- Safavid dynasty
Infobox Former Country
conventional_long_name = The Safavid Iranian Empire
common_name = Safavids|
continent = Asia
region = Middle East
country = Iran
status = Empire
government_type = Monarchy|
year_start = 1501
year_end = 1736|
year_exile_end = |
date_end = |
event1 = Hotaki Invasion
date_event1 = 1722
event2 = Reconquest under Nader Afshar
date_event2 = 1726–1729
date_event4 = |
event_pre = Establishment of the Safaviyeh Sufi Order by
date_pre = 1301
event_post = Nader Afshar crowned Shah
date_post = March 8 1736|
p1 = Timurid dynasty
flag_p1 = Timurid.svg
p2 = Ak Koyunlu
flag_p2 = AkKoyunlu.jpg
s1 = Hotaki dynasty
s2 = Afsharid dynasty
flag_s2 = Nadir Shah Flag.png
flag_s5 = |
flag_type = Flag of Safavid
symbol_type = |
image_map_caption = Safavid Empire |
image_map2_caption = |
Tabriz, Qazvin, Esfahan
latd= |latm= |latNS= |longd= |longm= |longEW= |
common_languages = Persian
currency = |
leader1 = Ismail I
leader2 = Tahmasp I
leader3 = Abbas I
leader4 = Abbas III
year_leader1 = 1501–1524
year_leader2 = 1524–1576
year_leader3 = 1587–1629
year_leader4 = 1732–1736
title_leader = Persian Emperor
representative4 = Nader Afshar
year_representative4 = 1732–1736
title_deputy = |
type_house2 = |
stat_area1 = 2850000
footnotes = The Safavids (PerB|صفویان; _az. صفوی ) were an
Iranian [Helen Chapin Metz. Iran, a Country study. 1989. Original from the University of Michigan. pg 313. Emory C. Bogle. Islam: Origin and Belief. University of Texas Press. 1989. pg 145. Stanford Jay Shaw. History of the Ottomon Empire. Cambridge University Press. 1977. pg 77 ] Shiadynasty of mixed Azeri [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v13f3/v13f3004a.html Encyclopaedia Iranica. R. N. Frye. Peoples of Iran.] ] and Kurdish [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v8f1/v8f1010.html R.M. Savory. Ebn Bazzaz. Encyclopedia Iranica] ] origins, which ruled Persiafrom 1501/1502 to 1722. Safavids established the greatest Iranian empire [Andrew J. Newman, Safavid Iran: Rebirth of a Persian Empire, I. B. Tauris (March 30, 2006)] since the Islamic conquest of Persia, and established the Ithnāˤashari school of Shi'a Islam R.M. Savory, "Safavids", Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edition] as the official religionof their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam.
The Safavid dynasty had its origin in the "Safawiyyah" which was established in the city of
Ardabilin the Azerbaijan region of Iran. From their base in Ardabil, the Safavids established control over all of Persiaand reasserted the Iranian identity of the region ["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?" in R.M. Savory, Iran under the Safavids (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1980), page 3.] , thus becoming the first native dynasty since the Sassanidsto establish a unified Iranian state.
Despite their demise in 1722, the Safavids have left their mark down to present era by establishing and spreading Shi'a Islam in major parts of the
Caucasusand West Asia, especially in Iran.
Background and Origin
Unlike many other dynasties founded by warlords and military chiefs, one of the unique aspects of the Safavids in the post-Islamic Iran was their origin in the Islamic
Sufiorder called the Safaviyeh. This uniqueness makes the Safavid dynasty comparable to the pre-Islamic Sassaniddynasty, which made Zoroastrianism into an official religion, and whose founders were from a priestly class. It should be noted that the Safaviyeh was not originally Shiabut it was from the Shafiibranch of Sunni Islam [Hamdullah Mustaufi, a contemporary of Shaykh Safi al-Din remarks under Ardabil:
They were also a mostly Scholar society and did not try to wage war.
اکثر (مردم) بر مذهب شافعی اند، مرید شیخ صفی الدین علیه الرحمه اندThe majority of the people are followers of Shafii sect and students of Shaykh Safi al-Din Ardabili (May God Bless him).] Ira Marvin Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, Cambridge University Press, 2002. pg 233: "The Safavid movement, founded by Shaykh Safi al-Din (1252–1334), a Sunni Sufi religious teacher descendant from a Kurdish family in north-western Iran..] [R.M. Savory, "Safavid Persia" in: Ann Katherine Swynford Lambton, Peter Malcolm Holt, Bernard Lewis, "The Cambridge History of Islam", Cambridge University Press, 1977. pg 394: "Such evidences we have seems to suggest that the family hailed from Kurdistan. What does seem certain is that the Safavids were of native Iranian stock, and spoke Azari, the form of Turkish used in Azerbaijan. Shaykh Safi al-Din the founder of the Safavid Tariqa was not a Shi'i (he was probably a Sunni of the Shafi'i Madhhab)] . The Safavid dynasty was Azerbaijani speaking but their father-line has been classified as Kurdish, Azerbaijani and
Arabicby various scholars. Nevertheless, what is certain is that the Safavids were a mixture of ethnic Azerbaijani, Kurdish, and Greek [Roger Savory, "Iran Under the Safavids", p.18] lines. The Safavid Kings themselves claimed to be Seyyeds [In the Silsilat an-nasab-i Safawiya (composed during the reign of Shah Suleiman)(1667–1694), written by Shah Hussab ibn Abdal Zahidi, the ancestory of the Safavid is traced back to Hijaz and the first Shi'i Imam as follows: Shaykh Safi al-din Abul Fatah Eshaq ibn (son of) Shaykh Amin al-Din Jabrail ibn Qutb al-din ibn Salih ibn Muhammad al-Hafez ibn Awad ibn Firuz Shah Zarin Kulah ibn Majd ibn Sharafshah ibn Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn Seyyed Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Seyyed Ja'afar ibn Seyyed Muhammad ibn Seyyed Isma'il ibn Seyyed Muhammad ibn Seyyed Ahmad 'Arabi ibn Seyyed Qasim ibn Seyyed Abul Qasim Hamzah ibn Musa al-Kazim ibn Ja'far As-Sadiq ibn Muhammad al-Baqir ibn Imam Zayn ul-'Abedin ibn Hussein ibn Ali ibn Abi Taleb Alayha as-Salam. There are differences between this and the oldest manuscript of Safwat as-Safa. Seyyeds have been added from Piruz Shah Zarin Kulah up to the first Shi'i Imam and the nisba "Al-Kurdi" has been excised. The title/name "Abu Bakr" (also the name of the first Caliph and highly regarded by Sunnis) is deleted from Qutb ad-Din's name. ُSource: Husayn ibn Abdāl Zāhidī, 17th cent. Silsilat al-nasab-i Safavīyah, nasabnāmah-'i pādishāhān bā ʻuzmat-i Safavī, ta'līf-i Shaykh Husayn pisar-i Shaykh Abdāl Pīrzādah Zāhidī dar 'ahd-i Shāh-i Sulaymnān-i Safavī. Berlīn, Chāpkhānah-'i Īrānshahr, 1343 (1924). 116 pages.Original Persian language source of the lineage:شیخ صفی الدین ابو الفتح اسحق ابن شیخ امین الدین جبرائیل بن قطب الدین ابن صالح ابن محمد الحافظ ابن عوض ابن فیروزشاه زرین کلاه ابن محمد ابن شرفشاه ابن محمد ابن حسن ابن سید محمد ابن ابراهیم ابن سید جعفر بن سید محمد ابن سید اسمعیل بن سید محمد بن سید احمد اعرابی بن سید قاسم بن سید ابو القاسم حمزه بن موسی الکاظم ابن جعفر الصادق ابن محمد الباقر ابن امام زین العابدین بن حسین ابن علی ابن ابی طالب علیه السلام] , family descendants of the prophet Muhammad, although many scholars have cast doubt on this claim [R.M. Savory, "Safavid Persia" in: Ann Katherine Swynford Lambton, Peter Malcolm Holt, Bernard Lewis, "The Cambridge History of Islam", Cambridge University Press, 1977. pg 394: "They (Safavids after the establishment of the Safavid state) fabricated evidence to prove that the Safavids were Sayyids."] . There seems now to be a consensus among scholars that the Safavid family hailed from Persian Kurdistan, and later moved to Azerbaijan, finally settling in the 5th/11th century at Ardabil. But even before their ascent to political power in the 15th century, the Safavids had become Turkic-speaking and used Azerbaijani Turkish as a medium of communication with their followers [ [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v13f3/v13f3001d.html E. Yarshater "Iran: The Safavid period", Encyclopedia Iranica] ] as well the official language of their court.
Azerbaijani Turkic father-line
According to Lawrence Davidson et al [Lawrence Davidson and Arthur Goldschmidt. "A Concise History of the Middle East", Westview Press, 2005, p. , ISBN 0813342759] :
Some other scholars have also claimed Azerbaijani originTamara Sonn. "A Brief History of Islam", Blackwell Publishing, 2004, p. 83, ISBN 1405109009] É. Á. Csató, B. Isaksson, C. Jahani. "Linguistic Convergence and Areal Diffusion: Case Studies from Iranian, Semitic and Turkic", Routledge, 2004, p. 228, ISBN 0415308046] [Tamara Sonn. A Brief History of Islam, Blackwell Publishing, 2004, p. 83, ISBN 1405109009] .
The oldest extant book on the genealogy of the Safavid family and the only one that is pre-1501 is titled "Safwat as-Safa" and was written by
Ibn Bazzaz, a disciple of Sheikh Sadr-al-Din Ardabili, the son of the Sheikh Safi ad-din Ardabili. According Ibn Bazzaz, the Sheikh was a descendant of a noble Kurdish man named Firuz Shah Zarin Kolah the Kurd of SanjanZ. V. Togan, "Sur l’Origine des Safavides," in Melanges Louis Massignon, Damascus, 1957, III, pp. 345-57] . The male lineage of the Safavid family given by the oldest manuscript of the Safwat as-Safa is:"(Shaykh) Safi al-Din Abul-Fatah Ishaaq the son of Al-Shaykh Amin al-din Jebrail the son of al-Saaleh Qutb al-Din Abu Bakr the son of Salaah al-Din Rashid the son of Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Kalaam Allah the son of ‘avaad the son of Birooz al-Kurdi al-Sanjani (Piruz Shah Zarin Kolah the Kurd of Sanjan)". The Safavids, in order to further legitimize their power in the Shi'ite Muslim world, claimed descent from the prophet Muhammad[http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v8f1/v8f1010.html R.M. Savory. Ebn Bazzaz. Encyclopedia Iranica] ] and revised Ibn Bazzaz's work [ [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v8f1/v8f1010.html EBN BAZZAÚZ] R.M. Savory. Ebn Bazzaz, Encyclopedia Iranica] , obscuring the Kurdish origins of the Safavid family
There seems to exist a consensus among Safavid scholars that Safavids originated in
Iranian Kurdistanand moved to Iranian Azerbaijan, settling in Ardabil in the 11th centuryZ. V. Togan, "Sur l’Origine des Safavides," in Melanges Louis Massignon, Damascus, 1957, III, pp. 345-57] . Accordingly, these scholars have considered the Safavids to be of Kurdish descent based on the origins of Sheykh Safi al-Din and that the Safavids were originally a Iranic speaking clan [Heinz Halm, Shi'ism, translated by Janet Watson. New Material translated by Marian Hill, 2nd edition, Columbia University Press, pp 75] [Ira Marvin Lapidus. "A History of Islamic Societies", Cambridge UniversityPress, 2002, p. 233] Tapper, Richard, FRONTIER NOMADS OF IRAN. A political and social history of the Shahsevan. Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997. pp 39.] [Izady, Mehrdad, The Kurds: A Concise Handbook. Taylor and Francis, Inc., Washington. 1992. pp 50] E. Yarshater, Encyclopaedia Iranica, "The Iranian Language of Azerbaijan"] [Kathryn Babayan, Mystics, Monarchs and Messiahs: Cultural Landscapes of Early Modern Iran , Cambridge , Mass. ; London : Harvard University Press, 2002. pg 143: “It is true that during their revolutionary phase (1447–1501), Safavi guides had played on their descent from the family of the Prophet. The hagiography of the founder of the Safavi order, Shaykh Safi al-Din Safvat al-Safa written by Ibn Bazzaz in 1350-was tampered with during this very phase. An initial stage of revisions saw the transformation of Safavi identity as Sunni Kurds into Arab blood descendants of Muhammad.”] [Emeri van Donzel, Islamic Desk Reference compiled from the Encyclopedia of Islam, E.J. Brill, 1994, pp 381] [Farhad Daftary, Intellectual Traditions in Islam, I.B.Tauris, 2000. pp 147:But the origins of the family of Shaykh Safi al-Din go back not to the Hijaz but to Kurdistan, from where, seven generations before him, Firuz Shah Zarin-kulah had migrated to Adharbayjan. ] [Gene Ralph Garthwaite, “The Persians”, Blackwell Publishing, 2004. pg 159 : Chapter on Safavids. "The Safavid family’s base of power sprang from a Sufi order, and the name of the order came from its founder Shaykh Safi al-Din. The Shaykh’s family had been resident in Azerbaijan since Saljuk times and then in Ardabil, and was probably Kurdish in origin.] [Elton L. Daniel, The history of Iran, Greenwood Press, 2000. pg 83:The Safavid order had been founded by Shaykh Safi al-Din (1252–1334), a man of uncertain but probably Kurdish origin] [Muhammad Kamal, Mulla Sadra's Transcendent Philosophy, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006. pg 24:"The Safawid was originally a Sufi order whose founder, Shaykh Safi al-Din (1252–1334) was a Sunni Sufi master from a Kurdish family in north-west Iran"] John R. Perry, "Turkic-Iranian contacts", Encyclopaedia Iranica, January 24, 2006. Excerpt: "the Turcophone Safavid family of Ardabil in Azerbaijan, probably of Turkicized Iranian (perhaps Kurdish), origin"] [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: "From the evidence available at the present time, it is certain that the Safavid family was of indigineous Iranian stock, and not of Turkish ancestry as it is sometimes claimed. It is probable that the family originated in Persian Kurdistan, and later moved to Azerbaijan, where they adopted the Azari form of Turkish spoken there, and eventually settled in the small town of Ardabil sometimes during the eleventh century. [http://books.google.com/books?id=wqj35pAjx6AC&pg=PA259&dq=From+the+evidence+available+safavid+family&sig=kmEuwFxfXTbjFSWmND7928Y6WwQ] ] . Shaykh Safi al-Din was a ShafiiMuslim, which is the sect that is followed by SunniKurds today [Federal Research Division, Federal Research Div Staff, Turkey: A Country Study, Kessinger Publishers, 2004. pg 141:"Unlike, the Sunni Turks, who follow the Hanafi school of Islamic law, the Sunni Kurds follow the Shafi'i school.] .
heikh Safi al-Din
Safavid history begins with the establishment of the Safaviyeh Sufi Order by its eponymous founder Safī al-Dīn Abul Fath Is'haq Ardabilī (1252–1334). In 700/1301, Safi al-Din assumed the leadership of the
Zahediyeh, a significant Sufiorder in Gilan, from his spiritual master Sheikh Zahed Gilaniwho was also his father-in-law. Due to the great spiritual charisma of Sheikh Safi al-Din, the order was later known as the Safaviyeh. The Safavid order soon gained great influence in the city of Ardabil and Hamdullah Mustaufi remarks that most of the people of Ardabil are followers of Shaykh Safi al-Din.
Extant religious poetry from him, written in Old TatiE. Yarshater,
Encyclopaedia Iranica, [http://www.iranica.com/articles/search/searchpdf.isc?ReqStrPDFPath=/home1/iranica/articles/v3_articles/azerbaijan/language_azerbaijan&OptStrLogFile=/home/iranica/public_html/logs/pdfdownload.html Book 1, p. 240] :] [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v3f3/v3f2a88b.html E. Yarshater, Encyclopaedia Iranica, The Iranian Language of Azerbaijan] ] - a now distinct Northwestern Iranian language - and accompanied by a paraphrase in Persian which helps their understanding, has survived to this day and has linguistic importance.
From Sheikh Safi al-Din to Ismail I
After Safī al-Dīn, the leadership of the Safaviyeh passed onto Sheikh Sadr ud-Dīn Mūsā († 794/1391-92). The order at this time was transformed into a religious movement which conducted religious propaganda throughout Persia, Syria and Asia Minor, and most likely had maintained its Sunni Shaf’ite origin at that time. The leadership of the order passed on from Sadr ud-Dīn Mūsā to his son Khwādja Ali († 1429) and in turn to his son Ibrāhīm († 1429-47).
When Sheikh Junāyd, the son of Ibrāhīm, assumed the leadership of Safaviyeh in 1447, the history of the Safavid movement was radically changed. According to R.M. Savory, "Sheikh Junayd was not content with spiritual authority and he sought material power". At that time, the most powerful dynasty in Persia was that of the Qara Qoyunlu, the "Black Sheeps", whose ruler Jahān Shāh ordered Junāyd to leave
Ardabilor else he would bring destruction and ruin upon the city. Junāyd sought refuge with the rival of Qara Qoyunlu Jahan Shah, the Aq Qoyunlu Khan Uzun Hassanand cemented his relationship by marrying Khadija Begum, Uzun Hassan's sister. Junāyd was killed during an incursion into the territories of the Shīrvanshāhs and his son Sheikh Haydar assumed the leadership of the Safaviyeh. Sheikh Haydar married Martha [Anthony Bryer. "Greeks and Türkmens: The Pontic Exception", "Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 29.", (1975), Appendix II - Genealogy of the Muslim Marriages of the Princesses of Trebizond] , Uzun Hassan's daughter, who gave birth to Ismāil, the founder of the Safavid dynasty. Martha's mother, named Theodora - better known as Despina Khatun [Peter Charanis. "Review of Emile Janssens' "Trébizonde en Colchide", "Speculum, Vol. 45, No. 3,", (Jul., 1970), p. 476] - was a Pontic Greekprincess and the daughter of the Grand Komnenos John IV of Trebizond. She had been married to Uzun Hassan [Anthony Bryer, "open citation", p. 136] in exchange to protection of the Grand Komnenos from the Ottomans.
After Uzun Hassan's death, his son Yāqub felt threatened by the growing Safavid religious influence. Yāqub allied himself with the Shīrvanshāh and killed Shaykh Haydar in 1488. By this time, the bulk of the Safaviyeh followers were Turkish-speaking clans from Asia Minor and Azerbaijan, and were collectively known as Qizilbāsh ("Red Heads") because of their distinct red headgear. The Qizilbāsh were warriors, spiritual followers of Sheikh Haydar, and a source of the Safavid military and political power. After the death of Haydar, the spiritual followers of the Safaviyeh gathered around his son Ali, who was also pursued and subsequently killed by Yāqub. According to official Safavid history, before passing away, Ali had designated his young brother Ismāil as the spiritual leader of the Safavid Order.
Founding of the dynasty by Shāh Ismāil I
Political scene in Persia prior to Ismāil's rule
After the decline of the
Timurid Empire(1370–1506), there were many local states prior to the Iranian state established by Ismāil. [The writer Ṛūmlu documented the most important of them in his history.] The most important local rulers about 1500 were:
* Huṣayn Bāyqarā, the Timurid ruler of Herāt
* Alwand Mīrzā, the
Aq QoyunluKhan of Tabrīz
* Murad Beg,
Aq Qoyunluruler of Irāq al-Ajam
* Farrokh Yaṣar, the Shah of Širvan
* Badi Alzamān Mīrzā, local ruler of Balkh
* Huṣayn Kīā Chalavī, the local ruler of Semnān
* Murād Beg Bayandar, local ruler of
Ismāil was able to unite all these lands under the Iranian Empire he created.
hāh Ismāil I
The Safavid dynasty was founded about 1501 by Shāh Ismāil I. [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v8f6/v8f665.html Encyclopedia Iranica. "ٍIsmail Safavi"] ] Shah Ismail's background is disputed: the language he used is not identical with that of his "race" or "nationality" and he was bilingual from birth.V. Minorsky, The Poetry of Shah Ismail, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 10, No. 4. (1942), pp. 1053)] Some scholars argue that Ismāil was of mixed Turkic, Iranic, and Pontik Greek descent, [ [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v13f3/v13f3004a.html Encyclopaedia Iranica. R. N. Frye. Peoples of Iran.] ] although others speculate that he was non-Turkic and was a direct descendant of Sheikh Safi al-Din. As such, he was the last in the line of hereditary Grand Masters of the Safaviyeh oder, prior to its ascent to a ruling dynasty. Ismāil was known as a brave and charismatic youth, zealous with regards to his
Shi’afaith, and believed himself to be of divine descent—practically worshipped by his Qizilbāsh followers. In 1500 Ismāil invaded neighboring Shirvanto avenge the death of his father, Sheik Haydar, who had been murdered in 1488 by the ruling Shirvanshah, Farrukh Yassar. Afterwards, Ismail went on a conquest campaign, capturing Tabrizin July 1501, where he enthroned himself the Shāh of Azerbaijan, [Richard Tapper. "Shahsevan in Safavid Persia", "Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies", University of London, Vol. 37, No. 3, 1974, p. 324. See also, Lawrence Davidson, Arthur Goldschmid, "A Concise History of the Middle East", Westview Press, 2006, p. 153; and [http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9377424/Safavid-dynasty Britannica Concise. "Safavid Dynasty", Online Edition 2007] ] and minted coins in his name, proclaiming Shi’ism the official religion of his domain.
Although Ismail I initially gained mastery over Azerbaijan alone, the Safavids ultimately won the struggle for power in Persia which had been going on for nearly a century between various dynasties and political forces. A year after his victory in Tabriz, Ismāil claimed most of Persia as part of his territory, and within 10 years established a complete control over all of it.
Hamadanfell under his power in 1503, Shiraz and Kermanin 1504, Najafand Karbalain 1507, Van in 1508, Baghdadin 1509, and Herat, as well as other parts of Khorasan, in 1510. By 1511, the Uzbeksin the north-east, led by their Khan Muhammad Shaybāni, were driven far to the north, across the Oxus Riverwhere they continued to attack the Safavids. Ismail's decisive victory over the Uzbeks, who had occupied most of Khorasan, ensured Iran’s eastern borders, and the Uzbeks never since expanded beyond the Hindukush. Although the Uzbeks continued to make occasional raids to Khorasan, the Safavid empire was able to keep them at bay throughout its reign.
Clashes with the Ottomans
More problematic for the Safavids was the powerful
Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans, a Sunnidynasty, considered the active recruitment of Turkmen tribes of Anatolia for the Safavid cause as a major threat. To counter the rising Safavid power, in 1502, Sultan Bayezid II forcefully deported many Shi'as from Anatolia to other parts of the Ottoman realm. In 1514, Bayezid's son, Sultan Selim Imarched through Anatolia and reached the plain of Chaldiran near the city of Khoy, and a decisive war was fought there. Most sources agree that the Ottoman army was at least double the size of that of Ismāil, however, what gave the Ottomans the advantage was the artillery which the Safavid army lacked. According to R. M. Savory, "Salim's plan was to winter at Tabriz and complete the conquest of Persia the following spring. However, a mutiny among his officers who refused to spend the winter at Tabriz forced him to withdraw across territory laid waste by the Safavid forces, eight days later". Although Ismāil was defeated and his capital was captured, the Safavid empire survived. The war between the two powers continued under Ismāil's son, Shāh Tahmāsp I (q.v.), and the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I, until Shāh Abbās (q.v.) retook the area lost to the Ottomans by 1602.
The consequences of the defeat at Chaldiran were also psychological for Ismāil: the defeat destroyed Ismāil's belief in his invincibility, based on his claimed divine status. His relationships with his Qizilbāsh followers were also fundamentally altered. The tribal rivalries between the Qizilbāsh, which temporarily ceased before the defeat at Chaldiran, resurfaced in intense form immediately after the death of Ismāil, and led to ten years of civil war (930-40/1524-33) until Shāh Tahmāsp regained control of the affairs of the state.
Early Safavid power in Iran was based on the military power of the Qizilbāsh. Ismāil exploited the first element to seize power in Iran. But eschewing politics after his defeat in Chaldiran, he left the affairs of the government to the office of the Wakīl (q.v.). Ismāil's successors, and most ostensibly Shāh Abbās I successfully diminished the Qizilbāsh's influence on the affairs of the state.
Ismāil is also known for his poetry using the pen-name Khatāī (Arabic خطائی: sinner). He is considered an important figure in the literary history of Azerbaijani and has left approximately 1400 verses in this language, which he chose to use for political reasons, as most of his followers at the time spoke Turkmen Turkish. Approximately 50 verses of his
Persian poetryhave 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 "Shāhnāma" of Ferdowsi, which probably explains the fact that he named all of his sons after Shāhnāma-characters. Dickson and Welch suggest that Ismāil's "Shāhnāmaye Shāhī" was intended as a present to the young Tahmāsp [M.B. Dickson and S.C. Welch, "The Houghton Shahnameh" 2 vols (Cambridge Mmssachusetts and London. 1981. See: pg 34 of Volume I)] . After defeating Muhammad Shaybāni's Uzbeks, Ismāil asked Hātefī, a famous poet from Jam (Khorasan), to write a Shāhnāma-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 Shāhnāma written later on for the Safavid kings.
Ismāil's greatest legacy established an enduring empire which lasted over 200 years. Even after the fall of Safavids in 1722, their cultural and political influence endured through the era of Afsharid, Zand,
Qajar, and Pahlavi dynasties into the modern Islamic Republic of Iran, where Shi’a Islam is still the official religion as it was during the Safavids.
Shāh Tahmāsp, the young "governor of
Herat", succeeded his father Ismāil in 1524, when he was ten years and three months old. He was the ward of the powerful Qizilbash "amir" Ali Beg Rūmlū (titled "Div Soltān") who saw himself as the de facto ruler of the state. For around ten years, rival Qizilbāsh factions fought amongst themselves for the control of the empire until Shāh Tahmāsp came of age and reasserted his authority.He reigned for 52 years, the longest reign in Safavid history. The Uzbeks, during the reign of Tahmāsp, attacked the eastern provinces of the kingdom five times and the Ottomans under Soleymān I invaded Persia four times. Persia lost territory in Iraq, and Tahmāsp was forced to move his capital from Tabriz to Qazvin. Tahmasp made the Peace of Amasyawith the Ottomans in 1555, ending the war during his life..
After the death of Tahmāsp in 984/1576, the struggle for a dominant position in the state was complicated by rival groups and factions. Dominant political factions vied for power and support three different candidates. The mentally unstable Ismāil, the son of Tahmāsp and the purblind Muhammad Khudābanda were some of the candidates but did not get the support of all the Qizilbāsh chiefs. The Turkmen Ustājlū tribe, one of the most powerful tribes among the Qizilbāsh, threw its support behind Haydar, who was of a Georgian mother, but the majority of the Qizilbāsh chiefs saw this as a threat to their own, Turkmen-dominated power. Instead, they first placed Ismāil II. on the throne (1576–1577) and after him Muhammad Shāh Khudābanda (1578–1588).
The greatest of the Safavid monarchs,
Shah Abbas I(1587–1629) came to power in 1587 aged 16 following the forced abdicationof his father, Shah Muhammad Khudābanda, having survived Qizilbashi court intrigues and murders. He recognized the ineffectualness of his army which was consistently being defeated by the Ottomans who had captured Georgia and Armenia and by Uzbeks who had captured Mashhadand Sistanin the east. First he sued for peace in 1590 with the Ottomans giving away territory in the north-west. Then two Englishmen, Robert Sherleyand his brother Anthony, helped Abbas I to reorganize the Shah's soldiers into an officer-paid and well-trained standing army similar to a European model (which the Ottomans had already adopted). He wholeheartedly adopted the use of gunpowder (See Military history of Iran). The army divisions were: Ghulams غلام (crown servants [D. M. Lang. "Georgia and the Fall of the Safavi Dynasty", "Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 14, No. 3", Studies Presented to Vladimir Minorsky by His Colleagues and Friends (1952), pp. 523-539] usually conscripted from Georgiansand Circassians, Tofangchis تفگنچى (musketeers), and Topchis (Tupchis) توپچى (artillery-men).
Abbas moved the capital to Isfahan, deeper into central Iran. Abbas I built a new city next to the ancient Persian one. From this time the state began to take on a more Persian character. The Safavids ultimately succeeded in establishing a new Persian national monarchy.
Abbas I first fought the Uzbeks, recapturing
Heratand Mashhad in 1598. Then he turned against the Ottomans recapturing Baghdad, eastern Iraq and the Caucasian provinces by 1622. He also used his new force to dislodge the Portuguese from Bahrain(1602) and the English navy from Hormuz(1622), in the Persian Gulf(a vital link in Portuguese trade with India). He expanded commercial links with the English East India Companyand the Dutch East India Company. Thus Abbas I was able to break the dependence on the Qizilbash for military might and therefore was able to centralize control.
Ottoman Turksand Safavids fought over the fertile plains of Iraq for more than 150 years. The capture of Baghdadby Ismail I in 1509 was only followed by its loss to the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman Iin 1534. After subsequent campaigns, the Safavids recaptured Baghdad in 1623 yet lost it again to Murad IVin 1638. Henceforth a treaty, signed in Qasr-e Shirin, was established delineating a border between Iran and Turkey in 1639, a border which still stands in northwest Iran/southeast Turkey. The 150 year tug-of-war accentuated the Sunni and Shi'a rift in Iraq.
In 1609-1610, a war broke out between Kurdish tribes and the Safavid Empire. After a long and bloody siege led by the Safavid grand vizier Hatem Beg, which lasted from November 1609 to the summer of 1610, the Kurdish stronghold of Dimdim was captured. Shah Abbas ordered a general massacre in Beradost and Mukriyan(
Mahabad) (Reported by Eskandar Beg Monshi, Safavid Historian (1557–1642) in the Book "Alam Ara Abbasi") and resettled the Turkic Afshar tribein the region while deporting many Kurdish tribes to Khorasan. [see:
* [http://www.iranica.com/articles/v7/v7f4/v7f446.html Encyclopaedia Iranica] and ISBN 0-89158-296-7
*O. Dzh. Dzhalilov, "Kurdski geroicheski epos Zlatoruki Khan" ("The Kurdish heroic epic Gold-hand Khan"), Moscow, 1967] Nowadays, there is a community of nearly 1.7 million people who are descendants of the tribes deported from Kurdistan to Khurasan (Northeastern Iran) by the Safavids. [For a map of these areas, see [http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/commonwealth/commonwealth_islamic_groups.jpgthis map] ]
Due to his obsessive fear of assassination, Shah Abbas either put to death or blinded any member of his family who aroused his suspicion. In this way one of his sons was executed and two blinded. Since two other sons had predeceased him, the result was personal tragedy for Shah Abbas. When he died on
19 January 1629, he had no son capable of succeeding him. [see Encyclopaedia Iranicaunder "Abbas I the Great", page 75] . The beginning of the 17th century saw the power of the Qizilbash decline, the original militia that had helped Ismail I capture Tabriz and which had gained many administrative powers over the centuries. Power was shifting to a new class of merchants, many of them ethnic Armenians, Georgians and Indians.
At its zenith, during the long reign of Shah Abbas I the empire's reach comprised
Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan Republic, Georgia, and parts of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Decline of the Safavid state
In addition to fighting its perennial enemies, the Ottomans and Uzbeks, as the 17th century progressed Iran had to contend with the rise of two more neighbors. Russian
Muscovyin the previous century had deposed two western Asian khanates of the Golden Hordeand expanded its influence into the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia. In the east, the Mughal dynasty of India had expanded into Afghanistan at the expense of Iranian control, taking Qandahar.
Furthermore by the 17th century, trade routes between the East and West had shifted away from Iran, causing a loss of commerce and trade. Moreover, Shah Abbas had a conversion to a ghulam-based military, though expedient in the short term.
Except for Shah Abbas II, the Safavid rulers after Abbas I were ineffectual. The end of his reign, 1666, marked the beginning of the end of the Safavid dynasty. Despite falling revenues and military threats, later shahs had lavish lifestyles. Shah Soltan Hosain (1694–1722) in particular was known for his love of wine and disinterest in governance. [Mottahedeh, Roy, "The Mantle of the Prophet : Religion and Politics in Iran", One World, Oxford, 1985, 2000, p.204] The country was repeatedly raided on its frontiers — Kerman by
Balochtribesmen in 1698, Khorasanby Afghans in 1717, constantly in Mesopotamiaby peninsula Arabs. Shah Sultan Hosein tried to forcibly convert his Afghan subjects in eastern Iran from Sunni to the Shi'a sect of Islam. In response, a Ghilzai Pashtunchieftain named Mir Wais Khan began a rebellion against the Georgian governor, Gurgin Khan, of Kandahar and defeated the Safavid army. Later, in 1722 an Afghan army led by Mir Wais' son Mahmud marched across eastern Iran, besieged, and sacked Isfahan. Mahmud proclaimed himself 'Shah' of Persia.
The Afghans rode roughshod over their conquered territory for a dozen years but were prevented from making further gains by
Nadir Shah, a former slave who had risen to military leadership within the Afshar tribein Khorasan, a vassal state of the Safavids. Nadir Shah defeated the Afghans in the Battle of Damghan, 1729. He had driven out the Afghans, who were still occupying Persia, by 1730. In 1738, Nadir Shah reconquered Eastern Persia, starting with Qandahar; in the same year he occupied Ghazni, Kabul, and Lahore, later conquering as far as east as Delhi, but not fortifying his Persian base and exhausting his army's strength. He had effective control under Shah Tahmasp IIand then ruled as regent of the infant Abbas IIIuntil 1736 when he had himself crowned shah.
Immediately after Nadir Shah's assassination in 1747, the Safavids were re-appointed as shahs of Iran in order to lend legitimacy to the nascent
Zand dynasty. However the brief puppet regime of Ismail IIIended in 1760 when Karim Khanfelt strong enough take nominal power of the country as well and officially end the Safavid dynasty.
hia Islam as the state religion
Even though Safavids were not the first Shia rulers in Iran, they played a crucial role in making Shia Islam the official religion in the whole of Iran. There were large Shia communities in some cities like
Qomand Sabzevaras early as the 8th century. In the 10th and 11th centuries the Buwayhids, who were of the Zaidiyyahbranch of Shia, ruled in Fars, Isfahan and Baghdad. As a result of the Mongol conquest and the relative religious tolerance of the Ilkhanids, Shia dynasties were re-established in Iran, Sarbedaranin Khorasanbeing the most important. The Ilkhanid ruler Öljaitüconverted to Twelver Shiism in the 13th century.
Following his conquest of
Iran, Ismail I made conversion mandatory for the largely Sunnipopulation. The Sunni Ulemaor clergy were either killed or exiled. Ismail I, despite his heterodox Shia beliefs (Momen, 1985), brought in Shi'a religious leaders and granted them land and money in return for loyalty. Later, during the Safavid and especially Qajarperiod, the Shia Ulema's power increased and they were able to exercise a role, independent of or compatible with the government. Despite the Safavid's Sufi origins, most Sufi groups were prohibited, except the Nimatullahiorder.
Iran became a feudal theocracy: the Shah was held to be the divinely ordained head of state and religion. In the following centuries, this religious stance cemented both Iran's internal cohesion and national feelings and provoked attacks by its
A major problem faced by
Ismail Iafter the establishment of the Safavid state was how to bridge the gap between the two major ethnic groups in that state: the Qizilbash (Turkish:"red headed") Turkmens, the "men of sword" of classical Islamic society whose military prowess had brought him to power, and the Persian elements, the "men of the pen," who filled the ranks of the bureaucracy and the religious establishment in the Safavid state as they had done for centuries under previous rulers of Persia, be they Arabs, Mongols, or Turkmens. As Vladimir Minorskyput it, friction between these two groups was inevitable, because the Qizilbash "were no party to the national Persian tradition". Between 1508 and 1524, the year of Ismail's death, the shah appointed five successive Persians to the office of "vakil". When the second Persian "vakil" was placed in command of a Safavid army in Transoxiana, the Qizilbash, considering it a dishonor to be obliged to serve under him, deserted him on the battlefield with the result that he was slain. The fourth vakil was murdered by the Qizilbash, and the fifth was put to death by them .
The Qizilbashi tribes were essential to the military of Iran until the rule of
Shah Abbas I- their leaders were able to exercise enormous influence and participate in court intrigues (assassinating Shah Ismail IIfor example).
What fueled the growth of Safavid economy was Iran's position between the burgeoning civilizations of Europe to its west and India and Islamic
Central Asiato its east and north. The Silk Roadwhich led through northern Iran to India revived in the 16th century. Abbas I also supported direct trade with Europe, particularly England and The Netherlands which sought Persian carpet, silk and textiles. Other exports were horses, goat hair, pearls and an inedible bitter almond hadam-talkaused as a spice in India. The main imports were spice, textiles (woolens from Europe, cottons from Gujarat), metals, coffee, and sugar.
The languages of the Court, Military, Administrative and Culture
The Safavids by the time of their rise were Azerbaijani-speaking although they also used Persian as a second language. The language chiefly used by the Safavid court and military establishment was AzerbaijaniLaurence Lockhart, Peter Jackson. "The Cambridge History of Iran", Cambridge University Press, 1986, p. 950, ISBN 0521200946] Michel M. Mazzaoui, "Islamic Culture and literature in the early modern period" in Robert L. Canfield, Turko-Persia in historical perspective, Cambridge University Press, 1991. pg 87] . But the administration language as well as the language of respondence (Insha'), of belles-lettres (adab) and of history (tarikh) was Persian. The inscriptions on Safavid currency were also in Persian [Ronald W. Ferrier, "The Arts of Persia". Yale University Press. 1989. pg 199] .
Safavids also used Persian as a cultural and administrative language throughout the empire and were bilingual in Persian [V. Minorsky. "The Poetry of Shah Ismail", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 10. No. 4, 1942] . According to Arnold J. Toynbee [Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History,V, pp. 514-15)]
According to John R. Perry [John R. Perry, "Turkic-Iranian contacts",
Encyclopaedia Iranica, January 24, 2006] cquote|In the 16th century, the Turcophone Safavid family of Ardabil in Azerbaijan, probably of Turkicized Iranian (perhaps Kurdish), origin, conquered Iran and established Turkic, the language of the court and the military, as a high-status vernacular and a widespread contact language, influencing spoken Persian, while written Persian, the language of high literature and civil administration, remained virtually unaffected in status and content.
According to Ruda Jurdi Abisaab [Ruda Jurdi Abisaab. "Iran and Pre-Independence Lebanon" in Houchang Esfandiar Chehabi, "Distant Relations: Iran and Lebanon in the Last 500 Years" , I.B.Tauris, Published 2006. pg 76]
According to Cornelis Henricus Maria Versteegh [ Cornelis Henricus Maria Versteegh, "The Arabic Language", Columbia University Press, 1997. pg 71]
Culture within the Safavid family
The Safavid family was a literate family from its early origin. There are extant Tati and Persian poetry from Shaykh Safi ad-din Ardabili as well as extant Persian poetry from Shaykh Sadr ad-din. Most of the extant poetry of Shah Ismail I is in Azerbaijani pen-name of Khatai. [ V. Minorsky. "The Poetry of Shah Ismail", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 10. No. 4, 1942 ] Sam Mirza, the son of Shah Esmail as well as some later authors assert that Ismail composed poems both in Turkish and Persian but only a few specimens of his Persian verse have survived. A collection of his poems in Azeri were published as a Divan. Shah Tahmasp who has composed poetry in Persian was also a painter, while Shah Abbas II was known as a poet, writing Azerbaijani verses with the pen name of Tani.E. Yarshater, "Language of Azerbaijan, vii., Persian language of Azerbaijan",
Encyclopaedia Iranica, v, pp. 238-245, Online Edition, ( [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/search/searchpdf.isc?ReqStrPDFPath=/home1/iranica/articles/v3_articles/azerbaijan/language_azerbaijan&OptStrLogFile=/home/iranica/public_html/logs/pdfdownload.html LINK] )] . Sam Mirza, the son of Ismail I was himself a poet and composed his poetry in Persian. He also compiled an anthology of contemporary poetry. [ Emeri “van” Donzel, Islamic Desk Reference, Brill Academic Publishers, 1994, pp 393] .
Culture in the empire
Shah Abbas I recognized the commercial benefit of promoting the arts - artisan products provided much of Iran's foreign trade. In this period, handicrafts such as tile making, pottery and textiles developed and great advances were made in miniature painting, bookbinding, decoration and calligraphy. In the sixteenth century, carpet weaving evolved from a nomadic and peasant craft to a well-executed industry with specialization of design and manufacturing.
Tabrizwas the center of this industry. The carpets of Ardabil were commissioned to commemorate the Safavid dynasty. The elegantly baroque yet famously 'Polonaise' carpetswere made in Iran during the seventeenth century.
Using traditional forms and materials,
Reza Abbasi(1565–1635) introduced new subjects to Persian painting — semi-nude women, youth, lovers. His painting and calligraphic style influenced Iranian artists for much of the Safavid period, which came to be known as the "Isfahan school". Increased contact with distant cultures in the 17th century, especially Europe, provided a boost of inspiration to Iranian artists who adopted modeling, foreshortening, spatial recession, and the medium of oil painting (Shah Abbas II sent Zamanto study in Rome). The epic Shahnameh("Book of Kings"), a stellar example of manuscript illumination and calligraphy, was made during Shah Tahmasp's reign. (This book was written by Ferdousi in the 1000AD for Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi) Another manuscript is the Khamsaby Nezamiexecuted 1539-43 by Aqa Mirak and his school in Isfahan.
Isfahan bears the most prominent samples of the Safavid architecture, all constructed in the years after Shah Abbas I permanently moved the capital there in 1598: the Imperial Mosque,
Masjid-e Shah, completed in 1630, the Imami Mosque, Masjid-e Imami, the Lutfullah Mosqueand the Royal Palace.
According to Professor. William Cleveland [ William L. Cleveland , Westview Press, Published 2000, 2nd edition. pp 56-57] :
Poetry stagnated under the Safavids; the great medieval
ghazalform languished in over-the-top lyricism. Poetry lacked the royal patronage of other arts and was hemmed in by religious prescriptions.
The Safavid era gave way to a flowering of philosophy in Iran with such figures
Mulla Sadraof Shiraz, Shaikh Bahai and Mir Damad. According to Professor Richard Nelson Frye: "They were the continuers of the classical tradition of Islamic thought, which after Averroes died in the Arab west. The Persians schools of thought were the true heirs of the great Islamic thinkers of the golden age of Islam, whereas in the Ottoman empire there was an intellectual stagnation, as far as the traditions of Islamic philosophy were concerned". [R. N. Frye, The Golden Age of Persia, Phoenix Press, 2000, page 234 ] One of the most renowned Muslim philosophers, Mulla Sadra, lived during Shah Abbas I's reign and wrote the " Asfar", a meditation on what he called 'meta philosophy' which brought to a synthesis the philosophical mysticism of Sufism, the theology of Shi'ism, and the Peripateticand Illuminationist philosophies of Avicennaand Suhrawardi. Iskander Beg Monshi’s"History of Shah Abbas the Great" written a few years after its subject's death, achieved a nuanced depth of history and character.
A new age in
Iranian architecturebegan with the rise of the Safavid dynasty. Economically robust and politically stable, this period saw a flourishing growth of theological sciences. Traditional architecture evolved in its patterns and methods leaving its impact on the architecture of the following periods.
The appearance of new patterns base on geometrical networks in the development of cities gave order to open urban spaces, and took into account the conservation of natural elements(water and plants) within cities. The establishment of distinctive public spaces is one of the most important urban features of the Safavid period, as manifested for example in
Naghsh-e Jahan Square, Chahar Baghand the royal gardens of Isfahan.
Distinctive monuments like the
Sheikh Lotfallah(1603), Hasht Behesht(Eight Paradise Palace)(1699) and the Chahar Bagh School(1714) appeared in Isfahan and other cities. This extensive development of architecture was rooted in Persian culture and took form in the design of schools, baths, houses, caravanserai and other urban spaces such as bazaars and squares. It continued until the end of the Qajar reign. [Jodidio, Philip, "Iran: Architecture For Changing Societies":Umberto Allemandi (August 2, 2006).]
Role of Qizilbash in Military
The Qizilbash (قزلباش - "Qizelbāš") were a wide variety of extremist
Shi'ite("ghulāt") and mostly Turcoman militant groups who helped found the Safavid Empire. Their military power was essential during the reign of the Shahs Ismail and Tahmasp.
However, faced with rebellious Qizilbash (who were supposed to be the "Imperial Guards"), Abbas I was forced to reorganize the army and minimized their influence, using a standing army from the ranks of Armenian and Georgian "
ghulams" ("slaves"). The new army would be loyal to the king personally and not to clan-chiefs anymore. Furthermore, in order to balance the power between the new army and the powerful Turcoman tribes, Abbas united a number of allied Turcoman tribes on the north-western frontier of the empire and gave the new, large and powerful tribe the name " Shahsavan" ("Friends of the King"). [http://www.events.ir/no002/002d.htm "Shahsavan Tribes, by Dr P Shahsavand, Professor of Sociology at Islamic Azad University"] — Events Magazine, Clultural, Economical and General Events of Iran (retrieved 4 Sep 2007)]
It was the Safavids who made Iran the spiritual bastion of Shi’ism against the onslaughts of orthodox Sunni Islam, and the repository of Persian cultural traditions and self-awareness of Iranianhood, [Hillenbrand R., "Islamic art and Architecture", London (1999), p228 – ISBN 0-500-20305-9] acting as a bridge to modern Iran. The founder of the dynasty, Shah Isma'il, adopted the title of "Persian Emperor" "Pādišah-ī Īrān", with its implicit notion of an Iranian state stretching from Khorasan as far as
Euphrates, and from the Oxusto the southern Territories of the Persian Gulf. [’’ibid’’, p228.] According to Professor Roger Savory [R.M. Savory, "Rise of a Shi'i State in Iran and New Orientation in Islamic Thought and Culture" in UNESCO: History of Humanity, Volume 5: From the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century, London ; New York : Routledge ; Paris. pg 263. [http://www.unesco.org/culture/humanity/html_eng/volume5.htm] ] [Mujtahid: A Mujtahid in Arabic means a person who qualified to engange in ijtihad, or interpretation of religious texts. Ithna 'Ashari: Is the number twelve in Arabic signifying twelver Imami Shi'i Islam.Ulama: Arabic for religious scholars.] :cquote|In Number of ways the Safavids affected the development of the modern Iranian state: first, they ensured the continuance of various ancient and traditional Persian institutions, and transmitted these in a strengthened, or more 'national', form; second, by imposing Ithna 'Ashari Shi'ism on Iran as the official religion of the Safavid state, they enhanced the power of mujtahids. The Safavids thus set in train a struggle for power between the urban and the crown that is to say, between the proponents of secular government and the proponents of a theoretic government; third, they laid the foundation of alliance between the religious classes ('Ulama') and the bazaar which played an important role both in the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1905–1906, and again in the Islamic Revolution of 1979; fourth the policies introduced by Shah Abbas I conduced to a more centralized administrative system.
afavid Shahs of Iran
*Abbas I 1587–1629
*Abbas II 1642–1666
*Suleiman I 1666–1694
*Sultan Hoseyn I 1694–1722
References & Notes
* M.I. Marcinkowski (tr.),"Persian Historiography and Geography: Bertold Spuler on Major Works Produced in Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, India and Early Ottoman Turkey", M. Ismail Marcinkowski, Singapore: Pustaka Nasional, 2003, ISBN 9971-77-488-7.
* M.I. Marcinkowski (tr., ed.),"Mirza Rafi‘a's Dastur al-Muluk: A Manual of Later Safavid Administration. Annotated English Translation, Comments on the Offices and Services, and Facsimile of the Unique Persian Manuscript", M. Ismail Marcinkowski, Kuala Lumpur, ISTAC, 2002, ISBN 983-9379-26-7.
* M.I. Marcinkowski,"From Isfahan to Ayutthaya: Contacts between Iran and Siam in the 17th Century", M. Ismail Marcinkowski, Singapore, Pustaka Nasional, 2005, ISBN 9971-77-491-7.
* [http://depts.washington.edu/uwch/silkroad/texts/olearius/travels.html Adam Olearius, "The Voyages and Travels of the Ambassadors", Translated by John Davies (1662), (excerpts)]
* [http://www.iranchamber.com/history/safavids/safavids.php History of the Safavids from Iran Chamber]
* The History Files: [http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/EasternPersia.htm Rulers of Persia]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/history/safavidempire_1.shtml BBC History of Religion]
* [http://www.iranian.ws/7000-6.htm Iranian Culture and history Site]
* [http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/safa/hd_safa.htm Artistic and cultural history of the Safavids from the Metropolitan Museum of Art]
* [http://www.art-arena.com/safavidart.htm History of Safavid Art]
* [http://www.imamreza.net/eng/imamreza.php?print=589 A Study of the Migration of Shi'i Works from Arab Regions to Iran at the Early Safavid Era.]
* [http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/reflections_safavid_history_historiography1.php Why is Safavid history important?] (Iran Chamber Society)
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