The period of the Safavids, the dynasty that took control of Persia in the early 16th century, is often considered the beginning of modern Persian history, just as the state they created is said to mark the genesis of the Persian nation-state. Russia had just won the Great Nordic War (1700-21) against Sweden, and the threat to Russian merchants provided a pretext for Moscow to invade Persia. He recognized the ineffectualness of his army, which was consistently being defeated by the Ottomans who had captured Georgia and Armenia and by Uzbeks who had captured Mashhad and Sistan in the east. He gave up on painting, firing all the painters of the royal ateliers, and dismissed Qāżi Jahān, grand vizier and patron of the arts. They also engaged in rituals such as cannibalism (Aubin, “L’avènement,” p. 45) and wild drinking sessions (Matthee, The Pursuit, chaps. His successor, Moḥammad Beg, was as formidable an official in his continued focus on the enhancement of royal income. Their predecessors had been roving warriors, forever vigilant in patrolling their realm to pacify unruly tribes and withstand external enemies. The Silk Road, which led through northern Iran to India, revived in the sixteenth century. Bureaucracy and landed class who were considered the middle classes. Even the shah’s decision to have the gold from Shiʿite shrines and his ancestors’ graves remelted and struck into coins failed to yield the requisite funds. What fueled the growth of Safavid economy was Iran's position between the burgeoning civilizations of Europe to its west and India and Islamic Central Asia to its east and north. Three years later he asserted his independence. Centrally located major provinces such as Qazvin, Kāšān, Isfahan, Yazd, and part of Kermān were thus converted to crown land, as were the silk-producing regions of Gilān and Māzandarān, following Farhād Khan’s demise. However the brief puppet regime of Ismail III ended in 1760, when Karim Khan felt strong enough take nominal power of the country as well and officially end the Safavid dynasty. Between 1715 and 1720, many parts of the country either erupted in rebellion or were threatened by outside forces. It seems that the Safavid family left its homeland and moved to Azarbaijan (modern northwestern Iran) in the twelfth century. In the meantime, the navy-less Safavids lost the island of Hormuz to the Portuguese in 1507. He reestablished road security in Persia, which had lapsed in the tumultuous period preceding his reign, and had a great many caravanserais constructed throughout his realm (although the number of 999 traditionally given is much exaggerated). Even though Safavids were not the first Shi'a rulers in Iran, they played a crucial role in making Shi'ism the official religion in Iran. Georgia was the initial target of Sultan Morād III’s (r. 1574-95) attempts to establish control over parts of Transcaucasia with a Sunni majority. Fearing instability in Persia, however, in 1727 the Ottomans concluded a peace treaty with Ašraf Ḡilzay (d. 1729), Maḥmud’s successor in Persia. He also enjoyed a free rein at a time when the shah had begun to spend more time on hunting and other pleasurable activities than on matters of state. In frequent clashes with the Safavids, Šamaḵa, the capital of Širvān and the center of Persia’s northern silk trade, was destroyed. Shah Esmāʿil established a royal workshop and library for the production of illuminated manuscripts, the greatest Safavid contribution to the arts. Shah ʿAbbās waged war until the end of his reign, reconquering Kandahar from the Mughals in 1622 and Baghdad from the Ottomans a year later. Hence the first appointments of Tajik officials to key positions traditionally reserved for Turks, including military ones. and dominated Persian painting throughout the second half of the 16th century. Military weakness at this point vitiated central control for it forced the state to reverse the policy of bringing land under the authority of the crown by realigning it as state land administered by tribal forces. The highest military post, that of sepahsālār was held by two prominent golāms, Rostam Khan and his brother, ʿAliqoli Khan, almost uninterruptedly for nearly twenty-five years between 1631 and 1655. Aside from the purely personal and ideological motives involved, this campaign was also directed against the Qezelbāš, whose orgiastic excess in drink and sexual represented the old order. Shah Ismail I himself wrote many poems in Azerbaijani, as well as in Persian and Arabic, while Shah Tahmasp was a painter. His new capital, Isfahan city from Akbar, Homāyun ’ s and... 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