History, Turks and Mongols
Neyshabur, Seljuk Turks, Ardabil, Mongol rule, Qazvin
In the 11th century Turkic tribes began migrating to Iran, settling primarily in the northwest. The Seljuk Turks, who had converted to Sunni Islam in the 10th century, defeated local rulers and established dynasties that ruled over most of the country until the Mongol invasions in the 13th century. Mongol rule proved disastrous for Iran. The Mongols destroyed major cities such as Ardabil, Hamadan, Maragheh, Neyshabur, and Qazvin, and they killed almost all of the inhabitants as punishment for resistance. Ray and Tus, the largest and most important cities in Iran, were destroyed by the Mongols and never rebuilt. The Mongols devastated many regions, especially Khorasan and Mazandaran, by destroying irrigation networks and cropland. The harsh rule of the Mongols contributed to a continuing economic decline throughout the 13th century.
Prior to 1295 Iran's Mongol rulers, followers of shamanism or Buddhism, did not accept the Islamic faith. Their official indifference or open hostility toward Islam stimulated the transformation of Sufi brotherhoods into religious paramilitary organizations. Although nominally Sunni, many of these brotherhoods became increasingly tolerant of Shia ideas, even incorporating these ideas into their own belief systems. In 1295 Mongol ruler Ghazan Khan, himself a convert to Islam, restored Islam as the state religion, further bolstering the growth of new Islamic ideas.
Ghazan and his immediate successors also adopted policies that reversed Iran's economic decline. In the late 13th and early 14th centuries, cities that had escaped the destruction of the Mongol invasions, such as Esfahan, Shiraz, and Tabriz, emerged as new centers of cultural development. However, from 1335 to 1380 civil strife weakened central authority. Between 1381 and 1405 invasions by Turkic conqueror Tamerlane destroyed more of Iranís cities and undid most of the progress Ghazan had achieved.
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