ʿALĀʾ-AL-DAWLA, MĪRZĀ AḤMAD KHAN (d. 1329/1911), the son of Moḥammad Raḥīm Khan ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla. According to Bāmdād (Reǰāl I, p. 90) he was born in 1283/1866-67, but this date is doubtful since he accompanied the shah on the royal voyage to Europe in 1290/1873 (Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Montaẓam-e Nāṣerī, Tehran, 1298-1300/1881-83, III, p. 328), and it is unlikely that a child of seven or eight would have been among his retinue. In 1298/1881 ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla’s father formed the special Manṣūr group of guards. ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla, who at this time bore the titles of first brigadier (sartīp-e awwal) and special royal attendant (pīšḵedmat-e ḵāṣṣa), was appointed as their chief; later he also became the leader of the Mahdīya guards (both these groups received military training similar to that given to the Cossacks; ibid, pp. 370, 372, 378, 379). After the death of his father he received the title ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla (ibid., p. 381). Under Moẓaffar-al-dīn Shah he became governor of various provinces: Ḵūzestān in 1314/1896-97, Gorgān in 1317/1899-1900, Māzandarān in 1319/1901-02, Kermānšāh in 1320/1902-03, and Fārs in the same year. In 1323/1905 he was the governor of Tehran; as a result of the Russo-Japanese war the price of sugar, imported from Russia, increased. ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla decided to bring it down by force and bastinadoed two sayyed merchants (14 Šawwal 1323/12 December 1905; Y. Dawlatābādī, Tārīḵ-emoʿāṣer yā ḥayāt-e Yaḥyā, Tehran, 1328-31 Š./1949-52, II, p. 10). This became a pretext for riots in the bazaar and the beginnings of the constitutional movement; as a result ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla was dismissed from his post. In 1325/1907 he was again appointed governor of Fārs, but he was prevented from assuming his post by the protests of the people of the province. Intellectually and culturally, ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla had no interest in the principles motivating the constitutional movement, but once the new government was established, he opposed the rule of Moḥammad-ʿAlī Shah, apparently in order to protect his own interests; moreover, he and his friends did not like the conditions prevailing at the court (Dawlatābādī, Tārīḵ-emoʿāṣer II, p. 244). For his part, the shah threatened him with execution (ibid., p. 245), and once had him severely bastinadoed (Kasravī, Mašrūṭa III, p. 508). In 1325/1907 ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla was arrested and sent into exile to Fīrūz Kūh along with Jalāl-al-dawla (the son of Ẓell-al-solṭān) and Sardār Manṣūr-e Raštī (Fatḥallāh Akbar), but he was soon allowed to return. In the same year a bomb was thrown into his house; he was suspect in the eyes of both government officials and the constitutionalists. In 1329/1911 he was asked for his unpaid taxes and as a result openly began to plot against Morgan Shuster, the then American advisor to the Ministry of Finance. When the Russian ultimatum for the dismissal of Shuster caused some agitation, the constitutionalists shot ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla in front of his own house on 9 Ḏu’l-ḥeǰǰa 1329/1 December 1911.
Eʿtemād-al-salṭana characterizes him as an ill-mannered and obnoxious man (Rūz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, p. 102); in any case he seems to have been strong and resolute. In 1304/1886-87, while on a pilgrimage to Iraq, he refused to surrender his rifle to the Ottoman authorities at the Iraqi border (ibid, p. 466). In 1903 when he was governor of Fārs, he was asked to serve as host in Būšehr for Lord Curzon, who had sailed up the Persian Gulf with a number of British warships. Since Curzon did not come ashore, ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla thought it would be a sign of weakness to meet him on board and did not go to see him (M. Maḥmūd, Tārīḵ-erawābeṭ-e sīāsī-e Īrān o Engelīs, Tehran, 1344-45 Š./1965-66, VI, pp. 1709, 1738). Apparently this brought about his dismissal from the governorship of Fārs (ibid, p. 1745).
Bibliography: Given in the text.
(Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī)
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 29, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 7, pp. 769-770
Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī, “ʿALĀʾ-AL-DAWLA, MĪRZĀ AḤMAD KHAN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/7, pp. 769-770; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ala-al-dawla-mirza-ahmad-khan-d (accessed on 15 May 2014).