Abbas Mirza

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Prince Abbas Mirza
شاهزاده عباس ميرزا
Abbas Mirza (Hermitage).jpeg
Prince Abbas Mirza, 1821
Crown prince of Persia
Successor Mohammad Mirza
Born 26 August 1789
Nava, Mazandaran
Died 25 October 1833 (aged 44)
Mashhad, Iran
Burial Mashhad
Dynasty Qajar
Father Fat'h Ali Shah
Mother Asiyeh Khanum
Reviewing in battle
Abbas Mirza

Abbas Mirza (Persian: عباس میرزا‎‎) (August 26, 1789 – October 25, 1833),[1] was a Qajar crown prince of Persia. He developed a reputation as a military commander during the Russo-Persian War of 1804-1813 and the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828 with neighbouring Imperial Russia, as well as through the Ottoman-Persian War of 1821-1823 with the Ottoman Empire. He is furthermore noted as an early modernizer of Persia's armed forces and institutions, and for his death before his father, Fath Ali Shah. Abbas was an intelligent prince, possessed some literary taste, and is noteworthy on account of the comparative simplicity of his life.

With Abbas Mirza as the military commander of the Persian forces, Iran lost all of its territories in the Caucasus comprising Transcaucasia and parts of the North Caucasus (Dagestan) to Russia conform the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan and the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay, following the outcomes of the 1804-1813 and 1826-1828 wars.


Abbas Mirza was born on in 1789 in the village of Nava in Mazandaran. He was a younger son of Fath Ali Shah, but on account of his mother's royal birth was destined by his father to succeed him. Considered the favorite son by his father,[2] he was named governor of the Azerbaijan region of Persia, in approximately 1798.[1] In 1799, the Russians marched into Tbilisi (Tiflis), two years after Agha Mohammad Khan's assassination in Shusha and his resubjugation of Georgia and the wider Caucasus. As (Eastern) Georgia was traditionally since 1555 with the Peace of Amasya under Iranian suzerainty, it was thus a direct intrusion of Iranian territory. In 1801 Russia tried to confirm its rule in those parts of Georgia it annexed from Qajar Iran, as well as having ambitions to push even deeper into Iranian territory and thus started marching towards Iranian-ruled Dagestan and Azerbaijan, where several of the khanates switched sides. Upon the valiant resistance against Russian intrusion in the city and khanate of Ganja, known as the Battle of Ganja, Persia was now at war with Russia (Russo-Persian War (1804–13)), while Abbas Mirza was made commander of the expeditionary force of 30,000 men.[1] His aid was eagerly solicited by both England and Napoleon, anxious to checkmate one another in the East, especially as Persia bordered a common rival, namely Imperial Russia. Preferring the friendship of France, Abbas Mirza continued the war against Russia's General Kotlyarevsky, but his new ally could give him very little assistance.[citation needed]

The early stages of the war following Fath Ali Shahs orders to invade and regain Georgia and the northern parts of the contemporary Azerbaijani Republic ended up in years of relatively territorial stale warfare. However, the tide started to turn as Russia was sending more and more advanced weaponry and increasing numbers of soldiers. Commanding the southernmost Russian divisions during the long war, Kotlyarevsky defeated the numerically superior Persian army in the Battle of Aslanduz and in early 1813 stormed and took Lankaran. In October 1813, with Abbas Mirza still commander-in-chief, Persia was compelled to make a severely disadvantageous peace, irrevocably ceding swaths of its territory in the Caucasus, comprising present-day Georgia, Dagestan, and most of the what most recently became the Republic of Azerbaijan conform the Treaty of Gulistan.[3]

The drastic losses suffered by his forces made him realize that he needed to train Persia's military in the European style of war, and he started sending his students to Europe for military training. In 1811 and 1815, two groups were sent to Britain, and in 1812 a printing press was finished in Tabriz as a means to reproduce European military handbooks. Tabriz also saw a gunpowder factory and a munitions depot. The training continued with constant drilling by British advisers, with a focus on the infantry and artillery.[1]

He received his opportunity to test his newly reformed military when the Ottoman–Persian War (1821–1823) began, and they proved themselves adept with several victories. This resulted in a peace treaty signed in 1823 after the Battle of Erzurum. The war was a victory for Persia, especially considering they were outnumbered, and this gave much needed confidence to his forces. His second war with Russia, which began in 1826, started off on a good note as he won back most of the territory lost in the Russo-Persian War (1804–13); however it ended in a string of costly defeats after which Persia was forced to cede the last of its Caucasian territories, comprising all of what is modern day Armenia, Nakhchivan, the rest of the remainder of the contemporary Azerbaijani Republic that was still in Iranian hands, and Igdir Province, all conform the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay.[4] The eventual loss was due less to his and his armies skill and more to do with lack of reinforcements and overwhelming superiority in numbers. The irrevocable losses, which in total amounted up for all of Qajar Iran's territories in the North Caucasus and the South Caucasus, affected Abbas Mirza severely and his health began to suffer. He also lost enthusiasm for any more military reform.[1] In 1833, he sought to restore order in the province of Khorasan, which was nominally under Persian supremacy, and while engaged in the task died at Mashhad in 1833. In 1834 his eldest son, Mohammed Mirza, succeeded Fath Ali Shah as the next king. R. G. Watson (History of Persia, 128-9) describes him as “the noblest of the Qajar race”.[5]

He is most remembered for his valor in battle and his failed attempts to modernize the Persian army. He was not successful in part due to the lack of government centralization in Iran during the era. Furthermore, it was Abbas Mirza who first dispatched Iranian students to Europe for a western education.[6] He was unable to prove successful in the long run in his wars with Russia as he ended up losing more territory than he gained.[2]


Abbas Mirza's sons

See also[edit]



  • Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "'Abbās Mīrzā". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  • Keddie, Nikki R.; Bonine, Michael E., eds. (1981). Modern Iran: The Dialectics of Continuity and Change. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-8739-5465-3. LCCN 80019463. 
  • Lockhart, L (2007). "Abbas Mirza". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th; Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W. P. Encyclopaedia of Islam. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. 
  • Magnusson, Magnus; Goring, Rosemary, eds. (1990). "Abbas Mirza". Cambridge Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-39518-6. LCCN 90001542. 
  • Rockwood, Camilla, ed. (2007). "Aaron". Chambers Biographical Dictionary (8th ed.). Edinburgh, UK: Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-0550-10200-3. 

Additional reading[edit]

  • The Persian Encyclopedia, articles on Abbas Mirza, Persia-Russia Wars, Persia-Ottoman wars, Golestan Treaty, and Torkaman-Chay Treaty

External links[edit]