| National motto: 𐬁𐬰𐬁𐬛𐬍 𐬨𐬀𐬥𐬰𐬈𐬮𐬀𐬙 𐬨𐬀𐬰𐬛𐬀𐬫𐬀𐬯𐬥𐬁|
Āzādī, Manzelat, Mazdayasnā
|Other||Kurdish, Pastun, Arabic, Assyrian|
|Important Cities||Shirāz, Ghom|
|Head of State||the Shāhānshāh, Mehrasp IV Aryamehr|
|Head of the National Church||the Mobad Mobadan, Parastar VI|
|Currency||1 toman = 10 krans = 200 shahis = 10000 dinars|
|International Organizations||COPEN, LoN, MEA|
Persia is a Middle Eastern country located in Southwest Asia. Although locally known as 'Iran', at least since the Sassanian period, the country is referred to in the West as Persia. The name Iran is derived from Airyāna Vaēja meaning "Land of the Aryans."
Persia is a constitutional monarchy, with a unique and complex political system, comprising three distinct parts- the Supreme Triumvirate, the Gurūza and the Assembly of Experts.
While supreme authority is theoretically vested in the Shāhānshāh, in practise executive power is exercised by the Supreme Triumvirate, which is comprised of the Shāhānshāh, the Mobedhan Mobed and the President of the Gurūza.
The Gurūza is the unicameral parliament which functions as the legislative arm of Persian government. It consists of 290 members elected to a four-year term. The members are elected by direct and secret ballot. It drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties, approves the country's budget, and can veto decisions of the Supreme Triumvirate.
The Assembly of Experts is a body of 86 clerics, judges and "virtuous citizens", appointed by the Gurūza and the Supreme Triumvirate which scrutinises legislation proposed by both and has power of veto over their resolutions.
Persia is divided into 28 provinces, which are governed from a local center, mostly the largest local city. Provincial authority is headed by a governor (ostāndār), who is installed by the Minister of Interior subject to approval of the cabinet.
Until the beginning of the seventh century, it's safe to assume that Persian history *there* was much like Persian history *here*.
Khosrau II and Heraclius
The beginnings of the seventh century saw the Byzantine and Persian Empires at war, a war which was begun by Shāhānshāh Khosrau II in response to the Byzantine Emperor Maurice's assassination by Phocas. In 613, Khosrau's general Shahrbaraz captured Jerusalem and carried off the True Cross. The Persians slowly gained the upper hand in Mesopotamia over the course of Phocas's reign; when the revolt of Heraclius resulted in Byzantine civil war, the Persians took advantage of the internal conflict to advance deep into Syria.
Shahrbaraz made overtures to Heraclius offering the return of the True Cross in return for peace and support while he rebelled against Khosrau. Heraclius feigned to play along, but approached Khosrau, notifying him in return for a lasting peace. Shahrbaraz's rebellion failed and peace was established, averting further conflict between Byzantium and Persia.
The First Islamic Invasion
Under Muhammad's successor Abu Bakr, the first caliph, the Muslims first re-established their control over Arabia (the Ridda Wars) and then launched campaigns against the remaining Arabs of Syria and Palestine, attempting to unite all Arabs in the Dar al-Islam.
However, this put the nascent Islamic empire on a collision course with the Byzantine and Sassanid empires, which had been disputing these very territories for centuries. At first the Muslims merely attempted to consolidate their rule over the fringes of the desert and the Lakhmid Arabs. However, the wars soon became a matter of conquest, rather than mere consolidation of the Arab tribes.
The Persian-Arab war began properly in 633, with the fall of the border town of Hira to the Muslims. Under Yazdegerd III, Khosrau's grandson, the Persians mounted a counterattack. Initially the campaign seemed to favour the Persians, as they won a major victory at the Battle of the Bridge in October 634. However, after a decisive Muslim victory against the Byzantines, in Syria at the Battle of Yarmuk in 636, the second caliph, Umar, was able to transfer forces to the east and resume the offensive against the Sassanians.
The battle of Kadisiya
In the spring of 637, Rostam, a regent for Yazdegerd III, led an army said to number 100,000 men across the Euphrates River to Kadisiya, near the present-day city of Al Hillah in Iraaq. Umar dispatched 30,000 Arabian cavalrymen under the command of Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas to counter the Persian threat. The Battle of Kadisiya ensued, taking place over three days.
The fortunes of war at first seemed to favor the Persians, as their war elephants terrified the horses of the Arab cavalry. Then Arab veterans of the wars against the Romans suggested to Sa'ad that he counter the elephants with arrows and javelins. The wounded elephants fled, trampling their way through the Persian troops, and the Arab cavalry exploited the holes thereby opened in the Persian ranks. By the end of the third day, the Persians forces were crumbling. The Persian general, Rostam, tried to flee by swimming a canal, but he was caught and beheaded. The Muslims are said to have lost only 7,500 men in the battle, while the Persian losses were enormous. The Arabs captured the Derafsh Kaviani, the sacred jeweled banner of Persia.
The loss of Mesopotamia
Sa'ad crossed the Euphrates in pursuit of the remaining Persian forces. Yazdegerd sent envoys begging for peace, and offering to yield all territory west of the Tigris River. The Arabs refused to deal. Yezdegerd III fled his capital, Ctesiphon, but Muslim forces sacked and destroyed it.
Yazdegerd and his remaining troops fled northeast, toward the Iranian plateau. They made numerous attempts to recruit more troops and halt the invaders. They were defeated at Jaloula, Qasr-e Shirin, and Masabadhan. By the mid-7th century, the Arabs controlled all of Mesopotamia, including the area that is now the Iranian province of Khuzestan.
However, the caliph Umar did not wish to send his troops through the Zagros mountains and onto the Iranian plateau. One tradition has it that he wished for a "wall of fire" to keep the Arabs and Persians apart. Later commentators explain this as a common-sense precaution against over-extension of his forces. The Arabs had only recently conquered large territories that still had to be garrisoned and administered. However, border skirmishes and unrest in the former Persian provinces in Mesopotamia continued unabated while Persia licked its wounds and rebuilt its armies.
After Yadzegerd's death in 651, his son Pirdōz ascended the throne and cemented the peace with the Muslims by offering his sister Shahrbanu to Mohammed's grandson in marriage. This peace with the Muslims would hold for nearly a hundred years, until the end of the Umayyad dynasty.
The Second Islamic Invasion
The overthrow of the Umayyad dynasty by the hardline Abbasid clan in 750 marked the renewal of hostilities between Persia and the Caliphate. After a truce with Byzantium brought peace in Syria and the west, Abbasid raiding parties passed over the Zagros mountains separating Mesopotamia and the Iranian plateau, raiding, looting, and beating down all resistance.
Yazdegerd IV, the Sassanid king, continued to resist the invaders. By 761 he had raised a new force, which took a stand at Nihavand, some forty miles south of Hamadan. The Abbasid cavalry attacked and again defeated the Persian forces. Yazdegerd was unable to raise another army and became a hunted fugitive. He fled from one district to another until at last he was discovered and killed at Merv in 762.
Yazdegerd's heir, Mehrdād, and his allies fled to the city of Shirāz, in the Zagros Mountains. Here they managed to defend themselves against the Muslim invaders, carrying on a guerilla war against the conquerors.
Abbasid Rule and The Mongol Invasion
As under Umar and his immediate successors, the Abbasid conquerors attempted to maintain their political and cultural cohesion despite the attractions of the civilizations they had conquered. The Arabs were to settle in the garrison towns rather than on scattered estates. They were not to marry non-Arabs, or learn their language, or read their literature. The new non-Muslim subjects, or dhimmi, were to pay a special tax, the jizya, and be subject to various restrictions of occupation, worship, and dress. Mass conversions were neither desired nor allowed.
Muhammad had made it clear that the "People of the Book", Jews and Christians, were to be tolerated so long as they submitted to Muslim rule. It was at first unclear as to whether or not the Sassanid state religion, Zoroastrianism, was entitled to the same tolerance. Some Arab commanders destroyed Zoroastrian shrines and prohibited Zoroastrian worship; others tolerated the native Iranian beliefs. After some dispute, Zoroastrians were accepted as People of the Book. Some authorities identified them as the mysterious Sabeans mentioned in the Qur'an and thus entitled to tolerance.
The Caliphate used Persia as a staging post for their expansions into Afghanistan and India (also enslaving many Turkic peoples and taking them back to Baghdad to serve as cavalry troops) but did not attempt to convert the majority of the populace, preferring to keep them as People of the Book (dhimmi). For some three centuries, a Zoroastrian populace sullenly submitted to Muslim rule. However, with the extinction of the Zoroastrian élite, much of the Zoroastrian scripture and learning was lost during Abbasid and later Muslim rule.
Muslim rule came to an end in 1219, when Mongol armies led by Genghis Khan's Manichaean son Ögedei overthrew the Khwarezmids, who had succeeded the Abbasids. Manichaean Mongols overran Persia, with major fighting between remnants of Islamic forces in Persia and and the Mongols. To Tolui's followers, Islam was an abomination- as Mani was the last prophet to them, Muhammed was ipso facto a false prophet. However, to the Zoroastrian Persians, Manicheanism was a heretical aberration worse than Islam, which resulted in an upsurgence of Zoroastrian feeling.
At this point, the twin brothers Mehrdād and Narseh, descendants of Yadzegerd IV's heir, came to power in Shirāz, Mehrdād as Mobadān Mobad and his brother Narseh by virtue of being older declared himself Shāhānshāh. Both had no small amount of military genius and the Zoroastrian majority rallied to them, driving out both Muslims and Mongols. While one more Mongol incursion would occur under Genghis's Assyrian Christian grandson Hülagü Khan, it ultimately failed to have much effect on Persia itself aside from driving much of the remaining Muslim forces out of Persia, as well as precluding any Islamic attempts to take the country back by destroying the Abbasid centre of power in Baghdad.
The Rise of the Mobadān Mobad
The head of the Zoroastrian faith was the Mobadān Mobad, the Priest of Priests, an office which slowly increased in power at the expense of the Shāhānshāh.
Persia slowly became a feudal theocracy: there was no separation of religion and state; the Shāhānshāh was held to be divinely ordained head of both, while the Mobadān Mobad weilded the real power. Priests were assigned the position of fārmāndār, offices in charge of the provincial administrative. Eventually the Narsid dynasty had only indirect control over the provinces, and throughout the sixteenth century the priestly hierarchy solidified their dominion over the provinces and vied with the shah for power.
The priest-administrators were vital to the function of the Persian state and during the reigns of the weaker shahs, the priest-governors were able to elbow more influence and participate in court intrigues (assassinating Shah Hormizd VI for example). However, the power of the priesthood was checked by Shah Kavadh V's conversion of the Empire's military to a ghulam system.
The Fall of the Narsids
In addition to fighting its perennial enemies, the Ottomans and Uzbeks, as the 17th century progressed Persia had to contend with the rise of two more neighbors. Russian Muscovy in the previous century had deposed two western Asian Khanates of the Golden Horde and expanded its influence into the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia. In the east, the Mughal dynasty of India had expanded into Afghan lands at the expense of Persian control, taking Kandahar and Herat.
Furthermore by the 17th century, trade routes between East and West had shifted away from Iran, causing a loss of commerce and trade. Moreover, Shah Kavadh V's conversion to a ghulam-based military, though expedient in the short term, had, over the course of a century, weakened the country's strength by requiring heavy taxation and control over the provinces.
Except for Vestasp II, the Narsid rulers after Kavadh V were ineffectual. The end of his reign, 1666, marked the beginning of the end of the Narsid dynasty. Despite falling revenues and military threats, later shahs had lavish lifestyles. Khosrau X is said to have spent eight years straight in his harem; Shah Bistam III drank without end. The shahs imposed heavy taxes that discouraged investment and encouraged corruption among officials.
The country was repeatedly raided on its frontiers — Kerman by Baluchi tribesmen in 1698, Khorasan by Afghans in 1717, constantly in Mesopotamia by peninsula Arabs. Shah Bistam III tried to forcibly convert his Afghan subjects in eastern Persia from Islam to Zoroastrianism. In response, a Ghilzai Pashtun chieftain named Mir Wais Āghā began a rebellion against the Georgian governor, Gorgin Āghā, of Kandahar and defeated a Narsid army. Later, in 1722 an Afghan army led by Mir Wais' son Mahmud marched across eastern Iran, besieged, and sacked Isfahan and proclaimed Mahmud 'Shah' of Persia.
The Afghans rode roughshod over their conquered territory for a dozen years but were prevented from making further gains by Nadir Shah , a former slave who had risen to military leadership within the Afshar Turkoman tribe in Khorasan, a vassal state of the Narsids. He wrestled back control over Persia from the Afghans, and proceeded to go on an ambitious military spree, conquering as far east as Delhi but not fortifying his Persian base and exhausting his army's strength. He had effective control under Shah Tahmasp II and then ruled as regent of the infant Ardashir VI until 1736 when he had himself crowned shah.
Immediately after Nadir Shah's assassination in 1747, the Narsids were re-appointed as shahs of Iran in order to lend legitimacy to the nascent Zand dynasty. However the brief puppet regime of Tahmasp III ended in 1760 when Karim Āghā felt strong enough take nominal power of the country as well and officially end the Narsid dynasty.
The Zand Dynasty
The dynasty was formed by Karim Āghā, chief of the Zand tribe of Lurs who had previously been moved by Nadir Shah to eastern Persia, but had returned after the death of the latter. Karim Āghā and Alimardan Āghā Bakhtiari took control of central Persia following the unrest that arose from the assassination of Nadir Shah. They both chose a minor prince of the Narsid Dynasty as their puppet ruler and named him Tahmasp III. Karim Āghā chose to be the military commander and Ardosht Āghā was the civil administrator. Soon enough Karim Āghā managed to eliminate his partner as well as the puppet king and in 1760, founded his own dynasty, the Zand. He refused to accept the title of the king and instead named himself Vakilol Ro'aya- The Advocate of the People.
Karim Āghā was a compassionate and very able ruler who soon managed to bring peace and prosperity into his area of control and made his capital city of Shiraz a centre of commerce and culture. His foreign campaigns against Azad Āghā in Azerbaijan and against the Ottomans in Mesopotamia brought Azerbaijan and the province of Basra into his control. He left Shah Rukh, a grandson of Nadir Shah, as the autonomous ruler of Khorasan out of respect. But he never stopped his campaigns against his arch-enemey, Mohammad Hassan Āghā Qajar, the chief of the Muslim Ghoyounlou Qajars. The latter was finally defeated by Karim Āghā and his sons, Agha Mohammad Āghā and Hosseingholi Āghā, were brought to Shiraz as hostages.
Karim Āghā's death in 1779 left his territory vulnerable to threats from his enemies and soon enough, the country was under attack from all sides. Biggest enemies of the Zands, the Qajar chiefs lead by the former hostage, Agha Mohammad Āghā, were advancing fast against the declining kingdom. Finally, in 1789, Lotf Ali Āghā, a grand-nephew of Karim Āghā, declared himself the new king. His reign (until 1794) was spent mostly in war with the Qajar Āghā. He was finally captured and brutally killed in the fortress of Bam, putting an effective end to the Zand Dynasty, and bringing a Muslim to the Persian throne for the first time since the rule of the Abbasids.
The Qajar Dynasty
The dynasty was founded in 1781 by Agha Muhammad Khān, of Iranian Turk origin, He defeated the last ruler of the Zand dynasty in 1796 but was himself assassinated only a year later. During the Qajar period Persia fell under the economic sway of European empires with the British and Russian Empires each creating a sphere of influence in Persia. Under the rule of Fath Ali Shah, Persia was forced to cede its northern part of Azerbaijan and lesser Caucasia to Russia, while the British later took effective control of the south with its rich oil deposits.
The Qajar Shahs made several attempts at modernization during the 19th century and the start of the 20th century, with a constitution and parliament being established in 1906. This was a controversial development; Mohammad Ali Shah was deposed in 1909 for attacking the constitution established under his predecessor.
The Qajars, being Muslims, were wildly unpopular amongst most Persians. Civil unrest was widespread throughout their rule, incited particularly by the deposed Mobadān Mobad.
In 1917 British troops invaded Russia from Persia in a bid to oppose the Russian Revolution. During this "war of intervention" a Persian military officer, Reza Mehrpanj, staged a coup d'état with support from both the British and the Mobadān Mobad, which reduced the last Qajar ruler, Ahmad Shah, to figurehead status. Mehrpanj deposed the Shah in 1925, declaring himself the new Shah and establishing his own dynasty. Mehrpanj established a multicameral parliament and embarked on a series of modernisation programmes. Mehrpanj was succeded by his son Aryamehr I in 1944, who initially continued his father's modernisation schemes.
Mehrpanj had ambitious plans for modernizing Persia, which included developing large-scale industries, implementing major infrastructure projects, building a cross-country railroad system, establishing a national public education system, reforming the judiciary, and improving health care. He believed a strong, centralized government managed by educated personnel could carry out his plans.
He sent hundreds of Persians including his son to Europe for training. During 16 years from 1925 and 1941, Mehrpanj's numerous development projects transformed Persia into an urbanized country. Public education progressed rapidly, and new social classes were formed. A professional middle class and an industrial working class had emerged, funded by the nationalisation of Persia's oil industry. Mehrpanj was a canny ruler and maintained Persia's neutrality throughout the Great War, which enabled the country to profit during the war by selling oil and armaments to both sides and after the war by offering large loans for the post-war reconstruction effort in Europe.
Largely, Mehrpanj's reforms and modernisation programmes were successful- Persia became the major power in the region- however his dictatorial style of rule caused dissatisfaction among some groups, particularly the clergy who were opposed to his reforms. In addition, his nationalisation of the oil industry angered the Federated Kingdoms, who had initially supported Mehrpanj, and led them to begin seeking opposition groups inside Persia who would perhaps prove more favorable to British rule.
The Crisis of 1943
The early months of 1943 were marked by a series of public protests by an unlikely alliance of pro-democracy and pro-clergy supporters, in protest at the Shāhānshāh's increasingly dictatorial policies. Mehrpanj frequently responded to these protests with violence, culminating in the Shirāz Massacre of July 1943, in which five thousand peaceful protestors were killed in the city of Shirāz.
Leaders of the Persian military, sickened by the massacre of their countrymen and encouraged by the Mobadān Mobad, presented Mehrpanj with an ultimatum, either abdicate or face a coup d'état. Cowed, Mehrpanj abdicated in favour of his son Aryamehr in December of 1943.
The leading army officers who had deposed Mehrpanj held an informal meeting in January 1944, in which they choose General Mossaddegh as chief of the State Government. Thus Mossaddegh became the leader of both the traditionalist faction and the state, with unlimited and absolute military and political powers. The first measures taken by this provisional government were the prohibition of all political parties and syndicates, the creation of a sole legal party called Hampeymāni Pārsi- Persian Union, the abolishment of the rights of strike, free speech and reducing the power of the Shāhānshāh to that of a figurehead.
In contrast to Mehrpanj's progressive rule, Mossaddegh's rule was highly traditionalist. The state administration was filled up by military officers during this period, and 76% of towns had military mayors. Hampeymāni embarked on a programme to cleanse all liberals, socialists, anarchists, republicans and communists from the map, so all opposition to the regime was dealt with harshly by executions and imprisonments. Zoroastrian propaganda caused Persia to become a deeply conservative and isolationist country.
The economy of Persia during these years was disastrous. Hampeymāni had attempted to introduce an autarchic economy cutting imports, and organizing production and commercialization of several first order goods, even introducing rationing cards. This caused the economy to halt, industrial production to diminish due to lack of raw materials, and massive inflation. The Federated Kingdoms, soon realizing that Mossaddegh had no plans to privatise the oil industry or even give concessions to the British, quickly withdrew their economic support, only further compounding Persia's economic problems.
The White Revolution
In the early 1960's, the Persian economy was on the brink of total collapse. Following Mossaddegh's death, Aryamehr seized power with the aid of the Persian parliament, the Gurūza and drafted a new constitution, which shared power equally between the Mobadān Mobad, the Gurūza and the Shāhānshāh. The first priority of the new regime was salvaging Persia's tottering economy, which led to the Gardandagī Saped- the White Revolution of 1963.
The White Revolution was a non-violent regeneration of Persian society through economic and social reforms, with the ultimate long-term aim of transforming Persian into a global economic and industrial power. The government introduced novel economic concepts such as profit-sharing for industrial workers and initiated massive government-financed heavy industry projects, as well as the nationalization of forests and pastureland. Most important, however, were the land reform programs which saw the traditional landed elites of Persia lose much of their influence and power. Nearly 90% of Persian share-croppers became land owners as a result. Socially, the platform granted women more rights and poured money into education, especially in the rural areas. The Literacy Corps was also established, which allowed young men to fulfill their compulsory military service by working as village literacy teachers.
The revolution was successful- repairing the damage done by the Mossaddegh regime and restoring Persia to her position as a major power in the Middle East.
The Persia-Iraaq War
See main article: Persia-Iraaq War
Persia's landscape is dominated by rugged mountain ranges that separate various basins or plateaus from one another. The populous western part is the most mountainous, with ranges such as the Zagros and Alborz Mountains, the latter of which also contains Iran's highest point, the Damavand at 5,671 m (18,606 ft). The eastern half consists mostly of uninhabited desert basins with the occasional salt lake.
The only large plains are found along the coast of the Caspian Sea and at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, where Iran borders on the mouth of the Arvand river (Shatt al-Arab). Smaller, discontinuous plains are found along the remaining coast of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman. The Persian climate is mostly arid or semiarid, though subtropical along the Caspian coast
Persia's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and private trading and service ventures, combining to make the nation an economic powerhouse rivalling its western counterparts.
Persia is also a founder member of COPEN, the Community of Petrol-Exporting Nations.
Persian culture is justly famous throughout the world, as the nation's contributions in the fields of science, architecture, literature and music have not been insignificant. Particularly noteworthy in modern times is the cinema of Persia.
Persia currently uses a dual-calendar system, using the Gregorian calendar for purposes of interaction with the outside world and the Khayyami modification of the traditional Zoroastrian calendar. Years are numbered from 559 BCE, the year Kourosh Bozorg (Cyrus the Great) ascended the throne, thus 2005 CE is Year 2564. Traditionally, however, years have been numbered by dynasty, and still many people refer to 2005 CE as Year 80 of the Aryamehri dynasty.
The official language of Persia is Pārsi-yi Dari, or Court Persian, which is a standard language based on the dialect of Tehrān. Also spoken are several closely related languages- Yazdi, Gilaki, Mazarōni, Lori, Talishi, Kurdish and Balochi, which have varing degrees of official recognition. There are substantial Arabic-speaking minorities along the border with Iraaq. Also notable is Dzhidi, a Judeo-Persian language used by Persia's Jewish community. Bâzrâmani is a Romance language spoken by the Râmani-ha people, the descendants of Vulgar Latin speakers settled in Syria carted off to Mesopotamia by the Sassanids and then resettled farther east once more by the Abbasids in the 700's, with Christian Arab exiles, Christian Mongol occupiers, and Georgian, Circassian, and Armenian refugees intermarrying with them as well.
According to the 2017 statistics published by the Shah's office, the percentage of Iranian Zoroastrians has decreased while the rates of all other minorities have increased. This can be explained by a lower birth rate among Persian women and a higher rate of emigration for the more wealthy, upwardly-mobile majority. The state, as a quasi-theocracy, does not collect statistics on the irreligious, but according to a highly-confidential Eurobarometer poll sponsored by the European Federation, religious attendance is quite low amongst Zoroastrians, hovering at around 17.5% for weekly services. Minorities have much higher rates of church attendance, with the average amongst all denominations of Christianity being about 68.2% attending church at least once a week every Sunday.
- Zoroastrianism (73%): 57,294,448
- Christianity (14%): 10,987,976
- Oriental Orthodox (7.84%): 6,151,268
- Syriac (Assyrian) (4.75%): 3,730,888
- Armenian (3.09%): 2,420,380
- Assyrian Church of the East (4.5%): 3,530,250
- Eastern Orthodox (1.51%): 1,184,560
- Catholic (.14%): 106,900
- Latin Rite: 85,520
- Armenian Rite 21,380
- Oriental Orthodox (7.84%): 6,151,268
- Protestant (.01%): 15,000
- Evangelical Lutheran Church mission, Evangelic Church of Kemr mission, Presbyterians, Baptists
- Manichaeism (5.6%): 4,395,190
- Judaism (2.31%): 1,813,016
- Mandaeism (2.21%): 1,733,316
- Yarsanism (2.11%): 1,656,612
- Islam (.77%): 604,341
- Shia: 402,894
- Sunni: 201,447