The Safavid Dynasty

12 Jan, 2012 950 History of Asia

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Safavid Dynasty, rulers of the Persian empire between the 16th and 18th centuries.In 1501 Shah Ismail, a boy of fifteen, declared himself ruler of Azerbaijan. Within a year he had expanded his territory to include most of Persia, and founded a ruling dynasty which was to last for more than two hundred years. At the peak of their success the Safavids ruled over a vast territory which included all of modern-day Iran. They converted their subjects to Shi’a Islam, and so created the religious identity of modern Iran - although they were also often ruthless in their suppression of Sunni practices. They thrived on international trade, and their capital Isfahan, rebuilt by the visionary Shah Abbas, became one of the most magnificent cities in the world. Under Safavid rule Persia became a cultural centre, producing many great artists and thinkers.

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  • Robert Gleave 4 episodes
    Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Exeter
  • Emma Loosley No other episodes
    Senior Lecturer at the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures at the University of Manchester
  • Andrew Newman No other episodes
    Reader in Islamic Studies and Persian at the University of Edinburgh

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. One of Iran's greatest architectural masterpieces can be found in the city of Isfahan.