A Persian Shah in Europe at the turn of the century

Via Michael Collins Dunn, who always finds cool stuff like this, iroon.com has put together a video of Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, who ruled Iran from 1896 until his death in 1907, based on photos, films, and even an audio recording from the three trips he made to Europe while he was Shah. Dr. Dunn believes these are the first audio and video recordings of a Middle Eastern ruler ever made:

The Qajars were already wearing out their welcome in Persia when Mozaffar ad-Din succeeded his father, Naser al-Din (who was assassinated by a political dissident in 1896 and whose policies caused the Tobacco Protest in 1890 that is generally thought to have birthed modern Iranian nationalism), and Mozaffar ad-Din was handcuffed by massive state deficits that forced Iran to borrow heavily from the predatory European powers. Mozaffar ad-Din’s own lifestyle (his, ah, lavish trips to Europe, for example, or his very expensive desire to bring the newfangled European cinema to Persia basically for his own benefit) didn’t help, though, plus luxuriously touring European capitals probably wasn’t the best image for the ruler of a heavily indebted country to project (I’m sure there was a turn-of-the-century Iranian Dana Milbank griping about Mozaffar ad-Din’s “optics” and whatnot). So it’s not really that surprising that the last year of Mozaffar ad-Din’s life coincided with the beginning of the 1905-1907 Constitutional Revolution that resulted in the creation of a parliament (Majles) and a redefinition of the Persian monarchy as subject to the will of the people rather than divine mandate.


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