Safavid empire is seen as foundation of Modern Iran. In mid 13th century, there were Mongol invasions. There were also sufi movements in the area. Şeyh Safi was one of them. Osman Bey and Şeyh Safi are contemporaries. Şey Safi had religious followers while Osman Bey has militaristic followers. They were both Oguz Turks. They displaced Akkoyunlu. In begining of 16th century, there is a religious change. In 1501, İsmail declared Shiism as state religion. At this time Safavid territory was blocked by Ottomans and Uzbeks. Uzbeks were Islamized, they were different tribes which constitute a confederation. Ottomans and Uzbeks were sunni Muslims.
İsmail created an identity, a charismatic Shah. He forced conversions, Sunnism was suppressed. Also Ottomans and Uzbeks became more Sunni. For Ottomans, Safavids insulted the first three caliphs and it was unaccaptable. Şeyh Safi was a sunni religious teacher, from Turkish and Kurdish origin. His ideas represented the popular Islam. They were Sufis and military powers restricted their orders. He began by preaching for pure Islam. When Mongols came and people escaped, Şeyh Safi helped them. Soon his movement became very popular. His son made a hierarchical religious order. They built schools and did missionary activities. İn the begining of 14th century, Timur invasions began. Timur had a sympathy for them. He released Safavid prisoners.

In the mid 15th century, Safavid order became more militant. Followers began to wish to pursue “gaza”. Şeyh Junaid (Cüneyt) was a military man, attacked even Muslim neigbors. He kept sending missionaries. Safavids were not yet a state. Only a military order. Karakoyunlu Cihan Şah got suspicious, forced Junaid to leave. He made an allience with Uzun Hasan of Akkoyunlu.

So, why didn’t anyone exterminate Safavids? They were religious people and had followers. They were not easy to eliminate. They were of nomadic origin, couldn’t be controlled. They didn’t want to pay tax and people sympathized them. In this period, they are still in Akkoyunlu territory. Uzun Hasan is responsible for them. Haidar wanted to make a state based on the order of Qızılbash. Uzun Hasan saw them as a threat. Şah İsmail’s father was killed, he was only 1 years old. In 1501 he defeated Akkoyunlu. İsmail took Tebriz, proclaimed Shah, decleraed Shiism as state religion. He saw himsel as “the hidden Imam”. He decleraed himself Shah when he was 14 years old.

1494 was Islamic Millenium, Ismail was still a child. There were millenian beliefs. İsmail wrote poems where he declares himself almost everything, these beliefs were also important in people believing him. İsmail institutionalized religion. He called Shia scholars, organized them. He eliminated rival perceptions of Islam, violently supressed Sunnism. He made centralization efforts, similar to Ottomans. Emirs were given lands. He claimed gaza. When he died, Tahmasp succeeded. For 10 years Qızılbahs emirs were ruling. He cleared millenium aspects, he still had charisma but not as the way Ismail had it. Then Shah Abbas is an important figure. He ended the war with Ottomans. He wanted peace to deal with domestic issues. Qızılbash emirs were getting stronger, he wanted to stabilize the country. He established a strong household army like jannisaries, invested in fire arms, emphasized european trade. Safavids survived until mid 18th century.

Mughals, on the other hand represent the unification of India. Babur is a warlord with Turkic origin. He claims his ancestry to Timur. Timur is a very important historical figure for legitimization. There are local admins in India and Babur made ise of Hindus. There are Persian traditions active, yet Babur has the claim to become an Islamic Empire. He had the claim for gaza. Babur regularly writes in his diary, writing poems in Turkish and Persian. Babur had this particular chance: Uzbeks were powerful, Babur was allies with Safavids, fighting against Uzbeks. He progressed with the Safavid support. Babur was using fire arms, which were rarely used in India at that period. There is the distinction between Darül Islam and Darül Harp. Babur was using Ottoman war techniques in his armies.


Akbar, the successor, is another important ruler. He is totally illiterate due to his psychological illness, he can’t read and write. A very interesting profile, since he doesn’t know how to read and write he alsways listens to different people, learning different viewpoints. Akbar extended the territories, created a military aristocracy, fixing the currency, standardizing the land distribution, applying the timar system in order to bring in economic stability. He doesn’t force anyone to convert religion. He even cancels cizye for some period. He founds his own “tarikat”, din-i ilahi. He had only 19 followers. He applied a balance politics between Safavids and Uzbeks.

In Japan, 16th century there are two phases. 1) Sengoku. Later part of Muromachi Period. 2) There is Momoyama Period (1573-1615) Ashikaga Shogunate: In 14th century, Sshikaga was general. There was conflict with the emperor. He constituted another emperor. Shogun: palace official. Shogunate period: There are governors. Country is divided into provinces, administered by daimyo (feudal barons). They have full authority in provinces and they hate each other. There are samurai warriors under the lords and they were loyal soldiers. After 1560, Oda Nobunaga decided to end fighting and he tried to unify the country under his authority. He got powerful by the time and in 1568 he got Kyoto. He issued regulations although he wasn’t the emperor. In 1573, another era began. Momoyama period: Nobunaga tried to create a new state structure but he was killed. He ordered cadastral survey, measure land, did social reforms. His followers were fief holders, he turned them into paid officials. He struggled with Budhist influence.

Hideyoshi, in 1582 revenged his murder and achieved the pascification of the country. He brought land lords under his rule. He also did conquests and cadastral surveys. He transformed the land system. 1 family = 1 parcel of land. Families paid taxes to only one lord. Previously they were paying to everyone. He put a ban on piracy, no one but the samurai could be armed. He promised to make a huge Budhist statue if they agree to give up the weapons. He has allowed national identity to people. Tea ceremonies were important. They became like rituals. Emperor were still there, but symbolically in this period. In 1543, Portuguese arrived at Japan. Japanese learned a lot from them, especially about firearms. They were introduced with Christianity. Christianity kept arising. At first this first favored by land owners, they limited Budhist power. But then they were worried that their culture was weakening. By the way, Christian Japanese people started to burn the Budhist temples. In 1587, Hideyoshi issued the ban of Christianity. There were the expulsion of Christian missionaries. By the end of 16th century, Japan was pascified, there was unification. Togukawa took power then. Unlike others he didn’t get imperial titles, acted independently. He created his dynastic shogunate.

16th century China: Ming dynasty. Founder of the dynasty was a poor peasant. For them, the high culture in the world was Chinese culture. All people were capable of being Chinese, they werent racists. In late 16th, many books printed in vernecular languages. Local societies became less isolated. Great wall was restored. 15th-16th: Ming policy was to control Mongols. There were two options: shut down the borders or increase trade with Mongols. In 17th century, economy wasn’t good because of little ice age. Agriculture collapsed. In 1583, First catholic church was established in China.