Friday, April 21, 2023

Nader Shah

Nader Shah Afshar (نادر شاه افشار) was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty of Iran and one of the most powerful rulers in Iranian history, ruling as shah of Iran from 1736 to 1747, when he was assassinated during a rebellion. Born in 1688 in the northern valleys of Khorasan, he belonged to the Turkoman Afshars, a semi-nomadic tribe settled in Khorasan in northeastern Iran, which had supplied military power to the Safavid dynasty since the time of Shah Ismail I. Nader's native tongue was a southern Oghuz dialect, i.e. "Turkish of Azerbaijan". Although he later learned Persian, he always preferred using Turkic in everyday speech. He learned to read and write as an adult.

Nader grew up during the final years of the Safavid dynasty which had ruled Iran since 1502 but by the early 18th century was in serious decline. At the age of 15, Nader enlisted as a musketeer for a governor. He rose through the ranks and became the governor's right-hand man. The reigning Safavid shah, Soltan Hossein, was a weak ruler and when he attempted to quell a rebellion by the Ghilzai Afghans in Kandahar, the governor he sent was killed. Under their leader Mahmood Hotaki, the rebellious Afghans moved westwards against the shah himself and in 1722 they besieged the capital, Isfahan. The city was starved into submission and Soltan Hossein abdicated, handing power to Mahmud. In Khorasan, Nader at first submitted to the local Afghan governor of Mashhad, Malek Mahmud, but then rebelled and built up his own small army. Meanwhile, Iran's imperial neighboring rivals, the Ottomans and the Russians, took advantage of the chaos in the country to seize and divide territory for themselves. In 1722, Russia, led by Peter the Great, captured swaths of Iran's territories in the North Caucasus, South Caucasus, as well as in northern mainland Iran. The regions to the west of that, mainly Iranian territories in Georgia, Iranian Azerbaijan, and Armenia, were taken by the Ottomans. During the chaos, Nader cut a deal with Mahmood Hotaki to rule Kalat in the north of Iran. However, when Mahmood Hotaki began minting coins in his name and asked for everyone's allegiance, Nader refused.

Tahmasp, Soltan Hossein’s son, contacted Nader and asked him to drive the Ghilzai Afghans out of Khorasan. He agreed and thus became a figure of national importance. Nader first defeated the Abdali Afghans near Herat. The new shah of the Ghilzai Afghans, Ashraf, decided to move against Nader but in September 1729, Nader defeated him. Nader finally entered Isfahan, handing it over to Tahmasp in December. The citizens' rejoicing was cut short when Nader plundered them to pay his army. Tahmasp made Nader governor over many eastern provinces, including his native Khorasan. In the spring of 1730, Nader attacked the Ottomans and regained most of the territory lost during the recent chaos.

While Nader was absent in the east, Tahmasp tried to recapture Yerevan but ended up losing all of Nader's recent gains to the Ottomans. Nader, furious, got Tahmasp drunk then showed him to the courtiers asking if a man in such a state was fit to rule. In 1732 he forced Tahmasp to abdicate in favor of the Shah's baby son, Abbas III. Nader decided that he could win back the territory in Armenia and Georgia by seizing Ottoman Baghdad and then offering it in exchange for the lost provinces. He eventually besieged Baghdad, and by the summer of 1735, Iranian Armenia and Georgia were his again. In March 1735, he signed a treaty with the Russians by which the latter agreed to withdraw all of their troops from Iranian territory, resulting in the reestablishment of Iranian rule over all of the Caucasus and northern mainland Iran again.

In November of 1735 orders were sent out to the military, clergy and nobility of the nation to summon at the plains. Attendees began arriving in January 1736. Everyone agreed to the proposal of Nader becoming the new king and Nader was crowned Shah of Iran on March 8th, 1736.

In 1738, Nader Shah conquered Kandahar, the last outpost of the Hotaki dynasty and his thoughts turned to the Mughal Empire of India. He invaded the militarily weak but still extremely wealthy far eastern empire and moved into the Mughal territories. Despite being outnumbered by six to one, Nader Shah crushed the Mughal army in less than three hours in February of 1739. Nader ordered his soldiers to sack the city and during the course of one day 20,000 to 30,000 Indians were killed by the Iranian troops and as many as 10,000 women and children were taken as slaves, forcing Mohammad Shah, The Mughal emperor, to beg Nader for mercy. Mohammad Shah handed over the keys of his royal treasury, and losing even the fabled Peacock Throne to the Iranian emperor. It is estimated that Nader took away with him treasures worth as much as seven hundred million rupees. Among a trove of other fabulous jewels, Nader also looted the Kooh’e Noor and Daryay’e Noor diamonds. The booty they had collected was loaded on 700 elephants, 4,000 camels, and 12,000 horses. His victories during such campaigns briefly made him West Asia's most powerful sovereign, ruling over what was arguably the most powerful empire in the world.

After the Indian campaign Nader Shah became increasingly despotic as his health declined markedly. In 1740, he conquered the Khanate of Khiva (in present day Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). Nader accused his son of being behind the assassination attempt on him in Mazandaran and had him blinded as punishment and ordered his eyes to be brought to him on a platter. In his last years, Nader became increasingly paranoid, ordering the assassination of large numbers of suspected enemies. Nader became increasingly cruel as a result of his illness and his desire to extort more and more tax money to pay for his military campaigns. New revolts broke out and Nader crushed them ruthlessly, building towers from his victims' skulls. In 1747 he was surprised in his sleep by around fifteen conspirators and stabbed to death. Nader was able to kill two of the assassins before he died. After his successful campaign against the Mughal Empire, Nader had ordered the Mughal craftsmen whom he had brought to Persia to build him a grandiose tomb in Mughal style. His assassination meant the tomb was never fully completed. His body remained un-commemorated until the 1960s when a concrete monument was constructed for in Mashhad.
The structure comprises of the Central Library, main hall, and sections used for official purposes which are in the surrounding area of the tomb.


No comments:

Post a Comment