Iran History – from The Sassanid Empire to Qagiar Dynasty

By | December 16, 2021

The Sassanid empire. The name derives from that of Sasan, ancestor of Ardashir. The empire lasted four centuries and in foreign policy the Parthian tradition continued, in a chronic war against Rome first, and then, from the 5th century, against Byzantium. As regards the organization of the state and internal events, this period is better known than the Arsacidic one, through Greek, sire, Armenian and Arab sources, as well as for the remains of the Middle Persian national literature and epigraphic documents. In 613-616, Sassanid armies reached Damascus, Jerusalem and Egypt, as they had already before (570) arrived in Yemen; but, between ebbs and flows, the substantial equilibrium between the two adversaries was maintained until the end and neither was able to strike the mortal blow on the other. In the East the Sassanids fought to stem the infiltration and offensive of the Turks, appeared in the 6th century. in Central Asia. Inside, the full restoration of the Zoroastrian religious tradition took place under them, with Mazdeanism erected for the first time as the state religion, the establishment of the sacred canon and a powerful organization of the clergy, now allied now adverse to kings, persecuting the Christianity and the new dualistic heresies (Manichaeism, Mazdacism). The greatest figure of the Sassanid dynasty is Chosroes (Khusraw) I Anushirwan (531-579), the contemporary and rival of Justinian: a magnificent and enlightened despot, whose memory remained very vivid in the later tradition, even in the Muslim era. Having known with him the highest degree of political power and cultural splendor (influences from India and China on the one hand, and to a lesser extent from Hellenistic philosophy and science). For Iran military, please check

From the Arab invasion to the Turkmen dynasties. The Arab invasion, which began almost immediately after Muhammad’s death (632), wiped out the Sassanid empire in a few years and inaugurated a new period in its history for Persia; Zoroastrianism rapidly declined in the face of intense Islamization. Around 650 the Arab conquest can be said to be over, except for some inaccessible areas of the Caspian coast. Persia proper was for almost two centuries a province of the empire of the caliphs, a frontier mark for further expansion towards E. But Arab tribal rivalries and Iranian national and social ferments caused that revolution to explode in the 8th century. it overthrew the Caliphate of the Umayyads (661-750) and replaced that of the Abbasids (750-1258), also Arabs but supported by Iranian military and civilian forces. A few decades later, those autonomous peripheral dynasties began to form in North-East Persia with which the disintegration of the unitary Islamic caliphate began. The dynasty of the Samanids (10th century), Iranian, played a primary part in the resurrection of the Persian national and cultural consciousness, albeit within the now immutable framework of Muslim civilization. The Samanids were succeeded by the Ghaznavids (10th-11th century), Turks of descent but culturally Iranian. The advent (11th century) of the Seljuks, Iranized Turks, recreated a great unitary state in the eastern provinces of the caliphate. The Seljuk state fell towards the middle of the 12th century. for the blows of the rival power of the Khwarizmshah, sultans of Transoxiana, but these too were overwhelmed by the whirlwind conquest of the Mongols by Genghiz Khan (1220), which caused untold loss of life and property in the Iranian provinces. These same nomads were assimilated by Islamic civilization and both the Mongolian state of the Ilkhans (1256-1349) and that of the Timurids (1369-1494) marked periods of renewed economic and cultural splendor for Persia. At the beginning of the 16th century. the reign of the Safavids (1502-1736) ushered in the modern history of the Persian nation.

From the Safavids to the Qagiar dynasty. Under the Safavids, Shiite Islam was adopted as the national religion, mostly opposed by the local dynasties. The territorial unity of the country was reconstituted roughly in the same borders as the Sassanid empire. AO the Ottoman thrust was contained, while diplomatic contacts with Europe were strengthened until reaching, between the 16th and 17th centuries, a period of economic prosperity and administrative solidity. In 1722 the nation was overwhelmed by an Afghan invasion, which was accompanied by Turkish and Russian incursions. The kingdom was resurrected by the Sunni adventurer of Khurasan, Nadir Shah, who drove the Afghans back and conquered the country (1738), but, when he disappeared, Persia plunged back into chaos. A period of bloody civil wars followed, ending with the settlement of the Turkish Qagiar dynasty (1794-1925). This was not always recognized by local authorities and was characterized as a regime of political oppression while, on the economic ground, it ceded large parts of the national territory to European control and the exploitation of the country’s most important resources. With the treaties of Gulistan (1813) and Turkmanciai (1828), Russia annexed the Transcaucasian provinces and a large part of Azerbaijan, while important economic concessions went to Great Britain. The long reign (1848-96) of Nasir al-Din Shah it marked the country’s greatest decline, but also saw the first hints of national awakening thanks to the work of an elite of intellectuals who tried to obtain the Constitution (1905-09) and to keep the country’s assets intact.

Iran History - from The Sassanid Empire to Qagiar Dynasty