history of Iran

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The history of Iran encompasses the developments on the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran and historical Iranian empires from prehistory to the present. The name Iran derives from Old Persian Būm-ī aryānam (= 'land of the Aryans ') (see Iranian languages ). The East Iranian equivalent is Aryana . The term "Iran" properly refers to a much larger region encompassing the territories of the modern states of Afghanistan , Tajikistan , Iraq , Azerbaijan , Uzbekistan , Turkmenistanand includes parts of Pakistan and Turkey (see Iranian Highlands ). Thus, much of this article on the history of Iran includes the history of those states and regions. The history of the modern nation-state of Iran begins with the founding of the Safavid Empire around 1501. The Persian self-designation Iran was declared internationally binding on March 21, 1935 under Reza Shah Pahlavi (regent 1925-1941).

Map of archaeological sites in Iran.

Early civilizations (c. 4,000 BC to 550 BC)

Ganj Nameh : Inscription from the Achaemenid period

Already in the New Stone Age ( Neolithic ) the country that is now known as Iran was settled, or there are traces of settlements. In the former province of Khusistan, this is based on calibrated 14 C dating to a history of settlement in the 8th millennium BC. C. Chogha Bonut and Chogha Mish . In the 4th millennium BC There was a first migration of Indo -Europeans who, together with the Indians , are called Aryans (ariyānām). The origin of these Aryans is disputed, but it is agreed that they came from the north. Already towards the end of the 4th millennium BC. An urban civilization can be spoken of, which developed from the agricultural, sedentary population.

Kingdom of Elam (c. 3,500 BC to 569 BC)

The first empire on Iranian soil was Elam in the area around today's Chuzestan ( Khuzistan ) , which - apart from the great world history - from the first appearance around 3500 BC. to defeat by the Assyrian Empire around 569 BC. Chr. The kings called themselves “of Anshan and Susa ”. The language of the Elamites was neither Indo -European nor Semitic .

The second migratory movement , that of the actual Indo-Iranians around 1250 BC. BC, by Indo -European horsemen from the steppes of southern Russia , can be historically more precisely grasped. The emergence of the Medes (Madai) around 900 BC. BC, as a result of which the Persians (Pārsa), who came from the area around Lake Urmia and were related to the Medes, followed suit, changing the local population structure.

Mede Empire (728 BC to 550 BC)

The Mede Empire was the first great Iranian empire. The inhabitants were the Medes . Their language, culture and ancestry was Iranian. 835 BC The Assyrian king mentioned the Median tribes for the first time. Soon after their appearance, they were able to subdue large areas of the Assyrian empire. In 715 BC the chief leader Deiokes unsuccessfully led the Median tribes against the Assyrian Empire. A successor, Phraortes , was able to unite the remaining Iranian tribes and annihilate the Assyrian kingdom. He founded the Median capital of Ekbatana (modern-day Hamadan ). Astyages , the last Median king, ruled the empire until 550 BC. Chr.

Antiquity (550 BC to 642 AD)


Dariush (Dareios) I (549–486 BC)
Persia around 500 BC Chr.

The rule of the Achaemenids lasted from ca. 559 BC. to 330 BC Cyrus the Great , as Persian king (Shah) , founded the first world empire in history, the ancient Persian empire . 539 BC BC Babylon was conquered and the Neo-Babylonian Empire of the Chaldeans was defeated. Egypt was annexed to the Achaemenid Empire in 525 BC. incorporated. From 521 BC to 486 BC Dareios the Great ruled , who distinguished himself through his enormous military prowess. In the first year of his reign he won 19 battles in an area as large as all of Western Europe. He also made a name for himself through his wise politics and tolerance.

Around 500 BC The Greeks rose up against Persian rule, which started the Persian Wars. The rebellion ended in 494 BC. crushed with the destruction of Miletus . Two ideologies were opposed here: the Iranians represented the idea of ​​empire while preserving national identities, while the Greeks preferred the idea of ​​a city-state (polis) with complete independence. From 486 BC to 465 BC Xerxes I ruled 450 BC. to 404 BC 3000 BC there were uprisings against the Achaemenids in Egypt, Syria and in the heartland of the empire. From 359 BC to 338 BC the kingdom was under the rule of Artaxerxes III.

Alexander campaign

In the year 335 BC Darius III. Great King, but he was already 331 BC. defeated by Alexander the Great in the Battle of Gaugamela during Alexander 's campaign and murdered a little later by the satrap of Bactria , Bessos , while fleeing. The reign of the Achaemenids ended with Alexander's victory. The empire merged into the empire of Alexander .


The year 312 BC Seleucid rule began with the rise of the Diadochi dynasty of Seleucus I Nicator , a general of Alexander. Between 280 and 200 BC the kingdom of the Seleucids extended over large areas of the Near East to the Indus region . After the fall, the western areas of the empire passed to the Roman Empire .


The Parthian Empire under the rule of the Arsacids developed from 250 B.C. to 224 AD The Parthians absorbed elements of the Hellenistic culture and, despite several defeats (especially in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD), were able to hold their own against the Roman Empire . In AD 224, however, the Arsacids were overthrown by the Sassanids .


The Sassanid Empire , founded by the last Old Persian dynasty, existed between 224/26 AD and 651 AD. The Sassanid Empire always had to secure the endangered north-eastern border, where the so-called Iranian Huns acted aggressively and also brought the Sassanids a few defeats. At the same time, however, it developed in late antiquity as an important rival of Rome (see Roman-Persian Wars ), although there was also (temporary) peaceful coexistence. Under Khosrau I , Sassanid Persia experienced a cultural boom, around 560 the Hephthalite kingdom was destroyed in an alliance with the Göktürks . But after the last significant Sassanid king, Chosrau II , was assassinated in 628, the empire descended into chaos, allowing the Islamic Arabs to conquer Persia from the mid-630s ( Islamic Expansion ). They defeated the Sassanid armies, the last Sassanid king Yazdegerd III. died 651. Eventually, albeit slowly, the population was converted to Islam; as late as the 650s there were several revolts by the Persians against foreign rule, but these were suppressed. Sasanian Persia, with its court life and administration, was also an important model for the caliphic empire, especially under the Abbasids .

Early Islamic period (642 to 1050)

Umayyads (661 to 749)

After the decisive defeat of Nehawend against the Muslim Arabs in AD 642, the Sassanid Empire in Persia broke up and ended with the assassination of Yazdegerd III. finally under. Nevertheless, the Arab subjugation of Iran dragged on as the Muslims were temporarily weakened by internal power struggles resulting from the Umayyad seizure of power.

Only towards the end of the 7th century could Khorasan finally be conquered by the Arabs. The subjugation of Transoxania also lasted until the middle of the 8th century, when the governor of Khorasan Nasr ibn Saiyār (737-748) finally defeated the Turks . After his death, a rebellion began in eastern Iran under Abu Muslim in 748, which helped to overthrow the Umayyads and establish the Abbasid dynasty .

See also: List of Umayyad rulers

Abbasids (749 to 857)

After the Umayyad dynasty had been overthrown in Khorasan with the participation of the rebellion of Abu Muslim , the Persians, under the Abbasids who had now come to power, gained considerable influence in the imperial administration and in the army of the caliphate . Persian cultural influence was also strengthened, especially after the Caliphate's capital was moved to Baghdad in Iraq . After an uprising of the Kharijites in Sistan had been suppressed under Hārūn ar-Raschīd in 809, he divided the rule of the empire between his sons before his death, with al-Amin as caliph in Baghdad and al-Mamun in Khorasan.

However, civil war broke out as early as 810, during which al-Amin was defeated and overthrown by al-Mamun with the help of General Tahir. As a reward, Tahir was appointed governor of Khorasan and Transoxania in 821 , effectively depriving the Abbasids of control of eastern Iran.

Although the western part of Iran was still controlled by the Abbasids, local dynasties gained power there from the middle of the 9th century or the influence of the caliph was limited by uprisings. One such uprising was the Bābak revolt in Azerbaijan and western Iran from 816 to 837. In addition, the Shiites became increasingly widespread in Iran. After a long phase of decline of the Abbasid caliphate, their political power was finally eliminated by the Shiite Buyids in 945. With that, the last direct influence of the Abbasids over Iran was lost.

Local dynasties (681 to 1191)


The Persian general Tahir was made governor of Khorasan and eastern Iran by the caliph al-Ma'mūn in 821 , immediately showed aspirations for independence and was poisoned. Until their overthrow by Yaqub ibn Laith in 873, his family, the Tahirids, held power equal to that of the caliph, but no longer questioned his authority.


In the southeast of what was then Iran, in Sistan , the coppersmith Yaqub ibn Laith (aka as-Saffar) united the dissatisfied population from 861 and eliminated various local rulers. After conquering Khorasan, Kerman and Fars, there was even a failed attack on Baghdad in 876. His brother and successor Amr ibn Laith was defeated by the Samanids in 900 , after which Saffarid rule collapsed and was again confined to Sistan.


Already under the Tahirids, the Samanids from Khorasan had risen to governors of West Turkestan and the area of ​​present-day Afghanistan around 864 , which lasted until the founding of the dynasty and the coronation, but had to bow to the emerging Gaznavids around 1005. The Samanids are considered the beginning of the Tajik nation. The poets Rudaki (859–941), Daqiqi , Baba Taher (c. 944–1019), and the physician, philosopher, and scientist Avicenna (980–1037) date from this period.

Firdausi said of the Samanids , "Where have all the great Sassanids gone ?" [Answer:] "From the Bahramids ( Bahram V. ) to the Samanids ."

Sijarids (927 to 1035)

Bujids (934 to 1055)

The Buyids/Bujids were a Shia dynasty in Persia originating from Dailam (930-1062) in northern modern-day Iran . The dynasty was founded by Abu Shudja Buyahn († 932), who began his rise as a military leader among the Samanids and Ziyarids . Ali Imad ad-Daula (932–949) conquered the central Persian province of Fars in 932 and established the Buyid line of Fars, which ruled until 1055. Hasan Rukn ad-Daula (932–949) enforced his rule in other parts of Persia ( Rey , Hamadan and Isfahan ). The lineage founded by him reigned until 1023. The lineage founded by Ahmad Muizz ad-Daula (932-967) in present-day Iraq , Kerman and Khusistan lasted until 1012 and achieved the greatest importance.

Rise of the Central Asian nomads

Mahmud (of Ghazni) (997 -1030) and Ayaz ; right: Shah Abbas I (1588–1629) , Tehran, Museum of Contemporary Art

Gaznavids (also Gasnavids; 977 to 1191)

Seljuks (1038 to 1186)

Khorezm Shahs (1077–1231)


The Mongols conquered and ravaged Iran from 1221, but only partially took possession of the country. Their Khan Hülegü founded his own dynasty around 1256, whose rulers under the name Ilchane (1256-1335) ensured political stability until 1335. At the same time, several local dynasties continued to exist as vassals of the Ilkhane. From an economic point of view, the rule of the Ilkhane was rather weak and also at times unstable, but from a cultural point of view it was not insignificant. such as For example, Shiite Islam became the state religion for the first time around 1310 under Ilhan Öldscheitü .

Timurids (1370 to 1507)

In the 1380s and 1390s, the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur Lenk eliminated the various local dynasties ( Muzaffarids , Sarbadars , etc.) that had taken over power in Iran after the collapse of the Ilkhanate. His successor Shah-Ruch made Herat the political and cultural capital of Persia, where the Timurids ruled until 1507. While the east of Iran in particular is experiencing a heyday under her government, the Turkmens ( Qara Qoyunlu , Aq Qoyunlu ) prevailed in the western parts of the country. These ruled in Tabriz until they were replaced by the Safavids in 1501.

The early modern period

See also: History of the Shia

Safavids (1501 to 1722)

List of Safavid Rulers
1502-1524 Ismail I
1524-1576 Tahmasp I
1576-1578 Ismail II
1578-1587 Mohammad Chodābande
1587-1629 Abbas I
1629-1642 Safi I
1642-1667 Abbas II
1667-1694 Safavid II.
1694-1722 Sultan Hosein
1723-1732 Tahmasp II.
1732-1736 Abbas III.

Around 1501, the Shia Safi order (“Safawiyya”), derived from Sheikh Safi ad-Din Ardabili , overthrew the Turkmen dynasty of Aq Qoyunlu and took over Iran. Shi'a Islam becomes the state religion as a result . The Safavid Shahs relied on Turkmens and Persians alike and (despite initial religious intolerance) achieved political stability and great cultural and economic prosperity.

By the early 18th century the dynasty was in decline. The Afghan Ghilzai used this in 1709 for a first uprising against Persian supremacy. They took Kandahar and established their own state. An attempt by the Safavids to retake the city through a siege in 1711 failed. As a result, the Abdālī around the city of Herat also joined the rebellion in 1717 . In 1719, a 30,000-strong Persian army failed to advance against Herat. The insurgents then went on the offensive. The Ghilzai formed an army in 1721, conquered Kerman and Shiraz and marched towards the Persian capital of Isfahan . The following year, after the Afghan victory at the Battle of Gulnabad (March 8, 1722) , Isfahan was besieged for six months , ending in October 1722 with the surrender of the Persians. Shah Sultan Hosein was forced to abdicate the throne on October 23, 1722 in favor of the Ghilzai leader Mir Mahmud Hotaki . This ended the Safavid dynasty.

Afghan invasion (1722 to 1736)

Nadir Shah (1736–1746), here: around 1750

The new rule faced the problem that the whole country had been destabilized by the uprisings. So Mahmud first had to go against the Abdālī and as early as November 1722 the son of the old ruler Tahmasp II proclaimed himself the new shah and tried to renew his father's government. As early as January 1723, Mahmud suffered a first defeat in the battle for the city of Qazvin . At the same time, the weakness of the Persian Empire aroused the greed of its neighbors. In 1722/23 a Russian army (→ Russo-Persian War (1722–1723) ) invaded along the coast of the Caspian Sea , conquered Derbent and Baku and concluded the Peace of Saint Petersburg with Tahmasp II . In this, on September 12, 1723, Tahmasp II ceded the provinces of Shirvan , Gilan , Mazandaran and Gorgan to Russia . At the same time, the Ottoman Empire tried to thwart Russia's gain in power and also to compensate for territorial losses in Europe (→ Peace of Passarowitz ). They occupied large parts of Georgia and Azerbaijan up to the city of Hamadan in 1723/24 . In the Treaty of Constantinople (June 12, 1724), the sphere of interests between the Ottoman Empire and Russia was defined with English mediation. The Ottomans confirmed the Russian territorial gains and in return received the promise to acquire Georgia, Armenia with Yerevan and large parts of Azerbaijan.

Under pressure from the crumbling power, Mahmud resorted to brutal methods, including the murder of Persian ministers, nobles and members of the former Safavid ruling family. He also upset his own followers. Ashraf Khan came to power in a coup in 1725 . He succeeded in defeating the Ottomans in the Battle of Kermanschāh in 1726 and in September 1727 they concluded a peace treaty. The opposition also gained ground in the country. Tahmasp II found a capable military leader in Nādir Qoli Beg of the Afsharid tribe , the governor of the province of Khorāsān . He succeeded in defeating the Afghans at the Battle of Damghan in 1729 and officially proclaiming Thamasp II as the new reigning Shah. Ashraf Khan was assassinated by a cousin after his retreat east. While Nādir was still waging war against the Afghans in the east, Tahmasp II began a disastrous campaign against the Ottoman Empire in the west (→ Persian-Turkish War (1730–1736) ), in which important cities and areas were lost. In August 1732 Nadir deposed the Shah and called his eight-month-old son as Abbas III. to the new ruler, while he himself acted as his regent. It was not until March 8, 1736 that the successful general crowned himself the new Shah.

Persia under Nādir Shah (1736 to 1747)

During the Afsharid rule , especially after the death of Nadir Shah , the eastern territories of Persia were conquered by the Afghans, whose kingdom became the precursor to the present-day state of Afghanistan. For the history of this region after the Pashtun (Afghan) conquest, see the main article History of Afghanistan .

Decline of the Afsharid Empire (1747 to 1796)

After Nadir Shah's death, his nephew initially declared himself Adil Shah and immediately had all of Nadir Shah's sons and grandchildren killed as potential competitors. Only the 14-year-old grandson Shah Ruch survived . Meanwhile, one of the leaders of Nadir Shah's army, Ahmad Shah Abdālī , seized control of the east of the empire and established the Durrani Empire there . Another contender for power arose in Ebrahim Shah Afshar , the brother of Adil Shah. In June 1748 Ebrāhīm won first militarily and appointed himself on December 8, 1748 in Tabriz as the new shah. However, in the meantime followers of Nadir Shah had crowned Shah Ruch in Mashhad . After he defeated Ebrāhīm in 1749, he himself was overthrown by Sulaiman II , a descendant of the old Safavid dynasty. Only a year later, some followers helped him regain control of the Khorasan region . To the west, the Qajars took control of the Māzandarān region . During this time, some of Nadir Shah's former military leaders took the initiative in central and southern Persia . Karim Khan prevailed as the founder of the Zand dynasty until 1760. They continued in 1750 with Ismail III. another representative of the Safavids in Isfahan on the throne, who, however, only acted as a puppet. When the fighting ended here, too, a short period of reconstruction, trade and cultural flowering began.

However, with the death of Karim Khan in 1779, civil war broke out again among his heirs. By 1789, Lotf Ali Khan finally prevailed. However, he was now embroiled in a war with the Qajar Aga Mohammed Khan . For years the battle ebbed and flowed until Lotf Ali Khan captured the city of Kerman . There he was besieged by his opponent for six months in 1794 and executed after the fall of the fortress. Aga Mohammed Khan massacred the people of Kerman. In 1796 he finally marched against Khorasan and conquered it; Shah Rukh was killed. Now Aga Mohammed Khan could proclaim himself the new Shah, who had reunited all of Persia except for the Durrani Empire.

Zand Lords

For the first time after 850 years of Mongolian and Turkish rule, a ruler of Iranian origin was on the throne. However, he did not bear the title of shah, but only that of imperial administrator (vizier) or viceroy (wakil). According to many sources, the founder of this short dynasty (1750-1794) was Karim Khan Zand a Lure.

The period from the Qajar dynasty to the present


Nasreddin Shah (Nasir ad-Din Shah) (1848–1896), photograph Nadar
Reza Shah Pahlavi (1926–1941)

The Qajar dynasty lasted from 1794 to 1925 . Defeats against Russia in the four Russo-Persian Wars result in the loss of Georgia (1801), Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 1849 and 1850, under the reign of Naser ad-Din Shah , there were religious uprisings by the followers of Babism . Their leader, Sayyid Ali Muhammad al-Bab (The Bab ) was publicly executed. In 1856/57 the British-Persian War broke out over an attack on Herat, which ended with the Peace of Paris in 1857 . Herat was finally lost to Afghanistan in 1863. By 1896/1897 there was a struggle for reforms between Naser ad-Din Shah and Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani . Between 1905 and 1911 came the Constitutional Revolution , the Parliament ( Majlis ) struggle against Mohammed Ali Shah and the British-Russian Partition Treaty (signed August 1907). From 1915 to 1921, Iran was occupied by British and Russian troops and involved in the First World War against the Ottoman Empire (pro-Ottoman counter-government in Qom) and the wars of intervention (against the young Soviet Union).

There were also separatist movements in Iran and the establishment of the Iranian Soviet Republic in Gilan. Reza Khan , later Reza Shah Pahlavi, became War and Finance, eventually Prime Minister , between 1921 and 1925 .


The Iranian parliament met on October 29, 1925 and decided on October 31, 1925 to depose the Qajar dynasty. On December 12, 1925, Parliament voted to make Reza Pahlavi Shah. Three days later he took the oath of office and became the new ruler of Iran. The coronation ceremony took place on April 25, 1926. He ruled until 1941. He was succeeded by his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on September 17, 1941, who left Iran on January 16, 1979.

Reza Shah

On December 12, 1925, Reza Khan was appointed Shah ( Reza Shah Pahlavi ) by Parliament. In the years 1925 to 1928, economic, criminal and civil law was redesigned according to European (French) models while preserving Islamic elements. On April 25, 1926, Reza Khan was crowned Shah, shortly after which he instituted universal conscription and a uniform property tax. The Trans-Iranian Railway was built between 1927 and 1938 . The north-south line was started in 1929 by the German company Berger. In 1927 a central bank was established, inheriting the privilege of issuing notes and other prerogatives from Britain's Imperial Bank of Persia . From 1928 to 1938 large oil fields were discovered in the country, and in 1928 new customs trade agreements were concluded with many countries. A year later, western dress was made compulsory for men. In 1931 the Persian state introduced a foreign trade monopoly. In 1932 Reza Shah revoked the 1901 concession granted to William Knox D'Arcy .

On March 21, 1935, the country name "Persia" was replaced in Europe and America by the official country name "Iran", which was used in the country itself. In the same year, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the University of Tehran were founded. On January 7, 1936, the veil ( chador ) was banned for women. A little over a year later, on July 8, 1937, a five-year border treaty was signed between Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Second World War

On August 24, 1941, British and Soviet troops invaded neutral Iran from the north and south as part of the Anglo-Soviet invasion . A ceasefire was signed on September 10th. The new government accepted the demands of Great Britain and the Soviet Union, including the release of railway and road facilities for the transport of war material to the Soviet Union. Six days later, on 16 September, Allied pressure forced Reza Shah Pahlavi to abdicate in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1919–1980) . His first exile was Mauritius , then South Africa, countries under British administration. On January 29, 1942, an agreement was signed between Great Britain, the Soviet Union and Iran. Article 5 stipulated that all Allied troops must leave Iran no later than six months after the end of the war. A little over a year later, on April 8, 1943, Iran struck a trade agreement with the United States that reduced US tariffs on Persian carpets and other Iranian products in exchange for concessions. On September 9, 1943, Iran declared war on the Axis powers .

The former Shah, Reza Shah Pahlavi , died in Johannesburg on 26 July 1944.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1963)

When Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took over the throne from his father Reza Pahlavi in ​​1941, Iran had been occupied by British and Soviet troops a few weeks earlier. The British occupation troops left the country on March 1, 1946 after the end of the Second World War. The Soviet troops stayed, contrary to what had been promised to the Shah in the tripartite agreement of January 29, 1942. On January 22, 1946, the Soviet-backed Republic of Kurdistan was proclaimed by Qazi Mohammed in Chuar Chira Square in Mahabad , west of the country . This made him President of the first Kurdish state in modern times. During the occupation, Azerbaijani separatists in the north of the country and pro-British tribes in the south also began to break away from the state federation. Under massive pressure – US President Truman threatened Stalin to use atomic bombs (“ Iran crisis ”) – the Red Army also left the country on May 6, 1946 . In the autumn, Iranian troops first attacked the separatists in the south, then those in the north of the country. On December 16, 1946, they recaptured the Republic of Mahabad .

The industrialization initiated by Reza Shah made little progress during World War II and in the post-war years. The state had no significant income with which to pay for an investment program. The only way to increase government revenue was to get better oil sales. A broad political discussion about the possible nationalization of the British-owned Iranian oil industry began. On February 4, 1949, the Shah survived an assassination attempt . The communist Tudeh party, whose supporters were accused of the assassination, was then banned. The leading cadres were sentenced to death but fled to the Soviet Union.

On March 7, 1951, members of the Islamist Fedayeen-e Islam shot dead Prime Minister Ali Razmara while visiting a mosque. Hossein Ala succeeded him on March 12, 1951; a few days later, the Iranian parliament passed the nationalization of the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company . Britain then blocked the sale of Iranian oil, leading to a political crisis, the Abadan Crisis , and an economic crisis in Iran. On April 28, 1951, Mohammad Mossadegh was appointed the new Prime Minister by the Shah; two days later, Parliament passed the Oil Industry Nationalization Executive Law .

On July 16, 1952, Mossadegh resigned; following nationwide protests, the Shah reinstated him a week later. On August 16, 1953, the Shah fled abroad. Three days later, Mossadegh was overthrown by the army – with the help of the CIA (“ Operation Ajax ”). General Fazlollah Zahedi took over the government and on October 28, 1954 a new deal was signed with a consortium of 17 oil companies under which Iran would receive half of the profits from oil production.

On September 14, 1960, five oil-producing countries founded OPEC : Iran, Iraq ( republic since July 1958 ), Kuwait , Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The reason for the founding was the price dictates of the mineral oil companies. In the referendum of January 26, 1963 , the reform program of the white revolution initiated by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to modernize the country was confirmed, which included land reform . Active and passive women's suffrage was introduced in September 1963.

In 1964, Khomeini was exiled to Turkey after violent riots against the reform program of the "White Revolution" organized by his supporters. In 1967 the Family Protection Act was introduced. This law made divorce more difficult for men, easier for women, and allowed women to seek custody of their children from family courts after divorce.

On October 26, 1967, his 48th birthday, the coronation ceremony of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife Shahbanu Farah Pahlavi took place.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1941–1951; 1953–1979) with Empress Farah Pahlavi in November 1977

Iran pursued a hegemonic policy. Iran's build-up to become the region's largest military power was initially done with US loans, later up to 41,000 military and 20,000 civilian US advisers were in Iran. In 1969 there was a conflict with Iraq over the border and shipping on the Shatt al-Arab . Iran canceled the 1937 treaty. A year later, the Mojahedin-e Chalgh guerrilla movement attempted to kidnap the American ambassador. The perpetrators were sentenced to death by a military court in June 1973. In 1971, the 2500th anniversary of the Iranian monarchy was celebrated with festivities in Persepolis and Tehran.

A 5-year plan to modernize Iran's armed forces was adopted and a deal was signed with the US for arms purchases worth US$2-3 billion. The British troops finally withdrew from the Persian Gulf .

The Tunb Islands were militarily occupied and the Arab population expelled. Naval bases were established to secure oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz . In October 1972, an agreement on economic and technical cooperation with the Soviet Union was signed during the Shah's state visit to Moscow from October 10-21, 1972. On July 31, 1973, a new agreement was signed with the international oil consortium, consisting of companies from the USA, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) took over all state-owned oil industry assets because, according to the Iranian leadership, the consortium had failed to uphold Iran's national interests as defined in the 1954 agreement. In 1975, a one-party system was introduced and an agreement was concluded with Iraq to settle open border issues.

In 1977 the country fell into a supply crisis. The National Front, supported by intellectuals, called for the end of the "Shah's dictatorship". On January 7th and 8th, 1978, the first demonstrations for Khomeini took place. On August 8, the Shah promised political liberties, free elections, and freedom of the press ; nevertheless, the demonstrations continued and there was serious unrest. Five days later, martial law was declared in several cities. The reintroduction of political parties, the return to the Islamic calendar and the closure of casinos were agreed as concessions to the Shia party. A general strike broke out on September 7 ; this shut down the oil production. Martial law was then extended to all cities. Nine days later, 15,000 to 25,000 people died in one of the worst earthquakes in Iranian history. On November 5, Khomeini and the National Front formed the Iranian Islamic National Movement in Paris. A day later, a military government was installed. At the Guadeloupe Conference in January 1979, French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing , US President Jimmy Carter , British Prime Minister James Callaghan and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt decided to stop supporting the Shah and to seek talks with Khomeini. The Shah left Iran on January 16, 1979 for Egypt. On November 4, 1979, about 400 Iranians occupied the US embassy in Tehran. 52 embassy employees were held hostage for 444 days to force the extradition of the Shah, who was in the US to be treated for cancer. This was rejected by US President Carter. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi died in Egypt on July 27, 1980. Shia leader Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989), who returned to Iran on February 1, became Iran's supreme authority.

The historian Jürgen Martschukat wrote in 2003 in Die Zeit : “The Americans had taken the reins in the course of the Iran crisis in the Middle East – more than three years before the conflict over the occupation of the Suez Canal in Egypt. In Iran they set up a prime example of a corrupt and brutal puppet regime. Fed with large amounts of military and economic aid and supported by a ruthless secret service , SAVAK , they made the shah a strong figure in the country for the next twenty-five years – and one of the most hated dictators in the Islamic world.”

Islamic Republic

Khomeini's arrival on February 1, 1979

Ruhollah Khomeini founded the Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed on April 1, 1979 . Islamic revolutionaries occupied the US embassy in Tehran in 1979. The prisoners were not released until January 1981 (see Tehran hostage crisis and Operation Eagle Claw ). Neighboring Iraq attacked Iran in the First Gulf War in 1980. A ceasefire was struck in August 1988.

At the beginning of the revolution, Mehdi Basargan became prime minister of the provisional government. On January 25, 1980, Abolhassan Banisadr became President, but he had to leave Iran on June 10, 1981 due to insurmountable obstacles regarding future politics. He fled to Paris. With the election victory of the religious Islamic Republican Party (IRP) in 1981, the Revolutionary Council was dissolved on May 9th. A devastating August 30 bombing of the IRP party convention completely upset the fabric of the revolution. Party leader Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Beheshti (b. 1929) and over 70 other MPs were killed. The new President Mohammad Ali Rajaʾi and the new Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar were also among the victims. On October 2, Hojatoleslam Seyyed Ali Khamenei became President - Mir Hossein Mousavi took the post of Prime Minister.

In 1982, the criminal law of the Islamic Republic of Iran of August 25 came into force. In the parliamentary elections on April 15, 1984 , the IRP lost the absolute majority; Moussavi remained prime minister. On August 16, 1985, Ali Khamene'i was re-elected as President. In 1986, secret US arms shipments to Iran were exposed; the Iran-Contra affair shook the credibility of Iran and the USA. The IRP was dissolved on June 2, 1987. On June 2, 1988 (Iran was on the brink of defeat in the war with Iraq), Khomeini appointed Parliament Speaker Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as acting commander-in-chief. Khomeini's fatwa of February 14, 1989 against Salman Rushdie completely isolated Iran's foreign policy. With the death of Ayatollah Khomeini on June 3, the struggle for succession began. Former President Ali Khamene'i was appointed the new religious leader by the Guardian Council on June 4th . However, President Rafsanjani won the struggle for power. He was elected President and was given greater executive powers by eliminating the office of Prime Minister through a constitutional amendment.

In parliamentary elections on April 10, 1992, supporters of Rafsanjani won around 70 percent of all seats. Rafsanjani was elected President in 1993 for another four years. Former Culture Minister Mohammad Chatemi won the presidential election on May 23, 1997 . A limited liberalization process began with him, the borders of which were always restricted by the Guardian Council (Chāmene'i). The constant conflicts between liberal reformers and conservatives (who were strictly religious) culminated in the 1990s in a series of state murders of opposition figures that has not yet been fully clarified .

In October 2003, Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On December 26, 2003 at 1:56 UTC , one of the most devastating earthquakes in modern Iran occurred; over 43,000 people died and 30,000 were injured. The epicenter of the earthquake was near the southern Iranian city of Bam , which was largely destroyed. After thousands of liberal candidates were excluded from the elections of February 20, 2004 and other reform-oriented politicians withdrew their candidacy, the voter turnout , at only 50.57%, was the lowest in the history of the Islamic Republic , according to official information from the Ministry of the Interior . After the election, street battles broke out with the security forces in several cities, in which eight people died. In November of that year, Iran announced that the country did not want to develop nuclear weapons; the US and European governments continued to regard this statement with a certain mistrust. In the conflict over Iran's nuclear program , negotiations between Iran and the EU-3 , Great Britain, France and Germany took place in 2005 under pressure from the USA and Great Britain . In the same year, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected President. Iran's international isolation increased again as a result of the election of the arch-conservative Ahmadinejad and his confrontational foreign and repressive domestic policy. In particular , his re-election in June 2009 , which was accompanied by numerous allegations of manipulation, led to massive protests , which continued to increase, especially towards the end of 2009, despite the violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations.

On June 14, 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected President of Iran with a narrow majority. On May 19, 2017, he was re-elected to a second term.

See also


  • Abbas Amanat: Iran. A Modern History. Yale University Press, 2018.
  • Burchard Brentjes : The Iranian World Before Mohammed. Koehler & Amelang. Leipzig 1967.
  • Pierre Briant : From Cyrus to Alexander. A History of the Persian Empire , Winona Lake, 2002; translated from Peter T. Daniels Review .
  • George G Cameron: History of Early Iran , Greenwood Press, New York City, New York 1968 ISBN 0-8371-0338-X .
  • Arthur Christensen: The Iranians. Cultural History of the Ancient Orient. CH Beck, Munich 1933.
  • Touraj Daryee (ed.): King of the Seven Climes. A History of the Ancient Iranian World (3000 BCE-651 CE). UCI Jordan Center for Persian Studies, Irvine (CA) 2017, ISBN 978-0-692-86440-1 .
  • Touraj Daryaee (ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2012.
  • Wilhelm Eilers: Dedication of German Iranians for the 2500th anniversary of Iran. Bonn 1971.
  • Richard Frye : Persia. Kindler Verlag, Zurich 1962.
  • Ulrich Gehrke: Iran. Nature, population, history, culture, state, economy. 2nd Edition. Erdmann Verlag, Tübingen 1976, ISBN 3-7711-0180-8 .
  • Monika Gronke : History of Iran - from Islamization to the present. 5th updated edition. CH Beck, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-406-48021-8 .
  • Walther Hinz : The Empire of Elam , Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 1964.
  • Berlin Institute for Comparative Social Research (ed.): Religion and Politics in Iran. In: Mardom nãmeh . Yearbook on the history and society of the Middle East, syndicate, Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-8108-0175-5 .
  • Heidemarie Koch : It proclaims Darius the King . Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1992, ISBN 3-8053-1347-0 .
  • Kazem Mousavi-Bojnourdi (General Editor): The Comprehensive History of Iran. 20 vols. The Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia, Tehran 2015. [in Persian]
  • Bahmãn Nirumand : Persia. Model of a Developing Country or The Dictatorship of the Free World. In rororo 945 , Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1967.
  • Mahmoud Rashad: Iran. DuMont Verlag, Cologne 2006, ISBN 3-7701-3385-4 .
  • Hans Henning of the East : The Persians. Emil Vollmer Verlag, 1966.
  • David Stronach and Ali Mousavi (eds.): Ancient Iran from the Air . Zabern's illustrated books on archaeology, Darmstadt/Mainz 2012, ISBN 978-3-8053-4453-1 .
  • Josef Wiesehöfer : Ancient Persia. From 550 BC to 650 AD Artemis and Winkler, Düsseldorf 1994, ISBN 3-7608-1205-8 ; actual. Edition, Dusseldorf 2005.
  • Josef Wiesehöfer: The early Persia. History of an ancient world empire (Beck series knowledge). 5th edition, CH Beck, Munich 2009.
  • Hans Robert Roemer: Persia on the way to modern times. Iranian History from 1350–1750. Darmstadt 1989.

web links

Commons : History of Iran  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Iran  - sources and full texts

supporting documents

  1. George C. Kohn: Dictionary of Wars , New York 1986, p. 4 f.
  2. Heinz Duchhardt: Balance of Power and Pentarchy - International Relations 1700-1785 , Paderborn/Munich 1997, p. 397f.
  3. George C. Kohn: Dictionary of Wars , New York 2006, p. 405.
  4. The Iranian History 1926: Reza Khan Becomes Reza Shah , accessed April 25, 2009
  5. Mart Martin, The Almanac of Women and Minorities in World Politics. Westview Press Boulder, Colorado, 2000, p. 184.
  6. Kumari Jayawardena: Feminism and nationalism in the Third World. 5th edition. Zed Books, London 1994, p. 70.
  7. Archive link ( Memento of 4 November 2011 at the Internet Archive )
  8. Die Zeit 34/2003
  9. Protests in Iran are spreading, Deutsche Welle of December 28, 2009 ( Memento of December 31, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  10. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6969094.ece
  11. Rouhani becomes Iran's new president. PressTV.ir, June 15, 2013, archived from the original on June 18, 2013 ; Retrieved 7 June 2017 (English).
  12. Rouhani wins presidential election. In: Mirror Online. 20 May 2017, retrieved 7 June 2017 .