Turks, Persians and Safavid Army and Administration

  March 28, 2021   Read time 1 min
Turks, Persians and Safavid Army and Administration
It can be shown that under Isma'il Iranian dignitaries used their influence to restrict the once well-nigh unlimited power of the Turkish Emirs, something which would scarcely have been possible without the agreement or acquiescence of the ruler.

According to the traditional interpretation, there existed a sharp distinction in the Safavid empire before Shah 'Abbas I (995-1038/ 1587—1629) between military posts which were reserved for the Turkish tribal leaders, and civil and religious posts which were filled by members of the native aristocracy, that is by Persians, often called Tajik. More recent studies have revealed that such a summary account does not adequately describe the position at the time. Even under Shah Isma'Il numerous significant departures from this schema can be ascertained. The bestowing of senior posts in the chancellery and of the highest authority over the pious endowments (the office of sadr-i azam) on Iranian notables is quite in line with the dichotomy described above. But it is no longer consistent with this principle that a man like Qazi Muhammad Kashi should have become simultaneously sadr and amir. The abandonment of the principle becomes even clearer with the appointment of a deputy (vakil) for the shah who had to combine in his own person the functions of commander-in-chief (amir al-umara) and grand vizier. Even the first occupant of this office, Shaikh Najm al-Dln Mas'ud Rashtl, was an Iranian, and the recruitment policy which he pursued in this high post was unequivocally directed towards the favouring of Iranian notables and the reduction of Turkish influence. On his death in 15 09 another Persian, Yar Ahmad Khuzanl, better known as Najm-i sanl, was appointed as his successor, again with the double function, both military and civil. That he took the military section of his duties seriously is beyond all doubt, since in 918/1512 he led the royal armies against the Uzbeks and was killed in the battle of Ghujduvan. From 1509 to 1514 the appointment of commander-in-chief, or the more comprehensive office of vakil, was in Iranian, not Turkish, hands. The position is illustrated by the examples cited, and one could quote many more. They show clearly that even under Isma'il I the highest military appointments and the military commands in the field were open to Iranian notables.