Persia underwent a revival under the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736),the most prominent figure was Shah Abbas I. Some Historians credit the Safavid dynasty for founding the modern nation -state of Iran. Iran contemporary Shia character and significant segments of Iran’s current borders take their origin from this era.
Safavid Empire (1502-1736)
The Safavids were an Iranian Shia dynasty of mixed Azeriand-Kurdish origins, which ruled Persia from 1501to 1722..Safavids established the greatest Iranian empire since the Islamic conquest of Persia , and established the Ithna’ashari school of Shia’s Islam as the official religion of their empire .The Safavid ruling dynasty was founded by Shah Ismail I. Practically worshipped by his Qizilbash followers ; Ismail invaded Shirvan and avenged the death of his father .Afterward ,he went on a conquest campaign , capturing Tabriz in July 1501 ,where he enthroned himself, the Shah of Azerbaijan and minted coins in his name , proclaiming Shi’ism the official religion of his domain .the new Safavid Empire conquered most of the modern Afghanistan & Iraq. For some years Ismail moved capital to Qazvin from Tabriz due to some border ‘s disturbance.
The greatest of the Safavid monarchs, Shah Abbas I the Great(1587-1629) came to power in 1587 at the age of 16. Abbas I first fought the Uzbeks ,recapturing Herat and Mashhad in 1598.Then he turned against the Ottomans, recapturing Baghdad eastern Iraq and the Caucasian provinces by 1622.He also used his new force to dislodges the Portuguese from Bahrain (1602) and English navy from Hormuz Island (1622),in the Persian gulf (a vital link in Portuguese trade with India ). He expanded commercial links with English East India Company & the Dutch East India Company. Thus Abbas I was able to break the dependence on the Qizilbash for military forces and therefore was able to centralize control .The Safavid dynasty soon became a major power in the world .Under their rule Persian Architecture flowered again and saw many new monuments .
The death of Abbas was the signal for the predictable period of bickering and infighting ,which eventually left the door wide open for the Afghans ,who invaded in 1722. The Afghans besieged Esfahan and eventually took control of the city ,slaughtering thousands but sparing the architectural wonders. The first Afghan ruler , Mahmud, went mad and was murdered by a member of his own army . The spheres of Safavids are shown in below picture.
Nader Shah & Karim khan zand
The Safavids were briefly rescued from oblivion by a soldier of fortune, Nader Shah ,who in 1729 defeated the Afghans ,along with the Russian and Turkish forces that were encroaching the Northern part. Nader Shah ruled Persia until 1736,when he grew tired of the pretense installed himself as shah ,thus ending once and for all the Safavid dynasty
To describe Nader Shah as a brilliant but war-enthusiasm mercenary is somehow understatement. He was megalomaniac who in a show of supreme self -confidence , invaded India in 1738 and returned with huge loot that included the Kuh-e Nur & Darya-e Nur diamonds. His constant antagonistic character rapidly wore out the companions and it was a relief to everyone when he was assassinated in 1747 .
A surprise from western Iran ,Karim khan Zand (1750-79) took power . Almost uniquely , he had little interest in warfare but instead , he was interested in social welfare .He moved the capital to Shiraz, where he built Arg-e Karim Khan and the Regent’s mosque (masjed-e vakil).He is renowned as a more compassionate ,humble ruler than any in Persian history and he insisted upon being called vakil(regent) rather than Shah (Monarch).
Qajar dynasty (1796-1925)
By the 17th century, European countries , including Great Britain, Imperial Russia, and France , had already started establishing colonial footholds in the region .Iran as result lost sovereignty over many of its provinces to these countries via the Treaty of Turkmenchay ,the Treaty of Gulistan , and the others.
A new era in the history of Persia originated with the Constitutional revolution of Iran against the Shah in the late 19th & early 20th century .The Shah managed to remain in power ,granting a limited constitution in 1906 (making the country a constitutional monarchy) .The first majlis(Parliament)was convened on October 7 ,1906.
The discovery of oil in 1908 by the British in Khuzestan spawned intense renewed interest in Persia by the British Empire .Control of Persia remained contested between the United kingdom and Russia ,in what became known as The Grate Game ,and codified in the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 ,which divided Persia into spheres of influence, regardless of her national sovereignty .
During world war I, the country was occupied by British and Russian forces but was essentially neutral .