The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Nadir Shah

Nadir Shah (Nadir Qoli Beg, also Tahmasp-Qoli Khan) (October 22, 1688 - June, 1747) ruled as Shah of Persia 1736-1747 and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Some historians described him as the Persian Napoleon.

He was born in the Dastgerd region of Khorasan (now in Iran). His father, a poor peasant, died while Nadir was still a child. Nadir and his mother were carried off as slaves by marauding Uzbeg tribesmen, but Nadir managed to escape. He joined a band of brigands while still a boy and eventually advanced to their leader. Later he found refuge with the Turkic Afshar tribe, where, under the patronage of Afshar chieftains, he rose through the ranks to a powerful military leader.

When in 1719 the Afghans invaded Persia, Nadir supported the Safavid ruler Tahmasp II, in deference of whom he had named himself Tahmasp Qoli (Slave of Tahmasp), with a force of 5000 soldiers, against the Afghan usurper Mahmud Ghilzai . Nadir defeated the Afghans in the Battle of Damghan , 1729. He drove out the Afghans, who were still occupying Persia, by 1730. Later, Nadir deposed Tahmasp II and placed his infant son Abbas III on the throne, declaring himself regent in 1732. Finally, in 1736, Nadir took the throne himself, assuming the title Shah.

In 1738, Nadir Shah conquered Kandahar and Kabul. He continued on to India, defeating the great Mughal army of Mohammad Shah at the Battle of Karnal, February 24 1739. Beginning on March 20, 1739, Nadir had Delhi plundered, in the process massacring 30000 of its people. He returned home with vast treasures, including the Peacock Throne, which thereafter served as a symbol of Persian imperial might, and, among a trove of other fabulous jewels, the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond. The Persian troops left Delhi at the beginning of May 1739, taking with them several thousand Indian girls (both Hindu and Muslim) and a large number of boys as slaves. Nadir's soldiers also lead with them thousands of elephants, horses and camels, loaded with the booty they had collected. The plunder seized from India was so rich that Nadir stopped taxation in Iran for a period of three years, following his triumphant return.

In 1740 Nadir had Tahmasp II and his two infant sons put to death.

In 1741, after an assassination attempt on him failed, Nadir suspected his oldest son Reza Quli Mirza as being responsible for conspiracy and had him blinded.

Nadir was assassinated in 1747, and the empire he had conquered fell apart shortly afterward.

In 1768, Christian VII of Denmark commissioned Sir William Jones to translate a Persian language biography of Nadir Shah into French. It was publshed in 1770 as Histoire de Nadir Chah, and subsequently translated into English, becoming the vehicle by which Nadir Shah became known to the reading public in the West.

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Last updated: 10-16-2005 18:14:49
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