An Iranian Irredenta

  July 05, 2021   Read time 1 min
An Iranian Irredenta
Fath ‘Ali Shah’s determination to recover Georgia motivated in part his wars with Russia as it did his alliance with Great Britain and France. Iran lost Georgia in the eighteenth century.

This loss was consequent to the assassination of Nadir Shah and the subsequent internal chaos. In the absence of a strong ruler Iran’s control over Georgia became untenable. Prolonged economic oppression and maltreatment had caused much discontent among the Georgian people. These and other factors prompted Heradius, the ruler of Georgia, to free his land upon Nadir’s death. In order to avoid reannexation by Iran, he threw in his lot with Russia in 1783, signing a treaty by which all his ties with Iran were renounced and Russia was declared an ally.

In 1795 Aghä Muhammad, the founder of the Qäjär dynasty, claimed Georgia on the ground that it had “belonged" to Iran. H eradius refused to do homage to him, and Aghä Muhammad overran Erivan, Shisha, and Ganja, captured Tiflis, and massacred G eorgian men, women, and children of all ages. In 1796 Catherine attempted to avenge Aghä Muhammad’s “encroachments" and extend Russia’s control over Georgia, but the news of her death caused the withdrawal of the Russian army. Aghä Muhammad attacked Georgia again and captured the stronghold of Shisha. A rising tide of discontent, however, led to his assassination in 1797.

Fath ‘Ali Shah (1797-1834), Aghä Muhammad’s nephew and successor, continued his predecessor’s irredentist policy. He aimed at Georgia’s complete and unconditional surrender to Iran.' George X II, the Georgian ruler, wished to keep his land out of the control of both Iran and Russia, but the Shah's demand for total control forced him to turn to Russia.

This fitted in most advantageously with Russia’s desire to control all of Transcaucasia. In 1800 George offered his Crown to Paul. A year later Russia officially annexed Georgia. In a manifesto Alexander claimed that the object of Russia’s annexation was not aggrandizement because the annexation was in the interest of "humanity and justice.”

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