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also see: page 104 of Don Juan of Persia - a Shi'A catolic 1560-1604 -


Known as Shah Ismail Khatai to the Azarbaijanis and Afghans.

Same era as Sultan Bayezid II and Sultan Selim I of the Ottoman Empire.

Shah Ismail brought the Safavids to power and switched the state religion from Sunni Islam to the adherence of the Twelver branch of Shia Islam. By 1510, he had conquered the whole of Iran and Azerbaijan, southern Dagestan (with its important city of Derbent), Mesopotamia, Armenia, Khorasan, Eastern Anatolia, and had made the Georgian kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti his vassals. He was a great threat to his Sunni Muslim neighbors to the west. In 1511, Ismail had supported a pro Shia/Safavid uprising in Anatolia, the Şahkulu Rebellion.

In 1499, Ismail, the young leader of the Safavid order, left Lahijan for Ardabil to make his bid for power. By the summer of 1500, ca. 7,000 supporters from the local Turcoman tribes of Anatolia, Syria, and Iraq - collectively called "Kizilbash" by their enemies - rallied to his support. Leading his troops on a punitive campaign against the Shīrvanshāh (ruler of Shirvan), he sought revenge for the death of his father and his grandfather in Shīrvan. After defeating the Shīrvanshāh Farrukh Yassar, he moved south into Azarbaijan where his 7,000 Kizilbash warriors defeated a force of 30,000 Ak Koyunlu under Alwand Mirzā, and conquered Tabriz. This was the beginning of the Safavid state. (

Shāh Ismā'il Abu'l-Mozaffar bin Sheikh Haydar bin Sheikh Junayd Safawī (Persian: شاه اسماعیل), (Azerbaijani: Şah İsmayıl Xətai) (July 17, 1487 - May 23, 1524), was a Shah of Iran and the founder of the Safavid Empire, which survived until 1736. Shah Ismail started his campaign in Azerbaijan in 1502, and had re-unified all of Iran by 1509. [1] He was a Shia Muslim from Ardabil in Northwestern Iran and reigned as Shāh Ismā'il I of Irān from 1502 to 1524. He is revered as a spiritual guide in Alevism, as well as playing a key role in the rise of the Twelver branch of Shia Islam over the formerly dominant Ismaili. Ismail also, is the man who converted Iran from the Sunnī to the Shīʿī sect of Islām.[2] [[ . Isma'il's forged Husayni/Musavi pedigree had allowed them to place his messianic claims within an Imamite framework making use of the paradigm of the awaited Mahdi]] ref The Safavid Synthesis: From Qizilbash Islam to Imamite Shi'ism Author(s): Kathryn Babayan Source: Iranian Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1/4, Religion and Society in Islamic Iran during the Pre-Modern Era (1994), pp. 135-161 ]]

Shah Ismail was also a prolific poet who, under the pen name Khatā'ī, contributed greatly to the literary development of the Azerbaijani Turkic language.[3]

The language used by Shah Ismail is not identical with that of his "race" or "nationality" and he was bilingual at birth.[4] He was a descendant of the Sufi saint Safi-ad-din Ardabili (1252-1334). As such, Ismā'il was the last in line of hereditary Grand Masters of the Safaviyeh Sufi order, prior to his ascent to a ruling dynasty. As a boy only a year old, he had lost his father Haydar Safavi Sultan, Sufi Grand Master and leader of a swelling Qizilbash Shi'i community in the Azerbaijan region of Iran who was killed in battle. Ismā'il's mother was an Aq Qoyunlu noble, Martha, the daughter of Uzun Hasan by his Pontic Greek wife Theodora, better known as Despina Hatun. [5] Theodora was the daughter of Emperor John IV of Trebizond whom Uzun Hassan married in a deal to protect Trebizond from Ottomans. [6]

As legend has it, infant Ismā'il went into hiding for several years. With his followers, he finally returned to Tabriz, vowing to make Shi'i Islam the official religion of Iran. Ismā'il found significant support among the people of Azerbaijan as well as some parts of the Ottoman Empire, mainly in eastern Anatolia. Ismail's advent to power was due to Turkoman tribes of Anatolia and Azerbaijan, who formed the most important part of the Qizilbash movement. [7] Centuries of Sunni rule followed by non-Muslim Mongol hegemony lent fertile ground for new teachings. In 1501, Ismā'il I proclaimed himself Shah, choosing Tabriz, in Iran's northernmost province of Azerbaijan, as his capital. In that year he also defeated the Aq Qoyunlu (White Sheep Turks).

When the Safavids came to power in 1501, Shah Ismail was 14 or 15 years old, and by 1510 Ismail had conquered the whole of Iran. [8]

Fresco "Battle at Merv between Shah Ismail I and the Uzbek Khan Muhammad Shaybani in 1510" in a Chehel Sotoun Palace in Isfahan

Shah Ismail I, the founder of Safavid Dynasty of Iran pictured at battle against Abu al-Khayr Khan in a scene from the Tarikh-i Alam-Aray-i

In 1510 Ismā'il I moved against the Sunni Uzbeg tribe. In battle near the city of Merv, some 17,000 Qizilbash warriors ambushed and defeated a superior Uzbek force numbering 28,000. The Uzbek ruler, Muhammad Shaybani, was caught and killed trying to escape the battle and the shah had his skull made into a jeweled drinking goblet.

In 1514, Selim I, the Sunni Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, attacked Ismā'il's kingdom to stop the spread of Shiism into Ottoman dominions. Selim and Ismā'il had been exchanging a series of belligerent letters prior to the attack.

Selim I defeated Ismā'il at the battle of Chaldiran in 1514.[9] Ismā'il's army was more mobile and their soldiers were better prepared but the Ottomans prevailed due in large part to their efficient modern army, and possession of artillery, black powder and muskets. Ismā'il was wounded and almost captured in battle. Selim I entered the Iranian capital in triumph on September 7, but did not linger, a mutiny among his troops forcing him to withdraw. This saved Ismā'il, and allowed him to recover. Sultan Selim I also took Ismā'il's favorite wife hostage, demanding huge concessions for her release. Ismā'il refused to cede to the Ottoman demands, and is said to have died of a broken heart in 23 May 1524 at the early age of thirty-six, never having seen his beloved spouse again.

Ismail was a broken man after the battle of Chaldiran as he resorted to drinking alcohol.[10] Ismail retired to his palace and withdrew from active participation in the affairs of the state, leaving this to his minister, Mirza Shah-Hussayn. [11]

Ismā'il's reign was marked by enormous conquests, shaping the map of Iran up to the present day. Baghdad and the holy Shi'a shrines of Najaf and Karbala were seized from the Ottoman Turks, lost and reconquered again.

He was succeeded by his son Tahmasp I.


head of the Safavi Sufi order and the first Safavid Shah of Iran

Ismail played a key role in the rise of Twelver Islam; he converted Iran from Sunni to Shi'a Islam, importing religious authorities from the Levant. In Alevism, Shah Ismail remains revered as a spiritual guide.

Ismail was born to Martha and Shaykh Haydar on July 17, 1487 in Ardabil. His father, Haydar, was the sheikh of the Safaviyya Sufi order and a direct descendant of its Kurdish founder, Safi-ad-din Ardabili (1252–1334). Ismail was the last in line of hereditary Grand Masters of the Safaviyah Sufi order, prior to his ascent to a ruling dynasty. Ismail was a great-great grandson of Emperor Alexios IV of Trebizond and King Alexander I of Georgia. His mother Martha, better known as Halima Begum, was the daughter of Uzun Hasan by his Pontic Greek wife Theodora Megale Komnene, better known as Despina Khatun.

Despina Khatun was the daughter of Emperor John IV of Trebizond. (She had married Uzun Hassan in a deal to protect the Greek Empire of Trebizond from the Ottomans.) Ismail grew up bilingual, speaking Persian and Azerbaijani. Not only did Ismail have Kurdish ancestors, but he also had ancestors from various other ethnic groups; the majority of scholars agree that his empire was an Iranian one.

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


The Shahs remained as tributaries, and continued to mint their own coins, until in 945/1538 Ṭahmāsp I’s troops invaded Šervān, toppled Šāhroḵ b. Farroḵ, and made the region a mere governorship of the Safavid empire. In the latter half of the 16th century, descendants of the last Shahs endeavored, with Ottoman Turkish help, to re-establish their power there, and in the peace treaty signed at Istanbul in 998/1590 between the sultan Morād III and Shah ʿAbbās I, Šervān was ceded to the Ottomans; but after 1016/1607 Safavid authority was re-imposed and henceforth became permanent till the appearance of Russia in the region in the 18th century]


Safavid conquest of Shirvan From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Safavid conquest of Shirvan Part of Campaigns of Ismail I 1541-Battle in the war between Shah Isma'il and the King of Shirvan-Shahnama-i-Isma'il.jpg The battle between the young Ismail and Shah Farrukh Yassar of Shirvan Date December 1500[1] - 1501 Location Shirvan (present-day Azerbaijan Republic and southern Dagestan) Result Decisive Safavid victory Shirvanshahs continue to rule under Safavid suzerainty Territorial changes Shirvan is incorporated by the Safavids Belligerents Safaviyya Shirvanshahs Commanders and leaders Ismail I Husayn Beg Shamlu (Lala) Muhammed beg Ustajlu Farrukh Yassar † Bahram Beg (Shirvanshah's son) Gazi Beg (Shirvanshah's son) Strength 7,000 Qizilbash 27,000 Casualties and losses Unknown Entire army The conquest of Shirvan was the very first of campaigns led by Ismail of the Safaviyya order. In late 1500, Ismail marched into Shirvan, and, despite heavily outnumbered, decisively defeated the then incumbent Shirvanshah Farrukh Yassar in a pitched battle, in which the latter and his entire army were killed. The conquest resulted in the toppling of the Shirvanshahs as autonomous rulers, who had ruled large parts of the Caucasus for centuries, the incorporation of their domain, and lead to the eventual proclamation of the Safavid state shortly after.

Ismail's father Shaykh Haydar and his grandfather Shaykh Junayd had both been killed in battle by the rulers of Shirvan, in 1488 and 1460 respectively. In the summer of 1500, Ismail had rallied at Erzincan a force of 7,000 Qizilbash forces, consisting of the Ustaclu, Shamlu, Rumlu, Tekelu, Zhulkadir, Afshar, Qajar and Varsak tribes.[2] Shortly before initiating his offensive, signalled by the weakness of the fragmented Georgian kingdoms, he looted Samtskhe.[3] At the same time, he made the Georgian kings Constantine II and Alexander I of respectively the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti, to attack the Ottoman possessions near Tabriz, on the promise that he would cancel the tribute that Constantine was forced to pay to the Ak Koyunlu once Tabriz was captured.[3] In December 1500, with the intention to avenge his murdered ancestors, Ismail crossed the Kura River into Shirvan with his 7,000-strong force, and decisively defeated and killed Farrukh Yassar, the then inbumbent king of Shirvan and his entire 27,000-strong army in a pitched battle at Jabani, near the Shirvanshah capital of Shamakhi, or at Gulistan (present-day Gülüstan, Goranboy, Nagorno-Karabakh) and subsequently marched on to reach the Caspian coast, and took Baku.

By this victory, Ismail had succesfully toppled the Shirvanshahs, and succesfully expanded his domains. The Shirvanshah line nevertheless continued to rule Shirvan under Safavid suzerainty for some more years, until 1538, when, during the reign of Ismail's son, Tahmasp I (r. 1524-1576), from then on it came to be ruled by a Safavid governor.[6] After the conquest, Ismail had Alexander I of Kakheti send his son Demetre to Shirvan to negotiate a peace agreement.[3] This alarmed the ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu, Alvand, who subsequently proceeded north from Tabriz, and crossed the Aras River in order to challenge the Safavid forces, and a pitched battle was fought at Sarur in which Ismail's army came out victorious despite being outnumbered by four to one.[1] After eventually conquering Tabriz and Nakhchivan, Ismail broke the promise he had made to Constantine, and made both the kingdoms of Kartli as well as Kakheti his vassals.[3] In Tabriz, he proclaimed the Safavid dynasty and declared himself king (shah).

About شاه اسماعیل بن شیخ حیدر بن شیخ جنید معروف به ابوالمظفر بهادرخان حسینی SAFAVI, I (Persian)

دوران ۸۸۱–۹۰۳ خورشیدی تاجگذاری ۸۸۱ خورشیدی اردبیل نام کامل شاه اسماعیل بن شیخ حیدر بن شیخ جنید

معروف به ابوالمظفر بهادرخان حسینی لقب(ها) نخستین پادشاه صفویه شاه اسماعیل کبیر مرشد کامل زادروز ۲۶ تیر ۸۶۶ ۱۷ ژوئیه ۱۴۸۷ زادگاه اردبیل،آذربایجان،ایران مرگ ۲ خرداد ۹۰۳ ۲۳ مه ۱۵۲۴ ۳۶ سال محل مرگ اردبیل،آذربایجان،ایران آرامگاه آرامگاه شیخ صفی،عالی قاپو،اردبیل پیش از شاه طهماسب یکم همسر بهروزه همسران خورشید خانم تاجلو بیگم بهروزه دودمان صفویان پدر شیخ حیدر مادر حلیمه (مارتا) فرزندان رستم میرزا، شاه طهماسب، سام میرزا، القاص میرزا، بهمن میرزا

پری خانم، مهین بانو؛ شاه زینب خانم، فرنگیس خانم دین مسلمان شیعه اثنی عشری

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Shah ISMAIL I SAFAVI, I's Timeline

July 17, 1487
Ardabīl, Ardabil, Iran
February 22, 1514
Age 26
Shah Abad, Ispahan, Iran
Age 28
Age 30
Age 30
May 23, 1524
Age 36
Tabrīz, Azarbayjan-e-Sharqi, Iran