The Qajar Dynasty
Afghan rule in eastern Iran lasted only a short period of time (1722-1729); the second ruler, Ashraf Shah, was overthrown by a young chieftain from Khorassan, Nader Khan, who had rallied to the cause of the last remaining Safavid prince, Tahmasp.
The Safavid Dynasty was briefly restored; however, Nader Khan (1736-1747) put a final end to its rule when he set himself on the throne in 1736. Nader Shah then expelled Afghan, Turkish and Russion troops from Iranian soil. He managed in the space of four years to conquer Afghanistan and to capture New Delhi, Bukhara and Khiva, thus creating a greater kingdom than that of Shah Abbas. He was however, considered to be a dictator and was assassinated in 1747. His empire broke up after his death.
There followed half a century of civil war in Iran between the rival Zand and Qajar factions. Finally in 1795 the Qajar leader Agha Muhammed Khan, emerged victorious and established the new Qajar dynasty. He brought the whole country under his authority and was crowned "Shah" (king) in Tehran in 1796.
The 19th and early 20th Century was dominated by a growing conflict of interest between Russia and Great Britain. Russia hoped to reach the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean through Iran, and Great Britian wanted to protect its sea and land routes to India and to slow down Russian expansion. Both obtained concessions from Iranian governments under Naser od-Din Shah (1848-1896) and his successor Muzzaffer od-Din Shah (1896-1907). The Qajar monarchs were incapable of establishing a sound fiscal policy, and to compensate for this, they progressively disposed of Iran's economic resources to foreign powers in return for small sums of money that satisfied their immediate financial needs.
Increasing dissatisfaction with the incompetence and corruption of the government together with resentment of foreign political and economic control, led to the formation and revolts by various secret societies and religious groups. This social unrest ultimately focused on the demand for a constitution, which was signed by Muzzaffer od-Din Shah on December 30th 1906. This led to the formation of the first "Majlis" (parliament).
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Persian Art Through the Centuries
Copyright© 1998 K. Kianush, Art Arena