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Born July 17, 1487, in Ardebil; died there May 23, 1524. Founder and first shah of the Safavid state.
Ismail I was one of the sons of a sheikh of the Safavi order. In 1500–01 he established his authority in Azerbaijan with the support of the Kizilbash tribes. He also seized the city of Tabriz. Between 1503 and 1510, Ismail I subjugated almost all of Iran, Armenia, and Arabic Iraq and part of Middle Asia and neighboring regions. His advance westward led to war in 1514 between the Safavids and the Ottomans. In the Battle of Chaldiran (1514), Shah Ismail suffered defeat and lost western Armenia, Kurdistan, and Arabic Iraq. He encouraged the development of handicrafts and trade and strengthened the machinery of state. Under Ismail, Shiism was proclaimed the state religion. He patronized poets, artists, and scholars and was himself a major Azerbaijani poet (writing under the pseudonym of Khatai).