Iranian and Russian Borderlands

This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals


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Immediately after annexing the khanates of Sheki (1819), Shirvan (1820) and Nakhichevan (1828), the Russian administrators of the Caucasus ordered detailed surveys of the number and ethnic composition of the inhabitants of these former Iranian khanates or governorships. The officials in charge of these surveys were also instructed to prepare comprehensive registers of all the revenues collected by each khan's divan (chancery); revenues which would now belong to Russia.

The said "opisanie" or descriptive surveys were later printed and only a handful of these survive--none in the United States or Europe. No such surveys were ordered by the various Iranian governors or rulers; hence, we have no detailed information of how many men and women lived in the various mahals (districts); their professions; how many paid taxes and who was tax-exempt. The various taxes paid by settled and nomadic peoples; the price of commodities, the number and names of the landowners (mukdars), the name of the tuyuldars (landholding in lieu of service) and the divani, or property belonging to the khanate (the khan).

Having published the 1823 Russian survey of Karabagh and the 1828-1832 survey of Yerevan. I am now in the process of completing the three remaining such surveys, which will enable scholars to have a better understanding of the region in the final years of Iranian and the early years of Russian rule.

My paper will discuss some of the major data gleaned from these rare documents.

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This study explores urban violence in Tabriz during the First World War which was mostly triggered by local agents as well as occupation of ottoman as Muslim and anti-Russian state and enduring Russian empire troops in the city. This research investigates the period after the Iranian constitutional revolution, focusing on Tabriz, a major city, the citizens of which were radicalized and espoused anti-absolutist resistance during the revolution. Tabriz underwent socio-political upheaval as well as aggressive imperial Russian military conquest and occupation from 1908 to 1917. Different neighborhoods of Tabriz experienced violence because of the changing socio-political situation. The battle between revolutionaries and the supporters of absolutism and later the occupation by Russian troops was at the root of the violence.
This study attempts to plug two gaps in the scholarship. First, the lack of literature on urban life in Tabriz during the First World War. Second, literature on Russian imperialism which can serve as a comparison with British imperialism. This study attempts to reconstruct this history more thoroughly through the (Ariza)letter of Tabrizi citizens to the parliament for the damage they received during the First World War, as well as through European council records of German , British, Ottomans and the other possible Iranian publish materials that yet to be examined by historians of Tabriz.

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This paper will examine the attempt of the Russian Caspian Flotilla to establish a commercial settlement in the Bay of Astarabad in 1781 and 1782. It will use the invitation of Russian presence by the Qajars and their subsequent expulsion by the Qajars to uncover aspects of the political and economic goals of Agha Mohammad Khan early in his rise to power. These considerations will help to understand the Qajar expansion in a northern and trans-Caspian context, in addition to the narrative of rivalry with the Zands.

The paper will address two major themes relevant to the emergence of Qajar power. First, it will look at the expansion of trade with Russsia during the late eighteenth century. It will start by examining the expanding network of Russian consulates that bound the coastal regions to Astrakhan, but also horizontally to one another. It will treat the expedition not as the beginning of hostilities leading to war in 1804, but as a shift in a longer relationship, with commercial and regional political implications. In this way, I hope to show Agha Mohammad Khan’s interaction with a Caspian diplomatic and economic system.

Second, I will address aspects of Agha Mohammad Khan’s administration and alliances,, as revealed through this incident. Because Qajar forces seized Russian officers while Agha Mohammad was away on campaign, Russian dispatches contain information on the delegation of authority and internal rifts among regional elites. Furthermore, they help to illuminate the nature of the Qajar relationship with neighboring Turkmen tribes to the north and east. This information suggests a more complicated and nuanced picture of Qajar political organization, showing interest in trade and a model of state that predates the incorporation of the southern bureaucracy after the capture of Shiraz.

This paper will rely of narrative of accounts from major Qajar chronicles, especially from the early period. It will give preference to the version in Sāru’i’s history, due to its contemporary composition by a northern author. Additional narratives will come from Mahmud Mirza Qajar’s Tārikh-e Sāhebqerāni and from Lisān al-Mulk’s later work, Nāsekh al-Tavārikh. Additionally, I will use two published Russian-language narratives from naval officers. Furthermore, I will use the Russian commander Voynovich’s reports concerning the mission and consular records from Gilan, which I have studied in archives in Moscow.

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After the incorporation of the Eastern Georgia into the Russian Empire, in 1801 Eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli and Kakheti was abolished. Following the annexation of the Eastern Georgian kingdom, Russia became a direct neighbor of Persia. A new phase had started in the Georgian- Iranian relations. The Georgian political elite, first of all princes from the Bagrationi royal family, were divided. Some supported accession to the Russian empire, while others hoped to regain the country’s independence by using the connections with Persia. Persia, for its part, envisaged regaining control over east Georgia. If this were to happen, Kartli and Kakheti would be granted much greater independence than within the Russian empire, based on the realpolitik of the time.
In the paper are studied activities of Georgian princes who supported Persia during this war – Iulon, Teimuraz, Parnaoz and especially, Alexander.
Fath-ʿAli Shah assisted the Georgian princes in every possible way. He even granted a title of king to Georgian prince Iulon. Georgian princes tried to organize the resistance of Muslim Khans of Caucasian regions, highlanders and the Georgian nobility against the Russian authority. Parnaoz and Iulon, were captured at the beginning of war and sent to Russia. Teimuraz fled to Persia. He remained in Persia from 1803 to 1810. Teimuraz was in direct contact with representatives of the French military mission, and was appointed commander of the artillery branch of the Azeri regular army. However, he later fled from Persia and defected to Russia. He settled in St. Petersburg and attained great success in scientific activities. Alexander became a leader of Georgia’s pro-independence resistance and didn’t give up fighting until his death. Shah gave him the title of the “Vāli of Gorjestān”. Alexander died in Iran in 1844.
Under the Golestān Treaty signed after the 1804-1813 Russo-Persian war, Persia surrendered its claims to Kartli and Kakheti, and this signaled an end of Persia’s interference with political affairs of Georgia. After the next war, 1826-28, Persia conceded Russia’s sovereignty over Georgia yet again under the Turkmenchai Treaty. It is worth noting that during the second Russo-Persian absolute majority of the Georgian nobility already supported Russia and participated in the war on the Russian side.