Mohammed Khodabanda

Noble person

1532 – 1596


Who was Mohammed Khodabanda?

Mohammed Khodābande or Khudābanda, also known as Mohammed Shah or Sultan Mohammed was Shah of Persia from 1578 until his overthrow in 1587 by his son Abbas I. He was the fourth Safavid Shah of Iran and succeeded his brother, Ismail II. Khodabanda was the son of Shah Tahmasp I by a Turcoman mother, Sultanum Begum Mawsillu, and grandson of Ismail I, founder of the Safavid Dynasty.

After the death of his father in 1576 Mohammed was passed over in favour of his younger brother Ismail II. Mohammed suffered from an eye affliction that rendered him nearly blind, and so in accordance with Persian Royal culture could not contend for the throne. However, following Ismail II's short and bloody reign Mohammed emerged as the only heir, and so with the backing of the Qizilbash tribes became Shah in 1578.

Mohammed's reign was marked by a continued weakness of the crown and tribal infighting as part of the second civil war of the Safavid era. An important figure in the early years of Mohammed's reign was his wife Khayr Al-Nisa Begum, who helped secure her husband's reign. However her efforts to consolidate central power brought about opposition from the powerful Qizilbash tribes, who had her murdered in 1579. Mohammed has been described as "a man of refined tastes but weak character". As a result Mohammed's reign was characterised by factionalism, with major tribes aligning themselves with Mohammed's sons and future heirs. This internal chaos allowed foreign powers, especially the Ottoman Empire, to make territorial gains, including the conquest of the old capital of Tabriz in 1585. Mohammed was finally overthrown in a coup in favour of his son Shah Abbas I.

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