The Parthians emerged around 238 b.c. as a coalition of tribes in eastern Iran led by a king named Arsaces (hence the dynasty is also referred to as the Arsacids). They moved into western Iran during the reign of their king, Mithridates I (171–138 b.c. ). Their empire lasted longer than any other Iranian empire, […]

The basic features of the religion of Islam are well known, and as they are common to Muslims in a variety of countries around the world as well as to those in Iran, they need only be summarized briefly here. The two absolutely essential doctrines of Islam, on which all others are based, are encapsulated […]

To some degree, Mohammad-Rezâ Shah’s failings were masked by the progressive nature of some of his reforms (improving the status of women, for example) and by the undeniable explosion of wealth brought about by the oil boom. Under the surface, however, there was growing opposition on both the Marxist left and the religious right of […]

On February 21, 1921, Rezâ Khân, backed by the Cossack Brigade, staged a coup d’etat. He occupied Tehran, declared martial law, and installed a pro-British politician, Sayyid Ziâ-od-Din Tabâtabâi as prime minister. Rezâ Khân became commander of the army and minister of war. Tabâtabâi proved to be a disaster as prime minister. He made enemies […]

In 1906, popular protests which had begun over the treatment of some merchants by the governor of Tehran grew in size until a group of several thousand merchants, artisans, religious leaders, students, and intellectuals took refuge (a customary right to sanctuary known as bast ) on the grounds of the British legation, where they began […]

The early Qâjâr rulers saw themselves as the heirs to the Safavid legacy, in much the same way as the Safavids served as heirs to the Timurids. Left to themselves, they would probably have sought to re-create that heritage as much as possible, both territorially and culturally. Âghâ Mohammad Shah had demanded the cession of […]

The Turko-Mongol rulers of Iran generally derived their power from tribal confederations that were notoriously fractious and undisciplined. Their principalities also tended to be patrimonial in nature; that is, territories and resources were shared among members of the ruling family and their retainers, with the head of the family as at least a nominal overlord. […]

At least at the political level, the Iranian revival was cut short by the arrivalof the Turks. The Turkish nomads of central Asia, identified in the popularmind with the Turanians of the national history, had been a threat on Iran’snortheastern frontier for several centuries but had been decisively defeatedby the Samanids in a.d. 893. Many […]

The decline in Sasanid power following the deposition of Khosrow II was dramatic and caused by many factors, ranging from the financial and military exhaustion that resulted from the wars with Byzantium to bloody disputes over the succession to the throne to continuing popular unrest. Just when it appeared stability might be restored with the […]

The preceding summary reflects the way pre-Islamic Iranian history has been understood by modern and non-Iranian historians. In Iran itself after the Sasanid period, historical memory of the Achaemenids was almost totally lost, that of the Parthians largely forgotten, and only that of the Sasanids preserved in recognizable form until fairly recently. Instead, most Iranians […]


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