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The Autonomous State in Iran: Mobility and Prosperity in the Reign of Shah 'Abbas the Great (1587-1629)

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

Among the Safavid Shahs, 'Abbas I (1587-1629), was the chief architect of the modern Iranian state. He consolidated the state by securing the borders, establishing a central administration and bureaucracy, fortifying the economy and creating a standing army responsible not to the tribal heads but to the king as the head of the state. He turned the kingdom into a cohesive and stable monarchy. The state, with the Shah on top, using the new bureaucracy and the coercive force, reached a level of autonomy in which it was fortified by a direct access to financial resources. While bureaucracy was an instrument for regime enhancement and control, the army played the crucial role of system maintenance and was the guarantor of the Safavid rule. To achieve this objective, the state used: 1) social mobility of displacing the Qizilbash element, in favour of Caucasians, Persians and ordinaries; 2) land ownership mobility through transferring toyūls to crown estate; and 3) financial mobility.


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Affiliations: 1: University of Tehran


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