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Naser al-Din Shah Qajar

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Collection: 1831 Births, 1896 Crimes, 1896 Deaths, 19Th-Century Iranian People, 19Th-Century Monarchs in Asia, 19Th-Century Photographers, Assassinated Iranian Politicians, Deaths by Firearm in Iran, Grand Cordons of the Order of Leopold (Belgium), Grand Croix of the Légion D'Honneur, Grand Crosses of the Order of the Red Eagle, Iranian Photographers, Iranian Portraits on Banknotes, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion, Knights of the Garter, Knights of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation, Monarchs of Persia, Murdered Persian Monarchs, People Murdered in Iran, People of the Anglo-Persian War, People of the Persian Constitutional Revolution, Qajar Shahs, Recipients of the Order of Saint Stanislaus (Russian), Recipients of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, Recipients of the Order of St. Andrew, Recipients of the Order of St. Anna, Recipients of the Order of the Black Eagle, Recipients of the Order of the White Eagle (Russian)
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Naser al-Din Shah Qajar

Naser al-Din Shah Qajar
Shahanshah of Persia
Shah of Iran
Reign 5 September 1848 – 1 May 1896
Predecessor Mohammad Shah Qajar
Successor Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar
Born (1831-07-16)16 July 1831
Tabriz, Persia
Died 1 May 1896(1896-05-01) (aged 64)
Tehran, Persia
Burial May 2, 1896
Shah-Abdol-Azim shrine
Full name
Nasser al-Din Shah
Dynasty Qajar dynasty
Father Mohammad Shah Qajar
Mother Malek Jahan Khanom, Mahd-e Olia
Religion Shia Islam

Naser al-Din Shah Qajar[1] (16 July 1831 – 1 May 1896) (Persian: ناصرالدین شاه قاجار‎‎), also Nassereddin Shah Qajar, was the King of Persia from 5 September 1848 to 1 May 1896 when he was assassinated. He was the son of Mohammad Shah Qajar and Malek Jahān Khānom and the third longest reigning monarch in Iranian history after Shapur II of the Sassanid dynasty and Tahmasp I of the Safavid Dynasty. Nasser al-Din Shah had sovereign power for close to 50 years and was also the first Iranian monarch to formally visit Europe.


  • Reign 1
    • Diplomacy and wars 1.1
    • Reforms 1.2
  • Assassination 2
  • Artistic and literary interests 3
  • Honours 4
  • Issue 5
  • List of Premiers 6
  • Fictional depictions 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Diplomacy and wars

Naser al-Din was in Tabriz from Qajars tribe when he heard of his father's death in 1848, and he ascended to the Sun Throne with the help of Amir Kabir.

Naser al-Din had early reformist tendencies, but was dictatorial in his style of government. With his sanction, some Babis were killed after an attempt on his life.[2] This treatment continued under his prime minister Amir Kabir, who even ordered the execution of the Báb – regarded as a manifestation of God to Bábí's and Bahá'ís, and to historians as the founder of the Bábí religion.

Unable to regain the territory in the Caucasus irrevocably lost to Russia in the early 19th century, Naser al-Din sought compensation by seizing Herāt, Afghanistan, in 1856. Great Britain regarded the move as a threat to British India and declared war on Persia, forcing the return of Herāt as well as Persia recognition of the kingdom of Afghanistan.[3]

Naser al-Din was the first modern Persian monarch to visit Europe in 1873 and then again in 1878 (when he saw a Royal Navy Fleet Review), and finally in 1889 and was reportedly amazed with the technology he saw. During his visit to the United Kingdom in 1873, Naser al-Din Shah was appointed by Queen Victoria a Knight of the Order of the Garter, the highest English order of chivalry. He was the first Persian monarch to be so honoured. His travel diary of his 1873 trip has been published in several languages as Persian, German, French, and Dutch.

1 Toman stamp of 1882.

In 1890 Naser al-Din met British Major Gerald F. Talbot and signed a contract with him giving him the ownership of the Persian tobacco industry, but he later was forced to cancel the contract after Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi issued a fatwa that made farming, trading, and consuming tobacco haram (forbidden). Consuming tobacco from the newly monopolized 'Talbet' company represented foreign exploitation, so for that reason it was deemed immoral. It even affected the Shah's personal life as his wives did not allow him to smoke.

This was not the end of Naser al-Din's attempts to give concessions to Europeans; he later gave the ownership of Persian customs incomes to Paul Julius Reuter.


Naser al-Din was effective in introducing several different western influences to Persia. He curbed the secular power of the clergy, introduced telegraphy and postal services, built roads, opened the first school offering education along Western lines, and launched Persia's first newspaper. He was the first Persian to be photographed and was a patron of photography who had himself photographed hundreds of times. His final prime minister was Ali Asghar Khan, who after the shah's assassination aided in securing the transfer of the throne to Mozaffar al-Din.

In 1852 Naser al-Din dismissed and executed Amir Kabir, the famous Persian reformer. With him, many believe, died the prospect of an independent Persia led by meritocracy rather than nepotism.

The Shah, on his European tour, in the Royal Albert Hall, London. Seated between the Princess of Wales and her sister, the Tsesarevna of Russia

In the later years of his rule, however, Naser al-Din steadfastly refused to deal with the growing pressures for reforms. He also granted a series of concessionary rights to foreigners in return for large payments that went into his own pockets. In 1872, popular pressure forced him to withdraw one concession involving permission to construct such complexes as railways and irrigation works throughout Persia. In 1890, he made an even greater error in granting a 50-year concession on the purchase, sale, and processing of all tobacco in the country, which led to a national boycott of tobacco and the withdrawal of the concession. This last incident is considered by many authorities to be the origin of modern Iranian nationalism.


Naser al-Din was assassinated by Mirza Reza Kermani, a follower of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, when he was visiting and praying in the shrine of Shah-Abdol-Azim. It is said that the revolver used to assassinate him was old and rusty, and had he worn a thicker overcoat, or been shot from a longer range, he would have survived the attempt on his life.[4] Shortly before his death, he is reported to have said "I will rule you differently if I survive!" Naser al-Din Shah's assassin was prosecuted by the Defence Minister Nazm ol Doleh.

Naser al-Din was buried in the Shah-Abdol-Azim shrine, in Rayy near Tehran, where he was assassinated. His one-piece marble tombstone, bearing his full effigy, is now kept in the Golestan Palace Museum in Tehran and is renowned as a masterpiece of Qajar-era sculpture.

Artistic and literary interests

The Shah in a uniform studded with diamonds from the treasury of the Persian emperors. Often he wore the famous square Darya-ye Noor

Naser al-Din Shah was very interested in painting and photography. He was a talented painter, and even though he had not been trained, was an expert in pen and ink drawing. Several of his pen and ink drawings survive. He was one of the first photographers in Persia and was a patron of the art. He established a photography studio in Golestan Palace.[5]

Naser al-Din was also a poet. 200 couplets of his were recorded in the preface of Majma'ul Fusahā, a work by Reza-Qoli Khan Hedayat about poets of the Qajar period. He was interested in history and geography and had many books on these topics in his library. He also knew French and English, but was not fluent in either tongue.[6]

Hekāyāt Pir o Javān (حکایت پیر و جوان; "The Tale of the Old and the Young") was attributed to him by many; it was one of the first Persian stories written in modern European style.[7]



Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar Enthroned, One of 274 Vintage Photographs - Antoin Sevruguin. Brooklyn Museum.



  • Princess Afsar od-Dowleh
  • Princess Fakhr ol-Moluk (1847 – 9 April 1878)
  • Princess Esmat od-Dowleh (1855 – 3 September 1905)
  • Princess Zi'a os-Saltaneh (1856 – 11 April 1898) [9]
  • Princess Fakhr od-Dowleh (1859–1891)
  • Princess Forugh od-Dowleh (1862–1916)
  • Princess Eftekhar os-Saltaneh (1880–1941)
  • Princess Farah os-Saltaneh (1882 – 17 April 1899)
  • Princess Tadj os-Saltaneh (1883 – 25 January 1936)
  • Princess Ezz os-Saltaneh (1888–1982)[10]

List of Premiers

Fictional depictions

See also

Naser al-Din Shah by Abul Hasan Ghaffari, 1854


  1. ^ Naser al-Din is pronounced as Nāser-ad'din, and less formally as Nāser-ed'din.
  2. ^ Abbas Amanat. Pivot of the universe: Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar and the Iranian Monarchy, p. 204-218.
  3. ^ Article from Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. ^ Mo'ayeri p.105
  5. ^ Tahmasbpoor, Mohammad-Reza (2008). Nāser-od-din, the Photographer King. Tehran: Nashr-e Tarikh-e Iran. ISBN 964-6082-16-5
  6. ^ Mo'ayeri p.30
  7. ^ Mansuri, Kurosh(2006). Hekāyāte Pir Va Javān. Tehran: Motale'at Tarikh. ISBN 964-6357-69-5
  8. ^ Children of Naser al-Din Shah
  9. ^ Zi'a es-Saltaneh married Seyed Zeyn-ol-Abedin Emam Jome'eh. Her daughter, Zia Ashraf Emami married Mohammad Mosaddegh
  10. ^ Mo'ayeri pp.16–17


  • Amanat, Abbas (2004). Pivot of the universe. Tehran: Karnameh.  
  • Clay, Catrine (2006). King, Kaiser, Tsar. London: John Murray.  
  • Mo'ayeri, Dustali (1982). Some notes from private life of Nasser al-Din Shah. Tehran: Nashr-e Tarikh-e Iran. 

External links

  • Nasser-al-Din Shah's Portrait
  • Nasseredin Shah and his 84 wives
  • His visit to England(select from list)
  • Statue of Nasseredin Shah in Golestan Palace
  • Side view of Nasser-al-Din Shah's marble tombstone
  • Coins, banknotes and medals of Qajar period
  • Window on an Era: A Qajar Royal Album. Selected photographs from a private album of Nasser al-Din Shah, with an introduction by Kaveh Golestan, Kargah
  • Mohammad-Reza Tahmasbpoor, History of Iranian Photography: Early Photography in Iran, Iranian Artists' site, Kargah
  • History of Iranian Photography. Postcards in Qajar Period, photographs provided by Bahman Jalali, Iranian Artists' site, Kargah.
  • History of Iranian Photography. Women as Photography Model: Qajar Period, photographs provided by Bahman Jalali, Iranian Artists' site, Kargah.
  • Sir James William Redhouse, The Diary of H.M. the Shah of Persia during His Tour through Europe in A.D. 1873, A Verbatim Translation (John Murray, London, 1874), Internet Archive (Digitized by Robarts at University of Toronto).
  • Sir Albert Houtum Schidler and Baron Louis de Norman, A Diary Kept by His Majesty the Shah of Persia during His Journey to Europe in 1878, in English (Richard Bentley & Son, London, 1879), Internet Archive (Digitized by Google).
  • Photos of qajar kings
Naser al-Din Shah Qajar
Born: July 16 1831 Died: May 1 1896
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mohammad Shah Qajar
Shah of Persia
Succeeded by
Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar
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