|Karim Khan Zand|
|Vakil e-Ra'aayaa وكيل الرّعايا
(Representative of the People)
|Reign||1750 – 1 May/March 1779|
|Died||1 May/March 1779|
|Place of death||Zand Palace, Shiraz|
|Buried||Pars Museum, Shiraz
|Successor||Mohammad Ali Khan|
|Religious beliefs||Shia Islam|
Karim Khan Zand, also known as Mohammad Karim (Persian: کریم خان زند), (c. 1705–1779), was the founder of the Zand Dynasty. He ruled all of Iran except for Khorasan, he also ruled over some Caucasian lands and occupied Basra for some years.
Karim Khan Zand was one of the generals of Nader Shah. After Nader Shah's death in 1747, Persia fell into a state of civil war. At that time, Karim Khan, Abdolfath Khan Bakhtiari and Ali Mardan Khan reached an agreement to divide the country among themselves and give the throne to Ismail III. However, the cooperation ended after Ali Mardan Khan invaded Isfahan and killed Abdolfath Khan Bakhtiari. Subsequently, Karim Khan killed Ali Mardan Khan and gained control over all of Iran except Greater Khorasan, ruled by Shahrokh, grandson of Nader Shah. Nevertheless, he did not adopt the title of Shah for himself, preferring the title, Vakil e-Ra'aayaa (Representative of the People).
While Karim was ruler, Persia recovered from the devastation of 40 years of war, providing the war ravaged country with a renewed sense of tranquility, security, peace, and prosperity. During his reign, relations with Britain were restored, and he allowed the East India Company to have a trading post in southern Iran. He made Shiraz his capital and ordered the construction of several architectural projects there. Following Karim Khan's death, civil war broke out once more, and none of his descendants were able to rule the country as effectively as he had. The last of these descendants, Lotf Ali Khan, was killed by Agha Mohammad Khan, and the Qajar dynasty came to power.
To this day, he has a reputation as one of the most just and able rulers in Iranian history. A wealth of tales and anecdotes portray Karim Khan as a compassionate ruler, genuinely concerned with the welfare of his subjects. In the words of John Malcolm, "The happy reign of this excellent prince, as contrasted with those who preceded and followed him, affords the historian of Persia that kind of mixed pleasure and repose, which a traveler enjoys on arriving in a beautiful and fertile valley during an arduous journey over barren and rugged wastes. It is pleasing to recount the actions of a chief who, though born of an inferior rank, obtained power without crime, and who exercised it with a moderation that, for the times in which he lived, was as singular as his humanity and justice." He is buried at Pars Museum of Shiraz.
He was born in Village of Pari near Malayer to a family of the Zand tribe of Lak or Lur deportees. In 1732 Nader Shah deported thousands of Bakhtiari people and a number of Zand families to Khorasan to protect Iran from invaders. After Nader’s assassination in 1747, the deported Bakhtiaris and Zand families made their way home, the Bakhtiaris under Ali Mardan Khan, and the Zands under Karim Khan. The successors of Nader Shah tried to reassert their authority over western Persia, but they failed to do so. Karim Khan and Ali Mardan Khan made an alliance with Abdolfath Khan Bakhtiari, a chieftain of the Haft Lang branch of the Bakhtiari, who nominally governed Isfahan for the Afsharids, and occupied Isfahan in 1750 in the name of a Safavid prince, Abu Torāb Mirzā, whom they styled as Ismail III. While Karim Khan was pacifying the northern Lur areas and Kurdistan, Ali-Mardan Khan staged a coup, he killed Abdolfath Khan Bakhtiari, invaded Fars, and plundered Shiraz. On his way back he was ambushed in the narrow mountain pass known as Kotal-e Pir Zan by local musketeers and driven into the mountains.
Karim Khan, who had meanwhile returned to Isfahan in January 1751 with an augmented army, sought out and defeated his rival in Bakhtiari country. Karim Khan recovered Shah Ismail III. Defeated again the following year, Ali Mardan Khan fled to Baghdad, where he joined the Pasha and other political exiles from Persia, including Mirza Mahdi Khan Astarabadi (Nader Shah’s ambassador to Istanbul and official chronicler), in acclaiming a new Safavid pretender, styled Shah Sultan-Hosayn II, and marched on Kermanshah. He was again defeated and fled, but was later killed by a band of Zands in 1754. Karim Khan was now in control of Persian Iraq and was attracting more adherents, not only from the local tribes, but also from contingents still returning from Nader Shah’s army of Khorasan, such as 6,000 Kurdish families.
Struggle for power
Three other of Karim Khan's enemies remained: Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar of the Qoyunlu clan of the Qajars of Astarabad, Azad Khan Afghan, and Fath-Ali Khan Afshar of Urmia. Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar had attacked the Zand dynasty in 1752, while they busy were besieging the fortress of Kermanshah. They pursued him to Astarabad but were driven back by Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar. Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar captured Shah Ismail III, and he struck coins in his name. The Zands also lost the first battle with Azad Khan Afghan, who had arrived in 1753, too late to join forces with Ali Mardan. Azad Khan Afghan, in alliance with Fath-Ali Khan Afshar, took Isfahan, and Karim Khan retreated into the Kuhgiluya hills. Meanwhile, the Zand khans Moḥammad and Sayk-Ali had taken the Kermanshah fortress and were interrupting Azad Khan Afghan’s communications with Urmia. Karim Khan defeated Fath-Ali Khan Afshar at Karaj and pursued him back to Shiraz, which Azad Khan Afghan had to evacuate. On 29 November 1754, Karim Khan first entered his future capital of Shiraz.
The next few years saw several confrontations between Azad Khan Afghans’s forces and the Qajars, culminating in a defeat for Azad Khan Afghan near Urmia in April 1757. Fath-Ali Khan Afshar joined the Qajars, who again occupied Isfahan. Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar tried to besiege Shiraz, but he failed to do so and was pushed back to Astarabad. On 14 February 1759, he was defeated by an Zand army and slain by a Kurd. Karim Khan later spent two winters in Tehran, where he completed a massacre of the Afghans remaining in Mazandaran.
In the summer of 1760 Azad Khan Afghan returned from refuge in Baghdad in an attempt to regain control of Iranian Azerbaijan, but his former ally, Fath-Ali Khan Afshar turned on him and defeated him at Maragheh. Karim Khan then advanced into Iranian Azerbaijan, successively defeating the Afshar and Donboli forces and taking Tabriz and Urmia in February 1763. Azad Khan Afghan, who had taken refuge with his old ally, the Georgian monarch Heraclius II, surrendered to Karim Khan and lived thereafter in honorable retirement at Shiraz. Fath-Ali Khan Afshar, who had also surrendered, was executed the following year at Isfahan, as Karim Khan returned to Shiraz with a Qajar wife (Kadija Bigom, sister of Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar), considerable booty, and hostages for his newly appointed governors of the captured provinces.
War with the Ottomans and death
In 1775 Karim Khan sent an army into Ottoman territory and captured Basra, his forces held Basra until 1779 when the Ottomans recaptured the city around the time Karim Khan died, possibly of Tuberculosis. He was buried three days later in Shiraz, the capital of his kingdom.
- Yeroushalmi, David (2009). The Jews of Iran in the Nineteenth Century. Brill's Series in Jewish Studies 40. The Netherlands: Brill. pp. xxxix. ISBN 90-04-15288-1.
- Dabashi, Hamid (2011). Shi'ism: A Religion of Protest. Harvard University Press. pp. 164–165. ISBN 0-674-04945-4.
- KARIM KHAN ZAND[dead link]
- A fourth pretender was Karim Khan, son of Aymak of the Zand, a section of Lak tribe, Sir Percy Molesworth Sykes, A History of Persi, Macmillan and co., limited, 1930, p. 277.
- One of the contenders for power was Karim Khan Zand, a member of the Lak tribe near Shiraz, William Marsden, Stephen Album, Marsden's Numismata orientalia illustrata, Attic Books, 1977, ISBN 978-0-915018-16-1, p. 158.
- Karim Khan, the founder of the Zand dynasty of Persia that succeeded the Afsharids, was himself born to a family of these Lak deportees (of the Zand tribe), Mehrdad R. Izady, The Kurds: A Concise Handbook, Taylor & Francis, 1992, ISBN 978-0-8448-1727-9, p. 12.
- Muhammad Karim Khan, of the Zand clan of the Lur tribe, suc- ceeded in imposing his authority on parts of the defunct Safavid empire, David Yeroushalmi, The Jews of Iran in The Nineteenth Century: Aspects of History, Community, and Culture, BRILL, 2009, ISBN 978-90-04-15288-5, p. xxxix.
- Kurdish leader, Karim Khan Zand,..., Wadie Jwaideh, The Kurdish National Movement: Its Origins and Development, Syracuse University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8156-3093-7, p. 17.
- Lokman I. Meho, Kelly L. Maglaughlin, Kurdish Culture and Society: An Annotated Bibliography, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. ISBN 978-0-313-31543-5, p. 308.
- ...the bulk of the evidence points to their being one of the northern Lur or Lak tribes, who may originally have been immigrants of Kurdish origin., Peter Avery, William Bayne Fisher, Gavin Hambly, Charles Melville (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran: From Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic, Cambridge University Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-521-20095-0, p. 64.
- Jwaideh, Wadie (2006). The Kurdish national movement: its origins and development.
- (John Malcolm, The History of Persia, 1829)
Malcolm, John, Sir, The history of Persia, from the most early period to the present time containing an account of the religion, government, usages, and character of the inhabitants of that kingdom in 2 volumes; London : Murray, 1815.; re-published by Adamant Media Corporation 2004 vol 1. ISBN 978-1-4021-5134-7; vol. 2 ISBN 978-1-4021-5205-4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Karim Khan.|
Karim KhanBorn: 1705 Died: 1779
Shah Rukh Afshar
|Shah of Persia
Mohammad Ali Khan
Azad Khan Afghan
|Ruler of Azerbaijan (as part of Persia)
Abol Fath Khan Zand
Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar
|Ruler of Mazandaran (as part of Persia)
Abol Fath Khan Zand