The Ilkhans and Tashayyo: External Motivation or Internal Development

In the history of Iranian Shiism (Tashayyo), the Ilkhanid era is considered a crucial turning point, an “era of opportunity”, and a time of glory for Tashayyo. On the political scene, the effective presence of Tashayyo during the Mongol period started with the supposed role of the Shiites in the fall of the Sunni Caliphate in Baghdad in the middle of 12th century, and culminated in Oljeyto’s conversion to Shiism in the early 13th century. Historical sources, especially the Persian ones, do not provide detailed and clear accounts on the status of Tashayyo at that time, while Mamluk historians have been writing about it from an anti-Ilkhanid viewpoint. Consequently scholars have formed different hypotheses and analyses on the backgrounds, processes and dimensions of the growth of Tashayyo in this period, as well as on the attitudes of the Ilkhans towards it. Some have treated it as a political-military issue stemming from the long-term hostility between the Ilkhans and the Mamluks, and some have considered the favourable view of it as a personal predilection of the Ilkhanid court. This presentation is will critique and analyze the issue based on the reassessment of historical documents and narratives.