Qajars (Kadjars) and the Constitutional Revolution of 1906


The subject of the Constitutional Revolution and the role of the Qajars (Kadjars) in it, is an extremely complex one. In a lecture on the subject of constitutional monarchy, I made the following remarks on the subject:

On September of 1906, Mozzafar-ed-Din Shah Qajar (Kadjar) signed the Electoral Law of Persia. Then, on December 30, 1906, a few days before his death, he signed the Fundamental Law of Persia, providing the country with a constitution modeled on the Belgian and French examples. The 33 articles of the Electoral Law and the 51 articles of the Fundamental Law gave the country a bicameral legislature, separation of powers, checks and balances, an executive modeled on the French system but with a monarch as head of state, and guarantees of fair representation and political rights for the people of Persia. This development brought Edward G. Browne, the famous chronicler of the Persian Constitutional Revolution, to proclaim jubilantly:

Does history afford many instances of a nation making such conspicuous advances in public spirit and morality in so short a period as were made by the Persians during the period under discussion? I venture to think that parallels will not easily be found.

And though this early victory for constitutionalism would have its setback in 1908-09, constitutionalism would ultimately remain in Persia until its demise through a British engineered coup in 1925 against the legitimate government of Persia under Soltan Ahmad Shah. A discourse on the reasons for this betrayal of the hopes of the Iranian people would go beyond the framework of this lecture, but is well documented in books on the subject and needs no further elaboration here. Suffice it to say, however, that it is most ironic that Great Britain, a country with such pretensions to democracy, would have been the engineer of the downfall of Iran's constitutional government. The demise of a constitutional monarchy in Iran, and its replacement by an absolute monarchy after the freeing of the democratic energies and aspirations of the people of that country resulted in pent up frustrations that would manifest themselves throughout the reign of the Pahlavis -- as the dynasty would be known that succeeded the Qajars (Kadjars) in 1925. These tensions finally resulted in the abolition of monarchy altogether with the theocratically inspired revolution of 1979, replacing rule by kings with rule by priests for the first time in Iran's twenty five century long monarchic history.

(M.M. Eskandari-Qajar, In Defense of Monarchy in an Age of Democracy, March 25, 1999, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, California. For the full text of the lecture, click here.)

In addition to the ruling family, other members of the larger Qajar (Kadjar) family were also intimately involved in the events of the Constitutional Revolution, on both sides of the "barricades." This story as well as that of the role of three successive Qajar (Kadjar) Shahs: Mozaffar-ed-Din, Mohammad Ali and Soltan Ahmad, still needs to be told more fully and accurately. These pages hopefully will be a good beginning!

For now we would like to point to what is already available on this subject on our site, and also point to some additional sources dealing with this subject, until such time as a fuller and more complete picture of these seminal events becomes available.


Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah

Mohammad Ali Shah

Soltan Ahmad Shah

Prince Mass'ud Mirza Zell-e Soltan (Zill-i Sultan) (Nasser-ed-Din Shah's eldest son)

Prince Kamran Mirza Naye'b-Saltaneh (Nasser-ed-Din Shah's third son)

Prince Malek Mansour Mirza Sho'a' al-Saltaneh (Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah's second son)

Prince Abolfath' Mirza Salar-ed-Dowleh (Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah's third son)

Prince Abdol-Hossein Mirza Farmanfarma

Prince Nossrat-Dowleh Firouz (Farmanfarma's eldest son)

Prince Soleyman Mirza Eskandari

Prince Yahya Mirza Eskandari

Mirza Ali Asghar Khan, Amin-e Soltan, Atabak-e Azam

Abol-Ghasem Khan Gharagozlou, Nasser-ol-Molk

Seyyed Hassan Modaress


1) In Persian:

Abbas Eskandari, Ketab-e Arezou ya Tarikh-e Mofassal-e Mashroutiyat-e Iran, Tehran, 1950?

Ahmad Kasravi, Tarikh-e Mashrouteh-ye Iran, 2 Vols., Amir Kabir, Tehran, 2537 (Imperial date)

Hossein Makki, Mokhtassari az Zendegani-e Siassi-e Soltan Ahmad Shah, Amir Kabir, Tehran, 1362 (solar).

Nasser Najmi, Mohammad Ali Shah va Mashroutiyat, Zaryab, Tehran, 1377 (solar).

Hossein Saadat Nouri, Rejal-e Dowreh-ye Ghadjar, Vahid, Tehran, 1364 (solar).

Seifollah Vahidnia, Dar Zire Tigh, Dastan, Tehran, 1378 (solar).

"Sharaf va Sherafat", A Monthly Paper, 1882-1891 and 1896-1903, Reprint, Imperial Org. for Social Services, Tehran, 1976.

2) In English:

Ervand Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1982.

Janet Afary, The Iranian Constitutional Revolution, 1906-1911. Columbia University Press, New York, 1996.

Ishtiaq Ahmad, Anglo-Persian Relations 1905-1919, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1974.

Hamid Algar, Mirza Malkum Khan, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1973.

Hassan Arfa, Under Five Shahs, John Murray, London, 1964.

Mangol Bayat, Iran's First Revolution: Shi'ism and the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1909, Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 1991.

Edward G. Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians, Century Publishing, London, 1984.

Edward G. Browne, The Persian Revolution 1905-1909, new edition, Mage Publishers, Washington, DC, 1995.

Cosroe Chaqueri, The Soviet Socialist Republic of Iran, 1920-1921, Pittsburg University Press, Pittsburg, 1995.

Cyrus Ghani, Iran and the Rise of Reza Shah: From Qajar Collapse to Pahlavi Power, I.B. Tauris Publishers, London, 1998.

Nikki Keddie, Qajar Iran and the Rise of Reza Khan, 1796-1925, Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, 1999. (For a review by a Qajar (Kadjar) cousin of her new book, click here.)

Philip Mansel, Sultans in Splendor: Monarchs of the Middle East 1869-1945 , The Vendome Press, New York and Paris, 1989.

Abdollah Mostofi, The Administrative and Social History of the Qajar Period [The Story of My Life], 3 Vols., Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, 1997.

Morgan Shuster, The Strangling of Persia, Mage Publishers, Washington, DC, 1987.

Denis Wright, The English Amongst the Persians During the Qajar Period, Heinemann Publishers, London, 1977.

Denis Wright, The Persians Amongst the English, I.B. Tauris and Co. Ltd., London, 1985.


For more, visit this page soon again!



Back to Table of Contents