Make your own free website on

Safavids After Shah Ismail

Reign of Shah Tahmasp:

After the death of Shah Ismail in 1522 AD(930 HG), his oldest son Saam Mirza became king. He called himself Shah Tahmasp. Shah Tahmasp lacked his fathers abilities to conquer and organize new territories. Althought he reigned for over 50 years, he was not very important in Irans history. He was a lazy and irrisponsible king, and he loved wine and women more than military life. on the other hand, his reign brought stability to the country, and because of length of his reign, he established the dynasty of Safavids in Iran.

During the fifty years of Tahmasps rule over Iran, there were several more attacks from Uzbeks and Ottomans on Iran. In one of these attacks, Uzbeks captured a karavan of Royal family and threatened to kill the whole family, but they were defeated by a small army of Ghezelbash soldiers.

The most important chapter of Tahmasp's reign began when his oldest son, Ismail, was accused of conspiracy. Tahmasp imprisoned Ismail in Ghahghahe fort and kept him there for over 10 years. During his time in jail, Ismail, who was very much like his name sake grandfather, found himself a strong army of supporters who were tired of Tahmasp's slow and un-eventful reign. in 1575, Tahmasp escaped from the prison and went to the western Iran (around Kurdestan). He was palnning and attack on Ghazvin(the capital) when he heard the news of his father's death, so he went to Ghazvin to capture the throne.

Ismail II and Mohammad I Khoda-Bande:

In Ghazvin, a group of Ismail's supporters lead by his sister Parikhan-Khanom welcomed Ismail to the palace. Ismail took the control and immidiatly began a reign of terror. He captured and blinded all of his close reletives, and killed anybody whom he thought maybe dangarous to his throne. His first victime was Soleyman Mirza, his third brother, then the rest of his family, with the exception of Mohammad Khoda-Bande, his second oldest brother. Mohammad and his family were in Harat, in the eastern side of Iran(now in Afghanistan), and because Mohammad was already half blind (birth defect), Ismail did not think of him as a threat, and his children, Heydar 11 and Abbas 8 were too young to be considered dangarous.

After Ismail wiped his hands from the blood of his reletives, he got married. In 9 months he had a child whom he called "Shah Shoja" (the brave king). He was now sure of himself and was planning to change the capital abck to Tabriz, and make a new palace for himself. By this time the Ghezelbash soldiers were tired of this blood thirsty king, so they sent a messanger to Harat and asked Mohammad to send his oldest son Heydar to them so they can declare hin as the new king. Instead of sending the boy, Mohammad decided to go to the capital. When Ismail heard the news, he immidiatly sent someone to blind Mohammad and both of his sons. When the executioner reached Semnan(mid way between Harat and Ghazvin), he found out that only Mohammad himself is there and his sons had fled the scene with their mother and are in their way to Kerman, in southern Iran.

Ismail sent some soldiers to capture his nephews, and orderd the executioner to blind the Mohammad any way. When the soldiers got to Kerman and tried to capture the yuong boys, they faced an unexpected problem: Heydar, the older son, and some of his followers attacked the soldiers! They did not let the soldiers to succeed and stayed free.

After this minor victory, Heydar's mother encouraged him to begin a revolt against his tyrant uncle. Heydar found enough soldiers to stand in front of the Ismail II's army. On the other hand, in Ghazvin, people and courtians were becoming angry about Ismail's madly behaviour, so they started to support the Heydar's army in secret.

Heydar defeated Ismail's army in several occasions, but unfortunately he got killed mysteriously in one of the battles. Nobody was able to find out who killed him. This great los could have been the end of Mohammad's family, but something happened at this time that changed everything. Abbas, heydar's younger brother got the control of his brother's army and began moving toward the capital. When this news reached Ghazvin, a revolt broke out and like a thunder, it reached the royal palace. Whithin hours, the palace was in fire. After everything calmed down, people found the dead bodies of Ismail II and his child. They have been killed by an unknown person.

In General, this era can be called an era of revolt, anarchy, and complete unrest in the country. Ismail II can be called the Caligula of Iran. He was very brutal, he killed most of his family and just like Caligula he thought of himself as the greatest of the kings. Nobody, not even his sister Parikhan Khanom cried for his death, and he remains one of the most horrible kings in the history. His reign lasted for less than two years.

After Ismail's death, Ghezelbash guard decided to declair Abbas as the king, but because he was too young, they called upon his blind father to capture the throne of Shah Tahmasp.

Mohammad Khodabande was a weak man. In his life, he never accepted any real responsibility, and he never finished a job. Even his father did not see him fit for the throne of "Moshed-e Kaamel"(official title of the Safavid kings). During his 10 years on the throne, he had very little influence. We can call his reign the pre-face for the reign of one of the most glorious kings of Iran, Shah Abbas Bozorg (king Abbas the Great).

Shah Abbas the Great

If Shah Ismail is considered the Cyrus of Iran's post-Islam era, Shah Abbas was certainly it's Darius. During his reign, Iran regained its international place and became a center of trade and business in the near east. Shah abbas made his capital, Isphahan, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, he patronized art and architecture. He financed several scientist and help them achieve their goals. It was during his time that Shi'it Islam really found it's roots and became the official religion of the country. He was a great man with a very open mind, so much that he even attended church with his christian subjects for the christmass celebration.

Shah Abbas suceeded his father in a very hard time. The whole country was engaged in controversy about the furture king. It was not very easy for a 17 year old prince to rule the country. The first thing Abbas did was to calm the Qazvin court. He convinced everybody of his rightfulness to the throne. Then he headed east to defeat the rebels. His next action was to move the capital from Qazvin to Isphahan, a city in the central parts of Iran that was not close to the borders.

At this time, foreign powers, mostly Uzbecks and Ottoman's, were attacking the country. Abbas knew that he can not fight on two wars at once, so he made peace with Ottomans. Then he attacked Uzbeks and in a very long and bloody battle, defeated their armies and captured their leader, Abdulmomen Khan. Abbas executed the Uzbek Khan and this put an end to the Uzbek attacks. His next action was to resume the old war with Ottomans. This time he was in luck! The Ottoman emperor at this time was himself engaged in a lot of internal comflicts, so he was not able to raise and army strong enough to defeat Abbas' well trained soldiers, so Abbas destroyed the Ottoman powers and restored Iran's rule to the parts of the country captured by Ottomans.

Golden Era of Shah Abbases Reign

Shah Abbas began his reign in 1587 and he was on the throne till 1629. His era can be considered as the first time that Iran saw peace after the Arab attack a thousand years earlier. Abbas, unlike his father, wasa strong and tough person. He was quick in decision making, and stubborn in carying out his commands. One of the first thing that he did when he sat on the throne was to move the capital from Ghazvin to Esphahan, a move important in two ways. One was the fact that Ephahan was located in the central iran and it was far from the possible attacks of both Ottomans and Uzbeks, and the other that it was far from Ardebil, the centre of sufism and Ghezelbaash forces. Abbas wanted to rule ina different way than his ancestors. He disbanded the Ghezelbaash's and re-created a force from all of the best soldiers and called them Shaahsavans(servants of the king). He trained these froces to become the best and strongest soldiers in the country, much alike the Javidan(immortal) forces of Achaemenid kings!

Other than being a strong military commander and a great statesman, Shah Abbas was a patron of arts, especially architecture. He transformed the city of Esphahan to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The palaces, streets, mosques, bridges, and fountaines that he built made Esphahan so beautiful that it got the nick name of 'Nesf-e-Jahan' (half of the world!). He had his royal painters painting the walls of Alli Ghapou palace with the most beautiful of Iranian miniature works. It was during his time that the Iranian art began to grow after a thousandyears of decline. Painters like Reza Abbasi, Agha Mirak, Kamal al-Din Behzad,...Also great caligraphers like Mir Emad or Alireza Abbasi. Shah Abbas also ordered the architects to build roads in the whole country, and he ordered Inns to be erected in these roads to make it easier for the travelers to travel through the country. Some of these roads and inns are masterpieces of architecture that are still standing today, and are signs of Abbas' glorious reign.

Shah Abbas was a patron of science and scientific achievements as well as of arts. Some of the greatest philosophers of Iran were living under his rule, Mollasadra, Mirdamad, or Moghaddas Ardebili. There also was Sheikh Baha al-Din Ameli, or Sheikh Bahai who was a great philosopher and scientist. He created a system of heating in a public bath that would provide enough warm water for people to bathe with the power of a single candle! he also wrote several books in philosophy, logic, stories, and general subjects. Also in the time of Shah Abbas there were several craftsmen that started new factories, mainly to produce weapons. Only one of them has left his name in history, and he was called Hassan-Moussa and he was a producer of a very good and reliable kind of gun that became famouse for their length and precision.

In general, time of Shah Abbas was an era of peace and blessing for Iran, although not with some problems of course. At the last few years of his reign, Shah Abbas grew suspicious of his courtians and even his own family, this suspicious grew to the extend that he executed his oldest son, Safi Mirza, for the wrong acusation of treason. Finnaly Shah Abbas died while leaving the country to Safi Mirza's son, Saam Mirza.

Reign of Shah Safi, Abbas II, and Soleyman I

Saam Mirza, Safi Mirza's son, was a strange person. His mother was a Georgian lady and his father Safi mirza was a lonely and feeble person. Saam Mirza grew up in the atmosphere of his grand fathers suspicion, and he grew suspicious himself. When he recieved the throne in 1629, his first thought was to destroy anybody that could cause him trouble. This lead to one of the most terrible blood baths in the history of Iran. He killed his uncles, and some of his cousins. He ordered some to be blinded, and exiled some others for life.

After he was sure that there is no other claim to the throne, Saam Mirza coronated himself as Shah Safi I. Safi was not a patron of arts or sciences as his glorious grandfather was, and he was not as wise as a ruler. His whole reign was mixed with fear, and when he died in 1642, it was peace for the people, most speially for his courtians.

Abbas II, Safi's son, was a calm person. He did not have his father's sense of suspicion, and he was very much interested in arts and sciences. He patroned some other artists and added more buildings to his capital. What Abbas II lacked was his great-grandfathers power and statesmanship. Abbas II was not a good politcian, he was not able to maintain the peace and prosperity of his territory, and he could not manage his whole vast territory wsely, like Abbas I did. During his reign, there was some revolts from Shahsavan forces, and some unrest in the eastern fronts of the country, and these unrests and revolts finnaly set the base for the destruction of Safavids.

Abbas II died in 1666, and his son, Safi II became king. He changed his name to Soleyman I in 1668. Soleyman I was a rather incapeable, feeble, and self-indulgent person. He brought invalidity to the court and corruption to the whole government. His era was and era of decline, and it was the time that started all of the unrests in the country. People were tired of Soleyman's over spendings, and they wanted him gone, but he was destined to stay on the throne and give way to his son, Shah Soltan Hossein, the ultimate corrupt!

Soltan Hossein and the Afghan Invason

Shah Soltan Hossein became king in 1694. He grew up in a corrupt enviroment filled with self indilgence and invalidity. Soltan Hossein was the worst person to become king at that time. The country was on the edge of an explosion, and certainly Hossein's lifestyle and governing did not help to calm the people. His overspendings, outragious parties and more than 200 wives became a talk of the people. This was when a storm that destroyed him came from the east.

Hossein was unaware of the problems in eastern part of the country, in what is now Afghanistan, still part of the Safavid empire. In there, a tribal chief named Mahmud was getting ready to come to the capital, and he was bringing with him a great force! Mahmud attacked first Khorasan on the west of Afghanistan, and then continued his way to Esphahan. The Shahsavan forces were so weak at this time that they could not stop his fresh forces for more than a short while, and the most amazing thing was the reaction of the king! He said that is god is destined Mahmud to capture the throne, so thee is nothing he can do to stop that! Mahmud continued his way to the capital, and finnaly in 1622, he reached a town north of Espahahan called Murche-Khort. There he had a great battle with the remains of the Shahsavan forces, and he destroyed them completely. Shah Soltan Hossein came out of the gates of the city barefeet and brought mahmud his throne, and even called him his son!!!! But Mahmud could not be fooled! He imprisoned the old monarch, and killed the rest of the royal family, with the exception of Tahmasp, Hossein's eldest son who escaped before Mahmud came to Esphahan.

Mahmud declaired himself king, and sat on the throne as Mahmud I. He was a rotten ruler who could only keep his power by terror. When Mahmud died three years later, his equally brutal cousin, Ashraf became king and this time, he ordered the execution of the old Shah Hossein, but Hossein died before the executioners can reach him.

End of the Afghan Rule and Tahmasp II

By this time, people realized the truth about the Afghan's brutal style fo government, so they started supporting the still-popular Safavids, most importantly Tahmasp, Soltan Hossein's son. Tahmasp, who was now calling himself Tahmasp II, with the aid of two of his commanders Nader Khan Afshar and Fathali Khan Qajar, attcked Ashraf's forces. In some hard and bloody battles, finnally Tahmasp II's forces defeated Afghan forces. Tahmasp took up the throne and crowned as Tahmasp II.

Although he defeated his opponents, Tahmasp II was not much better ruler than his father or his grandfather. He had the same degree of corruption in his blood, and not surprisingly, he continued his fathers lifestyle. In the governing affairs, he was only s puppet in the hands of his commanders, mostly Nader Khan, who was by now knows as Tahmasp-Gholi Khan (the slave of the Tahmasp!). Although he showed a great deal of respect for the Morshed-e-Kaamel (the perfect leader, a title for the Safavid kings), Naders tue goal was to become king himself.

Nader deposed Tahmasp II and put his infant son Abbas III as the king. Under Naders complete control, Abbas III reigned from 1632 to 1636. During this period, Nader took his time to remove his greatest enemies. He killed Fathali Kahn Qajar and executed Sohrab Khan-e Gorji, two of his most powerful opponennts. Then he allied himself with all of the great powers around him. When he was sure that he has a strong base for taking up the throne, he deposed Abbas III, and declaired himself king.

Back to Iran's History