Fath Ali Schah

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Fath Ali Shah in 1798

Fath Ali Shah (Persianفتحعلی شاه, DMG Fatḥ-ʿAlī Šāh [

fæthˈæliː ʃɑh]; native Baba Chan بابا خان [bɑˈbɑ xɑn]; * c. 1771; † 20 October 1834[1]) was the second ruler of the Kajar dynasty in Persia.

He ruled from 1797 to 1834 and ascended the throne as successor to his assassinated uncle Aga Mohammed Khan.
Distrustful of his grand vizier, Haj Ibrahim Khan Kalantar, he had him executed. Kalantar had already been grand vizier under the predecessor dynasty, the Zand princes, for a total of 15 years.


During his long reign, Fath Ali Shah fought several wars, including the Russo-Persian War against Alexander I over Georgia, which Russia had taken under its control and which was claimed by Persia. This war began in 1804 and ended in 1813.

Fath Ali Shah first turned to the United Kingdom. However, the United Kingdom refused to enter into a military agreement with Persia because it was allied with Russia. Fath Ali Shah then asked for support from France, which was at war with Great Britain, Prussia and Russia, and sent a delegation to Napoleon I, who was at that time staying at Finckenstein Castle in East Prussia. The Treaty of Finckenstein was concluded there by Napoleon with the Persian delegation on 4 May 1807, in which Persia was promised extensive military support in terms of personnel and material. In return, Persia was to declare war on Britain and expel all British citizens from Persia. Furthermore, Persia was to influence Afghanistan to carry out a joint French-Persian-Afghan invasion of India.

The Russian troops suffered a heavy defeat against the French troops on 14 June 1807 in the Battle of Friedland. Tsar Alexander I then entered into negotiations with the French side, which initially led to an armistice on 23 June. Finally, on June 25, peace negotiations began in Tilsit between Napoleon I and Tsar Alexander I, leading to the Peace of Tilsit on July 7, 1807. After Russia joined the Continental Blockade against the United Kingdom, Fath Ali Shah resumed negotiations with the British to gain support against Russia. For this reason, Fath Ali Shah then refused to participate in the Continental Blockade. Therefore, despite the Treaty of Finckenstein, France failed to win the diplomatic war over Persia and none of the treaty points were realized. On March 12, 1809, the United Kingdom signed a treaty with Persia that abrogated the Treaty of Finckenstein and resulted in the expulsion of all French from Persia.

In the course of the war, Russian troops attacked Tabriz in 1813, forcing Persia to accept the Treaty of Golestan and give up large areas of its territories in Georgia, Arrān (present-day Azerbaijan), and the Caucasus. In 1826 there was another war with Russia, which ended again in 1828 with a Russian victory and with the Treaty of Turkmanchai in favor of the victor. After the Treaty of Turkmanchai, the Aras was chosen as the border of the two empires.

When his son and crown prince Abbas Mirza died, his grandson Mohammad Mirza became crown prince. Fath Ali Shah was to outlive Abbas Mirza by only one year. He died in 1834 and was given his final resting place in front of the shrine of Fatima Masuma, whom he had greatly revered.[2]

Fath Ali Shah is documented to have had 160 wives, who bore him 108 offspring (60 sons and 48 daughters).[3] Abbas Amanat puts the number of children at 260, with 60 sons and 55 daughters surviving their father.[4] Other sources speak of 700 wives and more than 5,000 children, if all concubines and loves are added together.[5] For this reason he was also called the father of his country.

Web links

Commons: Fath Ali Shah– Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. Christopher de Bellaigue: In the Rose Garden of Martyrs. A Portrait of Iran. Translated from the English by Sigrid Langhaeuser, Verlag C. H. Beck, Munich 2006 (English original edition: London 2004), p. 112
  3. This census lists only those children who survived infancy. See: fathalishahchildren, retrieved 21 December 2012
  4. Compare: Fath Ali Shah. In: Ehsan Yarshater (ed.): Encyclopædia Iranica. (English, – incl. bibliography).
  5. Cyrus Ghani: Iran and the Rise of Reza Shah. I.B.Tauris 2000. p. 2.