Ismail II

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For the 14th century Nasrid sultan of Granada, see Ismail II, Sultan of Granada.
Shah Ismail II
Shahanshah of Persia
Shah Ismayil II.jpg
Artwork of Ismail II
Reign 1576–77
Predecessor Tahmasp I
Successor Mohammad Khodabanda
Dynasty Safavid
Father Tahmasp I
Mother Sultanum Begum Mawsillu
Born 28 May 1537 [1]
Died 24 November 1577
Religion Twelver Shi'a Islam

Ismail II (Persian: شاه اسماعیل دوم‎), (28 May 1537[2]– 24 November 1577); reigned 1576–77, was the third Safavid Shah of Iran.


Ismail was the son of Shah Tahmasp I by a Turkmen mother, Sultanum Begum Mawsillu.[3] In 1547, he was appointed governor of the province of Shirvan where he led several expeditions against the Ottomans. In 1556 he became governor of Khorasan but one of his father's leading courtiers, Masum Beg Safavi, convinced the shah that Ismail was plotting to overthrow him. Ismail spent the next 20 years in the prison at Qahqaheh Castle.[4]

When Tahmasp died in 1576, powerful Qizilbash army factions disputed the succession. The Qizilbash were split between the supporters of Ismail and those of his younger brother Heydar Ali, Tahmasp's son by a Georgian mother. The pro-Heydar faction were briefly successful at placing their candidate on the throne but Heydar was killed in the ensuing fight between his supporters and their opponents. Another faction tried to make Tahmasp's son by a Circassian woman Shah, but Ismail's supporters defeated them and Ismail was finally crowned on 22 August 1576.[5]

Ismail's years in prison seem to have affected his mind. As well as executing members of the faction who had opposed him, he also turned on some of his own supporters. He killed or blinded five of his own brothers and four other Safavid princes, including Ibrahim Mirza, so they would be unable to take the throne from him. He also implemented a pro-Sunni policy. The Qizilbash began to regret their choice of shah and plotted to assassinate Ismail with the help of his own sister Pari Khan Khanum. Ismail died after consuming poisoned opium on 24 November 1577.[6]


  • Prince Sultan Shoja al-din Mohammad Mirza (b. 16 October 1577 – d. 17 February 1578)
  • Princess Safieh Sultan Beygom (b. 1555 – d. 3 September 1617)
  • Princess Fakhr-i-Jahan Khanoum (b. 1577 – d. ?)
  • Princess Gowhar Sultan Khanoum (b. 1578 – d. 1618)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ismail II , Dr Manouchehr Parsadoost, ISBN 9643251063, 2003
  2. ^ Ismail II , Dr Manouchehr Parsadoost, ISBN 9643251063, 2003
  3. ^ Andrew J. Newman, Safavid Iran (IB Tauris, 2004) p. 42
  4. ^ Savory p. 68.
  5. ^ Savory p. 69.
  6. ^ Savory pp. 69–70


Ismail II
Preceded by
Tahmasp I
Shah of Persia
Succeeded by
Mohammad Khodabanda