Table of contents section a: establishment and nature of the regime section b: attempts to modernize

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(in other words, how he came to rule and the overall feel and character of his rule – without getting into specific details about policies)
(a) how he took power
The north-west region of Azerbaijan was occupied by thre Russians during World War 1. German attempts to win over Persia meant Britain has a permanent presnece in the south throughout the war.

The war toppled the Qajar dynasty of Ahmad Shah into lots of separatist revolts.

They were excluded from the Paris Peace Settlement due to the fact that the British had concluded a bi-lateral agreement which would put Iran under British protection.
Persian nationalists, thanks to the Cossack Brigade commander Reza Khan, managed to fight to stop the ratification of this agreement as well as other rebel forces, and retain the auhtority of Tehran.
Reza Shah was a soldier who helped preserve some sense of naitonal indentity and avoid disintegration (in immediate post-war years). The Russian Revolution and the dismissal of many Russian officers who were running the Iranian army gave him his lucky break and he stppped in to a position of authority. By 1921 he had carried out a bloodless coup and forced Ahmad Shah to appoint him Commander-in-Chief. By 1923 he was Primeminister, and by 1925 King (via parliamentary vote). He chose to name his dynasty Pahlavi (this was the name of the language spoken in Persia before the Muslim conquest).
(b) how he consolidated his power (in other words, started to put down more solid foundations to his rule)
He centralised the army then used it to crush all the rebels., inlcudng Sheikh Khaz’al in the south.
This made him popular and legitimate.
As he was never a tribal chief, so had no tribal support. Via nationalism and modernistation he chose the army and the middle class intelligentsia as his support base. He increased the size of the army and gave them special privileges.

Middle class were won over by promises of naitonal rebirth and unity, suppression of ethnic differences and a break with the past.

He outlawed ethnic languages and dress.
He revived the
Pres-Islamic myth of Iran – by 1935 Persia was called Iran
His rule was very disciplinarian.
He used nationalism to intodcue modernity and bring about change

But he never managed to break away from tradition and those who supported the monarchical system and the Islamic authority of the ulema.

Historiography: Ali Ansari “Reza Shah’s reformist zeal was tempered by respect for tradition”.
(This is a key point to remember as qustions often ask about his success as a ‘modernizer’.)

1924 March 4th the ulema declare that a republic is contrary to Islam.

Reza Shah set up a dynasty – monarchical and with a nationalistic justification.
Compulsory Military Service Law – clergy opposed it. So he exemoted theological students – until he felt more secure.
He attacked the traditional land-owning elite and confiscated much of their property. But the maj source of welath remained the land.
No new civil liberties, so not so different to the Qajar dynasty in that way. Feedom of press severely restricted and all opposition totally supressed. Parliament was a rubber stamp.

Dynastic nationalism replaced feudal relations
Created a Persian identity and so broke with the past. History books emphasized pre-Islamic past. Persian language de-Arabicised
Tried to break off foreign influnce of Russia and UK. But UK always strong.
1933 negotiation with UK: Iran’s royalties from oil rose from 16 to 20% but UK got 60 more years.
Saadabad Pact – to strengthen relations with Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan.


He did modernize the state.
Centralised army. 1925 = 40,000 1941 = 400,000

Social mobility in it, and foreign education. Less need for tribes and private armies.
Only later did he beging to attack clergy, through banning the turban

1936 he banned women from wearing the veil.
State was non existent when he took over. He created a modern bureaucracy.
A new tax on sugar and tea balanced the budget . Bank Melli Iran formed. It took over from British Imperial Bank.
1927 new Ministry of Justice – to draw up new civic codes. Clergy still had some control.

1927: new secondary schools

1928 foreign scholarships

1934 Tehran Uni set up.
Law obliging the choice of a name and its registration.

1929 Trans Iranian railway finished.

1925-194 12,000 km of roads built.

1934 influenced by Ataturk, he introduced new dress codes.: western clothes and a hat.
1934 Women allowed to go to uni.
1941 he refused Allied help. They invaded and forced him to abdicate.

Cyrus Ghani described Reza Shah as “the father of modern Iran and the architect of the country’s twentieth century history”.
Sutton Elwell “reza Shah was the right man thrown up at the right time in a country that needed such a man”.
the secret of my success was that I never consulted anyone” (Reza Shah’s last speech.)
Ali Ansani “a modern version of the despots of old, harnessing all the tools and the institutions of the modern age to his dnyastic ambitions.”
a transitional figure, necessary but defintiely transient”.
Note how the first three questions are basically the same question. For they are all in one way or another about the programme of ‘modernisation’ carried out in Iran by Reza Shah. They all ask you explain and assess it.
1. With what degree of success socially, politically and economically did Reza Shah Pahlavi modernise Iran after the 1925 coup?
This is not a solely political question, answers must also consider the impact of the regime on

society and the economy.

[8 to 10 marks] could be awarded for reasonable accounts of political change.

[11 to 13 marks] answers will also examine areas such as education, the role of the Ulema,

industrial, oil, banking etc.

[14 to 16+ marks] answers will address the limited effect of change on Iranian society as a

whole with an emphasis on what he wanted to achieve and judgement as to how modernized

Iran was by 1941.
Better answers may argue that modernisation of Iran was attributable to his son in their


2. For what reasons, and with what consequences, did Reza Shah undertake a programme of reforms in Iran 1926–1941?
Reza Shah had established the Pahlavi dynasty by 1926. His aim then was to centralize and

modernize Iran along western European models. A centralized bureaucratic state was

established, the law courts were secularized at the expense of religious law, laws were passed

to symbolize Iran’s evolution into a modern state (banning the veil, ethnic dress, polygamy

and divorce discouraged).
Economic development concentrating on industry and communications but no land reform.

Financial developments had adverse effects on poorer sections of the population. Iran unable

to reduce control of Anglo–Iranian Oil Company until 1933.
Consequences: benefits to some sections of the population who flourished in military and civil

service. Rural poor and religious elements disliked westernization. Reform achieved because

of the essentially dictatorial nature of regime, which was deposed when Allies invaded

in 1941.
[0 to 7 marks] General accounts of the establishment of the regime. No focus on policies.

[8 to 10 marks] Accounts of the reform programme. Some understanding of the reasons

behind reforms.

[11 to 13 marks] More detailed knowledge of reforms, clear understanding of aims, limited

comment on consequences.

[14 to 16 marks] Clear understanding of both aims and consequences, clearly highlighting the

variable impact on Iran.

[17+ marks] As above but also with informed comment on the fact that reforms were to some

extent imposed from above and did not have major impact for most Iranians.

3. In what ways, and with what success, did Reza Shah modernise Iran between 1924 and 1941?
Pahlavi rule established 1926 – Reza Shah had a vision of a strong unified Iran, achievable by

modernisation and centralisation.

Strengthening of law courts

Attempts to secularize society (banning the hijab, encouraging western dress, polygamy and

divorce discouraged).

Attempts to modernize economy limited because of lack of land reform, foreign influence still

strong (e.g. Anglo-Iranian Oil Company).
Very much a landlord regime – where there was some change it was achieved because of the autocratic nature of the regime – modernisation was superficial in the period up to the war.

Success largely limited to maintaining the regime.

[0 to 7 marks] for unsubstantiated generalisations, inadequate general answers or vague, inaccurate and irrelevant comments.

[8 to 10 marks] for narrative or descriptive accounts, unbalanced answers or implicit or

undeveloped arguments.

[11 to 13 marks] for narrative framework with explicit focus on the question. Arguments with

limited examples and analysis.

[14 to 16 marks] for analytical, well-focused, relevant, developed and balanced answers: some may not address all aspects of the question.

[17+ marks] for fully analytical and relevant answers with detail, insight, perceptive comments andperhaps different interpretations, which address all aspects of the question.
4. Compare and contrast the rule of Ibn Saud in Saudi Arabia and Reza Shah Pahlavi in Iran.

The careers of both men will be known. Similarities . both authoritarian, ruthless opponents,

could be credited with establishing the basis of modern states.

In both countries the economies remained undeveloped, agriculture unmodernised, no major

impact on the social structure, attempted to improve communications.

Differences . in Iran a secular legal structure established, in Saudi Arabia the Sharia remained

basic legal structure. Ulema influential, while in Iran they lost influence. Reza Shah

overthrown whereas Ibn Saud remained dominant until his death.

Reza Shah was a soldier who helped preserve some sense of naitonal indentity and avoid disintegration (in immediate post-war years). The Russian Revolution and the dismissal of many Russian officers who were running the Iranian army gave him his lucky break and he stppped in to a position of authority.
[7 marks] maximum if only one person is discussed.

[10 to 12 marks] for narratives of both men.s careers . may be some attempt at comparison.

[14 to 16 marks] balanced answers with both similarities and differences clearly established.

[17+ marks] developed analysis possibly pointing out that some differences only superficial,

e.g. loss of influence of Ulema in Iran limited to western elite.

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