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Persia During the Safavid Dynasty

Detailed map of the Kingdom of Persia and neighboring regions, published by Nicolas Sanson, mapmaker to the King of France.

The map shows the area in the midst of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736), at the beginning of modern Persia. It also extends south into northern Arabian peninsula, east into the Indus River Valley, and north to the Caucuses Region.

The Safavid dynasty is often considered the beginning of modern Persian history. The Safavid ruling dynasty was founded by Shah Ismail. Ismail invaded Shirvan to avenge the death of his father, Shaykh Haydar, who had been killed during his siege of Derbent, in Dagestan. Afterward, he went on a campaign of conquest, and following the capture of Tabriz in July 1501, he enthroned himself as the Shah of Azerbaijan and proclaimed Shi'ism the official religion of his domain.

Although initially the masters of Azerbaijan, the Safavids won the struggle for power in Persia which had been going on for nearly a century between various dynasties and political forces following the fragmentation of the Kara Koyunlu and the Ak Koyunlu. A year after his victory in Tabriz, Ismail proclaimed most of Persia as his domain and quickly conquered and unified Iran under his rule. Soon afterwards, the new Safavid Empire rapidly conquered regions, nations, and peoples in all directions, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, parts of Georgia, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Kuwait, Syria, Dagestan, large parts of what is now Afghanistan, parts of Turkmenistan, and large chunks of Anatolia, laying the foundation of its multi-ethnic character which would heavily influence the empire itself (most notably the Caucasus and it's peoples).

The greatest of the Safavid monarchs, Shah Abbas I the Great (1587-1629) came to power in 1587 aged 16. Abbas I first fought the Uzbeks, recapturing Herat and Mashhad in 1598. Then he turned against the Ottomans, recapturing Baghdad, eastern Iraq, and the Caucasian provinces and beyond by 1622. He also used his new force to dislodge the Portuguese from Bahrain (1602) and the English navy from Hormuz (1622), in the Persian Gulf (a vital link in Portuguese trade with India).

Abbas I expanded commercial links with the English East India Company and the Dutch East India Company. Thus, Abbas I was able to break the dependence on the Qizilbash for military might and therefore was able to centralize control. The Safavid dynasty had already established itself during Shah Ismail I, but under Abbas I, it really became a major power in the world along with the Ottoman Empire. It also started the promotion of tourism in Iran. Under their rule, Persian Architecture flowered again and saw many new monuments in various Iranian cities, of which Isfahan is the most notable example.

Condition Description
Original hand-color in outline. Wear and damage to top margin. Some foxing. Minor centerfold split at bottom.
Nicolas Sanson Biography

Nicholas Sanson (1600-1667) is considered the father of French cartography in its golden age from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-eighteenth. Over the course of his career he produced over 300 maps; they are known for their clean style and extensive research. Sanson was largely responsible for beginning the shift of cartographic production and excellence from Amsterdam to Paris in the later-seventeenth century.

Sanson was born in Abbeville in Picardy. He made his first map at age twenty, a wall map of ancient Gaul. Upon moving to Paris, he gained the attention of Cardinal Richelieu, who made an introduction of Sanson to King Louis XIII. This led to Sanson's tutoring of the king and the granting of the title ingenieur-geographe du roi

His success can be chalked up to his geographic and research skills, but also to his partnership with Pierre Mariette. Early in his career, Sanson worked primarily with the publisher Melchior Tavernier. Mariette purchased Tavernier’s business in 1644. Sanson worked with Mariette until 1657, when the latter died. Mariette’s son, also Pierre, helped to publish the Cartes générales de toutes les parties du monde (1658), Sanson' atlas and the first French world atlas.