Relations between Spain and Persia in the Early Modern Period are often presented as the story of two bookends-one formed by the mission of Ruy González de Clavijo to the court of Tamerlane at the turn of the fifteenth century; the other represented by the embassy Don García de Silva y Figueroa undertook to the court of the Safavid Shah `Abbas I on behalf of King Philip III between 1614 and 1624. The Iberian involvement with Persia in the two centuries between these two events is mostly told as a Portuguese, maritime-oriented one.
This book is the first to break out of that mould. It addresses the various ways in which the Spanish crown sought and maintained contact with Persia, either independently or, after the creation of the Iberian Union in 1580, in consort with the Portuguese, in the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. We learn about the motley crew of men who sailed the Mediterranean or rounded the Cape on their way to the Safavid state, the diplomats who sought to lure the shah into a joint anti-Ottoman front, the missionaries who hoped to convert him and his subjects to the True Faith, the adventurers and spies who dreamed of strategic advantage and commercial control. The essays assembled here also examine the various initiatives launched by Persias rulers towards the Spanish court, their proposals for military cooperation or the sale of silk. Originating as a conference held in 2013 at the Instituto de Historia del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas in Madrid, this volume thus sheds light on many little known aspects of the complex and multifaceted relationship between these two empires in the Early Modern Period.
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