AHC Catherine's Plan To Bring Persia Into the Fold of the Tsar

Russian Tsars have a habit of coming up with ambitious plans that would shake the world. Tsar Paul Came up with a plan during the Napoleonic wars to send tens of thousands of French and Russian troops to British India, Alexander I had plans to bring Sweden into a Client Status with the Russian Empire, and Alexander III had almost set up a Russian colony in Ethiopia.

But Catherine the Great had many ambitious plans. One was to join with Russia to finally defeat the Ottomans, and for a revived Byzantine Empire in control of the Straits, and Greek Majority lands. One of her Generals even planned a Far Eastern War, by taking Manchuria, and Mongolia from the Qing (she did not support this, however, it shows the ambitious position her empire was able to reach to.)

But one of her most ambitious plans was her last plan, last war, and last legacy of her name.

Agha Mohammad Khan was one of Persia's most intelligent, brutal, powerful, and passionate Shah's in its history. He had united all of Iran back to what the Safavids used to have many decades ago in around 16 years. He took the fragments of Nadir Shah and returned it to prestige. However, right after unification, the Russians started encroaching on the Caucasus.

Catherine the Great had many issues with the Khan since 1781 and 1782, in both times the Russians attempted to set up a fort near the vicinity of the Khan's realm while he was fighting other Khan's for control.

Catherine the Great knew Agha Mohammad Khan was going to be a major thorn in the Russian Empire until he was dead. If he was not deposed, he could possibly become another threat against the Ottomans, and could possibly ally with the British to oppose Russia. Agha was too much of a wildcard to be kept alive.

Agha Mohammad's brother Morteza Qoli Khan fleed to Russia and surrendered himself to Catherine the Great. He pushed for an invasion of Iran and offered to fulfill the place of Agha Mohammad Khan, and be an ally of the Russians. This was also promised with the Provinces of Mazandaran, Gilan, and Golestan.

Due to the outbreak of the French Revolution, Catherine the Great Was not fully ready to contribute to the idea, however, she did eventually accept in 1796 with the Persian expedition.

While Russia did not succeed in its goals, I would like to imagine a world where they do succeed, and Qoli Khan is installed as Shah of Persia. What would be the effects?
 
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That sounds intriguing. Leaving aside the how, which I am decidedly unqualified to speculate on, I would wonder how Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan would develop as Russian provinces. Would the Russians try to settle large numbers of Russians, Ukrainians and Germans there like they did in the Far East? Would they play the local minorities like Armenians, Zoroastrians and Sunnis against the Shiite majority? How easy would it be to administer territory so far from St. Petersburg?
And most importantly, how would Britain react? Would the need for allies against Republican France trump their anxiety about Russian control of Persia?
 
That sounds intriguing. Leaving aside the how, which I am decidedly unqualified to speculate on, I would wonder how Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan would develop as Russian provinces. Would the Russians try to settle large numbers of Russians, Ukrainians and Germans there like they did in the Far East? Would they play the local minorities like Armenians, Zoroastrians and Sunnis against the Shiite majority? How easy would it be to administer territory so far from St. Petersburg?
And most importantly, how would Britain react? Would the need for allies against Republican France trump their anxiety about Russian control of Persia?

A Subservient Persia under Russian influence actually means a chain reaction in history. Britain wouldn't actually be able to do anything, because, with the breakout of the French Revolution, Britain needs Russia as an ally, however, it's likely the British would give orders to the East India Company to reinforce it's holdings in India. However, once Paul I arises, he will actually have a larger effect of the wars. Since he and Napoleon attempted to join together against India, now that he has Persia as a vassal, he will raise a large Persian army to start an invasion of British India, and wait till the Franco-Russian army meets with the Persians, and smash into India, and rid the British from India. However, once he's assassinated the plan will be scrapped. I bet limited Persian conscription would be employed in the war.
 
There's the small issue of crossing the Hindu Kush and passing/fighting through various local kingdoms, many of whom have a relationship with the East India Company. Plus, actually getting the French and Russian soldiers down there and provisioning them, dealing with the tropical climate and either the dry season or the monsoon, avoiding offending Hindus by slaughtering cows, keeping up morale in an alien country on the other side of the world, dealing with malaria, dengue and all the other tropical diseases. An expedition to India could well be as disastrous as Napoléon's invasion of Russia.
 
There's the small issue of crossing the Hindu Kush and passing/fighting through various local kingdoms, many of whom have a relationship with the East India Company. Plus, actually getting the French and Russian soldiers down there and provisioning them, dealing with the tropical climate and either the dry season or the monsoon, avoiding offending Hindus by slaughtering cows, keeping up morale in an alien country on the other side of the world, dealing with malaria, dengue and all the other tropical diseases. An expedition to India could well be as disastrous as Napoléon's invasion of Russia.

I never said that was going to happen. Paul I's maps of India was extremely limited, and the ones he had were not very detailed on it's geography.
 
Russian Tsars have a habit of coming up with ambitious plans that would shake the world. Tsar Paul Came up with a plan during the Napoleonic wars to send tens of thousands of French and Russian troops to British India,

Document outlining this plan had been brought to Russia from France after Paul's death. Paul, indeed, ordered a Cossack expedition in that direction.

Alexander I had plans to bring Sweden into a Client Status with the Russian Empire,

Actually, something of the kind had been achieved during the reign of either Elizabeth or Catherine II. The main thing Alexander I wanted was to finally secure St-Petersburg (it was something of a pattern: as soon as Russia was fighting elsewhere, Sweden was attacking from Finland).


and Alexander III had almost set up a Russian colony in Ethiopia.

IIRC, this was a private initiative by Ashinov who had never more than lukewarm support from Alexander.

But Catherine the Great had many ambitious plans. One was to join with Russia to finally defeat the Ottomans,

Can you please explain how exactly Catherine II was planning "to join with Russia"? :winkytongue:


and for a revived Byzantine Empire in control of the Straits, and Greek Majority lands. One of her Generals even planned a Far Eastern War, by taking Manchuria, and Mongolia from the Qing (she did not support this, however, it shows the ambitious position her empire was able to reach to.)

Can you please provide more details on this project?

Agha Mohammad Khan was one of Persia's most intelligent, brutal, powerful, and passionate Shah's in its history. He had united all of Iran back to what the Safavids used to have many decades ago in around 16 years. He took the fragments of Nadir Shah and returned it to prestige. However, right after unification, the Russians started encroaching on the Caucasus.

Catherine the Great had many issues with the Khan since 1781 and 1782, in both times the Russians attempted to set up a fort near the vicinity of the Khan's realm while he was fighting other Khan's for control.

Catherine the Great knew Agha Mohammad Khan was going to be a major thorn in the Russian Empire until he was dead. If he was not deposed, he could possibly become another threat against the Ottomans, and could possibly ally with the British to oppose Russia.

Well, most of that period the Brits were Russian allies and why him being an enemy of the Ottomans would be to the Russian disadvantage?

Agha was too much of a wildcard to be kept alive.

Agha Mohammad's brother Morteza Qoli Khan fleed to Russia and surrendered himself to Catherine the Great. He pushed for an invasion of Iran and offered to fulfill the place of Agha Mohammad Khan, and be an ally of the Russians. This was also promised with the Provinces of Mazandaran, Gilan, and Golestan.

Due to the outbreak of the French Revolution, Catherine the Great Was not fully ready to contribute to the idea, however, she did eventually accept in 1796 with the Persian expedition.

While Russia did not succeed in its goals, I would like to imagine a world where they do succeed, and Qoli Khan is installed as Shah of Persia. What would be the effects?

Until early XIX the whole Caucassus brouhaha was more or less a sideshow for Russia: it was regularly taking some pieces of territory (starting with Peter I) and then neglecting to defend them because of the very low economic value. Catherine did not even bother to protect Georgia, formally the Russian vassal. Catherine died in 1796 and successful Zubov's expedition ended up with nothing because Paul was not interested. Basically, you are talking about the earlier start of the serious Russian conquest of Caucasus region. Earlier by couple decades. Big conquests of the Persia proper would not be sustainable unlike those of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan: logistics was complicated even for the OTL conquests and the problems with the tribes of the North Caucasus stretched all the way to the mid-XIX.
 
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Document outlining this plan had been brought to Russia from France after Paul's death. Paul, indeed, ordered a Cossack expedition in that direction.



Actually, something of the kind had been achieved during the reign of either Elizabeth or Catherine II. The main thing Alexander I wanted was to finally secure St-Petersburg (it was something of a pattern: as soon as Russia was fighting elsewhere, Sweden was attacking from Finland).




IIRC, this was a private initiative by Ashinov who had never more than lukewarm support from Alexander.



Can you please explain how exactly Catherine II was planning "to join with Russia"? :winkytongue:




Can you please provide more details on this project?



Well, most of that period the Brits were Russian allies and why him being an enemy of the Ottomans would be to the Russian disadvantage?



Until early XIX the whole Caucassus brouhaha was more or less a sideshow for Russia: it was regularly taking some pieces of territory (starting with Peter I) and then neglecting to defend them because of the very low economic value. Catherine did not even bother to protect Georgia, formally the Russian vassal. Catherine died in 1796 and successful Zubov's expedition ended up with nothing because Paul was not interested. Basically, you are talking about the earlier start of the serious Russian conquest of Caucasus region. Earlier by couple decades. Big conquests of the Persia proper would not be sustainable unlike those of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan: logistics was complicated even for the OTL conquests and the problems with the tribes of the North Caucasus stretched all the way to the mid-XIX.


I heard Alexander I wanted Sweden to be further under the influence of Russia.

It was government sponsored, but only for a while until some mistakes in Sagallo caused Alexander III to withdraw support.

I meant Catherine the Great planned to join with Austria. Austria was very much considering Catherine's proposal because the Concert of Europe wasn't a concept yet.

Catherine the Great's Greek Plan was to end the new Eastern Question by dissolving the Ottoman Empire in Europe by Giving all the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire an official state of a revived Byzantium that would be friendly to Russia and allow free bospherous access. Austria would have likely gotten Bosnia and been a master of the Balkans, though I'm not sure what Austria was promised, there are some sources you could find I'm sure on Austria's rule.

The Great Game was kind of sort of starting to catch steam in Asia, and even then, Agha Mohammad Khan was too much of a wildcard to where he could in the future assist Britain in opposing Russia to where the Russians couldn't take a chance in keeping him alive. If he wasn't assassinated, it's likely he would have possed a worse threat to Russia in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

There were hints in a few books with the subject of Agha Mohammad Khan, that Catherine II let Georgia be weakened by the Qajar's to which Russia could later annex while the nation is damaged from the Persians, the Russians can come and fully Annex Georgia, extremely damaged by the Persian intrusion. This is practically what they did, as the Sack of Tiflis was used by Russian Expansionists to annex Georgia and protect them from Iran. Paul I was suspicious of Agha Mohammad Khan, but he was not in any way viewing the expedition to Persia as not an interesting endeavor. He cared about the politics in Caucasia, but he stopped the expedition because it was so messy, and to be quite honest, it was failing. Resistance from local Muslims, a shortage of pack animals, and while some supplies made it to Baku, the expedition needed to be put on hold till everything else was situated in Europe, and he was free to then concentrate on Persia. But since Agha was assassinated, he relaxed because the Persian beast was sustained for the time being.

If Catherine lived for like 10 more years, could the Persian Expedition have gone her way then?
 
I heard Alexander I wanted Sweden to be further under the influence of Russia.

Alexander wanted Sweden to be a friendly state which was much less than it was at some point in the XVIII. While Bernadotte's political survival prior to 1815 heavily depended upon Alexander, neither Alexander nor Nicholas had been pushing Sweden into a position of Russian vassal.

It was government sponsored, but only for a while until some mistakes in Sagallo caused Alexander III to withdraw support.

"Sponsorship" did not amount to too much beyond granted permission and practical support (as in "sending the Russian troops") never existed.

I meant Catherine the Great planned to join with Austria. Austria was very much considering Catherine's proposal because the Concert of Europe wasn't a concept yet.

As OTL proved, it was much better not to have Austria as anything but a neutral state: as a military ally it was more of a handicap than bonus not to mention that during the 2nd Ottoman war of Catherine's reign its operations in the Principalities were against what became "Russian sphere of interests" during the XIX century.

Catherine the Great's Greek Plan was to end the new Eastern Question by dissolving the Ottoman Empire in Europe by Giving all the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire an official state of a revived Byzantium that would be friendly to Russia and allow free bospherous access. Austria would have likely gotten Bosnia and been a master of the Balkans, though I'm not sure what Austria was promised, there are some sources you could find I'm sure on Austria's rule.

In the 1st Ottoman War Austria was not involved at all and its only "contribution" was post-war annexation of the part of the PLC which led to the 1st Partition.

FYI, plans or no plans, the war of 1768 - 74 had been declared by the Ottomans. Catherine's great plans had been formulated after hostilities started. And, to address your British/Great Game theories, in the Ottoman wars of Catherine's reign Russia greatly relied upon the British help. The whole Greek plan would be simply impossible without the active British help.

The Great Game was kind of sort of starting to catch steam in Asia, and even then, Agha Mohammad Khan was too much of a wildcard to where he could in the future assist Britain in opposing Russia to where the Russians couldn't take a chance in keeping him alive. If he wasn't assassinated, it's likely he would have possed a worse threat to Russia in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The Great Game was XIX century phenomena which made sense only within a context of the British (almost) complete control of India. Did not exist in the time of Catherine, especially taking into an account close British-Russian relations of that period.

At that time it would be rather difficult to be threat to Russia in CA because Russia was not there yet. Ditto for Caucasus: serious Russian conquest of the Caucasus region did not start and Catherine did not care about the fate of her Georgian vassal. So the threats you are talking about did not exist.

There were hints in a few books with the subject of Agha Mohammad Khan, that Catherine II let Georgia be weakened by the Qajar's to which Russia could later annex while the nation is damaged from the Persians, the Russians can come and fully Annex Georgia, extremely damaged by the Persian intrusion.

This would be slightly too much even as a description of the "dentistry, Russian style" (pulling teeth through the rectum). :)

As I said, there was not, yet, serious interest in the region. Russia was still dealing with Kuban region and, economically, there was nothing of value anywhere in the Caucasus. If Russia seriously wanted to annex Georgia at that time, it would be done relatively easily (except for the fact that "Georgia" in this context meant just Imeretia and that annexation meant dealing with the countless local "nations"). Militarily, dealing with the Persians was not a big problem if regime decided to allocate some meaningful force for that task: Zubov's expedition met very little resistance when it occupied pretty much all Azerbaijan in approximately month and a half.

Penetration into the Iran proper would pose mostly logistical problems and replacement of the ruler would be a matter of luck. Not sure how much would it change taking into an account general political instability of Persia.
 
Interesting question. How long lasting such an arrangement might be would be another good question. Does the next Shah throw off the Russian yoke, and try to reconquer the lost provinces.
 
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