This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in this book. The book contains an explanation of why it used the term "Persia", rather than the now more fashionable "Iran". Persia may not have had, for much of its history, a peaceful time, but that has not prevented a remarkable cultural efflorescence from occurring during these in many ways difficult centuries. It is interesting that political division and discord does not always seem to inhibit the flowering of culture: the Italy of the Renaissance is a classic example of this. The Persia ruled by the Saljuqs, the Mongols, the Timurids, and the Safawids also saw major developments in many of the arts, especially in painting, poetry, other forms of literature, and architecture. And it is worth remembering that much of this was actively encouraged by some of the rulers who have in other respects received deservedly bad press.