© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/002249910X12573963244449 Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 53 (2010) 233-265 brill.nl/jesh Was Safavid Iran an Empire? Rudi Matthee* Abstract Th is 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 struc- ture 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
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2009
Keywords: imperial ideology; Shah Abbas I; Safavid Empire; cohesion of empires
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