Finished Summary International Workshop “The Safavids, the Post-Safavids and the East Indian Companies” (Dec. 17)


Category: Workshop

Research Group: A02 Islamic Thought & KnowledgeB01 State Systems

The International Workshop “The Safavids, the Post-Safavids and the East Indian Companies” will be jointly organized by Gruoup B01“The Ideas of the Muslim Community and State Systems(Principal Investigator: KONDO Nobuaki)”, Group A02 “Changes in the World of Islamic Thought and Knowledge”, and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A), “Toward a Global History of Inter-State Relations: A Comparative Study on Governmental Controls on Commercial Exchanges and Traffics in Eurasia, 1400-1900” (Principal Investigator: MATSUKATA Fuyuko).

Date & Time: December 17, Sunday, 2023, 14:00~17:00 (JST)

14:00 Introduction by Nobuaki Kondo (ILCAA)
14:10 Peter Good (JSPS Fellow/ILCAA)
“Stability by Contract?: The East India Company in Persia 1600-1747”
15:10 Norifumi Daito (Historiographical Institute, the University of Tokyo)
“Pursue of Agreement: The Dutch East India Company”
16:20 Discussions
Discussant: Shinsaku Kato (ILCAA)



Stability by Contract?: The East India Company in Persia 1600-1747. 

Peter Good 

The English East India Company’s presence in Persia represents one of the longest non-colonial or imperial relationships of a European state with an Indian Ocean Empire. The Company’s ability to maintain its position as both a trading and diplomatic presence in the Safavid Empire was due to mutually recognised benefits. These included joint military campaigns against the Portuguese (1622), Gulf Piracy, or Arab and Afghan rebels along the littoral of the Persian Gulf. This paper will explore the different and changing methods used and deployed by both parties in order to maintain this valuable cooperation. The Company and the Safavid State enshrined their relationship in an evolving written document, the Farman. However, the Farman alone was rarely sufficient to fully answer all eventualities faced by either party, renegotiations were therefore required to better reflect changing circumstances. This paper will explore how the Anglo-Persian relationship was maintained outside of the formal confines of the written Farman. By exploring these bilateral exchanges, it is possible to better understand how the Company’s business was interwoven with the local and state policies of the Safavid Empire and its successors. Understanding the balance of power and management of the Anglo-Persian relations has an important impact upon the way we understand the agency of non-European states and peoples in their commercial and diplomatic exchanges. This helps us to understand the multi-valent nature of these interactions, rather than relying solely on Eurocentric views. 


Pursue of Agreement: The Dutch East India Company

Norifumi Daito

After the brutal overthrow of the Safavid dynasty in 1722, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) faced a serious setback in Iran. In face of incessant war their once-thriving trade in Bandar Abbas fell substantially. After desperate efforts in the rising markets of Basra, Bushire and Kharg Island, the VOC finally withdrew from the Persian Gulf in 1766. Historians think the Dutch failures signified Iran’s imperial and economic crisis, but the underlined overall catastrophe raises the question: how could the VOC nevertheless last so long?

              This paper argues that the crucial driving force behind the “longevity” of the VOC was a maintained vitality of local intermediaries, particularly Hindu and Armenian merchants. While endorsing the ailing Company trade as brokers or interpreters, they also served as important fixers between the VOC and rising regional powers. Here I elaborate on that understanding through an investigation of trade agreements the Company made with ruling elites in the Gulf and neighboring countries after the Safavids. By culling evidence from changing socioeconomic conditions that formed them, the paper shows a remarkable mobility of the local intermediaries that helped the VOC to struggle with the political vicissitudes in the post-Safavid period.


Language: English

Venue: Room 301, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (registered participants may also access the workshop online by Zoom), Open to public/Admission free, Pre-registration is required.

Pre-registration: please use this form for in-person participation. 
                                     please use this form for online participation. 

Organizer: Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas (A), “The Ideas of the Muslim Community and State Systems” (Principal Investigator: KONDO Nobuaki (ILCAA); 20H05827)/ Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas (A), “Changes in the World of Islamic Thought and Knowledge” (Principal Investigator: Jin Noda (ILCAA); 20H05825); Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A), “Toward a Global History of Inter-State Relations: A Comparative Study on Governmental Controls on Commercial Exchanges and Traffics in Eurasia, 1400-1900” (Principal Investigator: MATSUKATA Fuyuko (Historiographical Institute, the University of Tokyo); 21H04355)

Contact: MORITA Madoka (mmorita[at]


The workshop is convened by two distinguished scholars, each renowned for their expertise in the English and Dutch East India Company. It offers a forum for a comparative exploration of these influential entities, whose expanded experiences and interactions with local people in early modern Persia provided valuable insights into our project’s primary focus on diplomatic relations and state systems in the early modern period.

Dr. Peter, the first speaker, examined the existence of the English East India Company in Persia and investigated the legal grounds for its operations by drawing on Farmans issued to the Company by the Safavid Shahs from 1622 to 1747. A close reading of these documents developed over the studied period underscored the significance of acknowledging the Company’s reliance on non-European local personnel, shedding light on the diverse and interconnected nature of the Company’s operations in Persia.

Dr. Daito, the second speaker, delved into an analysis of the Dutch East India Company’s interactions within Safavid and post-Safavid Persia. By exploring Contractboeken, which documented various trade agreements the Company forged with regional rulers, Dr. Daito revealed that the success of the Company’s trade and agreement strategies rested on its broad network of local intermediaries. These intermediaries, such as Banian brokers and Armenian translators, underlay the Company’s resilience even after the demise of Safavid dynasty.

The presentations were followed by discussions covering a range of issues, such as the jurisdiction of Farmans on both conceptual and pragmatic levels, exercises of the privileges granted to the Company, and the notable absence or non-usage of the term “ahdname” in stark contrast to its prevalence in Ottoman diplomatic relations within the Persianate context.

Others post