Under Genghis Khan, the Mongols conquered Transoxania in 1218, Khorasan and Northern Iran to Azerbaijan in 1220, devastated the areas, burned valuable art and literature and caused bloodbaths among the population.
In 1256 the second onslaught followed under Hülägü, which brought Iran into the power of the non-Islamic dynasty of the Ilkhane (1256 to around 1335) and in 1258 ended the Abbasid caliphate with the capture of Baghdad. The Ilkhane in turn tried to become patrons of Iranian culture and, through their connections to China, particularly fertilized Persian painting at their residences in western Iran. Renewed tribal feuds between Mongolian pretenders and native dynasties, e. B. the Musaffarids in southern Iran (1314-92), ended with the bloody incursions of Timur, who had founded a Tatar empire in eastern Iran and plundered (1386 destruction of Isfahan) moved west. After his death (1405) his empire was divided. His sons Shah Roch (1405–47) and Husain Baikara (1469–1506) promoted the reconstruction of the destroyed country, and the Timurid capitals of Samarkand and Herat (city) experienced their architectural heyday. In addition to them, the Turkmen tribal unions of the “Black Mutton” ruled the west of Iran after 1450, then that of the “White Mutton”.
Safavids and Qajars
In the 15th century, Iran merged politically, religiously and nationally into a single unit, even if the east of the country increasingly absorbed Turkish and local elements and remained an advocate of Sunni orthodoxy. The cultural focus shifted to western Iran. The urban population there tended more to adapt to the ruling classes, and so slowly a Persian national character formed under the Safavid dynasty (1501–1722). Although of Turkish descent, the founder of the Safavids, Ismail I (* 1485, † 1524), who came from Azerbaijan, was able to take western Iran, Armenia and Mesopotamia and establish the faith of the Twelve Shiites. In the east he struck in 1510 at Merw the Uzbeks invading from Transoxania, but was defeated by the Ottoman Sultan Selim I in Azerbaijan in 1514. This ended Ismail’s expansion policy. Iran experienced its heyday under Shah Abbas I, the Great (1588–1629), who moved the capital (since 1529 Kaswin) in 1598 to Isfahan. European states such as England, Holland and France also increasingly sent embassies to the Persian court to secure sea and trade routes to their colonies. Iran experienced a relatively quiet period under the following rulers, until a Sunni uprising in Afghanistan (1709–22) put an end to the Safavids under Hosain (1694–1722).
Nadir, a general of Hosain, from the Turkmen tribe of the Afshar, recaptured the area after eight years and in 1736 – after overcoming the shadow rule of the last Safavid princes – appointed himself Shah of Persia. After an attack on Delhi (1739) he obliged the Mughals to pay tribute. After the assassination of Shah Nadir (1747), Ahmed Shah Durrani founded an independent Afghanistan. In the southwest, centered on Shiraz, the Kurd Karim Khan Zand ruled foralmost 30 years (as Wakil, “deputy”). After his death (1779) the country fell into political turmoil again, from which the Qajars emerged victorious.
This succeeded in 1794 under the leadership of the Turkmen Agha Mohammed, who, however, had to cede Georgia to Russia, a new unification of the whole country, now with the capital Tehran. On Agha Mohammed was followed in 1797 by his nephew Fath Ali († 1834), which consolidated the rule of the dynasty, Khorasan regained and maintained despite foreign influence, of course, from the loss of Armenia and the northern half of Azerbaijan to the Russians (1813 Treaty of Golistan, 1828 von Türkmentschai). After his death, Iran got into the power-political conflict of interests between Russia and Great Britain over the expansion of their influence in the Middle East. After the temporary occupation of Afghanistan in 1839 and the port of Bushehr the British won the preponderance, while popular opinion temporarily leaned towards the Russians, but without Iran taking action against the Ottoman Empire in their favor during the Crimean War (1853-56). During this time the border with Afghanistan was established. The religious movement of Babism shook the country; the Baha’i religion has won a considerable number of followers since 1860.
Nasir od-Din (1848–96) began, partly under the influence of several trips to Europe, with far-reaching reforms, e. B. in the field of coinage and the post office. He waged Iran’s last war for a long time in 1856/57 and was ultimately able to maintain the independence of his country thanks to the British-Russian conflict. But under him the struggle of the neighbors for all sorts of concessions in the country began. Theconcession granted tothe Canadian W. K. D’Arcy in 1901 to extract crude oillater proved to be particularly far-reaching. The new, weak Shah Mosaffar od-Din (1896–1907), under pressure from some enlightened landowners and Shiite clergy, had to consent to the convening of a national assembly and in 1906 to enact a constitution (valid until 1979). In 1907 the country was divided into a British (in the southeast), a Russian (in the northwest) and a neutral zone and thus a pawn for foreign powers during the First World War. Russian, Turkish and British troops occupied the officially neutral country. The Germans also tried to exert their influence.
The Russian Revolution (1917) and the annulment of the Russian-British treaty of 1907 over Persia by the Bolshevik government eased Russian pressure on the country. In 1919, Great Britain occupied almost all of Persia and urged its government to conclude a protectorate treaty, which, however, was not ratified. When the government of Bolshevik Russia renounced all Russian claims (e.g. from bonds, concessions and contracts) against Iran in the Russian-Persian treaty of February 26, 1921 and withdrew its troops, Great Britain also took action on the same day the 1919 treaty ceased to be in force.