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Salar al-Dowleh: A Delusional Prince and Wannabe Shah

Published Date: September 3, 2016

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Jun 11, 2018
6.14 x 9.21 inches

About the Book

Salar al-Dowleh, the madcap prince and serial rebel, was a reflection of the unsettled political times during the early 1900s when Iranian society was trying to find its way toward a more democratic society. This is also clear from Salar al-Dowleh’s “career.” He was first courted by the democrats, when they ditched him, he tried to court them but when his nephew was enthroned instead of him, he joined the reactionary forces. As a serial rebel Salar al-Dowleh was a failure, because he did not have a program (apart from killing and plundering) that supporters could believe in. In fact, his rebellions had no other cause than himself. Salar al-Dowleh told each audience what it wanted to hear. He passed himself off as a constitutionalist, a nationalist, an anti-Russian, a pro-Russian, an anti-British, a pro-British, an Islamist, and anything else. He was an uncaring and rapacious governor and a murderous, destructive, plundering rebel, who did not care about the harm and misery he inflicted on his country and his countrymen. After his final ouster from Iran in 1913, driven by financial need, Salar al-Dowleh again tried to play a role in Iranian politics in 1914, 1918, 1924, 1925 and 1926. He was not successful in any of these and was finally exiled by the British to Haifa (1927-1936). When his Iranian pension was stopped, he moved to Alexandria (1936-1959), where he died, a forgotten man. For those interested in Iranian history, the rebellions started by the prince are as important to study as the political debates in the Majles–they both arose from the same unresolved dynastic, political, social, and economic conflicts in Iranian society during that turbulent period.


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introduction ix

a rapacious governor 1

his first rebellion (1904) 5

his second rebellion (1907) 6

flirts with reformers to become heir-apparent 7

refuses to give up governorship of lorestan and rebels 10

plunders the nehavand-hamadan region 13

shah offers his brother life and pardon 14

salar al-dowleh defeated, interned and exiled 18

His Third Rebellion (1910-12) 23

supports the ex-shah’s bid to regain the throne 23

salar al-dowleh takes senneh and kermanshah. 25

salar al-dowleh marches toward tehran 28

makes a bid for the throne himself 35

defeated at bagh-e shah 37

despite defeat local supporters hold the initiative 38

takes kermanshah, again 42

yar mohammad khan expels salar al dowleh 47

salar al-dowleh retakes kermanshah 50

russia and britain urge salar al-dowleh to give up 52

defeats government force despite growing quarrels among his tribal supporters 57

salar al-dowleh defeated; death of yeprim khan 59

freedom fighters in government service partly defect,
partly leave 61

salar al-dowleh retakes kermanshah and loses it again 64

salar al-dowleh and yar mohammad khan try to
retake kermanshah 69

Salar al-Dowleh’s Khorasan and Caspian
Adventure (1912-13)

flees to astarabad and calls on turkmen support 72

defeated at shahrud, seeks turkmen support and
deal with tehran 74

goes on looting spree; endangers deal with tehran 79

salar al-dowleh invades and plunders mazandaran 85

marches to rasht, defeated at tonkabon, flees to kurdistan 88

Movements in Kurdistan and Kermanshah
and Exile (July-September 1913)

Salar al-Dowleh’s Alleged Activities
During WW I

germany accepts the help he offered 105

recalled from khaneqin (february 1915); rumors about
his return 109

A Failed Second Caspian Adventure (end 1918)
and Exile

Salar al-Dowleh and Khuzestan (1924) 119

Incursion From Iraq (mid-1925) 122

intrigue in damascus and financial problems 122

salar al-dowleh goes to kurdistan (april 1925) 127

tries to foment uprising in khuzestan and fails to
reach kermanshah 131

flees, is captured and exiled to syria 133

Last Incursion From Iraq (mid-1926) 137

Preparation and Goes Undetected to Kurdistan (June 1926) 137

marches on senneh and is defeated 139

general belief in iran that salar al-dowleh was
a british stooge 145

salar al dowleh’s capture 149

continued suspicion about british involvement 151

Where to Send Salar al-Dowleh? 153

Residence in Haifa (1926-34) 157

Iran Stops Payment of Salar al-Dowleh’s
Pension (June 1933)

Residence in Alexandria (1936-59) 169

Assessment 172

Appendix I 181

salar al-dowleh’s wives and children 181

Appendix II 183

letters salar al-dowleh to british king and british
minister in tehran (20/06/1920) 183

Appendix III 185

salar al-dowleh’s letter to british consul in kermanshah 26 march 1911 185

Appendix IV 190

petition of the bastis to british consul, kermanshah
26 September 1912 190

Annex V 191

salar al-dowleh’s debts in switzerland, 1925 191

Appendix VI 192

salar al-dowleh’s letter to his wife helen,
3 september 1925 192

Appendix VII 194

extracted from the shafaghi sorkh, 16 august 1926. 194

Appendix VIII 197

report of the contents salar al dowleh’s captured bag,
12 september 1926 197

Appendix IX 199

letter from an egyptian air officer to
salar al-dowleh 20 october 1926 199

Appendix X 203

salar al-dowleh’s letter to his son majid
8 november 1926 203

Annex XI 204

gouverneur-geneneral du district du nord, haifa
3 november 1933 204

Annex XII 207

al-ahram article about salar al-dowleh, 1936 207

Bibliography 209

archives 209

national archives, kew gardens, london, uk 209

british library/india office, london, uk. 210

books and articles 211

Index 216

About the Author

Willem Floor studied development economics and non-western sociology, as well as Persian, Arabic and Islamology from 1963-67 at the University of Utrecht (the Netherlands). He received his doctoral degree from the University of Leiden in 1971. Since 1983, Dr. Floor was employed by the World Bank as an energy specialist, however, after his retirement in 2002, he has dedicated his time to the study of the social and political history of Iran, and has published extensively throughout this time. His books include: Public Health in Qajar Iran,  Agriculture in Qajar Iran, and The History of Theater in Iran, as well as, The Persian Gulf: A Political and Economic History of 5 Port Cities, 1500-1730, its second volume, Persian Gulf: The Rise of the Gulf Arabs, 1747-1792, third volume, The Rise and Fall of Bandar-e Lengeh, the fourth volume, Bandar Abbas: The Natural Gateway of Southeast Iran, and the fifth volume, The Persian Gulf: Links with the Hinterland Bushehr, Borazjan, Kazerun, Banu Ka’b, & Bandar AbbasThe Persian Gulf: The Hula Arabs of The Shibkuh Coast of Iran, and The Persian Gulf: Dutch-Omani Relations A Commercial & Political History 1651-1806and The Persian Gulf: Muscat – City, Society and Trade . He has also published, Travels Through Northern Persia, 1770-1774Titles and Emoluments in Safavid Iran, and A Social History of Sexual Relations in IranLabor and Industry in Iran, 1850-1941Guilds, Merchants and Ulama in 19th Century Iran; The Rise and Fall of Nader Shah; Games Persians Play, and History of Bread in Iran. His translations include: Samuel Gottlieb Gmelin’s Travels Through Northern Persia 1770–1774 , and with Hasan Javadi, Abbas Qoli Aqa Bakikhanov’s The Heavenly Rose-Garden: A History of Shirvan & Daghestan; Evliya Chelebi’s Travels in Iran and the Caucasus, 1647 and 1654; A Man of Two Worlds: Pedros Bedik in Iran, 1670–1675, Awake: A Moslem Woman’s Rare Memoir of Her Life and Partnership with the Editor of Molla Nasreddin, the Most Influential Satirical Journal of the Caucasus and Iran, 1907–1931, and Engelbert Kaempfer: Exotic Attractions in Persia, 1684–1688: Travels & Observations.