Safavid Empire and the Role of Turkmens in Its Formation under Shah Islmail

  November 24, 2020   Read time 1 min
Safavid Empire and the Role of Turkmens in Its Formation under Shah Islmail
Shah Ismail was in close touch with the Turkmen military elites of Aq Quyunlu and Qara Qoyunlu. Many of these elites were conferred with positions in the Safavid regime.

A description of Ismail's political career reveals how significant a part the Turkmens played in the founding of the Safavid state. In this his kinship with the Aq Quyunlu is naturally a pertinent factor; but at least as important is the fact that his military strength was based on his rapidly growing retinue of Turkmen tribesmen. It was on their leaders that he drew when he had to fill military posts at court, posts in the civil administration and, as his conquest grew, in the provinces. A certain Shams al-Dln Zakariya KujujI, who had been vizier to the Aq Quyunlu, had earler presented himself at the winter camp at Mahmudabad and encouraged Ismail to undertake the successful campaign against Alvand by describing the confused situation at the court of his erstwhile masters. He then became Ismail's first vizier. Thereby a firm link was forged with the Turkmen tradition of government and administration, whose institutions were undoubtedly taken over following the capture of the previous centre of government at Tabriz. What is true of the military posts in the earliest Safavid administration — namely, that they were filled by Turkmen notables — is by no means true of the civil posts, for example in the treasury, or of the extensive sphere of religious law ranging from the judiciary and the administration of the pious endowments to the charitable institutions. These posts were not occupied by Tiirkmens, any more than under the Aq Quyunlu or the Qara Quyunlu. As members of the military aristocracy they did not lay claim to them — nor would they have been suitable candidates for the vacancies. For some time past this type of administrative post had been staffed by the native Iranian bureaucracy, irrespective of which dynasty happened to be reigning (Source: The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 6).

Write your comment