Safavid Shah Isma’il II dies, 1577 CE

Today on the 24th of November in 1577 CE, the third Safavid Shah Isma’il II died after a brief rule of 14 months. Isma’il II was the son of Shah Tahmasp I. During the Ottoman–Safavid War of 1532–1555 between Sultan Suleiman and Tahmasp I, Isma’il II also participated and was dissatisfied with the peace made by the two empires.

The peace treaty of Amasya (May 29, 1555) signed by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and Shah Tahmasp I stopped the hostility between the Ottomans and Safavids for some time. However, Shah Ismail II was not satisfied with peace. Thus in 1556 CE, Shah Tahmasp assigned him with the rule of the province of Khorasan to keep him away from state affairs.

Ismail’s 14-month reign was notable for two things: the continual bloodshedding of his relatives and others (including his own supporters) and his reversal on religion. He had all his relatives killed except for his older brother, Muhammad Khudabanda, who, being nearly blind, was not a real candidate for the throne, and Muhammad’s three sons.

Contrary to his predecessors, Shah Isma’il was not committed to Shiism. He introduced Sunnism to his empire. One belief is that the aim of his pro-Sunni measures was to strengthen his own internal and external political position by appealing to the still strong Sunni sympathies of the Persian population and to placate the Ottomans (Andrew J. Newman). He is said to have been died because of poisoning or, on another account, opium misuse.

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