Safavid conquest of Shirvan

Safavid conquest of Shirvan
Part of Campaigns of Ismail I

The battle between the young Ismail and Shah Farrukh Yassar of Shirvan
DateDecember 1500[1] - 1501
LocationShirvan (present-day Azerbaijan Republic and southern Dagestan)
Result Decisive Safavid victory
Shirvanshahs continue to rule under Safavid suzerainty
Shirvan is incorporated by the Safavids
Safaviyya Shirvanshahs
Commanders and leaders
Ismail I
Husayn Beg Shamlu (Lala)
Muhammed beg Ustajlu
Farrukh Yassar 
Bahram Beg (Shirvanshah's son)
Gazi Beg (Shirvanshah's son)
7,000 Qizilbash 27,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown Entire army

The conquest of Shirvan was the very first of campaigns led by Ismail of the Safaviyya order. In late 1500, Ismail marched into Shirvan, and, despite heavily outnumbered, decisively defeated the then incumbent Shirvanshah Farrukh Yassar in a pitched battle, in which the latter and his entire army were killed. The conquest resulted in the toppling of the Shirvanshahs as autonomous rulers, who had ruled large parts of the Caucasus for centuries, the incorporation of their domain, and lead to the eventual proclamation of the Safavid state shortly after.

Background and war

Ismail's father Shaykh Haydar and his grandfather Shaykh Junayd had both been killed in battle by the rulers of Shirvan, in 1488 and 1460 respectively.[1] In the summer of 1500, Ismail had rallied at Erzincan a force of 7,000 Qizilbash forces, consisting of the Ustaclu, Shamlu, Rumlu, Tekelu, Zhulkadir, Afshar, Qajar and Varsak tribes.[2] Shortly before initiating his offensive, signalled by the weakness of the fragmented Georgian kingdoms, he looted Samtskhe.[3] At the same time, he made the Georgian kings Constantine II and Alexander I of respectively the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti, to attack the Ottoman possessions near Tabriz, on the promise that he would cancel the tribute that Constantine was forced to pay to the Ak Koyunlu once Tabriz was captured.[3] In December 1500, with the intention to avenge his murdered ancestors, Ismail crossed the Kura River into Shirvan with his 7,000-strong force, and decisively defeated and killed Farrukh Yassar, the then incumbent king of Shirvan and his entire 27,000-strong army in a pitched battle at Jabani, near the Shirvanshah capital of Shamakhi,[4] or at Gulistan (present-day Gülüstan, Goranboy, Nagorno-Karabakh)[5][1] and subsequently marched on to reach the Caspian coast, and took Baku.[1]


By this victory, Ismail had successfully toppled the Shirvanshahs, and successfully expanded his domains. The Shirvanshah line nevertheless continued to rule Shirvan under Safavid suzerainty for some more years, until 1538, when, during the reign of Ismail's son, Tahmasp I (r. 1524-1576), from then on it came to be ruled by a Safavid governor.[6] After the conquest, Ismail had Alexander I of Kakheti send his son Demetre to Shirvan to negotiate a peace agreement.[3]

The successful conquest had alarmed the ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu, Alvand, who subsequently proceeded north from Tabriz, and crossed the Aras River in order to challenge the Safavid forces, and a pitched battle was fought at Sarur in which Ismail's army came out victorious despite being outnumbered by four to one.[1] After eventually conquering Tabriz and Nakhchivan, Ismail broke the promise he had made to Constantine, and made both the kingdoms of Kartli as well as Kakheti his vassals.[3] In Tabriz, he proclaimed the Safavid dynasty and declared himself king (shah).

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Sicker 2000, p. 187.
  2. Faruk Sümer, Safevi Devletinin Kuruluşu ve Gelişmesinde Anadolu Türklerinin Rolü, Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları, Ankara, 1992, p. 15. (Turkish)
  3. 1 2 3 4 Rayfield 2013, p. 164.
  4. Fisher et al. 1986, p. 211.
  5. Roy 2014, p. 44.
  6. Fisher et al. 1986, pp. 212, 245.


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