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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Sunday 23 November 2014

Chaldiran 1514

This year is the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Chaldiran that took place on 23 August 1514. The Ottomans led by Selim 1st decisively defeated the Persian Safavids led by Shah Ismail.

Selim came to the Ottoman throne by overthrowing his father Bayezid II and winning the subsequent civil war against his brothers. The Persian Safavids were Shia Muslims and encouraged a revolt in Ottoman Anatolia. Selim put down the rebellion with great force and advanced on Persia. The Safavids were also being invaded by the Uzbeks in the east, so they retreated in the face of the Ottoman army. The Ottomans caught them at Chaldiran in modern day northwestern Iran.

The Ottomans deployed their heavy artillery and Janissaries behind a barrier of carts. The Safavids attacked the Ottoman wings with their cavalry in an unsuccessful effort to avoid the Ottoman firepower. The Safavid army was primarily armed with traditional weapons and suffered heavy casualties as a consequence.

After their victory the Ottomans captured the Safavid capital Tabriz, which they pillaged and then abandoned, but secured permanent control over the far eastern part of Anatolia and also over northern Iraq. Shah Ismail did not take part in any further military engagements for the rest of his reign, delegating the fighting to his generals.

The Safavids learned from this battle and adopted firepower infantry and artillery in addition to their traditional horse archers, many of whom were actually Turkish tribes.

Here are some Safavids from my collection.

Foot archers

Camel gunners


Musketeers (reforms after Chaldiran)

Qizilbashes (Elite cavalry)

The figures are mostly from the Essex range.

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