 1564) m. 1537, Seyyed Nur od-din Nimatu'llah Baqi Yazdi (d. 21 July 1564), son of Mir Nezam od-din 'Abdu'l Baqi Yazdi.
    • Princess Shah Zainab Khanum (born 1519)
    • Princess Farangis Khanum (born 1519)
    • Princess Mahin Banu Khanum (1519 – 20 January 1562)[75]

See also


  1. ^ a b Savory 1998, pp. 628-636.
  2. ^ a b Helen Chapin Metz. Iran, a Country study. 1989. University of Michigan, p. 313.
  3. ^ a b Emory C. Bogle. Islam: Origin and Belief. University of Texas Press. 1989, p. 145.
  4. ^ a b Stanford Jay Shaw. History of the Ottoman Empire. Cambridge University Press. 1977, p. 77.
  5. ^ a b Andrew J. Newman, Safavid Iran: Rebirth of a Persian Empire, IB Tauris (March 30, 2006).
  6. ^ Why is there such confusion about the origins of this important dynasty, which reasserted Iranian identity and established an independent Iranian state after eight and a half centuries of rule by foreign dynasties? RM Savory, Iran under the Safavids (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1980), p. 3.
  7. ^ G. Doerfer, "Azeri Turkish", Encyclopaedia Iranica, viii, Online Edition, p. 246.
  8. ^ a b c "ESMĀʿĪL I ṢAFAWĪ – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Retrieved 2014-10-15.
  9. ^ Tapper, Richard (1997). Frontier Nomads of Iran: A Political and Social History of the Shahsevan. Cambridge University Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0521583367. The Safavid Shahs who ruled Iran between 1501 and 1722 descended from Sheikh Safi ad-Din of Ardabil (1252–1334). Sheikh Safi and his immediate successors were renowned as holy ascetics Sufis. Their own origins were obscure; probably of Kurdish or Iranian extraction ...
  10. ^ Savory 1997, p. 8.
  11. ^ Kamal, Muhammad (2006). Mulla Sadra's Transcendent Philosophy. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 24. ISBN 978-0754652717. The Safawid was originally a Sufi order whose founder, Shaykh Safi al-Din, a Sunni Sufi master descended from a Kurdish family ...
  12. ^ Peter Charanis. "Review of Emile Janssens' Trébizonde en Colchide", Speculum, Vol. 45, No. 3,, (Jul., 1970), p. 476
  13. ^ Anthony Bryer, open citation, p. 136
  14. ^ Roger M. Savory. "Safavids" in Peter Burke, Irfan Habib, Halil Inalci:»History of Humanity-Scientific and Cultural Development: From the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century", Taylor & Francis. 1999. Excerpt from pg 259:"Доказательства, имеющиеся в настоящее время, приводят к уверенности, что семья Сефевидов имеет местное иранское происхождение, а не тюркское, как это иногда утверждают. Скорее всего, семья возникла в Персидском Курдистане, а затем перебралась в Азербайджан, где ассимилировалась с говорящими по-тюркски азерийцами, и в конечном итоге поселились в маленьком городе Ардебиль где-то в одиннадцатом веке [Evidence available at the present time leads to the conviction that the Safavid family came from indigenous Iranian stock, and not from Turkish ancestry as it is sometimes claimed. It is probable that the family originated in Persian Kurdistan, and later moved to Azerbaijan, where it became assimilated to Turkic-speaking Azeris and eventually settled in the small town of Ardabil sometime during the eleventh century.]".
  15. ^ Вопрос о языке, на котором говорил шах Исмаил, не идентичен вопросу о его «расе» или «национальности». Его происхождение было смешанным: одна из его бабушек была греческая принцесса Комнина. Хинц приходит к выводу, что кровь в его жилах была главным образом, не тюркской. Уже его сын шах Тахмасп начал избавляться от своих туркменских преторианцев. [The question of the language used by Shah Ismail is not identical with that of his race or of his "nationality". His ancestry was mixed: one of his grandmothers was a Greek Comnena princess. Hinz, Aufstieg, 74, comes to the conclusion that the blood in his veins was chiefly non-Turkish. Already, his son Shah Tahmasp began to get rid of his Turcoman praetorians.] — V. Minorsky, "The Poetry of Shah Ismail I," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 10/4 (1942): 1006–53.
  16. ^
    • Roemer, H.R. (1986). "The Safavid Period" in Jackson, Peter; Lockhart, Laurence. The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 6: The Timurid and Safavid Periods. Cambridge University Press. pp. 214, 229
    • Blow, David (2009). Shah Abbas: The Ruthless King Who Became an Iranian Legend. I.B.Tauris. p. 3
    • Savory, Roger M.; Karamustafa, Ahmet T. (1998) ESMĀʿĪL I ṢAFAWĪ. Encyclopaedia Iranica Vol. VIII, Fasc. 6, pp. 628-636
    • Ghereghlou, Kioumars (2016). ḤAYDAR ṢAFAVI. Encyclopaedia Iranica
  17. ^ RM Savory. Ebn Bazzaz. Encyclopædia Iranica
  18. ^ Roger M. Savory. "Safavids" in Peter Burke, Irfan Habib, Halil İnalcık: History of Humanity-Scientific and Cultural Development: From the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century, Taylor & Francis. 1999, p. 259.
  19. ^ Peter B. Golden: An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples; In: Osman Karatay, Ankara 2002, p.321
  20. ^ Alireza Shapur Shahbazi (2005), "The History of the Idea of Iran", in Vesta Curtis ed., Birth of the Persian Empire, IB Tauris, London, p. 108: "Similarly the collapse of Sassanian Eranshahr in AD 650 did not end Iranians' national idea. The name "Iran" disappeared from official records of the Saffarids, Samanids, Buyids, Saljuqs and their successor. But one unofficially used the name Iran, Eranshahr, and similar national designations, particularly Mamalek-e Iran or "Iranian lands", which exactly translated the old Avestan term Ariyanam Daihunam. On the other hand, when the Safavids (not Reza Shah, as is popularly assumed) revived a national state officially known as Iran, bureaucratic usage in the Ottoman Empire and even Iran itself could still refer to it by other descriptive and traditional appellations".
  21. ^ Time in Early Modern Islam: Calendar, Ceremony, and Chronology Page 23 By Stephen P. Blake [1]
  22. ^
    • Roemer, H.R. (1986). "The Safavid Period" in Jackson, Peter; Lockhart, Laurence. The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 6: The Timurid and Safavid Periods. Cambridge University Press. pp. 189-350
    • Savory, Roger M.; Karamustafa, Ahmet T. (1998) ESMĀʿĪL I ṢAFAWĪ. Encyclopaedia Iranica Vol. VIII, Fasc. 6, pp. 628-636
    • Ghereghlou, Kioumars (2016). ḤAYDAR ṢAFAVI. Encyclopaedia Iranica
    • Matthee, Rudi (2008). SAFAVID DYNASTY. Encyclopaedia Iranica
  23. ^ Faruk Sümer, Safevi Devletinin Kuruluşu ve Gelişmesinde Anadolu Türklerinin Rolü, Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları, Ankara, 1992, p. 15. (in Turkish)
  24. ^ Fisher et al. 1986, p. 211.
  25. ^ Roy 2014, p. 44.
  26. ^ a b c Sicker 2000, p. 187.
  27. ^ Nesib Nesibli, "Osmanlı-Safevî Savaşları, Mezhep Meselesi ve Azerbaucan", Türkler, Cilt 6, Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, Ankara, 2002, ISBN 975-6782-39-0, p. 895. (in Turkish)
  28. ^ Fisher et al. 1986, pp. 212, 245.
  29. ^ a b c Rayfield 2013, p. 164.
  30. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Micropædia, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1991, ISBN 978-0-85229-529-8, p. 295.
  31. ^ Bosworth & Savory 1989, pp. 969-971.
  32. ^ Savory 2007, p. 36.
  33. ^
  34. ^ Newman 2008, p. 16.
  35. ^ Cleveland, William L. "A History of the Modern Middle East" (Westview Press, 2013) pg 131
  36. ^ Woodbridge Bingham, Hilary Conroy, Frank William Iklé, A History of Asia: Formations of Civilizations, From Antiquity to 1600, and Bacon, 1974, p. 116.
  37. ^ Eastern Turkey: An Architectural & Archaeological Survey, Volume II p 289
  38. ^ a b Savory 2007, p. 50.
  39. ^ a b Mazzaoui 2002.
  40. ^ Savory 2007, p. 37.
  41. ^ History of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey
  42. ^ "History of Iran:Safavid Empire 1502 - 1736". Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  43. ^ "Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia". Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  44. ^ Eraly, Abraham (17 September 2007). Emperors Of The Peacock Throne: The Saga of the Great Moghuls. Penguin Books Limited. p. 25. ISBN 978-93-5118-093-7.
  45. ^ Soucek 1982, pp. 105-106.
  46. ^ a b c d e Shah Ismail I Retrieved July 2015
  47. ^ a b Savory 2007, p. 41.
  48. ^ Michael Axworthy, Iran: Empire of the Mind (Penguin, 2008) p.133
  49. ^ The later Crusades, 1274–1580: from Lyons to Alcazar Door Norman Housley, page 120, 1992
  50. ^ Ira M. Lapidus. "A History of Islamic Societies" Cambridge University Press. ISBN 1139991507 p 336
  51. ^ Savory, R. (2007). Iran Under the Safavids. Cambridge University Press. p. 43. ISBN 9780521042512. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
  52. ^ A Narrative of Italian Travels in Persia, in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (1873), s. 61
  53. ^ The Cambridge History of Islam, Part 1, By Peter Malcolm Holt, Ann K. S. Lambton, Bernard Lewis, p. 401.
  54. ^ Mikaberidze 2015, p. 242.
  55. ^ Momen (1985), p. 107.
  56. ^ Savory 2007, p. 47.
  57. ^ a b "ESMĀʿĪL I ṢAFAWĪ – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Retrieved 2014-10-15.
  58. ^ The Cambridge history of Iran by William Bayne Fisher p.384ff
  59. ^ Encyclopædia Iranica. ٍIsmail Safavi Archived October 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  60. ^ a b V. Minorsky, "The Poetry of Shah Ismail I," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 10/4 (1942): 1006–53.
  61. ^ M.B. Dickson and S.C. Welch, The Houghton Shahnameh, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1981. See p. 34 of vol. I).
  62. ^ R.M. Savory, "Safavids", Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edition
  63. ^ a b H. Javadi and K. Burrill. Azerbaijan. Azeri Literature in Iran. — Encyclopædia Iranica, 1998. — Vol. III. — P. 251-255.
  64. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-21. Retrieved 2013-10-20.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  65. ^ Newman 2008, p. 13.
  66. ^ Vladimir Minorsky: The Poetry of Shāh Ismā'īl I, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 10, No. 4. (1942), s. 1042a-1043a
  67. ^ Alevi Literature, no specified origin
  68. ^ RM Savory, Safavids, Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed page 185–6
  69. ^ a b Roemer 1986, p. 211.
  70. ^ Mikaberidze, Alexander. Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO, 31 jul. 2011 ISBN 978-1598843361 p 432
  71. ^ Sakina Berengian. Azeri and Persian literary works in twentieth century Iranian Azerbaijan. — Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1988. — С. 20. — 238 с. — ISBN 9783922968696. It was also during the Safavid period that the famous Azeri folk romances — Shah Esmail, Asli-Karam, Ashiq Gharib, Koroghli, which are all considered bridges between local dialects and the classical language — were created and in time penetrated into Ottoman, Uzbek, and Persian literatures. The fact that some of these lyrical and epic romances are in prose may be regarded as another distinctive feature of Azeri compared to Ottoman and Chaghatay literatures.
  72. ^ Отмечен день рождения Шаха Исмаила Хатаи Archived 2004-12-10 at the Wayback Machine
  73. ^ "Опера "Шах Исмаил"".
  74. ^ Э. Г. Абасова. Магомаев А. М. Музыкальная энциклопедия. — М.: Советская энциклопедия, Советский композитор. Под ред. Ю. В. Келдыша. 1973—1982.
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Ismail I
New creation Shah of Persia
Succeeded by
Tahmasp I
Afrasiyab dynasty

The Afrasiyab or Chalavi dynasty was a small Iranian Shia dynasty of Mazandaran and flourished in the late medieval, pre-Safavid period; it is also called the Kia dynasty. It was founded by Kiya Afrasiyab, who conquered the Bavand kingdom in 1349 and made himself king of the region. In 1504, Ismail I invaded Mazandaran and ended Afrasiyab rule of the region.

Ali Mirza Safavi

Ali Mirza Safavi also known as Soltan-Ali Safavi (died 1494) was the penultimate head of the Safavid order. Having grown wary of his political power, Ali Mirza was captured by the Ak Koyunlu and spent several years in captivity in Fars before being released in 1493 by prince Rostam. In the ensuing period he and his men assisted the prince in defeating Baysonqor bin Yaqub. A year later however, in 1494, now perceiving the Safavid order as a threat to his own position, Rostam ordered for the execution of Ali Mirza Safavi. Realizing his inevitable fate, shortly before his death, Ali Mirza Safavi appointed his brother Ismail as his successor. Ismail, in turn, eventually came to establish the Safavid Empire, with the regnal name Ismail I (r. 1501–1524).

Bahram Beg (Shirvanshah)

Bahram Beg was the 37th Shirvanshah, and ruled over Shirvan under Safavid suzerainty. Despite the enmity that existed between the Shirvanshahs and the ruling Safavid dynasty, Safavid king Ismail I (r. 1501—1524) allowed, after his conquest and defeat of Bahram's father Farrukh Yassar, the latter to rule as a Safavid subject.

Battle of Chaldiran

The Battle of Chaldiran (Persian: جنگ چالدران‎; Turkish: Çaldıran Muharebesi) took place on 23 August 1514 and ended with a decisive victory for the Ottoman Empire over the Safavid Empire. As a result, the Ottomans annexed Eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq from Safavid Iran. It marked the first Ottoman expansion into Eastern Anatolia (Western Armenia), and the halt of the Safavid expansion to the west. The Chaldiran battle was just the beginning of 41 years of destructive war, which only ended in 1555 with the Treaty of Amasya. Though Mesopotamia and Eastern Anatolia (Western Armenia) were eventually reconquered by the Safavids under the reign of Shah Abbas the Great (r. 1588–1629), they would be permanently lost to the Ottomans by the 1639 Treaty of Zuhab.

At Chaldiran, the Ottomans had a larger, better equipped army numbering 60,000 to 100,000 as well as a large number of heavy artillery pieces, while the Safavid army numbered some 40,000 to 80,000 and did not have artillery at its disposal. Ismail I, was wounded and almost captured during the battle. His wives were captured by Selim I, with at least one married off to one of Selim's statesmen. Ismail retired to his palace and withdrew from government administration after this defeat and never again participated in a military campaign. After their victory, Ottoman forces marched deeper into Persia, briefly occupying the Safavid capital, Tabriz, and thoroughly looting the Persian imperial treasury.The battle is one of major historical importance because it not only negated the idea that the Murshid of the Shia-Qizilbash was infallible, but also led Kurdish chiefs to assert their authority and switch their allegiance from the Safavids to the Ottomans.


The Buyruks are a collection of spiritual books providing the basis of the Alevi value system. The word buyruk in Turkish means "command". Topics addressed in the Buyruks include müsahiplik "spiritual brotherhood" and a wide range of Alevi stories and poems. The story of Haji Bektash Veli is found in them.

The Buyruks also contain Quranic verses, the sayings of Ali and the Twelve Imams, as well as sayings and songs written by Yunus Emre, Pir Abdal Musa, Pir Sultan Abdal, and Ismail I, known by his pen name, Khata'i.


Cabanı (also, Dzhabany) is a village in the Shamakhi Rayon of Azerbaijan. The village forms part of the municipality of İkinci Cabanı.This was the site of a crucial battle of 1500AD when some 7,000 Qizilbash forces, consisting of the Ustaclu, Shamlu, Rumlu, Tekelu, Zhulkadir, Afshar, Qajar and Varsak tribes, responded to the invitation of Ismail I and marched against the Shirvanshah ruler Farrukh Yassar, setting in motion the eventual establishment of the Safavid state

Farrukh Yassar

Farrukh Yassar was the last independent Shirvanshah of Shirvan (1465–1500). In 1500, the first Safavid ruler, Ismail I, decisively defeated and killed Farrukh Yassar during his conquest of the area. Descendants of Farrukh Yassar continued to rule Shirvan under Safavid suzerainty, until 1538, when Ismail's son and successor Tahmasp I (r. 1524-1576) appointed its first Safavid governor, and made it a fully functioning Safavid province.

Ismail I, Sultan of Granada

Ismail I (1279 – 6 June or 7 July 1325) was the grandson of Muhammed II al-Faqih and the fifth Nasrid ruler of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus on the Iberian Peninsula in 1314–1325.

Karkiya dynasty

The Kar-Kiya dynasty, or Kia dynasty, was a Zaydi Shia dynasty which ruled over Bia pish (eastern Gilan) from the 1370s to 1592. They claimed Sasanian ancestry as well.

The Karkiya dynasty helped Shah Ismail I to establish the Safavid Empire and later became a vassal state of the empire. The Safavid shah, Abbas I put an end to the Kia'i dynasty by dispatching an army to Gilan in 1592.

List of Mahdi claimants

In Muslim eschatology, the Mahdi is a Messianic figure who, it is believed, will appear on Earth before the Day of Judgment, and will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny. People claiming to be the Mahdi have appeared across the Muslim world – in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East – and throughout history since the birth of Islam (AD 610).

A claimant Mahdi can wield great temporal, as well as spiritual, power: claimant Mahdis have founded states (e.g. the late 19th-century Mahdiyah in Sudan), as well as religions and sects (e.g. Bábism, or the Ahmadiyya movement). The continued relevance of the Mahdi doctrine in the Muslim world was most recently emphasised during the 1979 seizing of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, by at least 200 militants led by Juhayman al-Otaibi, who had declared his brother-in-law, Muhammad bin abd Allah al-Qahtani, the Mahdi.

Muhammed IV, Sultan of Granada

Muhammed IV (1315 – August 25, 1333) was the Nasrid ruler of the Moorish Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus on the Iberian Peninsula from 1325 to 1333. He was the son of Ismail I, Sultan of Granada and the sixth Nasrid ruler of Granada in Iberia. He succeeded his father at ten years old.

Muhammed IV was an accomplished rider, but subject to the influence of his court ministers and his paternal grandmother Fatima, due to his youth. The Battle of Teba took place on 25 August 1330, below the Castillo de la Estrella, Teba. It was part of the war being conducted by Alfonso XI of Castile, against Muhammed IV between 1312 and 1350.

Muhammad IV was killed 25 August 1333 at the age of eighteen. He was buried at Malaga the next day. Like his father Ismail I, he was assassinated. Granada's nobles who resented his alliance with the Moroccan sultans arranged for his death while he was returning from Algeciras to Granada. His younger brother Yusuf I succeeded him.

Nur-Ali Khalifa

Nur-Ali Khalifa, also known as Nur-Ali Khalifa Rumlu, was an early 16th-century Safavid military leader and official from the Turkoman Rumlu tribe. He served as the governor of Erzincan from ca. 1511 to 1515.Nur-Ali Khalifa was a pivotal figure in the early days of the Safavid realm. His large-scale campaign in Anatolia in 1512, with troops levied on the spot from Sufis belonging to the Safaviyya order and which coincided with the ascension of Selim I (r. 1512-1520) to the throne, was one of the casus belli that lead to the Battle of Chaldiran (1514). This Safavid force led by Nur-Ali Khalifa penetrated deep into Anatolia, captured and sacked the town of Tokat, had the khotbeh read there in Ismail I's name, and managed to defeat an Ottoman army led by Sinan Pasha that was sent after them.During the decisive Chaldiran battle, Nur-Ali Khalifa and Mohammad Khan Ustajlu were Ismail I's (r. 1501-1524) commanders who had first-hand experience with the Ottoman ways of warfare. They both advised to attack at once, in order to prevent the Ottoman's from establishing their proper defensive positions, but were rudely rebuffed by Durmish Khan Shamlu. Durmish Khan considered it "cowardly to engage an unprepared enemy". Ismail I chose to endorse Durmish Khan Shamlu's suggestion for the attack and thus the Ottomans were allowed to prepare their defenses at their leisure; this would prove costly, contributing to the sound Safavid defeat at Chaldiran.

Ottoman–Persian wars

The Ottoman-Persian Wars or Ottoman-Iranian Wars were a series a wars between Ottoman Empire and the Safavid, Afsharid, Zand, and Qajar dynasties of Iran (Persia) through the 16th–19th centuries. The Ottomans consolidated their control of what is today Turkey in the 15th century, and gradually came into conflict with the emerging neighboring Persian state, led by Ismail I of the Safavid dynasty. The two states were arch rivals, and were also divided by religious grounds, the Ottomans being staunchly Sunni and the Safavids being Shia. A series of military conflicts ensued for centuries during which the two empires competed for control over eastern Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Iraq.

Among the numerous treaties, the Treaty of Zuhab of 1639 is usually considered as the most important one, as it fixed present Turkey–Iran and Iraq–Iran borders. In later treaties, there were frequent references to the Treaty of Zuhab.


Qizilbash or Kizilbash (Turkish: Kızılbaş "Red-Head", sometimes also Qezelbash or Qazilbash, Persian: قزلباش‎ / qezelbāš) were a wide variety of Shi'i militant groups that flourished in Iranian Azerbaijan (historic Azerbaijan, also known as "Iranian Azerbaijan"), Anatolia and Kurdistan from the late 15th century onwards, some of which contributed to the foundation of the Safavid dynasty of Iran.

Safavid dynasty

The Safavid dynasty (; Persian: دودمان صفوی‎ Dudmān e Safavi) was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran, often considered the beginning of modern Iranian history. The Safavid shahs ruled over one of the Gunpowder Empires. They ruled one of the greatest Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Iran, and established the Twelver school of Shia Islam as the official religion of the empire, marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history.

The Safavid dynasty had its origin in the Safavid order of Sufism, which was established in the city of Ardabil in the Azerbaijan region. It was of mixed ancestry (originally Kurdish but during their rule had intermarried with Turkoman, Georgian, Circassian, and Pontic Greek dignitaries). From their base in Ardabil, the Safavids established control over parts of Greater Iran and reasserted the Iranian identity of the region, thus becoming the first native dynasty since the Sasanian Empire to establish a national state officially known as Iran.The Safavids ruled from 1501 to 1722 (experiencing a brief restoration from 1729 to 1736) and, at their height, they controlled all of what is now Iran, Azerbaijan Republic, Bahrain, Armenia, eastern Georgia, parts of the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Despite their demise in 1736, the legacy that they left behind was the revival of Iran as an economic stronghold between East and West, the establishment of an efficient state and bureaucracy based upon "checks and balances", their architectural innovations and their patronage for fine arts. The Safavids have also left their mark down to the present era by spreading Twelver Islam in Iran, as well as major parts of the Caucasus, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia.

Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp

The Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp (Persian: شاهنامه شاه‌طهماسب‎) or Houghton Shahnameh is one of the most famous illustrated manuscripts of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Greater Iran, and a high point in the art of the Persian miniature. It is probably the most fully illustrated manuscript of the text ever produced. When created, the manuscript contained 759 pages, 258 of which were miniatures. These miniatures were hand painted by the artists of the royal workshop in Tabriz under rulers Shah Ismail I and Shah Tahmasp I. Upon its completion, the Shahnameh was gifted to Ottoman Sultan Selim II in 1568. The page size is about 48 x 32 cm, and the text written in Nastaʿlīq script of the highest quality. The manuscript was broken up in the 1970s and pages are now in a number of different collections around the world.

Shaykh Haydar

Shaykh Haydar or Sheikh Haydar (Persian: شیخ حیدر‎ Shaikh Ḥaidar; b. 1459, Amed - d. 9 July 1488, Tabasaran) was the successor of his father (Shaykh Junayd) as leader of the Safavid order from 1460-1488. Haydar maintained the policies and political ambitions initiated by his father. Under Sheikh Haydar, the order became crystallized as a political movement with an increasingly extremist heterodox Twelver Shi'i coloring and Haydar was viewed as a divine figure by his followers. Shaykh Haydar was responsible for instructing his followers to adopt the scarlet headgear of 12 gores commemorating The Twelve Imams, which led to them being designated by the Turkish term Qizilbash "Red Head".Haydar soon came into conflict with the Shirvanshah's, as well as the Ak Koyunlu, who were allied to the former. Following several campaigns into the North Caucasus, mainly in Circassia and Dagestan, he and his men were eventually trapped in 1488 at Tabasaran by the combined forces of the Shirvanshah Farrukh Yassar and Ya'qub ibn Uzun Hassan of the Ak Koyunlu. In a pitched battled that ensued, Shaykh Haydar and his men were defeated and killed. He was succeeded by his son Soltan-Ali as leader of the order. Soltan-Ali was on his part succeeded by Haydar's younger son, who would become the founder of the Safavid dynasty, and known by his regnal name of Ismail I.

Tahmasp I

Tahmasp I (; Persian pronunciation: [tæhˈmɒːseb], Persian: شاه تهماسب یکم‎) (22 February 1514 – 14 May 1576) was an influential Shah of Iran, who enjoyed the longest reign of any member of the Safavid dynasty. He was the son and successor of Ismail I.

He came to the throne aged ten in 1524 and came under the control of the Qizilbash who formed the backbone of the Safavid Empire. The Qizilbash leaders fought among themselves for the right to be regents over Tahmasp, and by doing so held most of the effective power in hands in the empire. Upon adulthood, however, Tahmasp was able to reassert the power of the Shah and control the tribesmen with the start of the introduction of large amounts of Caucasian elements, effectively and purposefully creating a new layer in Iranian society, solely composed of ethnic Caucasians. This new layer, also called the third force in some of the modern day sources, would be solely composed of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Circassians, Georgians and Armenians, and they would continue to play a crucial role in Persia's royal household, harems, civil and military administration, as well as in all other thinkable and available positions for centuries after Tahmasp, and they would eventually fully eliminate the effective power of the Qizilbash in most of the functioning posts of the empire, by which they would also become the most dominant class in the meritocratic Safavid kingdom as well. One of his most notable successors, the greatest Safavid emperor, Abbas I (also known as Abbas the Great) would fully implement and finalize this policy and the creation of this new layer in Iranian society.

Tahmasp's reign was marked by foreign threats, primarily from the Safavid's arch rival, the Ottomans, and the Uzbeks in the far east. In 1555, however, he regularized relations with the Ottoman Empire through the Peace of Amasya. By this treaty historical Armenia and Georgia were divided equally between the two, the Ottoman Empire obtained most of Iraq, including Baghdad, which gave them access to the Persian Gulf, while the Persians retained their former capital Tabriz and all their other north-western territories in the Caucasus (Dagestan, Azerbaijan) and as they were prior to the wars. The frontier thus established ran across the mountains dividing eastern and western Georgia (under native vassal princes), through Armenia, and via the western slopes of the Zagros down to the Persian Gulf. The Ottomans, further, gave permission for Persian pilgrims to go to the holy places of Mecca and Medina as well as to the Shia sites of pilgrimages in Iraq. This peace lasted for 30 years, until it was broken in the time of Shah Mohammad Khodabanda.

Tahmasp is also known for the reception he gave to the fugitive Mughal Emperor Humayun as well as Suleiman the Magnificent's son Bayezid, which is depicted in a painting on the walls of the Safavid palace of Chehel Sotoon.

One of Shah Tahmasp's more lasting achievements was his encouragement of the Persian rug industry on a national scale, possibly a response to the economic effects of the interruption of the Silk Road carrying trade during the Ottoman wars.

Yaqub bin Uzun Hasan

Yaqub b. Uzun Hasan (Persian: یعقوب بن اوزون حسن‎, Azerbaijani: سلطان یعقوب) commonly known as Sultan Ya'qub (سلطان یعقوب) was the ruler of Aq Qoyunlu dynasty from 1478 until his death in December 14, 1490. A son of Uzun Hasan, he became the ruler of the dynasty after the death of Sultan Khalil. The borders of Aq Qoyunlu dynasty remained stable during his reign. In his book Alam-Aray-i Amini, Fazl b. Ruzbihan Khunji praised him as a decent successor of Uzun Hasan. Other historians also praised Ya'qub for his patronage of scientists and poets.

During Yaqub's reign, Alvand Beg and Kusa Haji revolted against the Aq Qoyunlus in Shiraz and Isfahan respectively, but both revolts were crushed. The biggest revolt during his reign was that of Shaykh Haydar, the father of Ismail I, which resulted in the death of Haydar.

Ḵatai Tabrizi, an Azeri poet of the 15th century, dedicated a maṯnawi entitled Yusof wa Zoleyḵā to Sultan Yaqub, and Yaqub even wrote poetry in the Azerbaijani language.Ya'qub became severely ill and died in December 14, 1490 in Karabakh. A number of scholars believe that he was poisoned by his wife.

Ancestors of Ismail I
16. Sheikh Ali Safavi
8. Sheikh Ibrahim Safavi
4. Sheikh Junāyd Safavi
2. Sheikh Heydar Safavi
20. Qara Yuluk Osman, Ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu (= 24)
10. Ali Beyg, Ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu (= 12)
21. Daughter of Alexios III of Trebizond (= 25)
5. Khadijeh Khatun
22. Pir Ali Bayandur (= 26)
11. Sara Khatun (= 13)
23. Maria Comnena (= 27)
1. Ismail I
24. Qara Yuluk Osman, Ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu (= 20)
12. Ali Beyg, Ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu (= 10)
25. Daughter of Alexios III of Trebizond (= 21)
6. Uzun Hassan, Ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu
26. Pir Ali Bayandur (= 22)
13. Sara Khatun (= 11)
27. Maria Comnena (= 23)
3. Martha
28. Alexios IV of Trebizond
14. John IV of Trebizond
29. Theodora Kantakouzene
7. Theodora of Trebizond
30. Alexander I of Georgia
15. Bagrationi
31. Dulandukht Orbeliani
Rulers of the Safavid dynasty (1501–1736)

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