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Was Safavid Iran an Empire?

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This paper examines the organizing ideological and infrastructural principles of the Safavid state structure and questions whether the Safavid state had the capacity and universality to qualify as an empire. Until now, the Safavid state has only been given equal status to the Ottoman and Mughal state as a “gunpowder empire”. But with this approach some other aspects tip the balance towards the cohesion and coherence that enabled the Safavid Empire to function as an empire in spite of exiguous economic resources and the limitations of ideological underpinnings. When some of these aspects lost their force, this contributed to the dissolution of the glue that kept Iranian society together and to the demise of the Safavid state in the early eighteenth century.

Le cadre de cette contribution est l’État safavide et elle en explore les principes de la structure étatique au niveau de l’organisation, de l’idéologie, et de l’infrastructure pour établir si cet état a été un véritable empire au niveau de ses capacités et de son caractère universel. Jusqu’à maintenant l’État safavide s’est vu attribuer le statut ‘d’empire de poudre à canon’, pareil aux États ottoman et moghul. Mais en abordant ce thème du côté structure on aperçoit quelques aspects qui font pencher la balance vers une cohérence interne. C’est qu’en dépit de ses faibles ressources économiques et tenant compte des limites du support idéologique en général, l’Empire safavide savait remplir son rôle d’empire. À mesure que la force cohésive s’affaiblissait, la société iranienne se dissolvait de façon à sonner le glas de l’État safavide au début du dix -huitième siècle.


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