Persian Constitutional Revolution

Pax Britannica

Southern Asia 1909.0715

Persian Constitutional Revolution

Pax Britannica (15 July 1909)

Historical Map of South & Southwest Asia

News of the Anglo-Russian agreement provoked unrest in Persia, prompting its pro-Russian Shah to roll back recent reforms and arrest the Majlis (parliament). This only led to more instability, with Tabriz and numerous other cities revolting in 1908. Hoping to intimidate the revolutionaries but unwilling to become directly involved in the civil war, Russia sent in troops to protect European property. Undaunted by the Russians, the revolutionaries took Tehran on July 16, 1909, deposing the Shah the following day.

Notes

British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf

The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintained British India's influence in a number of Gulf states from the 19th Century until 1947. These states were nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman was the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.

Trucial Oman was the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region were often called the Trucial States, and later became the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they had little unity, with no regional council until 1952.

Indian Empire

The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, was comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.

The area under direct British rule was known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.

Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, were the hundreds of protectorates or 'princely states'. These were indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others were either collected into agencies - which might in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fell under the sway of the provinces.

Main Events

Masjed Soleyman oil strike

After years of drilling in southern Persia with no success and on the brink of bankruptcy, William Knox D'Arcy and the Burmah Oil Company strike oil at Masjed Soleyman - the first significant oil strike in the Persian Gulf region.

Persian Constitutional Revolution

Mohammad Ali Shah of Persia declares martial law, imprisoning leaders of the constitutional movement and besieging the Majlis. In the following months, Tabriz and many other major centers rise in revolt; by June 1909 they are marching on Tehran. Despite warnings by Russia and Britain, the Constitutionalists take the capital on July 16, deposing the Shah in favor of his 13 year old son the following day.

Young Turk Revolution

Young Turks revolt at Resina, Macedonia, forcing Sultan Abdul Hamid II to restore the constitution of 1876.

Anglo-Siamese Treaty

The Kingdom of Siam and the United Kingdom signed the Anglo-Siamese Treaty in Bangkok, capital of Siam. Ratifications were exchanged in London on 9 July 1909. By the terms of the treaty, Siam relinquished its claims to Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, and Terengganu, which became British protectorates.

Foundation of Anglo-Persian Oil Company

After their 1908 oil strike at Masjed Soleyman, Persia, the British syndicate Burmah Oil creates the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and sets about building a refinery at Abadan (completed in 1912).

Russian intervention in Persia

Russian troops arrive in Tabriz, which is under the control of Persian Constitutionalists but besieged by forces loyal to the Shah. The Russians lift the siege and restore order in the city, maintaining their policy of avoiding openly taking sides in the civil war while discouraging the rebellion. Further Russian expeditions land at Anzali and march to Qazvin, but fail to deter the Constitutionalists.

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