When Agha Mohammad Khan killed Lotf Ali Khan Zand in 1796, he became the most powerful in Iranian politics. He was the master of two third of the country, the only other person ruling at this time was Shahrokh, old Afsharid king who was really a king in name and had no real power.
Agha Mohammad Khan moved his capital to Tehran, a small town half way between his birth place of Estar Aabad and Shiraz, still a very important city. Without wasting anytime, he set of for more wars. He captured Azerbaijan, then headed south and added Kurdistan and Lorestan to his kingdom, made sure that Fars and Kerman are obedient, and then went back to Tehran. Now, he thought of his most important passion, money! He new one person who had a whole lot of it, and he was in Khorasan, yes, our old friend Shahrokh Shah Afshar. Agha Mohammad Khan appointed Baba Khan, his nephew and most trusting commander as the regent and heir, and headed west to Mashad.
Shahrokh was blind, old, and stingy! He did not realize the dangers of playing games with a guy like Agha Mohammad Khan. When the Qajar Khan arrived in Mashad, Shahrokh treated him like a dear guest and accepted his superiority, but denied money. He said that he has no money and he is a poor man, but Agha Mohammad Khan new that most of Nader’s treasure should be some where in that palace. He warned Shahrokh about bad consequences of not giving him what he wants, but Shahrokh was cheaper than realizing the threat. Agha Mohammad Khan chose the fast solution, torture! He put boiling kettles on the old man’s head, and ordered his beard to be root out! Shahrokh finally gave up and turned the money in. Agha Mohammad Khan re-appointed him as the ruler of the Khorasan with the promise of paying 20,000 gold coins a year.
When Agha Mohammad Khan got back to Tehran, he faced a new problem in the opposite side of Mashad, Georgia! Georgia, then a part of Iran, was a Christian princedom. During the anarchy, many of its ruling class started looking to Russia for protection instead of Iran, and at this time, the princes and local Khans were rebelling against Agha Mohammad Khan. The Qajar King did not waste time and headed to Shushi, the capital of Shirvan, north of Azerbaijan and south of Georgia. Khan of Shirvan, Ebrahim Khalil Khan Javanshir, did not let the Qajar king to pass, so Agha Mohammad Khan surrounded the city. One night while camping outside the Shushi fortress, Agha Mohammad Khan asked for a Melon for dessert and he ate half of it. When he finished, he ordered the other half to be put aside for his tomorrow night. Three of servants ate the other half, and when Agha Mohammad Khan asked for it, they had to tell him that it has been eaten! He vowed to have the rude servants beheaded the following morning and went to sleep. Because everybody knew that Agha Mohammad Khan never fails to carry on his promises, especially in killing part, they decided to kill him before he can kill them! They entered his tent and put a dagger in his chest. This was the end of the life of a man who was cruel, stingy, and murderous, but at the same time a man who was responsible for rescuing Iran from anarchy and unifying the whole country. A fruit, such pity!
Reign of Fath-Ali Shah and the Russo-Persian Wars
Agha Mohammad Khan was killed in 1797. When the news of his murder reached the capital, the riot broke out. First his brother Mehdi-Gholi Khan claimed the throne and then Nader Mirza, son of Shahrokh Shah Afshar, the blind old king of Khorasan re-claimed his ancestors throne. Before his death however Agha Mohammad Khan has named Baba Khan, his nephew and son of Hossein-Gholi Khan, as his heir. Baba Khan was one of his best commanders and the only one who knew how to keep the rest of Qajar tribe happy and calm. Baba Khan first persuaded his uncle Mehdi-Gholi Khan to reconsider his claim as the king, and the Khan happily agreed. Then Baba Khan coronated himself as Fath-Ali Shah (his original name was Fath-Ali, Baba Khan just a title). Next he moved toward Harat, where Nader Mirza concentrated his armies. In long battle, commanded by Baba Khan himself, Nader Mirza was captured and killed. This was when Fath-Ali Shah said his famous line: “Nader killed Fath-Ali, and Fath-Ali killed Nader”(first Nader is Nader Shah, first Fath-Ali is Baba Khan’s great-grandfather who was killed by Nader Shah. Second Fath-Ali is Baba Khan himself, and second Nader is of course Nader Mirza, got it?).
After clearing the way to the throne, Fath-Ali Shah returned to the capital and started his long reign. His reign is THE WORST in the history of Iran. Baba Khan, first a brave and smart commander, changed his life style when he became king. He married over 500 wives, and spent most of his days in the Harem. He became fearful of his possible opponents. He was very stingy, and never tried to defend the country in front of the foreign enemies.
Fath-Ali Shah re-elected his uncles prime minister, Ebrahim Khan Kalantar Shirazi (the same person who betrayed Lotf-Ali Khan). During his reign, Czarist Russian started pursuing Peter the Great’s will of reaching the warm waters of the south. Paskovich. Russian general, attacked Azerbaijan. Iran’s forces, commanded by Fath-Ali Shah’s brave and wise son, Abbas Mirza, faced them north of Nakhjavan. Iran’s forces were weak and they lacked the technological advancement of Russians. The other problem was Fath-Ali Shah’s stinginess. He denied the requests of money for better equipment that Abbas Mirza sent him. Finally, Abbas Mirza had to back up from Azerbaijan down to Tabriz. In there, Russians forced Iranians to sign an agreement that gave them the ownership of Armenia and Georgia, called Torkaman-Chaay. After this, there was no war for almost five years when again the Russians attacked and this time they captured Tabriz. Once again Abbas Mirza faced them and pushed them as far back as Darband. Instead of sending him more support, Fath-Ali Shah sent a message telling him to give up! Abbas Mirza did not give up, but when Russians got a new reinforcement, Abbas Mirza could not stand in front of them. Paskovich came south and invaded the whole Azerbijan down to Ardebil. Abbas Mirza had no other chance than to make another humiliating treaty. This time it was called Golestan and it gave the right to 17 of Azerbaijan cities beyond the river Aras to the Russians (present day Republic of Azerbaijan). This was the most humiliating treaty in Iran’s history. It also Iranians responsible to pay 20,000 gold pieces to the Russia!!! Fath-Ali Shah agreed to give the 17 cities, but money, NO! Abbas Mirza had to sell the jewelry of his own and his soldiers wives to pay the Russians. All of these wars really wore him out and he died from TB six months after the end of the war (1833).
Fath-Ali Shah, now the least popular and most hated king of Iran, lived one more year to sea Abbas Mirza’s son. Mohammad, becoming the new heir (although Fath-Ali Shah had 59 more sons alive, out of 150!). Mohammad Mirza was chosen as the king despite all of the oppositions from his uncles, most notably, Ali Khan and Mohmmad Ali Mirza.
Fath-Ali Shah died in 1834. His legacy was the tales of his unbelievable mating, loss of a large part of countries territory, start of an anarchy, and most importantly, opening the foot of foreign imperialist powers to the country. He will always be remembered as the worst, the most hated, and the weakest king of Iran.
When Fath-Ali Shah died, Mohammad Mirza, his grandson and son of late Abbas Mirza was chosen as the new king. This election caused numerous problems within the country, the most important one of them being the claim of throne by Ali Shah.
Ali Shah Zell ol Soltan, tenth son of Fath-Ali Shah was an ambitious man. When his older brother Abbas Mirza died, leaving Mohammad Mirza as the heir, Ali Shah started planning for a riot against the new king to be. When Mohammad Mirza became king, Ali Shah, with the help of his brothers Emam Gholi Mirza and Hossein Ali Mirza, declaired himself as king and sat on the throne in Tehran. At that time, Mohammad Mirza was in Azerbaijan, where he succeeded his father as the governor; he did not have the time to come to Tehran fast enough and depose Ali Shah. Mohammad Shah was furious, but he was also lucky.
Mirza Abolghassem Ghaem Magham, chancelor of Mohammad Mirza’s court, was a wise and strong minister. He and his father Mirza Issa had served Abbas Mirza for over 20 years, and he was left as the counselor of the new heir (and now king) after the death of his grand-father and father. Mirza Abolghassem planned a way to depose Ali Shah and restore Mohammad Shah to his throne. He contacted Fath-Ali Shah’s other sons who were also in Tehran, but did not cooperate with their brother, he also started gathering forces to attack the capital. All of these actions made Ali Shah scared, so he sent his trusted brothers Imam Verdi Mirza and Ebrahim Mirza to face the forces of Mohammad Shah. When Mirza Abolghassem made sure that he has scared the ‘king’ enough, he entered diplomacy. He bribed Ali Shah’s brothers to stop supporting him and promised them land and positions. Then he sent a force headed by Mohammad Shah’s brothers Fereydoon Mirza and Khosrow Mirza to attack the weak armies of Ali Shah. It was soon all over and Ali Shah was deposed, emptying the throne for Mohammad Shah.
Mohammad Shah entered his capital victorious. He rewarded Mirza Abolghassem by appointing him as his Prime Minister. Then he started punishing his rebellious uncles, against Mirza Abolghassem’s advise. He blinded Hassan Ali Mirza and Ali Shah, the eldest of the rebellious princes. He also exiled a whole bunch of them to a small castle in Azerbaijan. Some of the princes escaped to Russia or Mesopotamia, and some of them even to England. Finally Mohammad Shah did the one of the cruelest acts of his reign by blinding Khsorow Mirza, his brother, just because he was Abbas Mirza’s favourite son!
After establishing his throne, Mohammad Shah withdrew to his palace, but not for long. The new story was the occupation of Harat, a city in Eastern Iran by Amir of Afghanistan. Amir, feeling rather secure by British protection he received, had decided to expand his country! Mirza Bolghassem appointed Soltan Morad Mirza, Mohammad Shah’s brother and his greatest commander, as the governor of Khorasan, the province Harat is in. Morad Mirza moved his army to Harat and captured the city with no major opposition. He sent the news of the conquest to Tehran and also declared that he is going to conquer Afghanistan so that the Amir can not repeat his act. Morad Mirza was right in making that decision, and he had enough forces to occupy all Afghanistan and even parts of the Tajikestan, one of the provinces lost to Russian by Fath-Ali Shah. What Morad Mirza was not aware of was politics. The British, feeling the danger and realizing that if Morad Mirza conquers Afghanistan, he might continue to India, thought a solution. Their desire was to keep the attention of Iran away from Afghanistan and ultimately India, because they knew history enough to realize that Iranian kings like Mahmoud and Nader have conquered India before, and it is possible that another king might think of the same thing. The British plan was smart and at the same time cruel. They sent their navy to occupy the southern islands of Iran in the Persian Golf. When Iranian government complained, the British presented a solution: un-occupy Harat and we will give the islands back!!! Mohammad Shah had no other way, thus he sent a message to his brother telling him to come back to Tehran. Morad Mirza, confused and angry, declined the orders. The British added the diplomatic pressure by moving furthure north and actually entering the mainland. Mohammad Shah, this time angry, sent his other brother, Heidar Mirza to bring the Morad Mirza back. Heidar Mirza was successful in pursuading Morad Mirza and brought him back to Tehran. The English dislodged the islands. The British, willing to remove any possibility of similar actions in the future, forced the Iranian court to accept Harat as part of the Afghanistan Kingdom. This was another loss for Iran, following the ones to Russia.
Many historians now think that if Mohammad Shah and Mirza Bolghassem didn’t listen to the British, the turn out could be a lot different. They say that with Morad Mirza’s army strength and the equal military knowledge of his other brothers Heidar Mirza and Anooshirvan Mirza, Iran could turn out to be the winner party. If Morad Mirza just stayed in Harat and did not go any further, another army in the south could stop the British. Many say that the weakness of some Iranian officials made them scared of the British without reason, and there also were some officials who were cooperating with the Ambassador of Britain to scare the king. In any case, this war caused the creation of Afghanistan as a separate country under British protectorate and also ended the desire of Iranian kings to expand their territory.
Another great incident of Mohammad Shah’s reign includes Mirza Abolghassem. Mohammad Shah, feeling suspicious about his prime minister because of his successful ways to organize the country and even winning a war (well, Harat was lost to diplomacy not to military power), he was thinking of a way to get rid of him. Mohammad Shah did not have a very stable personality, many people had lots of influence on him, including his old teacher, Haji Mirza Aghassi.
Haji Abbas Iravani, known as Mirza Aghassi, was a Molla (monk) from Iravan (Yervan, present capital of Armania, then an Iranian city). He was chosen as the teacher for the young Mohammad Mirza when his father Abbas Mirza was fighting the Russians. Being not very intelligent, he taught his pupil a lot of superstition. When Mohammad Shah became king, Haji Mirza Aghassi kept his influence on him. Haji was a very greedy person and he loved money. He used every opportunity to add to his treasures, and when it was a matter of him not getting money any more, he was ready to act.
Mirza Abolghassem was not a very easy person to deal with. He did not like the some habit of courtiers like expecting money without actually doing anything! He limited the expenditure and cut many of useless and wasteful payments, one of them Haji Mirza Aghassi’s. Encouraged by many courtiers in similar situation and with support of Mohammad Shah’s wife, Mahdol Olia, Haji decided to push the judicious counselor out of the scene. It could easily be done because Haji had a great amount of influence and also knew his pupil’s weak spots. He started accusing Mirza Abolghassem of gaining too much power. He told the king that Mirza Abolghassem is thinking of deposing Mohammad Shah and installing Morad Morza, his powerful brother instead of him. These words, among with Mohammad Shah’s painful Arthritis helped the king to make a decision that made him unpopular in the eyes of the history forever.
Mohammad Shah ordered the imprisonment of Mirza Abolghassem. Mirza Lived in prison for a short while. He was forbidden to write, because Mohammad Shah was afraid of his pen. Mohammad Shah is famous to say that if Mirza Abolghassem writes something, I can not refuse and I may change my mind. Finally, the courtiers made the king sign the execution order of the great counselor. Mirza Abolghassem died by suffocation, because Mohammad Shah had promised him that he would never shed his blood!
Mirza Abolghassem Ghaem Magham Farahani was the pride of Iran in the first half of Qajar rule. He organized the government, created new trade routs, wrote laws, provided food and job, and established relations with other countries. He also institutionalized the taxation system, provided health services, and cut the expenditure and systematized the government payments. In addition to being a great statesman, Mirza Abolghassem is one of the major literary figures of the Qajar era and perhaps the creator of moderns prose writing. His writings are simple and beautiful, free from the superficial and decorated method that dominated Persian literature for over a thousand years.
Mohammad Shah did not survive his great Prime Minister for long. Last few years of his life was expended in his ugly palace in Bagh Ferdows, just north of Tehran. He died from a heart attack. Unlike his grandfather and father, Mohammad Shah did not marry a lot of women. He had two wives and 5 children, nothing in compare with Fath-Ali Shah’s 250 and Abbas Mirza’s 57 children!!! Although he was not the greatest ruler of his time, he can be considered as the most innocent of Qajar kings.
Naser Al-Din Shah’s Reign
Nasser Al-Din Mirza, heir to the throne of Mohammad Shah, was in Tabriz, seat of Azerbaijan province when he heard the news of his father’s death. He was never a favourite of the old king, unlike his younger brother Abbas Mirza. Nasser Al-Din Mirza was a naive and unexperienced 19 year old with nothing in mind but girls and hunting, but this was no time for either of them.
Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Nezam, son of Mirza Abolghassem Ghaa-em Maghaam’s cook, was the young prince’s advisor and constable. He was a very briliant and sharp man, so clever that it is told that Mirza Abolghassem warned his sons from his future rise to power. Amir Nezam was a very patriotic person whose aim was to return Iran to its previous status as a major power, with prosperity and respect.
When Nasser Al-Din Mirza decided to go to the capital to claim his throne, Amir Nezam accumpanied him with his guards. Near Tehran, the supporters of Abbas Mirza, previous king’s younger son, stopped the new king from entering the capital. Faced with a major problem at the very beginning of his reign, Nasser Al-Din was furious. Amir Nezam, being always a good commander, ordered the armies of Azerbaijan to join him in north of Tehran. He planned an attack on the city, but he only had minor fights around the city and sometimes near Qazvin or Qom. He was prepering for a major attack when he recived a message from the rebels offering peace. Apparently recognizing their opponents superior power and realizing the weaknesses of Abbas Mirza, they decided not to take the danger. Nasser Al-Din Mirza entered the city in a victorious way, being proud that his reign did not start with a blood shed. Amir Nezam, organizer of such a great stage that feared the rebels even before a real battle, was awarded the position of prime minister and the title of Amir Kabir, the Great Ruler.
The Rise and Fall of Amir Kabir
First two years of Nasser Al-Din Shah’s reign is filled with improvements in the country, thanks to Amir Kabir. He organized the financial system, cut the salaries of those courtians who did not deserve a salery, prepered a new tax system, wrote new guidelines for army divisions, and supported domestic economy. Amir encouraged local manufacturers, using the domestic products and banning the officials from using imported material. Amir appointed governors and commanders for the border areas that he knew would protect the country by their lives. He also established strong ties with Ottomans and other neighbors, but rejected any foreign influence from Britain. France, or Russia.
One of the greatest achievments of Amir Kabir was vaccination. He brought the vaccin for small pox and for paralization to the country and ordered all of the people to be vaccinated. This action reduced the death rate in dramatic amounts and was an start for the new health system in the country. He also sent students to the European countries to study medicine, engeneering, law, politics, and military sciences. These new educated class provided the back bone for the countries fundamental change in the next half decade.
Perhaps Amir’s greatest work was the building of Dar ol Fonoon, the first modern university in Iran. Amir ordered the school to be built on the edge of the city so it can be expanded as needed. He hired French and Russian instructors as well as Iranians to teach subjects as different as Language, Medicine, Law, Georgraphy, History, Economics, and Engeneering. Unfortunatelly, Mir did not live long enough to see his greatest monument completed, but it still stands in Tehran as a sign of a great man’s ideas for the future of his country.
Seeing all of Amir Kabir’s achievements, as well as his programs to cut the unneccessary spendings, courtians decided to depose Amir Kabir. Headed by Mahd ol Olia, Shah’s mother and Amir’s mother-in-law, the courtians were mad at Amir for cuting their allowences. Mahd ol Olia hated Amir because he thought of her as a bad influence in her son’s reign and did not allow her to take part in ruling the country. Mahd ol Olia found herself several strong allies, notabely Mirza Agha Khan Noori, a former official and a famous anglophil. Conspirators, mostly Mahd ol Olia and her brother, started taliking to the king about Amir’s negative points and persuauded him that Amir is planning to depose him. Being busy with all of his works, Amir did not know a thing about what was cooking for him.
At last, Shah was persuaded of Amir’s treachery and ordered his deposition and exile to Kashan. Completely shocked and without any defense, Amir took of for Kashan with his wife, Shah’s sister Ezzat ol Saltane. Still not satisfied, the conspirators asked for his execution. Shah, still feeling guilty of his action, refused, but he was persuaded of that Amir is a threat to hsi throne. Finally, while Shah was half drunk, Mahd ol Olia got his signature for the dirties act of Iran’s recent history. Amirza Ali Khan, the executioner, was sent to Kashan. He found Amir taking a bath, so he went in and presented the order, Amir bowed his head to Shah’s order and asked the oppertunity to chose his own death method. Mirza Ali Khan accepted and then cut his wrist vain at his request. This was the end of Iran’s greatest politician and reformer in the over two centuries.
Nasser Al-Din Shah after Amir Kabir
Mirza Agha Khan Noori, one of the head conspirators in death of AMir Kabir was elected as the new prime minister. His rule was the start of decline of whatever Amir did. The manufacturers lost the support to produce more quality products, Vaccination was forgotten, and in short, all of Amir’s legacies was lost. Probably the only thing remaining was Dar ol Fonoon, which continued to produce the educated. Headed by Ali Naghi Mirza, a very worthy person, Dar ol Fonoon became Iran’s greatest educational centre.
Nasser Al-Din Shah reigned for fifty years. During his reign, he changed numerous prime ministers, even dissoved the position of prime minister and creatd a royal council. He never found another Amir Kabir, although some worthy people like Mirza Hossein Sepahsalar or Mirza Ali Amin ol Dowle came along. His last prime minister was Mirza Ali Asghar Amin ol Soltan, who holds the record for prime ministership, 22 years all in all, and during the reign of three kings. Nasser Al-Din Shah’s reign was also the start of a lot of things, some of them mentioned below.
In the technological terms, Telegraph and telephone were brought to Iran by Mokhber Al-Slataneh Hedayat, and the first ministry of communication was also created by him. A small and limited train system was also brought from Belgium, and it rpoved to be an entertainment system rather than a rail road. Electric light was also first brought to Iran during the long reign of Nasser Al-Din Shah, although for a long time, it only worked in the royal palace.
Reign of Nasser Al-Din Shah also brought a new thing to Iran, official visits! Shah visited European countries three times, went to the Apris exposition, met with Queen Victoria and KAisar Wilhelm I. He also went to Russia, Nehterlands, and Austria. His greatest souvenir from these trips was bringing a new wave of European liberal thought to Iran, and also facilitating the way for Iranian students to go to European universities. He also made alot of treaties with foreign powers that gave way to imperilism of the late 19th century. With these treaties, Irans police went under the French and Italian way, Austrians and Germans controled the military trainings, and English and Russians captured the countries economy. Not wanting to stay out of business, Belgians took the countries import and export ministery under their power.
From all of these treaties, one stands out, the Reuter Treaty. Made with Baron Reuter, a Jewish-English lord, this treaty gave the rights to all of countries tobaco use to the Reuter Company. Iranians felt that this treaty puts them and on of their esential consumer products under the control of a foreign power. Islamic clergy, headed by Mirza-ye Shirazi, banned the tobaco use in Iran. Even the wives of the king refused to use tobaco. This caused a general unrest, and of course a bad profit for Lord Reuter. The treaty was canceled with Iran paying a fine. This accident, although not over a very important matter, showed the people that they can achieve waht they want with unity, something that came handy a little while later.
In general, reign of Nasser Al-Din Shah was an era of transition from the old times to the modern world. Political, economical, and cultural changes prepered the country for a major social and poilitical overturn. During his reign, several opposition groups were created, some of them supported by foreign powers, like Baha’is, and some of them domesticly initiated, like the followers of Seyed Jamal Al Din.
Finally, in 1891, year of Nasser Al-Din Shah’s half a century reign, came the end. The whole country was prepering for the celebrations. Shah left the palace for Shah Abdol Azim, tomb of a religious leader and a famous piligramage site. When he finished his prayers, he went toward the door of his late wife’s tomb, close to the Shah Abdol Azim. Suddenly, he was shot three times by one of the followers of Seeyed Jamal Al Din, a famous opposition leader, acting from Turkey. The assasin turned himself in, He was called Mirza Reza. Not wanting the public to know that the king is dead, Prime Minister Ali Asghar Khan planned a play to fool the poeple. He moved the body to the palace secretly, and did not announce the death of the king. He then sent a messenger to Tabriz to let the heir to the throne lnow about his father’s death. The king is dead, long live the king!
Mozzafar Al-Din Shah
Nasser Al-Din Shah’s son, Mozzafar Al-Din was an old child, as one of his companions once said. Waiting in his position og heir to the throne for 37 years, he never tried to learn how to really govern a country. He inherited Ali Asghar Khan, prime minister of his father, and the true ruler of the country. Although not nearly as strong as his father, “Abji Mozzafar” (sister Mozzafar, as he was called by the critics) made two trips to the “Farang”, and spend a lot of money and bought a lot of useless things.
Coming with Mozzafar from Tabriz, where he held the position of governor of Azerbaijan, where a group of people known to the others as “Turks”, although not many of them where actually Turk. These people who have been waiting for over 30 years for Mozzafar to become Shah, and now they could not control themselves, so they started emptying the treasury. This was not very pleasing to the people, especially the “Fars” group of courtians. So this started something that would burn the whole monarchy, at least it was suppose to!
The Little (or Short) “Constitutional” Period
God knows if it was a national thing or as some suggest, another conspiracy of “the English”, but whatever it was, it was large. After the death of Nasser Al-Din Shah, intellectuals and oppositions both inside and outside the country found a situation in which they could voice their complains. Newspapers started to publish, books started to be written, parties came to existance, and for the first time, people started questioning the “divine” right of the king.
Who knows how, but some how, the courtians and nobles, mostly from the “Fars” group started to enter the scene. They began arranging meetings and leading people. It might be that they wanted to kick the “Turks” out, but lets be optimistic, maybe they were really thinking of the people! (sic.) Anyhow, some of these “nobles” became famous as the great “liberalists” and they started pressuring the old king to sign the guideline for limiting his own power, constitution. Finally, he did, and maybe because of it, he died almost immidiatly after, leaving the throne for his son, Mohammad Ali.
Meanwhile, the revolutionaries did not waste anytime taking advantage of the moment. They found a big building, and created the house of commons. Then they started the election for the first parliament. It went pretty good, and it was actually working, bringing almost democracy to the country, but Mohammad Ali was far too big (and fat…) of a trouble to get rid of.
Mohammad Ali Shah and the return of Personal Rule
The new Shah had a lot of things said behind his back. First that he is not the son of his father, which is a pretty big accusation, but considering his mothers behaviour, who knows!!! The other thing was that he was too much of and “absolutist” to be trusted with the throne of “constitutional monarchy”. But the leaders of the revolution were pretty optimistic, so they brought the new king and put his hand on the Qoran and made him promise not to betray the “constitution”. He did, but apparently his hand was from the wood, because after a while, he got the itch of getting rid of all these commoners.
Mohammad Ali Shah could not trust any of his Iranian courtians to do the job form him, so he look for the help from his northern allies, Russians. A small group of Kaczak soldiers, created by the Russians, were available in Iran. They were the result of Nasser Al-Din Shah’s desire to have a “Russian” military, and also an advantage given to Ruissia to make them happy after all of the advantages given to the English. Leader of the Kaczaks, Colonel Liyakhov, was an absolutist, so that made the problem easy.
After escaping a murder conspiracy, Mohammad Ali Shah ordered Liyakhov to bombard the Parliament. Liyakhov killed many of the MPs, and Mohammad Ali Shah’s guards captured the rest. Their leaders, people like Malek ol-Motekalemmin or Soor-e Esrafil, who were the major forces, were hanged, and the rest were sent to exile.
Mohammad Ali Shah started the short lived “absolutist” period this way. The leaders of the opposition who escaped the death, began planning for re-establishing the old way. Helped by the demonstrations inside the country and by the support given from the religious leaders, revolution started again.
Few incidents lead to the dethrownment of Mohammad Ali Shah. One was the strike of the “Bazaar” merchants against the taxes and punishments, and the other one was the great sit-in in the British Embassy in Tehran, where more than a 100 thousand people demonstrated against the governament. Also military like oppositions from all sides of the country started moving toward the capital. Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan from Azerbaijan, Sepahsallar From the North, and Sardar-Asad from the south. These forces met each other behind the gates of Tehran, and “conquered” the capital together.
Mohammad Ali Shah had to resign. He was sent to exile first to Odessa and then to Itally, where he died around 15 years later. He tried several more times to recapture his lost thrown, but he never succeeded.
The Great Constitutional Period and the End of Qajars
Mohammad Ali Shah’s 10 year old son, Ahmad Shah, was chosen to become the new king. Because he was a minor, the parliament found him a regent, Ali Reza Khan Qajar, an old man who was neither absolutist nor constitutionalist, he was just old!
This second constitutional period proved to be less pure than the first one. A lot of foreign influence enetered the thoughts of the people, mainly through the new leaders of the revolution who were mainly western educted and not always very patriotic. Many popular poets and intellectaulls started talking about the British hand in the whole second revolution and how they are getting closer to swallow the whole country. This thought was empowered by the election of openely “Anglophile” Vosoogh Al-Doleh to the prime ministership. Vosoogh made a treaty with the British, a treaty which was considered by many to be the official document of selling the country to the British. A series of oppoisitions started, and the ended by the rise of a new, obvious British trick.
Being disappointed in attracting now adult Ahmad Shah’s attention toward working with them, and seeing no opposition from the Russians after the revolution of 1917, the British decided to act fast. Using the skills of their ambassador in Iran, general Ironside, they designed a Coup d’Etat. For acting the parts of the leaders of the Coup, they chose the Journalist Seyyed Zia and the former Kaczak troops liutenant, Reza Khan Maxim.
The Coup was successful, Seyyed Zia became the new Prime Minister and Reza Khan occupied the position of Ministery of War. Seyyed Zia ordered the arrest of a large group of countries rich and famous. He kept them in jail for ransom, asked in the form of unpaid taxes. But there was one problem, Seyyed Zia did not follow the guidelines correctly, so after 100 days in power, he and his “Black Cabinet” were fired from the job! This time, the British chose the better person, Reza Khan.
Reza Khan was an illiterate soldier from Savad Kuh area of Mazandaran province in the north of Iran. He joined the Kaczak troops when he was young in search of money and respect. Before participating in the Coup, he served many of the rich and famous that Seyyed Zia sent to jail. Reza Khan was perfect for the role, he was obediant and without any plans of his own.
Reza Khan occupied the position of Prime Minister after over powering 5 cabinets that came after Seyyed Zia from his position of Minister of War. Sradar Sepah, as he was now called, was a pretty brutal and not-very-pleasant man. He did not really understand the etiquettes of the court, and used insult as a very strong weapon against the people he did not agree with! Thus during his reign, words like “Pedar sookhte” or “J…sh” were very common!(sorry, untranslateble, but use your immagination). He was also unable to read, which lead to a lot of Jokes, still being told, after 70 years!
Anyway, Reza Khan’s Premiership was the death blow to the old and corrupt Qajar Dynasty. In a Parliament whose memebers were chosen for the purpose, Reza Khan Maxim was declaired king as Reza Shah Pahlavi, and that was the end of Qajars, whose last king, Ahmad Shah, was living in Monte Carlo for the past two years, leaving the power to Sardar Sepah. Many say that Ahmad Shah was not a weak or indifferent king as evidence suggest, but that he was rather powerless infront of the Reza Khan and the English support. Whatever he was, he was for sure the last king of Qajars. Soon after overthrow, his heir to the throne and brother, Prince Mohammad Hassan and all his family were also sent exile. They moved to England, when Prince Mohammad Hassan’s son grew up and joined the Royal British Navy!
Reza Khan was now the absolute ruler of a constitutional monarchy. With his rule, the great Constitutional Era did not end in a violant act as the first one did, it was just slowly put to rest, so slow that nobody felt its absence for a long time!