The Safavid dynasty originated as a fledgling apocalyptic mystical movement based in Iranian Azarbaijan, and grew into a large, cosmopolitan Irano-Islamic empire stretching from Baghdad to Herat. Here Colin Mitchell examines how the Safavid state introduced and moulded a unique and vibrant political discourse which reflected the social and religious heterogeneity of sixteenth-century Iran. Beginning with the millenarian-minded Shah Isma'il and concluding with the autocrat par excellence, Shah Abbas, Mitchell explores the phenomenon of state-sponsored rhetoric. He focuses on the large corpus of epistles, letters and missives produced by a developed Safavid chancellery which show how the Safavids forged and negotiated their political and religious sovereignty in a diverse and complex environment. A thorough investigation of the Safavid state and the significance of rhetoric, power and religion in its functioning, "The Practice of Politics in Safavid Iran" is indispensable for all those interested in Iranian history and politics as well as the wider world of Middle East studies.
Colin P. Mitchell is Assistant Professor of History at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. After completing his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, he has has held both a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Fellowship and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University.