The Ottoman Empire and the Qajar Iran.

The Ottoman Empire and the Qajar Iran.

In ancient times, leadership in some regions of the world was in the form of Empires and kingdoms that were ruled by Kings and queens. This was the case with the Ottoman Empire that lasted from 1299-1922. It covered three continents; North Africa, Middle East and Southeastern Europe. The territory comprised of 29 provinces and various states that were later on engrossed into the empire. The Empire disintegrated and was succeeded by the Republic of Turkey in 1923. The Qajar of Iran is also another reign that was established in 1794 – 1925. The rise of Qajar to supremacy was aided by Turkic ethnic forces at the same time using scholarly Persians in their administration.

In my work, I have implored the similarities and differences between the two Empires in relation to their styles of administration, economic development, conflicts and wars, their international relations and the eventual demise of the establishments.

The similarities between Ottoman Empire and qajar Iran can be outlined as below.

The rise to power.

The coming of Ottoman Empire and Qajar Iran to power has some similarities. The circumstances that necessitated the rise of both Empires to reign are related. For example, Ottoman Empire was established after fallout in the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum (circa 1300). This resulted in sovereign states which were called as Ghazi Emirates.the independent states were under the reign of a weak Byzantine Empire, in the long run, Ghazi Emirates was in control of ten provinces of the Byzantine Empire. One of the rulers of Ghazi Emirates was Osman I. The Ottoman Empire was found by Osman I, who is respected even after his death.The Qajar Iran also ascended to power by way of collaborating with the local Turkish tribes after the fall of the Safavid Empire. In 126 years after the fall of the Safavid state and the ascending of Nasir al-Din Shah to  power, the Qajars changed from a shepherd-warrior ethnicity with links in northern Persia into a Persian dynasty with all the of a Perso-Islamic administration.

Administration of the Empires.

Under Nasser-e-Din Shah’s leadership, Western science, technology, and educational techniques were brought into Persia.  This brought in modernization in the country. Nasser ed-Din Shah attempted to take advantage of the common suspicions between Great Britain and Russia to safeguard Persia’s sovereignty, but the meddling by overseas and territorial intrusion increased in his reign. He received grants and loans to finance luxurious trips to Europe. These were part of a policy to put Persia on the map as an autonomous, prehistoric but cultured state.  In 1856, throughout the Anglo-Persian War, Britain prohibited Persia from exercising authority over Herat. The capital had been part of Persia in Safavid times, but it had not been under Persian reign from the mid-18th century. Britain aided the integration of the city into Afghanistan and as the end of war in 1857, it was. In extent, Afghanistan was formed by Britain so as to enlarge eastward the barrier between its Indian territories and Russia’s growing empire. It also increased control to areas of the Persian Gulf in 19th century.

The top rank in Islam, caliphate was claimed by the sultan that it was introduced as ottoman caliphate. The Ottoman sultan, pâdişâh or “lord of kings”, served as the Empire’s only regent and was taken to be the picture of its government, though he did not for all time apply absolute influence. The Imperial Harem was one of the most significant powers of the Ottoman court. It was ruled by the Valide Sultan.  Occasionally, the Valide Sultan would be caught up in state politics. For some time the women of the Harem successfully controlled the state in what was called the “Sultanate of Women”. New sultans were always picked among the sons of the past sultan. The sound educational practice of the palace school aimed towards eliminating the incompetent potential heirs, and creating support within the ruling class for a successor. The palace schools were not a definite track. First, the Madrasa (Ottoman Turkish: Medrese) was chosen for the Muslims, and learned scholars and state officials in line with the traditions of Islam. The financial problem of the Medrese was aided by vakifs, permitting children from poor family backgrounds move to higher social standards and income. The other track was a free boarding school for the Christians, the Enderûn, that recruited 3,000 students annually from Christian boys of eight and twenty years old in one of forty families amid the communities established in Rumelia and the Balkans, a procedure called Devshirmeh (Devşirme).

Conflicts and wars.

Under the reign of Selim and Suleiman, the Empire turned into a major naval force, governing much of the Mediterranean Sea. The exploits of the Ottoman admiral Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, who led the Ottoman Navy under Suleiman’s reign, resulted in a number of military victories over stian navies. Among these were the capture of Tunis and Algeria; the migration of Muslims and Jews from Spain to the protection of Ottoman lands ( Salonica, Cyprus, and Constantinople) during the Spanish Inquisition; and the take over of Nice from the Holy Roman Empire in 1543. This last victory took place on behalf of France as a joint venture between the services of the French king Francis I and those of Barbarossa.France together with the Ottoman Empire, united by common resistance to Habsburg reign in both Southern Europe and Central Europe, resulted in major allies during this period. The coalition was economic and military, and as the sultans allowed France the right of trade in the Empire without collecting of taxation. In essence, the Ottoman Empire was by then a major and acknowledged part of the European political structure, and entered into a military union with France, the Kingdom of England and the Dutch Republic against Habsburg Spain, Italy and Habsburg Austria.

The Ottoman marine dominance was challenged by the developing sea powers of Western Europe, in particular Portugal, in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and the Spice Islands. With the Ottomans blockading sea-lanes to the East and South, the European powers were motivated to discover another way to the ancient silk and spice routes that were under the Ottoman jurisdiction. On land, the Empire was engrossed by military campaigns in Austria and Persia, two broadly alienated theatres of war. The damage of these conflicts on the Empire’s assets, and the logistics of maintaining lines of supply and communication across such immeasurable distances, in the end rendered its sea efforts indefensible and futile. The principal military need for defense on the western and eastern frontiers of the Empire ultimately made valuable long-term commitment on a worldwide scale unbearable.

Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar was killed by Mirza Reza Kermani in 1896. The crown was taken up by his son Mozaffar-e-din. Mozaffar-e-din Shah who was considered sensible and nice, but also not a very efficient leader. Reckless spending and lack of inflows in collections worsened financial problems. The shah urgently used two huge loans from Russia, to a certain extent on trips to Europe. The fury of the public fed on the shah’s inclination for allowing concessions to Europeans in return for charitable payments to him and his officials. People started to insist on curbing the royal authority and the founding of the rule of law as their concern over overseas, especially Russian authority grew.

The failure by Shah to take action on the protests by the religious groupings, the merchants, and other classes resulted in merchants and clerical leaders in January 1906 to obtain refuge from possible arrest in mosques in Tehran and outside the capital.  The shah did not keep on a promise to allow the concern of a “house of justice”, or advice-giving assembly, 10,000 people, led by the merchants, took refuge in June in the compound of the British embassy in Tehran. In August the shah, by means of issuing of a decree promised a constitution. In October an elected assembly gathered and drew up constitution which provided for severe confines on royal power, an elected parliament, or Majlis, with extensive powers to be a symbol of the people, and a government with a cabinet subject to affirmation by the Parliament. The shah assented to the constitution on December 30, 1906, but declined to surrender all of his influence to the Majles, attached a requirement that made his signature on all legislation essential for their endorsement. The Shah died five days later. The Additional Important Laws were accepted in 1907 provided, in limits, the freedom of press, speech, and association, and for guarantee of life and property. The Constitutional Revolution symbolized the end of the medieval era in Persia. The hope for constitutional rule was not realized, nevertheless.

The fall of the empires.

Shah, who was born 21 January 1898 and succeeded to the throne at age 11. However, Persia was under occupation in World War I by Russian, British, and Ottoman armies, it was a setback from which Ahmad Shah did not recover effectively.

In 1921, the commanding officer of the Persian Cossack Brigade, staged a coup d’état, becoming the operative ruler of Iran. In 1923, Ahmad Shah fled into exile in Europe. The commander induced the parliament to topple Ahmed Shah in 1925, and to leave out the Qajar dynasty eternally. He was consequently announced Shah as Reza Shah Pahlavi, ruling from 1925 to 1941.

The fall of the Ottoman Empire is credited to the collapse of its economic arrangement; the size of the Empire produced difficulties in the integration of its various regions.  The Empire’s communication technology was under-developed enough so as to reach all territories.  The conditions surrounding the Ottoman Empire’s fall strongly paralleled ones surrounding the Decline of the Roman Empire, mainly in terms of the unending tensions between the Empire’s tribal groups, and the governments’ incapability to deal with the tensions.


The two forms of leadership had a vision to develop their respective Empires, but along the way the greed for power and manipulations from the affected people contributed either directly or otherwise in the fall of these dynasties.