Mohammad Khan Qajar

Mohammad Khan Qajar

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Agha Muḥammad Khān Qājār (1742–1797) ‎‎ was the chief of the Qajar tribe, succeeding his father Mohammad Hassan Khan, who was killed on the orders of 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...

. He became the Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

/Shah of Persia in 1794 and established the Qajar dynasty
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

. He was succeeded by his nephew, Fat′h Ali Shah Qajar.

At the age of six Agha Muhammad was castrated on the orders of Adil Shah to prevent him from becoming a political rival, but this loss did not hinder his career. Despite being a eunuch
A eunuch is a person born male most commonly castrated, typically early enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences...

, he became the chief of his tribe in 1758. In 1762 he was captured by a rival tribe and sent to Shiraz
Shiraz, Iran
Shiraz is the sixth most populous city in Iran and is the capital of Fars Province, the city's 2009 population was 1,455,073. Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the Roodkhaneye Khoshk seasonal river...

 as a prisoner to Karim Khan
Karim Khan
Karim Khan Zand, , , was a ruler of Iran, and the founder of the Zand Dynasty.He was born to a family of the Zand tribe of Lur or Lak deportees...

's court. Agha Muhammad spent the next 16 years as a hostage, until he escaped in 1779. That same year, the death of Shah Karim Khan Zand plunged the country into a series of civil wars and disputes over the succession, with many members of the Zand dynasty
Zand dynasty
The Zand dynasty ruled southern and central Iran in the 18th century.- Karim Khan Zand :The dynasty was founded by Karim Khan, chief of the Zand tribe which was Lur or Lak deportees. Modern scholarships such as Wadie Jwaideh suggested his Kurdishness. He became one of Nader Shah's generals...

 acceding to the 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...

 in the space of only ten years. Agha Muhammad took the opportunity to launch a rebellion which, in 1794, succeeded in capturing Lotf Ali Khan
Lotf Ali Khan
Lutf or Lotf Ali Khan was the last Shah of Persia of the Zand dynasty.Lotf Ali Khan Zand came to power after a decade of infighting among a succession of violent and inept Zand chiefs following the death in 1779 of the dynasty's founder, Karim Khan Zand...

, the last Zand ruler. Two years later he proclaimed himself Shahanshah (King of Kings).
Agha Muhammad restored Persia to a unity it had not had since the fall of the Safavid dynasty. He was, however, a man of extreme violence who killed almost all who could threaten his hold on power. In 1795 he ravaged Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, a kingdom to the north of Persia, which was formerly part of the Safavid empire. In the same year he also captured 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...

. Shah Rukh
Shah Rukh of Persia
Shahrukh Shah Afshar, also spelled Shahrokh was a king of the Afsharid dynasty and a contemporary of the Zand kings. He reigned until 1796....

, ruler of Khorasan and grandson of Nadir Shah, was tortured to death because Agha Muhammad thought that he knew of Nadir's legendary treasures.

In 1796 Agha Muhammad moved his capital from Sari
Sari, Iran
Sari is the provincial capital of Mazandaran and former capital of Iran , located in the north of Iran, between the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains and southern coast of the Caspian Sea...

 to Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

. He was the first Persian ruler to make Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, then only a village, his capital. Although the Russians took Derbent
Derbent |Lak]]: Чурул, Churul; Persian: دربند; Judæo-Tat: דארבּאנד/Дэрбэнд/Dərbənd) is a city in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, close to the Azerbaijani border. It is the southernmost city in Russia, and it is the second most important city of Dagestan...

 and briefly occupied Baku
Baku , sometimes spelled as Baki or Bakou, is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal...

 during the Persian Expedition of 1796
Persian Expedition of 1796
The Persian Expedition of Catherine the Great, alongside the Persian Expedition of Peter the Great, was one of the Russo-Persian Wars of the 18th century which did not entail any lasting consequences for either belligerent....

, he successfully expanded Persian influence into the Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, reasserting Iranian sovereignty over its former dependencies in the region. He was, however, a notoriously cruel ruler, who reduced Tbilisi
Tbilisi is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mt'k'vari River. The name is derived from an early Georgian form T'pilisi and it was officially known as Tiflis until 1936...

 to ashes and massacred its Christian population, as he had done with his Muslim subjects.

Agha Muhammad was assassinated in 1797 in the city of Shusha
Shusha , also known as Shushi is a town in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus. It has been under the control of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic since its capture in 1992 during the Nagorno-Karabakh War...

, the capital of Karabakh khanate
Karabakh khanate
The Karabakh khanate was a semi-independent khanate on the territories of modern Azerbaijan and Armenia established in about 1750 under Persian suzerainty in Karabakh and adjacent areas. The Karabakh khanate existed until 1805, when the Russian Empire gained control over it from Persia...

, after about 16 years in power. Legend has it that at the night of his death, Agha Muhammad Khan ordered his servants to bring him a melon cut into slices. He finished half, ordered the other half to be put away and vowed to his servants, that if even one slice of the melon was missing in the morning, all three servants would be beheaded by him. Later on that night one of the servants forgot and ate a slice. The servants then killed Agha Muhammad Khan with the dagger because they were afraid he would kill them in the morning.

According to Hasan-e Fasa'i's' Farsnama-ye Naseri, during Agha Muhammad's stay in Shusha, one night "a quarrel arose between a Georgian servant named Sadeq and the valet Khodadad-e Esfahani. They raised their voices to such a pitch that the shah became angry and ordered both to be executed. Sadeq Khan-e Shaghaghi, a prominent emir, interceded on their behalf, but was not listened to. The shah, however, ordered their execution to be postponed until Saturday, as this happened to be the evening of Friday, and allowed them to go back to their duties in the royal pavilion, unfettered and unchained. From experience, however, they knew that he would keep to what he had ordered, and, having no hope, they turned to boldness. When the shah was sleeping, they were joined by the valet Abbas-e Mazandarani, who was in the plot with them, and the three invaded the royal pavilion and with dagger and knife murdered the shah."

See also

  • History of Persia
  • Military history of Iran
    Military history of Iran
    With thousands of years of recorded history, and due to an unchanging geographic condition, Iran has had a long, varied, and checkered military culture and history, ranging from triumphant and unchallenged ancient military supremacy affording effective superpower status in its day, to a series of...