Afsharid dynasty

Afsharid dynasty

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The Afsharids were members of an Iranian dynasty
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

 of Turkmen
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

 origin from Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

 who ruled Persia in the 18th century. The dynasty was founded in 1736 by the military commander Nader Shah
Nader Shah
Nāder Shāh Afshār ruled as Shah of Iran and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia or the Second Alexander...

 who deposed the last member of the Safavid dynasty
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 and proclaimed himself King of Iran. During Nader's reign, Iran reached its greatest extent since the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

. After his death, most of his empire was divided between the Zands and the Durranis, and Afsharid rule was confined to a small local state in Khorasan. Finally, the Afsharid dynasty was overthrown by Mohammad Khan Qajar
Mohammad Khan Qajar
Agha Muḥammad Khān Qājār ‎‎ was the chief of the Qajar tribe, succeeding his father Mohammad Hassan Khan, who was killed on the orders of Adil Shah. He became the Emperor/Shah of Persia in 1794 and established the Qajar dynasty...

 in 1796.

The dynasty was named after the Turkic Afshar tribe to which Nader belonged. The Afshars had migrated from Turkestan
Turkestan
Turkestan, spelled also as Turkistan, literally means "Land of the Turks".The term Turkestan is of Persian origin and has never been in use to denote a single nation. It was first used by Persian geographers to describe the place of Turkish peoples...

 to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 in the 13th century. In the early 17th century, the Persian Shah Abbas the Great moved many Afshars from Azerbaijan to Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

 to defend the north-eastern borders of his state against the Uzbeks
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

. Nader belonged to the Qereqlu branch of the Afshars.

Foundation of the dynasty


Nader Shah was born as Nader Qoli into a humble semi-nomadic family of Khorasan, where he became a local warlord. His path to power began when the Ghilzai
Ghilzai
Ghilzai are the largest Pashtun tribal confederacy found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are also known historically as Ghilji, Khilji, Ghalji, Ghilzye, and possibly Gharzai...

 Shah Mahmud
Mir Mahmud Hotaki
Shah Mahmud Hotaki, , also known as Mahmud Ghilzai , was an Afghan ruler of the Hotaki dynasty who defeated and overthrew the Safavid dynasty to become the king of Persia from 1722 until his death in 1725.He was the eldest son of Mirwais Hotak, the chief of the Ghilzai-Pashtun tribe of Afghanistan,...

 overthrew the weak Safavid
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 shah Sultan Husayn in 1722. At the same time, Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n forces seized Persian land. Nader joined forces with Sultan Husayn's son Tahmasp II
Tahmasp II
Tahmasp II was one of the last Safavid rulers of Persia . Tahmasp was the son of Husayn , the Shah of Iran at that time. When Husayn was forced to abdicate by the Afghans in 1722, Prince Tahmasp wished to claim the throne. He fled to Tabriz where he established a government...

 and led the resistance against the Ghilzai Afghans, driving their leader Ashraf Khan
Ashraf Khan
Shah Ashraf Hotaki, , also known as Ashraf Ghilzai , son of Abdul Aziz Hotak, was the fourth ruler of the Hotaki dynasty. An Afghan from the Ghilzai Pashtuns, he served as a commander in the army of Shah Mahmud during their conquest of the Persia Empire...

 out of the capital in 1729 and establishing Tahmasp on the throne. Nader fought to regain the lands lost to the Ottomans and restore Persian control of the Afghans. While he was away in the east fighting the Ghilzais, Tahmasp allowed the Ottomans to retake territory in the west. Nader, disgusted, had Tahmasp deposed in favour of his baby son Abbas III
Abbas III
Abbas III was a son of Shah Tahmasp II of the Safavid dynasty. After the deposition of his father by Nader Khan the infant Abbas was appointed nominal ruler of Iran on 7 September 1732. Nader Khan, who was the real ruler of the country, assumed the positions of deputy of state and viceroy...

 in 1732. Four years later, after he had recaptured most of the lost Persian lands, Nader was confident enough to have himself proclaimed shah in his own right at a ceremony on the Moghan Plain
Mughan plain
Mugan plain is a plain in northwestern Iran and the southern part of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The highest density of irrigation canals is in the section of the Mugan plain which lies in the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is located on the bank of the Aras river extending to Iran...

.

Nader's conquests and the succession problem



Nader initiated a new religious policy aimed at reconciling Shia with Sunni Islam. The Safavid dynasty had relied heavily on the support of Shi'ites, but many soldiers in Nader's army were Sunnis. Nader also wanted to set himself up as a rival of the Ottoman sultan for supremacy within the Muslim world, which would have been impossible had he remained an orthodox Shi'ite.
Soon afterwards Nader waged a war against the Afghans
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and captured Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

. In 1738, he invaded Mughal India, massacred 30,000 of the inhabitants of Delhi and in a single campaign captured an incredible amount of wealth, including the legendary Peacock Throne
Peacock Throne
The Peacock Throne, called Takht-e Tâvus in Persian, is the name originally given to a Mughal throne of India, which was later adopted and used to describe the thrones of the Persian emperors from Nader Shah Afshari and erroneously to Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi whose throne was a reconstruction of...

 and the Koh-i-Nor diamond.

After his return from India, Nader fell out with his eldest son Reza Qoli Mirza, who had ruled Persia during his father's absence. Having heard a rumour that Nader was dead, he had prepared to seize the throne by having the Safavid royal captives, Tahmasp and his son Abbas, executed. Nader was not pleased with the young man's behaviour and humiliated him by removing him from the post of viceroy. Nader became increasingly despotic, taxing his subjects heavily to pay for his military campaigns, and his health decayed. When there was an assassination attempt on him during an expedition to Daghestan, Nader blamed Reza and in 1742 had him blinded so he could not succeed to the throne Nader's despotism and excessive demands for tax provoked many revolts. In 1747 while on his way to crush one of them, he was assassinated by two of his own officers. Iran was soon to descend into civil war.

Civil war and downfall of the Afsharids


After Nader's death, his nephew Ali Qoli (who may have been involved in the assassination plot) seized the throne and proclaimed himself Adil Shah
Adil Shah
Adil or Adel Shah Afshar or Ali Qoli was Shah of Persia from 1747 until 1748.Subsequent to the assassination of Nader Shah in Fathabad , his nephew Ali Qoli declared himself Adil Shah , and shah of Persia...

 ("The Just Shah"). He ordered the execution of all Nader's sons and grandsons, with the exception of the 13-year old Shahrokh, the son of Reza Qoli. Meanwhile, Nadir's former treasurer, Ahmad Shah Abdali, had declared his independence by founding the Durrani Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 in Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

. In the process, the eastern territories were lost and in the following decades became part of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, the successor-state to the Durrani Empire.

Adil made the mistake of sending his brother Ebrahim
Ebrahim Afshar
Ibrahim or Ebrahim Shah Afshar was the Shah of Persia during the Afsharid Empire from July to September of 1748. He was Adil Shah's brother and Nader Shah's nephew. He toppled his brother in order to seize the power, and he blinded him on July 6 1748. However, two months later his own troops...

 to secure the capital Isfahan. Ebrahim decided to set himself up as a rival, defeated Adil in battle, blinded him and took the throne. Adil had reigned for less than a year. Meanwhile a group of army officers freed Shahrokh from prison in Mashhad
Mashhad
Mashhad , is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia Muslim world. It is also the only major Iranian city with an Arabic name. It is located east of Tehran, at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its...

 and proclaimed him shah in October 1748. Ebrahim was defeated and died in captivity in 1750 and Adil was also put to death at the request of Nader Shah's widow. Shahrokh was briefly deposed in favour of another puppet ruler Soleyman II
Soleyman III
Soleyman II, was the ruler of Persia from 1749 until 1750. His real name was Mir Sayyed Mohammad Marashi and he was in charge of Holy Shrines in Qom and Mashhad...

 but, although blinded, Shahrokh was restored to the throne by his supporters. He reigned in Mashhad and from the 1750s his territory was mostly confined to Khorasan. In 1796 Mohammad Khan Qajar
Mohammad Khan Qajar
Agha Muḥammad Khān Qājār ‎‎ was the chief of the Qajar tribe, succeeding his father Mohammad Hassan Khan, who was killed on the orders of Adil Shah. He became the Emperor/Shah of Persia in 1794 and established the Qajar dynasty...

, the founder of the Qajar dynasty
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

, seized Mashhad and tortured Shahrokh to force him to reveal the whereabouts of Nader Shah's treasures. Shahrokh died of his injuries soon after and with him the Afsharid dynasty came to an end.

List of Afsharid Monarchs

  • Nader Shah
    Nader Shah
    Nāder Shāh Afshār ruled as Shah of Iran and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia or the Second Alexander...

     (1736–1747)
  • Adil Shah
    Adil Shah
    Adil or Adel Shah Afshar or Ali Qoli was Shah of Persia from 1747 until 1748.Subsequent to the assassination of Nader Shah in Fathabad , his nephew Ali Qoli declared himself Adil Shah , and shah of Persia...

     (1747–1748)
  • Ebrahim
    Ebrahim Afshar
    Ibrahim or Ebrahim Shah Afshar was the Shah of Persia during the Afsharid Empire from July to September of 1748. He was Adil Shah's brother and Nader Shah's nephew. He toppled his brother in order to seize the power, and he blinded him on July 6 1748. However, two months later his own troops...

     (1748)
  • Shahrukh (1748–1796)

Family tree


See also



External links