Ahmad Shah Qajar
احمد شاه ، احمد شاه قاجار
Ahmad Shah was the last
Qajar king who ascended the throne at the age of 13.
Ahmad Shah Qajar (Jan, 21, 1898 – Feb, 21 1930) was
Shah of Iran (
Persia) from Jul, 16, 1909, to Oct, 31, 1925.
Ahmad Shah acceded to the
Peacock Throne on July 16, 1909, following the overthrow of his father and predecessor,
Mohammad Ali Shah, who had attempted to reverse earlier constitutional restrictions on royal power, and thus enraged the majority of
Iranians. It is alleged that Ahmad Shah was one of the most democratic-minded kings of Persia while others dismiss him as a weak ruler, uninterested in attending to the matters of government.
After removing Muhammad Ali
Shah from power, the Grand
Majlis placed Ahmad Shah on the throne. The Grand Majlis consisted of 500 delegate members who came from different backgrounds. They held a special tribunal in order to punish all those who participated in the civil war, among those executed was
Sheikh Fazlollah Nuri. They also brought in new reforms that were not seen in
Iran before. They abolished class representation; created five new seats for the minorities in the Majlis; the Armenians got two seats, other religious minority groups such as Jews, Zoroastrians and Assyrians each got one seat in the new government; the Majlis also democratized the electoral system; diminished the electoral dominance of
Tehran and even lowered the voting age from twenty five to twenty. Not much is known about his early life prior to his ascendancy to the throne. He was much attached to his father and after his father left, Ahmad felt isolated and bitter. Due to his young age a regent who was his uncle Azud al-Mulk, took charge of his affairs. However his lavish lifestyle didn’t gain him any favors with the Iranian people. Ahmad Shah inherited a kingdom in turmoil, and a constituency frustrated with
Russian imperialism and the absolute rule of his father.
Ahmad Shah attempted to fix the damage done by his father by appointing the best ministers he could find. He was, however, an ineffective ruler who was faced with internal unrest and foreign intrusions, particularly by the British and
Russian Empires. Russian and British troops fought against the
Ottoman forces in Iran during
World War I turning Iran to foreign battleground.
Second Majlis convened on November 1910 and just like the First Majlis, it had great ideas and reforms, but couldn’t get much accomplished. The Majlis was rendered ineffective because the central government was weak and didn’t have enough influence to reign in the changes that it had proposed.
Britain used Persia as the springboard for an attack into Russia in an unsuccessful attempt to reverse the Russian Revolution of 1917. The newly born
Soviet Union responded by annexing portions of northern Persia as buffer states much like its Tsarist predecessor. Marching on Tehran, the
Soviets extracted ever more humiliating concessions from the Qajar government - whose ministers Ahmad Shah was often unable to control.
By 1920, the government had virtually lost all power outside its capital and Ahmad Shah had lost control and couldn't do much to fix the situation. The
Anglo-Persian Agreement along with new political parties furthermore immobilized the country. The Moderates and Democrats often clashed, particularly when it came to minority rights and secularism. The debates between the two political parties led to violence and even assassinations.
The weak economic state of Persia put Ahmad Shah and his government at the mercy of foreign influence; they had to obtain loans from the British
Imperial Bank of Persia. Furthermore, Iran earned little from oil revenues owned by the
Anglo-Persian Oil Company. On the other hand, the
Red Army along with rebels and warlords ruled much of the countryside.
On February 21, 1921, Ahmad Shah was pushed aside in a military coup by his
Minister of War and commander of the
Cossack garrison, Colonel
Reza Khan, who subsequently seized the post of
Prime Minister. During the coup, Reza
Khan used three thousand men and only eighteen machine guns, a very bloodless coup that moved forward quickly. Reza Khan was a self made man who climbed his way up through the military ranks and appeared to be the right man to take back control of Persia. One of his first actions was to take back the Anglo Iranian Treaty this was seen as a very successful diplomatic move since the treaty was very unpopular. In addition, he signed the Iran Soviet agreement in 1921. This agreement canceled all previous treaties between the two countries and also gave Persia full and equal shipping right in the
Stripped of all his remaining powers, Ahmad Shah went into exile with his family in 1923. Ahmad Shah's apparent lack of interest in attending to the affairs of the state and poor health had prompted him to leave Iran on this extended “European Tour.” He was formally deposed on October 31, 1925, when Reza Khan was proclaimed Shah by the Founders Assembly, taking the title
Pahlavi. Reza Shah and the Majlis thus terminated the Qajar
Dynasty and established the
Ahmad Shah in Exile
The coup of 1921 rendered Ahmad Shah politically weaker and less relevant. In 1923, Ahmad Shah left Iran for Europe for health reasons. Formal termination of the Qajar Dynasty by Majlis turned Ahmad Shah's 1923 European tour into exile. From exile, Ahmad Shah issued the following declaration indicating his displeasure with the turn of events that had led to his overthrow:
"At this tragic moment when the future of my country is at risk, all my thoughts are with my people, to whom I address this declaration: The coup d'état just committed by Reza Khan against the constitution and my dynasty, was committed through the force of bayonets. It contravenes the most sacred laws and fatally leads my people into great calamities and undeserved sufferance. I strongly raise my voice in protest against this coup d'état. Now and in the future, I consider null and void all acts emanating from such a government and committed under its rule. I am and remain the legitimate and constitutional sovereign of Persia, and I wait the hour of my return to my country to continue serving my people."
Shortly after the coup, Mustafa Kemal
Ataturk who had just taken power in
Turkey as its first president, offered to help restore Ahmad Shah to the throne. To that end, he summoned Persian Ambassador to Turkey,
Anoushirvan Sepahbody to the presidential palace and instructed him to immediately intervene on his behalf with Soltan Ahmad Shah in
Paris with the following offer of assistance: "The Turkish government, in pursuance of its own national interest and for reasons of friendship, goodwill, and a desire to assist Your Majesty, is willing to extend a formal invitation to Your Majesty, to travel to Turkey and hence, to offer the help of a sufficient number of Turkish troops for Your Majesty to be able to enter Persia from the West and regain his throne. Ahmad Shah politely declined this offer, possibly either due to pride or lack of interest in continuing as king. Allegedly, it was only after this rejection of Ataturk's offer that the Turkish government threw its full support behind the new government of Reza Shah Pahlavi thus recognizing him as the new sovereign of Persia.
Prior to his death, it is said that Ahmad Shah followed frequent crash diets which didn’t help his health. For example he lost and gained two hundred pounds within a two year span. He died in 1930 at Neuilly-sur-Seine, outside Paris,
France. His brother, former crown prince Mohammad Hassan
Mirza, assured the physical continuation of the dynasty through his descendants.
Ahmad Shah’s Offsprings:
Ahmad Shah Qajar married five times. His first wife was Lida Jahanbani. From this marriage there was no offspring. He had 4 Children from his 4 other wives:
1. Princess Maryamdokht (1915 -10 November 2005)
3. Princess Homayoundokht (1917-?)
Fereydoun Mirza (1922 -24 September 1975)