By: Mir M.Hosseini
A rebel chieftain who was held captive in the citadel of Darband was released after the Afghan attack, hoping that the people of Daghestan would come to the help of the Shah. But things went awfully wrong and the released chieftain and his allies in Daghestan took Shamakhi by storm and massacred thousands of Shiites.
Shamakhi was a commercial city in Azerbaijan which used to be a residence for Shirvan rulers. By this time, everyone was aware of the weaknesses of the Persian ruler Sultan Hossein and his court. Iran was in the middle of several revolts while foreign enemies were getting prepared to invade the country. The Ottomans already sent troops to the region with the pretext of protecting their subjects. Russians meanwhile, under Peter I found the condition very favorable as Iran territories could be occupied while the claim was made to fight enemies of Russia and Iran. According to Russian intelligence at the time, who had several spies in the region; Sultan Hossein and his court could neither understand nor control the raging storm they were caught in. This turmoil was the climax of a series of disturbances in Azerbaijan, Khorasan, Daghestan and almost every other part of the empire that needed some attention, though the Shah and his court were only kept busy in harems boiling with opium and alcohol.
While the Safavid empire was breaking up, the French were mediating a deal between Ottomans and Russians to divide Iran. Ottomans now saw Iran as a Turkish possession while the Russians called the Caspian sea, a Russian lake. The French mediation led to conclusion of a treaty between Russia and Ottomans, dividing the north-western area of Iran between the two empires. The Ottomans took Azerbaijan and most of Transcaucasia while the Russians took Caspian provinces of Iran. In May 1724, Tsar wrote to his commander in Rasht, asking him to invite Christians to settle in Guilan and Mazandaran while quietly diminishing the number of Muslims as much as possible. They were also very active in creating Shiite-Sunni conflicts that battered both Iran and the Ottoman Empire for a long time.
In Guilan, one of the consequences of occupation was that many of those who were involved in the production of silk fled the province and the industry never revived again.