Today in the Middle Ages: July 17, 1487

Ismail Shah, the ruler who converted Iran from Sunni to Shia Islam, was born on July 17, 1487.

Ismail lost his father at an early age and spent years in hiding from his enemies. He vowed to make Shia the official religion of Iran and achieved astounding and lasting success. He made his capital in Tabriz, the capital of his home province. He was also a prolific poet.