Years of Conflict:
Shah Mohammed Ali of Persia vs. Constitutionalist
Russia (aiding the Shah)
Area(s) of Conflict:
Tabriz and Tehran, and areas of northern
Shah Mohammed Ali, who was the
sixth Shah of the ruling Qajar Dynasty, ruled as a
tyrant, and defied the constitutionalist laws
passed by his father, the late Shah. Those laws
established the first parliament, called the
Majlis, in Persian history.
Mohammed Ali sought to reassert
the power of the Monarchy, and in using artillery
to shell the parliament building on June 23, 1908,
set off a military conflict that would end his
reign. The only government forces the Shah could
really rely on were Russian Cossacks "donated" by
the Russian government. These troops were commanded
by Russian General Liakoff.
Course of the
After the Shah's forces attacked
the Majlis, the Constitutionalist forces centered
around the northeast of the country, in the area of
Tabriz to the Caspian coast. Russian forces aiding
the Shah captured Tabriz after a long siege on
April 29, 1909. The revolutionaries rallied around
Yeprem Khan, who seized control of Rasht and then
moved on the capital of Tehran. Negotiations
between the two sides were encouraged by the
Russian and British governments, but the talks
broke down and the advance on Tehran continued. As
the government Cossacks attempted to block access
into Tehran from the west, other rebel forces
entered the capital from the south and occupied the
Majlis building and parts of northern Tehran. After
two days of fighting, the Shah sought refuge in the
Russian Legation (Embassy).
The reconstituted Majlis legally
deposed the Shah and placed his eleven-year old
son, Ahmed Mirza, on the throne as the new Shah,
who occupied the throne on July 17. As the young
Shah was not old enough to actually rule the
nation, a Regent was appointed to run the country
in the Shah's name. The Regent was a political
liberal named Azad ul-Mulk. The now-former Shah was
allowed a pension but ordered to live out his life
as an exile. In September 9, 1909, the ex-Shah left
the Russian Legation for exile in
Despite the political resolution
in Tehran, violence continued in the countryside,
with raids by mountain tribesmen around Tabriz,
violence in Yezd and Zimjan, and the fall of
Ardebil to tribesmen aligned with Rahim Khan, who
favored a return of the old Shah Mohammed Ali.
Government forces were sent from Tehran and fought
Rahim Khan's forces around Tabriz. The 4,000
pro-government Constitutionalist troops defeated
the rebels and took 400 prisoners.
On July 17, 1911, the former
Shah, Mohammed Ali, landed with a Russian army at
Astarabad on the Caspian coast and marched on
Tehran with a Russian Cossack force. Mohammed Ali's
brother, Shu'a' al-Soltana, led an army that
attacked government positions in Persian Kurdistan,
capturing Kermanshah, Hamedan, and other areas on
his way to join his brother outside of Tehran.
Government forces fought Mohammed Ali's army near
Varamin on September 5, 1911, and defeated him. The
deposed Shah once more fled to Russia.
Despite the defeat of Mohammed
Ali, Russia increased pressure on the Persian
government, and in the face of a Russian military
advance toward Qazvin, the government gave in to
Russia's demands to retain its sphere of influence
in northern Persia.
Kohn, George C. Dictionary
New York: Facts On File Publications.
R. Ernest and Trevor N. Dupey. The
Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500
B.C. to the
New York, New York: Harper & Row.
of the Middle East
of Russia (1815-1918)