(1502–1736) Persian dynasty. It was founded by Isma'il I, who, by converting his people from Sunnite to Shi'ite Islam and adopting the trappings of Persian monarchy, planted the seeds of a unique national and religious identity. He captured Tabriz from the Ak Koyunlu and became shah of Azerbaijan (1501) and Persia (1502). 'Abbas I (r. 1588–1629) brought the dynasty to its peak; his capital, Esfahan, was the centre of Safavid architectural achievement. The dynasty declined in the century following his reign, pressed by the Ottoman Empire and the Mughal dynasty, and fell when a weak shah, Tahmasp II, was deposed by his general, Nadir Shah.
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