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"Russian intrusion into the guarded domain": reflections of a Qajar statesman on European expansion.

IN EARLY 1828, DURING RUSSO-PERSIAN NEGOTIATIONS for the conclusion of the Turkamanchay peace treaty, Mirza Abul-qasim Qaim-maqam Farahani, minister to the crown prince Abbas Mirza, was despatched to Tehran to persuade Fath Ali Shah to pay from the royal treasury the ruinously large war reparations required by the victorious Russians as a precondition to signing the treaty. With the greatest reluctance Fath Ali Shah parted with a portion of the indemnity, but not before dictating a candid letter to his son in the hand of Qaim-maqam, whose eloquence was appreciated even at the height of the shah's anguish. Alarmed by the dwindling state revenue caused by "the upheavals of the past two years," the shah was blunt enough to admit a devastating deficit in the government budget. "If all is taken into account [with the exception of Azarbaijan] the deficit between the revenue and the expenses of the central government ... exceeds twenty million kurur [ten million tumans]." Nostalgically recalling the time when the gold reserves in the state treasury were estimated to be eighty kurur [forty million tumans], the shah confessed further that only his "status and dignity" prevented him from declaring bankruptcy. He no doubt deeply felt the pain of the financial losses. "How all of a sudden was all that was accumulated dispersed and all that was collected ruined?" he pondered with a melancholy that conveyed the guilt he must have felt at the memory of Aqa Muhammad Khan Qajar, his plundering uncle and the founder of his dynasty.(1)

There have been few events in the history of nineteenth-century Iran which could match the two rounds of Russo-Persian wars of 1805-1813 and 1826-1828 in their immediate impact and long-term socio-political consequences. Iran's first serious encounter with a powerful Christian neighbor not only resulted in the loss of all prosperous Caucasian provinces but also in economic bankruptcy, precipitated by military spending and war reparations. But still greater losses were in the political realm. Defeat in war cast an unhealthy shadow over the legitimacy of the Qajar monarchy and its claim to be the true defender of the Guarded Domain of Iran, a shadow from under which the ruling house never fully escaped--as it never fully recovered from the payment of five million tumans (equivalent to three million pounds) war reparations imposed upon it by the Russian conquerors.

As has often been noted, the conclusion of the Turkamanchay treaty in 1828 also entailed serious international consequences for Iran since it served as the basis for unequal diplomatic and commercial relations best symbolized by the capitulatory rights secured by the European powers. But beyond the terms of the treaty, the behavior of the powers toward Iran changed dramatically in the aftermath of the war. Superiority in the battlefield was followed by diplomatic pressure at the negotiating table and an enduring air of condescension on all fronts, intensified by the Griboedov affair and the massacre of the Russian mission in Tehran.(2)

Moreover, both the treaties of Gulistan (1813) and Turkamanchay included potentially troublesome articles, as they linked the question of dynastic succession to the support and endorsement of a foreign power. While the Gulistan treaty promised Russian support for any heir apparent that the shah might choose to nominate, the Turkamanchay treaty exclusively recognized Abbas Mirza as the legitimate heir to the throne, an endorsement that guaranteed the succession of the house of Abbas Mirza for the rest of the Qajar period. The intense rivalry of the competing sons of Fath Ali Shah was an underlying theme throughout Fath Ali Shah's reign (1797-1834) and one of the most important causes for renewed hostilities during the second round of the wars with Russia.(3)

Despite all the immediate and long term effects of the Persian defeat, and regardless of the enduring impact on Iran's historical awareness, there were few contemporary observers who cared to record their personal reflections of these tumultuous events. The Persian accounts of the period scarcely went beyond the formal record of official chroniclers. Abd al-Razzaq Dunbuli, Abul-fazl Khavari, Jahangir Mirza Qajar, and shortly after, Riza-quli Khan Hidayat and Muhammad Taqi Sipihr, despite occasionally candid tones, were careful not to offend the reputations of their patrons and relatives. Likewise, court poets and literary figures were anxious to glorify the heroic deeds of their royal patrons, even if it was at the expense of posterity. Fath Ali Khan Saba's Shahanshah-namih, a tale of Fath Ali Shah's splendors composed in conscious competition with Firdawsi's Shah-namih, is no more representative of the consequences of defeat than it is factually accurate. Defeat in the war with Russia was either conveniently turned into victory or treated as a temporary setback in frontier skirmishes with infidels. Most other literary figures of the period barely deviated from Saba's norms, though further research may reveal interesting surprises.(4)

One important exception to this literary divorce from historical reality appears in the works of Mirza Abul-qasim Qaim-maqam (1779-1835), the renowned statesman, essayist, and poet of the early Qajar period. His involvement in Russo-Persian affairs as minister to the powerful crown prince and viceroy of Azarbaijan, Abbas Mirza, his political position in the events leading up to the war, and his crucial role during the course of peace negotiations make his reflections, whether in prose or in poetry, particularly valuable. His literary corpus, which consists of friendly letters (ikhwaniyat), panegyrics (qasidas), essays, prefaces to the works of others, and later his innovative use of popular poetry in his Jalayir-namih, as well as his large collection of official correspondence, all provide insights into the outlook and personality of a distinguished statesman unique among his peers. His literary works often stand in contrast to the aridity of historical accounts and the formulaic cajolery of self-censoring poets. In spite of its significance, however, this particular dimension of Qaim-maqam's work has been frequently overlooked by later readers who were overly charmed by his stylistic marvels.(5)

The fact that Qaim-maqam was an heir to the ancient tradition of the "men of the pen" made his personal reflections on political change all the more interesting. He came from a bureaucratic family with a long history of divan service going back to the Zand and before that to the late Safavid period. As ministers to Abbas Mirza, both his father Mirza Isa (Buzurg) Qaim-maqam and from the mid-1810s Abul-qasim himself, were among the most influential figures in introducing the old Persian bureaucratic and literary ethos to the Qajar state and court, particularly in Azarbaijan. Though they never fully disengaged themselves from nostalgic loyalties to their earlier patrons, the Zands, within the Qajar polity the Qaim-maqams represented a strong voice for state-building and centralization, ministerial authority, and diplomacy--positions which helped transform the military-nomadic spirit of the early Qajars. At least up to 1858 and the abolition of the office of grand vizierate (sidarat) by Nasir al-Din Shah, the Qaim-maqams' influence in the conception and conduct of the Qajar state was paramount, even after Abul-qasim's execution in 1835. Not only Qaim-maqam's own rival and successor, Hajji Mirza Aqasi, but the later Mirza Taqi Khan Amir Kabir and Mirza Aqa Khan Nuri essentially adopted Qaim-maqam's outlook on politics and diplomacy.(6)

Perhaps nowhere is Qaim-maqam's compliance with the old Persian ministerial ethos more evident than in his politics of expediency during the inter-war period between 1813 and 1826. Following a precarious course, Qaim-maqam tried with some success to use the dormant Russian threat to the Azarbaijan frontiers to secure domestically Abbas Mirza's position as heir apparent to the throne as well as viceroy of the most prosperous province in Iran. After the defeat in the first round of the Russo-Persian wars and the subsequent loss of territory, Abbas Mirza could only maintain his political credit, and thus his claim to the still undetermined succession (particularly against his powerful brother Muhammad Ali Mirza Dawlatshah, the governor of Kirmanshah province), by presenting himself as the champion of Persian defense against Russian aggression. Qaim-maqam was the architect of a "no war no peace" policy which drew on religious and national sentiments to rally support behind the crown prince and his military modernization program, with the hope of creating a credible defense against Russia. The same political gesture facilitated funding for military reforms and guaranteed British support as well as royal favor toward the crown prince.


As part of Qaim-maqam's policy in 1818, five years after the conclusion of the Gulistan treaty, he published a collection of two fatwas (legal opinions) on the subject of the "holy war" (jihad) delivered by prominent Shiite mujtahids of Iraq, Shaykh Jafar Najafi and Sayyid Ali Tabataba i. The fatwas were originally issued in 1813 in response to an earlier inquiry by Qaim-maqam the father. One of the earliest Persian books printed in Iran, the "lesser" book of the Holy War (Jihadiya [-yi Saghir]) as it came to be known, carried an introductory essay in the name of its compiler, Qaim-maqam the father, but was presumably written by the son, Abul-qasim. Likewise the introduction to a more complete version of an unpublished work on the same subject known as the "greater" book of the Holy War (Jihadiya [-yi Kabir]) was also written by Abul-qasim. Though the content analysis of both Jihadiyas requires a separate study, some attention should be paid to these introductions, for they reflect the younger Qaim-maqam's earliest views on the subject of the Russo-Persian war.(7)

In the introduction to the lesser Jihadiya, the author draws the reader's attention to the necessity of jihad as a collective religious duty (fard kifaya) against the "sedition of the Russian nation within the Guarded Domain" (fitna-yi qawm-i Rus dar mulk-i mahrus). Later this phrase appears in a number of Qaim-maqam's writings, in slightly modified form. "Russian intrusion into the Guarded Domain" (rakhna-yi Rus dar mulk-i mahrus) was meant to be a political message devised to alert the reader against the impending foreign threat, and became almost a slogan for defense of the homeland.(8)

Written in an ornate style reminiscent of the tedious formalism of the eighteenth century, the main focus of the Jihadiya's introduction is on the necessity of jihad for the sake of "preserving the pale of Islam" (hifz-i bayza-yi Islam). This is followed by discussions on the possibility of conducting jihad in the absence of the Imam and on pertinent legal and juridical considerations. In what amounts to a veiled criticism of the ulama for neglecting the vital subject of jihad, the author takes pride in the fact that it was his father who initiated the production of an independent collection on the subject. Yet the pretentious style and the formality of the author's tone often defeat the very purpose of the book, which was to educate the public about their religious duties and to mobilize them behind the state.(9)

The key to Qaim-maqam's interpretation, and the reason for producing the Jihadiya, nevertheless, mains that of legitimizing Qajar rule and promoting its status as the defender of the Islamic kingdom. The war with Russia and the defense of the kingdom, the most important issue of Qajar foreign policy throughout the first decade of the nineteenth century, were also the subjects of a second introduction to the greater Jihadiya. Here, too, the author's prose is not free from pretentious passages and literary acrobatics designed to impress the reader and demonstrate the author's superior literary and religious knowledge, aspects which were particularly important in outwitting the ulama in their own domain. Yet in contrast to the lesser Jihadiya, here the author allows himself greater latitude in seeking an innovative rationale for jihad. In this "crusade by the pen" (jihad-i bi qalam), as he defines his own work, Qaim-maqam uses a simpler style and novel expressions to advance what appears to be a pristine notion of religious progression. Since Islam is the final manifestation in a revelatory course that also encompasses Judaism and Christianity in its earlier stages, and since the social and political needs of every age, like religious needs, change over time, the author argues that in the present age these needs should be addressed accordingly.

The origins of this concept of progress may be traced back to the sufi writings of the time toward which the Qaim-maqams, both father and son, had some leanings. The vast potential for such an approach was explored a generation later in the messianic Babi movement, but Qaim-maqam's own understanding of the changing times and the need to adjust to new circumstances remained limited to rationalizing a defensive jihad against an imperial neighbor. The jihad was seen not as the individual duty of believers but as one collective duty delegated by the Imam to the ruler and his government, a specialized duty which should be carried out by the state according to the needs of modern warfare.(10)


One may safely assume that in the years leading to the second round of Russo-Persian wars, Qaim-maqam was a proponent of a defensive posture toward Russia under the banner of jihad, a duty which he delegated exclusively to the state, but more specifically to the frontier government of Azarbaijan. Yet by 1826 these positions seem to have undergone a temporary change. The prominence of the pro-war faction within the Qajar polity and the ulama's efforts to interpret jihad as an urgent offensive necessary to reclaim the lost territories encouraged Abbas Mirza, and subsequently Qaim-maqam, to succumb to popular pressure, in order to preserve the prince's political credibility. Qaim-maqam's poetry reveals something about this otherwise undetected shift of policy. In a qasida composed in early 1826, shortly after the death of Tsar Alexander I of Russia, Qaim-maqam recommends to the crown prince a course of conditional offensive:

If Russia attacks in vengeance, act like the wall of Iskandar (Alexander), If she resorts to treachery like a fox, you attack like a lion.(11)

Alluding to the Quranic legend of Iskandar and the barrier (sadd) that he built against the attacks of the Gog and Magog, notably the two barbarian tribes associated in Qaim-maqam's poetry with the Russians, this verse highlights Abbas Mirza's holy duty as the defender of the frontiers. The lowering of the "iron curtain" and the surge of the Gog and Magog against the wrongdoers is commonly believed by Muslims to be one of the apocalyptic "conditions of the Final Hour" (ishrat al-saa). In the following verses of the qasida, Qaim-maqam utilizes the Quranic legend to portray Abbas Mirza as an Iskandar against the torn curtain of the Russian Gog and Magog. His Iskandar will find his chance to assail the dreaded enemy after the death of the Russian Alexander. The parallel was not accidental nor indeed was the reference to the Final Day.(12) Presumably composed after the poet's return to Tabriz from an exile he had endured since 1822 for alleged pro-Russian leanings, Qaim-maqam was anxious to air the correct political sentiments. A few lines later he does not leave any doubt as to his war-like intentions:

First choose foot soldiers (sarbaz) and cavalry from among the Persian people, Then make up your mind and decisively engage in jihad with Russia. Take the kingdoms of Crimea (Qurum) and Moscow from the new tsar (qaral), Then dominate Russia and conquer the Rum [i.e., the Ottoman Empire]. [Now] in Russia there is insurrection because of Alexander's death, Let that crowd remain in mourning and sorrow until the Final Day.

Contrary to the common portrayal of Qaim-maqam as an advocate of peace with Russia, on the eve of the 1826 war he did not hesitate to endorse an offensive against the seemingly dazed enemy. To fulfill his expansionist fantasy he regards it necessary for the infantry (sarbaz), the backbone of the European-style standing army first created by Abbas Mirza around 1809 with the help of the French and later the British, to collaborate with the irregular cavalry.(13) With such a combination of forces engaged in holy war, the poet dreams of conquering not only the lost territories, but the whole of Russia and the Ottoman Empire as well. In such a dramatic venture Abbas Mirza could only be portrayed as the precursor to the Mahdi in a chiliastic scenario against the forces of the Dajjal, the Antichrist-like "deceiver" of Islamic eschatology.

In the battle of the fortuitous Mahdi against the Dajjal, Do not be a follower and a latecomer, but a forerunner and pioneer.(14)

Some time passed before Qaim-maqam awakened from his apocalyptic dream to the sobering reality of conflict with a powerful Russia. He must have soon realized that in spite of the Decembrist uprising during the interregnum of late December 1825, the transfer of the Russian throne to the new tsar Nicholas I was not as turbulent as the circumstances surrounding instances of the "shah's death" (shah-margi) often were in his own country. Yet at the Sultaniya council, at which the shah, the crown prince, the special British envoy, Henry Willak, and high ranking statesmen convened in July 1826 to determine the future of war and peace with Russia, Qaim-maqam seems to have sided with the prominent ulama present in the council, possibly fearing a religious denunciation (takfir). Only the members of a small pacifist party consisting of Mirza Abd al-Wahhab Mu tamad al-Dawla, the minister in charge of foreign affairs, Mirza Abul-Hasan Shirazi, the famous Persian envoy (ilchi) to England and Russia (who is often stigmatized as being "unpatriotic" in modern sources), and Manuchihr Khan Gurji, then Fath Ali Shah's chief eunuch, were courageous enough to advise the shah and Abbas Mirza against the war. Debates within the council of Sultaniya remain to be further studied but it is apparent that Qaim-maqam could hardly afford to go along with the anti-war party even though he must have appreciated Iran's military limitations. The pro-war coalition headed by Allah-yar Khan Asaf al-Dawla, the new grand vizier and chief of the Davalu Qajar clan, included, among others, prominent ulama--who in search of public esteem championed jihad with Russia--and the frontier chiefs of Azarbaijan anxious to reclaim their lost estates. Asaf al-Dawla had managed to persuade the shah and Abbas Mirza to side with the pro-war sentiments in the hope of achieving glory and acquiring land. To avoid further isolation Qaim-maqam was thus willing to praise the prince's "sacred duty," but hoped that it would never be put to the test.(15)

The details of Qaim-maqam's position and even his whereabouts during the early stages of the conflict are not clearly known and require further examination. Yet in another qasida, which must have been composed on the eve of the war, the pressure upon the minister to comply with the pro-war party is evident. After reasserting his devotion to the prince and alluding to his diplomatic efforts to prevent the war, he goes on to say in an almost hapless tone:

Now that by divine support a vast army, Is advancing from the Persian domain to the land of Armenia ... It appears as though he [i.e., Abbas Mirza] forbade himself comfort and leisure, Before he would expel Russia from Aran [i.e., the Caucasus].(16)

In a rare moment of self-admiration he further describes his own flawless discharge of ministerial duties. He seems to be hinting at the vital importance of the "men of the pen" to guarantee the success of the "men of the sword":

Every night the candle and I share relentless penning of decrees, Everyday it is I, an assembly, and their incoherent words. Until dawn replying to pages of correspondence, Until dusk traversing around in the desert. Either pen in hand standing vigilant, Or sidesaddle facing the road.(17)

But in Qaim-maqam's tone there is already a sense of despair. It is as though he is contrasting the shortcomings of the men of the sword with his own dedication and sense of duty, as if silently blaming his master's poor leadership.

The poet is not yet thoroughly disappointed, however. In another qasida he derives some courage from what seem to be Iran's early successes in the war. Writing in the preliminary stages of the war, he congratulates the crown prince for his advances and condemns the Russians for their aggression, but still can not resist cautioning the prince that the dual offensive-defensive nature of his campaign is meant primarily to provide better conditions for peace:

Your sword in the day of jihad eclipses all swords, But at the time of defending the faith it becomes a shield.... Although because of your good fortune, The days of the unscrupulous enemy are numbered, But do not seek safety from the Russians, For the weaker the enemy becomes the greater is the danger.(18)

The poet thus seems to be urging the crown prince to avoid the counsel of the warmongers and adopt instead a two-track policy of war and diplomacy, a course corresponding fully to Qaim-maqam's earlier position:

They [i.e., the Russians] are seeking an opportunity to make peace, For the king of the world [i.e., Abbas Mirza] this is a perilous and formidable task, Since it requires [employing] the means of peace and war, Combining the two opposites can be done only by a masterful man like yourself.... Who but yourself would know, What benefit or loss would come to the state and to the faith?(19)

The poet's warning to the prince not to listen to the "nonsense" of the unwise is followed by further caution in his words about the state of the treasury:

Particularly when because of the [generosity] of your hand and heart, The treasury of the universe is emptied of gold and silver.(20)

Predictably, the prince did not stand up to Qaim-maqam's high expectations and the proposed two-track policy never had a chance to be implemented before Iran's decisive defeat in 1827, a fact which deeply agonized the poet and sharpened his criticism during the post-war period. In one of his most moving qasidas, presumably composed when the Persian army had lost the cities of Ganja and Irvan (Yerevan), the poet's disappointment with the conduct of the war is transparent. Though in July 1827 in the battle of Hashtardak (Ashtarak), in the vicinity of Irvan, Abbas Mirza had put up stiff resistance against Russian advances and even achieved some gains, this momentary success did not prevent the retreat of the Persian cavalry and the ignoble conduct of Asaf al-Dawla and other commanders of the army.

Alas for this honorless and faithless people, The Kurds of Ray, the Turks of Khamsa, the Lurs of Qazvin. Helpless and miserable before the wicked enemy, Hostile and wicked before the helpless and weak.(21)

In his sharp criticism of the nomadic elements in the Persian army, the poet holds the commanders of the Kurds, the Turks, and the Lurs responsible for the defeat. But by associating them with Ray and Qazvin, provinces not indigenous to these ethnic groups (though Khamsa of Zanjan did consist of Turkish speaking tribes), it is evident that he castigates not only the nomadic forces but the entire Persian army, perhaps with the exception of Azarbaijan's Nizam Jadid. Depicted with bitter sarcasm, the cowardice and disloyalty of the Kurds, Lurs, and Turks are portrayed as representative of the entire military establishment.

They charge against cucumbers and pumpkins like Rustam, But retreat from the enemy's army like Gurgin.... It was with such an army and a couple of [such] generals, That the crown prince sought battle against the enemy.(22)

Even more pointedly, Qaim-maqam rebukes the military strategy of his own tactical ally, Asaf al-Dawla, for his handling of the Persian cavalry forces. In a masterful comparison with a game of chess, he sarcastically contrasts the military strategy of the "crazy" Russian commander, Ivan Fedorovitch Paskievitch, with the "wise" grand vizier's scandalous retreat.

The crazy Russian [advances] like a pawn (baydaq), Routing the wise Asaf and his cavalry in an exchange for the queen (farzin).(23)

The poet's symbolism becomes apparent when it is noted that the farzin (vizier) in the original Persian chess game stands for the queen; thus the farzin in this verse represents the exchange of a pawn for the queen, a reference to the retreat of Asaf al-Dawla's cavalry before the Russian foot soldiers, and later his disgraceful capture by the forces invading Tabriz in November 1827. Qaim-maqam could see no hope of victory from an army that had dissipated with the first shots from Russian guns and left the crown prince defenseless on the battlefield. Yet Abbas Mirza's gallantry at Hashtardak was to be celebrated by Qaim-maqam as a moment of triumph envisioned, for the last time, in an apocalyptic setting. It is as though the poet invested all his hopes for prevailing over the infidels in his master's personal valor. Given the gloomy tone of the rest of the qasida he seems to have admitted that short of heroism and divine intervention nothing would save his country from defeat.(24)

Ye, who have heard reports of the horror of Resurrection, Rise and see resurrection in the plain of Hashtardak... Artillerymen like the agents (muwakkilan) who deliver The infidels to the lord of the captives (malik-i sijjin). Bayonets of the sarbaz and the [Russian] saldat at once, Pierced the chests on both sides.... Blasphemy has fallen prey to the army of Islam, Like a dove captured in the eagle's claw.(25)

The parable of Resurrection (qiyamat), hinting at the plain of congregation (sahra-yi mahshar), agents of torment (muwakkilan-i azab), and lord of Hell (malik-i duzakh), was intentional and meant to correspond to the coming of the Gog and Magog and the messianic return (rija) of the eschatological Qaim, the Shiite messiah, at the End of Time.


The Persian defeat, the loss of the remaining Caucasian territory, and occupation of the provincial capital by the enemy's forces deeply shook Qaim-maqam and tarnished his faith, perhaps forever, in the effectiveness of jihad as a means of defending his country. Yet, ironically, the defeat helped bring him back into the political arena as a proponent of peace and as the chief negotiator of a new treaty with Russia. It also brought out the best of his literary erudition. Seldom before in the Persian poetical tradition had the formalist strictures been surpassed in favor of a vivid and critical picture of political reality. If Qaim-maqam's conduct as a statesman was subject to vacillations, it was in his literary work, and especially his poetry, that the uninhibited dimension of his thoughts and emotions was revealed.

In another piece he again attacked Asaf al-Dawla in even harsher terms than he had in the previous pieces for his cowardice in the battle of Nakhjavan (Nakhichevan) in August 1827 and the loss of Abbasabad, the last Persian stronghold on the north bank of the Aras river. In what is perhaps his most famous satiric poem he lampooned not only Asaf, but by association the entire Qajar aristocracy, which had supported him in such enterprise. As an underlying motive it is conceivable that Qaim-maqam was trying to distance himself from the grand vizier and place on his shoulder all the blame for "breaking the peace."

Flee on time, this is the time for flight, Go seek safety, life is too precious.... Cross the Aras river and hurry now, It is Russia who follows in your footsteps. Great surprise that with a hundred and ten cannons, You ceased hostilities and retreated after three breaks of wind.... Ye, the traitor to the shah and the crown prince, Do you repay their generosity with flight?... This peace-breaker and war-deserter, He is not a man of battle but a mischievous prostitute.(26)

The poet's criticism did not leave Fath Ali Shah untouched; he rebuked him for his poor choice of Asaf al-Dawla as the military leader:

Let me know, you people, what quality in this man, The king of kings esteemed? He is neither a horseman in the battlefield nor a chariot-driver, He is neither a man of understanding, nor reason or insight.(27)

Such a vehement attack upon the grand vizier may have contributed to his being targeted as the scapegoat of the defeat. At the conclusion of the war he was dismissed from his post and publicly disgraced by receiving the punishment of the bastinado. At the shah's command, Abbas Mirza supervised the public chastisement and himself inflicted several blows to Asaf's feet.(28)

Qaim maqam's criticism does not end with lampooning Asaf al-Dawla. At a deeper level he ponders the turn of fortune that brought such a debacle on the Persian state and nation. In a qasida "composed in grief over Iran's defeat and Russia's victory" (dar shikast-i Iran va istilay-i Rus az ru-yi diltangi guftih ast),(29) Qaim-maqam reaches the height of his poetic anguish. There are few poems of historical significance in the corpus of Persian literature that can match the pathos and power of this short qasida of eight verses. The poet's reflections on the capricious rotation of Time (ruzgar), which reversed the fortunes of his country, uphold the classical values of the Persian poetic tradition at its best, perhaps comparable in poignancy to Khaqani's qasida on the ivan of Madain or Sadi's elegy on the fall of the Abbasids.(30) As in his satire of Asaf al-Dawla and his Hashtardak qasida mentioned above, there is some element of self-expression in his political orientation and use of language that is unmistakably modern and yet in full conformity with Qaim-maqam's literary world. Such a remarkable mix of old and new, apparent in this piece, could only have been inspired by the unsettling misfortune so deeply felt by the poet, events that must have fractured the wholesome complacency of his world and exhibited to him its vulnerabilities.

It is the cycle of the time that chances to exalt and to humiliate. The playful wheel [of fortune] has so many such puppets. When it brings affection it is so misplaced and untimely, When it brings anger it is so discordant and absurd. At times, like a hypocrite it pretends to be a believer, At times, like a monk or a priest it takes sides with infidels. At times it is kind to the palkunik, the captain, and the officer, At times it is gentle to the sarhang, the sartip, and the sardar. At times it sends the whole army into the mouth of a savage wolf, At times it bestows a country into the hands of a benevolent man. At times it dispatches a mighty army from [St.] Petersburg to Tabriz, At times it advances a fierce army from Khurasan to Tiflis [Teblisi]. At times it loads onto ships a few pieces of crystal, At times it packs on beasts of burden a few kururs. Yet whatever the game, when you look thoroughly, The end turns favorably toward the loyal servants of the Qajar king.(31)

In spite of the poet's gloomy mood, the optimistic note with which he ends the qasida is the key to his outlook and his political future. It also sums up his message to the reader. Loyal to the anguished skepticism of Persian classical poetry, he attributes the defeat in the war, the Russian occupation, and his country's human and material losses to the rotation of the playful wheel of Time and to the illusory spectacle it stages with its puppets, not only the generals and officers of the Russian military machine, but also the sarhang and sardars of the Persian army. The reference to the sardar indeed is an allusion to the old governor of Irvan, Husayn Khan Sardar Qazvini, a Qajar khan and one of the champions of war with Russia, who after a courageous show of resistance against the Russians, lost the strategic fortress of Sardarabad (erected by himself) and later the city of Irvan, and was finally forced to take refuge at his estate in Qazvin.(32) Yet the playful wheel does not stop at the generals' doorstep. It also tricks the kings and the princes and brings mighty armies from as far away as St. Petersburg to conquer the provincial capital, Tabriz. Indeed few people could have been pained more than Qaim-maqam at the sight of the occupying Russian army. In early November 1827, while taking refuge in the mountains of Salmas in western Azarbaijan, the desperate crown prince had sent Qaim-maqam on a mission to Tabriz to negotiate with General Paskievitch for the release of the prince's family and members of his household. When the Russians reached Tabriz not only did Asaf al-Dawla surrender himself, but the ulama of the city, headed by the notorious Aqa Mir Fattah Tabatabai, the shaykh al-Islam of Tabriz, fully collaborated with the invading army.(33)

It is therefore not accidental that in his qasida Qaim-maqam compares the fall of Tabriz with the bloody conquest of Tiflis (Tbilisi) at the hands of Aqa Muhammad Khan in September 1795, an act of atrocity which more than anything else was responsible for Russia's annexation of Georgia six years later. The contrast is highlighted perhaps less to console his demoralized readers than to suggest a subtle reprimand for the brutality that the Qajar army demonstrated against the Christian population of that city.(34) Likewise, by referring to Russian crystal wares, the poet seems to be contrasting the generosity and foresight of Abbas Mirza to Fath Ali Shah's cupidity and extravagance, which the poet implies was a factor in the Persian defeat. In 1826 when the Russian envoy, Prince Menchikov, visited the royal camp in Sultaniya, he brought along some boxes containing mirrors and lamps--hence the crystal wares--presumably to be presented to the monarch as an incentive to successful negotiations. After his rancorous departure, however, the shah seized the gifts, perhaps on the legal grounds that they were the spoils of war, and refused to relinquish them in spite of Russian demand. Fearing the breakdown of peace negotiations in late 1827, Abbas Mirza was forced to purchase the mirrors and lamps from his father and return them to Menshikov in order to facilitate the conclusion of the Turkamanchay treaty. "In the same spirit," writes Robert Watson, who cited the anecdote as an example of Fath Ali's selfishness, "the shah insisted on throwing the expense and burden of the war upon Azerbaeejan, the revenue of which belonged to the crown-prince." The ruinous ten kurur tumans, on the other hand, that was paid to Russia as war reparations was sent away on the backs of mules.(35) The poet could hardly depict more effectively the reversing fortune of his country in the game of destiny (ruzgar).

Yet all was not lost. Even though the general managed to defeat the sardar and St. Petersburg humbled Tabriz and robbed the Qajar treasury, there were still some gains on the Persian side; but they were gains evident only to the insightful. The "loyal servant of the Qajar king," the "considerate man" who rescued Iran from the savage wolf and to whom the affairs of the country were bestowed was none other than Qaim-maqam himself who used the last line of his qasida to sign off with a veiled nom de plume. The war brought a favorable turn of fortune for the poet-statesman, whose expediency and tact after all were finally appreciated because of it.

Reinstated to the office of minister to the crown prince after the war, Qaim-maqam was responsible perhaps more than anyone else for shaping Iran's post-war foreign policy as well as for facilitating the recognition of Abbas Mirza as heir apparent. One can surmise that the Russians, with the consent of the British, must have found Qaim-maqam's argument compelling when he reasoned that only with the foreign powers' unequivocal recognition of the crown prince's right to the Qajar throne could they rest assured that in the future the prince's conduct would be peaceful. Qaim-maqam hoped that such recognition, if stipulated in the Turkamanchay treaty, would secure Abbas Mirza's position in the face of challenges by other contenders, hence making him less bellicose toward Russia. Such an argument proved to be crucial to the future of the Qajar throne since it laid the groundwork for the rule of primogeniture in Abbas Mirza's house, a policy articulated by Qaim-maqam even before the death of the crown prince in 1833. For Qaim-maqam, whether as minister to the crown prince or afterwards as minister to his son and successor Muhammad Mirza, later Muhammad Shah, such service to the house of Abbas Mirza was not entirely altruistic. After he was reinstated, Qaim-maqam substantially increased his ministerial independence, becoming the virtual master of the administration, the court, and the army. In spite of his downfall six years later, his stamp of ministerial authority on the Qajar vizierate set the stage for the next quarter of a century.

Qaim-maqam's reflections on the causes and consequences of the war did not end with his qasidas. Sometime after the return of Tabriz to Iran in early 1828, in a letter to an unnamed Qajar official in charge of the city, he uttered a vitriolic attack on the ulama of Tabriz for their inglorious contribution to the Persian defeat. Chastizing Aqa Mir Fattah as a symbol of collaboration with the Russian occupying forces, he nevertheless holds all the ulama of Tabriz accountable for their acquiescence--and not without reason. "At the close of that day," when the Russian army reached the vicinity of Tabriz, "the high-priest of Tabreez, backed by many of the chief citizens," had taken the key of the city from the gate-keeper, whom they threw down from the top of the wall, and proceeded to the Russian camp where they "invited the general to take possession of the place."(36) The mujtahids' conduct, pragmatic as it may have been, seemed treacherous in the eyes of the crown prince, on whose behalf Qaim-maqam penned his masterful letter. Starting with satirical supplicatory verses attributed to Nasir-khusraw Qubadiyani, it was evident that he was aiming not only at Mir Fattah but all the ulama:

O God! verily the temptation (fitna) is yours, But out of fear I dare not utter it. You should not have created so perfect, The lips and the teeth of the Turks of Khata (Cathay). It is because of their lips and their teeth, That we ought to bite our lips and our hand.(37)

Qaim-maqam subtly complains about the absence of patriotic sentiments among the Turkish-speaking ulama of Tabriz--the Turks of Cathay as he calls them--whose collaboration with the Russians he found comparable to Tabriz's shaykh al-Islam surrendering the city to Mongol hordes in 1232. To escape the mullahs' denunciation, his bitter satire is concealed behind the veil of a princely address. His fear of criticizing the mujtahids is evident in his seemingly sacrilegious attribution of temptation to God. It is as though he traces the source of the fitna not to the ranks of the enemy, but to the apparent friends, a point reasserted later in the same letter when he refers to the ulama's fondness for the "home hunt" (shikar-i khanigi) and their "motto of madness" (shiar-i divanigi). Likewise, references to the lips and teeth of the Turks were meant to suggest the ulama's toothless slogans, empty words devoid of deeds but with grave consequences.

If their excellencies [the ulama] have inexhaustible appetites for soup and rice, that is to be expected, but what about you? What is wrong with you? Why are you not saturated with their hypocritical piety (zuhd-i riyai) and clerical cupidity (nahim-i mullai)? The book of jihad was completed. The Special Prophecy (nubuwwat khassa) was vindicated.

Enough of scholastic debate and dispute, Let us for a while serve the beloved and the wine.(38)

If one percent of what has been preached to the faithful (ahl-i salah) about jihad was spent on jihad along with the men of the sword (ahl-i silah) no infidel would have remained to necessitate a crusader (mujahid) ... The mulla's belly is God's abyss. The more you ask, "Art thou filled?" (hal imtalat) the more it says, "Are there any more to come?" (hal man mazid).(39) Like gluttonous idle mules they are a plague to the straw and plunderers of the barley (misl-i yabuha-yi pur-khur-i kam daw, afat-i kah va gharat-i jaw). They put to shame the Turkish effendis and European padres. Neither do they possess the knowledge and expertise to respond to the Padre. Nor have they the honor and resolve to block, like the effendis, the gate of the mosque and the stairs to the minaret, so that instead of turning the people against us, they encourage them to protect their own country and preserve their own religion.(40)

The author relishes the chance to draw a masterful contrast between the gluttonous and ignorant mullahs, on the one hand, and the modest but knowledgeable laymen like himself, the compiler of the jihadiyas, and his sufi guide, Mulla Muhammad Riza Hamadani (also known as Kawthar Ali Shah), the author of the Miftah al-Nubuwwa, an apologia produced in 1811 in response to the anti-Islamic polemics of the English Evangelical missionary Henry Martyn. By commissioning the Miftah al-Nubuwwa and writing a preface to it, Qaim-maqam had endorsed it as the official response to the English "padre's" denunciation of Islam. At the time, the ulama's failure to come up with a convincing response to the question of Special Prophecy, the thrust of Martyn's refutation, was thus depicted by the author as a futile "scholastic debate and dispute" (qil u qal-i madrasa). Utilizing imagery from Hafiz, he contrasts the disputation (jadal) technique of the madrasa education with service to "the beloved and the wine" (mashuq u may), a popular anti-scholastic theme in Persian lyrics, to convey disdain for the clergy's double standards.(41) The futility of jihad was thus stressed by alluding to the "crusader" (mujahid), a clear reference to the dishonored Sayyid Muhammad Tabatabai, the Mujahid, the clerical champion of jihad with Russia. It must have been a bitter irony to Qaim-maqam that Sayyid Muhammad was the son and scholastic heir to Sayyid Ali Tabatabai, whose fatwa he solicited for publication in the Jihadiya. Though Qaim-maqam's criticism was directed at the ulama of Tabriz, it was as though his call to relinquish the scholastic dispute in favor of love and wine was also a tacit invitation to the ulama to vacate the political arena in favor of statesmen like himself.


The experience of the war triggered off in Qaim-maqam a soul-searching endeavor that went beyond the poetical conventions of his time. Immediately after the war, in his famous but not widely studied Jalayirnamih, he employs a novel style and approach, as he explores his personal thoughts about the defeat. In this lengthy poem of 1124 verses, composed around March 1829, Qaim-maqam uses Jalayir, a minor official in his own household, as a poetical alter ego to speak out with a level of freedom in style and choice of subjects unprecedented in the poetry of the period.(42) In contrast to the pretentious prose of the Jihadiya and the heavily ornate style of his classical qasidas, here in the Jalayir-namih Qaim-maqam, no doubt influenced by earlier satirical masnavis, employs the language of the common man.(43) He speaks about topics as serious as war and peace with Russia, the nature of imperial powers, the crown prince's sacrifice and heroism, Muhammad Mirza's political future, and Qaim-maqam's own statesmanship and, at the same time, matters as mundane as the misdeeds of the governor of the Qalamru Alishkar (a sub-division of the Malayir governorship and part of the Qaim-maqam family estate), the financial problems of Jalayir, bureaucratic gossip, worldly indulgences of the royals, lampooning of high officials, the poet's own sexual fantasies, and finally a nostalgic portrayal of pastoral life. Besides the above, a good number of poetical complaints, adulation for the crown prince, and prayers for his health were also interjected throughout in contrast to a visible lack of praise for Fath Ali Shah. Though nowhere in the poem does the composer reveal his identity, there is little doubt that it was penned by Qaim-maqam. In this experimental genre the poet intentionally moves away from his identity as a man of the pen and engages in the reflective language of commoners. He does so to express views as uncommon to the formality of the high officials as they were unsuitable to the extravagance of court poetry. Although his declared intention is to cheer up the depressed and disgraced crown prince, by breaking the classical mold one may surmise that Qaim-maqam hopes to reach the common man. It is as though he is trying to explain to the Persian public why the war ended as it did, and more important, trying to restore the badly bruised reputation of the crown prince.

To what extent the Jalayir-namih was available to the public cannot be determined. It never appeared in print before 1929, a century after its composition. Farhad Mirza, who published Qaim-maqam's divan in 1863/1280 Q., did not include the Jalayir-namih, presumably because he did not find its style and content compatible with the rest of Qaim-maqam's poems. The prince whose extravagant literary taste is evident in his own works must have frowned upon the plain and unpretentious language of the Jalayir-namih, with its sincere dabbling in a political discourse almost foreign to the literary community of the time.(44)

The Jalayir-namih's opening passage is devoted to praising Muhammad Mirza. Remarkably, as early as 1829, Qaim-maqam seems to be seeking to align himself with Abbas Mirza's oldest son, perhaps in competition with the prince's tutor Hajji Mirza Aqasi. With an eye to the future of the throne, he is obviously concerned about Abbas Mirza's long illness. Not unrelated to his expressions of praise, allusions to the dangers which threatened the poet's life should also be seen in this light as a remarkable forecast of his tragic end six years later. It is as though his insecurity in office and his fears for the future acted as additional motives for the poet to ponder the events of the recent past. By questioning the reasons for Iran's vulnerability in the war he seems to be identifying his own fate with the fate of his country.

If they [decided] to kill a vizier, let it be. People are at times soft and at other times tough. Let us thus not abstain from joy and seek sorrow.(45)

The hedonistic course suggested by the poet while pondering his own fate, and the curious understatement by which he dismisses the mood of the executioner, further confirms his belief in the unpredictability of the forces of destiny now being played out in a drama of war.

The star sometimes rests in the war constellation, at other times in peace. It sides sometimes with Rum and other times with Europe.(46)

The astrological conjunction of Mars, the planet of war, that alternatively sides with the Rum and with Europe (Farang) is an allusion to the dramatic events of the Greek war for independence (1827-1829), when the destruction of the Turco-Egyptian fleet at Navarino (September 1827) by the joint forces of Russia, Britain and France led to the Russo-Turkish war (January 1828-September 1829) and Russian advances into Edirne on the western front and to Kars (Qaras) and Erzurum in the east. Almost simultaneous with the conclusion of the Russo-Persian wars, these events prompted Qaim-maqam to reflect on the nature of imperial aggression and the ephemeral gains based on money (zar) and might (zur). The tsar's advances into Ottoman territory only fifteen years after Russia was devastated by Napoleon's army was a potent reminder of Time's playful games.

I am amazed by these nations who rise, Only to shed each other's blood in vain.... What is this conflict but for nothing, What is their purpose and their hostile intent? Isn't this world a ruined house, Which from the outset was built on unsound ground? Remember the deeds of Napoleon. Why did he waste hundreds of millions in a moment? Why did he burn the Russian capital? Why did he destroy Russian churches? What did [eventually] happen to his war machine? Why were his guns silenced and his muskets ceased firing? Did he seek not to conquer Istanbul? Did he seek not to expand by might and money? Why did he not see any benefit in might and money? Why did he go to the grave on British soil? Yes, the world is nothing but absurd and futile. It is nothing but a cockfight and ram fight.(47)

Qaim-maqam, who remembered Napoleon's designs for eastern conquest and the short-lived Franco-Persian collaboration against common enemies, could not help but wonder whether the tsar's aggression was as precarious. During the time of the Gardane military mission to Iran, Qaim-maqam was viewed as a Francophile. His hopes for French assistance must have been dashed when Napoleon signed the Tilsit peace treaty with Russia in 1807 and subsequently withdrew the French mission in 1808.(48) Two decades later his bewilderment in the face of Russian imperial expansion reminded him of France and rekindled his earlier belief in the forces of destiny and the unresolvable riddle of imperial domination:

Who knows what this concealed secret is, Or the purpose of this cockfight? Thank God that in this day and age, Neither the qadi nor the shaykh al-Islam know the answer.(49)

With implicit disdain toward the ulama, the Shaykh al-Islam of Tabriz, in particular, Qaim-maqam seems to be rejecting the traditional religious answer to the prevailing forces of European expansion. With a skepticism that reflects an insight into the deeds of imperial powers, the poet can only cast doubt on the long-term Russian commitment to peace and thus on the security of the Persian frontiers. To Russia, as Qaim-maqam puts it, countries such as Iran are like a milk cow; once she is dried of her milk she will be sent to the slaughter house. It is this rationale that makes him distrustful of any long-term reliance on Iran's European neighbors.

If they make peace it is for expediency, [But] that too is a ploy and a deceit.(50)

If the ultimate motive for imperial aggression remains a mystery and the powers' commitment to peace cannot be guaranteed, Qaim-maqam has no doubt as to the only logical course for the weaker countries who are threatened by them. For less powerful countries to survive they must regain their military strength and adopt a defensive posture that would ensure their peace and security. Expressed in the popular poetry of Jalayir-namih with an ease also discernible in some of his correspondence, Qaim-maqam advocates the use of the financial resources of the state for creating a viable defense.

First by means of gold, [military] might must be built, Since might is more useful than money.(51)

Preference of might over money indeed is a subtle hint to Fath Ali Shah's proverbial parsimony and his unwillingness to underwrite the crown prince's endless military spending. With remarkable clarity Qaim-maqam then advocated what he believed should constitute the core of Iran's defense policy. Throughout the years following the first round of wars with Russia he stressed the need for military reforms with the same considerations in mind.

Security is neither in peace [treaties] nor in war, But in deployment of cannons and firearms. When the enemy faces military might, He will become your friend and your brother. If your friend finds you weak and crippled, He tries to skin you alive.(52)

Such vicious political behavior the poet regards as an inevitable outcome of military superiority, political conduct that in his view is not confined to the French emperor, the Russian tsar, or the Ottoman sultan:

Any sovereign [sarvar] who has a crown on his head, Would have as his target the [entire] universe. Only his expediency [tadbir] may act as a barrier To discourage him or deflect his aggression.(53)

As the expansionism of the legendary Alexander and Kay Kavus had shown,

Greed is ingrained in the element of man, The one who has no greed is the angel.(54)

The poet's apt diagnosis of imperial malaise and thirst for expansion is complementary to his belief in the wheel of fortune, which routinely brings about the rise and fall of empires. Based on an insightful reading of Firdawsi's Shah-namih, Qaim-maqam's perspective is nevertheless comparable to modern theories of imperialism. But his assessment of circumstances does not end with a rendering of the theory of historical cycles. He draws on the contrast between the enemy's strength and his own country's weakness to emphasize, like other modernizers of his generation, that only by means of self-defense and by building up an army like their European enemies' can the weaker countries resist the territorial ambitions of greater powers.


The credit for creating and maintaining such a defense and the task of improving it goes to no one but the poet's patron, the crown prince Abbas Mirza. The advocatory purpose of the Jalayir-namih comes through clearly when the poet contrasts the military valor of the crown prince with his pleasure-seeking father and his rapacious or lethargic brothers. For thirty years, the poet points out, the prince has fought against the "sea of fire" and created an "iron curtain" (sadd-i ahanin) for the protection of religion.

His blade is the refuge for the kingdom and for the faith, It is a curtain but of iron (yiki saddi-st likan ahanin [ast]....) He has protected the harvests of the faith, From that fire he preserved the manifested religion.(55)

Associating patriotism with the defense of Islam, the poet depicts Abbas Mirza as the champion of the faith who, in stark contrast to other Qajars, has sacrificed his comfort and luxury for the sake of the kingdom. The contrast is one of the most daring criticisms of the Qajar royal family. An unambiguous reference to Fath Ali Shah's preoccupation with the women of his harem is meant to remind the reader of the austerity and devotion of the crown prince:

What does he know, he whose hands are away from the fire, And circled around a moon-faced beloved?(56)

Playing on the Persian expression "holding hands over fire from afar" (dasti az dur bar atash dashtan), Qaim-maqam emphasizes the shah's physical and mental distance from the fire of the war, the same "sea of fire" before which the crown prince stands. He then extends the same criticism to all the powerful sons of the shah, the prince-governors of Iraq Ajam, Khurasan, Gilan, and Fars. Their leisurely activities, drinking and feasting, love for money, for nature and flowers, for opulent palaces and furniture, for expensive clothes and exquisite appearances, and for food and health remedies have left them with little time for war and defense.

The poet's allusion to the two ancient notions of feast (bazm) and fight (razm) as the chief preoccupations of kings and warriors is not accidental. In Qaim-maqam's mind, with the exception of Abbas Mirza's commitment to defense, the balance between the fight and the feast in the Qajar house is dangerously tilted toward the latter. His satirical verse about an unnamed Qajar prince who claims to match Rustam's valor seems to be a rebuke of all Qajar princes:

One of them says: "I will fight (razm) like Rustam," Not in the battlefield, but in the festive assembly (majlis-i bazm).(57)

Yet there is no doubt that in his pointed attack upon the royal family Qaim-maqam is responding to criticism leveled against Abbas Mirza by the crown prince's brothers, and most notably by the prince-governor of Isfahan, Hasan-Ali Mirza Shaja al-Saltana, and his supporter the prince-governor of Fars, Husayn Ali Mirza Farmanfarma. During the latter stages of the war Shaja al-Saltana, reputed to be the "ablest soldier of Persia,"(58) had tried to convince his father that instead of paying a huge war reparation to Russia the shah should appoint him in place of Abbas Mirza as the governor of Azarbaijan to continue the war with Russia, a proposal threatening enough to guarantee Abbas Mirza's grudge against his ambitious brother in the coming years. Though this option was ultimately rejected by the shah, in the months following the conclusion of the Turkamanchay treaty the anti-Abbas Mirza camp escalated its criticism of the crown prince, the treaty, and by implication its chief negotiator, Qaim-maqam. Such misgivings about the conduct of the war on the part of the rival brothers were further animated because of Qaim-maqam's successful effort to seal the future of the heir-apparency. This indeed is the reason for Qaim-maqam's trenchant attack on Shaja al-Saltana and Farmanfarma in every respect but name.

One of them who is in conflict with his cohorts (hamganan) Asserts: "peace is never for me." For the people, he does not wish one tranquil day. Endlessly crisscrossing the empty land, He claims: "I am the best," Neither my might nor my money is less [than others]. One of them is defiant and extremely haughty, As though he is perpetually drunk and intoxicated. He evidently has not seen the seventy-two pound cannons, How they thunder with might and speed. Resting in the shadows of cypress trees, How could he [ever] perceive the Russian war?(59)

Coded references to empty land and the cypress trees (sarv-i azad) were Yazd and Shiraz respectively, the provincial seats of the prince-governors in question. Hasan Ali Mirza's largely futile skirmishes on the Khurasan frontiers against the Afghans, and later his transfer to Yazd and Kirman, where he was unable to put down the revolts of the local khans in the countryside (hence the reference to crisscrossing the empty land), were contrasted with the prince's boastful claims to superiority in military power and resources. The early evidence of Husayn Ali Mirza's claims to succession, on the other hand, was contrasted with his lethargic life-style and the opulence of his surroundings. It is no surprise that soon after Abbas Mirza was assigned to Yazd and Kirman, taking over his brother's seat, he despatched Shaja al-Saltana to the capital as if he were a villain. During the civil war over Fath Ali Shah's succession in 1834, Shaja al-Saltana and Farmanfarma were the foremost opponents of Muhammad Shah. It is no surprise either that in an attempt to consolidate the new shah on the throne, his minister, Qaim-maqam, treated Shaja al-Saltana harshly. He was blinded and kept under house arrest, only to be sent into exile in Ardabil by the order of Hajji Mirza Aqasi, Qaim-maqam's rival and successor. Farmanfarma died in captivity in the capital.(60)

Another young prince, Muhammad Mirza Sayf al-Dawla, son of the shah's favorite wife and the governor of Isfahan, did not escape Qaim-maqam's acerbic blame.
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Author:Amanat, Abbas
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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