Introduction to Qajar Dynasty
Qajar Dynasty is the name of a dynasty that ruled Persia for about one hundred and thirty years between 1789 and 1925. The dynasty’s founder was Mohammad Khan Qajar, who chose Tehran as his capital. The last Qajar king, Ahmad Shah Qajar, was deposed and replaced by Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1925. The dynasty belonged to the Qajar Turkic tribe that came to Persia from Central Asia due to the Mongol invasion, settled around Armenia primary. The Qajar dynasty is one of the great dynasties of Persia; The members of this family are the son’s descendants of Qajar princes.
The Qajar Dynasty tribe gained more power due to the vast contributions they made to the Safavid court. The first today’s cohesion of Persia took place during the Qajar era also the modern country of Iran was officially formed. The Qajar period coincided with the colonial days and the expansion of modern empires. During this period, Persia was involved in several wars, resisted the Russians and the British for years. Although Persia was never colonized during the Qajar period, the dynasty lost parts of the country’s territory in the wars, especially with Russia.
Naser al-Din Shah Qajar
After Mohammad Shah’s death (the third Qajar king), his seventeen-year-old son Naser al-Din succeeded him, ruled for almost 50 years. Mirza Taghi Khan Farahani, known as Amir Kabir, was elected as his prime minister; He quickly resolved the situation, reorganized the army, improved spending policies, eliminated unreasonable salaries and allowances, and published a state-owned newspaper (Vaghaye-Etefaghieh). He is considered a pioneer of the country’s modernization.
Amir Kabir established a modern school called “Dar ul-Funun” for military, engineering, and medical studies. He also hired teachers from Austria, Italy, and France. Before the school’s inauguration, Naser al-Din Shah Qajar had been told that Amir Kabir’s popularity was a threat to his throne. Therefore, he exiled the Prime Minister to Kashan and later assassinated him there. Amir Kabir fell victim to Mirza Aqa Khan Nuri and the king’s mother’s seditions and conspiracies.
Expanding ties with the West
The reign of Fath Ali Shah in 1797 coincided with the French Revolution and the conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte. In summer 1798, Napoleon’s army occupied Cairo, defeating the Mamluks on Egypt’s land. The conquest of Muslim lands was a turning point in the history of relations between the Western world and Islamic civilization. So, the political and cultural influence of Western governments in Muslim countries increased day by day. Iran’s confrontation with Western civilization during the Qajar Dynasty period left a dual legacy for Iranians. On the one hand, the Qajar kings’ desire to implement Western models – especially after Naser al-Din Shah visited Europe – paved the entering process of Industrial Revolution achievements to Iran. In addition, the Qajar dynasty’s desire to send students to Europe sparked a new wave that, in return, brought the idea of modernity.
But on the other hand, the good fortune of the Qajar kings also led to the growing dependence of Iran on the Western world’s manifestations. Perhaps the transfer of Iranian customs or railways to foreigners was intended to rectify the unhealthy situation of Iran’s economy, however, in the public eyes, the Qajar court had auctioned off the country’s capital by granting various concessions to foreign powers. We witness the signs of the Iranians patience overflow of connection between Qajar court and Europe in the assassination of Naser al-Din Shah in the last years of the nineteenth century (May 1896) and the tobacco protest at the beginning of Mozaffar ad-Din Shah’s reign. People believed it was a betrayal of the land and religion.
During the Qajar Dynasty, many manifestations and achievements of the Western world arrived in Iran;
- The enthusiasm of the Qajar kings for the impressions of Farang (in Persian word refers to Europeans in general) and the efforts of reformers such as Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Kabir doubled the process of acquainting Iranians with the technologies of that day.
- Naser al-Din Shah’s great interest in recording memories brought the art of photography to Iran for the first time; Mozaffar ad-Din Shah’s passion for animation led to the advent of cinemas in Iran.
- Other achievements during the Naser al-Din Shah’s reign were; the publishment of the first Persian newspaper (Vaghaye-Etefaghieh) by Amir Kabir’s order, organizing the first modern university and institution of higher learning (Dar ul-Funun) in Persia, and a coin mint and molding factory’s establishment in Tehran.
- In 1883, the first railway was built, connecting a short distance from Tehran to the Shah Abdol-Azim shrine. (Locomotives were popularly known as smoky cars.)
- In addition, the most substantial development of the Qajar Dynasty was perhaps the introduction and expansion of the mass media. Also, in 1863, the first Persian stamp was issued.
- Fifteen years later (in 1878), Persia was one of the first countries to join the Universal Postal Union. The first telegraph test line was connected Golestan Palace to Lalehzar Garden in 1897.
- Two years later, Tehran, the capital, was connected to Rasht, Tabriz, Isfahan, Hamedan, Shiraz, and Mashhad through the telegraph system. According to many, the telegraph’s role is undeniable in the country’s developments in the early twentieth century, especially in the spread of the Persian constitutional revolution.
The Persian Constitutional Revolution
From a political point of view, there has been little change as significant as the Persian constitutional revolution in the history of Persia in the last two or three centuries. The idea of elitist modernism, both religious and secular, along with a wave of people tired of the tyranny, forced Mozaffar ul-Din Shah Qajar to issue a constitutionalism decree in the summer of 1906. In a general view, the decree and the constitutional revolution have been left many advancements in Persian society and politics. Concepts such as the Constitution and the House of Justice first entered Persian political literature during the Qajar period. The establishment of the parliament was another fundamental change. Another legacy of politics in the last decades of Qajar rule was the emergence of associations, guild houses, and the creation of political parties in their earliest form. The citizens’ political action was understood for the first time during the Qajar period, after the Persian constitutional revolution’s success.
The End of The Qajar Dynasty
When World War I broke out, Ahmad Shah, the young king of Persia, who ascended the throne after his father’s overthrow, Mohammad Ali Shah, had just been crowned. When the war ended, Persia had spent four adventurous years with occupation, insurgency, conflict, and famine; four years that brought the country to its knees, and an unprecedented political-economic turmoil had swept across the country.
Reza Khan was a lieutenant in the Cossack Brigade during and after the constitutional period. He gradually grew and gained a reputation as a decisive figure and manager in the Iranian military arena. Between 1919 and 1921, the British Treaty failed, and Reza Khan arrived in Tehran with his armed soldiers two years after the 1919 Treaty broke out when the unrest in the central government of Iran escalated. Occupied public offices, arrested many politicians, and made Seyyed Zia ol Din Tabatabaee the prime minister. Thus, the rule of the Qajar dynasty came to an end, and the history of Iran entered a new era by the Pahlavi dynasty.