Henry Lindsay Bethune

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Sir Henry Lindsay Bethune (1792–1851) was an English officer and a member of a diplomatic and military mission led by John Malcolm to the Persian Empire in 1810.[1]

Henry Lindsay was initially an artillery Lieutenant in the Madras Horse Artillery.[2] With a height of 6 feet 8 inches, he is said to have impressed the Persians who compared him to the mythical hero Rustam.[3] His qualities of justice and his knowledge of the world also seem to have greatly impressed the Persians.[3]

Henry Lindsay Bethune received the Order of the Lion and the Sun in 1816.

Henry Lindsay was first put in charge of modernizing the corps of horse artillery.[4] In 1816, Henry Lindsay Bethune received the Persian decoration of the Order of the Lion and the Sun, specially reserved for meritous foreigners. After several years, he finally resigned from the Indian service, and retired to Scotland in Kilconquhar.[2] According to the 19th century British diplomat Sir Justin Sheil:

"English influence becoming supreme, and the French Mission having quitted Persia, it was determined to accede to the wishes of the Persian Government and continue the same military organization. Sir John Malcolm was accompanied in 1808 by two officers of the Indian army, Major Christie and Lieutenant Lindsay, to whom was confided this duty: they did it well.

Major Christie was a man of considerable military endowments; he undertook the charge of the infantry, and was killed at his post at the battle of Aslandooz in 1812. His able successor was Major Hart, of the Royal Army. Under the auspices and indefatigable cooperation of Abbas Meerza, heir apparent to the throne of Persia, by whom absolute authority was confided to him, he brought the infantry of Azerbijan to a wonderful state of perfection.

The artillery was placed under Lieutenant Lindsay, afterwards Major-General Sir H. Lindsay. This officer acquired extraordinary influence in the army, and in particular among the artillery. He brought this branch of the forces in Azerbijan to such a pitch of real working perfection, and introduced so complete a system of esprit de corps, that to this day his name is venerated, and traces of his instruction still survive in the artillery of that province, which even now preserves some degree of efficiency."
—Sir Justin Sheil (1803–1871).[5]

In 1834, he was recalled for service in Persia in anticipation of troubles in the dynastic succession on the Persian throne. Following the death of Fath Ali Shah that same year, he commanded the advanced Divisions of the Persian Army between Tabriz and Teheran.[2] He supported the succession of the Shah's grandson Mohammad Shah Qajar, and eliminated a serious rebellion led by the Prince of Shiraz.[2][6]

Henry Lindsay returned to England, but was again sent to Persia in 1836 to become Major General in the Persian Army, until his retirement in 1839 following a disagreement with the Persian government over the Persian attacks on Herat in Afghanistan (a territory claimed by Great Britain).[2][3]

In the wake of the Herat affair, Great Britain would remove its military and diplomatic missions from Persia, and occupy Kharg island and attack Bushehr.[7] Mohammad Shah Qajar would in turn resume diplomatic relations with France, and send a diplomatic mission to Louis-Philippe under Mirza Hossein Khan to obtain military help. In response, a group of French officers was sent to Persia with the returning ambassador.[7]

Henry Lindsay Bethune died in Persia in 1851.[8] Relations between the two countries would soon worsen further with the Anglo-Persian War.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Accompanying General Malcolm to Persia in 1810, they were retained in the country by Sir Harford Jones; and were very soon busily employed in drilling and disciplining the infantry and artillery of the Persian Prince. Of these officers, the most conspicuous were Captain Christie and Lieutenant Lindsay, who led into the field the battalions which they had instructed, and more than once turned the tide of victory against their formidable European opponents" in History of the war in Afghanistan John William Kaye p.136 [1]
  2. ^ a b c d e History of the war in Afghanistan John William Kaye p.137
  3. ^ a b c A History of Persia by Percy Molesworth Sykes p.406
  4. ^ History of the war in Afghanistan John William Kaye p.136
  5. ^ Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia by Lady Mary Leonora Woulfe Sheil, with additional notes by Sir Justin Sheil [2]
  6. ^ The Islamic world in decline by Martin Sicker p.120-121
  7. ^ a b Iran and the West Sīrūs Ghanī, p.302-303
  8. ^ The life and correspondence of major-general sir John Malcolm by John William Kaye, p.53 [3]