Isma'il I

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Isma'il I

biographical name

(born July 17, 1487, Ardabil, Azer.—died May 23, 1524, Ardabil, Safavid Iran) Shah of Iran (1501–24) and founder of the Safavid dynasty. Born into a Shi'ite family with close ties to the Sunnite Sufi tradition, he became head of a Shi'ite military force, the Kizilbash, at age 14. He captured Tabriz in 1501 and proclaimed himself shah of Iran, bringing the whole country and portions of modern-day Iraq under his control. In 1510 his troops defeated the Sunnite Uzbeks. His proclamation of Shi'ism as the official creed prompted the staunchly Sunnite sultan of the Ottoman Empire to order an invasion of Iran in 1514. Isma'il lost the Battle of Chaldiran, but mutiny among the Ottoman troops forced their withdrawal. The conflict between the Safavids and their Sunnite neighbours continued for over a century.

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