A Destiny Realized: A Timeline of Afsharid Iran and Beyond

Watching this. Nice to see this Persia TL is back. Looking forward to this Persia becoming powerful.

And don't worry, the map is pretty good.
 
Ambitious, Pragmatic, Unbelievably Talented, and Sarcastic, my goodness Nader really is a fascinating personality to learn about. As well as following this timeline and all it's twist in the future, Especially for the going on's in the next door Subcontinent what with having a better knowledge of it's major factions like the Sikhs and Marathi this time around.^^

Also LOVE the new improvements in your cartography. ;)
Nader, as well as his sons, all seem to have quite a number of memorable insults and quotes to their names. "Senile Pimp" is one such phrase of Nader's, and his son Reza Qoli, upon hearing that he was to be blinded, was reported to have said "take them (his eyes) out and stick them in your wife's c***". Hopefully the better research regarding India will show this time around, and its fate will be rather quite different indeed compared to the previous iteration of this TL.
Great to see this back up again!
It's good to be back writing it too.
It's great to see this coming back. I really enjoyed the previous version despite it's flaws and I'm really excited for a new version which steps away from the Eurocentrism that hobbled it's predecessor.
Not to say that the previous version was bad or anything, but the Eurocentrism was a particularly grating problem for myself, as was sometimes the rather rushed and shallowly researched nature of some updates.
And so rises the founder of the Afsharids.

I wonder how you will take him this time, since I really enjoyed your previous iteration. Looks like India will still receiving the proverbial shaft, nonetheless.
In the short run India isn't likely to benefit from a stronger Afsharid Empire, but 282 years (POD to present day) is a lot of time to play with. India's history, perhaps more so than many other areas of the world, is going to be a great deal different to OTL.
Lost track of the version of this. Glad to see it back.
This is version 2.0, hopefully the last iteration. Unless I learn Farsi...
I don’t know the previous version, and I have only a vague knowledge of Persian and Central Asian history in this period. But this is a superbly well-written narrative with supremely readable prose and Nader Shah comes across as a fascinating personality. To use an anachronism, subscribed.
Well it's always good to have new readers aboard! I'll try and be making use of footnotes in particular to explain some concepts to those who may have less knowledge for the period and area. Nader himself really is a fascinating personality, certainly a relatively forgotten giant of the 18th century.
What a story!
Definitely going to pay attention to this one.
Thanks! The narrative bits are going to be a bit more focused, and a bit more frequent this time around.
Watching this. Nice to see this Persia TL is back. Looking forward to this Persia becoming powerful.

And don't worry, the map is pretty good.
I think “staying powerful” may be more accurate.
Actually, that's something of an interesting debate. Of the Gunpowder Empires, the Safavids were the smallest and least populous. Following the defeat of Ismail at Chaldiran the threat of the Iranians overtaking the Ottomans or Mughals in material terms was more or less finished, and she even faced threats from the Shabayanids to the North, as a lot of Uzbek slave raiders made their mark on Eastern Iran, especially in the late Safavid era. Unfortunately due to her relatively poor resource base and lack of a natural "core" area, Iran actually had more challenges to maintaining a powerful state than most. While Iran was more powerful than many of the smaller states around her, and certainly more so than her 19th Century self, she was overshadowed by her rivals.
 
To India! Nader on the Ganges
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The Invasion of the Mughal Empire

The great Siege of Kandahar, which lasted almost a year, would prove to be the death knell not only to the Gilzāi Afghan state that had not too long ago ruled Iran for a brief moment, but would also be the beginning of the end of the status of the Afghan Tribes as the main power brokers in Eastern Iran. The difficulty of the siege, and the total destruction of the old town of Kandahar (the citadel of which can still be seen from Naderabad) have made it a remarkable episode of Nader’s career, and marked the complete restoration of Iranian authority within the borders of the Safavid Empire [1]. Those of the Gilzāis who were not killed in the siege promptly fled to other lands inhabited by the Afghans, most of which supposedly fell under the rule of the Mughal Emperor. Iranian demands to the Mughal governor of Kabul to turn fugitive Afghans over to the Shah fell on death ears, and Nader marched into the Mughal Empire, purportedly to chase down these fugitives.


In reality of course, Nader had been considering an invasion of India for many years up to this point. The Mughal Empire had declined somewhat in strength since the days of Aurangzeb Alamgir, and its supremacy on the Indian Subcontinent was under threat from the advancing Marathas, as well as ambitious governors within the Empire itself. Whether Nader was quite aware of the internal situation of the Empire or not, it was apparently even when marching out to Kandahar that he anticipated a campaign that would go much further. Nader swiftly captured Kabul, the largest Mughal city on the western side of the Khyber Pass, and seemed set to sweep into the Indo-Gangetic Plain. However, to block his way to the heart of the Mughal Empire, the Subedar of Kabul and Peshawar had assembled a force of 20,000 Afghan warriors, and had blocked the Khyber Pass. In the difficult terrain of the pass, a frontal assault may very well have been disastrous for the Iranians. However, rather than attack them head on, Nader instead brought a force of light cavalry over some of the most difficult terrain in the world, trapping their enemies within the pass in one of history’s most successful flanking manoeuvres.


With the Khyber Pass secured in a great fait-accompli, Nader was able to bring his main force into the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The triumph at the Khyber Pass had been tempered by the news that his brother Ebrahim had been killed by the restive Lazgis in Daghestan. Although they were unable to project power into Shirvan, threatening Iran itself, the personal blow was significant to Nader. Likely the sadness that he felt was assuaged when the city of Lahore, the largest in the Punjab, was surrendered with little resistance on the part of the Mughal Governor, who was confirmed in his position. Now with the Iranian army advancing on Delhi, the Mughals attempted to persuade their vassals to support them against the invaders. A number of vassals answered the call, including Sadat Khan, the powerful Nawab of Awadh. The Mughals were able to amass a force of 300,000 men, an immense force that was more than twice the size of the Iranian host. Perhaps any commander other than Nader would have shuddered at such a disparity.


Size however, was the only real advantage that the Mughal force had. In almost every other measure, the Iranians proved their superior. The Iranian forces were battle-hardened and better trained than the Mughals. Whereas the Mughals only sent men from the camp to gather supplies, Iranian forces scouted aggressively and skirmished well. Iranian cavalry were unafraid to act aggressively, knowing that if their horses were lost, a replacement would be supplied free of cost by their officers. The Mughal cavalry by comparison was hesitant. Iranian commanders were all aware of their objective, and acted aggressively, whereas the Mughal commanders could not agree on a strategy, and left Sadat Khan to face the Iranians alone in the initial stages of the Battle of Karnal. The disjointed Mughal army only lost a relatively small portion of its strength at the battle, but the death of several notables as well as the capture of Sadat Khan had dealt an enormous blow to Mughal prestige. The Mughals had the men and arms to continue the fight after the capture of Sadat Khan, but without the morale to continue the struggle. Terms were offered, and Nader Shah was allowed to march into Delhi in triumph.


[1] – Naderabad, on the site of modern Kandahar, was the city build during the siege, where the inhabitants of old Kandahar were moved to in OTL as well as TTL.


* * * * * *

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Delhi, 1739


“Koh-i-Noor!” [2]

Nader examined the enormous diamond before him in the palace treasure of the Mughal Emperors. Of all the treasures that he had selected so far to take back to his fortress at Kalat with him, it was this astonishing stone that stood out amongst all. Once a shepherd’s son, Nader was now taking his pick from the world’s largest treasury.


It was as if Nader was simply the greatest bandit the world had ever seen. If he could bring this treasure back to Iran, he would have pulled off the greatest robbery in history, and could continue his empire building closer to home at leisure, without recourse to the severe taxation on which he had hitherto relied upon. He had to get the gold, silver and gems back to Iran first however.


Leaving his goldsmiths to continue sifting through the treasures of India, Nader signalled to some of his Jazāyerchi to accompany him. Rumours had begun circulating of isolated killings of Iranians in the city, and Nader was hoping to ascertain for himself what the situation was.


As he and his bodyguards rode through the city, there was a palpable tension throughout the streets of Delhi. From the holes of the windows overlooking the streets, nervous women, children and sometimes men peered at the Iranian forces on the streets, wondering when these invaders would end. The occasional man, stood in the doorway of his house, or on the streets, gave the Iranians a look of pure hatred and contempt.


“They really do look ready to kill us all” Nader observed.

His son Nasrollah rode up alongside him. “And if you were to ask my opinion father, I would say that we should not give them a reason to. We don’t need to kill and more of these Hindus, we just need to get our hands on what we won at Karnal”

Nader nodded. “Perhaps you are right. But the last thing that we need is for these men to feel like we are scared of them…” His speech was punctuated by a gunshot, not too far in the distance. He grunted in annoyance before continuing “Besides not provoking a massacre on either side. If you were in my position son, what would you do?”


Nasrollah looked into a window, from which an Indian man with a scowl on his face peered at him. He turned back to his father. “I would have a few of these buggers hung. Somewhere public, somewhere they can be an example to those who would seek to harm us. That would scare the populace and prove to our own troops that something was being done”. Nader smiled at his son. “A most excellent answer my boy. Yes, what you say may well be the best course of action”


And with that, a shot, from just a few meters away rang out, one of the Jazāyerchis behind the two falling onto the ground. The tell-tale plume smoke was seen from the window of a house, and Nader gestured at the smoke, bellowing out at his men. “Go in there, and drag that slimy bastard out by his ankles! He will get something much worse than a hanging!”


His men nodded, and rushed into the building, kicking down the flimsy wooden door. Smashing of furniture could be heard, as could the struggle of men, before the man was dragged out, bleeding profusely from his nose.


Nader spat in the man’s face, then spoke to him. “Why did you shoot one of my men? Hoping to hit me were you?”

The man stared at Nader, his face a mix of anger and confusion. Nader looked back to his men. “The senile donkey does not even speak a word of Farsi. Take him away, he will make a rather good prop in this afternoon’s show.”


The man’s face was as stone as Nader’s troops carried him away to certain gruesome torture, followed by an even more gruesome death. Administering the Shah’s justice was apparently not a job for the faint-hearted.


[2] – Mountain of Light in Farsi, and yes, this is how the Koh-i-Noor found its name in OTL as well. It will most likely not end up in the crown jewels of the UK in TTL though

* * * * * *

The Great Pilfering of India

The amount of wealth that Nader had seized from Delhi was almost unimaginable. The wealth that the Iranian treasury had gained from Nader’s Indian adventure was valued at around 16 million toman, a sum which represented around 20 times that of Iran’s regular yearly revenue under the Safavids [3]. It was this that appeared to be the great objective of Nader’s invasion of India rather than the conquest of Northern India. As the Iranians prepared to return to their own country, Nader confirmed the hapless Mohammad Shah as ruler of the Mughal Empire once again, and shifted the border between the two to Peshawar, giving Iran the easily defensible Khyber Pass which kept her eastern flank defended, and allowed her easy access into India in the future. The Mughals had been dealt a heavy blow, and her prestige had been shattered, but Mohammed Shah was lucky enough to keep his throne, though this was figuratively speaking as the physical Mughal seat of power, the Peacock Throne, was amongst the treasures that Nader would take back to Iran with him.


Nader’s Indian Invasion had been a startling success, perhaps unrivalled in Iranian history. He had overcome vastly superior armies, crossing some of the most difficult terrain known to mankind and largely avoiding the kind of massacres that had been committed by previous invaders. Although Nader may have had the example of Timur in mind when he advanced on Delhi, there was not the replication of the massacres and skulls of pyramids that had accompanied Timur’s conquest of the area. Certainly the invasion was a somewhat unconventional way of reversing the flow of gold and silver from Iran to India that had been taking place in the prior century, but Nader had ensured the financial security of his regime, at least for the time being. Any threats from Iran to the East had been quelled for the time being, and Nader finally had the ability not only to pay for another war against the Ottomans, but to fund a number of other projects in his grand scheme of Empire building. As well as the eased financial strain, Nader had also glorified himself and his army in the eyes of the Iranian people, giving him valuable political capital with which to legitimise his regime.


[3] – The book “Persia in Crisis” gives Safavid Revenue in the 17th century as about 700,000 tomans a year. The loot gained from Delhi was almost as much as the combined French and Austrian expenditure in OTL’s Seven Year War, which gave Iran a great deal more financial power than she had had in quite some time. The increasingly demented Nader of OTL of course managed to whittle it down rather quickly

* * * * * *

Author's Notes - As in my previous TL, the Persian occupation of Delhi does not involve the massacre of approximately 30,000 that OTL did. The effects are twofold, firstly in the effect this will have on his legacy in India (I can't ever imagine him being popular in Indian historiography, but perhaps he will be treated somewhat less harshly without the massacre of Delhi). Secondly in avoiding the recourse to violence that he undertook, it is likely to improve his mental well-being somewhat. As Axworthy points out in his biography, Nader's killings were sparing prior to Delhi but afterwards, his atrocities mounted.
 
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Hot damn, just what was in Delhi that could equal the war expenditure of two major powers? Were the Spanish looking at the wrong Indians when they searched for El Dorado?
 

Deleted member 67076

Why was Iran's state revenue so low? Did the region get that poor, did everyone else eclipse it or was tax collection inefficient?
 
Damn, this is so well done that I can't wait for Christmas and my friend's gift of the new EUIV expansion (annoyingly he asked me rather than trying to suprise), I really want to play in the Iranian/Persian region now and even slightly feel the oozing style and quality from this.
 
I do wonder why Nader didn't at least permanently annex the Indus region. Isn't that area far richer and more productive than any of his Iranian territories?

The Maratha had trouble enough with the Afghans- A continuing Afsharid empire is going to mean bad news for them...which is going to be a great benefit to the Nizam and Mysore. Interesting...

Did Nader express any interest in conquering Egypt OTL?

What's the evidence for Nader's madness coming from malaria?
 

Deleted member 97083

Great Empires usually disappear from the world in one of two fashions. The former, is a long, gradual decline in which a territory is lost here, a battle there, but the death is protracted over decades or even centuries. When the Empire finally disappears, it is surprising only that the polity still existed. Perhaps the most famous examples of this would be the fall of the Roman Empire, which in its height ruled over much of Europe, as well as West Asia and North Africa, but which ended its days clinging to a dying city.

The latter fashion is the dramatic fall. Seemingly at their height, these Empires are crushed in a few short years by determined conquerors, as the Assyrians were. Falling into this category would be the Empire of the Safavids, the Shi’i Turkmen who founded a great Iranian Empire. At the dawn of the 18th century, they appeared to be a significant force in the world, secure from incursion from outside as well as inside.
You're only referring to political/military decline in this part, right? I thought the OTL Safavids were already in economic decline by the end of the 1600s (as you mention later with the flow of gold and silver from Iran to India in the prior century being reversed by the 1739 invasion). If I am wrong though, enlighten me.
 
I do wonder why Nader didn't at least permanently annex the Indus region. Isn't that area far richer and more productive than any of his Iranian territories?

The Maratha had trouble enough with the Afghans- A continuing Afsharid empire is going to mean bad news for them...which is going to be a great benefit to the Nizam and Mysore. Interesting...

Speaking of the Maratha's, will the Afsharids intervene against them like in your previous timeline. Or no.
 
Hot damn, just what was in Delhi that could equal the war expenditure of two major powers? Were the Spanish looking at the wrong Indians when they searched for El Dorado?

The Mughals sat on an ungodly amount of accumulated wealth from past dynasties. That, plus the tax pool of Bengal, the opening of trade with other kingdoms (looking at you, Golconda), and the Mughals themselves sponsoring jewelers to furnish themselves. Mughal emperors even carved their names and titles into emeralds! There's a reason why we sometimes call rich folks Moguls.

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They effing lived the trope.

Also, Here's hoping TTL historians have a good paper trail as to what happened to the Peacock Throne. That blinged-out chair is probably enough to buy Nader a palace!
 
What kind of unholy, bloody vengeance will Nader wreak upon the Caucasus due to the death of his brother?

Also, while taking account of how mountainous the terrain is and how restive and diverse the population is to hold down, could the Caucasus eventually be established as some kind of defensible frontier for Iran?
 
I’m pretty sure that the figure there is Nader Shah, though the halo around his face is undoubtedly very Indian.

Yeah, that's him. I think this was before he went and turned Delhi into a Timur 2.0 bloodbath. He was actually greeted sorta-warmly by the Mughal court before all the plundering happened.
 
Yeah, that's him. I think this was before he went and turned Delhi into a Timur 2.0 bloodbath. He was actually greeted sorta-warmly by the Mughal court before all the plundering happened.

Was it? I thought that was after the Battle of Karnal, which irreversibly ruined the Mughal Empire, and he used bigger-gun diplomacy to sit on the Peacock Throne.
 
The Mughals sat on an ungodly amount of accumulated wealth from past dynasties. That, plus the tax pool of Bengal, the opening of trade with other kingdoms (looking at you, Golconda), and the Mughals themselves sponsoring jewelers to furnish themselves. Mughal emperors even carved their names and titles into emeralds! There's a reason why we sometimes call rich folks Moguls.

Mumtaz+Mahal+Mughal.jpg
771px-Nadir_Shah_on_the_Peacock_Throne_after_his_defeat_of_Muhammad_Shah._ca._1850%2C_San_Diego_MOA.jpg


They effing lived the trope.

Also, Here's hoping TTL historians have a good paper trail as to what happened to the Peacock Throne. That blinged-out chair is probably enough to buy Nader a palace!

The Timurid Dynasty truly did breed businessmen like no other.
 
Hot damn, just what was in Delhi that could equal the war expenditure of two major powers? Were the Spanish looking at the wrong Indians when they searched for El Dorado?
Well, Columbus was originally looking for Asia. This is still the 18th century, when the wealth of the world tended to flow from the Americas, through Europe and ending up in India and China.
Why was Iran's state revenue so low? Did the region get that poor, did everyone else eclipse it or was tax collection inefficient?
Well, Iran had a fairly small population (about 9 million in 1700 to France's 21 million or Qing China's 210 million). On top of that, Iran possessed poor internal connectivity due to long distances and a lack of waterways, and possessed a substantial nomadic population who by the nature of their lifestyle provided less to the central government.
Damn, this is so well done that I can't wait for Christmas and my friend's gift of the new EUIV expansion (annoyingly he asked me rather than trying to suprise), I really want to play in the Iranian/Persian region now and even slightly feel the oozing style and quality from this.
I'm looking forward to picking that up in the next steam sale myself (I play far more than a healthy amount of EU4). I've never really played a good Iran game though, I find it very difficult to make headway as Mazandaran initially...
I do wonder why Nader didn't at least permanently annex the Indus region. Isn't that area far richer and more productive than any of his Iranian territories?

The Maratha had trouble enough with the Afghans- A continuing Afsharid empire is going to mean bad news for them...which is going to be a great benefit to the Nizam and Mysore. Interesting...

Did Nader express any interest in conquering Egypt OTL?

What's the evidence for Nader's madness coming from malaria?
In OTL, Nader did annex the left bank of the Indus. The right bank, containing the Punjab as well as a majority of good land in the Sindh is the richer part of the Indus, but incorporating the territory into Iran when the West was not secured would have been a tall order. Axworthy speculates that Nader may have looked to expand further in India had he lived, though how far the Iranians could have got when based in Khorasan is questionable.

It all depends on Iran's relationship with the Mughal Empire. Karnal has happened and the weakness of the Mughals is on display for all. If Iran does extend its influence over India, then it will be strong enough to keep the Marathas away from Delhi, preserving the Mughals. Weaker Marathas of course totally change the game in terms of Indian politics.

I've not seen anything in either the later biographies or the primary sources that I have read that suggested that Nader was specifically interested in Egypt. It is likely that it may well have been too far from his home-region to seriously consider as a vital appendage for his Empire.

The first signs of Nader's ill health are reported in Dutch sources in 1736. A number of Nader's symptoms, particularly those surrounding his apparently deteriorating digestive system were indicative of malaria. The disease still stalks places like Afghanistan today, and the Persian Gulf is home to one of the highest populations of sickle-cell carriers outside of Africa. Later stages of Malaria can result in brain damage, which likely joined up with mental strain from his existing illness and his life in general to push him toward insanity. In the absence of a reliable autopsy though (as well as my own non-existent medical knowledge) it is rather difficult to say for sure.
You're only referring to political/military decline in this part, right? I thought the OTL Safavids were already in economic decline by the end of the 1600s (as you mention later with the flow of gold and silver from Iran to India in the prior century being reversed by the 1739 invasion). If I am wrong though, enlighten me.
Indeed I am. Safavid Iran's economic decline was more prolonged as you correctly pointed out. Her exports were less competitive than those of India and China's she lacked extensive rich agricultural lands and banditry, raiding and other types of violence were common on the fringes of the Empire, as well as the productive regions of Mazandaran and Gilan. A very good breakdown of Iran's economic woes can be found in Rudi Matthee's book on Safavid Iran's decline and fall.
Speaking of the Maratha's, will the Afsharids intervene against them like in your previous timeline. Or no.
Maybe, or maybe not. It all depends on Iran's own situation when the Marathas rear their heads on the Gangetic plain.
The Mughals sat on an ungodly amount of accumulated wealth from past dynasties. That, plus the tax pool of Bengal, the opening of trade with other kingdoms (looking at you, Golconda), and the Mughals themselves sponsoring jewelers to furnish themselves. Mughal emperors even carved their names and titles into emeralds! There's a reason why we sometimes call rich folks Moguls.

They effing lived the trope.

Also, Here's hoping TTL historians have a good paper trail as to what happened to the Peacock Throne. That blinged-out chair is probably enough to buy Nader a palace!
Personally, I think excessive bling is a bit tacky (I'm a very bad Arab) but what worked for the Mughals worked for them. Their wealth certainly cannot be denied, I can remember my jaw dropping initially reading how much the Mughal state received in revenue on a yearly basis. I would cite the figure but I can't quite remember in which book I read it in.
What kind of unholy, bloody vengeance will Nader wreak upon the Caucasus due to the death of his brother?

Also, while taking account of how mountainous the terrain is and how restive and diverse the population is to hold down, could the Caucasus eventually be established as some kind of defensible frontier for Iran?
Well, he kind of slacked off when taking his revenge in OTL. At one point he had the Lazgis cornered, only to hold back and allow them to regroup. He was increasingly sick by this point, but it was low energy. Sad!

A Caucasian "March" would be an excellent shield for Iran against a rising Russia. Nader Shah in OTL however was someone who loathed semi-autonomous tribes, and indeed was the only figure who was able to bring the tribes of Iran to heel until the 20th century. I suppose it also depends on the policies pursued by his successors.
I’m pretty sure that the figure there is Nader Shah, though the halo around his face is undoubtedly very Indian.
Yeah, that's him. I think this was before he went and turned Delhi into a Timur 2.0 bloodbath. He was actually greeted sorta-warmly by the Mughal court before all the plundering happened.
Was it? I thought that was after the Battle of Karnal, which irreversibly ruined the Mughal Empire, and he used bigger-gun diplomacy to sit on the Peacock Throne.
Nader's Indian adventure was... complicated. Nader's massacre of 30,000 people in Delhi was not his original intention when entering the city, and was his attempt to restore order in the face of resistance from the city's population. It marks Nader's first proper massacre of civilians up to that point as well, making it a rather ignoble milestone in his reign. The massacre was pretty much the black mark for Nader in India in our world, but I feel that without it in the timeline, subsequent Indian historians would still have little reason to admire Nader.
 
The Return of the King (And his subsequent adventures in Transoxania)
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Nader's Return to Iran

At various points in his Indian Campaign, word had been relayed back to Iran that Nader’s army had met catastrophe, or that he himself had met a gruesome end at the hands of assassins, enemy armies or angry elephants. Reports of his death, however, were proven to be exaggerated when he marched back up the Khyber Pass with his army in triumph toward the end of 1739.


Naturally, for his first-born son this was a happy event, though not one without some trepidation. In the absence of his father, and perhaps under the assumption of his demise, Reza Qoli had undertook a number of somewhat controversial actions. The remaining members of the Safavid family, including the former Shahs Tahmasp and Abbas had been killed, most probably on the orders of Reza himself. Reza had also trained his own guard of around 12,000 musketeers, an impressive and somewhat gaudily uniformed force. As the two met near Herat, the initial public words were warm. Privately however, Nader felt the need to chastise his son for what he saw as his wrongdoings. Nader’s historian Mirza Astrabadi notes.

“Though there were points of praise when it came to the regency of Reza Qoli, there was much to Nader’s dissatisfaction. Primarily the ostentation of Reza’s manner, which produced a great offense within the Shah. Nader relayed to his son that there was much to kingship that he had yet to learn, and that for the time being he would accompany his father more closely”

This was likely to have been a significant blow to the young Reza. Formerly his father’s favourite, he now had to contend with his younger brothers Nasrollah and Emam, as well as his cousin Ali for the favour of his father [1].


Despite the uncertainty regarding Nader’s own position, there had not been significant rebellions in his absence, and despite reports of arbitrary punishment and high taxation during Reza Qoli’s regency, Iran had done somewhat well out of the period. Reza’s achievements however were overshadowed by the neglects of his father, and his father’s own suspicions that Reza harboured ambitions on the throne. He disbanded his son’s forces, absorbing the men into his own army, and denied Reza the governorship of any of Iran’s provinces. Instead he made his nephew Ali Qoli governor of Khorasan, his son Emam governor of Tabriz and his favourite Muhammad Taqi the governor of Fars. Reza Qoli would instead take a subordinate role to Nader in the upcoming campaign against the Turkmen of Central Asia. No doubt a bitter humiliation, this represented the nadir of Reza’s influence within Iran and with his father. In turn, Nader hoped that the reduced position of his son would teach him humility whilst keeping him away from troublesome courtiers and influences.


Nader now chose to make war on the Turkic Khanates of Central Asia that Reza Qoli had previously defeated. These Turkic Khanates for a long time had raided Iranian territory for slaves, and had done rather well in the later days of the Safavid dynasty. However, having experienced the humiliation of capture at the hands of Turkmen before, Nader was determined to bring them to heel. Abu ‘Ul-Faiz of Bukhara was the dominant figure beyond the Amu Darya River, but desired peace with Iran. His attempts to broker a deal floundered on the opposition of his noblemen, who fought Nader near Bukhara, suffering a terrible defeat. After his victory, Nader left Abu ‘Ul-Faiz in place, now concentrating on the more prolific slave raiders in Khwarazm and Khiva. Defeating the rulers of both areas and freeing the people enslaved in both, Nader annexed both areas to Iran and appointed his youngest son Emam Qoli as governor of Turkestan. He hoped that with a steady hand, the area could be turned from a nest of bandits and slavers into a productive region, though this would be well into the future.


Having proved his superiority over India and Turkestan, Nader now returned to Mashhad to plot out the next steps of his Empire building project. For the time being, the Northern and Eastern borders of Iran had been pacified, and Nader was free to take his pick from the remaining options open to him in terms of expansionist policy, whether it was avenging his brother’s death in the Caucasus, expanding south into the Persian Gulf or heading west for a final reckoning with the Ottomans.


[1] – In OTL, it was Ali Qoli, the son of Nader’s brother Ibrahim, who became Shah after Nader. Taking the ironic nickname “Adel Shah”, or Just Ruler, his reign was to last around a year before he himself met his fate.


* * * * * *

Bukhara, 1740

Had Reza Qoli redeemed himself for the mistakes he had made when he was the viceroy of Iran in the mind of his father? No, not quite yet. Though Reza had fought valiantly alongside Nader against the Emir of Bukhara, he had not quite atoned for his arrogance and crimes as Viceroy of Iran. Upon the final defeat of the forces of Abu ‘Ul-Faiz, a gathering of the big men took place to negotiate the conditions of Bukhara’s surrender.


Abu ‘Ul-Faiz with his sons and surviving noblemen sat across the tent from the entrance, hoping for the kind of settlement that had been previously given to Mohammed Shah in India. Outside the tent, Nader Shah, as well as his sons Reza and Emam deliberated.


Reza whispered to his father. “This old fool Abu ‘Ul-Faiz wishes to live in peace with us. He is ineffectual and fought us only because of his weakness relative to these pigs we call his vassals. We would probably do well to leave him in his place for the time being”


Nader nodded. “You are most probably correct, but we do need to wring concessions from him, some trophy of our victory. Perhaps the heads of his most troublesome of his noblemen, some soldiers and money…”


“And his daughters”. Reza grinned as he interrupted his father, but the smile from his face vanished as Nader glared at him.


“Perhaps if we can find a suitable husband amongst our own” Nader turned not to Reza, but to Emam, who seemed to have been earning his father’s esteem more in recent times. He turned back to Reza with an icy look on his face. “And perhaps, we should preserve Abu ‘Ul-Faiz’s sweet young daughter. We would not want her to meet the fate of your last wife”


Nader of course was referring to Fatima Begum, the Safavid Princess who had been Reza Qoli’s first wife, and who had tragically killed herself upon hearing that her husband had murdered her surviving family. The memories of the incident came flooding back to Reza’s mind, the grief mixing with the humiliation already present. Reza meekly apologised, head turned towards the ground and eyes welling with tears. “I am sorry for interrupting you father”.


Nader nodded once again. “For the time being, we shall allow him to keep his lands on the east of the Amu Darya River. Have him turn his noblemen over to us, and I will take his eldest daughter. His youngest…” He glanced towards a tent where his nephew Ali Qoli was stood. “… We will discuss later” [2]


[2] – In OTL, Ali Qoli would get the youngest daughter of Abu ‘Ul-Faiz, who was by all accounts a very intelligent and beautiful young woman. This contributed to the growing rift between Nader and Reza Qolli. Here, Reza still has a chance.

* * * * * *

An Empire Founded on Loot: Government Finance in the Reign of Nader Shah

Like the Ottoman Empire, the ability of the Iranian governments to raise loans was rather insignificant when compared to those of Europe. What few loans were taken were usually raised from Armenian and Jewish merchants, and represented a small amount of the government’s income for any given year. For the earlier part of Nader’s reign, taxes as well as government monopolies made up the vast majority of Iran’s income. Any moves towards a European-style fiscal system however were made redundant following Nader’s war in India, which had endowed Iran with a vast amount of gold and silver. The risk of inflation was somewhat curtailed by the low monetisation of the Iranian economy at the time, caused to some degree ironically by the drain of silver in the late 1600s to India and the lack of competitiveness of Iranian exports. With the vast horde of treasure, the financial system of Iran would remain one in which financial organizations, or individual bankers had very little impact on the finances of the government.


Of course, this was not necessarily a detriment to Iran. While Britain at the time spend roughly 34% of the budget on servicing the national debt, Iran was able to spend more or less all her income on the functions of government, including maintaining caravansaries and roads, but most importantly for war and maintaining the armed forces. Although much has been made of Europe’s superior ability to draw credit at relatively early stages, the lack of easy access to credit certainly didn’t seem to be a hindrance to many Asian governments, and Early Afsharid Iran seemed to be a great exemplar of this. Following the invasion of India, Nader Shah was able to undertake an invasion of Turkestan, finance his ongoing operations in the Caucasus and begin the building of a great fleet in the Persian Gulf all without recourse to debt, and was able to increase the size of his army to at least 200,000 (or possibly as many as 375,000!) by 1743. For an Empire with a noticeably smaller population than Austria, this was a startling achievement, and demonstrates the impressive ability of non-European rulers to finance themselves without the complex financial apparatus of Western European countries or the subsidies that Eastern European states had come to rely upon.


Where the question marks did appear was whether Iran could continue to finance such an impressive array of wars and armed forces when the loot from India ran out. No doubt the question would have been something that came to Nader’s mind, but at the time he seemed more concerned with continuing his wars of conquest. Perhaps he hoped that through constant success in warfare, he could rely on means other than solely taxation and other revenues to pay his army. In a sense, he had banked on continual conquest enabling him to outrun the consequences of what would usually be ruinous spending. This was a dangerous game for Nader to play, for if he were to suffer a serious defeat, he would soon have to plunder his own country to stay in the field.

* * * * * *

Author's Notes - Nader has made it back to Iran with the motherlode. This update, as well as the next one, will explore what he is able to do with said wealth, and next time we will see some big divergences from OTL. As Fraser said his book on Nader Shah (in the quote I led the timeline with), "what may we not expect from him now he is possessed of so immense a treasure?"
 
Where the question marks did appear was whether Iran could continue to finance such an impressive array of wars and armed forces when the loot from India ran out. No doubt the question would have been something that came to Nader’s mind, but at the time he seemed more concerned with continuing his wars of conquest. Perhaps he hoped that through constant success in warfare, he could rely on means other than solely taxation and other revenues to pay his army. In a sense, he had banked on continual conquest enabling him to outrun the consequences of what would usually be ruinous spending. This was a dangerous game for Nader to play, for if he were to suffer a serious defeat, he would soon have to plunder his own country to stay in the field.

Now THIS has got me curious to see if this will spur any young intellectuals and business leaders into adopting the Second Industrial Revolution
 
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“And perhaps, we should preserve Abu ‘Ul-Faiz’s sweet young daughter. We would not want her to meet the fate of your last wife”

Nader of course was referring to Fatima Begum, the Safavid Princess who had been Reza Qoli’s first wife, and who had tragically killed herself upon hearing that her husband had murdered her surviving family. The memories of the incident came flooding back to Reza’s mind, the grief mixing with the humiliation already present.

................:eek:

Reza Qoli, you are a terrible husband. I know why you did it, but still...
 
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