History of Iran - the 1700s - Nader Shah and Karim Khan
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Iran in the 1700s

Nader Shah
Nader Shah (Iran, 1736-1747)

In 1736 AD, Nader Shah overthrew the last Safavid shah and established the country of Iran, with himself as the Shah (king) of Iran. Like Genghis Khan, Nader Shah was from a Turkish family, and apparently he and his mother were captured as slaves by the Uzbeks when he was a child. Like Genghis Khan, Nader Shah escaped and grew up to become a very energetic and successful general. So he always thought of himself as a second Genghis Khan. Nader Shah fought hard to get back a lot of the land that the Safavids had lost. Nader Shah began his career as a general by pushing out an Afghan invasion and recapturing much of Afghanistan for Iran. Then in 1730, he attacked the Ottomans and got back most of Iraq from them.

In 1738, after capturing Kandahar, Nader Shah was ready to attack the Mughal Empire in India, which was getting too weak to defend itself. The next year, Nader Shah captured Delhi - killing tens of thousands of people - and the Mughal ruler, Mohammed Shah. Nader forced Mohammed Shah to hand over the keys to the Mughal treasury and his famous Peacock Throne. Nader Shah got so much money from India that he didn't collect any taxes in Iran for the next three years.

Karim Khan
Karim Khan

By 1743, with Nader Shah busy winning Pakistan back from the Mughal Empire, the Ottomans were able to coordinate their attacks with the Mughals and get Iraq back again. In 1747, assassins killed Nader Shah.

bust of a man with no beard
Mohammed Khan Qajar

After Nader Shah died, there was a lot of fighting over who should rule Iran. By 1760, the kingdom broke into two pieces, with Karim Khan - a Kurd, and so Turkish like Nader Shah - ruling Iran, while Ahmad Shah Durrani started the country of Afghanistan. Karim Khan was a great ruler, who brought peace and riches to Iran during his reign. He opened up a relationship with Britain, and the East India Company began to trade with Iran. But when Karim Khan died in 1779, there was another civil war. Iran grew poorer, partly because William Pitt in Britain started cotton plantations in Africa that took away business from Iran.

By 1794, all of Karim Khan's kids were dead, and Mohammad started a new dynasty in Iran. He was a eunuch, so he couldn't have any kids of his own. He expanded Iran's power to control Georgia (to the north) and Khorasan (to the east) again, and successfully fought off Catherine the Great's invasion in 1796 (it helped that she died in the middle of it).

Iran in the 1800s
Safavids
Turks
Ottoman Empire
Uzbek Empire
Russia
Mughal Empire
Ch'ing Dynasty China

Bibliography and further reading about Iran:

Iran in the 1800s
More about West Asia
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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