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Safavids State in ihe presence of Shah Tehmasib I

After the death of Shah Ismail I on May 23, 1524, his 10 years old son, Tahmasib became the new Shah and the Kizilbash nobels utilized from his minority. Feudals began to terrible and bloody struggle against one another for the occupation of high and profitable state posts as well as for re-distribution of land possessions. Vekil (regent) of the state in the presence of under-age Shah became his lele (tutor guardian) Div Sultan Rumlu. He dismissed the emirs of Ustaclu tribe from high posts, gave back their possessions in Chukhursaad and gave them to the emirs of  this tribe. Ustaclu emirs rose against this unauthorized behavior under the leadership of Kopek Sultan. There began real fight between these sides. During one of such fights, in June, 1527, the tribe of Ustaclu was defeated near Arpachay in Nakhichevan and their leader was killed.

Regency became in the hands of Div Sultan and Chukha Sultan. Soon, they confronted and Div Sultan was killed by the intension of Chukha Sultan.

Leadership over state affairs passed to the hands of Tekeli aristocracy, which was headed by Chukha Sultan. Contemporary author wrote that, “he distributed among the members of Tekeli clan most of the districts and raised them till the title of khan and the level of Sultan”.

Supremacy of Tekeli continued from 1527 till 1531, when Chukha Sultan was killed at the result of the conspiracy, led by Hussein khan Shamlu. Tekeli aristocracy did their best to preserve their post of vekil and proposed the son of Chukha Sultan – Shah Kubad. Other Kizilbash tribes, which suffered from Tekeli, such as emirs of Ustaclu, Rumlu, Zulkadar and Afshar rose against it. There took place a battle near Hamadan among them. Tekeli was defeated. In 1531, they did new attempt in order to return the authority: the governor of Tabriz, Ulma bey Tekeli, who encountered with resistance because of his solicitation, revolted against the state, plundered the capital and escaped to Turkey with a part of his followers. Later he took an active part in the campaigns of Sultan Suleiman to Azerbaijan.

According to the contemporary author, as his predecessor Hussein khan Shamlu regarded that his first duty was to provide the equipping of his tribe with services and utilities; so, he “distributed the best lands and posts among the emirs of Shamlu”.

The fight of feudal groups for land possessions and the authority essentially weakened the Safavids state. The period of management of the emirs of kizilbash tribes and feudal anarchy, which spread in the state after the death of its founder continued about ten years.

Shah Tehmasib, who reached to the age of twenty decided to liberate from the hegemony of kizilbash emirs. He assosinated Hussein khan Shamlu in 1534 and gradually concentrated the authority in his own hands. He appointed Kazi Jahan Kazvini – the representative of civil bureaucracy his closest substitute and attained to the weakening of the influence of kizilbash military nobility in the court by this vehicle.

Shah Tahmasib, who was the wise and far-sighted statesman continued his father’s work on the enlargement and strengthening of young Azerbaijan state. Along with feudal strife of kizilbash tribes, Shah  had to struggle against the uprisings of local nobility of Iran provinces. So in 1529, the governor of Luristan revolted against Shah, besieged and captured Baghdad. He occupied the whole Arabic Irag, wrote letter to the Ottoman Sultan, expressed his preparance to accept the Ottoman authority, as well as ordered to read khutba to the name of Sultan. Shah Tahmasib I had to made campaign in order to re-conquer Baghdad.

In 1535, emir Dubadj revolted against the state in Gilan and in 1538, Astrabad was captured by local feudal, who proclaimed himself the independent sovereign and called the Kharezm khan for help. After the neutralization of these and other revolts, Shah Tahmasib decided to strengthen his position in South Caucasus. Major duty there was the seizure of two feudal possessions of Northern Azerbaijan-Shirvan and Sheki.

In Shirvan after the death of Ibrahim II SheikhShah, his elder son Sultan Khalil came to the throne under the name of Khalilullah II (1524-1535). After the previous events Shah Tahmasib did not rely on his brother-in-low-ShirvanShah and planned to subordinate Shirvan to Tabriz.

After the death of Khalillullah, who did not have sons, there began chaos in Shirvan at the result of the uprising, led by kalandar, who claimed that he was the son of SheikShah. His pretends were supported by the widow of ShirvanShah, the sister of Shah Tahmasib-Perihan khanum. Then, Shirvan aristocracy hurried to put the under-age nephew of ShirvanShah –Shahrukh to the throne, but the authority was preserved in the hands of this nobility, led by regent Hussein bey. Historian wrote that “after this event, the order disappeared in Shirvan”. Kalandar occupied even Shamakha for a while. Feudal nobility was able to press this uprising with big difficulty.

Chaos and civil wars in Shirvan coincided with the aim of Tabriz court. After the suppression of Kalandar, Perihan khanum directed to Tabriz, warned his brother that there was prevailed “chaos and disorder in Shirvan and the time for seizure came”.

In the summer of 1538, Shah Tahmasib sent 20 thousandth troop, commanded by his brother Alkhas Mirza to Tabriz. The fortresses of Surkhab, Qorqevan, Gabala were captured. Then kizilbashes besieged the fortress of Kale-i-Bughurd, where aristocracy and Shahrukh hid. Besiege continued for several monthes. Hearings about the heroism of the besieged reached to Tabriz too. Shah himself approached to the fortress. At the result of the appliance of weapsons the defenders of the fortress concealed. The fortress of Bughurd had been the Treasury  keeper of ShirvanShahs; according to contemporaries, the amount of money, precious stones and good was unnumerable here. All of them were confiscated by the Shah.

Shah Tahmasib assossinated many representatives of local aristocracy, including vekil Hussein bey with the excute of the struggle with the instigators of disorder, confiscated their properties and gave them to the emirs of kizilbash tribes. Shahrukh was brought to Tabriz and was executed later; there were quartered kizilbash soldiers with their family in the fortresses of Shirvan.

So, there was put end to the existence of Shirvan state and it was included to the part of Safavids state as one of the beylerbeyliks.

Shirvan’s including to Safavids state played an obvious progressive role in the history of Azerbaijan nation. Unification of all regions of the country under the authority of single state assisted to economic and cultural unity and ethnic consolidation of Azerbaijan.

But Shirvan aristocracy couldn’t reconcile with the collapse of ShirvanShah dynasty and the lost of their priveleges for a long time. Attempt of Shirvan people was utilized by Ottoman Sultans in their expansive plans regarded to Azerbaijan.

Separate mood of Shirvan feudals, their permanent claims to the independent governance caused to that, the first beylerbey of Shirvan, Shah Tahmasib’s brother – Alkhas Mirza decided to obey his brother only formally. In the beginning of 1546, Shah Tahmasib tried to repair his ties with his brother peacefully: the representatives of both sides met in the city of Javad , where the envoys of Alkhas Mirza did their best to avoid from doubts of prepared revolt. Alkhas promised to pay thousand Tabriz tumans to the Treasury annually and send thousand nomads for military service. But Alkhas, who was instigated by Shirvan people did not implement his promise, ordered to read khutba and mint coins from his own name.

That is why, in the beginning of 1547, Tahmasib I directed the 30 thousandth troops to Shirvan for the neutralization of the revolt. Shah troops destroyed the detachments of Alkhas on the shore of Samur, under Gabala and the troops of Alkhas passed to the side of Shah.

Pursuing the retreated Alkhas, kizilbashes reached to the village of Miskindj, circult of Akhta in Daghestan. Alkhas escaped to the possession of Shamkhal Tarkovsky with a little detachment, then he went to Istanbul through Crimea. After this event, Shirvan people resisted against the Shah troops in Gulistan, Sulut and Derbend for sometime. Consequently, Shirvan was conquered by Shah Tahmasib “for the second time”. Becaming the betrayer, Alkhas Mirza passed to the side and sevice of Turkish Sultan and took part in the campaigns of Sultan Suleiman I to Azerbaijan.

Tabriz court managed to neutralize the revolt of Alkhas with difficulty, but soon, there began new uprising. This uprising was led by Burhanali Mirza, who declared himself the son of ShirvanShah Khalilullah II. In 1547, Burhan left Kaytak and occupied the capital- Shamakha. Instead of the son of Shah Tahmasib – Ismail, who went to the war with the Ottoman Empire, Abdulla khan Ustaclu was appointed to the post of governor in Shirvan. He rose and began the campaign against Shirvan rebellors in 1549 and settled in the valley of Bughurd. After the death of Burhan, the rebellors proposed young Mehraba instead of him and after the destruction of the last one they proposed his relative, Qurbanali. Rebellors hid in one of the disappeared islands of the Caspian Sea, called Derov (probably, it was located in the confluence of the Kur to the Caspian Sea). Kizilbashes arrived in the Island and destroyed the rebellors.

The mentioned uprisings against the central authority were directed to the restoration of Shirvan state. Shirvan aristocracy, which did not rely on their power appealed to the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman I for help. Sultan, who aimed to the realization of his expansive desires wanted to withdraw kizilbash troops from Shirvan exactly by the vehicle of Shirvan people and then include the territory of beylerbeylik to the part of Ottoman Empire.

The seizure of the last independent feudal possession of Azerbaijan – meliklik Sheki was also regarded to this period.

In the presence of Dervish Muhammed khan, the son and successor of Hasan bey, who died in 1524, as Shah Ismail I and ShirvanShah Ibrahim II, the relations between Sheki and Tabriz court became strained. The governor of Sheki came to aid to ShirvanShah Shahrukh, who was besieged in the fortress of Bughurd by Shah Tahmasib I. After that Shirvan was included to Safavids state, the governor of Sheki also had to recognize the vassal dependence of the official Tabriz. But when, Alkhas Mirza revolted against the Shah, Dervish Muhammed khan supported him and sent his brother, Shakhnazar khan and his troops for the aid of Alkhas Mirza. That’s why, as Hasan bey Rumlu wrote in his work, after that Sultan Suleiman left Azerbaijan at the end of 1548, Shah Tahmasib sent Sevindik bey Afshar from Karabakh to Sheki “in order to punish the khan of Sheki, who had hidden in the fortress of Kish”.

Formal excute for the beginning of hostilities was the refuse of Dervish Muhammed khan to appear in front of Shah. In 1551, there was put end to the independence of Sheki and the vassal of Azerbaijan, Cakhetian tsar, Levan also took part in this campaign. Sheki settlers hid in the fortress of Kish, Gelersen-Gorarsan and Signakh-refugee, which was located on the foot of the Caucasian mountains. They resisted against approaching Shah troops. Kizilbashes applied the measure of fireing some points of the fortress by weapons. Finnaly, after 20 days, the walls of the fortress were destroyed and the commandant of the fortress, Mahmud bey gave the keys of gates to the Shah. The besieged people of Segnakh also stopped the resistance after the fall of Kish. Dervish Muhammed khan tried to escape from the fortress of Gelersen- Gorarsan at night, but he was captured and killed. Shah appointed Tuygun bey Kadjar the first governor of Sheki.

After the complete seizure of Shirvan and Shaki to Safavids state, the process of reunification of Azerbaijan lands and the establishment of entire Azerbaijan state had started.

Shah Tahmasib decided to strengthen in Georgia, which possessed important military-strategic position between the Ottoman Empire and the Azerbaijan state of Safavids. Contrary to the Ottoman Empire, which entered and strengthened in Western Georgia long ago, Kizilbashes did their best to invade the Eastern regions of this country.

It was necessary to create barrier against farther extension of Sultan’s possessions in the East. Georgia, simultaneously was the bridgehead for the Ottoman invasion to Azerbaijan, particularly to Sheki and Shirvan.

Georgia, which had divided into small realms even in the 15th century, was not able to resist against his magnificant neighbours. Georgian tsars maneuvered between the Sultan and Shah, in order to preserve their possessions. Kizilbashes, even in the presence of Shah Ismail I (in the first quarter of the 16th century), tried to subordinate Kartly and Cakhetia. But the decisive politics on the conquest of Georgia was realized by Shah Tahmasib, who invaded to Georgia for four times (1540-1541, 1546-1547, 1551, 1554). These campaigns were made by the slogan of jihad – “holy war against unfaithful, people”. During these campaigns, namely peaceful population suffered and the feudal governors saved with trophies and taxes, converted to Islam and passed to the service of Safavids Shahs.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"