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Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar

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Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar
Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar in 1906
Shah of Iran
Reign1 May 1896 – 3 January 1907
PredecessorNaser al-Din Shah Qajar
SuccessorMohammad Ali Shah Qajar
Prime MinisterMirza Nasrullah Khan
Born(1853-03-23)23 March 1853
Tehran, Qajar Iran
Died3 January 1907(1907-01-03) (aged 53)
Tehran, Qajar Iran
SpousesTaj ol-Molouk
IssueSee below
Shahinshah al-Sultan Muzaffar al-Din Qajar Allah Khalad ul-Mulk[1]
FatherNaser al-Din Shah
MotherShokouh al-Saltaneh
ReligionTwelver Shia Islam
TughraMozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar's signature
Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar depicted on a 10 toman gold coin dated AH 1314 (c. 1896).
Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar depicted on a 10 toman gold coin dated AH 1314 (c. 1896).

Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar (Persian: مظفرالدین شاه قاجار, romanizedMozaffar ad-Din Ŝāh-e Qājār; 25 March 1853 – 3 January 1907), was the fifth Qajar shah (king) of Iran, reigning from 1896 until his death in 1907. He is often credited with the creation of the Persian Constitution of 1906, which he approved of as one of his final actions as shah.[2]


Mozaffar ad-Din was born on 25 March 1853 in the capital of Tehran. He was the fourth son of the Qajar shah (king) of Iran, Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (r. 1848–1896). His mother was Shokouh al-Saltaneh, a daughter of Fath-Ali Mirza and a granddaughter of the second Qajar shah Fath-Ali Shah Qajar (r. 1797–1834).[3]

Mozaffar al-Din was named crown prince and sent as governor to the northern province of Azerbaijan in 1861. His father, Nasser al-Din Shah ruled Iran for close to 51 years. Mozaffar al-Din spent his 35 years as crown prince in the pursuit of pleasure; his relations with his father were frequently strained, and he was not consulted in important matters of state. Thus, when he ascended the throne in May 1896, he was unprepared for the burdens of office.

At Mozaffar al-Din's accession, Persia faced a financial crisis, with annual governmental expenditures far in excess of revenues as a result of the policies of his father. During his reign, Mozzafar ad-Din attempted some reforms of the central treasury; however, the previous debt incurred by the Qajar court, owed to both England and Russia, significantly undermined this effort. He furthered this debt by borrowing even more funds from Britain, France, and Russia. These later loans were used to pay earlier loans rather than create new economic developments. In 1908, oil was discovered in Persia but Mozzaffar ad-Din had already awarded William Knox D'Arcy, a British subject, the rights to oil in most of the country in 1901.[4]

The Shah and his retinue taking the waters at a French spa

Like his father he visited Europe three times. During these periods, on the encouragements of his chancellor Amin-os-Soltan, he borrowed money from Nicholas II of Russia to pay for his extravagant traveling expenses. During his first visit he was introduced to the "cinematographe" in Paris, France. Immediately falling in love with the silver screen the Shah ordered his personal photographer to acquire all the equipment and knowledge needed to bring the moving picture to Persia, thus starting Persian cinema.[5] The following is a translated excerpt from the Shah's diary:

....[At] 9:00 p.m. we went to the Exposition and the Festival Hall where they were showing cinematographe, which consists of still and motion pictures. Then we went to Illusion building ....In this Hall they were showing cinematographe. They erected a very large screen in the centre of the Hall, turned off all electric lights and projected the picture of cinematography on that large screen. It was very interesting to watch. Among the pictures were Africans and Arabians traveling with camels in the African desert, which was very interesting. Other pictures were of the Exposition, the moving street, the Seine River and ships crossing the river, people swimming and playing in the water and many others that were all very interesting. We instructed Akkas Bashi to purchase all kinds of it [cinematographic equipment] and bring to Tehran so God willing he can make some there and show them to our servants.

Additionally, in order to manage the costs of the state and his extravagant personal lifestyle Mozzafar ad-din Shah decided to sign many concessions, providing foreigners with monopolistic control of various Persian industries and markets. One example was the D'Arcy Oil Concession.

Widespread fears amongst the aristocracy, educated elites, and religious leaders about the concessions and foreign control resulted in some protests in 1906. These resulted in the Shah accepting a suggestion to create a Majles (National Consultative Assembly) in October 1906, by which the monarch's power was curtailed as he granted a constitution and parliament to the people. He died of a heart attack 40 days after granting this constitution and was buried in Imam Husayn Shrine in Kerbala.

Personality and health[edit]

The responsibilities of leading such a dysfunctional and possibly unstable nation were not suitable for Mozaffar ad-Din Shah's character and demeanor. He was hesitant, introverted, erratic, as well as sentimental and prone to superstition. His "nervous disposition" was described by several people who knew him well. Mozaffar ad-Din Shah had hypochondria due to having health issues since he was young. He had a number of illnesses, including a weak heart, but his most severe problem was a chronic kidney infection. Despite this, he enjoyed riding, hunting, and shooting, just as many of his ancestors.[3]

According to the modern Iranian historian Abbas Amanat, Mozaffar ad-Din Shah "possessed neither his father’s panache nor his political skills to pull strings at the court and the divan, or to play the competing European powers off one another to his own advantage. He was a man of gentle disposition, with an earnest desire to open up the country to social and educational reforms."[6] The British diplomat Mortimer Durand, who was well-acquainted with both shahs, wrote that Mozaffar ad-Din Shah "is more amiable than his father but he is weak and easily misled.[7]



  • Prince Mohammad-Ali Mirza E’tezad es-Saltaneh, later Mohammad-Ali Shah (1872–1925)
  • Prince Malek-Mansur Mirza Shoa os-Saltaneh (1880–1920)
  • Prince Abolfath Mirza Salar od-Dowleh (1881–1961)
  • Prince Abolfazl Mirza Azd os-Sultan (1882–1970)
  • Prince Hossein-Ali Mirza Nosrat os-Saltaneh (1884–1945)
  • Prince Nasser-od-Din Mirza Nasser os-Saltaneh (1897–1977)


List of premiers[edit]

Historical anecdotes[edit]

The Shah visited the United Kingdom in August 1902 with the anticipation of also receiving the Order of the Garter as it had been previously given to his father, Nasser-ed-Din Shah. King Edward VII refused to give this high honor to a non-Christian. Lord Lansdowne, the Foreign Secretary, had designs drawn up for a new version of the Order, without the Cross of St. George. The King was so enraged by the sight of the design, though, that he threw it out of his yacht's porthole. However, in 1903, the King had to back down and the Shah was appointed a member of the Order.[8]

A nephew of his wife was Mohammed Mossadeq, the Prime Minister of Iran during the Pahlavi dynasty. Mossadeq was overthrown by a coup d'état staged by the United Kingdom and the United States in 1953.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yusuf, Mohamed (1988). A History of Afghanistan, from 1793 A.D. to 1865 A.D. New York University. ISBN 1466222417.
  2. ^ Farmanfarmaian, Manucher (1997). Blood and Oil: Memoirs of a Persian Prince. Random House. ISBN 978-0679440550.
  3. ^ a b Burrell 1993.
  4. ^ Cleveland, William L.; Bunton, Martin (2013). A history of the modern Middle East (5th ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0813348339.
  5. ^ Iranian Cinema: Before the Revolution at www.horschamp.qc.ca
  6. ^ Amanat 2017, p. 323.
  7. ^ Burrell 1979, p. 24.
  8. ^ Philip Magnus, King Edward the Seventh (London: John Murray, 1964) pp. 301–305.[ISBN missing]
  9. ^ "Ritter-Orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1905, pp. 56, 67, retrieved 22 August 2020
  10. ^ "Latest intelligence - Germany". The Times. No. 36781. London. 30 May 1902. p. 5.
  11. ^ "Court Circular". The Times. No. 36775. London. 23 May 1902. p. 7.
  12. ^ "The Shah". The Times. No. 36867. London. 8 September 1902. p. 4.
  13. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 72
  • Walker, Richard (1998). Savile Row: An Illustrated History [ISBN missing]
  • The translation of the travelogue in Issari's book: Cinema in Iran: 1900–1979 pp. 58–59
  • Iranian Cinema: Before the Revolution at www.horschamp.qc.ca Iranian Cinema: Before the Revolution by Shahin Parhami.
  • Hamid Dabashi, Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, and Future, 320 p. (Verso, London, 2001), Chapter 1. ISBN 1-85984-332-8


External links[edit]

  • Some fragmentary motion pictures of Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar: YouTube.
  • Portrait of Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar: [1].
  • Mohammad-Reza Tahmasbpoor, History of Iranian Photography: Early Photography in Iran, Iranian Artists' site, Kargah
  • History of Iranian Photography. Postcards in Qajar Period, photographs provided by Bahman Jalali, Iranian Artists' site, Kargah.
  • History of Iranian Photography. Women as Photography Model: Qajar Period, photographs provided by Bahman Jalali, Iranian Artists' site, Kargah.
  • Photos of qajar kings
Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar
Born: 23 March 1853 Died: 3 January 1907
Iranian royalty
Preceded by Shah of Iran
Succeeded by