Safavid dynasty

Iranian dynasty

The Safavid dynasty was a dynasty in ancient Iran.

OriginsEdit

 
Safavid Empire between 1501 and 1722 C.E.
 
Safavid Iran under Shah Abbas I

The Safavid Dynasty emerged from the mystical Sufi Order (Arabic: Tariqa) of the Safaviyya family in Ardabil(Azerbaijan Province of Iran) in 1501 C.E. As a family of Sayyids, claimed descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, they built their religious ideas on the beliefs of their ancestor Sheikh Safī al-Din (1252/3 – 1334). Sheikh Safī followed Zahed Gilani of the Zahidī Sufi order and after the passing of Gilani, Safī al-Din became leader and renamed the order to Safaviyya.[1] He implemented both Shi'i and Sunni dogmas into his conceptions of Islam,[2] which attracted Sunnis as well as Shiites to the order.

Conversion to ShiismEdit

Although the Safaviyya used to be Sunnis,[2] successor Sheikh Joneyd, who had become head of the order in 1447, converted to Shi'ism in 1460. By doing so he initiated a significant turning point for the Sufi order, which did not go unnoticed and implicated a pre-announcement for a significant shift in the Islamic World. The Safaviyya received a clearer political identity by Sheikh Heydar (son of Joneyd), who transformed it into a military division, basing their insights on Islamic principles and practice.

QizilbashEdit

The supporting tribesmen of this military movement were called Qizilbāsh, named after their red colored headwear. The hats symbolized their loyalty to the twelve imams of the Shia and the acknowledgement of Heydar as their spiritual leader. However, the use of the hat is academically disputed and might also refer to Heydars grandfather, whose nickname was Zarrin Kolāh ("golden crown") or even go back to the first Shi'i imam, Ali b. Abi Taleb, who wore a similar hat during the conquest of Kheybar in 629 C.E.[3]

Twelver Shiism becomes the official state religionEdit

Marriages between the Turkmen Aqqoyunlu dynasty from Eastern Turkey and the Saffaviya established new ties, but soon they disbanded again, after which the two became enemies in their competition for power.[4] Subsequently Heydar was killed in a battle with the Aqqoyunlu,[5] but his son Ismail survived and stayed hidden in Lahijan with the help of the Qizilbāsh clans. Soon after Shāh Ismail I founded the official Safavid Dynasty and forcibly made Twelver Shi'ism the official state religion of Iran.

DownfallEdit

On October 23, 1722 C.E. after a siege of seven months, alongside the suffering of the populace due to famine and disease, the Safavid capital of Isfahan finally fell into the hands of the Afghan king Mahmud Hotak, marking the end of the Safavid Dynasty.[6] Author Rudi Matthee writes committedly about these events in the last chapter of Persia in Crisis,stating that attacks from Uzbeks and Afghans, drought, a virtually empty public treasury and hence a lack of funds to pay the soldiers were the death blow for the Safavids.[7]

Safavid Shahs of IranEdit

For an extended overview please consult the full Family Tree of the Safavid kings.

TradeEdit

 
Ismail I declares himself shah by entering Tabriz (painting by Chingiz Mehbaliyev)

In the Safavid Dynasty, the central and local governments could influence trade in aspects such as security (war, road safety), rules and regulations, conflict resolution, monetary and fiscal practices.[8] For example, under Abbas’ reign, centers for merchants in Isfahan's sub-urban areas and a network of caravansarais were the infrastructures that promised the economic prosperity.[9] He also restored road security by making provincial governors responsible for the security of travelers and their products.[10] Apart from minor interventions in the market, Iran under the Safavids had an open economy overall.[11] The main international trade routes are the maritime routes via the Persian Gulf and several overland routes connect the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Pakistan, and Central Asia.[12]

MerchantsEdit

The Iranian merchants dominated both foreign and domestic trade. There were merchants from all over the world in Isfahan, including Iranian people (Muslims, Jews, Armenians, and Georgians), Indians, Central Asian Tartars, Turks, Arabs, English, Dutch, French, Italians, and Spaniards. Armenians and Indians dominated foreign trade.[13] Local distribution and retail trade in Isfahan were dominated by Muslim merchants.[14]

Under Shah Abbas I's reign, the settlement of Armenian Merchants also boosted the economy. As a result of the Ottoman-Safavid War, more than 5,000 Armenians were forced to leave Eastern Anatolia and settle in Isfahan's New Julfa circa 1604.[15] The Julfans were granted rights including the permission to ride caparisoned horses and the unrestricted sale of land and goods.[16] Iranian silk was one of the most profitable goods in the Armenian-dominated long-distance commerce by the mid-fifteenth century.[17]

International tradeEdit

Safavid Iran was mainly self-sufficient, with agriculture accounting for the majority of its GDP. However it also needed to import some certain products such as metals, sugar, dyes, pepper, spices and fabrics (for the wealthy). Iran's only source of specie and bullion was international trade because it had no operational gold or silver mines.[18] Shah Abbas once prohibited the export of gold and silver in 1618 to prevent the outflow of bullion out of Iran.[19] He also increased the number of silk and cotton manufactories constructed under Shah Isma'il's reign and all of Iran's main cities had royal factories.[20] Customs dues and road tolls also provided a significant portion of state revenue.[21]

 
A Qizilbash Soldier

Abbas attempted to improve contacts with the West in order to reduce Ottoman Customs income while increasing Safavid revenues. He aligned with English forces to reclaim Hormuz from the Portuguese in 1622 and signed treaties with both EIC and VOC in 1617 and 1627.[22] However, the Armenian merchants'overland route to the West was consistently more profitable than the Gulf and it could benefit the Safavid court dorectly. For example, in 1619, Armenian merchants outbid the EIC for the right to receive the shah's monopolized silk.[23]

PolityEdit

The shah was the sole source of political authority in Safavid Iran's patrimonial political system. A huge number of subordinate patrimonial houses competed vertically and horizontally in the Safavid society. To improve one's power, one must gain the ear of someone higher up the corporate ladder.[24] Many corporate groupings enjoyed a high degree of autonomy, as did the numerous administrative authorities.[25] The central government focused on tax collection while delegating the responsibilities of providing public services and maintaining order to local governors and elites.[26]

Power BalanceEdit

The Qizilbash emirs were Ismail's personal guardsmen and followers, without their efforts and support it would have been impossible for Ismail to become a war-leader.[27] After Ismail's conquer (1501-1514) of many territories from Anatolia, Syria, Caucasus, the eastward in Khorasan to Transoxiana, the Qizilbash assisted him to rule these territories.[28] In the early Safavid state, most provincial governors were qizilbash, the political and social elite.[29] However, Ismail was concerned about the Qizilbash's power. He also needed to solidify his rule of the acquired regions through the experienced Tajiks or Persians/Iranians who had previously served as administrators.[30] The division between Turk and Persian matched to the classical Islamic categories of "men of the sword" and "men of the pen" under Shah Ismacil I.[31] The qizilbash believed that the Tajiks (non-Turks) should be excluded from military power while the Tajiks believed the qizilbash should stay away from knowledge of statecrat.[32]

After Ismail's defeat at the Battle of Chaldiran, his relationship with the Qizilbash worsened, and he began to rely more on the Tajiks.[33] Ismail's on Tahmasp succeeded his in 1524, witnessed the conflicts between different fractions and took powerl in 1533.[34] In this period the Ottomans attempted to use the internal struggles to invade Safavid territory, the Qizilbash tribes who were displeased with the Shah supported them.[35] By increasing the strength of non-Turkoman forces, particularly royal slaves, Tahmsp I hoped to minimize his reliance on qizilbash soldiers. These changes were not enough to prevent the civil war (1576–87).[36] When Shah Abbas I succeeded, he enforced the changes made by his grandfather by greatly expanding the size and prestige of the royal slave corps.[37]

The GhulamEdit

The ghulams were originally drawn from the major cities such as Chaghatay, Arab, and Persian tribes of Khorasan, Azerbaijan, and Tabaristan, as well as riffraff.[38] Ghulams can be divided into two types: those who were eunuchs (khvja) and those who were not (sda).[39] The latter served in army, administration, and royal workshops.[40] The Ghulam crops were made up with Shi'i converts from Georgian, Armenian, and Circassian.[41]

Because of the events happened after Shah Tahmsp I, Shah Abbas I attempted to decrease the qizilbash's influence thus created a "third force", who are Armenian, Georgian and Circassian, to protect his sovereignty.[42]

ArchitectureEdit

 
Mausoleum of Sheikh Safi al-Din in Ardabil, Iran

One of the most prominent constructions of the early Safavid Dynasty is most probably the Mausoleum of Sheikh Safī al-Din, shrine of the founder of the Safaviyya Sufi Order, in Ardabil (Northwest Iran), near the Caspian Sea. In The Safavid Dynastic Shrine, author Kishwar Rizvi explains that this building had a central function for the Safaviyya Sufis, who considered Ardabil their base. Part of the building was likely constructed during Safī al-Dins life, while a large cemetery as well as dwelling areas were added later. Rizvi bases her information on a land register and a biography written soon after the passing of the Sheikh.[43] She describes it as the Safaviyyas great sanctuary, a bustling social establishment for various public and private purposes. Inside, Sufi rituals such as the Sufra took place and there was a strict day itinerary. Moreover the shrine was used to give shelter to criminals and fugitives.[44]

Isfahan under Shāh AbbāsEdit

Other series of buildings and complexes of the Safavid Dynasty can be found in the city of Isfahan, in Central Iran, which after Qazvin had become the new capital of Safavid Iran in 1598. Built under Shāh Abbās I, the Ali Qapū Palace, the Chehel Sotoun Pavillion and the Naghsh-e Jahān Square were the pinnacle of the Safavid Dynasty. Under Shāh Abbās I the city expanded rapidly on both sides of the Zayande Rud and especially in the old center, where the Meydan-e Naghsh-e Jahān and its surroundings became the quarter with the highest density of architectural highlights, functioning as an embellishment of the new Safavid capital.[45] According to various scholarly studies the exact start and completion dates of some of these buildings remain unclear until today.[46]

ReferencesEdit

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  2. 2.0 2.1 Baltacıoğlu-Brammer, Ayşe (2022). The emergence of the Safavids as a mystical order and their subsequent rise to power in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in: The Safavid World. Abingdon (UK): Routledge. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-138-94406-0.
  3. Baltacıoğlu-Brammer, Ayşe (2022). The emergence of the Safavids as a mystical order and their subsequent rise to power in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in: The Safavid World. Abingdon (UK): Routledge. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-1-138-94406-0.
  4. Woods, John E. (1999). The Aqquyunlu: Clan, Confederation, Empire. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. pp. 128. ISBN 0-87480-565-1.
  5. Matthee, Rudi (28 July 2008). "Safavid Dynasty". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 8 May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. Amanat, Abbas (2017). Iran: A Modern History. Yale University Press. p. 126. doi:10.2307/j.ctv19prrqm.8. ISBN 978-0-300-11254-2.
  7. Matthee, Rudolph P. (2011). Persia in Crisis : Safavid Decline and the Fall of Isfahan. London: I.B. Tauris. pp. 235–241. ISBN 978-0-85772-094-8. OCLC 793166622.
  8. Floor, Willem (2021). The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. p. 264. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.
  9. Newman, Andrew J. (2009). Safavid Iran : rebirth of a Persian empire. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-4416-1605-0. OCLC 430224867.
  10. Matthee, Rudolph P. (1999). The politics of trade in Safavid Iran : silk for silver, 1600-1730. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-521-64131-4. OCLC 40820895.
  11. The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. 2021. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
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  13. Floor, Willem (2021). The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. p. 267. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.
  14. Floor, Willem (2021). The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. p. 267. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.
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  16. Newman, Andrew J. (2009). Safavid Iran : rebirth of a Persian empire. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-4416-1605-0. OCLC 430224867.
  17. Newman, Andrew J. (2009). Safavid Iran : rebirth of a Persian empire. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-4416-1605-0. OCLC 430224867.
  18. The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. 2021. p. 269. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  19. Matthee, Rudolph P. (1999). The politics of trade in Safavid Iran : silk for silver, 1600-1730. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 68. ISBN 0-521-64131-4. OCLC 40820895.
  20. Matthee, Rudolph P. (1999). The politics of trade in Safavid Iran : silk for silver, 1600-1730. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 66. ISBN 0-521-64131-4. OCLC 40820895.
  21. Matthee, Rudolph P. (1999). The politics of trade in Safavid Iran : silk for silver, 1600-1730. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 68. ISBN 0-521-64131-4. OCLC 40820895.
  22. Newman, Andrew J. (2009). Safavid Iran : rebirth of a Persian empire. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-4416-1605-0. OCLC 430224867.
  23. Newman, Andrew J. (2009). Safavid Iran : rebirth of a Persian empire. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-4416-1605-0. OCLC 430224867.
  24. The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. 2021. p. 203. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  25. The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. 2021. p. 204. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  26. The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. 2021. p. 204. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  27. van den Berg, Gabrielle, Weeda, Claire; Stein, Robert; Sicking, Louis (eds.), "The Safavids Between Pen and Sword", Comparative Rural History of the North Sea Area, Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, vol. 20, p. 295, doi:10.1484/m.corn-eb.5.129382, ISBN 978-2-503-59446-0, retrieved 2022-05-27
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  31. Savory, Roger (1974). "The Safavid State and Polity". Iranian Studies. 7 (1/2): 195. ISSN 0021-0862.
  32. Savory, Roger (1974). "The Safavid State and Polity". Iranian Studies. 7 (1/2): 195. ISSN 0021-0862.
  33. van den Berg, Gabrielle, Weeda, Claire; Stein, Robert; Sicking, Louis (eds.), "The Safavids Between Pen and Sword", Comparative Rural History of the North Sea Area, Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, vol. 20, p. 300, doi:10.1484/m.corn-eb.5.129382, ISBN 978-2-503-59446-0, retrieved 2022-05-27
  34. van den Berg, Gabrielle, Weeda, Claire; Stein, Robert; Sicking, Louis (eds.), "The Safavids Between Pen and Sword", Comparative Rural History of the North Sea Area, Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, vol. 20, p. 301, doi:10.1484/m.corn-eb.5.129382, ISBN 978-2-503-59446-0, retrieved 2022-05-27
  35. van den Berg, Gabrielle, Weeda, Claire; Stein, Robert; Sicking, Louis (eds.), "The Safavids Between Pen and Sword", Comparative Rural History of the North Sea Area, Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, vol. 20, p. 301, doi:10.1484/m.corn-eb.5.129382, ISBN 978-2-503-59446-0, retrieved 2022-05-27
  36. Floor, Willem (2021). The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. p. 226. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.
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  39. The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. 2021. p. 226. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  40. The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. 2021. p. 226. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  41. The Safavid world. Rudolph P. Matthee. Abingdon, Oxon. 2021. p. 125. ISBN 1-000-39287-2. OCLC 1253291779.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  42. Savory, Roger (1974). "The Safavid State and Polity". Iranian Studies. 7 (1/2): 196. ISSN 0021-0862.
  43. Rizvi, Kishwar (2011). The Safavid Dynastic Shrine: Architecture, Religion, and Power in Early Modern Iran. London: I.B.Tauris. p. 10. ISBN 9781848853546.
  44. Rizvi, Kishwar (2011). The Safavid dynastic shrine : architecture, religion and power in early modern Iran. British Institute of Persian Studies. London: I.B. Tauris. pp. 32–41. ISBN 978-1-84885-354-6. OCLC 716841717.
  45. Melville, Charles (2016-11-14). "New Light on Shah ʿAbbas and the Construction of Isfahan". Muqarnas Online. 33 (1): 155. doi:10.1163/22118993_03301P007. ISSN 0732-2992.
  46. Melville, Charles (2016-11-14). "New Light on Shah ʿAbbas and the Construction of Isfahan". Muqarnas Online. 33 (1): 159. doi:10.1163/22118993_03301P007. ISSN 0732-2992.

BibliographyEdit

  • Matthee, Rudolph P. The Safavid World. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge, 2021. ISBN 9781138944060
  • Aldous, Gregory. Qizilbash Tribalism and Royal Authority in Early Safavid Iran, 1524-1534. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2013.
  • Stierlin, Henri. Panorama van Oude Culturen: De Perzen. Pully (Switzerland), Agence Internationale d'Edition de Jean F. Gonthier, 1980. ISBN 9788854401464
  • Savory, Roger M, Ahmet T. Karamustafa. “Esmāʿīl i Ṣafawī”, Encyclopædia Iranica, VIII/6, pp. 628-636. Accessed 9 May 2022. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/esmail-i-safawi
  • Mitchell, Colin P. New Perspectives on Safavid Iran: Empire and Society. Vol. 8. London: Routledge, 2011. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203854631.
  • Trausch, Tilmann. Representing Joint Rule as the Murshid-i Kāmil’s Will. The Medieval History Journal 19, no. 2 (2016): 285–321. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971945816665959.
  • Quinn, Sholeh Alysia. Shah ʻAbbas : the King Who Refashioned Iran, 2015. ISBN 9781851684250
  • Rizvi, Kishwar. The Safavid Dynastic Shrine: Architecture, Religion, and Power in early Modern Iran. London: I.B. Taurus, 2011. ISBN 9781848853546.
  • Melville, Charles. New Light on Shah ʿAbbas and the Construction of Isfahan. Muqarnas 33, no. 1 (2016): 155–76. https://doi.org/10.1163/22118993_03301P007.
  • Abbas Amanat. The Demise of the Safavid Order and the Unhappy Interregnums (1666–1797). In Iran, 126. Yale University Press, 2017. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv19prrqm.8.
  • Matthee, Rudolph P. Persia in crisis: Safavid decline and the fall of Isfahan. London: I.B.Tauris, 2012. ISBN 978-1-83860-707-4

Further ReadingEdit

  • Ghereghlou, Kioumars. Cashing in on Land and Privilege for the Welfare of the Shah: Monetisation of Tiyūl in early Safavid Iran and Eastern Anatolia, Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 68, no. 1 (2015): 87–141. https://doi.org/10.1556/AOrient.68.2015.1.5.
  • Newman, A.J, and University of Edinburgh Staff. Society and Culture in the Early Modern Middle East. Vol. 46. Leiden: BRILL, 2003. ISBN 9789004127746.
  • Axworthy, Plassche, Westelaken, Ruud van de. Iran : een cultuurgeschiedenis. Amsterdam : Antwerpen: Bulaaq ; EPO, 2009.
  • Trausch, Tilmann. Formen Höfischer Historiographie Im 16. Jahrhundert : Geschichtsschreibung Unter Den Frühen Safaviden: 1501-1578. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW), 2015. ISBN 9783700176664
  • Meri, Josef W. Medieval Islamic Civilization : an Encyclopedia, Vol. 1: A-K: Index. New York, NY, [etc.]: Routledge, 2006. ISBN 9781138061330
  • Mardaga, Pierre. Espace Persan: Architecture Traditionelle en Iran. VRBI (Belgium), 1986. ISBN 2-87009-249-0.
  • Emami, Farshid. Royal Assemblies and Imperial Libraries: Polygonal Pavilions and Their Functions in Mughal and Safavid Architecture. South Asian Studies, 35:1, 63-81. https://doi.org/10.1080/02666030.2019.1605564
  • Emami, Farshid. Coffeehouses, Urban Spaces, and the Formation of a Public Sphere in Safavid Isfahan. Muqarnas, 2016. 33(1), 177–220. https://doi.org/10.1163/22118993_03301P008