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Urban populations had been falling because of famine, epidemics, and migration to more prosperous areas. These trends accelerated when nomadic depredations reached a peak in the second half of the century and the dynasty of Khwarazmshahs, established by a lieutenant of one of the Seljuk sultans, proved overly rapacious. He conquered eastern Iran and left armies in the west to expand Mongol territory after he withdrew in The devastations of the Mongols are proverbial, but Iran was already in a deep state of economic and demographic decline before they arrived.
He established a separate Mongol state, subordinate to that of the Great Khan in Mongolia, to be ruled by his descendants. This was called the Ilkhan empire, from the title of the rule.
Several of the Ilkhans took steps to rebuild the Iranian economy. Ghazan Khan converted the dynasty to Islam.
Their center of rule was in Azerbaijan, the northwestern province, which had seldom played an important role in earlier Iranian history. Eastern Iran, which had flourished in the earlier Islamic centuries, never fully recovered economically or regained political importance. The population of Azerbaijan adopted the Turkic language of the tribes that settled in the region both before and after the Mongol invasion. The Mongol language left little imprint on Iran because few Mongols settled permanently in Ilkhan territory. Politically, Iran dissolved into regional dynasties of varying origins.
Some claimed power in the name of the descendant of Genghis Khan. Others, such as the Sarbadarids in the northeast, based their rule on religion. The distinction was often unclear, since their emphasis was on emotional religious experience rather than legal structures and definitions. Timur, known in English as Tamerlane, swept away these petty dynasties in his merciless conquest of Iran in the s. He was a Turkic ruler from Central Asia with an ambition to outdo the incredible conquests of Genghis Khan, one of his ancestors. When he died in he had subdued every adversary from the Aegean Sea to Delhi and was on his way to attempt the conquest of China.
Iran again fell apart among rival petty dynasties. The Akkoyunlu state centered in Azerbaijan was one of the most hereditary leaders of a Sufi order known as the Safaviyya, but they later grew fearful of their popularity with the Turkic tribes. The Safavid empire fought the Ottomans frequently with mixed success. Their wars fixed the Zagros Mountains as the western border of Iran down to the modern times. Safavid power and culture flourished in the early seventeenth century under Shah Abbas I. Isfahan, the capital, became a magnificent showplace.
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Shah Abbas established a large Armenian community there. Surviving mosques, silks, carpets, and miniature paintings show this to be one of the most creative and flourishing periods in Iranian history. However, administrative and economic problems, combined with rivalries between Turks and Iranians, undermined the empire. By it was so weak that an army of marauders from Afghanistan was able to take and plunder Isfahan. An able general, who dispensed with the fiction of Safavid rule and himself took the throne as Nadir Shah, rebuilt an ephemeral empire and conquered as far east as Delhi.
But Iran rapidly fell apart again after his death in The Zand family based in Shiraz was for a while the most powerful political force in Iran, but in the s a family of leaders of the Qajar tribe eclipsed the Zands and established a new unified Iranian state. The Qajar dynasty, which never approached the Safavids in power, wealth or culture, ruled throughout the nineteenth century. Occasional efforts at reform and westernization, prompted partly by the model of changes taking place in the Ottoman empire and partly by fear of Russian and British encroachment, produced no significant increase in power.
By the end of the century the country was weak and in debt to foreign creditors.
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A tour de force essay written by Dr. Shopping cart. Deutsch English. Shop New Publications. Short Description Nine essays explore the ways in which individual Arabic and Persian authors between the 9th and 17th centuries with examples drawn from the Abbasid to the Safavid dynasties chose rulers and other political leaders as the recipients for their writings, instrumentalizing or recreating literary traditions in order to forge and establish the status of an authority for themselves, to fulfill their own requirements and aspirations, and finally to meet the demands of their addressees.
Description Literature in the pre-modern Near East was an important conduit for the conveyance of didactic, ethical, and ideological concerns to rulers and other political leaders, and at the same time it served to secure the subsistence, status, and protection of authors.
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To counterbalance the greater power of their royal patrons, writers frequently invested themselves with the authority of religious law and ethical ideals, and they touted the value and currency of their own art. On occasion, the writer imparted direct criticism of his addressee, in the form of the curse; sometimes he commented indirectly, through the use of historical example or mundus inversus satire. To accomplish these ends, writers bent existing literary genres including lament, praise qaside, quatrain, ghazal, epistle, ahkam sultaniyya, historiography, mirror for princes, and shadow play to their purposes, or even recreated them.
Authors stood to gain not only material benefits but also present fame and a place in the literary tradition, while rulers received the opportunity for public display of their culture and largesse, emblems of good government, and could also hope to secure lasting memory for themselves and their houses. Nine essays explore these issues in distinct historical settings that range from the ninth to the seventeenth centuries Abbasid to Safavid dynasties , and span the geographical area between Egypt and Iran.
The present work aims to draw attention to the prominent and widespread public role of Arabic and Persian literature. Through a well-distributed set of articles, the volume explores in depth the impact of such literature in specific milieux, and across generic, regional, and dynastic boundaries. Rather than attempting to offer a comprehensive treatment of the subject indeed, no such study yet exists , this collection is intended to offer a series of detailed studies for the specialist in Arabic and Iranian literature, and at the same time to introduce to a wider audience the relationship and relevance of Arabic and Persian literature to political leadership.