Shah Ismail I

Shah Ismail I, originally from Ardabil in South Azerbaijan, and a grandson of the Ak Koyunly ruler Uzun Hasan, was the founder of the Safavid Empire. He was crowned in Tabriz in 1501 as the Shah of Azerbaijan.

Ismail I established the Safavid Empire with the help of qizilbash cavalry, an army made up chiefly of Azerbaijani Turks.

Safavid Empire

The Safavid Empire was one of the most culturally influential dynasties in the greater region. The Safavid dynasty hailed from the city of Ardabil in South Azerbaijan. Its leader Ismail was crowned in Tabriz in 1501 as the Shah of Azerbaijan, and its army was made up of mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis who were called qizilbash cavalrymen for their wearing of red headbands. Under this dynasty, Shi’a Islam spread throughout Azerbaijan as well as Iran, and the Safavid Empire became a major player in a global economy spanning from China to the Americas.