Posted: June 19th, 2021
SAFAVID EMPIRE Key Focus: 1) The Ottoman (Sunni)-Safavid (Shi’ite) split in Dar al-Islam 2) Safavids’ use of religious extremism to inspire a following and forge an empire 3) Transition from heterodox ideology to orthodox theocracy under Shah Abbas I) The Safavid Rise to Power in Persia •3 empires dominated by presence of Islam •M2oguls in India, Ottoman Empire, and Safavids a) Isma’il and the Messianic Ideology of the Qizilbash (warriors; “red heads” > their turbans) i) How did a 14 year-old establish a dynasty? •Led Turkish army to capture an Iranian city it was already a vulnerable region •envisioned a utopian Islamic world (1) Claim lineage from 13th century Sufi leader—Safi al-Din (2) Reincarnation of the “hidden” Twelfth Imam of Shi’a Islam (3) Claim of divinity as the “God-shah” ?maybe reincarnation of Allah himself!! ii) Sufi belief in the transmission of mystical powers •maybe a redeemer figure iii) Qizilbash fanaticism •sometimes went into battle unarmed; believed Isma’il’s power could save em •the more extreme their behavior, the more they showed their loyalty to Isma’il b) The Safavid-Ottoman Conflict Safavid’s were intent on spreading their Qizibash religions i) Clash of Heterodoxy vs. Orthodoxy (1) Safavids intent on spreading their Sufi/Shi’ite ideology ? Ottomans had control over Mecca ?Safavid discouraged pilgrimage to Mecca to undermine Ottoman’s rule (2) Ottoman Selim the Grim’s claim as the “exterminator of idolators” ? referring to Safavid ?made it his primary goal to eliminate Safavid (3) Battle of Chaldiran (Kaldi-ran) 1514 ?slave armies were formidable; used firmarms ?forced to retreated to center of their empire ii) Geopolitical consequences 1) Interruption of the Mediterranean—Middle Eastern commercial network iii) Changes in Safavid Policies (1) Adoption of more conservative brand of “Imamite Sh’ia” II) Safavid Consolidation under Shah Abbas I (r. 1588-1629) a) Securing the Empire oAdopted Shi’a Imam/not so extreme ofanaticism is good for GOING to power, but not conservative o1588 o1590, established impressive i) Military Reorganization •reorganized army (1) Ghulam system ?recruited; much better organized and loyal army (2) Alliances with Europeans to counter Ottoman advance ?first, with Portuguese, but almost always about arms i) Promote commerce (1) New capital in Isfahan as a cosmopolitan center of trade ? openly invited Euro and Asian merchants; and Christian missionaires ? became incredibly worldy and diverse ?“to see Isfahan is to see half the world” (2) Secured trade routes within the Safavid realm b) Pragmatic ruler “both feared and loved” i) Ruler in the Machiavellian vein? •he did everything ideal of Machiavellian prince (1) Pragmatist not ideologue ?skilled in statecraft and diplomacy ?close eye on suspicious stuff ?very “hands-on” ?good on theological discourse (2) Manipulation of his public image—“Shah of the People” ? ffect sovereign must project to his people to be feared and loved ? highly visible; mingled with the common people ?made it a point to be humble and scruple •wore simple linens; not silks (3) “More feared than loved”? ?played no favorites ?no patience for flatterers ?ruled effectively and decisively ii) Religious Policies (1) Father Simon’s report to Pope Paul V in 1605 (2) Purged of the Qizilbash iii) Symptoms of decline after Shah Abbas (1) Increasing intolerance towards other Muslim sects (2) Greater persecution of non-Muslims Shi’a imam was more tolerated; even Sunni’s were persecuted
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