ALTHOUGH more has been written about Persia than of any foreign country of which we have a knowledge, the want of a concise and connected narrative of the events that have occurred there, render its history but very little known. The compilers of gazetteers have considered it an unfathomable ocean, and therefore have not even dipped into it. Hanway’s Travels, and Sir John Malcolm’s splendid History, supply ample materials; but both these books are so large and so expensive, that few people have an opportunity, or leisure, to consult them: of the latter I could not procure a single copy in the extensive city of Bath.

I have therefore thought it requisite, before Humayun’s entering Persia, to give a sketch of its history, that the reader may be in some measure introduced to the people about to be described.

The conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great took place about A. M. 3635.

The nominal conquest by the Romans, under Trajan, about A. D. 100.

It was then governed by native dynasties till the year of our Lord 628, when it was subdued by the Arabians, and for about 180 years it remained subject to the Khalifs of Bagdad.

In the early part of the eighth century, the governors of the provinces assumed independence, and Persia was divided between a number of con­tending princes.

In the twelfth century these petty princes were all subdued by the Tartar or Tûrk Zingis (Jengyz) Khàn, whose empire extended from the eastern borders of China to the shores of the Mediterranean sea. The descendants of that conqueror, although disunited among themselves, retained possession of Persia till the end of the fourteenth century, when they were all subdued by the Great Moghul, Timûr.

Some time after the death of Timûr, the Uzbegs got possession of the northern provinces of Persia. But it is related in the Memoirs of Timûr,* that after the defeat of Bajazet, the conqueror while returning towards his own dominions (A. D. 1402-3), in passing through the city of Ardebyl, visited a celebrated Musselman Saint, called Shykh Sudder addyan Seffy, and at the termination of the interview, the Emperor asked the Saint what he could do to oblige him? the Saint replied, “liberate your captives:” the Emperor responded, “I not only liberate them, but give them to you.” He did so; and these captives, amounting to 40,000 persons, many of them of good family, became the devoted adherents of the Saint, and their posterity continued the same attachment to his descendants.

This celebrated character (the Saint) claimed his descent in a direct line from Aly, the son-in-law of the Arabian prophet, and was a strenuous advo­cate for the rights of his progenitors, and thereby became the leader of the sect of Shyãhs in Persia. He is said to have been assassinated, but his magnificent tomb still exists at Ardebyl, and must not be confounded with the mausoleum of Shãh Seffy, which is at Kom; both are described in Chardin’s Travels. The Saint left three grandsons, the youngest of whom, Juneyd, was brought up privately in the province of Ghilan. He was educated in the tenets of his grandfather, with an avowed enmity to the reigning powers, and was killed by the Prince of Shirwân. He was succeeded by his son Hyder, whose mother having been a daughter of Uzun Hussen, the Uzbeg Chief, found a number of adherents; but he was also killed in an attack on Shirwãn.

Ismael, third son of Hyder, was a child during these events; but at the age of fourteen he put himself at the head of his followers, attacked the Ruler of Shirwân, and defeated him. Ismael then assumed the title of Shâh, and became one of the most celebrated monarchs of the age. He is said to have died A. H. 930, A. D. 1523.

He was succeeded by his eldest son Tahmásp Myrzâ, then only ten years of age, the person whose protection, nineteen years afterwards, was sought by the unfortunate Exile of Hindûstán. Authors differ much with regard to the character of this Prince; but we cannot do less than transcribe the portrait given of him by the able historian of Persia. (See Persian History, vol. i. page 508.)

“The reign of Tamâsp owes much of its celebrity to the truly royal and hospitable reception he gave to the Emperor Hoomãyun when that monarch was obliged to fly from India and to take shelter in his dominions. The Persians have in all ages boasted of their hospitality; and the vanity of every individual is concerned in support­ing the pretensions of his country to a superiority over others in the exercise of this national virtue. The arrival of the fugitive Hoomâyun presented an opportunity of a very singular nature for the display of this noble quality; and we know no example of a distressed monarch being so royally welcomed, so generously treated, and so effectually relieved.” The reader is requested to keep this panegyric in recollection.

During the greater part of Sháh Tahmâsp’s reign, he was engaged in wars with Solimân the Turkish emperor. He died at the age of sixty-four,* after a reign of more than fifty-three years. The Seffy (Sophy) dynasty ruled over Persia for two centuries, which period may be considered as its Augustan age.* Their names were:

ShâhIsmael Seffy.
....Ismael II.
....Abbas, the Great.
....Seffy, the Cruel.
....Abbas II.
....Tahmásp II.

The Seffys were displaced by the Afghâns, who took the title of Sultân, but in their turn were expelled (A. D. 1736) by the celebrated Nadir Shâh.

The descendants of Nadir were overturned by the Zend family, who were succeeded by the Cajars (a Tûrky tribe), of whom Futteh Aly Shâh, the present monarch, is the second of that dynasty.