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A group of Iranian constitutionalists.


The Persian Constitutional Revolution or Iranian Constitutional Revolution (Persian:مشروطيت , Transliteration: Mashrutiyyat)(also known as the Constitutional Revolution of Iran) took place between 1905 and 1911. The revolution led to the establishment of a parliament in Persiamarker (Iranmarker).

The Iranian Constitutional Revolution was the first event of its kind in Asia. The Revolution opened the way for cataclysmic change in Persiamarker, heralding the modern era. It saw a period of unprecedented debate in a burgeoning press. The revolution created new opportunities and opened up seemingly boundless possibilities for Persia’s future. Many different groups fought to shape the course of the Revolution, and all sections of society were ultimately to be in some way changed by it. The old order, which Nasser-al-Din Shah Qajar had struggled for so long to sustain, finally died, to be replaced by new institutions, new forms of expression, and a new social and political order.

The system of constitutional monarchy created by the decree of Mozzafar-al-Din Shah that was established in Persia as a result of the Revolution ultimately came to an end in 1925 with the dissolution of the Qajar dynasty and the ascension of Reza Shah Pahlavi to the throne.

It should be noted that the movement, however, did not end with the Revolution and was followed by the Constitutionalist movement of Gilan.

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History

Context

Weakness and extravagance continued during the brief reign of Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar(1896-1908). He often relied on his chancellor to manage his decentralized state. His dire financial situation caused him to sign many concessions to foreign powers, on an expanding list of trade items ranging from weapons to tobacco. The established noble classes, religious authorities, and educated elite began to demand a curb on royal authority and the establishment of the rule of law as their concern over foreign, and especially Russian, influence grew.

He had also taken out several major loans from Russia and Britain to pay for his extravagant lifestyle and the costs of the central government. In 1900 the Shah financed a royal tour of Europe by borrowing 22 million rubles from Russia. Iranian customs receipts served as collateral.

[[Image:First Majlis MPs 1.jpg|right|250 px|thumb|Members of the First Majlis
(October 7, 1906June 23, 1908). The central photograph is that of Mortezā Qoli Khan Sani od-Dauleh, the first Chairman of the First Majlis. He had been the Finance Minister for seven months when he was assassinated on 6 February 1911 by two Georgian nationals in Tehran.W. Morgan Shuster, The Strangling of Persia, 3rd printing (T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1913), pp. 48, 119, 179. According to Shuster (p. 48), "Five days later [measured from February 1st] the Persian Minister of Finance, Saniu'd-Dawleh was shot and killed in the streets of Teheran by two Georgians, who also succeeded in wounding four of the Persian police before they were captured. The Russian consular authorities promptly refused to allow these men to be tried by the Persian Government, and took them out of the country under Russian protection, claiming that they would be suitably punished."
See also: Mohammad-Reza Nazari, The retreat by the Parliament in overseeing the financial matters is a retreat of democracy, in Persian, Mardom-Salari, No. 1734, 20 Bahman 1386 AH (9 February 2008), [770114].]]


First protests

In 1905 protests broke out over the collection of Iranian tariffs to pay back the Russian loan for Mozzafar-al-Din Shah's royal tour. In December 1905, two Persian merchants were punished in Tehran for charging exorbitant prices. They were bastinadoed (a humiliating and very painful punishment where the soles of one's feet are caned) in public. An uprising of the merchant class in Tehran ensued, with merchants closing the bazaar. The clergy following suit as a result of the alliance formed in the 1892 Tobacco Rebellion.

The two protesting groups sought sanctuary in a mosque in Tehran, but the government violated this sanctuary and entered the mosque and dispersed the group. This violation of the sanctity of the mosque created an even larger movement which sought refuge in a shrine outside Tehran. On January 12, 1906 the Shah capitulated to the demonstrators agreeing to dismiss his prime minister and to surrender power to a new "house of justice," (the forerunner to the parliament). The Basti - protestors who take sanctuary in mosques - returned from the mosque in triumph riding royal carriages and hailed by jubilant crowd.

In a scuffle in early 1906 the Government killed a seyyed (descendant of the prophet Muhhamed). A more deadly skirmish followed a short time later when Cossaks killed 22 protesters and injured 100. Bazaar again closed and the Ulema went on strike, a large number of them taking sanctuary in the holy city Qom. Many merchants went to the British embassy which agreed to offer protection to Basti in the grounds of their legation.

Creation of the constitution

In the summer of 1906 approximately 12,000 men camped out in the gardens of the British Embassy. Many gave speeches, many more listened, in what has been called a `vast open-air school of political science` studying constitutionalism. It is here that the demand for a parliament was born, the goal of which was to limit the power of the Shah. In August 1906, Mozaffareddin Shah agreed to allow a parliament, and in the fall, the first elections were held. In all, 156 members were elected, with an overwhelming majority coming from Tehran and the merchant class.

October 1906 marked the first meeting of parliament, who immediately gave themselves the right to make a constitution, thereby becoming a Constitutional Assembly. The Shah was getting old and sick, and attending the inauguration of the parliament was one of his last acts as king. Muzaffar ed-Din Shah's son Muhammed Ali, however, was not privy to constitutionalism. Therefore they had to work fast, and by December 31, 1906 the Shah signed the constitution, modeled primarily from the Belgian Constitution. The Shah was from there on "under the rule of law, and the crown became a divine gift given to the Shah by the people." Mozafaredeen Shah died five days later.

Aftermath

Within the decade following the establishment of the new majles a number of critical events took place. Many of these events can be viewed as a continuation of the struggle between the constitutionalists and the Shahs of Persia, many of whom were backed by foreign powers against the majles.

The following January Shah Muhammad Ali, the 6th Qajar shah, came to power. He moved to "exploit the divisions within the ranks of the reformers" and eliminate the Majlis. In August 1907 an Anglo-Russian agreement divided Iran into a Russian zone in the North and a British zone in the South. The British switch their support to Shah, abandoning the Constitutionalists.

In summary (to be expanded):

  • Persia tried to keep free from Russian influence through resistance via the majles to the Shah's policies.
  • Majles brought in Morgan Shuster to reform treasury against initial desires of Russia and the Shah. Russia expelled him.
  • Russian and Bakhtiari troops landed and forced majles to temporarily cease when their plans did not come to fruition.
  • Reza Shah seized power and curtailed the power of the majles. He effectively turned it into a rubber stamp organization.


Notable individuals

Constitutionalists



Monarchists



Religious figures





See also



References

  • Ahmad Kasravi, Tārikh-e Mashruteh-ye Iran (تاریخ مشروطهٔ ایران) (History of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution), in Persian, 951 p. (Negāh Publications, Tehran, 2003), ISBN 9643511383. Note: This book is also available in two volumes, published by Amir Kabir Publications in 1984. Amir Kabir's 1961 edition is in one volume, 934 pages.
  • Ahmad Kasravi, History of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution: Tarikh-e Mashrute-ye Iran, Volume I, translated into English by Evan Siegel, 347 p. (Mazda Publications, Costa Mesa, California, 2006). ISBN 1568591977
  • Mehdi Malekzādeh, Tārikh-e Enqelāb-e Mashrutyyat-e Iran (تاريخ انقلاب مشروطيت ايران) (The History of the Constitutional Revolution of Iran), in 7 volumes, published in 3 volumes, 1697 p. (Sokhan Publications, Tehran, 2004 — 1383 AH). ISBN 964-372-095-0


Further reading

  • Mangol Bayat, Iran’s First Revolution: Shi’ism and the Constitutional Revolution of 1905 – 1909, Studies in Middle Eastern History, 336 p. (Oxford University Press, 1991). ISBN 019506822X
  • Browne, Edward G., "The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909", Mage Publishers (July 1995). ISBN 0-934211-45-0
  • Afary, Janet, " The Iranian Constitutional Revolution, 1906-1911", Columbia University Press. 1996. ISBN 0-231-10351-4
  • Foran, John. "The Strengths and Weaknesses of Iran’s Populist Alliance: A Class Analysis of the Constitutional Revolution of 1905 - 1911", Theory and Society, Vol. 20, No. 6 (Dec 1991), pp. 795–823. JSTOR


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