Position of Turks and Persian in the Safavid State

Position of Turks and Persian in the Safavid State

As the Safavids dynasty caused drastic changes in statehood traditions of Azerbaijan and Iran, it is among the themes most frequently addressed by researchers. Sharp criticism of Safavids and efforts to understand the culture being established after Safavid's by historians of the both nations is rather natural. What became evident was not only the Iranian paradoxicalness or its dualism in most states that had been established in Iran geography, but the situation concerning the Turkish-Persian elements in institutionalization of Shi'ah Safavid state as well. All ethnic arguments on Safavid's history are closely connected with the ethnic background of Shah Ismail, the founder of the Safavid's state. Historians conducted considerable researches on ethnic background of Shah Ismail and his ancestors, and books were published. It is sufficient to note only the phrase "Turkish sacred place" in the historical sources related to Sheykh Safiyyaddin. Although this theme is too extensive and thoroughly researched, it was differently approached by different researchers.      

In our history the Safavid state was mainly studied and analysed in two directions: a) Shah Ismail I and Shah Abbas I period - the Turkish Safavids. b) Shah Abbas period and after - Persian Safavids. It is sufficient to make such a division to understand the Safavids state-weakening and strengthening tendencies. Since Shah Abbas period, the Safavid state considerably differed from that of pre-Shah Ismail period not only by ideology, but also by geographical aspects and mainly by their military struggle with the Sunni Ottomans and Sheybani.  Initially the state that had been formed on the Gizilbash ideology by Emirs of Turkish Tribes, the Sunni opposers were the subject to changes due to the Shia principles.       

If we take into consideration the fact that the values of a state at early stage of establishment and progressive period differ, then the changes could be partly understood. The Safavids couldn't disregard the hugeness, religious and national diversity of the Qizilbash geography.

The main subject of this article is to know closely the Safavid state, namely the Shah Ismail state. In other words, main points are the Turks and Persians' ruling positions and opportunities in this state and significance of these positions for the Safavids state.

In order to understand the Turks and Persians' positions, we should have a glance at tribes that played an important role in institutionalization of the Safavid state and Majlis (Assemblies) that played main role in ruling the state. As it is known Gizilbash tribes and their emirs played a vital role in the formation of the Safavids state. These tribes were mainly Turkish. The names of the17 main emirs and their tribes were included in the book 'Târih-i. Âlem Ârâ-yi Abbasi'. O. Efendiyev, leading scientist on Safavid history rightly noted that the Azerbaijani (Turkish) tribes occupied plenipotentiary positions in comparison with tribes of other origins. The nobles of these tribes could preserve their power throughout XVI century until Shah Abbas II reforms. After the tribes of Turkish origin, tribes of Persian and other origins were noted in the sources. Important nobles  of the tribes were presented at the Mejlis - the important state management unit.  

The Safavid state was managed by two main Majlis: civil and military. The first Majlis was called 'Diwan-i Ala', the second - 'Jangi'. This Majlis was the majlis where the Qizilbash Turkish emirs gathered.  Significant decisions of the state were approved at this Majlis and only emirs with Turkic origin had the right to participate in the Majlis. The Munshi staff called 'Tajik Ya' simply participated in registration process of the Majlis decisions or in compiling the Shah's decrees.




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