World History 2 56 - 4.3 The Safavid Empire

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify the factors that contributed to the rise of the Safavid Empire
  • Discuss the similarities and differences between Twelver Islam and Sunni Islam
  • Describe the political structure of the Safavid Empire

To the east of the lands of the Ottomans, another Islamic empire emerged at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Based in Iran, the Safavid Empire at its height ruled over much of what is now Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Georgia, and Iraq, as well as parts of several neighboring countries including Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (Figure 4.19). Like the Ottomans and Mughals, the Safavids developed a powerful military, ran a strong and well-organized central state, and fostered a climate in which artistic and intellectual culture flourished. The Safavids also introduced Shi‘ism as the state religion at a time when Iran’s population was mostly Sunni, and in doing so they fostered the deep divisions between Shi‘ism and Sunnism that continue to characterize relations between Iran and other Islamic nations today.

A map shows a piece of northeast Africa and the Middle East. An area north and south of the Black Sea extending down into Africa and small strips along both sides of the Red Sea and along the west side of the Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf) are highlighted orange and labeled “Ottoman Empire.” A section in the eastern portion of the orange color from Van Golu (Lake Van) down to the Persian Gulf has green dots on top of the orange highlights. An area from west of the Caspian Sea south to the Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf), Strait of Hormuz, and the Gulf of Oman is highlighted green and labelled “Safavid Empire.” An area just north of that to just south of Aydar Kul is pink with green dots. North of Aydar Kul and extending to the top of the map is highlighted pink and labelled “Uzbek .”
Figure 4.19 This map shows the Safavid Empire (green) at its greatest extent, including disputed territories (dots) where the Safavids found themselves in conflict with the Ottoman Empire (orange) and the Uzbek rulers of the Khanate of Bukhara (purple). (attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY 4.0 license)
This lesson has no exercises.

The content of this course has been taken from the free World History, Volume 2: from 1400 textbook by Openstax