ḴOSROW MIRZĀ QĀJĀR (b. 1813; d. Hamadan, 21 Ramazan, 1291/21 October 1875), the seventh son of Crown Prince ʿAbbās Mirzā, who led an official Iranian delegation to the Tsarist court in St. Petersburg.
Following the murder of Alexander Griboedov, the envoy and minister plenipotentiary of Russia in Tehran (wazir-e moḵtār) in 1829, and the massacre of the entire Russian legation, save one, by an angry mob, the government of Iran, fearing that Griboedov’s death might provoke the Russians to start a new war, dispatched a mission with valuable gifts and an official letter of apology from Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah to Tsar Nicholas I (Hedāyat, IX, pp. 705-10; Algar, pp. 95-99; Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana, pp. 160-61, 383-84). The mission was headed by Ḵosrow Mirzā, who was present at the peace negotiations in Dehḵˇārqān, which led to the signing of the Treaty of Turkmanchay. There he had met General Ivan Paskevich, the Russian commander of the Caucasus, and had made a very good impression on him.
In Šawwāl 1244/April 1829, Ḵosrow Mirzā left for the mission, accompanied by a large entourage, which included Mirzā Moḥammad Khan Zangana (amir-e neẓām), Mirzā Masʿud Garmrudi (ʿAbbās Mirzā’s chief secretary [monši]), Mirzā Ṣāleḥ Širāzi (Iranian envoy to Tbilisi), Ḥosayn-ʿAli Beg (Ḵosrow Mirzā’s tutor), Mirzā Taqi Khan Farāhāni (the future Amir-e Kabir), Mirzā Bābā Afšār (physician), Fāżel Khan Garrusi (poet), Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Khan (the chief chamberlain of ʿAbbās Mirzā), Magniago de Borea (Ḵosrow Mirzā’s French tutor), and Batholomeo Semino (a military advisor to ʿAbbās Mirzā) (Hedāyat, IX, pp. 705-13, 715-16; Bāmdād, I, pp. 483-84).
The delegation left Tabriz on 21 April 1829 (16 Šawwāl 1244) and crossed the Aras river on May 9. They met Paskevich in Tbilisi on May 19 and, after waiting for instructions from home, Ḵosrow Mirzā and his entourage left Tbilisi on June 4. They arrived in Moscow on July 26, after an arduous journey by carriage through difficult roads and mountain passes. On the way the prince visited the mineral springs of Piatigorsk, the cities of Vladikavaz, Stavropol, Novo-Cherkassk, Voronezh, and Tula (Bournoutian,, pp. 46-90).
While in Moscow, Ḵosrow Mirzā unexpectedly visited Griboedov’s mother and shed tears with her. This act endeared him to the Moscovites. The Iranians arrived in St. Petersburg on August 11 and were housed in the magnificent Tauride Palace. The official apology ceremony in which the prince read Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah’s letter to Tsar Nicholas I took place in the Winter Palace on August 22 (Bournoutian, pp. 160-62) and has been recreated in the 2002 Russian film Russian Ark, directed by Alexander Sokurov.
The Iranians stayed seventy-nine days in the Russian capital, during which time Ḵosrow Mirzā not only charmed the tsar, the royal family, and the nobility, but also managed to reduce Iran’s war indemnity payment to Russia. He was feted like royalty and took part in maneuvers, balls, and state dinners, and visited the opera, ballet, and all the important sites of the Russian capital (Hedāyat, IX, p. 716).
In exchange for the official gifts from the shah, which included a large diamond that Nāder Shah Afšār had brought from India as war booty (see Kelly, p. 201), carpets, rare manuscripts, and a pearl necklace; in return Russia gave fabulous gifts of crystal, porcelain, furs, and other items to the prince and senior members of his delegation. Having accomplished his mission, Ḵosrow Mirzā left St. Petersburg on 27 February 1830/4 Ramadan 1245 and arrived in Tabriz on 20 Ramadan 1245/15 March 1830.
Fortunately, both Iranians and Russians kept a detailed account of the trip. Mirzā Moṣṭafā Afšār, the secretary of Mirzā Masʿud, accompanied the group and kept a journal (safar-nama) of the trip. Two Russian officials, General Rennenkampf and Count Sukhtelen, who served as hosts/escorts (mehmāndārs) to the Iranian delegation, also kept detailed records of the events which had transpired during the ten-month visit, and these help to fill in the many gaps of the Iranian account. The complete narrative, using all the Persian and Russian sources was published by the present author, as From Tabriz to St. Petersburg.
Ḵosrow Mirzā was received extremely well by both his father and grandfather. He had succeeded in making Russia a firm ally of Iran and had managed to reduce the influence of the British in Tehran. His success seems to have transformed him, and he began to display a haughty demeanor towards Moḥammad Mirzā, the eldest son of ʿAbbās Mirzā. In 1831, Ḵosrow Mirzā was, for a short time, appointed the governor of Kerman.
The death of ʿAbbās Mirzā in 1249/1833 opened the door to a number of pretenders, including Ḵosrow Mirzā and his full brother Jahāngir Mirzā, who challenged the legitimacy of Moḥammad Mirzā. Taking advantage of the shah’s illness, Moḥammad Mirzā ordered the arrest of his two half brothers. The death of Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah in 1834 caused major unrest in Iran. Various pretenders, including several of the shah’s fifty sons, hoped to ascend the throne. The new Russian envoy, Count Ivan Simonich, together with the British envoy, made sure that article VII of the Torkmanchay Treaty, in which ʿAbbās Mirzā is officially recognized as “the Successor and Heir Presumptive of the Crown of Persia,” was observed (Hurewitz, I, p. 233). Thus, Moḥammad Mirzā, the eldest son of ʿAbbās Mirzā, ascended the throne as Moḥammad Shah (Bournoutian,, pp. 22-23).
Although Ḵosrow Mirzā hoped that the tsar would rescue him from prison, the new shah, soon after his coronation, ordered that both his half brothers be blinded. Later, Ḵosrow Mirzā was relocated to the vicinity of Hamadan, where he spent the rest of his life surrounded by members of his family. He died on 21 Ramazan 1291/21 October 1875 at the age of 62.
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Hamid Algar, Religion and State in Iran 1785-1906: The Role of the Ulama in the Qajar Period, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1969.
Mirzā Moṣṭafā Afšār, Safar-nāma-ye Ḵosrow Mirzā ba Peterzburḡ, ed. Moḥammad Golbon, Tehran, 1970.
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George A. Bournoutian, From Tabriz to St. Petersburg: Iran’s Mission of Apology to Russia in 1829, Costa Mesa, Calif., 2014.
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Jahāngir Mirzā, Tāriḵ-e now, ed. ʿAbbās Eqbāl Āštiāni, Tehran, 1948.
Laurence Kelly, Diplomacy and Murder in Tehran: Alexander Gorboyedov and Imperial Russia’s Mission to the Shah of Iran, London and New York, 2002.
Firuza Melville, “Khosrow Mirza’s Mission to St. Petersburg in 1829,” in Stephanie Cronin, ed., Iranian-Russian Encounters: Empires and Revolutions Since 1800, London, 2012.
M. G. Rozanov, ed., “Persidskoe posolstvo v Rossiĭ, 1829 goda,” Russkiĭ arkhiv Moscow, 1889.
Ebrāhim Teymuri, ed., “Aḥwālāt-e safar-e Mirzā Masʿud, Našriya-ye Wezārat-e omur-e ḵāreja, Tehran, 1965-66.
Originally Published: September 22, 2015
Last Updated: September 22, 2015Cite this entry:
George Bournoutian, “ḴOSROW MIRZĀ QĀJĀR,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2015, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/khosrow-mirza (accessed on 22 September 2015).