Territorial Changes in Persia/Iran 1813–1971


Map Code: Ax02491

Persia’s Qajar Dynasty (1813–1925) did not suffer a Century of Humiliation on a par with contemporaneous China, but ran them close. It shared with China the territorially voracious Russia as its northern neighbour. The second Shah, Fath-Ali, (r. 1797–1834), renowned chiefly for the luxuriance of his beard and the number of his progeny (5,000 descendants in his lifetime), lost two disastrous wars with Russia, losing all of his Caucasian territories in the Treaties of Gulistan (1813) and Turcomanchay (1828). Persia became virtually a vassal state of Russia during the reign of Naser al-Din (1848-96), annexing much of Turkmenistan by the Treaty of Akhal (1878) while the British wrested control of the economic and industrial resources of the faltering Iranian dynasty through a series of one-sided “arbitrations”.  After revolution forced a parliamentary constitution on the tottering dynasty, Russia and Britain combined to reimpose autocracy (1911). The Qajars were finally overthrown by a military coup in 1921 by Reza al-Pahlavi. Al-Pahlavi was backed by Russia and Britain – until he became too cantankerous and they invaded to force his abdication in 1941, to be replaced by his son.

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