6 Pages

Prologue: The dream of empire


The Safavid dynasty conquered and then ruled over most of what today is the geographical entity, Iran, for 234 years. That the period of the achievement of Safavid sway over Iran is described as having been preceded by its conquest is significant. Dominion over the whole country was only achieved by the fifth Safavid Shah ‘Abbas I (1587-1629), who moved the capital Qazvin to Isfahan, making this city one of the wonders of the world. Nader Shah established Safavid puppets until his own coronation in 1736, but it was the Afghans’ 1722 invasion that in fact ended the great regime of the Safavid Shahs, which they had formed as a Shi’ite counterpoise to the Sunni Ottoman Empire.