The death of Shah Abbas I in 1038/1629 has too often been seen as the beginning of the end of the Safawid dynasty, the start of an inexorable decline leading to a catastrophic fall in 1135/1722. It is undoubtedly true that, with the qualified exception of Abbas II, none of the shahs of the seventeenth century were of Abbas's calibre as a ruler, a fact for which the latter's policy of immuring the princes of the royal family in the harem was at least partly responsible. In a governmental system based on an autocratic monarchy, this was of no little moment and as a result of Shah Abbas's administrative reforms, more power was centred on the court and the capital than in the sixteenth century. The personal qualities of the reigning monarch did matter. Since circumstances, natural and unnatural, dictated that not one of Shah Abbas's sons or brothers was available to succeed him on the throne.