The Qajar Dynasty also termed as Ghajar, Kadjar, or Qachar was the Persian (modern day Iran) royal dynasty that was originally Turick from the Qajar Tribe.
They ruled over Persia for more than a century, from 1794 to 1925. The state was officially known as the Sublime State of Persia when it was ruled by the Qajars.
The Qajar Dynasty preceded the Zand dynasty that ruled Persia in the 18th century.
The Qajar Dynasty was a member of the Karagoz or “Black-Eye” sect of the Qajars.
They filled a few diplomatic missions and governorships in the 16th and 17th centuries for the Safavids.
The Qajars came from different sides of the state, however, the ones that went on to rule Persia were settlers of the Astarabad (present-day Gorgan, Iran).
Fath Ali Khan, the son of the immediate ancestor of the Qajar Dynasty was a renowned military commander during the rule of the Safavid Shahs.
The Qajars ruled for more than 130 years during which they developed from a shepherd-warrior tribe with a stronghold in the northern Persia into a dynasty with all the fittings of a Perso-Islamic monarchy.
The Shahs (Kings) of the Qajar Dynasty and their Reforms.
Agha Mohammad Khan.
Agha Mohammad Khan was the founder of the Qajar dynasty who ruled from 1794 to 1797.
Agha Mohammad came into power by defeating the last Shah of the Zand dynasty, Lotf ‘Ali Khan.
He also put an end to the Afsharid dynasty by seizing Mashaad in an attempt in unifying Persia.
He then established his capital in Tehran and also established Iranian sovereignty over the former territories in Georgia and the Caucasus.
Agha Mohammad was one of the cruelest kings or rulers in the history.
He massacred the inhabitants of the Tbilisi, razed cities, and blinded more than 20,000 in the city of Kerman because the local people had chosen to defend the city against him
He was assassinated in Shusha, the capital of Karabakh Khanate and was succeeded by his nephew Fath’ – Ali Shah.
Fath’ – Ali Shah Qajar.
Fath’ Ali Shah succeeded his uncle Agah Mohammad Khan and ruled from 1797 to 1834.
During his reign, Persia went on a war with Russia and saw an unrecoverable ceding of many of its territories in the Caucasus, like modern-day Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, and Dagestan to Russia.
The wars resulted in the treaties of Gulistan and Turkmenchay that didn’t favor Iran in many different ways.
Persia also witnessed an increase in diplomatic contacts with the West and intense European diplomatic rivalries over Iran.
Fath’ Ali Khan Qajar was famous for three things, “his exceptionally long beard, his wasp-like waist, and his progeny (offsprings)”.
His son, Abbas Mirza died before he could take over the throne so he was succeeded by his grandson Mohammad Shah Qajar.
Mohammad Shah Qajar.
Mohammad Shah, born Mohammad Mirza was the third king from the Qajar dynasty to rule over Persia who reign lasted from 1834 to 1848.
He came into power after the death of his father Abbas Mirza who was the crown prince.
During his reign, he tried capturing Herat twice but failed both times.
While he was the king the British tried to limit slavery and slave trade and made a petition against it.
However, he refused to do so claiming that the Quran did not forbid it.
But eventually, he gave in making a small concession and even issued a Farman banning the Maritime Slavery.
He was heavily influenced by the Russians and tried making reforms and modernize the kingdom accordingly.
He also made heavy attempts in increasing contacts with the West.
The Persian symbol of The Lion and Sun and a red, white, and green background became the national flag during his reign.
The religious movement of Babism also began flourishing during this time.
Mohammad Shah Qajar was known to be somewhat sickly all his life and he died at the age of 40 of gout.
He was succeeded by his son Naser al-Din Shah.
Naser al-Din Shah Qajar.
Naser al-Din Shah Qajar was the fourth king of the Qajar dynasty and the third longest reigning monarch of the Iranian history.
He ruled the country for almost 50 years and was the first modern Persian monarch that visited Europe.
He was assassinated while visiting and praying in the shrine of Shah-Abdol-Azim and was succeeded by his son Mozaffar ad-Din Shah
We have an article about Naser al-Din Shah Qajar as well as his daughter Princess Zahra Khanom Tadj es-Saltaneh or simply Princess Qajar and why she was considered the beauty-symbol of Persia for whom 13 men committed suicide, check it out here.
Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar.
Mozaffar Shah was the fifth shah of Persia from the Qajar dynasty who ruled from 1896 to 1907.
He was named the crown prince and was sent as governor to the northern province of Azerbaijan.
He spent almost 35 years as a crown prince in pursuit of pleasure as his father’s reign lasted for almost 50 years.
He was never included in any important matters of the state and didn’t have a good relationship with his father.
As a result, after his father’s death, he wasn’t prepared for the burdens of the office and was heavily criticized.
Persia faced yet another financial crisis after his father’s reign as a result of his lavish lifestyle just like his father.
The expensive foreign trips and excessive government expenditures were the real reason for the financial crisis.
Mozaffar tried bringing reforms to the central treasury but was unsuccessful due to previous debts the Qajar court owed to England and Russia.
This debt was further increased as he borrowed more funds from other European nations.
It was during his reign in 1908 that oil was discovered in Persia but Mozaffar had already given the rights of oil to a British subject, William Knox D’Arcy in 1901 so it was pretty useless.
He also made several visits to Europe just like his father during his reign. And during a trip to Paris, France, he was introduced to “cinematographe”.
As a lover of photography, he immediately fell in love with the moving picture and the silver screen.
He, therefore, ordered his personal photographer to acquire the knowledge and equipment needed to bring the silver screen to Persia.
Thus, this gave birth to the Persian Cinema.
Mozaffar was the ruler that introduced the Persian Constitution.
He died just 40 days after granting constituent and was succeeded by his son Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar.
Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar.
Mohammad Ali Shah ruled Persia from 1907 to 1909 after succeeding his father Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar.
He opposed the constitution granted by his father. He abolished it and dissolved the parliament saying it was contrary to Islamic law.
However, the constitution got re-established in 1909 by the pro-constitution forces.
The parliament deposed Mohammad and voted to place his 11-year-old son Ahmad Shah on the throne.
He later renounced his throne following the constitution and fled to Russia.
He tried plotting his return to power while in Russia but got defeated.
He died in exile in San Remo, Italy, and was succeeded by Ahmad Shah Qajar.
Ahmad Shah Qajar.
Ahmad Shah Qajar was the last ruling member of the Qajar dynasty who ruled from 1090 to 1925.
Though he became the king of Persia in 1909 after his father fled, he was only 11 then, so he was formally crowned Shah in 1914 upon reaching majority.
Ahmad made attempts to fix the damages done by the former kings by appointing the best ministers he could find.
However, his attempts were unsuccessful and ineffective due to a weak government, internal unrest, and foreign intrusions.
He was pushed aside in a military coup by his Minister of War and commander of the Cossack garrison, Colonel Reza Khan, who became the Prime Minister.
Reza Khan brought significant changes in the government policies.
He revoked the Anglo-Persian treaty and sign the Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship.
This canceled all previous treaties between the countries and gave Persia full and equal shipping rights in the Caspian Sea.
Ahmad Shah later went into exile in 1923 and was formally deposed on 31 October 1925.
Reza Khan was then proclaimed ‘Shah’ by the Founders Assembly taking the title Reza Shah Pahlavi.
Thus, the Qajar Dynasty came to an end and the Pahlavi Dynasty was established and came into power.