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Battle of Chaldiran

Battle of Chaldiran

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The Battle of Chaldiran or Chaldoran occurred on 23 August 1514 and ended with a victory for the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 over the Safavid Empire of Persia (Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

). As a result, the Ottomans gained immediate control over eastern Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and northern Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. The battle, however, was just the beginning of 41 years of destructive war between the two Islamic empires that only ended in 1555 with the Treaty of Amasya. While the Ottomans often had the upper hand, the Persians for the most part held their ground. All Safavid losses in Shia-dominated metropolitan regions of Persia, such as Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Luristan and Kirmanshahan, proved temporary, being recovered from the Ottomans soon after each battle. The loss of Iraq, as well as Kurdish and Armenian eastern Anatolia, however, became permanent.

At Chaldiran, the Ottomans had a larger, better equipped army numbering 60,000 to 200,000, while the Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ians numbered some 40,000. Shah Ismail I
Ismail I
Ismail I , known in Persian as Shāh Ismāʿil , was a Shah of Iran and the founder of the Safavid dynasty which survived until 1736. Isma'il started his campaign in Azerbaijan in 1500 as the leader of the Safaviyya, an extremist heterodox Twelver Shi'i militant religious order and unified all of Iran...

, who was wounded and almost captured in the battle, retired to his palace and withdrew from government administration after his wives were captured by Selim I
Selim I
Selim I, Yavuz Sultân Selim Khan, Hâdim-ül Haramain-ish Sharifain , nicknamed Yavuz "the Stern" or "the Steadfast", but often rendered in English as "the Grim" , was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to...

, with at least one married off to one of Selim's statesmen. The battle is one of major historical importance because it not only negated the idea that the Murshid
Murshid
Murshid is Arabic for "guide" or "teacher". Particularly in Sufism it refers to a Sufi teacher. The term is used by other branches of Islam as well, e.g. by the Nizaris, the main school of Ismā‘īlī Shiites....

 of the Shia-Qizilbash was infallible, but it also fully defined the Ottoman-Safavid borders and led Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 chiefs to assert their authority and switch their allegiance from the Safavids to the Ottomans.

Background


After Selim I
Selim I
Selim I, Yavuz Sultân Selim Khan, Hâdim-ül Haramain-ish Sharifain , nicknamed Yavuz "the Stern" or "the Steadfast", but often rendered in English as "the Grim" , was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to...

's successful struggle against his brothers for the throne of the Ottoman Empire, he was free to turn his attention to the internal unrest he believed was stirred up by the Shia Kizilbash
Kizilbash
Qizilbash or Kizilbash is the label given to a wide variety of Shī‘ī Islamic militant groups that flourished in Anatolia and Kurdistan from the late 13th century onwards, some of which contributed to the foundation of the Safavid dynasty of...

, who had sided with other members of the Dynasty against him and had been semi-officially supported by Bayezid II
Bayezid II
Bayezid II or Sultân Bayezid-î Velî was the oldest son and successor of Mehmed II, ruling as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1481 to 1512...

. Selim now feared that they would incite the population against his rule in favor of Shah Isma'il
Ismail I
Ismail I , known in Persian as Shāh Ismāʿil , was a Shah of Iran and the founder of the Safavid dynasty which survived until 1736. Isma'il started his campaign in Azerbaijan in 1500 as the leader of the Safaviyya, an extremist heterodox Twelver Shi'i militant religious order and unified all of Iran...

 leader of the Shia Safavids, and by some of his supporters believed to be family of the Prophet. Selim secured a jurist opinion that described Isma'il and the Kizilbash as "unbelievers and heretics" enabling him to undertake extreme measures on his way eastward to pacify the country. In response, Shah Isma'il accused Sultan Selim of aggression against fellow Muslims, violating religious sexual rules and shedding innocent blood.

When Selim started his march east, the Safavids were invaded in the east by the Uzbek state recently brought to prominence by Abu 'I-Fath Muhammad, who had fallen in battle against Isma'il only a few years before. To avoid the prospect of fighting a war on two fronts, Isma'il employed a scorched earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 policy against Selim in the west.

The terrain of eastern Anatolia and the Caucuses is extremely rough and combined with the difficulty in supplying the army in light of Isma'il's scorched earth campaign while marching against Muslims, Selim's army was discontented. The Janissaries even fired their muskets at the Sultan's tent in protest at one point. When Selim learned of the Safavid army forming at Chaldiran, he quickly moved to engage Isma'il in part to stifle the discontent of his army.

Battle


The Ottomans deployed heavy artillery and thousands of Janissaries equipped with gunpowder weapons behind a barrier of carts. The Safavids used cavalry to engage the Ottoman forces. The Safavids attacked the Ottoman wings in an effort to avoid the Ottoman artillery positioned at the center. However, the Ottoman artillery was highly maneuverable and the Safavids suffered disastrous losses. The advanced Ottoman weaponry was the deciding factor of the battle as the Safavid forces, who only had traditional weaponry, were decimated. The Safavids also suffered from poor planning and ill-disciplined troops unlike the Ottomans.

Aftermath


Following their victory the Ottomans temporarily captured the Safavid capital of Tabriz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

, which they evacuated quickly. The Shia defeat at Chaldiran brought an end to the Shia uprisings in Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. After two of his wives were captured by Selim Ismail was heartbroken and resorted to drinking alcohol
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

. Ismail did not participate in government affairs, as his aura of invincibility was shattered.

After the defeat at Chaldiran, however, the Safavids made drastic domestic changes. Ismail's son, Tahmasp I
Tahmasp I
Tahmasp or Tahmasb I was an influential Shah of Iran, who enjoyed the longest reign of any member of the Safavid dynasty...

 deployed cannons in subsequent battles.

After the battle of Chaldiran, Selim I would then throw his forces southward to fight the Mamluk Sultanate
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt was the final independent Egyptian state prior to the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in 1805. It lasted from the overthrow of the Ayyubid Dynasty until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The sultanate's ruling caste was composed of Mamluks, Arabised...

 in the Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–1517)
Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–1517)
The Ottoman–Mamluk War of 1516–1517 was a conflict between the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate and the Ottoman Empire, which led to the fall of the Mamluk Sultanate and the incorporation of Syria, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula as provinces of the Ottoman Empire...

.

Battlefield


The site of the battle is near Jala Ashaqi village, around 6 km west of the town of Siyah Cheshmeh, south of Maku
Maku, Iran
Maku is a city in the West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 41,865, in 10,428 families.It is situated from the Turkish border in a mountain gorge at an altitude of 1634 metres. The Zangmar River cuts through the city. The common languages in Maku are Kurdish and...

, north of Qareh Ziyaeddin. A large brick dome was built at the battlefield site in 2003 along with a statue of Seyid Sadraddin, one of the main Safavid commanders.

Quotes


After the battle, Selim referring to Ismail stated that his adversary was: