Iran 1500–1800


Map Code: Ax00884

The Safavids, under Shah Ismail I, burst from their homelands on the shores of the Caspian to conquer all the Timurid kingdoms of Iran in the first years of the 16th century. The empire reached its apogee under Shah Abbas I, who conquered territories to the west from the Ottomans, to the north from the Uzbeks, and to the east from the Mughals. However, his successors were undistinguished and often dissipated. The parallel decline of the Ottomans and Mughals preserved the dynasty for a century, but in 1722 there were dual invasions by Russia and the Afghans. After crushing the Safavid army at Gulnabad, the Afghans took the capital, Isfahan, and captured the Shah: he was eventually beheaded. The Afshar warlord, Nadir Shah achieved a brief resurgence; on his death in 1747, Persia was wracked by civil war until the emergence of the Qajars in 1796.

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