The Folly of Power

<p>Hotak, a mad ruler full of hubris, rose up out of Afghanistan and conquered all of Persia.</p>
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Age of Empire
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<p>Bowen, Emanuel. <i>Safavid Persian Empire Map</i>. 1744-52. In <i>Wikipedia Commons</i>. Accessed August 22, 2010.</p> <div id="export-html"> <div class="chicagob"> <div class="hang"><i>Chain Armor &amp; Helmet</i>. 18th-19th C. Virtual Collection of Masterpieces / Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw, Warsaw. <div>Creative Commons:</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="hang">Danish, Asadullah. <i>Hajji Mirwais Khan Hotak (Mirwais Nikka)</i>. In <i>Wikipedia Commons</i>. Accessed August 22, 2010.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>An Important and Rare Contemporary Portrait of Nadir Shah</i>. 1740s. Private Collection. In <i>Artifacts Lanier Collections</i>. Accessed August 22, 2010.;page=4&amp;navGallID=82&amp;activeType=.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang">Logari, Durai. <i>More Nare Kele</i>. Cassette.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang"><i>Page from a Dismembered Manuscript of the Koran, Khurasan or Transoxiania</i>. 15th C. Fatema Farmanfarmaian Private Collection, London.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang">Rattray, Lieutenant James. <i>Interior of the City of Kandahar, from the House of Sirdar Meer Dil Khaun</i>. 1848. The British Library Board, London.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang">Rattray, Lieutenant James. <i>Kelaut-I-Ghiljie</i>. 1848. &copy; Trustees of the British Museum, London.</div> <div class="hang">&nbsp;</div> <div class="hang">Rattray, Lieutenant James. <i>Khoja Padshauh, a Ko-i-staun Chief, with His Armed Retainers</i>. 1848. <br /> &copy; Trustees of the British Museum, London.<br /> &nbsp;</div> <hr /> Producer: Kate Harding</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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<p>In the early 1700s, western Afghanistan was governed by Persian rulers known as the Safavids.</p> <p>For the first time in history, these rulers made Shiite Islam the official religion of Persia, persecuting all those who refused to convert.</p> <p>But the Pashtuns of Afghanistan were almost uniformly Sunni.</p> <p>In 1709 a wealthy Pashtun chief of the Ghilzai tribe rose up against the Shiite rulers.</p> <p>Mir Wais Hotak killed the despised governor and seized control of the Kandahar region. But only six years after his rebellion, he died of natural causes, and his son Mahmud soon replaced him.</p> <p>Mahmud was brutally ambitious, determined to expand his power beyond Kandahar.</p> <p>In 1722, he invaded Isfahan, the heart of the Safavid empire. He sacked it and massacred thousands.</p> <p>Mahmud&rsquo;s brutality was so extreme that he even went so far as to invite the nobles of Isfahan to a banquet &mdash; only to have them all slaughtered by his army. Soon thereafter Mahmud, the Afghan, declared himself the Shah of all of Persia.</p> <p>But the 18th century would prove that hubris would lead to defeat. Some say Mahmud spiraled rapidly into paranoia and insanity. In 1725, he died, possibly at the hands of his own men.</p> <p>His weak nephew replaced him, but only a few years later, a poor peasant named Nadir Shah would rise up and grab the Persian reins back from the Afghans.</p>