Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar

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Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar
آقا محمد خان قاجار
Shahanshah of Iran
Lion and Sun Emblem of Persia.svg
Portrait of Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar
Reign 1789 – 17 June 1797
Successor Fath-Ali Shah Qajar
Born 1742
Astarabad, Iran
Died 17 June 1797 (aged 55)
Shusha, Iran
Burial Najaf
Dynasty Qajar dynasty
Father Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar
Religion Shia Islam

Āghā Moḥammad Khān Qājār (Persian: آقا محمد خان قاجار‎‎; 1742–1797)‎ was the founder of the Qajar dynasty of Iran, ruling from 1789 to 1797 as king (shah). He was originally chieftain of the Qoyunlu branch of the Qajar tribe. In 1789, Agha Mohammad Khan was enthroned as the king of Iran, but was not officially crowned as its king until March 1796. On 17 June 1797 Agha Mohammad Khan was assassinated, and was succeeded by his nephew, Fath-Ali Shah Qajar.

Agha Mohammad Khan's reign is noted for the reemergence of a centrally led and united Iran. Following the death of Nader Shah (d. 1747), many of the Iranian territories in the Caucasus that had been ruled by the various subsequent Iranian dynasties since 1501, today comprising Georgia, Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia had broken apart into various Caucasian khanates or had declared de facto independence as in Georgia's case. After 48 years, they were all reconquered by Agha Mohammad Khan. Some of his reconquests were, even for their time, exceptionally cruel, such as his re-subjugation of Georgia, where he sacked the capital Tblisi, massacred many of its inhabitants, and moved some 15,000 Georgian captives back to mainland Iran.

Albeit Agha Mohammad Khan is noted for his heavily cruel and rapacious behaviour, his 18 years of determined conquest and consolidation resulted in Iran finally becoming unified once more, which thus made the country able to withstand large difficulties that occurred in the 19th and early 20th centuries.[1] Agha Mohammad Khan is also noted for moving the capital to Tehran, where it still stands as of today.

Early life[edit]

Family and youth[edit]

The landscape of Astarabad, the birthplace of Agha Mohammad Khan.

Agha Mohammad Khan was born in around 1742 in Astarabad. He belonged to the Qoyunlu (also spelled Qawanlu) branch of the Qajar tribe. The tribe had several other branches, one of the most prominent ones being the Develu, which often fought against the Qoyunlu.[1] Agha Mohammad Khan was the eldest son of the chieftain of the Qoyunlu clan, Mohammad Hasan Khan Qajar, and the grandson of Fath Ali Khan, a prominent aristocrat executed by the orders of shah Tahmasp II (possibly at the urging of Nader Qoli Beg, who would become known as Nader Shah after usurping the throne of Iran in 1736, marking the foundation of the Afsharid dynasty).[1] Agha Mohammad Khan had several half-brothers and full-brothers: Hosayn Qoli Khan, Morteza Qoli Khan, Mostafa Qoli Khan, Reza Qoli Khan, Jafar Qoli Khan, Mahdi Qoli Khan, Abbas Qoli Khan and Ali Qoli Khan.[2]

When Nader Shah died in 1747, the Afsharid rule of Iran fell apart, which gave Mohammad Hasan the opportunity to try to seize Astarabad for himself, leading Nader Shah's nephew Adil Shah to march from Mashhad to the city in order to capture him. Although he failed to catch Hasan, Adil Shah managed to take Agha Mohammad Khan, whom at first he planned to kill. He later chose to spare Khan's life and instead had him castrated and thereafter freed, the origin of his title "Agha", a common one among eunuchs who served at the court.[1][3][4]

The death of Mohammad Hasan[edit]

During the following 10 years, Afsharid rule in Khorasan suffered heavily from war among rival chieftains and from invasions by the Durrani ruler of Qandahar, Ahmad Shah Durrani. During this period, Mohammad Hasan fought against the Pashtun military leader Azad Khan Afghan and the Zand ruler Karim Khan for suzerainty over the western part of Nader Shah's former empire. He was, however, defeated in 1759 by a Zand army, and thereafter betrayed by his own followers and killed by his old rival, Mohammad Khan of Savadkuh.[1][2] Due to Agha Mohammad Khan's castration, his brother Hosayn Qoli Khan was appointed as the new chieftain of the Qoyunlu instead.[5] Shortly thereafter Astarabad fell under the control of Karim Khan, who appointed a Develu named Husain Khan Develu as its governor. Meanwhile, Agha Mohammad Khan and his brother Hosayn Qoli Khan fled to the steppe. One year later, Agha Mohammad Khan made an incursion against Astarabad, but was forced to flee, chased by the city's governor.[1] Agha Mohammad Khan managed to reach Ashraf, but was at last seized and was sent as a hostage to Tehran, where Karim Khan was. Hosayn Qoli Khan was also soon captured and sent to Karim Khan.

Life at Karim Khan's court[edit]

Picture of the Arg of Karim Khan, the royal residence of the Zand dynasty, where Agha Mohammad Khan spent most of his time during his "captivity".

During his stay Agha Mohammad Khan was treated kindly and honorably by Karim Khan, who made him convince his kinsmen to lay down their arms, which they did. Karim Khan then settled them in Damghan. In 1763, Agha Mohammad Khan and Hosayn Qoli Khan were sent to the Zand capital, Shiraz, where their paternal aunt Khadija Begum, who was part of Karim Khan's harem, lived.[1][2] Agha Mohammad Khan's half-brothers Morteza Qoli Khan and Mostafa Qoli Khan were granted permission to live in Astarabad, due to their mother being the sister of the governor of the city. His remaining brothers were sent to Qazvin, where they were treated honorably.[2]

Agha Mohammad was looked upon more as a respected guest in Karim Khan's court than a captive. Furthermore, Karim Khan also acknowledged Agha Mohammad Khan's political knowledge and asked his advice on interests of the state. He called Agha Mohammad Khan his "Piran-i Viseh", referring to an intelligent counselor of the legendary Iranian king Afrasiab.[1] Two of Agha Mohammad Khan's brothers who were at Qazvin were also sent to Shiraz during this period.[2] In February 1769, Karim Khan appointed Hosayn Qoli Khan as the governor of Damghan. When Hosayn Qoli Khan reached Damghan, he immediately began a fierce conflict with the Develu and other tribes to avenge his father's death. He was, however, killed ca. 1777 near Findarisk by some Turks from the Yamut tribe with whom he had clashed.[5] On 1 March 1779, while Agha Mohammad Khan was hunting, he was informed by Khadija Begum that Karim Khan had died after six months of illness.[1][6][5]

Rise to power[edit]

Conquest of Mazandaran and Gilan[edit]

Map of northern Iran.

Agha Mohammad Khan took with him a group of loyal followers and left for Tehran. Meanwhile, in Shiraz, people were fighting among themselves. In Tehran, Agha Mohammad Khan met the main chieftains of the Develu clan, whom he made peace with. He visited the shrine of Shah Abd al-Azim, where his father's skull was kept. He then travelled to the Mazandaran Province, where his first task was to set up his suzerainty among his Qoyunlu brothers. This resulted in a clash with his brothers Reza Qoli and Morteza Qoli, whom he defeated on 2 April, conquering Mazandaran.[7] Meanwhile, Morteza Qoli fled to Astarabad, where he fortified himself. Agha Mohammad Khan could not simply storm the city, since starting a war with Morteza Qoli would mean that his frail alliance with the Develu could fall apart -- Morteza Qoli's mother was a Develu.[7] At the same time, the Zand prince Ali Murad Khan sent an army of Zand and Afghan troops under Azad Khan Afghan's son Mahmud Khan to Mazandaran, which Agha Mohammad Khan's brother Jafar Qoli Khan managed to repel. Agha Mohammad Khan, together with Hosayn Qoli Khan's sons Fath-Ali Qoli and Hosayn Qoli, was now in a firm position in Babol, the capital of Mazandaran.[7]

Some time later, Reza Qoli invaded Babol with an army of men from Lahijan, where he captured Agha Mohammad Khan. When Morteza Qoli learned of this, he advanced on the place with an army of Turkmens and released Agha Mohammad Khan. The three brothers tried to settle their problems; Agha Mohammad Khan and Reza Qoli succeeded, while Morteza Qoli was discontented and fled to Ali Murad Khan in Isfahan, and then to Sadiq Khan Zand in Shiraz. He died at last in Khorasan.[8] His former supporters then went to Agha Mohammad Khan and began serving him. At that time, Agha Mohammad Khan had once again become involved in a conflict with his brother Reza Qoli, whom he defeated in several battles, and thereafter established peace with him once more: Morteza Qoli was allowed as the de facto ruler of Astarabad and several districts in Mazandaran.[8]

Peace did not last long. Ali Murad Khan shortly invaded Mazandaran, which led Agha Mohammad Khan to march from Babol with an army of Mazandaranis and Qajars and attack Ali Murad Khan, whom he managed to repel from the province. Agha Mohammad Khan then seized Qumis, Semnan, Damghan, Shahrud and Bastam.[8] Furthermore, he also made Hidayat-Allah Khan, the ruler of Gilan, his vassal. He thereafter granted land in Semnan to his brother Ali Qoli as a reward for his help in the conquest of the cities.

First conflict with the Russians, dispute with Gilan, and the invasion of northern Persian Iraq[edit]

19th-century Russian map of the Ashurada Island

In 1781, the Russian Empire, which was interested in building a trade route with Iran in order to be able to trade with regions deep into Asia, sent an emissary under Marko Ivanovich Voinovich to the coast of Gorgan, where he sought approval to build a trading-post at Ashraf. When Agha Mohammad Khan refused, Voinovich ignored his refusal and went on to establish an interim settlement on Ashurada island. With no ships, Agha Mohammad Khan was unable to retake the island -- he instead tricked Voinovich and some of his men into meeting him at Astarabad, where they were held as captives until Voinovich agreed to order his men to leave Ashurada.[9]

A year later Agha Mohammad Khan invaded Gilan, because its ruler Hidayat-Allah had changed his allegiance to the Zand dynasty. Hidayat-Allah then sent two diplomats, Mirza Sadiq and Agha Sadiq, to Agha Mohammad to make peace. As a precaution he went to Shirvan. The diplomats were unable to come to favorable terms with Agha Mohammad Khan, who raided Gilan's capital Rasht and seized its riches. Rejoicing in his victory, he sent his brother Jafar Qoli Khan to conquer the northern part of Persian Iraq. The latter defeated a Zand army in Ray (or Karaj), and thereafter seized Qazvin. He then marched to Zanjan, which he also seized.[10] In 1783, Agha Mohammad Khan besieged Tehran, a town under Zand control which had proved troublesome. During the siege, plague started spreading in the town, and thereafter to Agha Mohammad Khan's army camp outside the city, which forced him to lift the siege.[11]

Mazandaran's brief submission to the Zand dynasty[edit]

The next year Ali Murad Khan, in retaliation for Agha Mohammad Khan's attack on Tehran the previous year, sent a massive army under his son Shaykh Vais Khan to Mazandaran, which made its people quickly surrender. Agha Mohammad Khan and a few of his supporters fled to Astarabad, where he tried to fortify the city as much as possible. Meanwhile, Morteza Qoli changed his allegiance and began serving the Zand dynasty. Ali Murad Khan then sent an army under his relative Mohammad Zahir Khan to Astarabad, and laid siege to the city.[11] Agha Mohammad Khan had already stocked provisions in case of a siege. Every day his troops would try to lay waste to the countryside to limit the besiegers' provisions. This in the end made the besiegers' situation unsustainable, and allowed Agha Mohammad Khan to leave the city to attack them. Mohammad Zahir Khan fled towards the Karakum Desert, but was captured by Agha Mohammad Khan's Yamut allies. Only a few of his men managed to survive. Meanwhile, Agha Mohammad Khan defeated a Zand garrison near Ashraf and afterward marched towards Sari.[11] By the start of November 1784, Agha Mohammad had expelled the Zand forces from Mazandaran.

First war with Jafar Khan Zand[edit]

Portrait of Jafar Khan Zand

Meanwhile, Ali Murad Khan had raised another group of Zand troops, which he sent to Mazandaran under the command of his cousin Rustam Khan Zand, only to be defeated by Agha Mohammad Khan. Ali Murad Khan died on 11 February 1785. When Agha Mohammad Khan heard of his death, he went to Tehran to try to capture it.[11] When he reached the city, the inhabitants quickly closed the gates, and told him that they would open the gate only for the king of Iran, who according to them was Jafar Khan Zand, who had succeeded Ali Murad Khan.[12] Thus Agha Mohammad Khan had to defeat Jafar Khan to be recognized as the king of Iran. He thereafter quickly marched towards Isfahan. Jafar Khan sent men to stop his advance towards the city, but they withdrew at Qum without putting up any resistance. Jafar Khan then sent an even larger Zand army towards Agha Mohammad Khan, who defeated the army near Kashan, and Jafar Khan fled to Shiraz. Agha Mohammad arrived at Isfahan, where he discovered what was left of the Zand treasure and Jafar Khan's harem.[12] The Qajar troops then looted the city.

During the summer of 1785, Agha Mohammad Khan made the city his headquarters for his expeditions in Persian Iraq, in which he managed to bring the Bakhtiari chieftains under his suzerainty. He then left for Tehran, appointing a former Zand commander to govern. When he arrived at Tehran, the town finally submitted to him. At the same time, his men captured Hamadan and forced many Kurdish and Turkic chieftains to submit to Qajar rule. On 12 March 1786, Agha Mohammad Khan made Tehran his capital.[12] By then the city had a population of 15,000-30,000 people.[13] It appears that during this period, Agha Mohammad Khan saw himself as the king of Iran, although he avoided using the title "shah".

Some time later, while Agha Mohammad Khan was in northern Iran, Jafar Khan quickly marched towards Isfahan and re-captured it. He then sent troops towards Kashan and Qum, while he marched towards Hamadan. He was, however, defeated by local tribal chieftains, among them Khosrow Khan and Mohammad Hosayn Khan Qaragozlu.[14] Jafar Khan then withdrew to Isfahan. When Agha Mohammad Khan heard about the Zand invasion of Isfahan and its surroundings, he quickly moved towards the city, which made Jafar Khan retreat to Shiraz once again. Agha Mohammad Khan then appointed Jafar Qoli Khan as the city's governor. However, the governor of Zanjan shortly revolted afterward, which forced Agha Mohammad Khan to go back north, where he suppressed the latter's revolt and pardoned him.

Second invasion of Gilan[edit]

Agha Mohammad Khan now had to focus on Gilan because Hidayat-Allah Khan had returned to the province (allegedly with Russian help) since the Qajar invasion of the province in 1782.[14] In Agha Mohammad Khan's eyes, the whole Caspian coast was under threat by Hidayat-Allah and the Russians. Agha Mohammad Khan and his men easily managed to enter Gilan. While he was marching towards Rasht, he was joined by a local ruler named Mahdi Beg Khalatbari and other people. Furthermore, the Russian consul in Gilan betrayed Hidayat-Allah by providing weapons to Agha Mohammad Khan.[15] Hidayat-Allah once again tried to flee to Shirvan, but was captured by men sent by a local ruler named Agha Ali of Shaft (or another local ruler according to some sources), who killed him to avenge the slaughter of his family a few years earlier. Gilan was now completely under Qajar rule. Besides the conquest of Gilan, the second most valuable thing for Agha Mohammad Khan was Hidayat-Allah's treasure.[15]

Second war with Jafar Khan Zand and enthronement[edit]

Painting of Agha Mohammad with his men

Some time later a local ruler named Amir Mohammad Khan, who with another local ruler named Taqi Khan (the ruler of Yazd), had recently defeated Jafar Khan and seized many riches, invaded Qajar territory, and marched towards Isfahan. Jafar Qoli Khan left the city before they could reach it and defeated the latter.[clarification needed] Agha Mohammad Khan then went southwards once again. He met Jafar Qoli Khan at Isfahan in 1788, and after some time, made Taqi Khan accept Qajar suzerainty, and thereafter punished some Qashqai tribes, who fled into the mountains.[16] Agha Mohammad then approached Shiraz, where he hoped to bait Jafar Khan out of the city, which was strongly fortified, making it very hard to besiege. Unfortunately for Agha Mohammad Khan, Jafar Khan remained in the city. Agha Mohammad Khan returned to Isfahan, where he appointed his brother Ali Qoli as its governor, succeeding Jafar Qoli Khan. He then left for Tehran.

With Agha Mohammad Khan once again in the north, Jafar Khan began raising an army to prepare another attack against Isfahan and its surroundings. When Ali Qoli found out about it he sent a group of tribesmen to Qumishah, a city south of Isfahan. However, Jafar Khan managed to easily defeat them. Ali Qoli thereafter retreated to Kashan. Agha Mohammad Khan, learning of this, rapidly marched towards Isfahan, which made Jafar Khan withdraw to Shiraz once again. Agha Mohammad Khan returned to Tehran rather than attacking Shiraz again. Jafar Khan was murdered on 23 January 1789, which started a four-month civil war between several Zand princes who fought for succession to the throne. In May Jafar Khan's son Lotf Ali Khan emerged the victor in this civil war.[16]

It was also during this period that Agha Mohammad Khan was enthroned (however still not crowned) and named his nephew Baba Khan (who would later be known as Fath-Ali Shah Qajar) as his heir.[1] Thus 1789 is marked as the start of his reign.[1][17]


Battle between Agha Mohammad Khan and Lotf Ali Khan.

War with Lotf Ali Khan, family disputes, and the first invasion of Azerbaijan[edit]

Painting of Agha Mohammad Khan (right) and his grand vizier Ebrahim Khan Kalantar (left)

Now that the Zand dynasty was no longer under the rule of Jafar Khan Zand, Agha Mohammad Khan saw an opportunity to capture Shiraz once and for all. He marched towards the city, and as he neared it, was attacked by Lotf Ali Khan. A battle was fought on 25 June 1789, which ended in Lotf Ali Khan withdrawing to Shiraz while Agha Mohammad Khan followed him and besieged the city. The siege lasted until 7 September. He set up an encampment and returned to Tehran, where he stayed until the end of the ensuing Nowruz.[16] On 17 May 1790, Agha Mohammad Khan once again marched towards Shiraz. When he reached Fars, the governor of Bihbahan acknowledged his authority. Lotf Ali Khan once again left Shiraz in order to stop Agha Mohammad Khan's advance, but the Qajar ruler withdrew to Qazvin and its surroundings, where he had to resolve some problems. Agha Mohammad Khan later quarreled with Jafar Qoli Khan, who saw himself as the best heir of the Qajar dynasty. Agha Mohammad had him executed, which he believed necessary having seen in the Zand family how quickly a dynasty could decline due to disputes over the throne.[18]

While Lotf Ali Khan was having problems with Kerman, Agha Mohammad Khan could thus freely focus on Azerbaijan. He appointed Baba Khan as the governor of Persian Iraq and marched into Azerbaijan in the spring of 1791. He stopped at Tarum, and sent his relative Suleiman Khan Qoyunlu to make the Talysh Khanate acknowledge Qajar authority. Agha Mohammad Khan thereafter went to Sarab, where he forced the Sarab Khanate into submission.[18] He then went to Ardabil, where he subdued the Ardabil Khanate and visited the city's shrine. He finally went to Qarajadagh, where brought an end to all resistance against him. He appointed the Donboli noble Hosayn Qoli Donboli as the governor of Khoy and Tabriz.[18]

Agha Mohammad Khan's capture and sack of Kerman

While Agha Mohammad Khan was conquering Azerbaijan, Lotf Ali Khan used the opportunity to attack Isfahan. However Ebrahim Khan Kalantar, the popular governor of Shiraz,[19] used Lotf Ali Khan's absence from the city to stage a coup, while his brother Mohammad-Hosayn Shirazi, who was the Zand ruler's general, mutinied along with many other troops. Lotf Ali Khan rushed to Shiraz, but when he arrived at the city, the inhabitants refused to open the gates.[18] He went into the mountains and raised an army big enough to capture Shiraz. Ebrahim Khan Kalantar then sent an emissary to Agha Mohammad Khan, asking him to become the ruler of Fars, offering to give him 3,000 mares if he accepted, which he immediately did. When Agha Mohammad Khan arrived at Fars, he appointed Ebrahim Khan Kalantar as the governor of the whole province, and sent one of his men to take Lotf Ali Khan's family to Tehran, and take the possessions of the Zand family. Furthermore, he also ordered Baba Khan to establish a garrison nearby Shiraz to be prepared to help Ebrahim Khan Kalantar if needed.[20]

In the meantime, Lotf Ali Khan had defeated the men sent by Ebrahim Khan Kalantar and had captured the stronghold of Kazerun. He then marched to the countryside outside Shiraz and prepared to starve the city. Some time later, the Qajar army from the nearby garrison attacked Lotf Ali Khan's men and were winning -- until Lotf Ali Khan himself decided to participate in the battle, and the Qajar army was defeated. When Agha Mohammad Khan found out about this, he sent 7,000 horsemen to reinforce Ebrahim Khan Kalantar's forces, and also ordered the surviving Qajar forces from the nearby garrison to do the same.[21]

Two years later, after the Battle of Krtsanisi brought eastern Georgia and the other principal territories in the North Caucasus and South Caucasus back within the Iranian domains, he proclaimed himself Shahanshah (King of Kings) on the Mughan plain, just as Nader Shah had done some sixty years earlier.[22]

Final conquest of Azerbaijan[edit]

Reconquest of Georgia and the rest of the Caucasus[edit]

Main article: Battle of Krtsanisi
The capture of Tbilisi by Agha Muhammad Khan. A Qajar-era Persian miniature from the British Library.

In 1795 Agha Mohammad Khan attacked eastern Georgia, which had been under Iranian vassalage for the first time in the early modern era in 1502,[23] and under intermittent Iranian rule and suzerainty since 1555, but had been de facto independent after the disintegration of the Iranian Afsharid Dynasty. His successful campaign brought eastern Georgia, recently unified by Erekle II and consisting of the Kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti, effectively back into the Iranian domains.[24][25] Erekle II, who was appointed as king of Kakheti decades earlier by Nader Shah himself,[26] had put up a fierce resistance at the battle of Tbilisi, but was eventually soundly defeated.


Conquest of Khorasan[edit]

Rest of reign[edit]

Agha Mohammad restored Persia to a unity it had not had since Karim Khan. He reunited the territory of contemporary Iran and the Caucasus region, the latter which had been part of the concept of Iran for three centuries.[27] He was, however, a man of extreme violence who killed almost all who could threaten his hold on power, a trait he showed in several of his campaigns. A year after Mohammad Khan re-subjugated the Caucasus, he also captured Khorasan. Shah Rukh, ruler of Khorasan and grandson of Nader Shah, was tortured to death because Agha Mohammad thought that he knew of Nadir's legendary treasures.

In 1778, Agha Mohammad moved his capital from Sari in his home province of Mazandaran to Tehran. He was the first Persian ruler to make Tehran — the successor to the great city of Rayy — his capital, although both the Safavids and the Zands had expanded the town and built palaces there. One of the main reasons noted for moving the capital farther north was to remain in close reach of Azarbaijan and Iran's integral Caucasian territories in the North Caucasus and South Caucasus, at that time not yet ceded to Imperial Russia,[28] their fate in the course of the 19th century. He was formally crowned in 1796 and founded the Qajar dynasty.[29][30]

Although the Russians briefly took and occupied Derbent and Baku during the expedition of 1796 under the command of count Valerian Zubov, Agha Mohammad Khan successfully expanded Iranian influence into the Caucasus, reasserting Iranian sovereignty over its former dependencies in the region. He was, however, a notoriously cruel ruler, who reduced Tbilisi to ashes, while massacring and carrying away its Christian population, much as he had done with his Muslim subjects. He based his strength on tribal manpower in the mould of Genghis Khan, Timur and Nader Shah.[29]


Agha Mohammad's successful reign was short-lived, as he was assassinated in 1797 in his tent in the city of Shusha, the capital of the Karabakh khanate, three days after he had taken the city,[27] and less than three years in power. According to Hasan-e Fasa'i's' Farsnama-ye Naseri, during Agha Mohammad's stay in Shusha, one night "a quarrel arose between a Georgian servant named Sadeq and the valet Khodadad-e Esfahani. They raised their voices to such a pitch that the shah became angry and ordered both to be executed. Sadeq Khan-e Shaghaghi, a prominent emir, interceded on their behalf, but was not listened to. The shah, however, ordered their execution to be postponed until Saturday, as this happened to be the evening of Friday (the Islamic holy day), and ordered them back to their duties in the royal pavilion, unfettered and unchained, awaiting their execution the next day. From experience, however, they knew that the King would keep to what he had ordered, and, having no hope, they turned to boldness. When the shah was sleeping, they were joined by the valet Abbas-e Mazandarani, who was in the plot with them, and the three invaded the royal pavilion and with dagger and knife murdered the shah."[1]

His nephew, crowned as Fath-Ali Shah Qajar, succeeded him.[29]


The bureaucracy[edit]

The bureaucracy remained small during the reign of Agha Mohammad Khan—apart from the vizier, the leading figures of the administration were the chief revenue officer (mostawfī) and the muster-master (lashkarnevīs) of the army.[31]

Provincial administration[edit]

Flag of Iran during the reign of Agha Mohammad Khan.

During Agha Mohammad Khan's reign, provincial administration followed the same model of the Safavid one; beglerbegis were appointed to govern provinces. A city was under the rule of a kalantar and darugha, while its quarters was under the rule of the kadkhuda.[32] Governorship of provinces went for the most part to tribal chieftains—this was later changed by Fath-Ali Shah Qajar, who appointed many of his relatives as governors.[31]


Agha Mohammad Khan did not construct or repair much during his reign, due to the campaigns and battles which occupied his time. In Tehran, he ordered the creation of a mosque named the Masjid-e Shah (meaning "the Shah's mosque"), while in Mashhad he ordered the reparation of the Imam Reza shrine. In Astarabad, he repaired (or fortified) the walls, emptied the ditch, built several buildings, one of them being a palace for the governor. Furthermore, he also improved the overall condition of the city.[33] He did something similar in Babol, Ashraf and Sari. Of all these constructions and reparations, his best and most lasting achievement is debatably making Tehran his capital, which till this day is the country's capital and largest city.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Perry 1984, pp. 602–605.
  2. ^ a b c d e Hambly 1991, p. 112.
  3. ^ Ghani 2001, p. 1.
  4. ^ Hambly 1991, pp. 110–111.
  5. ^ a b c Hambly 1991, pp. 112-113.
  6. ^ Perry 2011, pp. 561–564.
  7. ^ a b c Hambly 1991, p. 114.
  8. ^ a b c Hambly 1991, p. 115.
  9. ^ Hambly 1991, pp. 115-116.
  10. ^ Hambly 1991, p. 116.
  11. ^ a b c d Hambly 1991, p. 117.
  12. ^ a b c Hambly 1991, p. 118.
  13. ^ Daryaee 2012, p. 320.
  14. ^ a b Hambly 1991, p. 119.
  15. ^ a b Hambly 1991, p. 120.
  16. ^ a b c Hambly 1991, p. 121.
  17. ^ Daryaee 2012, p. 397.
  18. ^ a b c d Hambly 1991, p. 122.
  19. ^ Amanat 1997, pp. 66-71.
  20. ^ Hambly 1991, p. 123.
  21. ^ Hambly 1991, p. 124.
  22. ^ Michael Axworthy. Iran: Empire of the Mind: A History from Zoroaster to the Present Day Penguin UK, 6 Nov. 2008 ISBN 0141903414
  23. ^ "Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia". Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  24. ^ Fisher, William Bayne (1991). The Cambridge History of Iran. 7. Cambridge University Press. pp. 128–129. Agha Mohammad Khan remained nine days in the vicinity of Tiflis. His victory proclaimed the restoration of Iranian military power in the region formerly under Safavid domination. 
  25. ^ Michael Axworthy. Iran: Empire of the Mind: A History from Zoroaster to the Present Day Penguin UK, 6 nov. 2008 ISBN 0141903414
  26. ^ Suny 1994, p. 55.
  27. ^ a b Fisher et al. 1991, p. 329.
  28. ^ Amanat 1997, p. 12.
  29. ^ a b c Cyrus Ghani (6 January 2001). Iran and the Rise of the Reza Shah: From Qajar Collapse to Pahlavi Power. I.B.Tauris. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-1-86064-629-4. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  30. ^ Michael Axworthy. Iran: Empire of the Mind: A History from Zoroaster to the Present Day Penguin UK, 6 Nov. 2008 ISBN 0141903414
  31. ^ a b Bakhash 1983, pp. 462-466.
  32. ^ Hambly 1991, p. 140.
  33. ^ Hambly 1991, p. 142.


Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar
Preceded by
Shah of the Qajar Dynasty of Iran
1789 –1797
Succeeded by
Fath-Ali Shah Qajar