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Russia and Iran, 1780-1828

Russia and Iran, 1780-1828

Muriel Atkin
Copyright Date: 1980
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Russia and Iran, 1780-1828
    Book Description:

    Modern Russo-Iranian relations date from the late eighteenth century, when after several centuries of commercial and diplomatic contact, the two nations entered a period of extended warfare for possession of the Caucasian borderlands, disputed territory that eventually fell to Russia. In her history of that struggle, Muriel Atkin reasseses the motives of major figures on both sides and views the Iranians with more sympathy than Western and Russian historians have usually accorded them. Russia embarked on her course in the Caucasus for reasons connected with defense or trade, and with a long-term imperial goal based on uncritical acceptance of prevailing European doctrines of empire. The new dynasty in Iran, on the other hand, had to fend off Russian attack and secure the borderlands in order to justify its basic claim to power. In the end, the wars brought major disruption to the already unstable borderlands, and left Iran with a discredited government and a controversy over reforms and relations with the West that would continue to cause turmoil in subsequent generations._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6122-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  5. Map of Central Asia about 1800
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  6. Map of the Caucasus about 1800
    (pp. xv-2)
  7. I Introduction: The Early Stages of Russo-Iranian Relations
    (pp. 3-7)

    Commercial and diplomatic contact between Iran and modern Russia developed gradually from the second half of the fifteenth century, paralleling the reemergence of a Russian state under Muscovite hegemony. The first major increase in trade occurred during the sixteenth century, following Ivan the Terrible’s conquest of Tatar-ruled Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan (1556), which opened the Volga-Caspian route between Muscovy and Iran. From that time until the latter half of the seventeenth century, Muscovy was a commercial magnet for Western merchants seeking Russian products (especially lumber, flax, and furs) and luxuries from Iran (notably silk and Indian goods available in Iranian...

  8. II The Iranian Empire and the Caucasian Borderlands at the End of the Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 8-21)

    The most salient feature of late eighteenth century Iran was its disunity. No shah ruled unchallenged over all the provinces that had comprised the Safavi domains. After the fall of Esfahan, the Afghans controlled most of the south, center, and east; the Ottomans, the west; and the Russians, part of the Caspian coast. At the same time, Turcoman raids from across the northeastern frontier contributed to the breakdown of order in the eastern and central provinces. Tahmāsb, who had fled north from the capital, proclaimed himself shah and attempted to rebuild the empire. He was abetted in this by the...

  9. III Russian Expansion under Catherine the Great
    (pp. 22-45)

    Russia in the era of Catherine the Great expanded at a prodigious rate. In some ways, this was a unique achievement. No other European state of the late eighteenth century added 200,000 square miles to its territory. Russia was the newest of the major powers, still regarded as a barbaric parvenu by some western Europeans. However, the sheer magnitude of the territorial gains ought not to obscure the fact that Russian expansion was also a very normal process in terms both of the empire’s own historical development and of the diplomatic attitudes of the time. Long before this period, expansion...

  10. IV Russian Policy: Questions and Continuity
    (pp. 46-65)

    Catherine died before she could fulfill her plan to conquer the eastern Caucasus and turn Iran into a puppet state, so her successors, Paul and Alexander, had to decide whether to proceed along that course. Both tsars began their reigns by questioning aspects of Russian policy toward Iran and Caucasian borderlands. Paul accepted the motives for Russia’s involvement there but disagreed with the methods Catherine had employed at the close of her reign. Alexander briefly reexamined his country’s objectives but soon adopted an approach that was as expansionist in its goals and as aggressive in its methods as his grandmother’s...

  11. V Russia’s Conquest of the Eastern Caucasus
    (pp. 66-90)

    Russian historians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have generally characterized their country’s acquisition of the eastern Caucasus as a progressive step that was welcomed by most of the region’s inhabitants. As one author described it, the Russian takeover meant “the liberation of Transcaucasian peoples from a foreign yoke.”¹ In reality, Russia’s attempt to extend its border to the Kura and the Aras met with considerable opposition from local Muslims as well as from Iran. The principal factor in the Russian takeover was force, direct or threatened. After nine years of warfare, Iran recognized Russian sovereignty over most of the...

  12. VI The Origins of the First Russo-Iranian War
    (pp. 91-98)

    The war between Russia and Iran was not caused by Iran’s sending 20,000 men to attack Tsitsianov in 1804, as Foreign Minister Adam Czartoryski directed Russia’s ambassador in Constantinople to tell the Turks.¹ Still less was it the result of British manipulation of Iran for the purpose of expelling Russia from the Caucasus, or Russia’s need to block British or French imperialist expansion in the region or Russia’s need to prevent the Iranian “feudal elite” from seizing control there, as some Soviet writers have alleged.² The first explanation reflects the characteristic inability of Russian officials to understand that people might...

  13. VII The War, 1804 – 1813
    (pp. 99-122)

    The first war between Russia and Iran lasted for nine years, from the unsuccessful Russian campaign against Yerevan in 1804 to the disastrous Iranian losses at Aslānduz and Lankarān in 1812 and 1813. Russia’s victory was not a foregone conclusion. Each side had a number of advantages, as well as some serious disadvantages. Russia did not win the war so much as manage not to lose it. The Caucasian theater was for Russia secondary to the European. However, for Iran, the war was overwhelmingly important. This was modern Iran’s first extensive contact with European Christian powers—not only with Russia...

  14. VIII France and Britain in Iran
    (pp. 123-144)

    The Qājārs’s initial exposure to the British and the French was limited, but positive, and led Fath ‘Ali to seek Western assistance in his war against Russia. Anglo-Iranian contacts centered on the growing trade with the East India Company and the stationing of a company “resident” in the Persian Gulf port of Bushehr (Bushire). In 1799, Richard Wellesley, the governor-general of India, became concerned over the threats posed by the Durrāni Afghans, who had raided Lahore, and by the French, whose troops were in Egypt, from where they might attack India. Therefore, Wellesley sent his resident in Bushehr and, soon...

  15. IX The Consequences of the Struggle for the Eastern Caucasus
    (pp. 145-161)

    There were two obvious results of the military confrontation of Russians, east Caucasians, and Iranians. The first was that Russia acquired most of the disputed territory. This inevitably changed the social, economic, and political structure of the affected principalities. Modern studies have been done on the changes that occurred in Georgia, but little attention has been given to the impact of the Russian takeover on the inhabitants of the khanates. The second result was widespread dissatisfaction with conditions as they stood in 1813. Many Muslims were not reconciled to being part of the Russian Empire. Empire builders were displeased that...

  16. X Conclusions
    (pp. 162-166)

    In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, several different forces disrupted the status quo in Iran and its Caucasian marches. After decades of disunity and internecine warfare, a new dynasty overcame various local rulers to gather many fragments of the Safavi empire under a single centralized authority. This fit into a well-established cycle of empire building and dissolution. A more novel and ultimately more unsettling change was the permanent involvement of Russia in the affairs of this region. The shifting rivalries of the Napoleonic wars were also mirrored in this area, as France and Britain and, to a lesser...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 169-188)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 191-204)
  19. Index
    (pp. 207-216)