Abol Fath Khan

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Abol Fath Khan Zand (1755 or 1756 – 1787) was the third Shah of the Zand dynasty, and ruled the Persian Empire from March 6, 1779 until August 22, 1779.

After the death of Karim Khan in 1779, two factions emerged, one supporting Abol Fath, one his younger brother Muhammad Ali Khan. Both were still children, and were pawns in the game of power. Karim Khan's brother Zaki Khan managed to proclaim Muhammad Ali Khan, his own son-in-law, as Shah of the Persian Empire, but soon after, he also made Abol Fath joint ruler of Persia. Both Muhammad Ali and Abol Fath only held nominal power during their reigns, as their uncle was the effective master of the government. As another brother of Karim Khan, Sadiq Khan Zand, had left Shiraz, then the capital, and was gathering an army in Kerman ostensibly in support of Abol Fath Khan, Zaki Khan even had Abol Fath imprisoned.

To add to the political trouble, right after the death of Karim Khan, the Qajar prince Agha Muhammad Khan, who had until then been a hostage in Shiraz, in order to prevent an outbreak of war between the Qajars, who still dominated the North of the country, and the Zands, escaped promptly and reached his stronghold of Mazandaran. Subsequently, he took command of his tribe in Astarabad, and declared independence from the Zand Shah. To counter that move, Zaki Khan dispatched the Persian army under the command of his nephew, Ali Murad Khan against the Qajar lord. Soon however, it appeared that Ali Murad Khan had rebelled against him and captured Isfahan. On the other hand, Zaki Khan had levied high taxes on the landlords and put to death and tortured anyone who had resisted. Subsequently his own army rebelled and killed Zaki Khan as he was marching on Isfahan, on June 6, 1779.

Meanwhile, Abol Fath's other uncle Sadiq Khan had by then returned to Shiraz from Kerman with an army. Upon reception of the news of Zaki Khan's demise, on June 19, 1779, he had Abol Fath proclaimed sole official ruler of Persia. Sadiq held the real power, while Abol Fath, according to most accounts, was satisfied with a life of pleasures, and did not take any part in the administration of the Empire. This situation did not however suit Sadiq Khan for long. Only two months after Abol Fath's installation, on August 22, 1779, Sadiq Khan had him deposed and was proclaimed Shah instead. Abol Fath was blinded, either on Sadiq Khan's orders, or two years later when Shiraz fell to Ali Murad Khan. He died in 1787, aged 32.

Preceded by
Mohammad Ali Khan Zand
Shah of Persia
1779
Succeeded by
Sadiq Khan Zand

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