De Facto State of Affairs upon the Arrival of New King to the Throne

  October 24, 2021   Read time 3 min
De Facto State of Affairs upon the Arrival of New King to the Throne
The ruler held solemn court at unspecified intervals for particular purposes. At these, affairs of state were discussed, ambassadors of foreign powers were received, and the conferment of offices announced.
One noteworthy additional authority was the court and imperial council, one of whose functions was to supervise the work of governors and senior officials. Since it was responsible for enquiring into complaints from the population about abuses of authority, oppression and arbitrary government, there may well have been some connection with the divan al-mat^alim of earlier times. Any verdict it announced led to sentence being passed by the shah, who also had the right to exercise direct judicial power.
Among the members of the court and imperial council the grand vizier and the commander of the mounted guard (qurchl-bashl) occupied the first place. In addition, the commanders of the royal squires (qullar-aqasl), of the musketeers (tufangchl-aqasi) and of the artillery corps (tupchl-bashl) belonged to it, as did the dlvan-begl, the state privy clerk, the lord marshal (ishlk-aqasl-bashl), and sometimes the imperial sadr {sadr al-mamalik). At the head of the financial administration, with partial responsibility for administering crown lands, was the imperial director of finances {mustaufi al-mamalik). Court administration was under the care of a supreme major-domo or intendant-general, who also had charge of the court workshops.
The Persian army, once the nucleus of Safavid power, had been weakened as a result of the tribal particularism and insubordination of the Qizilbash amirs, but reformed both radically and effectively by Shah 'Abbas I to represent a powerful striking force. Under Shah Safi, in spite of the decimation of the generals, it had nevertheless so far contrived to preserve its strength that in 105 8/164.8 it proved itself a force to be reckoned with against the Indian invasion troops during the conflict over Qandahar. But quite soon afterwards the changed political situation began to take effect. The dangers which earlier on had threatened the existence of the state or its territorial integrity had either been averted or were no longer so menacing that they demanded trained troops in a constant high degree of readiness and in great numbers.
As the government was no longer pursuing a policy of expansion, its military undertakings were confined to fairly small-scale punitive expeditions within the country or on the frontiers. The decline was first evident among the provincial contingents and not as yet among the main body of the royal army, which in 1654 was in fact increased by a small corps of bodyguard infantry, the ja^a'irt, consisting of 600 men to begin with, a number later increased to 2,000 men. The falling-off became plain among the artillery, which was the force least needed in long periods of peace and which had never been especially popular among the Persians with their marked preference for cavalry.
As time went on, the typical extravagance, luxurious living and idleness of the court did not fail to have a demoralising effect on the royal troops. Corruption in the intendant's office, inadequate provision for the lower ranks, casualness and neglect became the order of the day, and the shah's lack of interest added the finishing touches. Thus it was possible for it to happen that, in 1666, at a parade of troops, the same soldiers were marched past the shah several times over. The result of such abuses was that discipline disintegrated and the strength of units was allowed to fall, so that it was eventually said of the army that it was quite useful for military parades but no use at all for war.