Siege of Isfahan

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The siege of Isfahan was a 6-month-long siege of Isfahan, the capital of the Safavid dynasty of Iran, by the Hotaki-led Afghan army. It lasted from March to October 1722 and resulted in the city's fall and the beginning of the end of the Safavid dynasty.

The Iranian Safavid Empire, once a powerful empire alongside its Ottoman arch rival and neighbour, had been into heavy decline since the late 17th century. Lack of interest in ruling by many of the Shahs of that period, royal intrigues, civil unrest especially amongst many of its subject, and tiring, endless wars against their Ottoman arch rivals would prove the Safavids to be fatal. (As it did in a similar way with the Ottomans later on).

For centuries, the Safavids had no difficulties keeping their multi-ethnic empire stable. During that same time, Shia Islam was staunchly favoured and spread, while Sunni was much frowned upon and often by the Safavids was tried to forcefully convert those subjects who were Sunni, while many others willingly accepted Shi'ism such as the loyal Georgians and other subjects from the Caucasus

The Safavids heavily oppressed the Sunni Pashtuns in what is now Afghanistan. Auspicing that the time was ripe and making use of the opportunity, the Pashtuns led by Mir Wais Hotak decided to rebel against their declining Safavid Persian overlords. After a chain of many events, after which they successfully rebelled against them and their governor over the region, Gurgin Khan, and had defeated several punitive armies sent by them, they had by now invaded Persia itself, and were near the Safavid capital.

Isfahan was besieged by the Afghan forces led by Shah Mahmud Hotaki after their decisive victory over the Safavid army at the battle of Gulnabad, close to Isfahan, on 8 March 1722. After the battle, the Safavid forces fell back in disarray to Isfahan. The Afghans lacked artillery to breach the city walls and blockaded Isfahan in order to bend Shah Sultan Husayn Safavi, and the city's defenders into surrender. Ill-organized Safavid efforts to relieve the siege failed and the shah's disillusioned Georgian vassal, Vakhtang VI of Kartli, a loyal subject of the Safavids, refused to come to the Safavid aid. Shah Husayn's son, Tahmasp, and some 600 soldiers fled their way out of the city. The famine soon prevailed and the shah capitulated on 23 October, abdicating in favor of Mahmud, who triumphantly entered the city on 25 October 1722.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ Lang, David Marshall (1952). "Georgia and the Fall of the Ṣafavī Dynasty". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 14 (3): 537–538. doi:10.1017/s0041977x00088492. 
  2. ^ Mikaberidze, Alexander (2011). "Isfahan, siege of". In Mikaberidze, Alexander. Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia. Volume 1. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. 426–427. ISBN 1598843370. 
  3. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (2009). A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East. anta Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. 726–727. ISBN 1851096728.