Pavel Tsitsianov

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Count Pavel Tsitsianov.

Prince Pavel Dmitriyevich Tsitsianov (Tsitsishvili; Russian: Павел Дмитриевич Цицианов; Georgian: პავლე ციციშვილი; 19 September [O.S. 8 September] 1754, Moscow—20 February [O.S. 8 February] 1806, Baku) was the Georgian Imperial Russian military commander and infantry general from 1804. A member of the noble Georgian family Tsitsishvili (Georgian: ციციშვილი), Tsitsianov participated in suppression of the Kościuszko Uprising and in the Russo-Persian War (1804–1813). In 1802 he became the head of the Russian troops in Georgia.

Tsitsianov's rule in Georgia was characterised by his uncompromising policies towards the local peoples. He answered firmness with firmness, blood with blood, declaring that: "I tremble with eagerness to water our land with your criminal blood," and warned that order would be imposed "with bayonets and grapeshot until your blood flows in rivers".[1] Though many resented his rule he was largely successful, upgrading the Georgian Military Road, conquering Ganja and subduing Shirvan.

In 1806, and with characteristic bravado, he rode up to the walls of Baku demanding the submission of the city. Troops loyal to the Khan of Baku inside the city walls shot him dead together with his aide-de-camp, then cut off his head and both his hands. The third member of the small mission escaped to relate the gruesome tale.[2] His head was sent to Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar in Tehran.

A Letter from Tsitsianov[edit]

Like Machiavelli, he thought it better to be feared than loved. When the Khan of Elisu (İlisu?) sided with some Djaro-Belikani raiders he wrote: "Shameless sultan with the soul of a Persian - so you still dare to write to me! Yours is the soul of a dog and the understanding of an ass, yet you think to deceive me with your specious phrases. Know that until you become a loyal vassal of my Emperor I shall only long to wash my boots in your blood": [3]

The story of Mirza Mohammad Akhbari[edit]

In 1806, Mirza Mohammad Akhbari, a teacher of Akhbari school of Fiqh (Islamic Law) in Tehran, promised Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar to secure, by supernatural means, the death of Tsitsianov, commander of the Russian forces at that time besieging Bākū. Retreating for a period of forty days to the shrine at Shah-Abdol-Azim, he began to engage in certain magical practices, such as beheading wax figures representing the Tsitsianov. It so happened that during his retreat, Tsitsianov was assassinated during negotiations at Bākū, and the severed head (or, according to some accounts, hand) of the Russian commander arrived in Tehran just before the forty days were up.[4] Because Fat′h-Ali Shah feared that the supernatural powers of Mirza might be turned against him, he exiled him to Arab Iraq.[5]

In Iranian literature, the name of Tsitsianov is most mentioned as ESHPOKHTOR [6](from the French word inspector) . There is a proverb in Persian language "Bringing the severed head of the EŠPOKHTOR" that means to do an impossible task and refers to Mirza Mohammad Akhbari's promise to the Fat′h-Ali Shah.


  1. ^ Longworth, P. (2005). Russia's Empires. London: John Murray. p. 191. ISBN 0-7195-6204-X. 
  2. ^ Longworth, P. (2005). Russia's Empires. London: John Murray. p. 192. ISBN 0-7195-6204-X. 
  3. ^ Baddeley, Russian Conquest of the Caucasus, Chapter IV
  4. ^ Algar, H. "AḴBĀRĪ, MĪRZĀ MOḤAMMAD". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Algar, Hamid (1980) [1969]. Religion and State in Iran, 1785–1906: The Role of the Ulama in the Qajar Period (1st ed.). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. pp. 64–66. ISBN 0-520-04100-3. 
  6. ^ Encyclopædia Iranica , EŠPOḴTOR