Ismail I

gigatos | December 31, 2021


Ismail I full name is Abu l-Muzaffar Ismail bin Heydar as-Sefevi also Ismail Bahadur Shah or Ismail Sefevi also Ismail Khatai; Azerb Şah İsmayıl Səfəvi, شاه سماعیل, Pers. شاه اسماعیل) was a Shahinshah of Iran, a general and poet, and founder of the Safavid dynasty. In 1500, with the support of Qizilbash, he began the conquest of Azerbaijan. After the capture of Baku, Shemakha and Tabriz in 1501, he took the traditional title “shahinshah-e Iran. After the victories over Shirvan and the state of Ak Koyunlu in 1501, he captured Tabriz and took the title of the Shah of Azerbaijan, in 1502 he took the title of the Shah of the whole Iran. Under Ismayil I the territory of Safavid state reached the greatest size. The classic of Azeri literature. His ghazals, epic poem “Ten letters” (1506), “Book of precepts” are well known. He influenced the development of all Turkic poetry.


According to the currently accepted version, the Safavids descended from Sheikh Sefi ad-Din, who founded the Sufi-Dervish order “Sefeviye” in Ardabil at the beginning of the 14th century. The origins of Sefi ad-Din are shrouded in mystery, and opinions have been expressed that he was Kurd, Turk, Arab, and Iranian (see Sefevids for details).

According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, there is now a consensus among scholars that the Safavids came from Iranian Kurdistan and later migrated to Azerbaijan. Louis Lucien Bellant believes that Shah Ismail I was a Turk from Ardabil. According to Roger Savory, historian and expert on the Safavids, it is now safe to say that the Safavids were of indigenous Iranian origin, rather than Turkic. According to Seyvory, it is likely that this family originated in Persian Kurdistan and then moved to Azerbaijan, adopting the Azerbaijani form of the Turkic language there and eventually settling in the small town of Ardabil in the 11th century. Authoritative Orientalist Vladimir Minorsky notes that Ismail I was of mixed descent; for example, one of his grandmothers was a Greek princess of Trapezund. The German Iranist Walter Hinz concludes that Ismail had mainly non-Turkic blood in his veins. Already his son Tahmasp I began to get rid of his Turkoman praetorians.

Ismail Sefevi”s father was Sheikh Heydar, head of the Shi”ism-worshipping Turkic tribal union known as the Kyzylbashi, and his mother was Alamshah Beyim, daughter of Uzun-Hasan, ruler of the Ak Koyunlu state and granddaughter of the last Emperor of Trebizond John IV Komnin. Before her marriage she was an Orthodox Christian and had the name Marfa (Despina). Thus, on a maternal line in veins Ismail flowed Turkic and Greek blood, he was the descendant of Turkic governors Ak Koyunlu and the Byzantine emperors Komnenos.

In Sufi circles it was believed that the Safavids descended from the seventh Shiite Imam Musa Kazim and thus were descendants of the Prophet Muhammad and Ali ibn Abu Talib; however, this is considered a legend invented to legitimize Safavid spiritual authority.

Childhood and Youth

Ismail Mirza was born on Tuesday, July 17, 1487. On Tuesday, July 1, 1488, when he was only a year old, Ismael”s father Sheikh Heydar was killed in battle with the forces of Shirvanshah. He was imprisoned with his mother and older brothers in the fortress of Istakhr in Fars at the end of March 1489 by order of Yagub Mirza, the ruler of Azerbaijan. After nearly four and a half years of imprisonment, he was released in early August 1493 by Rustam Mirza, ruler of Azerbaijan and Sultan of Ak Koyunlu, who sent an envoy to the children of Sheikh Heydar in the fortress of Istahr. His brother Sultan Ali was welcomed by Rustam in the capital of Ak-Koyunlu, Tabriz, with great respect. Then Rustam Mirza ordered to give Sultan Ali Mirza royal supplies such as a crown with coat of arms, an embroidered belt, a sword and a belt with a dagger, as well as Arab horses with golden saddles and other luxury items and told the Safavid leader: “I gave you the title of padishah, you will no longer be called Mirza. What has been done to you, in the past, with God”s help I will rectify it. You are like a brother to me, and after my death you will become the ruler of Iran.” Now the followers of the Safavid family were increasing in number and strength by the day.

Sultan Rustam Khan invited Sultan Ali the padishah to Tabriz and asked him to join the fight against Sultan Yagub Baysungur”s son. Having thus got rid of this rival, Rustam Mirza knew that it would be easy to get rid of Sultan Ali as well. He joined the army of Ak-Koyunlu and with him the kyzylbashi. Ali”s forces played a vital role in defeating Rustam”s main rival. After spending some time in Tabriz, Sultan Ali padishah accompanied his mother and brothers to Ardebil. When Rustam Mirza learned that everyone was flocking around Sultan Ali, jealousy inflamed his heart and he was filled with anxiety lest the prince turn his back on him. The growing influence of the family made Rustam Mirza suspicious, and he re-arrested Ali and his brothers and sent them to his camp. After hearing that Rustam was planning to kill him, Ali escaped from Rustam”s camp by mid-1494 and headed for Ardabil, accompanied by a small group of seven loyal Safavid supporters known as “ahl-i ikhtisas,” or persons selected for special duty. Hüseyin-bek Lala, Gara Piri-bek Kajar, Dede-bek Talysh, and Ilyas-bek Aygutoglu said to him, “May we become victims for your sake! Get up and go to Ardabil, because there and in that area there are many followers. If Rustam the Padishah wants to pursue us, we will give him a fight. However, if he refuses to follow us, we will remain unharmed.” Sultan Ali agreed with them. Rustam realized the urgency of intercepting the Safavid brothers before they made contact with their base in Ardabil. “If Sultan Ali once enters Ardabil, (that, God forbid!) the death of 10,000 Turkomans would be useless,” he said. On his way to Ardabil he sensed death approaching, and he appointed his brother Ismail as his successor as head of the Safavid order. He said: “Oh, my brother, it is predestined that on this day I shall be killed. The followers will take my body and place it in the mausoleum of my ancestors from the side. I want you to avenge me and your father and your ancestors on the son of Hassan the Padishah. For the lot chosen by Heaven is cast upon your name, and soon you will come out of Gilan like a scorching sun, and with your sword you will sweep away unbelief from the face of the earth.” Having said this, he took off the turban of Sultan Heydar from his head and put it on Ismael”s head, and then he tied it around his own belt. Then he spoke in his ear the sayings he had inherited from his ancestors. Then he ordered the Ahl-i Ikhtisas to go to Ardebil with Ismael and Ibrahim. They were overtaken by a detachment of 5,000 men sent by Rustam Mirza and led by Hussein-bek Alihani and Ayba Sultan in Shamasi, a village near Ardebil. When Ayba Sultan saw the prince advancing with his army of 300 men, he turned and fled with Hussein-bek Alihani. Sultan Ali”s army pursued them persistently and killed many of them with sword and spear until they reached the river, which prevented them. Here the prince fell with his horse and, unable to get out, drowned.

Princes Ibrahim Mirza and Ismail Mirza reached Ardabil safely. When they reached the city, the news of Sultan Ali”s death overtook them. Their mother Alamshah Beyim was seized with grief on learning of the death of her son, and her mind was full of anxiety, as if Ismail and Ibrahim had not fallen into the hands of the enemy. So she hid them in the mausoleum of Sheikh Sefiaddin. Alashah-beyim ordered Ali”s body to be taken to Ardabil to be buried next to his ancestors. Hussein-bek Lala, Khadim-bek Khalifa and Dede-bek Talysh carried out the order. The next day Ayba Sultan arrived in Ardabil and began to search for the princes and loot the city. They then left the mausoleum and hid in the house of Ahmed Kakuli. Fearing the wrath of Ayba the Sultan, Ahmed Kakuli led them out and took them to the house of a woman named Khanjan, where they remained for a month, unknown to everyone except their aunt Pasha-khatun, daughter of Sultan Junaid and wife of Mohammed-bek Turkman. From there they were taken to the house of a woman named Ubai Jarrana of the Zulkadar tribe, who, to avoid the diligent search initiated by Ayba Sultan, hid them in the crypt of the mausoleum of Allahvermish-agi, located in the Jami mosque in Ardebil. While they were there, she took the opportunity to inform Alamshah Beyim. The mother was overjoyed to learn of her sons” safety, she thanked God and prayed for her sons” lives. Meanwhile, one of their followers, who had hidden in the Jami Mosque after being wounded in a battle between Sultan Ali padishah and Ayba sultan, learned of the princes” presence and kissed the ground at Ismail”s feet, reporting the followers who were eager to serve the prince. He conveyed this information to Rustam-bek Karamanly, who also fled from the same battlefield and took refuge with eighty men on a mountain near Ardebil. Rustam-bek Karamanly took the princes by night to Kargan, a village on that mountain, and hid them in the house of the preacher Farrukhzad Gurgani, where they spent several days. Ismail”s mother Alamshah-beyim was tortured by Ak-Qoyunlu, but to no avail, for she knew not the whereabouts of her son.

Mansur-bek Kypchaki, Hussein-bek Lala, Kurk Sidi Ali, Julban-bek, Khadim-bek Khalifa, Dede-bek Talysh and Kök Ali-bek decided to settle the princes in the house of Emir Ishag, the governor of Resht who had long been on friendly terms with Mohammed-bek (husband of the princes” aunt) and his brother Ahmed-bek. Then, together with eighty men, they were first taken to the house of Emir Muzaffar, governor of Thul and Naw (Eng.). Ayba Sultan learned of this and sent a letter to Muzaffar demanding that the princes be extradited. Jafar-bek, the governor of Khalkhal, sent a similar letter, but disregarding this, Emir Muzaffar sent the princes to Emir Siyavush, the governor of Kasgar. Three days later they were brought to Emir Ishag, the governor of Resht, and despite his requests, they remained in the mosque known as the White Mosque. A jeweler named Emir Najm, who lived near the mosque, was the princes” servant during their stay in Resht. The princes remained there for some time, from seven days to one month, when Karkiya Mirza Ali, the ruler of Lahijan, who surpassed all the rulers of Gilan in great strength and antiquity of his family, learned of the princes” presence in Reshta and understanding that they had been driven there by the hardships of time and that Emir Ishag could not protect them, asked them to come to Lahijan. The princes accordingly went to Lahijan at the end of 1494, where they were hospitably welcomed and were allocated beautiful buildings next to the madrasah of Kiya Firudin.

Soon after learning that the princes had settled in Lahijan, Ayba Sultan returned to Tabriz with Ubai Jarranah (who had protected the princes) and told the whole story to Rustam Mirza, who, in an excessive rage, strangled a woman in the marketplace in Tabriz. Mohammed-bek and Ahmed-bek also suffered from his wrath, and their property was confiscated, but in the end, after paying a fine of 30,000 tenge, they were pardoned at Gara Dede”s request. In addition to the other services that Karkiya Mirza Ali rendered to the princes, he appointed Shamsaddin Lahiji to teach them the holy Quran, Persian and Arabic. During this period, Emir Najm, Karkiya Sultan Hussein and Emir Hashim, brothers of Karkiya Mirza Ali, often came to see the princes. A few months later, Ibrahim Mirza changed his turban with twelve wedges to the headdress of Ak-Koyunlu and left for his mother Alamshah Beyim in Ardabil, where he continued to hide from persecution.

At that time, Ismail fell ill, but thanks to Mowlana Neimatullah”s doctor, he was cured. He asked his aunt Pasha Khatun to send him treats. She then sent him offerings of dainties from Ardebil and wanted to know about his health. When her envoys reached Resht, Ismail sent Kök Ali to meet them and escort them to him. They delivered gifts and letters to the prince from his mother, brother, half-brothers and aunt, and expressed their gratitude to heaven that they had seen Ismail healthy. Rustam Mirza twice sent a message to Karqiya Mirza Ali in Lahijan demanding that the princes be extradited, but he received evasive answers. After that, he decided to use force and sent Gasym-bek Turkmen with 300 men to Lahijan to arrest the princes, but Karkiy Mirza Ali hid Ismail in a hanging basket and swore on the holy Koran that the prince was not in Lahijan. Gasym-bek Turkman, accordingly, returned to Tabriz with an empty message from Karkiy Mirza Ali, and Rustam Mirza himself decided to invade Lahijan, but his plan could not materialize because of his death at the hands of his cousin Ahmed-bek on the bank of the Arax River on July 8, 1497. It was then that Ismail Mirza began to lead a peaceful life in Lahijan and to bless his followers.

Ismail remained in Lahijan for about five years when, wishing to avenge his ancestors and put an end to the civil war that followed the death of Rustam Mirza, he left for Ardebil in the middle of August 22, 1499. The next day Ismail went hunting with some of his disciples. Not far from Lasht Nashe they came to the edge of a dense forest. Ismael, having crossed the river that flowed there, said to his men, “None of you should follow me across this river, but you should wait for my return on the other side.” Then Ishmael went into the forest, and no one knew what became of him until he came out again. The prince”s followers, who, obeying his order, waited on the river bank near the forest, after about two hours, seeing no sign of him, began to worry for his safety. But since they were forbidden to cross the river, they could not enter the woods to see if anything had happened to him. In the midst of their anxiety they saw Ismail coming out of the forest with a sword on his belt but no dagger. Karkiya Mirza tried to dissuade Ismail from his path, stressing his extreme youth (he was only twelve years old) and recalling the fates of his predecessors, to which he replied, “I rely on Allah and draw my strength from him, I fear no one. Karkiya Mirza prepared everything necessary for the journey and accompanied him to Ardua, a village not far from Deylam. Not afraid, Ismail set out for Taram (Eng.) via Deylam with seven of his devoted followers, namely, Hüseyin-bek Lala, Dede-bek Talysh, Hadim-bek Khalifa, Rustam-bek Karamanli, Bayram-bek Karamanli, Ilyas Aygutoglu and Gara Piri-bek Kajar. When he heard that he went to Ardebil, his followers rushed to him, and their number increased to 1500, when he camped in Taram. He went to Khalkhal, where he spent several days and was well received by Sheikh Gasim. From there he went to Khoi and stayed there for a month in the house of Melik Muzaffar, known as Khulfa-bek, who was the standard-bearer of the Sultan Ali Padishah. He continued his journey to Ardabil, where he paid a visit to the mausoleum of Sheikh Sefiaddin, but he received an ultimatum from Sultan Ali-bek Chakarli, the governor of the city, to leave the place immediately or prepare for war. Thereafter, due to a lack of followers, Ismail left the place and struck at the village of Mirmi near Ardabil.

Muhammad Sultan of Talysh personally asked Ismail to visit Talysh, writing a letter saying, “This country belongs to your servants. I hear the prince is contemplating spending the winter in this country. This servant would be most grateful if he could be allowed to serve the prince for a few days,” and on the advice of Mohammed-bek Turkman Ismail, he went there and camped out in Archivan, a village near Astara on the shore of the Caspian Sea. Muhammad-sultan Talysh proved his loyalty to Ismail, first, by rejecting the offer of Alvend Mirza, ruler of Azerbaijan and sultan of Ak-Koyunlu, to give Ismail to him in exchange for the rule of Ardebil and Khalkhal and, second, by rejecting the sum of 1000 tumen offered by Shirvanshah Farrukh Yassar, for the same purpose.

Ismael spent the winter of 1499-1500 in Archivan, and the following spring he consulted with his chief devotees as to where he should go next and offered to invade “infidel” Georgia himself. The proposal was accepted, but he realized that since the number of his followers was very small, only 300, he should first send envoys to the various provinces of Asia Minor and Syria to call on his followers. The proposal was accepted and implemented. He then made a short visit to Ardabil, where he stayed at the mansion of his father, Sultan Heydar. Here he found his mother Alamshah beyim, his brothers, and his half-brothers, who were anxious to see him after so long a separation. Ismail again consulted with his chief devotees as to the route he should take in his proposed campaign. They suggested that since he had sent messengers to Asia Minor and Syria to summon his followers before leaving his gishlag in Archivan, he should first travel to Erzinjan via Lake Goychu, where his followers would have easy access to him. After that, Ismail said goodbye to his mother and left for Erzincan.

Not far from Goycha, Ismail learned that Sultan Hussein Baranly, one of the grandsons of Jahanashah Kara-Qoyunlu, who lived in the neighborhood of Goycha, was raiding neighboring territories with the intention of regaining the power that his ancestors had lost. While Ismail was consulting with his chief devotees about Sultan Husayn Baranly, a messenger came from him, and then he arrived in person to ask Ismail to be his guest. Together with 1,500 of his followers, Ismail spent several days in the house of Sultan Hussein Baranly, but, suspecting his intentions, left at night for Dogguz Alam. At Dogguz Alam he received reinforcements from Karaj Ilyas and his men of Asia Minor, who had fled after being robbed in Shuragil by a neighboring chief named Mantasha. Ishmael captured Mantasha”s fortress, who managed to escape, but his garrison was put to the sword. He went to the yaylag of Sangigül, inhabited by the Ustajli tribe, spent a few days in the house of Oğlan Ummat and left for Sarygaya, where he spent two months in the summer of 1500. In this village he encountered a ferocious bear and, despite his young age, also single-handedly slayed the bear with an arrow in Erzinjan. His 7,000 followers from the Azerbaijani tribes of Shamli, Ustajli, Rumlu, Tekeli, Zulkadar, Afshar, Qajar and Warsak, for whom he had sent messengers, joined him there. Among them were Muhammad-bek Ustajli (Az.) and Abdi-bek Shamli (Az.) with 200 and 300 soldiers.

Reunited with his army, Ismael decided to march against his enemies. So, after consulting with his chief followers for his next expedition, he set out for Shirvan in mid-1500 to avenge the deaths of his ancestors. On arriving in Yassin, he sent Hulfa-bek to subdue Georgia; the latter successfully returned with a large booty, which Ismail distributed to his troops. Ilyas-bek Aygutoglu, the leader of another expedition to recapture the fortress of Mantashi, was equally successful. Then Ismail Mirza went to Hasanabad, where Mantasha came to him and apologized for his previous behavior. He was pardoned and allowed to return to his fortress, and Ismail continued his march. Emir Najm, being one of the Safavid followers, fled from Resht for fear of being executed by Emir Ishag, arrived at Ismael as he marched on Shirvan, and was accepted for service. Then Ismail sent Bairam-bek Karamanly with a contingent of Tekeli and Zulkadar tribes to cross the Kura River before these places were occupied by Shirvanshah. Bairam-bek Karamanly threw his horse into the river and crossed with the main army, moving to Shamakhi around December 1500.

On the way Ismail received information that Shirvanshah Farrukh Yasar, was ready for battle and camped near the fortress of Gibla with 7,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry. He sent Gulu-bek to occupy Shabran, and the next day he himself went first to Shabran and then to Shamakhi, which he found abandoned. Meanwhile, the Shirvanshah had set up his camp in the forest between the fortresses of Gulistan and Bigurd. When Ismail moved towards the Shirvanshah, the latter headed towards the fortress of Gulistan. The two sides met at Jiyani near the fortress of Gulistan and formed their armies in battle order. Ismail assigned the Shamli on the right flank, the Ustajli on the left, and the Tekeli, Rumla, and Zulkadars as a fighting group, while he himself commanded the center. On the other hand, Shirvanshah appointed his generals on the right and left and commanded the center himself. A fierce battle ensued, and Ismail, though less than fourteen years old, fought for hours in the front lines and encouraged his supporters to follow his example. Most of the Shirvanshah”s warriors fell dead on the battlefield, and the rest, unable to withstand the heavy attacks of the Qizilbash, fled with Farrukh Yasar to the fortress of Gulistan. They were impatiently pursued by the Kyzylbashis, and again most of them fell at the swords of their pursuers. Hussein-bek Lala, whose name was Shahgyaldi-aga, seized the Shirvanshah and, having cut off his head, brought him to Ismail. He burned the corpse of Shirvanshah Farrukh Yasar and built pyramids of the enemy”s heads.

In this war against the Shirvanshahs, Ismail lost only one notable officer, namely Mirza-bek Ustajli, the father of Muhammad-bek Ustajli (Azerb.). A large booty fell into the hands of the victors, which Ismail Mirza distributed to his army. Three days later Ismail returned to Shamakhi and received news that Farrukh Yasar”s son Sheikh Shah, who had fled from the battlefield to Shahrinav, was preparing for battle. Ismail then sent Hulfa-bek against him, but Sheikh Shah succeeded in fleeing to Gilan. Ismail himself got to Shahrinav, appointed Hulfa-bek as governor of the city, and went to Mahmudabad to spend the winter of 1500-1501. Muhammad Zakariya, who had been prime minister of the rulers of Ak-Qoyunlu in Azerbaijan for many years, came to Ismail and was taken into service. Then Ismail sent Mohammed-bek Ustajli (Azeri) and Ilyas-bek Aigutoglu to conquer the fortress of Baku. They besieged it for a long time, and finally, the following spring, Ismail himself approached Baku and sent a message to Gazi-bey, son-in-law of the late Shirvanshah and governor of the city, to submit, but the envoy was killed. Following this, Ismail launched an attack and took the fortress after a stubborn struggle that lasted three days. Most of the garrison was killed in the battle, the rest were pardoned, and Khulfa-bek was ordered to seize the treasures of Shirvanshah.

After defeating Shirvanshah Ismail besieged the fortress of Gulistan, but a messenger sent by his general Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa, who had gone to Karabakh to inquire about Alvend Mirza, governor of Ak-Koyunlu, returned the disturbing message that that Alvend Mirza-the ruler of Azerbaijan-was in Nakhichevan with 30,000 men, and that he had sent Mohammed Karaju to Shirvan, Hasan-bek Shikaroglu to Karajadag and Karchagai-bek to Ardabil to stop the advance of Ismail”s army. After that, Ismayil lifted the siege, crossed the Kura River over the bridge of boats built by Jush Mirza in Javad around May 1501, and sent Gar Piri-bek Qajar against Hasan-bek Shikaroglu, who respectively retreated to Nakhichevan. Ismail himself moved toward Karabakh, and, hearing of his approach, Karchagai-bek and Mohammed Karadja retreated to Nakhichevan.

Then Ismail moved on Nakhichevan with Gara Piri-bey Qajar and Ilyas-bek Halvacioglu. Osman-bek Mosullu, sent by Alvend Mirza to intercept the invaders, was captured by Gara Piri-bek Qajar along with his comrades and put to the sword by the order of Ismael. Alvend Mirza then wrote a letter to Ismail Mirza asking him to return to Shirvan and govern the province as his candidate. The offer was rejected, and both sides went into action: Alvend Mirza, with his 30,000 men, moved toward Chukhursaad and camped at Sharur, a village on the bank of the Arax River; Ismail, with his 7,000 men, joined him in the battle of Sharur in mid-1501 through Nakhichevan.

The distribution of the troops was as follows: their main devotees, such as Hussein-bek Lala, Dede-bek Talysh, Khadim-bek Khalifa, Muhammad-bek Ustajli (Azeri), Bayram-bek Karamanli, Abdi-bek Shamli (Azeri). ), Karacja Ilyas Bayburdlu, Gara Piri-bek Cajar, Ilyas-bek Halvacioglu, Ilyas-bek Aygutoglu, Sary Ali-Bek Tekeli and Ali-Bek Rumlu, aka Div Sultan Ismail assigned to the right and left flanks, while he himself commanded the center. Alvend Mirza, ordering the camels in his army to be chained and to stand behind the army to prevent the troops from fleeing, appointed Latif-bek, Seyyid Gazi-bek, Musa-bek, Karchagai-bek, Gulabi-bek, Khalil-bek and Mohammed Karaju on the right and left flanks, while he himself stood in the center on the high ground. In the desperate battle that followed, Ismail showed his courage by attacking the enemy”s front line and betraying Karchagai-bek and many others to the sword. This was the signal for a general attack, in which Latif-bek, Sayyid Ghazi-bek, Musa-bek, Mohammed Karaja, the generals, and most of Alvend Mirza”s soldiers were killed. The rest turned to flee, but chains of camels blocked their way, and they fell from the swords of their pursuers. Alvend Mirza barely escaped to Erzincan. While a large number of camels, horses, mules and many costly materials fell into the hands of the victors. After that, Ismail Mirza generously rewarded his troops.


The Safavid family itself was part of the Ak Koyunlu tribal group. Ismail was just another claimant to the throne from the Ak Koyunlu. The day after his victory over Alvend Mirza, Ismail Mirza left Sharur and went to Tabriz to take the vacated throne of Azerbaijan. He was greeted with great enthusiasm by the dignitaries of the city and was crowned in July 1501, and henceforth he was known as Shah Ismail of Azerbaijan. Later he assumed the title of “Padishah-i-Iran” which had previously belonged to his grandfather Uzun Hasan, whose legitimate heir he believed himself to be. But Ismail and his followers had no idea of the idea of Iran; they denoted Khorasan and Transoxiana by this word, not the conquered territories. On the Friday after his coronation, Shah Ismail ordered a khutba to be read in his presence in the name of the Twelve Imams. Coins of the Shah minted in Tabriz, have an inscription on the face: “There is no deity but Allah, Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah, and Ali is the deputy of Allah. Isnaashari Shiism was accepted as the state religion. Henceforth, Shi”a fear of the Sunnis disappeared and Shi”a Islam was no longer hidden from the public. But Shiites and Sunnis remained equal before the law and carried the same penalties.

Shah Ismail appointed Hussein-bek Lalu as his advisor and prime minister, Shamsaddin Lahiji, who was his teacher, as his secretary, and Mohammed Zakariya as his minister. He spent the winter of 1501-1502 in Tabriz. Ismail received tremendous support from the Qizilbash but did not enjoy the same support in Iran and even faced discontent and hatred from most Sunni Iranians. His detachment of seven close advisors, known as “akhli ikhtisas,” played a major role in Ismail”s success.

In the spring of 1502 Shah Ismail celebrated Novruz and thought of making a move against Sultan Murad, the ruler of Persian Iraq and Fars; but news came that, having assembled his forces in Erzindjan, Alvend Mirza intended to attack Azerbaijan, after which the Shah changed his mind and moved towards Erzindjan on May 2, 1502. Thanks to their possession of the arsenal of Tabriz, the shah and his soldiers were better armed this time, and they took the gold with them. Ismail had no desire to go deep into the Iranian Plateau and planned to build a kingdom in Azerbaijan and Eastern Anatolia, between the possessions of the Ottomans and the Ak Koyunlu. However, the state of affairs in the rest of the Ak Koyunlu territories forced him to advance eastward. Alvend Mirza fled and took refuge in a fortress near Sarigaya, but was pursued by the Shah and fled to Avjan via Tabriz. The Shah followed him and sent his detachments after the fugitive sultan, who fled from Avjan to Hamadan and from there to Baghdad. The Shah then returned from Awcian to Tabriz to spend the winter of 1502-1503. Alvend Mirza discovered that his power in Baghdad was threatened by Gasym-bek Bayandur and left for Diyarbekir. After defeating the eponymous Gasym-bek ibn Jahangir-bek, ruler of the province, he ruled the province until his death in 1504-1505.

Sultan Murad spent the winter of 1502-1503 in Dyalijan and, fearing the growing power of Shah Ismail, he gathered 300 cannons and 70,000 men and moved toward Hamadan without waiting for the end of winter. He also sent his mother, Gowhar Sultan-hanim, to Qom to persuade Aslamash-bek, the ruler of the city, to come to his aid in the coming battle with Shah Ismail. Aslamash-bek and his men went to Hamadan and supplemented Sultan Murad”s army. Shah Ismail celebrated Novruz in the spring of 1503 and sent an envoy named Ganbar-aga to Sultan Murad with a letter in which he spoke of their kinship ties and asked him to submit. The negotiations bore no fruit, whereupon the shah went to Hamadan with 12,000 men and camped at Almagulagy near Hamadan. Sultan Murad moved with his army toward Shah Ismail”s camp. The Shah”s army, unfamiliar with the climate and landscape of the area, could not find a place with drinking water. The soldiers had to dig wells and were finally able to quench their thirst and move on.

Before the battle, the Shah encouraged the warriors by quoting verses from Qur”an 41:30: “Verily, to those who said, ”Our Lord is Allah,” and then were steadfast, angels descended, ”Fear not and be not sad, but rejoice in Paradise, which was promised you”” and 8:65: “O Prophet! Inspire the believers to fight the battle. If there are twenty of you who are patient, they will overcome two hundred; but if there are a hundred of them among you, they will overcome a thousand unbelievers, because they are foolish men.” On Monday morning, June 21, 1503, the troops lined up in battle order and the battle of Almagulagy (Azerb.) was launched. Dede-bek Talysh, Hussein-bek Lala, Mohammed-bek Ustajli (Az.), Bayram-bek Karamanli, Abdi-bek Shamli (Az.), Yakan-bek Tekeli and Sary Ali-bek Tekeli commanded the right and left flanks of the Qizilbash army. Khulfa-bek and Mansur-bek Kypchaki were the leaders of the attacking force, Gara Piri-bek Kajar controlled the 1,500 reserves, and Shah Ismail himself led the battle from the center. On the other hand, Sultan Murad assigned Ali-bek Turkman to the right wing and Murad-bek to the left wing and gave control of the attacking detachment to Aslamash-bek. He then ordered 300 cannons and other guns chained to the front line and took command in the center. During the battle, the Shah also recited Ayat 2:250: “When they appeared before Jalut and his army, they said, ”Our Lord! Pour out patience on us, strengthen our feet and help us to defeat the disbelievers.” In the fierce fight that followed, Aslamash-bek with his Turkoman warriors repulsed the Kyzylbash men, who retreated to the center. But at that moment Gara Piri-bek Kajar attacked with a reserve army against Aslamash-bek, who was captured alive and his men were chopped to pieces. Shah Ismail could not restrain his warlike ardor, and, attacking his opponents, engaged in a “royal war” (jang-e soltani) and killed a large number of them, while his kizilbashi defeated the army of Sultan Murad. The entire Safavid army attacked the Ak-Koyunlu camp in droves, shouting “Allah, Allah!” Ali-bek Turkman fell with 10,000 men, Kizil Ahmed, brother of Ayba Sultan and prime minister of Sultan Murad, Aslamash-bek and others were captured alive and executed by order of the Shah, and only Sultan Murad managed to escape with the help of a few men to Shiraz. As usual, the victors captured rich booty consisting of camels, horses, mules, and equipment. The Shah also recruited a large number of Ak Koyunlu troops after the victory.

After distributing the spoils among his troops and sending victory letters to provincial rulers, Shah Ismail went to the valley of Mount Alwend to spend the summer of 1503. Here he received the grim reward of the heads of his enemy from Ilyas-bek Aygutoglu, ruler of Tabriz, who had defeated Nasir Mansur Turkman and other outlaws and betrayed most of them to the sword. The shah, however, had to leave the mountain valley suddenly. Sultan Murad began to recruit troops in Fars, and the wary shah set out for Fars via Isfahan. On the way he received news of Hussein Kiya Chelebi, ruler of Khwar, Simnan and Firuzkuh (English), who with his 12,000 men had flooded the borders of Iraq. Following this, he ordered Ilyas-bek Aygutoglu in Tabriz to go immediately towards Ray to stop the invasion of Husayn Qiyah.

The Shah continued his march to Isfahan, where he was greeted with great honor by the townspeople. Durmush-khan Shamli (Azerb.), an eshikagasibashi, was appointed governor of Isfahan, but he delegated authority to one of his servants, named Shah Hussein Isfahani. At this time Kirman was ruled by Mahmud-bek Bayandur, whose cousin Abulfat-bek, the previous governor of the city, had captured Shiraz, but had been killed while hunting by an accidental fall from a mountain top near Firuzabad, on Saturday, February 7, 1503. The Shah sent Muhammad-bek Ustajli (Azerb.) with 600 men to capture Kirman. Murad-bek Bayandur, the governor of Yazd, then left the city under the supervision of his minister, Sultan Ahmed-bek Sara, and fled to Kirman. The Bayandur chiefs commanded 2,000 men, but when Muhammed-bek Ustajli (Azerb.) approached, they left the city and fled toward Khorasan. Muhammad-bek Ustajli (az.) occupied the city and then returned to the Shah”s camp, which meanwhile headed for Shiraz. Muhammad Gara, the governor of Abarquh, sent gifts to the shah and remained in his government.

Meanwhile, Sultan Murad had consolidated his power in Fars with the help of Yagub Jan-bek, another brother of Ayba Sultan, and camped in Shulistan near the Safid fortress. On hearing of Shah Ismail”s advance, Sultan Murad and Yagub Jan-bek fled to Baghdad. The former, after spending some time in Baghdad, where he was put on the throne by Barik-bek Pornak, went to Aleppo and, after spending some days with Sultan Kansu, ruler of Egypt and Syria, went to Alawuddawla Zulkadar, chief of the Zulkadar tribe, in Marash. The latter went to Mosul, where he was killed by Basharat-bek, which was revenge for the death of his brother Gasym-bek, executed by Sultan Murad in Isfahan.

Shah Ismail continued his march to Shiraz, where he arrived on Saturday, September 24, 1503. The governors of the various sub-provinces of Fars paid tribute to the shah and remained in their governments. About the same time, Sultan Ahmed-bek Sary, acting governor of Yazd, apologized and asked the shah to appoint someone as governor of Yazd. Shah Ismail appointed Hussein-bek Lalu as governor of Yazd, who transferred power to Shayb-aga, one of his relatives and servants, while he himself remained in the Shah”s camp. Shayb-aga went to Yazd with Tagiuddin Isfahani and took charge of his office, retaining Sultan Ahmed-bek Sary as his minister. Shah Ismail appointed Ilyas-bek Zulkadar, also known as Kajal-bek, as governor of Fars and on November 21, 1503, he set out on a return march to Kashan, where he was honored. The Shah reciprocated by throwing a feast and distributing gifts, and in particular he honored Qadi Muhammad Kashani by appointing him secretary and colleague of Shamsaddin Lahiji. The shah then went to Qom to spend the winter of 1503-1504.

In the winter of 1503-1504 in Qom, Shah Ismail heard that Ilyas-bek Aygutoglu, the governor of Tabriz, who had been ordered to march to Rey to stop the invasion of Husayn Qiyya Chelebi, had been executed. Realizing that he could not resist with his few soldiers against the 12,000 men assembled by Hüseyin Kiyoy, Ilyas-bek Aygutoglu sought refuge in the fortress of Varamin. There he was besieged for some time, but, seduced by fair promises, he and his comrades paid a visit to the camp of Hüseyin Kiyya, where they were treacherously killed. Then Hussein Kiya invaded the surrounding territories and returned to Firuzkuh. To avenge the murder of Ilyas-bek, Shah Ismail moved from Qom on Sunday, February 25, 1504, toward Firuzkuh (Eng.) through Varamin, where he celebrated Novruz. On March 17, 1504 he reached the fortress of Gulkhandan and after a fierce fight with Kiya Ashraf, the keeper of the fortress, he won, destroyed and razed the fortress to the ground. He then moved on to the fortress of Firuzkuh (English), where he arrived on March 29, 1504. Hussein Kiya put Kiya Ali at the head of the fortress and fled from Shah Ismail to the fortress of Usta. After a fierce battle lasting ten days, in which Shah Ismail personally participated and in which he lost many of his men, Mahmud-bek Qajar reached the battlements of the fortress on the eleventh day. Others followed him and defeated the enemy”s forces. Kiya Ali demanded peace and was pardoned at the request of Emir Najm, but the garrison was destroyed and the fortress razed to the ground.

On April 11, 1504, Shah Ismail moved toward the fortress of Usta. Hussain Kiya left it with a strong detachment of his soldiers and set an ambush. The Shah sent Abdi-bek Shamli (Azerb.) and Bayram-bek Karamanli to attack the fortress from one gate, while he himself commanded the troops from the other. Abdi-beg Shamly (az.) and Bayram-bek Karamanly were attacked suddenly, and although they showed great valor, they did not manage to reach the fortress. Kiya and Murad-bek Jahanshah retreated before the Shah and his 200 men attacked and closed the fortress. After several days of incessant fighting, the shah cut off the water supply from the river Khabla, and on the fourth day he forced the besiegers to submit. The citadel, in which Hussein Kiya, Murad-bek Jahanshah and Sayatnmysh-bek had taken refuge, lasted another three days, but was finally taken by storm on May 13, 1504. The refugees fell into the hands of the victors. At the other gate Murad-bek, Jahanshah, and Sayaltamysh-bek were burned alive; while Hussein Kiya was imprisoned in an iron cage, which the victim himself had prepared for the prisoners he hoped to capture in battle. 10,000 soldiers of the garrison were killed, and only a few scholars and a few others were pardoned at the request of the Shah”s officers. The fortress was razed to the ground, and the large booty that fell into the Shah”s hands was distributed among the troops. For several days Shah Ismail rested, hunting in the neighborhood. Muhammad Husayn Mirza, governor of Astrabad; Aga Rustam and Nizamuddin Abdul Karim, rulers of Mazendaran; and Karkiya Sultan Husayn, brother of Karkiya Mirza Ali, ruler of Lahijan, came to congratulate the shah on his victory.

Shah Ismail began his return march on May 19, 1504. On the way Hüseyin Kiya wounded himself and died in Kabud Günbad near Ray, the same town where he had killed Ilyas-bek Aygutoglu, but his corpse remained caged until it was burned in the square of Isfahan. The Shah proceeded to Soyugbulag (now in present-day Tehran Province) and was honored by Zohrab-bek Chelebi, governor of the fortress of Erd-Sanad near Soyugbulag. From there he moved to the Yaylag of Surlug, where he received news of the rebellion of Muhammad Ghara, the governor of Abarquh.

When Shah Ismail waged his campaign in Firuzkuh (Eng.) and Usta against Ḥusayn Qiyah, Sultan Ahmed-sary took the opportunity to execute Sheib-agha and his servants, and again took the reins of power in his hands. Following this, Muhammad Gara, governor of Abarquh, led a night attack on Yazd with 4,000 horsemen, executed Sultan Ahmed-bek Sary, and occupied the territory. He then appointed Mir Hussein Maibudi as his minister and imposed taxes on the inhabitants of the town. Leaving the yaylag of Surlug in mid-1504, the shah hurried through Isfahan to Yazd, and although Yazd was heavily besieged, he took the town after a month through successive skirmishes. But Muhammad Ghara and Mir Hussein Maibudi did not last long in the fortress. Eventually they were taken alive. Muhammad Gara was imprisoned in the same iron cage in which Hussain Qiya”s corpse was kept and later burned in the square of Isfahan. Mir Hussein Maibudi was beheaded immediately. Among the prisoners was also Tajli Beyim (Az.) of the Mosullu tribe, whom the Shah took as his wife.

At about the same time Reis Ghaybi, a cousin of Muhammad Gara, who was left in charge of Abarquh, revolted, after which the shah sent Abdi-bek Shamli (Azerb.) from Yazd to punish the rebels. During the siege of Yazd, Shah Ismail received Kemaleddin Sadr, an envoy of Sultan Husayn Mirza, ruler of Khorasan, who came to congratulate the Shah on his victories. But Sultan Husayn Mirza”s misspelled letter and his modest gifts provoked the Shah”s anger, who immediately moved to the border of Khorasan to invade Tabas. This city was ruled by Mohammed Wali-beg, the head of the stables of Sultan Hussein Mirza, who handed over power to Tardi Baba. Ignoring the fortress where Tardi Baba had taken refuge, the Shah sacked the city and destroyed 7,000 of its inhabitants. Sultan Hussein Mirza then pacified the Shah”s anger and secured his return to Yazd by lowering the tone of his speech and increasing the value of his gifts. About the same time Ilyas-bek Zulkadar, known as Kajal-bek, ruler of Fars, was executed for his cruel treatment of his subjects, and he was replaced by Ummat-bek Sary Zulkadar, who was given the title “Khalil Sultan.

Shah Ismail reappointed Husayn-bek Lalu as governor of Yazd and returned to Isfahan to spend the winter of 1504-1505. A few days later an embassy from the Ottoman sultan Bayazid II arrived with suitable gifts to congratulate Shah Ismayil on his victories. The reception took place in the garden of the newly built Nagshi Jahan Palace. Armed cavalry and infantry lined up in two lines in front of the audience. Durmush-khan Shamli (Azerb.), an eshikagasibashi, with a jeweled staff, and guards with gilded maces stood beside the shah. On one side of the throne were armed maces and archers, on the other were civil officers and theologians such as Qadi Muhammad Kashani, Shamsaddin Lahiji, Sharafaddin Shirazi, and Ali Jabal Amuli. The Ottoman embassy was then granted an audience with the Shah. To impress the Ottomans with the greatness of the Safavids, Mohammed Gara with the corpses of Husayn Qiyyah and Reis Ghaybi and other prisoners, whom Abdi-bek Shamli (azerbai) had taken from Abarkuh to Isfahan, were publicly burned, alive and dead, in the presence of the ambassadors, who were then escorted off with honorary robes, Arab horses and trappings, and a friendly message.

Civil and military problems caused the violent deaths of Giyatuddin and Tagiuddin Isfahani by order of the shah. The former broke his oath to the shah by not supplying his army with grain from his large wheat reserves, the latter conspired with Sultan Ahmed-bek Sary and Mohammed Gara in their rebellion against the shah. In Lahijan, Karkiya Sultan Hussein organized a successful rebellion against his brother Karkiya Mirza Ali, whose minister Kiya Firudin he had executed. Karkiya Mirza Ali handed over control to his brother and became a hermit in Rancukh (Eng.). The Shah celebrated Novruz in 1505 and led a hunting expedition near Ulang Qaniz Yaylag in which 6,700 animals were killed and a minaret in Isfahan was built from the skulls of these animals.

From Isfahan yaylag the shah went to Hamadan and from there to the tomb of Imamzada Sahl Ali in a village near Hamadan. He issued an order to reconstruct the mausoleum, and, after completing the work, fencing the tomb in the garden, the shah moved to the yaylag of Surlug. The following winter, 1505-1506, the shah marched to the border of Azerbaijan to suppress Shir Sarim, the leader of the Kurdistan brigands. After killing his followers and looting the camp, since Shir Sarim managed to escape, the Shah moved toward the Kiziluzun River. Husamuddin, the ruler of Resht and Fuman, revolted, but the troops of the Qizilbash, whom the Shah followed through Taram, suppressed the rebellion. Through the intercession of Najmuddin Masud Reshti, Husamuddin was pardoned and remained in power. The Shah decided to spend the winter in Taram (Eng.) and sent Dede-bek Talysh to Tabasaran to avenge the death of his father Kizil Heydar. The general returned successfully before the end of the winter. That winter Julban-bek, the governor of Taram (Eng.), was executed by order of the Shah for his cruel treatment of his subjects.

Karkia Mirza Ali and his brother Karkia Sultan Hussein were assassinated by rebels in Rancukh. The new governor appointed by the Shah was Karkiya Sultan Ahmed, who established his rule by executing the murderers of his father and uncle. After celebrating Nowruz at Taram (Eng.) and taking part in races and polo at Sultaniyah, the shah set out for Surlug in mid-1506. A punitive expedition led by Bairam-bek Karamanli, Khadim-bek Khalifa, Abdi-bek Shamli (Az.), and Sara Ali-bek Tekeli looted the camp of Shir Sarim and in a second skirmish captured his son, brother, and some of his officers alive. Abdi-bek Shamli (Azerb.) and Sary Ali-bek Tekeli were killed in the battle. Shir Sarim escaped. The captives brought to the shah in Khoi in the winter of 1506-1507 were brutally murdered, which was revenge for the death of the Qizilbash officers.

While Shah Ismail was celebrating Novruz in Khoi, Alahuaddovla Zulkadar was fighting to restore the power of Sultan Murad, whom he had given refuge to in Marash, and subsequently his daughter, seized the fortress of Diyarbekir from Emir-bek Mosul, who had appropriated the province after the death of Alvend Mirza in 1505. Upon the arrival of this news, the shah with 20,000 men moved toward Erzincan around May 1507. In the first clash, when the advanced units under the command of Dede-bek Talysh and Alauddlovl”s son, Sara Ghaplan Gasym, fought, victory was on the side of the Zulkadars, but when the Safavid army approached Elbistan, Gasym was forced to retreat.

Oglan Ummat Chavushlu, the envoy of Shah Ismail; finally, having heard of Shah Ismail”s crossing of Kayseri, fled from Elbistan to Mount Durna. When Alauddovla realized that he could not withstand Ismail”s army, he took refuge in the castle on Mount Durna, where the steep mountain slopes favored defense. Immediately he sent a message to the Mamelukes and the Ottomans, asking them to give him military and political support. The Mamelukes did not respond to the message, and the Ottomans sent an army under the command of Yahya Pasha to Zulkadar territory. The purpose of this army, however, was not to help the Zulkadars, but to control the activities of the Safavids and prevent them from harming Ottoman lands. The Ottoman troops did not advance further than Ankara. Shah Ismail surrounded Alauddovla on Mount Durna, but was unable to take the castle, and Alauddovla did not leave the fortress. Shah Ismail was young and impatient-he was tired of waiting for Alauddovla to come out of the castle. Unable to fight Alauddovla and frustrated, the shah began to insult Alauddovla and shout mocking words, calling him obscenely, “Ala Dana,” mangling Alauddovla”s lacab. On the third day the enemy broke and fled, the shah seized rich booty, of which he ordered the wheat stocks to be burned to the ground. Hussein-bek Lala, wading across the river, was taken by surprise by Gasym-bek, nicknamed Sary Gaplan, and lost 300 men. The Shah decided to move towards Diyarbekir. Emir-bek Mosullu, who was a relative of Shah Ismail”s wife, brought the keys of Diyarbekir and jewels to the Shah and went into the service of the Safavids, he was appointed keeper of the seal. The fall of Harpurt forced several forts to surrender. Muhammad-bek Ustajli (Azerb.), son-in-law of the shah, was appointed governor of Diyarbekir with the title “Khan” and sent to the fortress of Gara Hamid, while the shah himself went to Akhlat. After receiving the honors of Sharafaddin-bek, governor of Bitlis, and spending a few days hunting in Bitlis, Arjish, and Ahlat, the shah returned to Khoi for the winter of 1507-1508.

Gaitmaz-bek, brother of Emir-bek Mosullu, owned the fortress of Gara Hamid, in front of which Muhammad-khan Ustajli (Azerb.), the newly appointed governor of the Safavids, camped to spend the winter of 1507-1508. Encouraged by Gaitmaz-beg, the Kurds attacked the Qizilbash camp, whereupon Muhammad-khan Ustajli invaded Kurdish territories and killed 700 Kurds on the battlefield in a determined and bloody battle.

Alarmed at the success of the expedition, Gaitmaz-bek sought help from Alauddovla Zulkadar, who immediately sent 10,000 men under the command of his own sons Sara Gaplan and Orduan-bek. To counter this new threat, Muhammad-khan Ustajli (Azerb.) had only 2,000 men, of which 800 were from the detachment of his brother Gara-bek. The battle began, and the latter were surprised by the fierce attack of Sara Gaplan, but in the end, the rare courage of Muhammed-khan Ustajli allowed him to win a complete victory. The enemy lost 732 officers in the battle, including Sary Gaplan and Orduan-bek who were captured and immediately beheaded, and the spoils of their heads were sent as a gift to the Shah at Khoi. Gaitmaz-bek and his retinue were slaughtered when, after a brief siege of the fortress of Gara Hamid, Muhammad-khan Ustajli fell into the hands of him.

To avenge the loss of his sons and his army, Alauddovla Zulkadar sent another detachment of 15,000 men in the early spring of 1508, under the command of his other two sons, Kur Shahrukh and Ahmed-bek. Meanwhile, Muhammad-khan Ustajli (Azerb.) had moved to Mardin, and his brother Gara-bek had invaded Jazira, killing and plundering Kurds. The appearance of Zulkadar”s second army forced Muhammad-khan Ustajli to retreat to Gara Hamid. His 3,000 men were transformed into a right wing under his command; a center under Acha Sultan Qajar, and a left wing under Gara Bey. The 15,000 enemy soldiers constituted the right wing under the command of Kur Shahrukh, Murad bey and Gaitmaz bey, the center under Muhammad bey and the left wing under Ahmed bey, Abdullah bey and Arkamaz bey. The battle began with the repulsion of the Kyzylbash attack on the center; then the right and left wings of the enemy simultaneously moved on the Kyzylbash, the right and left wings of which closed in the center to withstand the attack. A fierce compact attack by the Kyzylbash followed, which broke the enemy. Among the prisoners were Arkamaz-bek, Gaitmaz-bek, and two grandsons of Alauddovl Zulkadar (sons of Kur Shahrukh) named Mohammed-bek and Ali-bek, who fled from the slaughter, in which Kur Shahrukh, Ahmed-bek, Abdullakh-bek, Mohammed-bek, Murad-bek and fifty other officers were killed without mercy. The heads of the victims were sent with four prisoners and a victory letter to the Shah at Hamadan, who was on his way to Baghdad. The prisoners were released, Alauddovl Zulkadar”s grandchildren received a pension, and Muhammad-khan Ustajli (azerbai) was rewarded with a golden sash, a cap and a garment of honor.

In the winter of 1507-1508 Najmuddin Masud was appointed counselor in Khoi. Sultan Murad”s flight from Baghdad allowed Barik-bek Pornak to take the reins. Shah Ismail decided to depose the usurper and, to gain voluntary submission, sent Khalil-bek from Hamadan in the spring of 1508. When this happened, the shah demanded of Abu Ishag that his master Barik-bek Pornak submit. In the beginning Barik-bek Pornak decided to submit and even sent Abu Ishag to the shah. But later he openly rebelled against the shah and threw the theologian Muhammad Kamun of Najaf into a dark pit and gathered weapons and provisions. Later the usurper fell in spirit and fled to Aleppo, the theologian was freed, and Hussein-bek Lala, who represented the vanguard of Shah Ismail, peacefully captured Baghdad. Khadim-bek Khalifa was appointed governor of Baghdad, which the shah entered on October 21, 1508, amid public jubilation and bull sacrifice, and began his entrance by executing the servants of Barik-bek Pornak.

The Shah visited various shrines of the Imams: Husayn ibn Ali in Kerbela on October 25, 1508, where he presented twelve gilded chandeliers, silk carpets, and screens, Ali ibn Abu Talib in Najaf, where he appointed Muhammad Qamun as curator, with instructions for the restoration of the shrine, and presented a manuscript of the Holy Qur”an which he himself had transcribed as a child in Lahijan; finally, Musa al-Qasim, Muhammad al-Taqi, Ali al-Hadi, and Hasan al-Askari. The mausoleums of the latter were presented with carpets and gilded and silvered chandeliers from the religious devotion of the Shah, who ordered the restoration of the shrines. He then visited Taqi Qisra and on his way to Baghdad killed a huge lion with an onion. On his second visit to the shrines, rations were prepared, of which old chests were replaced, and in Najaf Qadi Jahan Husseini spent 2,000 tumen to repair the canal cut off from the Euphrates by Aladdin Ata Malik Juweini, brother of Sahib-Divan Khoja Shamsaddin Muhammad. Khadim-bek Khalifa, governor of Baghdad, was appointed governor of Arab Iraq with the title “caliphate al-khulafa.

The Arabs of the Mushashiya (ang.) sect in Haywaz, ruled by Sayyid, believed in the divinity of Ali ibn Abu Talib and reportedly enjoyed immunity from fire, sword, or arrow during their prayers. At the beginning of Shah Ismail”s wars, Sultan Muhsin was the chief of the Mushashiyya (English), but his son and successor, Sultan Fayyad, claimed his divine origin and incurred the wrath of Shah Ismail. On his way to Khaywaz, the shah separated Najmuddin Masud, Bairam-bek Karamanly, and Hussein-bek Lalu with 10,000 men to crush Malik Shah Rustam, ruler of Luristan, at Khurramabad. The fanatics, including Sultan Fayyad, were killed, after which the Shah annexed the territory and proceeded through Dizful to Shushtar. There he was joined by a detachment from Luristan, which succeeded in capturing Malik Shah Rustam. After asking for forgiveness in the Lurish language, he was allowed to retain his rule and his beard was strung with the pearls of Durmush Khan Shamla (Azerb.) by order of the shah.

Shah Ismail traveled from Shushtar through the Giluya mountains to Shiraz to spend the winter of 1508-1509. At Daruljird he organized a hunting expedition and killed many animals, including mountain goats, which are believed to contain an “animal antidote. At Shiraz, the Shah received letters of submission from the rulers of Hormuz and Lahr through his envoy Ahi-bek. Yar Ahmed Isfahani was appointed minister, Kadi Mohammed Kashani was executed for misconduct in May-June 1509, and he was succeeded by Sharafaddinn Ali Astrabadi, a descendant of Said Sharafaddin Ali Gurgani; finally Dede-bek Talysh, governor of Kazvin, the Union of Bulag, Ray and Khwar, was replaced by Zeynal-bek Shamli (azerbai), who was given the title “khan.” In the early summer of 1509 the shah left for Isfahan. After two weeks of horse-racing, polo and archery “kabak” and the expansion of Isfahan”s famous square, the shah headed for Hamadan. Autumn passed in the valley of Mount Alvend. The shah went to Khoi via Tabriz. After the death of Najmuddin Masud, Yar Ahmed Isfahani took his place and received the title of “Nəcm-i-Sani” (“Second Star”) as he succeeded “Nəcm-i-Əvvəl” (“First Star”).

In the beginning of winter of 1509-1510 Shah Ismail crossed the river Kura by the boat bridge in Javad to crush the rebellious Sheikh Shah ibn Farrukh Yasar from Shirvan, who expelled Shahgyaldi-aga, the representative of Safavid governor Hussein-bek Lala and seized the province. Sheikh Shah fled to the fortress of Bigurd, the vanguard of Qizilbash occupied Shamakhi, Baku, Shabran and other fortresses, as well as Derbent with its high ramparts and two gates overlooking the territory of Shirvan and Dagestan. Its foundations went into the mountain range of Elburz, and its length stretched to a distance of three shots from an arrow in the Caspian Sea. The governor was reassigned to the post, Mansur-bek became governor of Derbent, and the Shah”s chief servant, Mohammed-bek Ustajli (Azerb), was appointed prime minister with the title “Jahan Sultan” after ordering that the body of his father, Kizil Heydar, be exhumed from Tabasaran and buried in the ancestral graveyard at Ardabil. The Shah re-crossed the river Kura to spend the winter in Karabakh. The spring of 1510 was spent in Tabriz. With the onset of summer the Shah gave orders from Sultaniyah for a general recruitment of troops from the provinces and moved on Khorasan through Ulangi Kargan.

In the new state Azerbaijani became the language of the court, army, trials, and poetry, while Persian was the language of administration and literature; coin inscriptions were minted in Persian. Shah Ismail appointed Shamsaddin Lahiji sadr, Hussein-bek Lalu and Dede-bek Talysh as emir al-umar, and Div Ali Rumla as sultan. Bairam-bek Karamanly married the Shah”s sister. The Shah used the driving force of a dynamic religious ideology in the service of the new state and thus gave the latter the strength to overcome its initial problems and the impetus to overcome serious crises. The declaration of Isnaashari Shiism as the official religion of the state led to a greater awareness of national identity and thus to a stronger and more centralized government.

After Ismael declared Isnaashari Shiism the official religion of the Safavid state, there was an urgent need for uniformity of doctrine, guiding and accelerating the spread of the Shiite faith. To control the spread of Shi”ism and to act as the head of all members of the religious classes, Ismail appointed an officer called a sadr. The office of sadr existed in the Timurid state and in the Turkoman Bailiks. An important difference between this office in the Safavid state was that the sadr was a political appointee, and the office of the sadr was used by the Safavid shahs as a means of controlling the religious classes. On the successful imposition of doctrinal uniformity depended the smooth operation of the secular branch of government and the state”s ability to withstand hostile attacks from its neighbors. This task, originally a major part of the sadr”s duties, was largely accomplished by the end of Ismael”s reign; thereafter the efforts of the sadr were devoted mainly to the general administration of the religious establishment and the supervision of the property of the waqf. As a result, the political influence of the sadras declined.

The administrative system of the early Safavid state was complex: on the one hand, the Safavids were heirs to a bureaucratic system that resembled the traditional bureaucracy of a medieval Muslim state; on the other hand, Shah Ismail faced the problem of the new Safavid order”s system, which was responsible for the Safavids” success. The problem was compounded by the fact that even after the establishment of the state in 1501, revolutionary followers of the Shah continued to arrive in the Safavid Empire from Anatolia. Another factor that complicated the situation faced by Shah Ismail in 1501 was the mutual antipathy between the Tajik or Iranian elements in the Safavid society and the tribal forces of the Azerbaijani-speaking Qizilbash Turks. The friction between these two elements was inevitable because the Kyzylbashi were not part of the national Iranian tradition. The Qizilbashis and the Persians did not provide administrative continuity amidst the succession of foreigners who affected both the military and civil administration of the Safavid state. The mix freely, and the dual nature of the population deeply expresses the opinion of the Qizilbash about “Tajiks” or “non-Turks,” who used the word in a pejorative sense. Iranians tended to be “men of letters” and represented the long Iranian bureaucratic tradition. According to the Qizilbash, who were “men of the sword,” Iranians were generally suitable only for accounting and general administrative affairs. They had no right to exercise military leadership, and the Qizilbash considered it a disgrace to serve under an Iranian officer. If the Kyzylbash officers were given political posts for entire administrative districts, which the Iranians considered their property, the latter resented.

The Shah was the apex of the whole administrative structure. His rule was theoretically absolute. The Shah”s power was absolute, indeed, this astute observer. The absolute nature of the Shah”s power was not a threat, but rather a guarantee of the individual freedom and security of the lower classes of society. It was the people who stood between the shah and the mass of his people, the nobility, the court officials, and the cohesive ranks of officials, both civil and military, secular and ecclesiastical, who could incur the shah”s wrath, be punished without warning, and who stood in constant fear for their lives. Anyone who held office in the state was considered a subject of the shah; his property, his life, and the lives of these children were at the disposal of the shah, who had absolute power. The use of such terms to describe the Safavid state as “Galamrav-i Qizilbash” (“Qizilbash kingdom”), “Devlet-i Qizilbash” (“Qizilbash state”) and “Memleket-i Qizilbash” (“Qizilbash country”) shows the role of Qizilbash in creating and ruling the state. Similarly, the Shah was commonly referred to as “Padishah-i Kyzylbash” (“Kyzylbash king”), a term that, completely excludes the Shah from Iranian subjects. Therefore, the Qizilbash demanded and received the main state positions after Shah Ismail came to power. Kyzylbashis were appointed to the new position of vakil-i nafs-i nafis-i khumayun, and became the most influential person in the state after the Shah. Kyzylbash officers held the two highest military positions: emir al-umara, the commander-in-chief of the army, and gorchubashi, the commander-in-chief of the gorchu or kyzylbash tribal regiments. Of the five main state positions under Ismail I, three of the most important were held by the kyzylbash officers.

During the reign of Shah Ismail I, the various branches of government, religious, political, and military, were not very separate parts. There was considerable overlap of authority, and the relative importance of the principal offices changed over time. Perhaps the most striking illustration of the effect of state domination over the military is how members of the religious classes, such as the Sadr and Ghazi, often held not only military ranks but also military command.

After the annexation of Khorasan in 1507, Sheibani Khan invaded Safavid territory, Kirman, in the winter of 1509-1510. At that time, Shah Ismail was in Derbent, which enabled the Shaybanids to execute the governor of Kirman, Sheikh Muhammad, and to plunder the province and the surrounding territory. Shah Ismail sent two ambassadors, Diyauddin Nurullah and Sheyzadeh Lahiji, to negotiate with the khan for the withdrawal of troops, but they failed. Sheibani Khan sent a letter to the Shah through Kemaleddin Hussein Abiwardi in which he claimed sovereignty over the Safavid state on behalf of his grandfather Abulkhair Khan, and also demanded that Ismail mint coins and read khutba in mosques in the name of the Uzbek ruler. In addition, the ultimatum demanded that the roads be repaired for “victorious Uzbek troops” wishing to visit the Kaaba. Otherwise, he threatened that Ubaidullah Khan would march with his army from Bukhara, Samarkand, Hazara, Nikudari, Ghur and Garchistan and crush the Safavids.

Shah Ismail objected to Shaybani-khan for the Uzbeks” senseless attack on Kirman, which he called his hereditary possessions. To which he received a derisive reply “that he did not understand on what Shah Ismail based his claim to hereditary possessions, that supreme power passes through the father and not through the mother, through men and not women, and that the unequal correspondence between his family and the women of Uzun Hasan (or Emir Hasan-bek) cannot give any rights. He reminded him of the proverb that a son should follow his father”s trade and a daughter his mother”s, and insultingly sent him the gift of a ladies” veil and a beggar”s dish, adding that if he forgot his father”s trade it might serve as a reminder of his memory, also suggesting that Ismail return to his original calling as a dervish (that is, Sufism). He also added that if the Shah puts his foot on the steps of the throne, let him remember, “He who clutches the royal power to his breast as his bride must woo her in battle, overcoming sharp swords” . Sheibani Khan concluded by noting that since he intended to make the pilgrimage to Mecca soon, as a devout Muslim, he would surely meet Shah Ismail on his way through Iraq. Ismail replied to him:

“If every man was bound to follow his father”s craft, all being sons of Adam, were to adhere to the cause of the prophets: if hereditary descent gave the only right to supreme power, he did not see how it passed from the Pishdadids (English) to the Kejanid dynasty of Iran, or how it passed to Genghis or to whom I turn.”

The Shah decided to make a pilgrimage to Imam Rza”s mausoleum in Mashhad, where he would have the opportunity to wait on the khan. In exchange for his “gift,” Ismail sent him a spindle and a spinning wheel, and, referring to his words that royalty should be tended to on the battlefield, he concluded:

“That”s what I say, too. Here, I have tightened my belt for the mortal combat and put my foot of determination in the quest for victory. If you come face to face like a man, our enmity will be resolved at once. But if you prefer to climb into a corner, you might find some benefit from what I have sent you. We have been spared long enough; let us now exchange hard blows on the field. He who falls in the fight, let him fall.”

Shah Ismail gave his troops a lavish feast at Sultan Bulagy, distributed 23,000 tumens and other gifts to his officers, and began his march on Khorasan. Ahmed Sultan, son-in-law of Sheibani Khan and governor of Damgan, Ahmed Kunkurat, governor of Astarabad, and similar rulers of other forts fled from the Shah. Said Rafi, Baba Nudhar and other leaders paid tribute to the Shah at Bistam, and Khoja Muzaffar Bitikchi, minister to the fugitive governor of Astarabad, was appointed minister to the Shah at Jajarma. Shah Ismail was almost near Mashhad when Sheibani Khan, who had demobilized his troops after his return from the Khazar campaign, heard of the Shah”s advance and hastily fled from Herat to Merv, followed by Jan Wafa Mirza, governor of Herat. A mass flight of Uzbeks from Herat followed, which forced the pro-Uzbek detachment, represented by Khoja Kurd and Sultan Mahmud, to take refuge in the fortress of Ihtiyaruddin. Shah Ismail was in Mashhad, in the mausoleum of Imam Ali al-Rid, while Sheibani Khan was in Merv, fortifying positions and calling for reinforcements from Ubaidullah Khan, Mohammed Timur Sultan and other khans from Bukhara, Samarkand and other places. The first clash between the advanced units of the Safavids and the Shaybanids occurred in Shahirabad, which resulted in the Uzbeks fleeing to Merv, despite the death of the Safavid leader Dan Muhammad-bek Afshar, whom the Shah had expelled from Serakhs. Shah Ismail reached Merv on November 22, 1510 and besieged the city. Within seven days, Qizilbash generals such as Div Sultan Rumlu, Chayan Sultan Ustajli, Badimjan Sultan Rumlu, Zeynal Khan Shamli (Azerb.) and in particular Mohammed Sultan Talysh, struck at the city gate, where the Uzbeks refused to leave the city for lack of reinforcements from Transoxiana. Fearing the enormous losses that would be incurred if his officers” plan to take the city by storm was accepted, the shah employed a ruse on Wednesday, November 30, 1510, and withdrew his army ten miles from Merv to the village of Mahmudi. Shah Ismail wrote a letter to Sheibani Khan:

“You wrote to us that you would go toward Iraq and Azerbaijan on your way to Mecca, and asked that we repair the road. We informed you of our desire to go to Khorasan to go around the tomb of Imam Ali al-Rid in Mashhad, and asked you to welcome our flag conquering the world. Behold, we visited the holy tomb, but you have not yet come to meet us. Then we came to meet you in Merv, but you closed the city gate before us, so we returned to spend the winter elsewhere in Khorasan, and will come again in the spring to meet you.”

The letter was sent on Thursday night. On Friday morning, the Shah camped at Talahtan, leaving 300 horses under the command of Emir-bek Mosullu on the bridge of Mahmudi canal with instructions to leave when the Sheibanid army appeared. Sheibani-khan having made sure of the departure of the kizilbashy, has called a meeting. At this meeting he was advised to retreat to Transoxiana and, having gathered an army, to attack Shah Ismail in early spring. Jan Vefa and Gambar-bek thought that Khan should wait in the fortress until the arrival from Transoxiana of Ubaidullah Khan and Mohammed Timur Sultan. But Shahi-bek”s wife, Mogabbele-khanim, objected to the khan: “If you, considering yourself the caliph of the era, do so, then the descendants of Genghis Khan will not escape shame. If you do not want to fight, then I myself will fight with Shah Ismail. Tempted by the feigned retreat and ignoring the advice of his generals, Sheibani-khan moved from Merv on Friday, December 2, 1510, at the head of an army that numbered up to 30,000 men. Shah Ismail sent a letter to Sheibani-khan:

“Considering yourself the caliph of the age, the deputy of the prophet, you gave me no rest with your letters; if you have the courage not to hide behind the walls of the fortress, but go out on the battlefield, or I am leaving now, because I heard that the son of the Ottoman sultan Bayazid Selim attacked Tabriz. Frankly, I did not want to take Khorasan. I wanted to give it to the sultan”s sons. Besides, your humiliating letter, which hurt my dignity, made me come here. Now I”m going to Azerbaijan and I have no business with you. You may dispose of Khorasan as you please.

On the way he received a letter from the Shah and sent back his Prime Minister and former cupbearer Khoja Kemaleddin Mahmud with instructions to detain the Shah”s envoy in Merv and send reinforcements from the city. The departure of Emir-bek Mosullu from the bridge over the canal Mahmudi confirmed the hasty conclusions of Sheibani Khan, and he crossed Siyah Ab, “like lightning”, pursuing the enemy. The Safavid army was up to 17,000 men. Thus, between the Mahmudi Channel (ten miles from Merv) and Talahtan, on Friday, December 2, 1510, the Safavid army, personally led by the Shah, consisted of his famous generals: Najmi Sani, Bayram-bek Karamanli, Chayan sultan Ustajli, Div sultan Rumlu, Hussein-bek Lal, Dede-bek Talysh, Durmush-khan Shamli, Emir-bek Mosullu, Muhammad sultan Talysh, Badimjan sultan Rumlu and Zeinal-khan Shamli (az. ). Sheibani Khan attacked with his Uzbeks in the hope of intimidating the enemy. Bitterly repenting his mistake, the khan fought a desperate battle in which his commanders, Jan Vafa Mirza and Ganbar-bek, stopped the advancing Safavid units. At this critical moment, Shah Ismail prostrated himself before God and prayed for success with his sword drawn, and he rode his horse into the thick of the battle. He was followed by his soldiers who dealt a general blow to the enemy. The Uzbeks were utterly defeated, 10,000 of them were killed in battle, in pursuit, and drowned in Siyah Aba. Jalaleddin Mahmud, Muizuddin Hussein, Abdullah Mervi, Mamushi and Kadi Mansur, also the unit commanders Jan Wafa Mirza and Ganbar-bek were captured and executed by the Safavids.

Much more tragic was the fate of Sheibani-khan, who, fleeing with 500 horses, inadvertently drove into a fenced yard without a gate from the other side. In this deadly trap he and his companions were pierced by arrows of Burun Sultan Tekeli and his kizilbash and fell in a solid heap. The Safavid historian Giyasaddin Khondemir wrote: “The Uzbeks fell on one another, and many of them died under the hoofs of horses. Since those who still had breath of life, got legs over the dead and climbed the walls of the fence, the soldiers threw them to the ground by blows of swords. Aziz-aga, aka Adi Bahadur, untangled the body of the Uzbek monarch, cut off his head, and hastened with the trophy to the Shah. After removing the skull, which was turned into a drinking bowl, the head, stuffed with straw, was sent to the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid II with the message: “We have heard it said before in your assembly, ”It is strange that the supreme power we see manifested in the head of Sheibani Khan.” Behold, now we send you the same head stuffed with straw.” Further, after the fall of Merv, which occurred without resistance, Shah Ismail arrived in Merv. The wealthy citizens, led by Khoja Kemaleddin solemnly met him, and those who met him had bowls full of gold in their hands. The Shah invited the Uzbek prime minister, Khoja Kemaleddin Mahmud, to a feast. “Do you recognize this bowl?” – said the Shah, who drank from the gilded skull of Sheibani Khan. To which Kemaleddin replied, “Yes, thank God, and how lucky he was! No, luck still abides with him, so that even now he is in the hands of such an auspicious creature as you, who is constantly drinking the wine of Delight.”

This was the end of Sheibani Khan. He was sixty-one years old at the time of his death and had ruled for eleven years. Of the 10,000 of his followers who fell with him in battle, the victor erected pyramids of skulls to adorn the gates of the city of Merv, which peacefully surrendered. Dede-bek Talysh became the new governor of Merv, and the inhabitants, except the Uzbeks, were spared. To commemorate his success, Shah Ismail minted gold coins and sent out notices of victory to various provinces.

On December 8, 1510, Gulu Jan-bek, a servant of Najmi Sani, arrived in Herat as the predecessor of Shah Ismail. The Safavid supporters revolted against the police Muhammad Lakur and Muhammad Ali, who, along with a hundred Uzbeks, were executed. A week later Najmi Sani and Hoxha Mahmud persuaded Hoxha Kurd to leave the fortress of Ihtiyaruddin, and on December 21, 1510, the Shah publicly entered Herat and landed at Baghi Jahan. Hussein-bek Lala was appointed governor of the city, and Giyatuddin Muhammad was appointed chief magistrate. Herat became the second city of the empire and the residence of its successor, Tahmasib I. Badi uz-Zaman Mirza, who had fled to India after his defeat by the Uzbek governor Ahmed Kunkurat in Astrabad, received a daily pension of a thousand dinars, and he was settled in Shunbi Ghazan near Tabriz, while his son Mohammed Zaman Mirza was appointed governor of Damgan.

Rustam Ruzafsun, ruler of eastern Mazendaran, died, after which his son and successor, Aga Muhammad, confronted a claimant, Nizamuddin Abdul-Qarim, who took all Mazendaran for himself. To resolve the dispute between the adversaries and, in particular, to settle the tribute arrears, Hodja Muzaffar Bitikchi was sent to Mazendaran.

In early April 1511 Shah Ismail left Herat to conquer Transoxiana. Ubaidullah Khan and Mohammed Timir Sultan, rulers of Bukhara and Samarkand, respectively, tried to move reinforcements to Merv, but finding that Sheibani Khan was already dead, returned with his widow Mogul Khanim, whom Ubaidullah Khan took as his wife. Their envoys and Janibek Sultan, ruler of Karman and Khujand, met the Shah in Maiman with gifts. Thanks to the intercession of Khoja Mahmud, a treaty was signed under which the Uzbeks remained in the possession of Transoxiana, and the shah was guaranteed no encroachment on his territories on this side of the Amu Darya. Balkh and its dependent territories, such as Andhwood, Shibargan, Jijiktu, Maymana, Faryab and Margab up to the Amu Darya, were ceded to Bairam-bek Kamramanly. The Shuja-bek of Kandahar, who showed signs of disobedience, was imprisoned in the fortress of Ikhtiyaruddin, and after the restoration of order in Khorasan the Shah set up a camp for Iraq. In Simnan, the rival claimants for Mazendaran waited for the shah. Agha Muhammad was awarded the land ruled by his father Rustam Ruzafsun; the rest of Mazendaran was to be ruled by Abdul-Qarim. These rulers were to jointly pay 30,000 tumen to the shah”s treasury, and Khoja Muzaffar Bitikchi was to collect this money.

To help his staunch ally Babur and destroy the Uzbeks, Shah Ismail sent part of his army of 12,000 horsemen, led by Zeynalabdin-bek Sefevi, Gara Piri-bek Kajar, Zeynal Sultan Shamli (Azerb.), Badimjan Sultan Rumlu and Khoja Mahmud, under the supreme command of Najmi Sani. The appointment of Najmi Sani to the command was the cause of the rapidly growing discontent of the Qizilbash. Hussain-bek Lala and Giyatuddin Muhammad brought their units from Herat, and Dede-bek Talysh from Merv. After reaching Balkh, Najmi Sani sent Giyatuddin Muhammad to call Babur from Hisar-e-Shadman (English), and taking Bayram Khan Karamanly from Balkh, he crossed the Amu Darya River by a bridge of boats at Tirmid in September 1512. At Tan-i-Jugzhur, also known as Derbend-i-Akhanin, Babur joined the Safavid army, which marched to Bukhara.

The fortress of Khuzar voluntarily surrendered, but the garrison and the governor Ak-Fulad Sultan were killed. The fortress of Karshi was taken on the third day of the siege, and as revenge for the behavior of the governor, Sheikhum Mirza, who refused to submit, 15,000 Karshi residents were killed despite the intercession of Babur and Giyatuddin Muhammad. After this Najmi Sani went to Bukhara. As the Safavid army approached, the Uzbeks changed their tactics and took refuge in the fortress of Gijduvan. Najmi Sani besieged the fortress, and meanwhile the provisions of the besiegers were exhausted. Ignoring the suggestion of Babur and Khoja Mahmud to suspend the operation until spring, Najmi Sani decided to storm the fortress. Before it managed to do so, Ubaidulla Khan and Janibek Sultan came with a large army to the aid of the garrison, and as a result on November 12, 1512 an open battle began. The Uzbek attack was repulsed with a loss of 200 men, but Bairam-khan Karamanly died, and his death grieved the Kyzylbash army. When supplies began to run low, Babur and some of the kyzylbash emirs advised them to go to gishlag and resume the offensive in the spring. Najmi Sani refused to agree. Either just before the battle or immediately after the battle began, many of the leading Qizilbash emirs left the battlefield because of their hostility to the Vakil-Iranian, under whose command they considered it a disgrace to serve. Dada-bek Talysh was the first to flee, followed by Babur and his reserves, Giyatuddin Muhammad and Khoja Mahmud. In spite of this retreat, Najmi Sani, who was a good soldier, though a bad general, fighting with his hand rather than his head, attacked the Uzbek ranks, and for a time his sword was red with the blood of the enemy, but in the end he was surrounded by Ubaydullah Khan”s soldiers, fell off his horse and was captured alive. He was brought to Ubaidullah Khan and immediately beheaded. His head, raised on a spear, was exposed before the army of the Kyzylbash, pursued by the Uzbeks, who turned around and retreated. Muhiddin Yahya and Mir Jan were captured and killed. Hüseyin-bek Lala and Ahmed-bek Sufioglu left for Azerbaijan.

Inspired by the victory at Gijduvan, Janibek Sultan crossed the river Oxus and moved to Herat. The news of this reached Herat on November 26, 1512, after which the refugees Hussein-bek Lala and Ahmed-bek Sufioglu appeared three days later, followed a little later by another refugee, Giyasaddin Mohammed, who had parted with Khoja Mahmud in Balkh. The fortifications of Herat were hastily fortified, and four city gates-Malik, Firuzabad, Khush, and Iraq-were placed under the command of Giyasaddin Muhammad, Imadeddin Muhammad, Sultan Mahmud, and another unnamed officer.

Janibek Sultan laid siege to Herat in January 1513, and although he was subsequently joined by Ubaidullah Khan, the city held out for two months until finally, on the morning of Nowruz, Friday, March 11, 1513, to the great joy of the inhabitants the siege was lifted. However, in the vicinity of Murghab the retreating Uzbeks met Mohammed Timur Sultan with his reinforcements, whereupon Janibek Sultan parted with those present to proceed to his residence in Karman, and Ubaidullah Khan with Mohammed Timur Sultan went back to occupy Tus and Mashhad. The fall of these cities and the lack of help from the Shah forced the Qizilbashis to abandon Herat; the city was taken over by Muhammad Timur Sultan, who began minting coins in his own name and killed most of the Shi”ites of the city.

Meanwhile, Shah Ismail I was in gishlash in Isfahan in 1513. On 3 March in Shahabad on the outskirts of Isfahan a son was born to him, named Abulfath Tahmasib Mirza. Almost immediately after this joyous event followed the news of the defeat in Gijouvan and the invasion of Khorasan by the Uzbeks. The Shah, thirsty for revenge, proceeded to Mashhad through Saveh, Firuzkuh (Eng.), Sultan Meydan, Kalpush and Ulangi Radkan. At Sawa he halted for ten days and ordered provisions for a three-month march; at Firuzkuh, where again a ten-day halt was made, he appointed (at Bistam (Eng. ) he held an inspection of his army for a few days, and, while at Kalpush (ang.), received news that Ubaydullah Khan had fled from Mashhad to Merv, on his way to Bukhara, and that Mohammed Timur Sultan had also fled from Herat to Samarkand. When the Shah reached Khorasan the Uzbeks were swept from the field of Gijduvan. In the decisive battle that took place near Mashhad, the Shaybanid army was defeated. Many Uzbek emirs and sultans were captured by the Safavids.

After the flight of Muhammad Timur Sultan there was unrest in Herat as the city lost its leading citizens, such as Giyasaddin Muhammad, Sultan Mahmud, Jalaladdin Muhammad Farnahudi, Gasim Hondamir and Shah Husayn Khiyabani, who were forced to accompany the Uzbek leader to Samarkand. For a time the city was seized by Abulgasym Balkhi; then, having been driven out by Safavid supporters, he returned with 2,000 men from Karkh and Badghis, and with the help of Shihabuddin Guri and Nizamuddin Abdulkadir Meshhedi, traitors, besieged the city. On the eighth day of the siege, Piri Sultan, the Shah”s governor of Fusanj, stormed into the city, Shihabuddin Guri and 300 of his men were taken by surprise and killed, but Abulgasim Bakhshi and Nizamuddin Abdulkadir Meshkhedi escaped to Garchistan. Meanwhile, the Shah arrived in Ulangi-Radkan. The former governor of Merv, Dede-bek Talysh was later pardoned and given an honorary robe. Since Herat was reoccupied by Safavid forces, it was necessary to appoint a governor there: Zeynal-sultan of Shamli (Azerb.) was chosen for this position and he was granted the title of khan, while Emir-bek Mosullu was appointed governor of Kain with the title of “sultan”.

After visiting the tomb in Mashhad, the shah moved to Badghis and from there to Baba-Haqi. Chukhi Sultan”s punitive campaign was revenge on the nomads of Badghis, who had earlier unexpectedly attacked the Qizilbash refugees from Gidjuvan, and a response to the murder of Hodja Mahmud in Pul-i-Chirag in early September 1513 at the hands of Adham, the nomad chief of Harzwan, when Hodja was on his way from Balkh to the Shah”s camp. Div Sultan Rumlu and Emir Sultan Mosul were ordered to subdue Shibargan, Andkhoy, and Balkh. Shibargan fell without a struggle; Andkhoy was taken after a six-day siege and its inhabitants were slaughtered, and its defender Kara Baggal was caged and sent to the Shah; as for Balkh, it, like Shibargan, surrendered without a fight. Acting on the Shah”s order, Div Sultan Rumlu took charge of Balkh, and Emir Sultan Mosullu proceeded to his post in Cain.

The Sheibanids sent Janibek Sultan for help to the khan of the Kazakhs, Kasym-khan. Kasym Khan sends a huge army to Transoxiana under the leadership of his son Abulkhair Khan. The Uzbek sultans together with Abulkhair-khan cross the Amu Darya River. However, in the ensuing battle with the troops of Ismail I, the sultans were defeated and Abulkhair Khan was killed in battle. After this defeat, the Sheibanid armies scattered and crossed the Amu Darya. Ubaydullah Khan, Mohammed Timur Sultan and Janibek Sultan consulted and decided to send Khoja Abdurrahim Naqshbandi to Shah Ismail as a mediator.

It remained for the Safavids to subdue Kandahar, which was seized by Shuja-bek after his escape from the fortress of Ikhtiyaruddin in the summer of 1511. The appearance of Shahrukh-bek Afshar forced the rebel to repent again and promise to pay regular tribute, after which the Safavid detachment returned back to the Shah”s camp. After recapturing Khorasan, the Shah withdrew from the camp and set out for Iraq. A punitive detachment sent from Nishapur, commanded by Nizamuddin Abdulbagi and Chayan Sultan Ustajla, failed to capture the rebel Muhammad Timur Sultan, but slaughtered most of the rebel Nisa and Abiwerd and rejoined the Shah”s camp at Isfahan. More formidable was the rebellion of the Shah”s nephew, Suleiman Mirza. Taking advantage of the Shah”s concerns in Khorasan, he left Ardebil and entered Tabriz at the head of a large number of followers, but the inhabitants showered stones and darts from the roofs of houses, and Suleiman Mirza, finding that his triumphant entrance had become a funeral procession, was forced to withdraw to Shunb-e Ghazan, where he was executed by Mustafa-bek Ustajli. For this service Mustafa-bek Ustajli, who was the brother of Prime Minister Chayan Sultan Ustajli, was given the post of governor of Tabriz and the title of “Mantasha Sultan.” The Shah spent the winter of 1513-1514 in Isfahan and moved toward Hamadan when spring arrived.

After the battle of Merv, Khanzadeh-beyim was honorably sent to her brother Babur. This woman fell into the hands of Sheibani Khan in Samarkand in the summer of 1501 and bore him a son, Khurram Shah Sultan, who was appointed governor of Balkh in 1507. She was then given in marriage to Said Hadi, who fell fighting for Sheibani Khan in a battle against Shah Ismail. For the honor bestowed on Khanzadeh-beyim, Khan Mirza brought the shah a letter of gratitude from Babur, and Shuja-bek, the ruler of Kandahar, personally appeared to express his allegiance to the shah.

The news of the defeat of Sheibani Khan, brought by Khan Mirza in December 1510, prompted Babur to begin the struggle to regain his throne in Samarkand, and despite the harsh winter, he advanced from Kabul, joined forces with Khan Mirza in Badakhshan and went to Hisar-e-Shadman (English), then occupied by Hamza Sultan and Mehdi Sultan. This campaign proved unsuccessful. Babur returned to Kunduz, and Khan Mirza was sent to Shah Ismail expressing his gratitude for the safe escort of Khanzade-beyim and for his support and assistance.

On Khan Mirza”s return, however, without the expected reinforcements, Babur moved on the Uzbeks a second time, and in early 1511 succeeded in scattering their ranks. Hamza Sultan and Mehdi Sultan were captured and executed as traitors because they had once been in Babur”s service and had defected from him to Sheibani Khan. Inspired by this success, Babur requested assistance from Shah Ismail for the return of Samarkand and Bukhara, which belonged to him by right of succession, promising in return to become Shiite, mint coins in the Shah”s name, read khutba in the Safavid manner and dress in Qizilbash attire. In the end, the reinforcements sent by the Shah, under the command of Ahmed-bek Sufioglu Rumlu and Shahrukh-bek Afshar, arrived at Hisar-e-Shadman to Babur, from where he later moved on to Bukhara and occupied it. The Uzbek rulers fled in the direction of Turkestan and the allied forces entered Samarkand in mid-October 1511. Babur began to mint coins, fulfilled his promise, willingly wore the red 12-pointed turban of Sheikh Heydar and joined the ranks of Qizilbash supporters of Shah Ismail, whom he treated with respect. Henceforth Babur ruled as a Safavid vassal.

In the spring of 1512 the Uzbek rulers, seeing that the Qizilbashi had been demobilized and sent home, mustered their courage and completely defeated Babur in a desperate battle at Bukhara in May 1512. Babur was forced to abandon Bukhara and Samarkand and take refuge in Hisar-e-Shadman (English), where the Safavid governor of Balkh Bayram Khan Karamanly had urgently moved 300 Qizilbashis under the command of Sultan Muhammad Shirazi. This news forced the Uzbeks to turn back from Chaganian.

Shah Ismail eliminated many Kurdish tribal leaders and appointed his own people as governors. Or, when they left local power in the hands of the local population, they recognized not the old noble families, but their less powerful rivals. Rebellions by Kurdish chiefs who resisted this policy and tried to remain or become independent were brutally suppressed. A delegation of sixteen Kurdish tribal chiefs who agreed to express their submission to the Shah and to pay their respects to him in the hope of more lenient treatment were thrown into prison when they paid the Shah a visit at his summer camp at Hoy in 1510. The shah then sent trustees from the Qizilbash tribes into the territories of these Kurdish emirs for the purpose of subduing them.

However, Ismail then confronts the Turkish sultan Selim I Yavuz, who opposes him under the slogan of protecting the faithful from the Shiites. On August 23, 1514 at Chaldiran there is a decisive battle. The outcome was decided by the Turkish artillery (300 cannons), which the Shah despised as unworthy of a warrior to “hide in a fortification of cannons”. He rushed with a sword in his hand under the Turkish fire, almost got captured: his horse fell down, and he was saved only by the courage of one of his associates, who pretended to be the shah. The Kyzylbashis suffered huge losses and were utterly defeated. The Turks took Tabriz, and only the unrest of the janissaries in Anatolia saved Ismail from total collapse. As a result, however, Armenia and Arab Iraq were lost.

After the Battle of Chaldiran, Shah Ismail practically does not attack the neighboring states, except for the campaigns against Shirvan and the Georgian kingdoms. Diplomatic relations with European states: Venice, the Habsburg Kingdom, Hungary, with which the Safavids try to conclude alliances against Turkey, are revived. The Shah directs his efforts at strengthening the state created by him. In 1524, at the age of 37, Ismayil died unexpectedly in Ardebil, where he had come to worship his father”s tomb. He was buried there in the sepulchre of the Safavids, Darul-Irshad.

Ismail is also known as a poet who wrote under the pseudonym of Khatai and is considered a classic of Azerbaijani poetry. He was also fond of horse racing, hunting, painting and calligraphy techniques, played the barbat, had a good voice and tremendous physical strength. He encouraged the development of crafts and trade. A character of many folk legends and dastans.

In one of his verses, Shah Ismail wrote: “Xətai da natiq oldu, Türkistanın piri oldu,” the semantic translation of which, according to Vladimir Minorsky, is “God came to speech in the person of Khatai, who became the mentor of the Turks (Azerbaijan).

Shah Ismail wrote poems under the poetic pseudonym “Khatai” (Azeri خَطَایِی) in his native Azerbaijani and Persian languages. Although his son Sam Mirza, as well as some later authors claimed that Ismail composed poems both in Azerbaijani Turkic and Persian, only a few samples of his poems in Persian have survived. The poem “Dehnameh”, 400 ghazals and 100 qasads in Azeri, four bayts and one mukamma (poem) in Farsi have reached us. According to V. Minorsky, Shah Ismail”s preference for the Turkic language in his poetry can be explained by the fact that he wanted to be understood by his Turkic followers. Shah Ismail created in that poetic idiom which has its roots in the work of the poet Nasimi, and reached its apogee in the poems of his contemporary Ismail Fizuli. In addition to the traditional aruz, there is a significant number of his syllabic verses. Ismail used common themes and images in lyrics and textbook-religious poetry, but did so with ease and with a degree of originality. Professor Ahmed Karamustafa, one of the authors of an article about Shah Ismail in the Encyclopedia Iranica, notes that much of Shah Ismail”s poetry was lyrical, not religious, and that Khatai is a representative of the Adari (Iranian-Azeri) lyrical tradition. The appeal to the Turkic language as a literary language was not an exception for an ascendant monarch like Ismail, like many of his contemporaries, including Sefevid mortal enemies Sultan Yagub Ak-Koyunlu and Uzbek khan Sheibani. The list of rulers who wrote in Turkic during this period also includes the founder of the Mogul dynasty, Babur, and the Mamluk Sultan Kansuh al-Gauri. An exception to this literary preference among the ruling elite is the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, who wrote his poems in Persian.

The oldest manuscript of poems, “Divan”, is now stored in Tashkent and dates back to 1535. It was transcribed in the palace of Shah Tahmasib I by the famous calligrapher Shah Mahmud Nishapuri. It contains 262 qasidas and ghazals and 10 quatrains. A second, earlier copy, dated 1541 and preserved in Paris, contains 254 qasidahs and ghazals, three matnaks, one morabba, and one mosadda. In addition to the divan, Ismail composed at least two independent poems, namely Nasihat-nameh (1506). In Azerbaijani poetry his poem “Dehnameh” is considered to be a textbook poem.

Many manuscripts of Khatai are known. Shah Ismail used his poetry as propaganda, and his poems, which spread throughout the world with wandering ashugs and dervishes, are full of Shiite fanaticism. For a long time his poems were read in Bektashi and Alawi circles, as well as by the Shabak (English) sect from Iraq, which included some of them in their holy books.

Shah Ismail also patronized literati, and gathered at his court a poetic beau-monde (Habibi, Sururi, Shahi, etc.). He established a qitab-khaneh (library) in Tabriz where manuscript makers worked.

Shah Ismail is the prototype of the hero of the dastan “Shah Ismail”, associated with the personality and life of the shah. Many literary works have been written about Shah Ismail, for example, the historical stories of Azerbaijani writers Aziza Jafarzade “Baku o1501”, “Attack” and Anar “The Poet”s Victory”.

The Kyzylbashi loved their ruler Ismail so much that they were ready to rush into battle without armor, to die on the battlefield for their Shah was considered an honor for them. Mohammed Fuzuli dedicated the poem “Hashish and Wine” in Azerbaijani language to Ismail. In it Fizuli praises the Shah:

“Illuminating a Friend”s Feast,

The Venetian agent-contemporary of the Shah Ismaila Morecini reported on him:

“Not since the days of Xerxes and Darius has there been in Persia a king so adored, so loved by his people, so militant, so possessed of such a large army, or so fortunate. At our present time the heavens have created such a miracle, which surpasses all other miracles, that a young man of twelve years and not of royal blood was so brave as to be able, by force of arms and his followers, to defeat the scions of the Iranian royal house, to drive them out and occupy Tabriz, and to subdue all Iran in a manner in which Alexander himself was not subdued.”

Ghulam Sarwar wrote about the courage of Shah Ismail I:

“His most notable character trait was his bravery. When he was thirteen, he killed alone a bear in the vicinity of Sarygai, and later, as an adult, a lion in Iraq. Similarly, on the battlefield his courage was exceptional. At the age of thirteen and a half, with 7,000 men, he faced Shirvanshah in a bloody battle. Here, as in other moments, he fought in the front lines for hours on end. It was his bravery that defeated the Uzbeks, and it was in spite of it that he himself was defeated at Chaldiran.”

David Morgan writes about Ishmael:

“His goal was to spread his power and that of his followers as widely as possible in all directions, and to consolidate that power by all the methods available to him, including religion. Nevertheless, we should not underestimate his achievement. The state he established will prove that it was firmly founded and enduring. Gifted with the ability to properly assess his capabilities, he did not succumb to the temptation of endless conquests. His contemporaries and European travelers alike rated Ismael very favorably. While he knew how to strike fear, he also won the most exceptional loyalty of his followers and subjects.

The Cambridge History of Iran describes the Shah:

“Ishmael is believed to have been shrewd, possessing a lively and quick mind. His personality on the basis of the accounts of the sources is not without positive qualities. Chronicles describe him as a fair ruler who took the situation of his subjects to heart. His poems betray an extraordinary religious enthusiasm. Herein lies perhaps the secret of his early military and political successes–his ability to inspire others, though the era was such that we may assume a certain susceptibility on their part. In battle he was noted for his courage and boldness, coupled with his physical strength and skill in the art of warfare–he was spoken of as an excellent archer. But he had no shortage of courage elsewhere either, as seen, for example, in his decision to introduce Shi”ism in Tabriz, where two-thirds of the population had previously been Sunnis. These qualities were characteristic of him from an early age. We read that while hunting in his youth he fearlessly faced bears, leopards and lions. He was famous for his boundless generosity, especially in the distribution of trophies; of course, his behavior was not due to altruism alone, but to the knowledge that this was the shortest way to recruit recruits. The spirit of messianism that inspired Ishmael had its complement in the religious mood of the people. Many seem to have had an awareness of the Apocalypse at this time. The insecurity caused by war, anarchy, bandits, catastrophes, plague, and famine created religious expectations personified by the hope, not only among Shi”ites, of the return of Mehdi, which would mark the end of the world. There was evidence of a connection between young Ismail and Mehdi; there were even those who saw in him the return of the Imam, or at least his predecessor. Typical of this was the scene when Ismail arrived at the summer camp of the Turkoman Ustajla tribe. When news of his arrival reached them, the whole tribe, led by the elders (rishsafidan), came out to greet him with songs and dances, and accompanied him exactly as centuries earlier the old associates (the Ansar) greeted the Prophet Muhammad in Medina when he arrived there on the hijra from Mecca. In the accounts of these Turkomans, he was regarded as the messenger of the Lord of the Age (Sahib al-Zaman).”

In the name of Ishmael I are named:


  1. Исмаил I
  2. Ismail I
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