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Page history last edited by Adam 14 years, 5 months ago

 

 

 

 

NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF IRAN

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

 

 

-Iran is located in the Middle East:

 

 

- before the 20th century, the area which forms modern Iran was the centre of the Persian Empire

- the ruler of the Persian Empire was called the Shah and, from the 17th century, his throne was called the Peacock Throne:

- the Peacock Throne is one of the best looking thrones of them all:

 

 

- the Persian Empire became Shi’a during the rule of the Safavid dynasty, which ruled Iran 1501-1722

- since that time, Iran has always been the most important Shi’a country

- in the 18th century, the Persian Empire was much bigger than present-day Iran - here’s what it looked like under the reign of the Afsharid Dynasty, which ruled 1722-1781:

 

 

- note how in addition to modern day Iran, it also included: about half of Iraq, a bit of Turkey, all of present Armenia, about half of modern Georgia, all of modern Azerbaijan, some territory north of Azerbaijan which today is part of Russia, about half of modern Turkmenistan, 3/4 of modern Afghanistan, and about a third of modern Pakistan

- 1722: end of Safavid Dynasty - comes about because of 2 big events: (1) Peter the Great and the Ottoman Empire invade lands in the north; (2) the Safavids attempt to convert the Afghans, who are Sunni, to Shi’a Islam, and the Afghans take advantage of the Russian-Turkish invasion to revolt

- Nader Shah founds the Afsharid Dynasty in 1722, and succeeds in beating back the Russians, and confining the troublemaking Afghans to Afghanistan

- 1747: Nader Shah is assassinated, and the Afghans revolt, ultimately leading to the foundation of the Durrani Empire, which was headed by Ahmed Shah Durrani, and which included parts of modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, a little bit of western India, and the Khorasan region of modern Iran (the north east part) - Persia never recaptures these areas (except Khorasan), and the Durrani Empire lays the foundation for the modern state of Afghanistan

- Nader Shah’s successors are weak, leading to the rise of the Zand Dynasty, tribal chieftans who become de facto shahs, although they never formally depose the Afsharids

- the founder of the Zand Dynasty, Karim Khan, moved the capital to Shiraz - here’s a picture of his house:

 

 

- in 1779, Karim Khan Zand dies, leading to a civil war as various Zands claim the Peacock Throne for themselves

 

Rise of the Qajar Dynasty:

 

- remember back to the chaos that followed Nader Shah’s death in 1747 - at the time many of the tribes had rebelled against the Persian Empire, including the Qajar tribe - after Nader Shah’s successor Adil Shah had suppressed the Qajar revolt, he ordered Agha Mohaammad, the 5-year-old son of the Qajar leader to be castrated - poor guy - nevertheless, the Qajars went ahead and elected him as their chief in 1758 - he does his best to lead the tribe, but in 1762, he gets captured and sent to Shiraz as a prisoner in Karim Khan’s house

- 1779: Karim Khan dies, leading to chaos - Agha Mohammad  takes advantage of this to escape from Karim Khan’s house

- now, while the Zands are fighting amongst themselves, Agha Mohammad goes back to his tribe and launches a rebellion - allies with other Turkic tribes

- civil war lasts 15 years, until 1794 when Agha Mohammad and his Turkmen allies capture the last Zand claimant to the throne, Lotf Ali Khan

- two years later, Agha Mohammad formally proclaims himself Shah, taking the name Mohammad Khan Qajar and thus founding the Qajar Dynasty

- here’s a picture of him - note how, although he’s happy because he’s a Shah, he’s unhappy because he’s a eunuch:

 

- foundation of Qajar power was always the army, consisting of the Turkic tribesmen, and Georgians who were impressed into the Persian Army after 1795

- though not Persian themselves, the Qajars ally with the educated Persians of the cities

 

Reign of Mohammad Khan Qajar, 1794-1797

 

- generally does a good job of reasserting Persian claims over regions which had been trying to revolt throughout the 18th century

- retakes Georgia in 1795 (in 1783, amidst the Zand civil wars, the king of Georgia (Georgia is a Christian kingdom, btw), signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, with Catherine the Great,  making Georgia a Russian protectorate) - in the process, the shah burns Tblisi to the ground

- also retakes Khorasan from the Durrani Empire in 1795

- 1796: moves the Persian capital to Tehran

- 1796: Catherine the Great decides to retaliate for the burning of Tblisi - leads to the Persian Expedition of 1796 - here’s a picture of Russian soldiers from the Expedition:

 

 

- Catherine’s troops invade Azerbaijan, but then Catherine dies, and her successor orders the troops to return to Russia

- 1797: Mohammad assassinated by his servants who didn’t like him because he was mean

 

Reign of Fat ’h Ali Shah Qajar, 1797-1834

 

- Mohammad Khan Qajar didn’t have any kids (since he was a eunuch), so he was succeeded as Shah by his nephew - here’s a picture:

 

 

- 1801: Russia annexes Georgia, which makes Persia really mad - WAR

- Persia’s forces are not at all up to the task, since the Russian army is now a modern western-style army - for example: at one point, 493 Russian soldiers hold off 20,000 Persian soldiers for two weeks using a cannon - here’s a picture:

 

 

- realizing that they need a better army to help them, Fat ‘h Ali sends an ambassador to ask Napoleon for help, leading to the 1807 Treaty of Finkenstein, declaring that France will help Persia against Russia - quickly, however, Napoleon makes peace with Russia, so he doesn’t come through on his promises to Persia

- shortly thereafter, the British ambassador, Sir John Malcolm (later governor of Bombay), offers British support, but then Britain also changes its mind

- 1810: Persia tries to scale up efforts in the war by declaring the Russo-Persian War a holy war - unsurprisingly, this doesn’t help

- 1813: Treaty of Gulistan concedes that Russia’s in charge of Georgia now

- the shah now realizes that he really needs to modernize his army to prevent future problems - he puts his son, Crown Prince Abbas Mirza in charge - the Brits offer to help, so Abbas Mirza sends a lot of Persians to Britain to study, and regularly liaises with the British ambassador

- Persia wasn’t very centralized yet, so Abbas Mirza’s efforts were only partially successful - but at least things were a lot better than before

- here’s a picture of Abbas Mirza - note how he’s wearing a western-style military uniform:

 

 

- 1821: Ottoman troops, claiming that they’re simply chasing after rebellious tribesmen, pursue them into Azerbaijan, an area under Persian dominion - encouraged by the British, Persia declares war on the Ottoman Empire - Abbas Mirza’s troops win the Battle of Erzurum, and in 1823, the war ends without any territory changing hands

- emboldened by how well his new army did, Abbas Mirza convinces the shah to let him try to retake the territory lost to Russia

- 1826: Russian minister in Tehran arrested and Abbas Mirza leads forces into area in present-day Azerbaijan

- sadly, the new troops weren’t as good as Abbas Mirza thought, and Persia was forced to sign the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, thus recognizing even more Russian suzerainty in the Caucasus than before

- this map show how much territory Persia lost between 1801 and 1828:

 

 

- conclusion: Fat’h Ali Khan’s tenure as shah was a big bust for Persia, though it wasn’t entirely his fault - he was just a little behind the times

- did he accomplish anything at all?  well, he did manage to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and he was a big patron of the arts, and his reign is seen as being very significant culturally - and he did commission a nice relief showing him hunting to be carved into the side of a mountain by a road outside of Tehran - here’s a closeup:

 

 

 

Reign of Mohammad Shah Qajar, 1834-1848

 

- Abbas Mirza had died in 1833 while putting down a revolt in Khorasan, so when Fat’h Ali died, he was succeeded by Abbas Mirza’s son, who became Mohammad Shah Qajar

- when Mohammad posed for his portrait, he wore traditional dress, but at least his beard wasn’t as ridiculous as his grandfather’s:

 

 

- for some unknown reason, Mohammad decided that he wanted to recapture the city of Herat - Herat had been lost to the Durrani Empire when it got its independence, but since 1824, it had been a “free city” - though really it was under British protection

- granted, Herat did have a nice citadel, built by Alexander the Great and still standing (remarkable!):

 

 

- but other than that, I can’t see why he’d possibly want it

- but he did, so he broke off Persia’s ties with Britain and instead allied himself with the France of Louis-Phillipe

- even with French advisors, however, he was unable to take Herat

- so what did Mohammad accomplish?  well, he maintained and strengthened cultural ties with the west

 

Bábism

 

- a notable feature of Mohammad’s reign was the rise of a religious movement called Bábism

- background: the largest Shi’a denomination is called Ithna-’Ashariyya, or “Twelver Shi’ism” (approximately 80% of Shi’a Muslims are Twelvers) - Twelvers belief that the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi (b.  868) (son of the Eleventh Imam) has been “hidden by God” - a condition which Shi’as call an “occultation” - since the time of the funeral of the Eleventh Imam in 874 - during Mahdi’s “Minor Occultation” (874-939), his deputies maintained communication between the Imam and the rest of the world - in 939, Mahdi began his “Major Occultation” which will continue until a time decided by God when he will return to establish justice

- begining in the 1790s, Shaykh Ahmad began teaching that the reappearance of the Mahdi was imminent - upon Shaykh Ahmad’s death, Sayyid Kazam Rashti assumed the leadership of Shaykh’s followers, known as the Shaykhis - Sayyid Kazam Rashti taught his followers that he would not live to see the Mahdi, but that the Mahdi would reappear shortly after his death, and he taught his followers how to recognize the Báb, through whom Mahdi would communicate to them- Sayyid Kazam Rashti died in 1843

- in 1844, one of Sayyid Kazam Rashti’s leading followers, Mullá Husayn entered Shiraz following Sayyid Kazam Rashti’s instructions - on May 23, 1844, he administered a test which demonstrated that Siyyid ’Ali-Muhammad of Shiraz was the Báb - here’s the room in which he figured this out:

 

 

- Siyyid ’Ali-Muhammad now took the title of “Báb”, meaning “Gate”, and implying that he was the Gate to the Mahdi, rather than the Mahdi himself (i.e. the Mahdi was communicating through him)

- the Báb appointed 18 followers, whom he called the “Letters of the Living” to spread the news that the Mahdi had resumed communication with the faithful - soon the movement grew, as the Báb’s followers, known as Bábis, began waging an intense propaganda campaign on his behalf

- the Báb authored hundreds of books defining his teachings and which he claimed represented a new sharia (law of God)

- mainstream Shi’a clerics were extremely critical of the Bábist movement and called on the government to suppress it

 

Reign of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, 1848- 1896

 

- Mohammad Shah Qajar died in 1848 and was succeeded by his son Nasser al-Din, seen here actually sitting on the Peacock Throne:

 

 

- Nasser al-Din had modern reformist tendencies

- he opposed the spread of Bábism much more intensely than his father did, and had the Báb executed by a firing squad in 1850, and intensified persecution of the Báb’s followers

- scholars estimate that in the two decades after 1844, the Persian government executed 20,000 Bábists, mostly under Nasser al-Din’s reign

- this persecution increased after 1852 when Bábists, angry about the execution of the Báb, attempted to assassinate the Shah

- the Báb had prophesied of “He whom God shall make manifest” - in 1852, Bahá’u’lláh (whose father was the vizier of one of Fat’h Ali’s sons) declared that this was spoken of him - the authorities soon turned on him and in 1853 he was banished from the Persian Empire - he settled in the city of Baghdad, in the Ottoman Empire - those Bábis who accepted Bahá’u’lláh’s status soon made Baghdad a major pilgrimage centre - they called their new faith Bahá’í

- here’s an Ottoman picture of Bahá’u’lláh (look away if you are Bahá’í):

 

):

 

- anyhow, enough about religion for now:

- being young and inexperienced when he came to the throne, Nasser mainly relied on his prime minister (aka his vizier), Amir Kabir (a title which Nasser granted to him, meaning “Great Ruler”), - here he his, dressed to impress:

 

 

- Amir Kabir recognized that Persia was practically bankrupt, and that its various regions were practically autonomous - as such, he initiated major reforms - for the first time there was a distinction made between public money and the money of the shah’s household; the bureaucracy was greatly centralized; foreign influence in the imperial household was diminished, but foreign trade was encouraged; excessively formal writing was banned from government documents; and, last but not least, he founded the first modern university in the Middle East, Dar ul-Funun (which would eventually become the University of Tehran)

- Amir Kabir’s reforms antagonized various nobles, and a noble faction, headed by the queen mother, convinced Nasser to dismiss Amir Kabir in 1851 - Amir Kabir was killed on the shah’s orders in 1852

- Nasser al-Din tried to regain the eastern part of Persia, especially Herat, but, like his father he was unsuccessful - ultimately, in 1856, Persia signed the Declaration of Paris, which ended the Crimean War, which recognized Afghanistan’s supremacy in the areas that formerly belonged to Persia

- in 1873, Nasser al-Din became the first Persian Shah to visit Europe - here’s a picture of him meeting Queen Victoria (she gave him the Order of the Garter):

 

 

- the Shah enjoyed Europe so much that he made a second trip there in 1889 - here he is enjoying a performance at the Royal Albert Hall (according to reports he also used the occasion to get all touchy feely with the princesses who were seated next to him):

 

 

- however, all this chumminess with the British royal family couldn’t mask the fact that Persia remained an empire in decline: Russia, having earlier had so much success in Georgia and Azerbaijan, continued to eat away at the Persian Empire, and by 1881, they had conquered Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

- nevertheless, Nasser al-Din did succeed in introducing a number of western-style reforms in Persia: including a modern postal system, a railway, a banking system, and newspapers

- he also had contact with several western businessmen - in 1890, he negotiated a deal with the British businessman Gerald Talbot to develop a tobacco company in Persia, but he was forced to back down on this after the Grand Ayatollah delivered a fatwa declaring that tobacco was contrary to the principles of Islam - this event, known as the “Tobacco Protest,” marks one of the first times in Persian history that a cleric-led protest movement attempted to influence secular  policy

 - he also had dealings with Paul Reuter (the founder of Reuters), whom Nasser al-Din awarded the Iranian Customs Incomes

- Nasser al-Din also introduced snazzy western-style banknotes:

 

 

- the later 19th century is notable for the large number of nationalist movements that arose during this period - one of the early leaders of “Islamic nationalism” during this period was an Iranian, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, seen here:

 

 

- al-Afghani was one of the first modernist political thinkers in the Islamic world

- unfortunately for Nasser al-Din, this meant that al-Afghani’s followers were not particularly fond of him, and as such, one of his follower’s assassinated the Shah in 1896

 

Reign of Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar, 1896-1907

 

- Nasser al-Din was estranged from his son Mozaffar al-Din, who spent pretty much all of Nasser al-Din’s reign “in the pursuit of pleasure” - Mozaffar al-Din was thus probably not ready to be Shah when his father was killed  - on the other hand, he did have excellent taste in facial hair and headgear:

 

 

- Persia was significantly in debt to both Britain and Russia when Mozaffar al-Din became Shah, and Mozaffar al-Din was not the man to solve that problem - instead, he took out more unpopular loans from Russia

- during his reign, Mozafar al-Din visited Europe three times - on one occasion negotiating a particularly large loan with Nicholas II of Russia

- the Shah’s bad financial condition allowed western businessmen to extract several valuable concessions from Mozaffar al-Din - it would turn out that the most significant of these by far was the D’Arcy Oil Concession, a 60-year oil concession granted to William Knox D’Arcy in 1901 under which Persia would receive only a 16% royalty on the oil during that period

- however, it was not British but Russian influence which was soon being most prominently felt in Persia

- concerns that the Shah was “selling out” Persia by granting valuable rights to foreigners in exchange for money paid to the royal household led to increasing dissatisfaction with the Shah amongst the religious establishment and the merchant class - a growing movement of clerics and merchants argued that the Shah needed to be constrained by the Rule of Law, and demanded the establishment of a western-style parliament to check the power of the crown

- the demands for a constitution grew louder in the wake of the Russo-Japanese War, in which Russia (the only European country without a constitution) was defeated by Japan (the only Asian country with a constitution)

- in December 1905, the Iranian merchant community began a massive protest after two Tehran merchants were bastinadoed for “charging exorbitant prices” - the clergy, who had first become allied with the merchants during the Tobacco Protest of 1892, sided with the merchants and joined in the protest - during these protests, both groups sought sanctuary from government forces inside a Tehran mosque - when government forces violated the sanctity of the mosque, this led to further protests and demands for a “house of justice”

- in a further scuffle in early 1906, government forces killed a seyyed (a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad), thus further enraging the protestors - this time, the clerical protestors sought refuge in the holy city of Qom, while the merchant protestors sought refuge in the British Embassy, with 12,000 merchant protestors moving into the British Embassy by summer 1906 - it was during this period that demands for a house of justice finally crystallized among the merchants

- in August, under tremendous pressure, the Shah agreed to call a “house of justice” which could draw up a constitution - elections were held and the First Majlis (“house of justice”) met in October - most of the members were members of the merchant class - here they are:

 

 

- the First Majlis understood that the Shah was growing sick quickly, and that his son was opposed to a constitution - thus, they drafted a constitution modeled on the Belgian Constitution, as quickly as possible - on December 30, 1906, on his deathbed, the Shah signed the constitution, and then died a few days later

- the constitution limited royal power; provided for an elective assembly, the Majlis, which would have law-making abilities, and the ability to approve the Shah’s appointments to the cabinet - however, when the Shah signed the constitution, he added a stipulation that the Shah’s signature would still be required for a bill passed by the Majlis to become law

- since there’s extra room, here’s a beautiful house from the Qajar period (I really should prepare a second set of notes on Iranian architecture - they have a ton of gorgeous buildings):

 

 

 

Reign of Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar, 1907-1909

 

- Mozaffar al-Din was succeeded by his son Mohammad Ali:

 

 

- in 1907, unbeknownst to Persia, Russia and Britain signed the Anglo-Russian Entente, whereby they agreed to divide up their spheres of influence in Persia, with Russia taking the north, Britain taking the southeast, and a neutral zone between them:

 

 

- upon ascending the Peacock Throne, Mohammad Ali immediately attempted to undo his father’s last act - he declared that the constitution was void and attempted to abolish the Majlis as contrary to Islamic Law

- in 1882, Nasser al-Din had created an elite corps of Persian troops under the command of Russian officers, known as the Persian Cossack Brigade - Mohammad Ali now decided to use the Persian Cossack Brigade against the Majlis - here’s what the Persian Cossack Brigade looked like:

 

 

- in 1907, Mohammad Ali declared the Majlis dissolved because it was contrary to the principles of Islamic law - in 1908, he sent the Persian Cossack Brigade to bombard the Majlis and arrest its members

- forces loyal to the Majlis fought back, and, after fighting in 1908-1909, defeated the Shah’s forces and deposed Mohammad Ali, who fled into exile in Russia

 

 

Reign of Ahmad Shah Qajar, 1909-1925

 

- Mohammad Ali’s son became Shah upon his father’s overthrow:

 

 

- in 1910, with Russian backing, Mohammad Ali attempted to regain the Peacock Throne

- meanwhile, the Majlis sought to put the country’s finances on a firm footing, and determined to bring in an outsider with financial expertise - upon the advice of the American government, they now appointed Morgan Shuster (until that point a customs collector in the Philippines, then Cuba) as Treasurer-General of Persia - let’s take a look at Mr. Shuster:

 

 

- and here’s a picture of him and his staff in Tehran:

 

 

- Shuster attempted to recover plundered assets from the Shah’s brother, who was allied with his father and Imperial Russia against the Majlis - Russia protested and sent troops to invade Persia

- in December 1911, the Shah’s vice-regent bowed to British and Russian pressure and expelled Morgan Shuster - Shuster returned to the U.S. and wrote a scathing denunciation of British and Russian imperialism entitled The Strangling of Persia

- with the coming of World War I in 1914, the Russian and British Empires became involved in a war against the Ottoman Empire (which was allied with the German and Austrian Empires): as a result, Britain dispatched troops to Mesopotamia to protect it against Ottoman incursions, and Germany responded by trying to convince Muslims to conduct a jihad against British rule in India

- in 1916, fighting between Ottoman and Russian forces spilled into northern Persia, though Russian forces collapsed after the Russian Revolution of 1917, leaving the Caucasus open to the Ottomans

- in 1917, Britain used Persia as a springboard to its unsuccessful attempt to reverse the Russian Revolution

- in 1918, British troops moved into the Caucasus from Persia to encourage the locals to resist the German-Ottoman forces

- following the Armistice of 1918, British forces under Gen. Edmund Ironside invaded northern Persia in order to secure the Armistice against the Turks - here’s a pic of the general:

 

 

- by 1920-21, Bolshevik forces were moving into Persia, and the British became worried that their Indian colonies were vulnerable

- Gen. Ironside determined that the Persian Cossack Brigade, which had always been commanded by Russians, could no longer be commanded by Russians in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution - he determined to put a Persian in charge of the Cossack Brigade, and, upon the recommendation of Lt. Col. Henry Smyth, he chose Reza Pahlavi, an officer in the Cossack Brigade, as its new commander

- however, Ironside was also dissatisfied with Ahmad as Shah, believing he was weak and ineffective

- in 1921, Reza Pahlavi staged a coup d’etat against Ahmad Shah Qajar, using the Cossack Brigade to march on Tehran - the role of Ironside and Smyth in this coup has been controversial

- Reza successfully suppressed a Bolshevik soviet which had been formed in Gilan in 1921

- for the next 4 years, Pahlavi argued that Persia should become a republic - he was opposed by some leaders in the Majlis, notably Mohammed Mossadegh and Hassan Modarres, pictured here:

 

 

- in 1923, the Majlis voted to depose Ahmad as Shah, and in 1925, they named Reza Pahlavi the new Shah

 

 

Reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi, 1925-1941

 

- here’s a picture of Reza:

 

 

- Ahmad had been forced into exile in 1923

- when Reza was crowned in 1926, he decided that the Qajar crown looked ridiculous, so he commissioned a new crown for a new dynasty (the Pahlavi Dynasty) - here’s a picture of the Pahlavi Crown:

 

 

- most of the time, though, Reza just wore a hat with a feather:

 

- he also brought in a snazzy new coat of arms:

 

 

- features of Reza Shah’s reign: authoritarianism, nationalism, militarism, secularism, anti-Communism, strict censorship, state propaganda

- in 1922, Reza brought in another American to serve as Treasurer-General, Arthur Millspaugh, who up to that point had been a foreign trade advisor in the State Department - here he is:

 

 

- for the next five years, Millspaugh helped get the Iranian financial house in order: he created a budget for the first time in Iranian history; improved tax collection processes; and established procedures to reduce the amount of brigandage

- during this period, Iran saw the U.S. as its protector against encroaching British and Russian imperialism

- in an effort to assert Iranian independence, in 1931, Reza refused to let Imperial Airways fly over Iranian airspace (granting a concession instead to Lufthansa)

- by the late 1920s, the D’Arcy Oil Concession (which wasn’t supposed to expire until 1961) was deeply unpopular among Iranians - the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was making millions and Iran was only getting a 16% royalty - Reza put his new Minister of Court, Abdolhossein Teymourtash, in charge of negotiating a better deal - here’s Teymourtash:

 

 

- to give you an idea of how close Teymourtash was to Reza, he posed holding the Pahlavi crown:

 

 

- so, Teymourtash goes to England to negotiate with Sir John Cadman, the chairman of the

Anglo-Persian Oil Co.

- however, as Iranian-British relations started to deterioriate, Reza got mad at Teymourtash and sent him to prison in 1932

- oh well, in 1933, they got a new deal with APOC, which increased Iran’s royalty to 25% and reduced the size of the concession

- Teymourtash’s family was active in Iran’s burgeoning feminist movement - a big women’s leader was Teymourtash’s daughter, Iran Teymourtash:

 

 

- and his sister, Badri Teymourtash, was Iran’s first female doctor:

 

 

- the women’s movement argued successfully that women should no longer have to be veiled or wear the traditional chador

- Reza banned chadors in 1936 - to give a picture of what the feminists were upset about, here’s a picture of a woman from the 1880s:

 

 

- so, banning the chador was probably for the best

- however, religious conservatives were starting to get pretty mad at the Shah

- the burgeoning feminist movement in Iran was known as the Women’s Awakening

- Reza also oversaw major western-style reforms: he built the Trans-Iranian Railway in the 1930s, created a public education system, and set up a health care system - here he is at the opening ceremony of the new Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tehran:

 

 

- however, some of these reforms were not necessarily in Persia’s best interest - for example, a major reason why the Trans-Iranian Railway had a north-south orientation was so that British troops would be able to move north to defend against possible Russian attacks on India - British troops remained stationed in the south

- in 1935, he pointed out to western diplomats that his country was really named “Iran” and asked them to stop calling it Persia

- in addition to Millspaugh and Teymourtath, another major cabinet minister from the first half of Reza’s reign was Ali Akbar Davar:

 

 

- Davar became minister of judicial affairs in 1926 and initiated major judicial reforms - in 1927, he dismissed all of Iran’s judges and brought in French advisors to train new judges and totally overhaul the system - he also drafted a lot of rationalizing legislation - he also founded Iran’s state insurance system

- in 1928, Persia ended the capitulations which allowed westerners in Iran to have their own courts

- however, Reza also got tired of Davar and had him killed in 1937

- this is indicative of the fact that by the late 1930s, Reza was becoming increasingly authoritarian - thus, the modernizing tendencies were counterbalanced by his tendency to throw people in jail if they disagreed with him

- Reza did, however, show respect to Iran’s Jewish community, praying in front of the Torah and issuing a decree allowing Jews to leave the ghetto - Jews thus consider Reza their second-favourite Persian Emperor, behind Cyrus the Great

- with the outbreak of the Second World War, Iran tried to stay neutral, since it had strong ties with both Britain and Germany (by this point, Germany was Iran’s largest trading partner)

- because of his good relationship with Germany, Reza was able to get all Iranian Jews in Germany out of Germany

- however, Britain, afraid that Germans would sabotage its oil supply, demanded that Iran expel all Germans from the country - Iran refused - the Brits worried that Iran was only pretending to be neutral, but would really support Germany

- in 1941, following the British-Soviet alliance, they agreed to invade Iran to prevent its oil supply from falling into Nazi hands - the USSR invaded from the north and Britain from the south - soon they had captured Tehran

- Britain and the USSR now deposed Reza Shah and sent him into exile in South Africa

- Reza Shah’s legacy: major modernization of country, combined with despotism - widening rift between government and religious leaders

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

go to http://iranianhistory.pbwiki.com/iranianhistory2

 

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