Friday, November 06, 2009

Honor Vs. Gunpowder

A decisive battle took place on 23 August 1514, at Chaldiran (Eastern Anatolia) between the Turks and the Persians. The Turks were led by Selim-the-Grim and the Saffavid Persians, by Shah Ismail.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of this battle was that, at that time gunpowder technology was available to both the warring parties, but the Persians refused to use firearms because they considered this kind of warfare cowardly and honorless.

The Persians were, of course, routed - the swords were no match for the guns. Shah Ismail may have won the moral ground but he lost his kingdom and died a heartbroken alcoholic after his wives were given as war-booty to the Ottoman commander's.

In the long-term, the battle ruined the Shia notions of an infallible Murshid (the king as a religious head) and the Caliphate shifted to Istanbul; the Sunni's then dominated Middle-East for the next hundred years. The present-day border between Turkey and Iran was defined by this battle, as well as the reason why the capital of Persia shifted from Tabriz to Tehran.

One of the tribes that switched loyalties was the Kurds and their identity crisis continues to haunt Iraq, Iran and Turkey even today.

Seen in this perspective, it is hardly surprising that the Iranians today prefer to have the perceived safety of nuclear weapons rather than the dubious high moral ground offered by the West...

....................................................................................................
Links:
Battle of Chaldiran - Wiki

Sultan Selim the Excellent / Selim I / 'Selim the Grim' - Wiki

Islamic World to 1600 - UCalgary

Post a Comment