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After the death of Jenghiz Khan, which hapjwned in 1227, Persia and the neighbouring countries were governed by officers appointed Vv his successors, who reigned at Kerakorom, in ike eastern parts of Tartary, till 1253, when it became once more the seat of a considerable empie under Haalen, or Hulaku the Mogul, who, in 1256, abolished the khalifat, by taking Bagdad After the death of Hulaku his son Abaka succeeded to his extensive dominions.

Abaka died in 1262, after a glorious reign of seventeen years, and was succeeded by his brother Achmed Khan. He was the first of the family of Jenghiz Khan who embraced Mahometanism; but neither he nor his successors appear to have been much versed in the arts of government; for the Persian history, from this period, becomes only an account of insurrections, murders, and rebellions, till the year 1337; when, upon the death of Abusaid, it split to pieces, and was possessed by a great number of petty princes; all of whom were at perpetual war with each other.

Timur Beg, or Tamerlane about A.D. 1400, reduced them under one jurisdiction. After the death of Tamerlane Persia continued to be governed by his son Shah Rukh, or Mirza, a wise and valiant prince: but it did not remain in the family above six short reigns: after continual dissensions among themselves, the last of them was defeated and slain in 1472, by Usum Cassan, an Armenian prince. There were five princes of this line; after which the empire was held by a great number of petty tyrants, till the beginning of the sixteenth century, when it was conquered by Shah Ismael Sati, Soft, or Sophi; whose father was Sheykh Hayder, the nineteenth in a direct line from Ali the son-in-law of Mahomet.

When Tamerlane returned from the defeat of Bajazet, the Turkish sultan, he carried with him a great number of captives out of Karamania and Anatolia, intending to put them to death ; and with this intent he entered Ardebil, a city of Arderbijan, twenty-five miles east of Taurus, where he continued for some days. At this time lived in that city the Sheykh Sesi, reputed by the inhabitants to be a saint; and as such was much reverenced by them. From the fame of his sanctity, Tamerlane paid him frequent visits ; and, when he was about to depart, promised to grant whatever favor he should ask; Sesi requested that he would spare the lives of his captives. Tamerlane granted this request; upon which the Sheykh furnished them with clothes and other necessaries, and sent them home. The people were so much affected with this extraordinary instance of virtue that they afterwards repaired in great numbers to Sesi, bringing with them considerable presents.

The descendants of the Sheykh made a conspicuous figure till 1486, when they were all destroyed by the Turks except Ismael, who fled to Ghilan; where he lived for some time under the protection of the king of that country. There was at that time a vast number of different sects of Mahometans dispersed over Asia; and, among these, a party who followed Hayder, the father of Ismael. Ismael, therefore, finding that Persia was in confusion, and hearing that there was a great number of the Hayderian sect in Karamania, removed thither, and collected 7000 of his party, by whose aid he conquered Shirwan. After this he pursued his conquests; and, as his antagonists never united to oppose him, had conquered the greatest part of Persia, and reduced the city of Bagdad in 1510. But in 1511 he received a great defeat from Selim I., who took Tauris, and would probably have crushed the new Persian empire in its infancy, had he not thought the conquest of Egypt more important.

As regards his Persian possessions, Shah Rukh, the fourth son of Timur, had some trouble in the north-west, where the Turkomans of Asia Minor, known as the Kara Kuyun, or " Black Sheep," led by Kara Yusuf and his sons Iskandar and Jahan Shah, had advanced upon Tabriz, the capital of Azerbaijan. On the death of the Shah Rukh in 1446 he was succeeded by his son Ulugh Bey, whose scientific tastes are demonstrated in the astronomical tables bearing his name, quoted by European writers when determining the latitude of places in Persia. He was, moreover, himself a poet and patron of literature, and built a college as well as an observatory at Samarkand. There is no evidence to show that he did much to consolidate his grandfather's conquests south of the Caspian.

Ulugh Bey was put to death by his son Abd ul-Latif, who, six months later, was slain by his own soldiers. Babar-not the illustrious founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, but an elder member of the same house - next obtained possession of the sovereign power, and established himself in the government of Khorasan and the neighbouring countries. He died after a short rule, from habitual intemperance. After him Abu Sa'id, grandson of Miran Shah, and once governor of Fars, became a candidate for empire, and allied himself with the Uzbeg Tatars, seized Bokhara, entered Khorasan, and waged war upon the Turkoman tribe aforesaid, which, since the invasion of Azerbaijan, had, under Jahan Shah, overrun Irak, Fars and Kerman, and pillaged Herat. But he was eventually taken prisoner by Uzun Hasan, and killed in 1468.

It is difficult to assign dates to a few events recorded in Persian history for the eighteen years following the death of Abd al-Latif; and, were it not for chance European missions, the same difficulty would be felt in dealing with the period after the death of Abu Sa'id up to the accession of Isma'il Sufi in 1499. Sultan Ahmad, eldest son of Abu Sa'id, reigned in Bokhara; his brother, Omar Sheikh, in Ferghana; but the son of the latter, the great Babar, was driven by the Uzbegs to Kabul and India.

But at no time could his control have extended over central and western Persia. The nearest approach to a sovereignty in those parts on the death of Abu Sa'id is that of Uzun Hasan, the leader of the Ak Kuyun, or "White Sheep" Turkomans, and conqueror of the "Black Sheep," whose chief, Jahan Shah, he defeated and slew. They were commonly called Kara Kuyun-lu and the " White Sheep" Turkomans Ak Kuyun-lu, the affix "lu" signifying possession, i.e. possession of a standard bearing the image of a black or white sheep. Between the two tribes there had long been a deadly feud. Both were composed of settlers in Asia 'Minor, the "Black Sheep" having consolidated their power at Van, the " White " at Diarbekr.

Sir John Malcolm states that at the death of Abu Sa'id, Sultan Hosain Mirza "made himself master of the empire," and, a little later, that " Uzun Hasan, after he had made himself master of Persia, turned his arms in the direction of Turkey "; but the reader is left to infer for himself what the real " empire " of Hosain Mirza, and what the limit of the " Persia " of Uzun Hasan. The second could not well be included in the first, because the Turkomans were in possession of the greater part of the Persian plateau, while the " sultan " was in Herat, to which Khorasan belonged. It may be assumed that an empire like that acquired by Timur could not long be maintained by his descendants in its integrity.

The Turkish adjective uzun, applied to Hasan, the Turkoman monarch of Persia (called also by the Arabs Hasanu 't-Tawil), is precisely the qualifying Persian word used in the compound designation of Artaxerxes Longimanus; and Malcolm quotes the statement of a Venetian envoy in evidence that Uzun Hasan was "a tall thin man,of a very open and engaging countenance." This reference, and a further notice in Markham's history, supply the clue to a store of valuable information made available by the publications of the Hakluyt Society. The narratives of Caterino Zeno, Barbara and Contarini, envoys from Venice to the court of Uzun Hasan, are in this respect especially interesting. Zeno was sent in 1471 to incite this warlike ruler against the Ottoman sultan, and succeeded in his mission. That the result was disastrous to the shah is not surprising, but the war seems to hold a comparatively unimportant place in the annals of Turkey.

Uzun Hasan had married Despina (Gr. Moirowa), daughter of the emperor of Trebizond, Calo Johannes of the house of the Comneni; and Zeno's wife was niece to this Christian princess. The relationship naturally strengthened the envoy's position at the court, and he was permitted to visit the queen in the name of the republic which he represented. Barbara and Contarini met at Isfahan in 1474, and there paid their respects to the shah together. Kum and Tauris or Tabriz (then the capital) were also visited by the Italian envoys following in the royal suite; and the incidental notice of these cities, added to Contarini's formal statement that " the extensive country of Ussuncassan [sic] is bounded by the Ottoman Empire and by Caramania," and that Siras (Shiraz) is comprehended in it, proves that at least Azerbaijan, Irak, and the main part of the provinces to the south, inclusive of Fars, were within the dominions of the reigning monarch.

There is good reason to suppose that Jahan Shah, the Black Sheep Turkoman, before his defeat by Uzun Hasan, had set up the standard of royalty; and Zeno, at the outset of his travels, calls him "king of Persia" in 1450. Chardin alludes to him in the same sense; but Hasan the Long is a far more prominent figure, and has hardly received justice at the hands of the historian. Indeed, his identity seems to have been lost in the various modes of spelling his name adopted by the older chroniclers, who call him indiscriminately * Alymbeius, Asembeius, Asembec, Assimbeo, or Ussan Cassano. He is said to have earned the character of a wise and valiant monarch, to have reigned eleven years, to have lived to the age of seventy, and, on his death in 1477 or (according to Krusinski and Zeno) 1478, to have been succeeded on the throne of Persia by his son Ya'qub. This prince, who had slain an elder brother, died by poison (1485), after a reign of seven years. The dose was offered to him by his wife, who had been unfaithful to him and sought to set her paramour on his throne.

Writers differ as to the succession to Ya'qub. Zeno's account is that a son named Allamur (called also, Alamut, Alvante, El-wand and Alwung Bey) was the next king, who, . . besides Persia, possessed Diarbekr and part of greater Armenia near the Euphrates. On the other hand, Krusinski states that, Ya'qub dying childless, his relative Julaver, one of the grandees of the kingdom, seized the throne, and held possession of it for three years. Baisingar, it is added, succeeded him in 1488 and reigned till 1490, when a young nobleman named Rustan (Rustam?) obtained the sovereign power and exercised it for seven years. This account is confirmed by Angiolello, a traveller who followed his countrymen Barbaro and Contarini to Persia; and from the two authorities combined may be gathered the further narration of the murder of Rustam and usurpation of the throne by a certain Ahmad, whose death, under torture, six months afterwards, made way for Alamut, the young son of Hasan.

These discrepancies can be reconciled on reference to yet another record bound up with the narratives of the four Italians aforesaid, and of much the same period. In the Travels of a Merchant in Persia the story of Ya'qub's death is supplemented by the statement that " the great lords, hearing of their king's decease, had quarrels among themselves, so that for five or six years all Persia was in a state of civil war, first one and then another of the nobles becoming sultans. At last a youth named Alamut, aged fourteen years, was raised to the throne, which he held till the succession of Sheikh Isma'il." Who this young man was is not specified; but other writers call Alamut and his brother Murad the sons of Ya'qub, as though the relationship were unquestionable.

Now little is known, save incidentally, of Julaver or Rustam; but Baisingar is the name of a nephew of Omar Sheikh, king of Ferghana and contemporary of Uzun Hasan. There was no doubt much anarchy and confusion in the interval between the death of Ya'qub and the restoration, for two years, of the dynasty of the White Sheep. But the tender age of Alamut would, even in civilized countries, have necessitated a regency; and it may be assumed that he was the next legitimate and more generally recognized sovereign. Markham, in designating this prince the last of his house, states that he was dethroned by the renowned founder of the Safawi dynasty. This event brings us to one of the most interesting periods of Persian history, any account of which must be defective without a prefatory sketch of Isma'il Sufi.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:45:42 ZULU