Isfahan during the Turko-Mongol Period (11th-15th Centuries)

In: Eurasian Studies
David Durand-Guédy Independent scholar

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This article deals with the history of Isfahan during the five centuries between the arrival of the Turks and the beginning of the Safavid period. It attempts to identify the continuities and ruptures from three different perspectives: To what extent can we speak of an urban decline? What was the relationship of the Isfahanis with the imperial rulers? How did the general context impact the makeup and the organisation of the society? It appears that Isfahan demonstrated remarkable resilience over the period, and that it is only beginning with the Timurid period that we can speak of a decline. Likewise, there is remarkable continuity in the ways in which the local elites collaborated with or resisted the imperial players. The role of the Ṣāʿid family, which held the cadial function over four centuries, is emblematic in this respect. Conversely, under special circumstances, the imperial players were able to exert great substantial influence on the local communities, and it is this political backing which explains the strengthening of the Hanafis in the sixth/twelfth century, and that of the Shiis in the following. One of the main accomplishments of this synthesis view of Isfahan history is that it assesses the effects of the Mongol domination relative to that of other periods.

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