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The Qajar or Ghajar were a Persian clan and dynasty. The Qajar dynasty  replaced the Safavid dynasty of  Persia. The in 1794 when Mohammad Khan Qajar defeated Lotf Ali Khan at Kerman. Mohammad Khan Qajar then conquered Khorasan, held by the Afsharid dynasty, in 1796. Mohammad Khan Qajar  was an exceptionally cruel ruler even in Persia showing no mercy to defeated enemies and killing entire towns. He moved the capital to Tehran, then only a village. Mohammad Khan Qajar was assassinated in 1797.

Qajar expansionism met the resistance of the Russian Empire and of the British East India Company. Persia (Iran) became part of the staging ground of the "Great Game."

The Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1905/1911 marked the beginning of modern history in that country. The Qajar Dynasty became a constitutional monarchy, and then was replaced in 1925 by the Pahlevi dynasty, but Qajar claimants to the throne of Iran still exist.

Qajar Chronology

1794: Mohammad Khan Qajar defeats the last Zand ruler at Kerman,

1796: Mohammad Khan Qajar defeats the last Afsharid  rulers and is proclaimed Shah.

1804 - 1813: Russo-Persian war; Persia looses, with considerable loss of territory in the north, particularly Georgia and Azerbaijan according to the treaty of Gulistan.

1826- 1828: Second  Russo-Persian war initiated by Persia again ending in Persian defeat. Culminates in treaty of Tukmanchay, granting territorial an other concessions the th Russians in Armenia and in the Caucasus.

1856-1857: The Persians occupy Herat in Afghanistan, precipitating Anglo-Persian War; the British send a small force to Western  Persia and in 1827 the  Persians sue for peace, conceding Herat.

1881: Russian advances into Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

1906: Mozzafar ad-Din is forced to abandon central parts of his monarchial power allowing a consultative assembly and a constitution.

1909:  Mohammad Ali's bid t restore the absolute monarchy ends in his ouster and a rebellion.

1914-1918: During World War I, Iran is occupied by Great Britain, Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

1921 Backed by the British, Reza Khan leads his troops to overthrow the government. He forces Ahmad to appoint Sayyid Zia Uddin Tabataba'i as prime minister and Reza Khan becomes war minister.

1923: Ahmad is forced into exile.

1925 Reza Khan forces  parliament to depose Ahmad, appoints himself regent and then assumes the title of Shah, starting the Pahlevi dynasty.

Qajar Shahs

Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar 1796-1797
Fath Ali 1797-1834
Mohammed 1834-1848
Nasser ad-Din 1848-1896
Mozzafar ad-Din 1896-1907
Mohammad Ali 1907-1909
Ahmad 1909-1925

Ami Isseroff

October 30, 2010


Synonyms and alternate spellings: Ghajar

Further Information: A Brief History of modern Iran 

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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