Tabaristan also known as Tapuria was the name of the former historic region in the southern coasts of Caspian sea roughly in the location of the northern and southern slopes of Elburz range in Iran. The region roughly corresponded to the modern Iranian provinces of Mazandaran, Gilan, Golestan, northern Semnan, and a little part of Turkmenistan.
The Amardians are believed to have been the earliest inhabitants of the region where modern day Mazanderan and Gilan are located. The establishment of the early great kingdom dates back to about the first millennium BCE when the Hyrcanian Kingdom was founded with Sadracarta (somewhere near modern Sari) as its capital. Its extent was so large that for centuries the Caspian Sea was called the Hyrcanian Ocean. The first known dynasty were the Faratatians, who ruled some centuries before Christ. During the rise of the Parthians, many of the Amerdians were forced into exile to the southern slopes of the Elburz mountains known today as Varamin and Garmsar, and the Tabaris (who were then living somewhere between today's Yaneh Sar to the north and Shahrud to the south) replaced them in the region. During the indigenous Gushnaspian dynasty many of the people adopted Christianity. In 418 CE the Tapurian calendar (similar to the Armenian and Galeshi) was designed and its use implemented. The Gashnaspians ruled the region until 528 CE, when, after a long period of fighting, the Sasanian King Kavadh I defeated the last Gashnaspian king.
When the Sasanian Empire fell, Yazdegerd III ordered Adhar Valash to cede the dominion to spahbed Gil Gavbara in 645 CE, while western and Southern Gilan and other parts of Gil's domain merged under the name of Tapuria. He then chose Amol as capital of United Tapuria in 647 CE. The dynasty of Gil was known as Gavbareh in Gilan, and as the Dabuyids in eastern Tapuria.
Tabaristan was one of the last parts of Persia to fall to the Muslim Conquest, maintaining resistance until 761 (cf. Khurshid of Tabaristan). Even afterwards, Tabaristan remained virtually independent of the Caliphate.[page needed]
Farrukhan the Great (the fourth king of the Dabuyids) expanded Tapuria to eastern parts of today's Turkmenistan and repulsed the Turks around 725 CE.
While the Dabuyids were in plain regions, the Sokhrayans governed the mountainous regions. Vandad Hormozd ruled the region for about 50 years until 1034 CE. After 1125 CE, (the year Maziar was assassinated by subterfuge) an increase in conversion to Islam was achieved, not by the Arab Caliphs, but by the Imam's ambassadors.
Mazandaranis and Gilaks were one of the first groups of Iranians to convert directly to Shia Islam.
Tapuria remained independent until 1596, when Shah Abbas I, Mazandarani on his mother's side, incorporated Mazandaran into his Safavid empire, forcing many Armenians, Georgians, Kurds and Qajar Turks to settle in Mazandaran. Pietro Della Valle, who visited a town near Pirouzcow in Mazandaran, noted that Mazandarani women never wore the veil and didn't hesitate to talk to foreigners. He also noted that he had never encountered people with as much civility as the Mazandaranis.
After the Safavid period, the Qajars began to campaign south from Mazandaran with Agha Mohammad Khan who already incorporated Mazandaran into his empire in 1782. On 21 March 1782, Agha Mohammad Shah proclaimed Sari as his imperial capital. Sari was the site of local wars in those years, which led to the transfer of the capital from Sari to Tehran by Fath Ali Shah.
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