Agha Muhammad Khan

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Agha Muhammad Khan (1742 - June 17, 1797) was the chief of a Turkic tribe, the Qajars. He became ruler of Persia in 1794 and established the Qajar dynasty.

Born in 1742, he was castrated by family enemies at the age of five. Despite being a eunuch, he became the chief of his tribe in 1758. In 1762 he was captured by a rival tribe and send to Shiraz as a prisoner. Agha Muhammad spent the next 16 years as a hostage, until he escaped in 1779. In 1779 the death of Karim Khan, the long-serving shah of Persia, plunged the country into a series of civil wars and disputes over the succession, with five members of the Zand dynasty acceding to the Peacock Throne in the space of only ten years. Agha Muhammad took the opportunity to launch a rebellion which, in 1794, succeeded in capturing Lotf Ali Khan, the last Zand ruler. Two years later he proclaimed himself Shahanshah (King of Kings).

In 1796 he conquest Georgia, a Christian Kingdom. In the same year he also captured Khorasan. Shah Rukh, ruler of Khorasan and grandson of Nadir Shah, was tortured to death because Agha Muhammad thought that he knew of Nadir's legendary treasures.

Agha Muhammad was the first Persian ruler to make Tehran, then only a village, his capital. He successfully expanded Persian influence into the Caucasus, reasserting Iranian sovereignty over its former territories in the region. He was, however, a notoriously cruel ruler and was assassinated in 1797 after only a year in power. He was succeeded by his nephew, Fath Ali Shah Qajar.


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