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Mahmud I (1747: The Safavid Visit)

Osman Aga

After a while being out, I set a few things straight in my life. I'll keep the details for myself. I decided to return and continue my participation on Alternate History. In the mean time I started put an halt to all of the TL I was busy with and open a new account rather than the old one. I also decided to restart the old TL, revised as I wanted to be, and finish the TL before starting with other ones. Here it is... I hope my old followers enjoy it as much as they did before.

The death of the Persian Lion
The grim fate for all humans, the poor and rich, the most pious man and most powerful Shah: death. It happened to the most powerful rulers of Persia since Amir Timur: Nader Shah of the Afshar Tribe. The warlord of the Turkmen Afshar tribe was murdered by his own soldiers in Khorasan. Nader was betrayed by his own soldiers. Betrayal that brought him to power at the cost of the Safavids had now cost his own life. Persia had been divided among the warlords who served Nader Shah and his own household. All the hard work gone in merely months and divided, like vultures preying over an animal carcass.
This did not however, mean that everybody was unhappy. Soleiman II of the Safavid Dynasty fled in a momentum from Persia, and took his nephew Ismail with him. Soleiman hoped to convince Sultan Mahmud I to invade Persia and restore him as the true Shah of Persia. He barely escaped the cavalry regiment of the Zand Amirs of Shiraz, and reached Basra dressed as merchants from India. His distrust of the Baghdad Mamluks caused him to continue his hidden life until he reached Bursa with horses he bought from Basra. After three months, Soleiman Safavi had reached Bursa and asked for an appointment with Sultan Mahmud I. Rather than being brought to Istanbul, he was thrown into a dungeon and assumed that he were to be ransomed back to Shiraz. That was until Grand Vizier Ali Pasha came to Bursa himself to investigate the situation.

Ali Pasha: “Open the gates guards…”

Izet Aga: “Out you go Great Shah”

Soleiman Safavi: “Don’t touch me, I am the Shah of Persia. I am a descendant of Shah Ismail! Who do you think you are?”

Ali Pasha: “Leave us before I take your head, Izet Aga… I am sorry you had to experience our dungeons Soleiman Safavi. But all is over now”

Soleiman Safavi: “When I came to Bursa I expected to be treated as a friend instead of a thief instead. If I wanted to stay in a prison I would prefer to stay in Shiraz. And I would like to be treated as Shah of Persia…”

Ali Pasha: “Unfortunately, there is no Shah of Persia. There is no Persia to begin with. A Shah would not come here to meet the Sultan. But the future is open for many options, Soleiman. Maybe you will regain your throne”

Soleiman Safavi: “Is this how you treat me Ali Pasha? Should I have stayed in house arrest then?”

Ali Pasha: “I’m not here to discuss with you whether you are a Shah or not. You can tell Padisah Mahmud Khan whatever you want to tell him. I will join you in your travel to the Palace”

Soleiman Safavi: “All right then, I also brought my nephew Ismail with me.”

Topkapi Palace - 11 November 1747 - İstanbul, Thrace, Ottoman Empire
Mahmud Khan was looking West and observing the war between the Austrians and the French. The war broke out in the best moment and kept his Austrian Rivals away from the Balkans. When he got the word that Soleiman Safavi was in Bursa to meet him he lost his interest in the war and wondered what the Safavid Prince wanted from the Sultan. Ali Pasha was instructed to go to Bursa and bring him back safe and sound. The idea of a Safavid claimant on the Persian throne did increase Ottoman interest. Soleiman and Ismail were brought to Istanbul, as the former would have explained his cause to Mahmud Khan.

Soleiman Safavi: “The great Ghazi Mahmud Khan… I am honored to be in your palace.”

Mahmud Khan: “I am no Ghazi Soleiman. I never led the armies in war. That pride goes to Ali Pasha. But we are not here to discuss who is a Ghazi. You came all the way here. Why?”

Soleiman Safavi: “I, Soleiman, descendant of Abbas the Great and Shah Ismail, from the Safavid Dynasty have come to your great court and ask your assistance to regain my rightful throne in Persia. If you, great Mahmud Khan, help me in my struggle the Ottoman Dynasty will forever have friends in Persia.”

Mahmud Khan: “Friends forever, sounds lovely Ali Pasha… But Soleiman, there are many other claimants in Persia. If I were to tell you that a son of Nader Shah made the same offer, what would that mean to you?”

Soleiman Safavi: “Nader… Shah? I am sorry my Sultan but who do you mean? Mustafa Mirza? Did he make an offer?”

Mahmud Khan: “What would that mean to you Soleiman? Can you impress me?”

Soleiman Safavi: “My Sultan, I will make a better offer. I will become Sunni. I will return Persia back to the Sunni Community.”

Mahmud Khan: “My… that is impressive. I will think about your offer Soleiman. But you will hear it soon… I would like to be alone now… not you Ali Pasha, you stay.”

Ali Pasha: “My Sultan, will he find out we captured Ali Mirza Khan and Mustafa Mirza here? Their capture brought us their offer.”

Mahmud Khan: “I don’t trust Ali Mirza Khan. If he had any friendship in him he would not try to hide in my capital to flee to the West. No, Soleimans arrival has turned the odds in Persia in our favor. I have no trust in Soleiman either, but his nephew… He is our secret weapon in Persia… Make sure they both become Sunni. I want to ensure their loyalty.

Ali Pasha: “Will we not risk the Persians turning against him then my Sultan?”

Mahmud Khan: “I don’t know Pasha. But they won’t have a better alternative.”

Europe in 1748: after the war of Austrian Succession
Europe had come out of an eight year war. Maria Theresia won her struggle to gain her father’s throne from aggressors. However, she could not prevent the losses of certain areas. Silesia for example, was gone to Prussia. Maria Theresia never accepted the loss and hoped for a second round. Frederick II was no fool either. His desire to keep the Austrians under pressure resulted in a diplomatic mission to Istanbul. Frederick II offered a defensive alliance between the Ottoman Empire and Austria should any of the nations be attacked by Austria. Mahmud was distrustful of the Christian leaders yet he respected Frederick II. He pointed out that he could not offer much help should the war break out any time within the next seven years. Afterwards, he would agree to help. Frederick II diplomatic mission could not get a guarantee of Ottoman aid should the Empress declare war before 1755 and thus awaited the situation. The Prussians were curious why the Ottomans could not participate in a theoretical war as the Ottoman Government has no Army reforms going on to say the Army needs an update. It had later come to the ears of the Prussian ambassadors that the Ottomans were preparing for a Persian Campaign and had mobilized the Janissaries already. The ambassador had written to Berlin that the Janissaries offer no real offensive advantages as they seem to lack discipline which the Prussian militaries had. Defensively they would be good to go but it would not help Prussia without the Ottoman Armies in Austrian land. Prussia looked elsewhere where they could get allies. Savoy was another option. Charles Emmanuel III was ambitious. He desired Parma and Austrian Lombardy. His desire for Corsica was thwarted by France who pressures the Savoyards from expanding there. The Prussians were willing to help the Savoyards to gain the Austrian land in Italy but could not help with the Bourbon lands. Spain was yet another target as potential Prussian Ally. Spain seemed close as Prussia was already friendly with the French. They would be desired in Italy to divide the Austrian attention
The Austrians did not remain silent. Maria Theresia had Russia backing her. Saxony also showed interest in turning against Prussia. The Netherlands had only a little interest in war against France after the chaos of the war of 1740-1748. Willem IV was already leaning to Prussia in an attempt to save the army. Austria however, looked West for Spain. Spain, a Bourbon led state, was controversial. Spain had nothing to gain from Prussia and only a little to desire from France. It had much more hostility to Austria.
Yeah even if the Safavids convert while in Turkeys dominions, they're not staying Sunni as soon as they have any sort of power base worked out. Still, it would mean an Iran that is stable and more likely to focus on the power vacuum in Turan and the Durranis than look westwards so it's still helpful for the ottomans. Glad to see the timelines back and I hope this time you manage to make it even better than before!

Osman Aga

Yeah even if the Safavids convert while in Turkeys dominions, they're not staying Sunni as soon as they have any sort of power base worked out. Still, it would mean an Iran that is stable and more likely to focus on the power vacuum in Turan and the Durranis than look westwards so it's still helpful for the ottomans. Glad to see the timelines back and I hope this time you manage to make it even better than before!

Their conversion is more of a sign of loyalty. One may change his mind while entering Esfahan. But that is for the upcoming updates.

Iran focussed on the Turan? Hmmm... a rivalry with the Manchu lead China perhaps? I should not say too much...

A lot of things stay the same but there are a few crucial changes added :)
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Mahmud I (1748: The Persian Campaign and the World)

Osman Aga

The Army leaves for Persia - 12 March 1748 - Uskudar, Anatolia, Ottoman Empire
Ali Pasha had amassed an army of 100,000 in a timeframe of two months. He had brought the Army over to Uskudar and prepared to leave. His Army contained 40,000 Janissaries; 40,000 Sipahis and 20,000 irregular infantry. Before departure, the army witnessed Soleiman Safavi and Ismail Safavi testifying as Sunni Muslims and participating in the war for Persia. Ali Pasha was instructed to leave no power for Soleiman and see how much support he can amass in Azerbaijan. The First Campaign was pointed to Erivan. The town was in the hands of the Erivan Khanate. The small Khanate operated independently and sent tribute to the more powerful Khan of Tabriz. The mission was to subdue the Khanate, use it as a base for operations in the region and consider the value of support for either Mustafa Mirza or Soleiman Safavi. Mahmud I had already considered Ismail as the Shah of the New Persia for the future. Soleiman was considered as a threat and Mustafa Mirza was only a last resort option. Within two months, the Ottoman Army has to reach Erivan. Between May and September the Ottoman Army had to subjugate the Erivan Khanate.
Navy reforms - 12 april 1748 - Cesme, Anatolia, Ottoman Empire
Mahmud I had already been toying with the idea of restrengthening the Ottoman Navy. The Ottomans have large vessels that can face the European Navies but the lack of experienced men and commanders is what bothered the old Sultan. Already, the Ottoman Navy was looking for Muslim sailors for the navy due to the complaints of the Admiral of the Navy of questioning the loyalty of the Christian sailors. Mahmud hardly believed the Christians were deceitful as the Admiral complained but he gave in as the Admiral can be blamed if mistakes happen. The Ottoman Navy consisted of 75% Christian sailors as of 1748 and it had to be decreased to 25% within 10 years.
The Navy had started to build a large Ship of the Line with 90 guns. It was prepared in the Imperial Arsenal and was considered to be finished by 1754 after 8 years of building. The Navy was coined as the Fetih ul Bahr (Conquerors of the Sea). Sultan Mahmud and Ali Pasha had been focussing on an attack on the Maltese and potentially defend against Venice and the Spanish should they come to aid. As of 1748, the Ottoman Navy plans were merely plans and not even completed for 10%.

Europeans in the colonies: 1748
Region I: Americas
The French had seen people leaving for the Colonies between 1748 and 1756 with about 16,000 Frenchmen leaving for North America in 8 years with 10,000 to New France and 6,000 to Louisiana. New France increased in number to 90,000 Colonists in 1756 with Louisiana reaching 30,000 in the same year. This does not include allied Native American tribes. The French fear of British attacks on the Colonies was the most important factor. Louis XV had envisioned New Orleans and Quebec as regional bases to support the Caribbean. For that to happen, the French need more colonists. The French Plan Amérique, was to have 300,000 Colonists in New France and 200,000 Colonists in Louisiana as of 1780. Not only immigration from the Mainland but also integration of converted Native Americans was optional, natural growth. Taxes were to be lowered on the mainland. The French Plan was devised as an attempt to protect French Caribbean Sugar Islands from British and Dutch attacks.
The British had their own desire in the Americas. The Colonists of the Thirteen Colonies desire to settle the lands up until the Mississippi River. Something that the Colony governments could not guarantee protection against Native American and French attacks. But the Colonies did indeed desire those lands. It meant that they were dependent on the British Government to support their gains. The Governors who had stocks in the Hudson Bay Company desired the Ohio Valley. The British are also keen on getting the French out of most of the Sugar Islands in the Caribbean. This desire would sooner or later cause war with the French. The Royal Navy was, apart from the disaster in the Spanish Main decades ago, still the most strongest navy in the area. The French and Spanish navies were only stronger if they united as if they were alone, they would be vulnerable.
The Dutch had long since given up on colonisation on the mainland Americas. New Amsterdam fell to the English and Brazil was reconquered. The Dutch had conquered Suriname from the British and kept it as a sugar and coffee producing colony on the mainland of South America. The Dutch did not bother to colonize much of Suriname until the 1750s. Willem IV had bought more stocks of the WIC and VOC to influence their course and save the Companies. Willem IV was preying on regaining the Asiento from the British to supply Spanish Americas with African Slaves. He would succeed in 1750 as the Spanish ended the treaty with the British and the WIC got once again the right to supply the Spanish Main with Slaves. Abolitionists in the United Provinces were unhappy with their stadtholder doing everything to save his companies by going as far as supplying the Americas with Slaves. It was inhumane as far as the abolitionists consider. The financial issue of the WIC improved a bit with the Asiento for the next 50 years. The balance of income and expenses were reduced with 36% in 1755. There is still a negative balance which was attempted to be secured with the increase of sugar and coffee production. The Estates-General were asked to buy the colonies from the WIC to reduce administrative costs and rule the places as the government. The VOC got the same offer but the East India based company refused. By 1755, the VOC agreed to sell the Cape Colony to the Dutch Government to avoid the administrative costs of the Colony. They would keep their right to use the harbour for a minimum price. The WIC was unsure of this. The Dutch Colonies in the Americas are entirely in the hands of the WIC. Due to the ongoing financial issue of the failing WIC, the WIC gave all their Colonies to the Estates-General in return for exclusive rights in the areas of operation of the WIC and the Estates-General taking a share of the debt of the WIC. The WIC freedom was reduced as they could no longer negotiate peace treaties or declare war. They were now a solely trade company and their war squadron was incorporated by the Estates-General as well. With only a trade fleet the WIC was dependent on the Confederal Government. The Government taking over the colony had impacts. The Estates-General had taken over 40% of the WIC debt, which was partly compensated with Willem IV giving a share of money to the Government to enforce it. For Willem IV, it was nothing if it meant to save the trade company. The government prepared to increase the population of Suriname with extra settlers and slaves to increase productivity and ability to defend. Suriname had already 8,000 colonists, 2,000 freedmen and soldiers and 30,000 slaves by 1748. This did not include the 20,000 Natives in the jungle. In 20 years time, the colony must have 20,000 colonists and 100,000 slaves. Amount of freedmen did not matter much if the colonists had reached the quota of the colony.
The Spanish had long since considered to send more colonists to the Americas. Italians, Germans, Flemish, Albanians, Croats, all who were Catholic should settle, was the belief among some Spanish officials. Increased colonists would help to defend the region against British threats. The Spanish went even as far as asking Istanbul to allow Spanish Ships and missionaries to stimulate Catholic Arabs to migrate. The Spanish had little information on how firm the Ottoman control over Mount Lebanon was and thus asked the Porte. Mahmud I was fine with it but the Emirs of Mount Lebanon had little interest in losing their subjects. The Arab plan failed and the Spanish primarily focussed on German Catholics and Italians first. Albanians and Croats within the Ottoman Empire and Austria had an easier time. The Stratioti Units, stationed in Shkoder, were recruited and sent with family and all to Spain first and then prepared to the Americas. Florida was their destiny. Many were Christians, though divided among the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Gradually, the non-Catholics had been increasingly converting to Roman Catholicism to fit in the new colonial life. The small number of Muslims of the Stratiotis remained in Albania while a fraction did leave for the Americas and ended up among the dominant Christian colleagues. The Stratioti were considered as ideal forces against Native Americans in the Northern borders and against British Colonists of Georgia.

The Danish had an easier time to control their colony. The Virgin Islands were the only Colony. Denmark hopes to expand it more with buying the British Virgin Islands or expanding against Dutch expenses. The sugar trade was valuable and there was no major threat in the Caribbean against the Danes. The Swedes had been already desiring to expand into the Caribbean at the cost of the Danes but failed to execute any plan to take over the Danish colonies. Greenland is with regards to threats, more exposed to Swedish and/or British attacks. An attack is unlikely for the moment but there is no telling what the future holds.
Region II: Asia
The French had returned Madras to the British after the peace. But it did not prevent the French from looking for new allies. The Hindu Kings of Mysore were not interested in risking the wrath of the East India Company. The VOC was interested, even though the Dutch and French were hostile. The VOC feared British success in the East would be catastrophic for the VOC in the long term. But a decisive agreement never came as Willem IV, a large shareholder in the VOC, was against any forms of anti-British agreements. Willem did not trust the British enough to be friendly but his dislike of the French was a bigger issue. He envisioned the take over of Antwerp in the near future to secure a Naval Base for the Dutch Navy. Bringing European and African trade goods to Antwerp was also a future perspective if only to challenge the stewards of the Republic.
The Mughals and Marathas were unsure whether to help the French to oust the British or help the British in subduing smaller Indian Rulers together. India was one big mess that would eventually lead up to war. The Maratha failure to conquer Goa was opening up bigger issues in India.
The Qing Dynasty was busy in subduing the last Mongol tribes of Central Asia and got certain help from Tibetans and Uyghurs who were fed up with the Oirats. The Muslim Khojas of the Tarim Basin were open to Qing conquest of the region to oust the Dzungar Oirats. And thus was the Qing attraction to Southeast Asia averted for the time being.

Caucasus Campaign - 31 August 1748 - Erivan, Armenia, Erivan Khanate
The Ottoman Army had taken over Erivan by early June and subjugated the entire Khanate. The Khan did not resist and asked for free passage to Istanbul to ensure the safety of his family and himself. Ali Pasha accepted this and the Khanate was declared abolished. Soleiman would not remain in the Khanate and the region was declared a military zone. Between 3 June 1748 and 1 August 1748, the Ottoman Army conquered Nakhchivan, Agdam, Ganca, Baku, Derbent and Gyumru. The losses counted for 4,000 soldiers during the entire campaign with deaths and captured. Ali Pasha gave command of the area to Mehmed Aga, a senior Janissary Commander of the Janissary Divan. He had 15,000 Janissaries at his command. In addition, 15,000 Sipahis were left as well as 10,000 Irregulars. With 40,000 soldiers, the conquests were settled strong. It was this very moment when Heraclius II of Kakheti feared for Ottoman encirclement and raided an outpost near Gyumru. The town fell and the Ottomans lost 2,000 soldiers with another 2,000 dead Armenians and Muslims. The news of this arrived to Mehmed Aga in Erivan and he set out to meet the Georgians in Gyumru and retook the town, losing over 300 men and killing 1,200 Georgian soldiers. In an attempt to pursue Heraclius it turned out to be fatal: Mehmed Aga’s forces were ambushed and defeated. The 25,000 strong army of Mehmed Aga lost 3,000 men and another 4,000 captured only to be executed later. The Ottoman Army was routed and led back by İbrahim Aga to Erivan. The momentum was now for the Georgians, who took Gyumru, Ganja and Oltu. Ali Pasha received the news of Mehmed Aga’s death and the loss of 10,000 men. He sent Seyyid Abdullah Pasha back to Erivan to investigate the situation. Ali Pasha left for Bursa as he deemed a new campaign three months before winter as not wise and demoralizing. Seyyid Abdullah Pasha would arrive by Ship in November and explain the situation.

Seyyid Abdullah Pasha’s letter to Grand Vizier Ali Pasha
To the great Grand Vizier Ali Pasha Hekimoglu,

As you ordered, I left for Erivan to investigate the disaster of Mehmed Aga. The Commander of Erivan had heard of the news of the fall of Gyumru to the Georgians and the loss of 2,000 soldiers and 2,000 civilians. Mehmed Aga had amassed the Army and set for Gyumru where he defeated the Georgian Forces of 20,000 men and pursued them. It was that moment when the treacherous Heraclius of Georgia ambushed him and his men. İbrahim Aga secured most of the routed troops and directed them back to Erivan. The Georgians later returned to Gyumru, conquered Ganja and Oltu.
Heraclius seemed to have prepared a raid on Gyumru to sabotage our campaign in the region. With his recent victory he has secured the alliance of the Khan of Tabriz and other Georgian Princes against our Campaign. Words have come by that the Khan of Tabriz and Heraclius are preparing to besiege Erivan by Spring. If we don’t come to aid now we will lose everything gained in the next summer.
As also ordered by your excellency, I investigated the state of our army and advise for the future. The Irregulars were the first to route in the ambush. They are not fit for open battles. As I had earlier described these units would fit well for raids and ambushes but not for professional battles. The Sipahis were the units with the highest casualties as they were surrounded and killed by the Georgian skirmishers. The Janissaries defended to the last point until they too started to flee the battle and showed strength. They left their commander Mehmed Aga die at the hands of the Georgians. İbrahim Aga’s concern was the will of the Janissaries not to follow further orders. He has the remainder of the Army in Erivan but lacks supplies for 20,000 men. He ordered Kel Mustafa Aga to take command over the irregulars and use Agdam as a base to raid the Georgians and the forces from Tabriz. If Agdam falls then the connection with our garrisons in Baku and Derbent will be cut as well.
As your advisor, I suggest assembling a New Army of 150,000 forces and divided in two. With two campaigns against Georgia and Tabriz we can draw the enemy back and destroy them in One Campaign. The forces of the Khan of Tabriz are not the strongest enemy and lack the will to fight if the war goes worse for them. The Georgians have more discipline and will fight fiercely against any attempt of reconquest.
The last point of advice I would suggest to reorganize the Janissary Corps. The Janissaries still have a decent capability of fighting but lack the discipline to listen to orders that they have not heard often. Increasing the demands to join the Corps, bringing young conscripts both Muslims and Christians from the age of 8th and not considering them as merely slaves of the Sultan. Instead of forced conscription we can let the parents send them voluntarily. These conscripts will be more valuable than the so called Janissaries who are better as merchants than as soldiers.
I hope my advice will be helpful for your excellency. I await your further orders here in Erivan.

Seyyid Abdullah Pasha
Welcome back. As someone who has recently started reading about Ottoman history but is no means an expert I'm curious to see where this goes and am looking forward to learning a thing or three along the way.

Osman Aga

Welcome back. As someone who has recently started reading about Ottoman history but is no means an expert I'm curious to see where this goes and am looking forward to learning a thing or three along the way.

Let me give a little information. The PoD is in 1747. The Ottoman Empire is not in decline yet and whatever changes happen now is how it will affect the future of this alternate Ottoman Empire. The TL starts with a Safavid pretender who are still in Persia, fleeing to Istanbul and the Ottomans starting a new Persian War soon afterwards. The realization of the Army not being as effective as before and even against much weaker Persian factions. That is where it goes different.

As @Nassirisimo made an earlier great TL of the Ottoman Empire with a PoD in the mid to late 19th century (he also makes his second TL on the same storyline again by the way), I decided to start with a different PoD. A TL where the Crimean Khanate exists, where the Ottoman Empire is a Muslim version of Russia for Europe (large and not really included) but is also not lagging behind the West. I also add my own view on how nations like Spain and the Netherlands can develop as good as possible. Adding those developments in this Ottoman TL means no extra work for those two nations.

It won't be an Ottoman wank as I do not want a TL like that with the lack of possibilities in real life 18th century. It will be a TL where not everything goes wrong. By the way, you can if you want, ask me about Ottoman History. I will try my best to answer your questions if you have. Ottoman History can be fun to read :)

Osman Aga

Georgia Campaign - 17 April 1749 - Kutaisi, Imereti Kingdom
Ali Pasha had assembled the Army once again, up to 150,000 men. With 40,000 Janissaries and 80,000 Sipahis and 30,000 Irregulars, the Ottomans had divided the Army to 90,000 men heading for Georgia and 60,000 men for Tabriz. Ali Pasha gave Bahri Mustafa Pasha and Sari Mustafa Aga the command to lead the Army into Southern Azerbaijan and take over Tabriz. Ali Pasha would lead his 90,000 men into Georgia and ravage the countryside to force the Georgians to return from Ganja and Karabakh. Ali Pasha envisioned to crush the Georgians in open field and force Heraclius or the Clergy to surrender to the Ottoman Army. Soleiman Safavi was for the sake of security left in Istanbul, as demanded by the Sultan to ensure his loyalty. Ismail Safavi, his nephew, left with Ali Pasha. Soleiman got the sense of displacing him for his nephew yet could not flee. Nader Shah's son was also left in Istanbul. Ali Mirza would only remain at his side if he joined the Ottoman Army in the War in Georgia. Nobody from the Persians knew what Ali Pasha wanted. He did not give hint to anyone what his plans for Persia was. Ali Pasha and the Sultan had already decided to settle Ismail as Shah for the Persian Throne. Mustafa Mirza would serve as the head of the Afshar Clan, a part of the Persian Military nobility. Soleiman would later understand that his stay in Istanbul was permanent, and maybe the closest he will ever remain to Persia in the rest of his life. Sultan Mahmud would not tolerate even the slightest bit of allowing him to return to Persia.
Seyyid Abdullah Pasha came to Trabzon from Oltu, which was abandoned by the Georgians, to link up with Ali Pasha. Ali Pasha set out for Kutaisi and occupied the town. The Imereti King abandoned his capital and left the clergy to secure much of the city from Ottoman raids. Kutaisi was defenseless if the Ottomans could cut the road between Gori and Kutaisi. Ali Pasha spared the city from destruction as it did not cost him soldiers and left the Clergy continuing the rule over the town until occupation lasted. They were ensured to secure law and order during Ottoman Rule and were responsible. The Ottoman Garrison would aid them when necessary.
The Ottoman Army prepared to leave for Gori and immediately for Tbilisi. If Gori has to be besieged then it can not last more than one month as Tbilisi will last longer with stronger fortification and fail the whole campaign. Ali Pasha left with 60,000 men, leaving 30,000 men in reserves behind in case of danger against Erivan or Kutaisi.

Ottoman Invasion of Tabriz - 2 May 1749 - Maragheh, Southern Azerbaijan, Tabriz Khanate
The Ottoman Army under Bahri Pasha had taken Urumiyeh, Khoy, Mahabad and Maragheh. The next target was Tabriz, Soltaniyeh and Ardabil. Bahri Pasha had already heard of the Khan of Tabriz willing to negotiate peace. Bahri Pasha was instructed by Ali Pasha to accept no less than an unconditional surrender. The Khan of Tabriz could not stay in his former realm and had to vacate the town, far back into Afghanistan. When vassalage to the Ottoman Empire was no option, the Khan ordered a defense of Tabriz by mobilizing the locals. Playing on the religious beliefs of the local Shias, the Ottomans were branded as the Armies of Yazeed, willing to destroy anything in their path just to harm the Shias. Sari Mustafa Aga sent an envoy to the Khan as a last chance to avoid destruction of Tabriz. The Khan was allowed to talk directly to Bahri Pasha in Maragheh to avoid bloodshed. Bahri Pasha remained at his demand: Tabriz had to surrender. When negotiations would lead to nothing, the Ottoman Army took position around Tabriz and surrounded the city. Bahri Pasha had no real strategy as he was too cautious to lose too many soldiers for an assault on Tabriz. He wanted Tabriz to succumb to starvation and surrender. To achieve this, he needs to remain patient until winter. By then the population of Tabriz will surrender or he has to retreat. The Khan has no interest in surrendering yet.

25 May 1749 - Ottoman Campaign in Georgia - Kingdom of Kakheti-Kartili
Ali Pasha had taken over Gori. The city had no impressive defenses and was overrun after days of heavy bombardment, making sleeping impossible. The restless Georgians could not flee from Gori. The Georgian defenders hoped to fight until relief came from Tbilisi. But Heraclius had no interest in relieving Gori. He had 28,000 men of his original 40,000. He wanted these men to stay intact to use it as a stealth attack. The town of Gori fell to the Ottoman Army on 19 May 1749 and he set out of Tbilisi. Gori was exposed to pillage of the Ottoman Army, much against the desire of Ali Pasha, who wanted the Army to remain as disciplined as possible. When confronting his soldiers, the Janissaries and Sipahis were not willing to listen and went as far as threatening Ali Pasha. In his journal, Ali Pasha wrote about what he experienced with the Army and what his plans were for the upcoming years. Being 67 already, Ali Pasha was an elder man and had little chance to deal with these things. Seyyid Abdullah, Bahri Mustafa, Mehmed Ragip, these were the men to start the reform process of the Ottoman Army. While capable of fighting, the Army proved that it lacked discipline in a larger war to fight. Mehmed Ragip Pasha, a senior government official was sent to Istanbul to present the Sultan with the eight point plan of Grand Vizier Ali Pasha. The points were as followed:
  1. Discharge every Janissary who has no military experience of 5 years and older before the war
  2. Arrest the Aga’s of the regiments if they show the slightest signs of rebellious behavior
  3. Implement the recruitment of Janissaries from the age of 8 till 13
  4. Devshirme is partly reintroduced, only to take orphaned Christian boys with no parents
  5. Same allowed for Muslim boys, also from the age of 8 till 13
  6. Janissaries no longer recognized as Slaves of the Sultan to bring in more younger Muslim Boys
  7. Reorganize the structure of the Janissary Corps to Tumens, Orta and Birliks
  8. Retire every Janissary Aga who is not willing to work with the reorganisation

These points were sent with all secrecy, to avoid the Janissaries to know about it. A rebellion during the Campaign is hardly desirable. Mehmed Ragip suggested his own idea, with Sekban militia being transformed from irregulars into real infantry forces to reduce the reliance on the Janissaries. His suggestion included to build an infantry force of 15,000 men of existing Sekban Militia and turn them into Sekban Infantry. The Prussian embassy would be helpful in forming them. Ali Pasha gave green light and knew that he put his own life at risk, but any success would be of much importance for the Empire. For now, the town of Gori fell, the Janissaries and Sipahis pillaged it. The town lost 1,000 people and another 1,000 were enslaved. The Army was pleased. The Army prepared to leave for Tbilisi.

9 June 1749 - Ottoman Campaign in Persia - Ardabil, Azerbaijan
Bahri Mustafa had taken Tabriz. The Khan was after three weeks of siege desperate and tried to break the encircled town and destroy much of the Ottoman Army. His cavalry faced the Ottoman Cavalry and his attack failed. The Khan did however, succeed in fleeing Tabriz and he was not seen again. Bahri Pasha sent a group to chase him but as far as Qazvin, the Tatars did not find the Khan. Bahri Pasha expected him to be either in Shiraz, Mashhad or Kandahar, at the courts of the Afshars, Zands or Abdalis. None of those states were particularly strong to face the Ottomans but further campaigns in Persia could be thwarted. Nevertheless, Bahri Pasha occupied Tabriz and was instructed by Ali Pasha to not harm Tabriz. This was requested by Soleiman Safavi who considered Tabriz as his base should the Ottomans allow him to become Shah. With only 1,000 soldiers lost, Bahri Pasha left for Ardabil and Lankaran. Ardabil fell on 7 June 1749. As soon as the Garrison troops are brought in, Bahri Pasha can leave for Zanjan and Qazvin. Southern Azerbaijan was almost secured except that the Turkmen and Kurdish Tribes in the countryside were not entirely pacified yet. The new Safavid Forces will have to be recruited by the people in these pacified regions. When the news of Tabriz falling to Ottoman troops had arrived in Istanbul, Mahmud had sent Ismail Safavi to Bursa to prepare his destination to Tbilisi and start his campaign there. All there remaining was Tbilisi falling.

20 July 1749 - Court of Karim Khan - Shiraz, Persia
The Zand rulers of Southern Persia were not pleased with the fall of Tabriz, seeing it as the gates of further Ottoman Operations in Persia and thwarting the desires of the Local Rulers. The plans to reinstate the Safavids in Persia was seen as a grave danger for powerful locals like the Zand rulers in Southern Persia and the Afshars in Khorasan. Karim Khan had already sent letters to Tehran where the Qajar Tribes under Mohammed Hasan Khan Qajar were dominant. The Qajars should ally with the Zands and drive the Ottomans out of Southern Azerbaijan and use the River as natural defenses. Karim Khan desired to be the Shah of the entire Persia should he succeed. In order to succeed, he needs to defeat the Ottomans. The Zand letters to Tehran were ignored by Mohammed Hasan, who considered it as threatening towards him. Instead, he sent a letter to İstanbul. He wished to declare his loyalty to Soleiman Safavi or Ismail Safavi, whomever the Sultan wanted to see as Shah. He hoped to keep ruling over areas he considered his. A letter, dictated by the Sultan was written in the name of Ismail. Mohammed Hasan would become Emir of Tabarestan only and his successors would inherit it, if he joined Ismail as soon as he arrived in Tabriz. Mahmud went as far as preparing Tehran as the capital of Ismail as it offers a better base of operation in Persia yet close enough for the Ottomans. Mohammed Hasan had to await instructions of Ali Pasha for further negotiations. Unlike with the letters of Karim Khan, he did not have to give up hostages to the Ottoman Empire. His son Mohammed could optionally be sent to İstanbul to get a military education.
Karim Khan did not focus just on the Qajars or the Kurds but also sent letters to the Shah of Mashhad of the Afshar Tribe. He hoped to bring a coalition of Persian Dynasties to keep the Ottomans and their puppets away.

25 July 1749 - Ottoman Campaign in the Caucasus - Tbilisi, Georgia
Ali Pasha had taken Tbilisi after losing 8,000 men in the assault. The Georgians lost 4,000 of their remaining defenders. The forces of the Georgians tried to attack the Ottomans during a stealth attack near their camp but failed and lost 10,000 and another 8,000 being captured after being encircled near their encirclement near the river. The remaining 10,000 fled either back to Tbilisi or to the mountains. Ali Pasha wanted to end the Campaign this summer and did not hesitate from attacking the city with an assault. About 10,000 soldiers came from Azerbaijan and Abkhazia from local allies. In the assault, Ali Pasha used especially Janissaries. He had several reasons for it. He wanted the assault to succeed quickly and he wanted their numbers to decline enough to enforce his plans for the Janissary Corps. The city fell after six hours of fighting with the Ottomans pillaging Tbilisi, enslaving those who did not surrender and killing the pocket troops. About 2,000 Georgian defenders were captured by the end of the assault and the city lost 4,000 people and another 4,000 becoming enslaved. Not so surprisingly, the Armenian population remained spared while the Shia Turkmen population faced the same fate as the Orthodox Georgians and other Sunni Muslims who sided with the Georgians. Unlike the Georgian Christians, these were not enslaved but displaced. New Turkmen tribes, willing to declare loyalty to the Safavids were imported to settle around Tbilisi.
Whatever happened to Heraclius II is unknown. According to the defenders he died fighting in the capital even though his body could not be found. His senior officers however, claim that Heraclius led the attack on the Camp and fled with about 4,000 men to the land of the Ossetians, after the failure of the surprise attack. Considering the city fell he must be on his way to Russia. Finding him past the Caucasus Mountains was a lost cause and only a miracle could bring him to the hands of the Ottomans.
The looting of Tbilisi ended on 25 July 1749. The city still had 25,000 people after the assault and was considered to be populated by people from Kutaisi, Gyumri and Ganja. Georgian Christians from Kutaisi, Armenian Christians from Gyumri and Turkmen Muslims from Ganja. Within five years, Tbilisi had to reach a population of 50,000 and be a functioning town with increasing trade. The news of Tbilisi falling reached Bursa. Ismail Safavi had set for Tbilisi. He would be announced as the Shah of Persia in that town.

20 August 1749 - The declaration of Ismail III Safavi as Shah of Persia - Tiflis, Georgia
“Long live Ismail, Shah of Persia!” Ismail, only 16 years old was declared Shah of Persia in the presence of Ali Pasha. Ali Pasha secured the support of the smaller Georgian Nobility, Turkmen and Kurdish tribal leaders. However, Ismail’s task was not finished yet. Ali Pasha secured the recruitment of 45,000 Sipahis from the Turkmen and Kurdish Tribes and 15,000 Infantry among Turkmen, Persian and Georgian locals. Within a year this army would be amassed and lead by some senior Ottoman Commanders and Local supporters. When Ismail’s base is secured in Azerbaijan, recruitment of more locals will continue. Mohammed Hasan Qajar had arrived in Tiflis with his son. He declared his loyalty to Shah Ismail III, and offered the Qajar Tribe ruled Persia as a part of the New Safavid ruled Persia. In return, his young son Mohammed would be given to become one of the first new generation Officials of Safavid Persia. In return, Ali Pasha advised Ismail to declare Mohammed Hasan as Emir Tabarestan, who will fight for him against the Afshars and the Zands. Ismail, being young, was considered as good by many landowners in Persia who thought about influencing the Shah rather than older and more dangerous types such as Karim Khan or the Afshars in Mashhad. Ismail opened his Shah’s Divan with Mohammed Hasan, the Ayatollah of Khoy, the Ayatollah of Orumiyeh, the Turkmen Leader of Agdam and Kurdish Leader of Mahabad. A small Divan but a starter. Mohammed Hasan was responsible for subjugating Northern Persia around Tehran and repelling any attack from the Afshars or Zands. The Ayatollah of Khoy was responsible for the religious and judicial affairs of Ismails realm. The Ayatollah of Orumiyeh was responsible with the economic affairs and taxing. The Turkmen and Kurdish leaders were responsible for recruitment of troops among the tribes. The Georgian Nobles were not a part of the Divan but were responsible for tax collecting and recruitment of Georgians for the Infantry forces of the Shah. Due to the need of keeping men on the fields working, often young boys from the age of 10 to 15 were sent to the Shah, almost resembling the old Ghulam system. The Georgians formed 10% of the Infantry units after creation. The Shah was presented with a ten year plan: Within ten years the Shah would subdue all of Persia proper and get rid of all enemies. Ali Pasha envisioned the time frame as a maximum, hoping to finish it in 7-8 years although there was no guarantee. Karim Khan was the biggest threat and the hardest enemy. The Afshars were long since gone as a prime power. His base was set in Tiflis until he could move into Tabriz when Tehran was secured and into Tehran when Persia was brought under his rule.
The news of Ismail being declared Shah was not taken well. Karim Khan did not hesitate and declared himself as Shah of all Persia, not taken well by the Afshars or the Abdalis in return. Not only did Ismail being brought to Georgia result in hostility among local powers, it gave him more legitimacy than ever. The only issue was, Ismail became Sunni when he arrived with his uncle. The Ayatollahs in his court expected him to become Shia eventually and the idea of Ismail keeping loyalty from his Shia subjects was up to question. Soleiman was also for this reason not considered as Shah. Ismail was young, he may remain Sunni or even turn Persia back to Sunnism. The servants of Ismail expected him to become Shia once he secured Persia.

28 September 1749 - Imperial Court Topkapi - İstanbul, Thrace, Ottoman Empire
The victory in Persia by Ali Pasha in Persia was celebrated by the folk in İstanbul. Mahmud I invited Ali Pasha to return as soon as Mohammed Hasan Qajar secured Qom and Kashan. Seyyid Ali Pasha, Bahri Mustafa Pasha and Mehmed Ragip Pasha would remain in Ismail’s court with 40,000 troops to assist him. The Safavid Army will take over most operations over time. Ali Pasha was pleased to return to İstanbul after such an exhausting campaign for almost two years. But Mahmud did not really look for rest. Mahmud was bothered by the Knights activity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Fleet failing to halt these activities. Moreover, the Venetians seem to be sheltering the Knights in the Ionian Islands hence why the Knights operate as close as the Northern Aegean or the Levantine Coast. The brother of Mahmud was often brought to him, hoping that Osman would have an understanding of state affairs. Osman was however a silent man. He was by no means a desired heir. But he was the oldest and he would become Sultan nonetheless, should Mahmud die anytime soon. Much better than expected, Osman showed a little interest in politics and pointed one important detail out: the French. A long unofficial ally of the Ottomans, they would never tolerate the idea of an Ottoman attack on Malta. When Mahmud asked why the Ottomans should attack Malta, the Old Prince told him that getting the Knights out of nearby regions will not help anything unless the Knights are entirely defeated. A total defeat is only possible with the conquest of the island, and that is where the French move in. An actual attack by the French from land is out of question but a Naval attack is a certain possibility. It will be enough for the Austrians or the Russians to attack the Ottomans. If the Sultan ever considers this plan he has to await the French Navy to be defeated or elsewhere. The Ottoman Navy is the biggest priority. The Ottomans can not depend on other Powers to defend them. A war with Venice is not an option without a strong Navy. After this conversation with his brother, Mahmud sent officials to bring North African sailors to Istanbul and ordered the Imperial Arsenal to build new ships of 70 and 80 guns and frigates with 30 and 40 guns. The sailors would be experienced enough to use these ships.
Mahmud I (1749-1750: Army Organization)

Osman Aga

14 December 1749 - Seddulbahir Fortress - Gallipoli, Thrace, Ottoman Empire
Ali Pasha returned from Persia after the Safavid Army was formed. The Ottoman Army returned as well as a new Army is set to leave in February. The Sultan invited the Grand Vizier to view the almost completed fortress of Seddulbahir on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Ever since the Venetian-Turkish war in 1644, the Ottomans faced blockades of the Straits with catastrophic results. To avoid a fleet coming too close, the Straits must have some forts while the islands of Imbros and Tenedos have a decent garrison and forts as well.

Mahmud I: “This fortress will be remembered by the future generations of our greatness, Ali Pasha.”

Ali Pasha: “They surely will my Sultan. Your name will be among the names of Suleiman the Lawgiver.”

Mahmud I: “I have much to do to be like my ancestor Pasha. But greatness starts with little steps. And you were a good friend in my journey as Sultan”

Ali Pasha: “I am honoured you think that my Sultan”

Mahmud I: “Of course Ali… But I gotta say. Your existence has bothered me in the past. The rumour of you being my father Mustafa’s son… If that were the case you had more right on this throne than me or Osman… It still bothers me…”

Ali Pasha: “My Sultan, we will never know if those rumours are true. If it is then fate destined you, my Sultan, to be the ruler of the Empire and me to be your Grand Vizier. I have no feeling of betrayal to you if that is what you wonder.”

Mahmud I: “I don’t suspect anything about you Ali… That is why I give the Fleet Preparations to you. This includes planning forts and overlooking their constructions. I don’t trust anyone of my servants more than you Ali. I hope for you this is not a burden after your Army preparations…”

Ali Pasha: “I am honoured you granted me these preparations my Sultan… I may be older now but I have faced harsher situations. As long as Allah grants me strength, I will be fine.”

Mahmud I: “Then I’m pleased as well Ali Pasha.”

25 February 1750 - Safavid Court - Tabriz, Azerbaijan, Safavid Persia
The Safavids secured their connection with Mohammed Hasan’s Qajar Tribe in Northern Persia. Tehran was halfway fortified and the constructions were continuing. With a new Ottoman Army of 30,000 men on their way, the Safavids would start a Campaign in Kurdestan and move into Central Persia. Words had come by that Karim Khan brought an Army of 100,000 men with many veteran Afghans in his Army. The Afshars relied on the Turkmens and Uzbeks as their allies and formed an Army of 75,000 men. Ismail’s entire Army was 60,000 and were no veterans either. His local Artillery and Musket factories in Tabriz, Erivan and Tiflis were working over hours to supply Ismail’s army with muskets who had, of the 15,000 Infantry about 21,000 muskets of which 10,000 donated by the Ottomans, 9,000 captured from the Georgians and 2,000 produced. Ismail needed about 200,000 Muskets with half being reserves. His infantry regiments needed to go up. The only advantage Ismail had was the hostility between his enemies. When word reached that Karim Khan would set out in March for Tehran, Ismail became alarmed. Seyyid Abdullah Pasha was sent to Erzurum to link up with the Army sent by Ali Pasha and bring it to Persia by April. Karim Khan would reach Tehran within a month if he sets out in a week. The winter in Persian mountains is not over and Tehran’s weather is not ideal for the besiegers. Ismail was advised by Mehmed Ragip Pasha to await Karim Khan, let him besiege Tehran and then capture him by surprise.

28 March 1750 - The first recruits - Manisa, Anatolia, Ottoman Empire
The first Sekban units were conscripted from local villages. The Sekbans were an existing militia in villages, mostly serving the landowners. When war was upon the state the Sekbans were called for duty. Now, these Sekban conscripts, more closely volunteers were to form the first Sekban Corps standing Army rather than levies from Provinces. Sehzade Osman (50), Sehzade Mehmed (33) and Sehzade Mustafa (33) were sent to oversee the situation. One of them would become Sultan, sooner rather than later. Osman was old and deemed by the Sultan and his own mother as not too stable. But he had to take some responsibility regardless. For The very first time since the 17th century, a prince has such an important task. Ivazzade Mehmed Pasha was the leading Pasha of the new conscripts, along with Mustafa Bey, governor of İzmir and Ali Aga, retired Janissary Commander from Kavala.
Mehmed Pasha had assembled a force of 18,000 men within a few months, declaring it a holy quest for the Soldiers. While he hoped to get 10,000 men at least, he got way more than he hoped for. These men were however, not easy to train. They aged from 15 to 70 and deemed strong enough to fit in the army. Mehmed Pasha got 50 Prussian Officers during the Prussian Diplomatic Mission sent by Frederick II. Frederick had personal correspondence with Ali Pasha and the plans for a new infantry corps, leaning towards Prussian Style military, was decided. The diplomatic mission was 3 high generals with 10 subordinates and 37 smaller officers to train lower ranking officers. Mehmed Pasha explained the new structure of the military to the Prussians:
  1. Tumen (Corps): A group of regiments (Orta) with a maximum of 5,000 men for each Tumen.
  2. Orta (Regiment): A group battalion (Birlik) with a maximum of 1,000 men for each Orta.
  3. Birlik (Battalion): Soldiers up to 100 men form together a Birlik which a group of them forms one Orta.

The Prussians were solely to help the Ottomans to build a new Infantry Corps with a joint Prussian-Ottoman Tradition. The Prussians leaned on Jaeger style infantry with smaller Muskets but stronger effects. Prussian style smaller Musket manufacturers were opened in cities like İzmir, Bursa, İstanbul, Selanik and Sofia. They had to produce each 3,700 each year. With this growth, the Ottoman Army can have 90,000 Sekban Units in five years. More manufacturers would be opened in Ioannina, Aleppo and Cairo. Prussia donated 12,000 of their Muskets in hope to get the Ottoman Government closer to Berlin. The Ottomans bought the remainder of the 6,000 Prussian style muskets.
The second issue of what the Prussians had observed was the style of war being fought by the Ottomans against the Russians and Austrians. Most Ottoman Units are Cavalry in an age where their enemies use infantry and the infantry uses Square formations. This makes Ottoman strategy of a Crescent attack on their enemy highly ineffective and causes the units to rout faster, demoralizing the Army faster. Ali Pasha has acknowledged this years earlier but he could not get the senior Army Commanders to radically change their view on strategy. The Prussians were also informed of a newer Guard version of the Janissary Corps for the future. The Janissaries had long lost the most strongest Infantry Units, but to turn the existing Janissary Corps into disciplined defensive units in the centre would be highly useful. The Prussian Military Mission was impressed with the idea of a new Janissary Corps which would remain out of the knowledge of the Austrians. The existing Janissary Corps has 76,000 men out of the 81,000 men before the Persian Campaign. Ali Pasha is preparing to call the Corps to not accept any more men randomly. Janissary Commanders accepting anyone from outside the descriptions offered by the Government would face execution. The age to accept the new recruits were set between 8 and 14. A large share would be recruited from orphaned boys over the Empire and no longer considered slaves of the Sultan. This would allow influx of Muslim conscripts and create a disciplined elite Army standing during peacetime. The new recruits would also be open for Army reforms if needed. The set of laws were set that any man who joined the Janissary Corps After the Eid ul Adha of 1129 AH could not marry until they turn 40 and thus had to live in Army Barracks with their fellow soldiers. After marriage they could leave the Barracks to live with their new family. The Janissaries remained tax exempted until they turn 60 when they retire. Strict rules to keep undesired figures with no military background out of the Army.
Another addition to the Sekban Corps was the use of Bayonets. The Ottoman Army had refused to use bayonets as a secondary weapon of their muskets. The Russians were already busy with Bayonets and saw great advantage. The Sekbans would become the first units with bayonets to see how effective it would turn out. If the efficiency is increasing the Janissaries will have to adopt it as well.
The new recruits would be trained for one year until they would march to Constantinople under Mehmed Pasha and settle in their barracks. From that point on, the Janissary Corps would follow the radical transformation. The last thing Sultan Mahmud desired was a coup against him like his uncle Ahmed III faced before him.

Sekban Infantry, 1755

Janissary Infantry, 1755
Ismail was young, he may remain Sunni or even turn Persia back to Sunnism. The servants of Ismail expected him to become Shia once he secured Persia.
Not only must he return to the Shii fold, he must also move the capital back to Isfahan if he wants to maintain dynastic legitimacy and quell dissent. What I don't think he could do is establish a Sufi style personality cult of the sort that flung his dynasty into power in the first place, but I think some level of occultism will be a part of his propaganda. What would really be important is whether he adopts a clerically dominated government, which could prove very useful as they're a strong and respected base of support but it long term limits royal authority massively, or whether he tries to centralise governance under his own disciples. Ultimately, the 17th century Safavids policy of moving away from the cultic power of the ruler and more towards a routinised upholder of the independence of the clergy ruler introduced structural issues into their state and weakened it, so if he's smart he'll be wary of giving too much power to the clergy.

Osman Aga

Not only must he return to the Shii fold, he must also move the capital back to Isfahan if he wants to maintain dynastic legitimacy and quell dissent. What I don't think he could do is establish a Sufi style personality cult of the sort that flung his dynasty into power in the first place, but I think some level of occultism will be a part of his propaganda. What would really be important is whether he adopts a clerically dominated government, which could prove very useful as they're a strong and respected base of support but it long term limits royal authority massively, or whether he tries to centralise governance under his own disciples. Ultimately, the 17th century Safavids policy of moving away from the cultic power of the ruler and more towards a routinised upholder of the independence of the clergy ruler introduced structural issues into their state and weakened it, so if he's smart he'll be wary of giving too much power to the clergy.

If Persia were to be reconquered by Ismail Safavi, it will be highly unorganised and decentralized. Some kind of power sharing is a must to secure the Nation from other threats.

A Personality Cult like his ancestor Ismail I is highly unlikely. That would bring the Ottomans and Safavixs against each other and the Shia Clergy to back the Zands/Afshars. Ismail III is still young and has no such influence on him anyway.
I remember this timeline. It was really interesting and intriguing, especially about the Safavids and Ottomans

Then I think it got derailed by some guy making racist remarks about Mexico.

But still, it was a interesting timeline, and glad to see you back

Osman Aga

I remember this timeline. It was really interesting and intriguing, especially about the Safavids and Ottomans

Then I think it got derailed by some guy making racist remarks about Mexico.

But still, it was a interesting timeline, and glad to see you back

I honestly don't know anymore what happened but it got annoying at some point. Another thing was, I wanted some changes in the TL and rather than changing it then I put an halt to it to start later on.
I honestly don't know anymore what happened but it got annoying at some point. Another thing was, I wanted some changes in the TL and rather than changing it then I put an halt to it to start later on.
Understandable. I was going to do that with an old Aztec Timeline I made in my earlier days, but decided to merge that with an ASB timeline I made.

I do have question though. Are the Mughals still collapsing? Or could they have a resurgence like the Ottomans and Safavids?

Other then that, glad that you’re back and hope nothing troubles you again

Osman Aga

Understandable. I was going to do that with an old Aztec Timeline I made in my earlier days, but decided to merge that with an ASB timeline I made.

I do have question though. Are the Mughals still collapsing? Or could they have a resurgence like the Ottomans and Safavids?

Other then that, glad that you’re back and hope nothing troubles you again

Mughals stay pretty much as planned in the older TL. They will regain power with the Power Vacuum in Northern India soon. Not a sudden reconquest of the Entire subcontinent. More like core area with other Kingdoms as vassals in name. Like the HRE with Austria.

Thank you
Like the HRE with Austria.
Ah but the question then becomes, to what extent do the various Nawabs and Maharajas send representatives to the imperial Darbar and use it as a forum to prevent outright warfare and formulate common economic policies? Because right up until the very end of the Holy Roman Empire, it retained political relevance as a forum for larger territories and allowed the smaller territories to co-ordinate enough to stay economically viable, imperial courts and legal rulings were available to most subjects, regardless of what the territorial states courts said and people perceived the empire as having weight.

That situation is really different from a host of independent states which from time to time engage in a few rituals to affirm theoretical power politics.
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Osman Aga

Ah but the question then becomes, to what extent do the various Nawabs and Maharajas send representatives to the imperial Darbar and use it as a forum to prevent outright warfare and formulate common economic policies? Because right up until the very end of the Holy Roman Empire, it retained political relevance as a forum for larger territories and allowed the smaller territories to co-ordinate enough to stay economically viable, imperial courts and legal rulings were available to most subjects, regardless of what the territorial states courts said and people perceived the empire as having weight.

That situation is really different from a host of independent states which from time to time engage in a few rituals to affirm theoretical power politics.

Well let say it like this... they recognise the Emperor in Delhi as the Emperor of India... but that is not going to stop them from fighting each other... although there won't be too much factions anyway.

By the way if you like Tipu Sultan led Mysore I have great news for you.
Mahmud I (1750-1751: Venetian-Ottoman Conflict)

Osman Aga

16 April 1750 - Formation of the Persian Army - Tabriz, Azerbaijan, Safavid Persia
The Safavid Army was under Mehmed Ragip Pasha organized to its optimal strength. The Army consisted of 25,000 Infantry; 60,000 Cavalry and 35,000 Irregular Infantry. The Zand forces of 100,000 men with another 30,000 allies had reached Tehran. While infantry of the Zands were not too impressive, the Cavalry remained feared and the artillery was as good as the Ottoman Artillery. The Zands lacked veteran artillery corps. The Zand Cavalry formed over 50,000 men and another 10,000 of their allies. Mohammed Hasan Qajar had an assembled force of 20,000 men with 12,000 Cavalry and 8,000 Infantry in Tehran. The Qajar Infantry were not impressive either and were not experienced much with Muskets. The only advantage the Qajars had was defensive wars. Mehmed Ragip Pasha brought the infantry in square formations. Unfamiliar with this formation, he had taken notes on the wars with the Russians and Austrians as well as the Austrian war with France a few years ago. He had seen the effect but was unsure if to form the infantry as such. When the Safavid Army arrived, Mehmed Ragip Pasha decided to form the Army in such formation and advance on the Zand besiegers. With 15,000 regular infantry, about 25,000 Irregular infantry and 35,000 Cavalry, 50 cannons and 50 mortars, the Safavids started the attack. Karim Khan used the best forces he had against them. With 40,000 Cavalry his forces advanced on the Safavid infantry but faced heavy casualties during the counterattack. The first Zand attack with the cavalry had cost the Zand Shah 2,997 men with the Safavids losing only 98 men. The irregulars were divided in forces of 15,000 and 10,000 men. The latter were sent to enter Tehran to help the besieged take off some pressure. The Zand attacks were repulsed. Karim Khan ordered a second attack with the entire cavalry forces supported with half the artillery of the Zand forces. The squares held again and the Zand Cavalry and their allies with 55,000 Cavalry lost over 8,963 men during the attack and the Safavids losing 1,322. The Safavids were facing huge pressure as they had no men to replace what was on the battlefield. The irregulars could only take off some relief with the artillery hitting the enemy cavalry as well. When the Zand cavalry retreated for a second time the Safavid cavalry was set in from the right and right flank first and when driven enough to the North, the left flank was set in causing another loss of 3,597 Zand casualties and 962 Safavid Casualties. Due to the Zand artillery being redirected to the relief forces, the attack on Tehran failed with the Qajars and Safavid units in town driving the Zand forces away from town and coming in from two sides against the camp of Karim Khan. The Zand Shah retreated with the remainder of his forces to Esfahan. The Safavids could not pursue him and he could prepare a second attack. The Zand Forces lost over 23,544 men of their original 130,000 men, dying. Another 15,000 men were captured and 20,000 had deserted their posts. The remaining 70-75 thousand men were still strong enough to hold their ground in Esfahan. The Safavids lost 8,233 men with 767 deserted during the second attack by the Zand Forces and 1,300 deemed missing. The Qajars lost 3,897 men in total. The Zand lost 75% of their artillery and ammunition with no artillery losses on the Safavid side. With overall losses of 58,000 men on Zand sides and 15,000 on the Safavid-Qajar sides, the battle was won. The Safavids secured Tehran. Mohammed Hasan Qajar can bring his full force to arms and secure the surrounding of Tehran against a second attack. Ismail III invited Mehmed Ragip Pasha to his palace in Tabriz to celebrate the victory.

9 May 1750 - The Venetian delegation - İstanbul, Thrace, Ottoman Empire
The Venetian Delegation arrived in Istanbul to discuss the situation on the Ionian Islands. The Ottoman Government accuses Venice of harbouring Maltese Pirates on these islands who raid Ottoman Settlements on the Coast. The latest action was a daring attack on Cesme with no huge losses. That was the final straw for the Ottoman Sultan. He demanded the Venetians to explain themselves. The Venetians refused to acknowledge any part of harbouring Maltese Knights but that was not enough. Sultan Mahmud demanded Venice to demilitarize the Ionian Islands and Dalmatia. The Venetians could already expect what this demand would lead to. The Venetians either comply with this demand and face an Ottoman invasion regardless, thus rendering the border areas as defenseless. But, the Venetians could also refuse it and thus give the Porte justification for war. The Venetian Delegation asked to bring the Ottoman Demand to Venice to consider their options.

Ali Pasha: “Signore Ludovico…”

Venetian Diplomat: “Grand Vizier Ali Pasha… I have been summoned by you to the Palace… I hope all is well”

Ali Pasha: “I cannot say it is good news. It is not good at all Signore Ludovico…”

Venetian Diplomat: “What is it then Ali Pasha?”

Ali Pasha: “For years, signore, we have been good trade partners. Venetian merchants come to this beautiful city to trade and we treat each other well… well until a group of pirates of your kin come to raid or lands and use your lands as a base. Now we asked you to stop these pirates to use your land as a base. What kind of good trade partners allow this to happen Signore?”

Venetian Diplomat: “Ali Pasha I must…”

Ali Pasha: “I am not finished yet… The French Delegate Signore Charles has always been good friends and keeps the peace alive after all what Venice has been doing. We listen to our friends because we value their words. But the failure of Venice brings us yet again here, discussing things we discussed every five years at least. What brings this upon? Your Government is risking a lot, Signore… Up until now we always valued the words of friends. But as long as this happens we can no longer remain silent. By the Sultans order, the Ottoman Empire demands Venice to demilitarize the Ionian Islands and Dalmatia to ensure Venice remaining friendly partners of the Porte. And now, signore, you can speak...”

Venetian Diplomat: “Ali Pasha… whatever has been told to you is not right. Venice has never harbored any pirates or the Knights. We value the friendship of the Porte but we will not be threatened to do as the Porte wishes. The Republic of Venice feels sorry for the injustice that happened upon the people of the Ottoman Empire by the Knights but we cannot feel responsible for this...”

Ali Pasha: “Should I consider this as a no?”

Venetian Diplomat: “I will have to deliver the demands of the Ottoman State to my Government first…”

Ali Pasha: “I see… I must also inform you that the Maltese Ship attacking Cesme Harbour entered the port of Kythira... If I remember it right, that island belongs to the Republic of Venice… am I right Signore Ludovico?”

Venetian Diplomat: “Yes…”

2 August 1750 - Arrival of Comte Charles Gravier - İstanbul, Thrace, Ottoman Empire
The French had been observing the situation in the Mediterranean. The Ottomans were traditional yet unofficial allies of the French. But the situation of the 18th century changed the balance of the alliance. The French did not want the Ottomans to become weaker yet did not want the Ottomans to fight wars with smaller Catholic States which could draw the Spanish in or take over Catholic populated lands. Louis XV sent the Comte de Vergennes to Istanbul to observe the situation and prevent a war that may attract the French in. The French want to keep the Ottomans focussed on the Austrians or Russians.

Comte Charles: “Sultan Mahmud Khan… I am honoured to be in your palace”

Mahmud I: “Comte Charles… I welcome you to my palace… I assume you are not solely here as your first time in the Ottoman Empire?”

Comte Charles: “Great Sultan, as a representative of France, the great friend of the Ottoman Sultan in all Christendom I am ordered to keep the ties between our nations strong.”

Mahmud I: “And I would not want anything different… Continue Comte Charles…”

Comte Charles: “I heard the threats of war… The Kingdom of France wants the well being of the Ottoman Empire and avoid needless conflicts. If you, Great Sultan, allow the French to mediate for peace between the Porte and the Republic of Venice we can avoid needless bloodshed…”

Mahmud I: “Ah… I was never fond of wars mister Gravier… I only led my Empire to war if there was no option. Letting soldiers die and leaving their families without their sons, fathers or brothers… Anyone with a conscience would not like that. But it is necessary. As it is with Venice… If you, Comte Charles, can convince the Venetians to demilitarize the Ionian Islands and Dalmatia, prevent the Knights of Malta ever attacking Muslim lands and shipping, I will not bring my State to war. I trust the French as good friends, but I will not shy away from threats that harm the people I am bound to protect…”

Comte Charles: “Great Sultan Mahmud Khan, rest assured, as representative of France I will solve the issues between your State and the Republic of Venice”.

Mahmud I: “So be it then... I must also say that I do not like to change the current situation if it is going to be worse. Any form of new ownership by Austria, Russia or Spain over these regions is also not acceptable Mister Gravier…”

25 October 1750 - Army Camp of Karim Khan - Najafabad, Esfahan, Zand Persia
Karim Khan had after his defeat in Tehran assembled a new Army of up to 90,000 men and built a New Army Camp in Najafabad near Esfahan on 15 September 1750. Karim Khan prepared with his Army a new approach against Mehmed Ragip Pasha who leads the Safavid Armies in Northern Persia. This time, he would not be attacking the Safavids mercilessly with no effect. Karim Khan increased his infantry brigades, although not as disciplined and trained as the Safavid Regulars. But as long as Karim Khan draws the inexperienced Safavid Commanders into his lines, he can crush them.
Mohammed Hasan Qajar knew the threat of Karim Khan building up again and the element of surprise was gone. His Qajar Forces were 43,000 men, mobilizing most of the able men for war and getting 10,000 Safavid Infantry units with him. Mohammed Hasan had a large intelligence service in Persia, bringing him every detail of Karim Khan’s movement. When he got the knowledge of Karim Khan raising his troops again he wanted to face him immediately before he had a chance to hit the Safavids again. Mohammed Hasan forced his troops to march as close as possible to Najafabad. He sent only parts of the Army behind the hills to await the attack, as not to draw the attention of the Zand enemies. Within three weeks, Mohammed Hasan had stationed his Army behind the hills West of Najafabad. Mohammed Hasan put his artillery at night on top of the hills and started bombing the Camp after the morning prayers on 19 October 1750. The Zands were surprised but did not rout during the attack. Karim Khan, surprised by the attack, ordered his cavalry to strike from two sides on the hill. As he expected, the Qajar cavalry reacted swiftly and repulsed the attack. Karim Khan had no intention to overrun the hill as it was not an option. He wanted to draw the Qajar Cavalry into the lines of the Zand artillery but to no avail. Mohammed Hasan warned not to pursue the Zands back to the Camp and force them out. The skirmishers and bombardment lasted 10 hours with 576 Qajar casualties and 1,466 Zand Casualties. Mohammed Hasan sent some of his trusted men to link up with the coming reinforcements should the Zands prepare an all out attack on the hill. If the hill falls, the Qajars are defeated and all the Qajar artillery is gone. After the night prayer, the Qajars continued the bombardement on the Camp and Najafabad to prevent the Zand forces from getting any rest. In the darkest hours of the night, Mohammed Hasan sent his Safavid Regulars into Esfahan which he deemed defenseless as Karim Khan put most of his forces around the Army Camp. If the Safavid Infantry can hold Esfahan against a Zand counter attack, the Zands will likely retreat as they are outflanked and between two fires. As expected, the Safavid Regulars occupied Esfahan as the Zand garrison that remained in town surrendered. When Karim Khan learned about this, he sent more men into Najafabad to prevent being surrounded.
On day 2 of the Najafabad battle, the Qajars attempted to bring the Qajar Infantry into Najafabad. Several attacks and 8 hours of battle resulted in nothing and the Zand Forces kept the small village near Esfahan in their hands. The second day followed with continuous bombing on the Camp. The Qajars lost 899 men and the Zands lost 945 men.
The 3rd day was followed with the Zands trying to enter Esfahan again but facing heavy casualties as the Safavid regulars had set blockades in the city and used the buildings to hit from high levels. A second attack by the Qajars on Najafabad was also repulsed by the Zand Forces in the village. The Qajars lost 1,765 men and the Zands lost 3,254 men.
On the 4th day, the Qajars got 10,000 extra troops from nearby Kurdish and Turkmen tribes. These extra troops were unknown to Karim Khan who prepared a new attack on the hill as he deemed the artillery of the Qajars were running low on ammunition. This was correct as the Qajars had only 20% of their original artillery ammunition. The Qajar Cavalry remained outside the hill and awaited the Zand forces initiating the attack. When the Zand forces started the attack, the Qajars faced them and kept them away from the main hill. The reinforcements and irregulars were sent into Najafabad and with the aid of the Safavid Regulars, the Zands were driven away from Najafabad. The troops in Najafabad moved into Camp with the Regulars staying in Najafabad and Esfahan. The Camp ended up in a heavy fight. When the Zand forces saw the Camp was attacked, they considered it as overrun and presumably, Karim Khan in the Camp was captured or killed. Karim Khan fled the onslaught back to Shiraz with a portion of his Army. Karim Khan retreated with 8,000 of his men with another 40,000 fighting from the hills retreating back to Shiraz, leaving about 25 to 30 thousand men in the camp or deserted. The remaining forces in the Najafabad Camp fell on the next day as relief was no option and the camp was on the brink of facing a new attack. Mohammed Hasan informed Ismail III that he captured 26,000 Zand troops and brought him back to Tehran and Tabriz. He left the control of Esfahan over to the Safavid Regulars.
Karim Khan was defeated twice in the same year losing more than 50 thousand men in two campaigns. His manpower pool had declined from 260,000 to 190,000 men with 50,000 active troops after the battle, of the 190 thousand manpower. This meant that Karim Khan had a little option to replace his Army with new soldiers or had to operate with smaller armies. To deal with such exhaustion, he offered to negotiate peace between him and Ismail III. Maybe he could get a better deal from the Safavid Shah or maybe he could stall the time as much as possible. His desire to stall time was succeeding as negotiations started between Shiraz and Tabriz. He acknowledged the fact that Ismail III army is increasing from 90,000 in 1749 to 270,000 manpower pool as of 1750. The odds turned in favor of Karim Khan when the Afshars started their own campaign in late 1750, invading Qajar territory and moving two armies of 80,000 and 65,000 to Tehran and Rasht. Karim Khan kept negotiations on to make sure his manpower recovers after two huge defeats. What was more important was the Safavids and Afshars fighting itself to exhaustion. In the campaigns from 1751 onwards, Karim Khan prepared to start a campaign to recover Western Persia with towns like Ilam, Kermanshah and Sanandaj, who have declared loyalty to Shah Ismail. Karim Khan considered the idea of invading Ottoman Basra and drawing the attention from Azerbaijan and Northern Persia to Southern Mesopotamia, rendering Ismail III defenseless.

Qajar Irregulars, 1755

Safavid regulars, 1755
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