38 Facts About Ismail I


Ismail I, known as Shah Ismail, was the founder of the Safavid dynasty of Iran, ruling as its King of Kings from 1501 to 1524.


Ismail I's reign is often considered the beginning of modern Iranian history, as well as one of the gunpowder empires.


The rule of Ismail I is one of the most vital in the history of Iran.


Ismail I caused sectarian tensions in the Middle East when he destroyed the tombs of the Abbasid caliphs, the Sunni Imam Abu Hanifa an-Nu'man, and the Sufi Muslim ascetic Abdul Qadir Gilani in 1508.


Ismail I contributed to Persian literature, though few of his Persian writings survive.


Ismail I had married Uzun Hassan in a deal to protect the Empire of Trebizond from the Ottoman Turks.


Ismail I was a great-great-grandson of Emperor Alexios IV of Trebizond and King Alexander I of Georgia.


Ismail I's ancestry was mixed, from various ethnic groups such as Georgians, Greeks, Kurds and Turkomans; the majority of scholars agree that his empire was an Iranian one.


Ismail I proclaimed himself the Mahdi and a reincarnation of Ali.


In 1488, the father of Ismail I was killed in a battle at Tabasaran against the forces of the Shirvanshah Farrukh Yassar and his overlord, the Aq Qoyunlu, a Turkic tribal federation which controlled most of Iran.


In 1494, the Aq Qoyunlu captured Ardabil, killing Ali Mirza Safavi, the eldest son of Haydar, and forcing the 7-year-old Ismail I to go into hiding in Gilan, where under the Kar-Kiya ruler Soltan-Ali Mirza, he received education under the guidance of scholars.


Ismail I's rise to power was made possible by the Turkoman tribes of Anatolia and Azerbaijan, who formed the most important part of the Qizilbash movement.


The successful conquest had alarmed the ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu, Alvand, who subsequently proceeded north from Tabriz, and crossed the Aras River in order to challenge the Safavid forces, and both sides met at the battle of Sharur in which Ismail I's army came out victorious despite being outnumbered by four to one.


Shortly before his attack on Shirvan, Ismail I had made the Georgian kings Constantine II and Alexander I of respectively the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti, attack the Ottoman possessions near Tabriz, on the promise that he would cancel the tribute that Constantine was forced to pay to the Aq Qoyunlu once Tabriz was captured.


Ismail I appointed his former guardian and mentor Husayn Beg Shamlu as the vakil of the empire and the commander-in-chief of the Qizilbash army.


Ismail I's army was composed of tribal units, the majority of which were Turkmen from Anatolia and Syria with the remainder Kurds and Cagatay.


Ismail I appointed a former Iranian vizier of the Aq Qoyunlu, named Amir Zakariya, as his vizier.


Ismail I enforced this new standard by the sword, dissolving Sunni Brotherhoods and executing anyone who refused to comply to the newly implemented Shi'ism.


One year later, Ismail I forced the rulers of Khuzestan, Lorestan, and Kurdistan to become his vassals.


Ismail I then began destroying Sunni sites in Baghdad, including tombs of Abbasid Caliphs and tombs of Imam Abu Hanifah and Abdul Qadir Gilani.


Ismail I appointed Najm-e Sani as the new vakil of the empire due to the death of Mas'ud Gilani.


In 1512, Najm-e Sani was killed during a clash with the Uzbeks, which made Ismail I appoint Abd al-Baqi Yazdi as the new vakil of the empire.


Selim and Ismail I had been exchanging a series of belligerent letters prior to the attack.


Ismail I's army was more mobile and his soldiers were better prepared, but the Ottomans prevailed due in large part to their efficient modern army, and possession of artillery, black powder and muskets.


Shah Ismail I's death ensued after a few years of a very saddening and depressing period of his life.


Ismail I retired to his palace, never again participated in a military campaign, and withdrew from active participation in the affairs of the state.


Ismail I left these to his vizier, Mirza Shah Husayn, who became his close friend and drinking companion.


Mirza Shah Husayn was assassinated in 1523 by a group of Qizilbash officers, after which Ismail I appointed Zakariya's son Jalal al-Din Mohammad Tabrizi as his new vizier.


The tribal rivalries between the Qizilbash, which temporarily ceased before the defeat at Chaldiran, resurfaced in intense form immediately after the death of Ismail I, and led to ten years of civil war until Shah Tahmasp regained control of the affairs of the state.


From an early age, Ismail I was acquainted with the Iranian cultural legacy.


Ismail I wrote in the Azerbaijani language, a Turkic language mutually intelligible with Turkish, and in the Persian language.


Ismail I is considered an important figure in the literary history of Azerbaijani language and has left approximately 1400 verses in this language, which he chose to use for political reasons.


Ismail I was deeply influenced by the Persian literary tradition of Iran, particularly by the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, which probably explains the fact that he named all of his sons after Shahnameh-characters.


Ismail I's work is most popular in Azerbaijan, as well as among the Bektashis of Turkey.


Ismail I was described by contemporaries as having a regal appearance, gentlemanly in quality and youthfulness.


Ismail I's appearance compared to other olive-skinned Persians, his descent from the Safavid Shaykhs, and his religious ideals, contributed to people's expectation based on various legends circulating during this period of heightened religious awareness in Western Asia.


Ismail I's hair is reddish; he only wears moustachios, and uses his left hand instead of his right.


Ismail I is as brave as a game cock, and stronger than any of his lords; in the archery contests, out of the ten apples that are knocked down, he knocks down seven.