Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–55)

Ottoman-Safavid War of 1532–1555
Part of the Ottoman–Persian Wars

Miniature from the Süleymanname depicting Suleiman marching with an army in Nakhchivan, summer 1554, at the end of the Ottoman-Safavid War.
LocationMesopotamia, Armenian Highlands, Azarbaijan
Result Decisive Ottoman victory;[1]
Peace of Amasya

Ottomans gain large parts of Mesopotamia (Iraq), Western Kurdistan, Western Armenia, and Western Georgia[2]
Persians retain Tabriz, Eastern Georgia, Eastern Armenia, Eastern Kurdistan, Dagestan, and Azerbaijan[3] and the rest of their north-western borders as they were prior to the war

Erzurum, Van, and Shahrizor become buffer zones.[4] Kars is declared neutral.[5]
Safavid Empire  Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Tahmasp I

Ottoman Empire Suleiman the Magnificent
Ottoman Empire Pargali Ibrahim Pasha (until 1535 when he was sent to Istanbul)
Ottoman Empire İskender Çelebi (until his execution in 1535)

Ottoman Empire Selim II (1553–1555 in the Nakhchivan campaign)
Ottoman Empire Alqas Mirza POW (until his capture by his brother Tahmasp in 1549)
60,000 men
10 pieces of artillery
200,000 men
300 pieces of artillery

The Ottoman–Safavid War of 1532–1555 was one of the many military conflicts fought between the two arch rivals, the Ottoman Empire led by Suleiman the Magnificent, and the Safavid Empire led by Tahmasp I.


The war was triggered by territorial disputes between the two empires, especially when the Bey of Bitlis decided to put himself under Persian protection.[6] Also, Tahmasp had the governor of Baghdad, a sympathiser of Suleiman, assassinated.

On the diplomatic front, Safavids had been engaged in discussions with the Habsburgs for the formation of a Habsburg-Persian alliance that would attack the Ottoman Empire on two fronts.[6]

Campaign of the Two Iraqs (First campaign, 1532–1536)

The Ottomans, first under the Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha, and later joined by Suleiman himself, successfully attacked Safavid Iraq, recaptured Bitlis, and proceeded to capture Tabriz and then Baghdad in 1534.[6] Tahmasp remained elusive as he kept retreating ahead of the Ottoman troops, adopting a scorched earth strategy.

Second campaign (1548–1549)

Attempting to defeat the Shah once and for all, Suleiman embarked upon a second campaign in 1548–1549. Again, Tahmasp adopted a scorched earth policy, laying waste to Armenia. Meanwhile, the French king Francis I, enemy of the Habsburgs, and Suleiman the Magnificent were moving forward with a Franco-Ottoman alliance, formalized in 1536, that would counterbalance the Habsburg threat. In 1547, when Suleiman attacked Persia, France sent its ambassador Gabriel de Luetz, to accompany him in his campaign.[7] Gabriel de Luetz gave military advice to Suleiman, as when he advised on artillery placement during the Siege of Van.[7] Suleiman made gains in Tabriz, Persian ruled Armenia, secured a lasting presence in the province of Van in Eastern Anatolia, and took some forts in Georgia.

Third campaign (1553–1555) and aftermath

In 1553 Suleiman began his third and final campaign against the Shah, in which he first lost and then regained Erzurum. Ottoman territorial gains were secured by the Peace of Amasya in 1555. Suleiman returned Tabriz, but kept Baghdad, lower Mesopotamia, western Armenia, western Georgia, the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris, and part of the Persian Gulf coast. Persia retained the rest of all its northwestern territories in the Caucasus.

Due to his heavy commitment in Persia, Suleiman was only able to send limited naval support to France in the Franco-Ottoman Invasion of Corsica (1553).


  1. Gábor Ágoston-Bruce Masters:Encyclopaedia of the Ottoman Empire , ISBN 978-0-8160-6259-1, p.280
  2. The Reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, 1520–1566, V.J. Parry, A History of the Ottoman Empire to 1730, ed. M.A. Cook (Cambridge University Press, 1976), 94.
  3. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, Vol. II, ed. Spencer C. Tucker, (ABC-CLIO, 2010). 516.
  4. Ateş, Sabri (2013). Ottoman-Iranian Borderlands: Making a Boundary, 1843–1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-1107245082.
  5. Mikaberidze, Alexander (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 698. ISBN 978-1598843361.
  6. 1 2 3 The Cambridge history of Islam by Peter Malcolm Holt, Ann K. S. Lambton, Bernard Lewis p. 330
  7. 1 2 The Cambridge history of Iran by William Bayne Fisher p.384ff


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