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Ismail I
اسماعیل یکم
Сефи 1й 1629-42.jpg
Portrait of Ismail I
Shahanshah of Iran
Reign 22 December 1501 – 23 May 1524
Coronation 7 November 1502
Successor Tahmasp I
Born 17 July 1487
Ardabil, Iran
Died 23 May 1524(1524-05-23) (aged 36)
Near Tabriz, Iran
Burial Sheikh Safi Shrine Ensemble, Ardabil, Iran
Spouse Behruza Khanum
Tajlu Khanum
Issue See below
Full name
Abu'l-Moẓaffar Ismā'īl ibn Shaykh Ḥaydar ibn Shaykh Junayd
Regnal name
Shah Ismail I
House House of Safavi
Father Shaykh Haydar
Mother Halima Begum
Religion Twelver Shia Islam

Ismail I (Persian: اسماعیل July 17, 1487 – May 23, 1524), also known as Shah Ismail I (شاه اسماعیل), was the founder of the Safavid dynasty, ruling from 1501 to 23 May 1524 as Shah of Iran (Persia).

The rule of Ismail is one of the most vital in the history of Iran. Before his accession in 1501, Iran, since its conquest by the Arabs eight-and-a-half centuries earlier, had not existed as a unified country under native Iranian rule, but had been controlled by a series of Arab caliphs, Turkic sultans, and Mongol khans. Although many Iranian dynasties rose to power amidst this whole period, it was only under the Buyids that a vast part of Iran proper returned to Iranian rule (945-1055).

The dynasty founded by Ismail I would rule for over two centuries, being one of the greatest Iranian empires and at its height being amongst the most powerful empires of its time, ruling all of present-day Iran, Azerbaijan Republic, Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, as well as parts of modern-day Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It also reasserted the Iranian identity in large parts of Greater Iran. The legacy of the Safavid Empire was also the revival of Iran as an economic stronghold between East and West, the establishment of an efficient state and bureaucracy, its architectural innovations and its patronage for fine arts.

One of his first actions, was the proclamation of the Twelver sect of Shia Islam to be the official religion of his newly formed state, which had major consequences for the ensuing history of Iran. Furthermore, this drastic act also gave him a political benefit of separating the growing Safavid state from its strong Sunni neighbors—the Ottoman Empire to the west and the Uzbek confederation to the east. However, it brought into the Iranian body politic the implied inevitability of consequent conflict between the shah, the design of a "secular" state, and the religious leaders, who saw all secular states as unlawful and whose absolute ambition was a theocratic state.

Ismail was also a prolific poet who, under the pen name Khaṭāʾī (Persian tr. "the wrongful"), contributed greatly to the literary development of the Azerbaijani language. He also contributed to Persian literature, though few of his Persian writings survive.

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