KĀMRĀN MIRZĀ NĀYEB-AL-SALṬANA (b. Tehran, 1856; d. Tehran, 1929; Figure 1), minister of war and commander of the armed forces, and intermittently governor of Tehran and a number of provinces. He was the third surviving son of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah. His mother, Monir-al-Salṭana, was the daughter of the shah’s chief architect, Moḥammad-Taqi Khan. He was educated by private tutors and trained as a military officer at Dār-al-Fonun (Picot, Biographical Notices, FO 60/595, printed in Burrell, I, p. 496).
Kāmrān Mirzā’s personal life included at least 11 wives. His first permanent marriage was in 1872 to Sorur-al-Dawla, daughter of Morād Mirzā Hosām-al-Dawla, the “conquerer of Herat” (Fāteḥ-e Herāt) and son of ʿAbbās Mirzā, which was an important political alliance through family marriage and in a sense functioned as dynastic confirmation and reconsolidation of his position in the royal patrimonial order. He had three daughters and one son with Sorur-al-Dawla; the only surviving child was Maleka Jahān (b. 1875)—later to become Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah’s only permanent wife and mother of Aḥmad Shah, who was proclaimed crown prince (valiʿahd). Over the years, Kāmrān Mirzā became notorious for his sexual exploits and countless concubines, reifying his royalty and status, following the model of Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah, with at least nine daughters and ten sons (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, pp. 51-57). M. Bāmdād (Rejāl, p. 152) says he had more than 20 children. A letter to Šawkat-al-Molk in 1918 talks about Kāmrān Mirzā’s 10 to 15 daughters (Burrell, III, pp. 118-19).
STATUS IN THE QAJAR PATRIMONIAL ORDER
Given the fact that his mother was not a princess of the Qajar royal tribes, Kāmrān Mirzā, like his elder brother Ẓell-al-Solṭān, was excluded from succession to the throne. Nevertheless, he was Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s favored child and greatly benefited from his father’s preferential affection. Although eventually adhering to the principle of primogeniture (nominating Moẓaffar-al-Din Mirzā as his heir on 21 May 1862), Nāṣer-al-Din Shah in 1860 wistfully admitted to Henry Rawlinson his desire to see Kāmrān Mirzā as heir to the throne (Amanat, 1997, p. 401). As a sign of his regard for Kāmrān Mirzā, and in deliberate contraposition to the official nomination of the disliked Moẓaffar-al-Din Mirzā as crown prince (valiʿahd), Nāṣer-al-Din Shah bestowed on Kāmrān Mirzā the grand title of Nāyeb-al-Salṭana (vice-regent) in 1858. While this was a largely ceremonial gesture, it testified to the shah’s personal dedication and affection for Kāmrān Mirzā, highlighting a special paternal patronage (Bāmdād, Rejāl, pp. 151-52).
Throughout his father’s life, Kāmrān Mirzā remained part of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s inner circle and had access to the royal harem, which, conversely, also meant the shah’s constant access to and disposal over him. Through the close relationship to his father, he was able to act as an effective broker for favors, titles, decorations, and positions, a situation of which he made considerable use. Mehdiqoli Hedāyat, commenting on the system of favoritism, observed that the shah and his son were “akin to a queen bee, which immediately attracts flies when coming out of the comb” (Hedāyat, p. 139). The shah afforded him great leniency. At the same time, however, the relationship was fraught with tension, driven as it was by a mixture of affection and emotional dependency, as well as mutual “pragmatic exploitation.” While permitting Kāmrān Mirzā extreme personal luxuries and indulgence, self-enrichment, hedonistic pursuits, and a certain degree of immunity, as well as great latitude in his political offices as commander-in-chief, head of the police, and governor of Tehran, Nāṣer-al-Din Shah also charged him with difficult tasks, particularly so his role as head of the police, which included supervision over difficult criminal charges and the harsh and unabated Babi persecutions (see below).
Throughout his life, Kāmrān Mirzā held numerous important political offices and vast governorships. In 1861, the shah gave him the governorship of Tehran, which he held with some interruptions and re-nominations until Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s death in 1896, and briefly again during the Constitutional period. The governorship of Tehran was Kamrān Mirzā’s second most important office. Having been bestowed the title at the age of six in a nominal sense only, when he came of age he played a central role in the city’s immediate affairs as well as its urban formation. It ensured that he remained at the very center of Qajar court politics, with intimate access to the shah, unlike his elder brothers, who were kept in governorships away from the Tehran court (Bāmdād, Rejāl, pp. 151-52).
In the 1870s the shah frequently shifted government appointments and posts, at that time still pursuing political and military reforms but also trying to maintain his own power against that of some influential high-ranking ministers. By appointing Kāmrān Mirzā as minister of war in 1880, the all-important control of the military remained in Qajar hands and under the shah’s control until his death in 1896 (Bāmdād, Rejāl, pp. 150-52).
In 1868 when ʿAziz Khan Mokri Sardār-e Koll fell into disfavor and was exiled to Solṭānābād (later Arāk), the shah gave the position of commander-in-chief of the military (Sardār-e Koll) to Kāmrān Mirzā, then 12 years old, and in the same year styled him with the auspicious title Amir Kabir (translated as “Field Marshall” by the British). He was identified with this title chiefly in official court chronicles and government gazettes, but it never really stuck to him. At the same time, given Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s lifelong regret for having commissioned the murder of his own tutor and prime minister, Mirzā Taqi Khan Amir Kabir, this title was one of the highest possible marks of honor and favor, and its significance well-understood by everyone at the time (Bāmdād, Rejāl, pp. 151-52).
Following the shah’s return from Europe in 1878, Kāmrān Mirzā was charged with real authority for the first time. In order to break the power monopolies of Mirzā Ḥosayn Khan Sepahsālār and Mostawfi-al-Mamālek, the shah installed Kāmrān Mirzā into new offices, creating a triumvirate of power which he could manipulate more effectively (Bakhash, pp. 146-48. Mostawfi, I, pp. 146-49). With the decree read on 12 October 1878, Kāmrān Mirzā received the government and administration of Tehran, the ministry of commerce, affairs of the clergy, princes, and merchants, as well as the governorships of Qazvin, Gilan, Māzandarān, Damāvand, Firuzkuh, Qom, Kashan, Sāveh, Malāyer, Tuyserkān, Nehāvand, Astarābād, Šāhrud, Besṭām, Dāmḡān, and Semnān; in 1881 Astarābād was given him in lieu of Kashan, which was passed on to the shah’s wife, Anis-al-Dawla (Mostawfi, I, pp. 146-47; Bāmdād, Rejāl, pp. 151-52; Nicholson to Salisbury and government of India, No. 26, 28 February 1888, FO 248/464, FO 65/1347, and IO L/P&S/9/190; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, 1977, p. 544; idem, 1989, III, p. 1823). With the accession of his brother, Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah, Kāmrān Mirzā lost all of his offices and withdrew from front and center of Qajar court politics. In 1906-07 he was again appointed minister of war. But when the army was placed under the supervision of four generals in mid-1907, he was dismissed or forced to resign (Churchill, in Burrell, III, pp. 685-86; Bast, pp. 146-47; Bāmdād, Rejāl, p. 161). In a haphazard maneuver to save his throne, Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah seems to have appointed Kāmrān Mirzā as premier between 29 April until sometime in May of 1909. Under the rule of his grandson, Aḥmad Shah Qajar, he was styled the governor of Khorasan from 1917-18.
PATTERN OF GOVERNANCE
Minister of war and commander-in-chief. Despite the army’s notorious inefficacy, the image of military power and rank, playing on the grand model of Mirzā Ḥosayn Khan Sepahsālār, remained a guiding element in Kāmrān Mirzā’s self-projection. Military prowess still gave the impression of deciding a claim to the throne. It functioned chiefly to enforce internal authority and helped one to monopolize other posts and control vast budgets. Like his elder brother Ẓell-al-Solṭān, Kāmrān Mirzā was enamored of military externalities and appears to have styled his private guard in Austrian uniforms (see photograph of Kāmrān Mirzā’s troops and personal guard in Šahri, V, pp. 355-56).
For almost two decades he was the central figure in the military system and thus also an essential component in the ongoing, although ineffective and haphazard, endeavors regarding military reform. As minister of war, governor of Tehran, and a vital court personality, Kāmrān Mirzā had a decisive influence on urban, military, and commercial affairs, and he appears to have used this power in large part for his own personal financial gain (see below; see also Bāmdād, pp. 158-59; Mostawfi, I, p. 490).
In order to break the monopoly power of Mirzā Ḥosayn Khan Sepahsālār and Mostawfi-al-Mamālek, the shah in 1878 installed Kāmrān Mirzā into an immediate share of power. This move bolstered the shah’s hold over state affairs and created a counterbalance against the ambitious Ẓell-al-Solṭān as well as a safeguard against Moẓaffar-al-Din’s possible failure. For Kāmrān Mirzā, this move considerably increased his power, influence, and prestige (Bakhash, pp. 146-48; Mostawfi, I, p. 146).
In April 1893 Kāmrān Mirzā was successful in separating the military budget from the governmental finance department (Daftar-e estifāʾ), with the result that the military thereafter drew up its own revenue and expense estimates. While the provincial troops remained under the customary dastur-al-ʿamal, with this move Kāmrān Mirzā secured a blanket allowance for all military expenses, the disbursement of which was under his exclusive control and at his personal disposal. The military budget was extremely lucrative, and Kāmrān Mirzā appointed his maternal uncle, Moḥammad Ebrāhim Khan, as head of administration of military finances (Vazir-e neẓām; Bāmdād, Rejāl III, p. 159; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, 1977, p. 871; Bakhash, p. 272). This arrangement allowed him unchecked access to government funds, autonomous control over the military budget, and an open source of money for his personal accounts (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, 1977, pp. 1051-52). For further profits he resorted to trafficking in weapons from the arsenal and other illicit arms deals—importing, for example, large numbers of Austrian Werndl rifles at 15 shillings apiece and selling them to the northern tribes, Kurds, and Lors at 8 Pounds Sterling. Some of these arms ended up in the hands of the very groups from whom Kāmrān Mirzā, as minister of war, was supposed to protect the state (i.e., Armenian rebels, whose arms provoked Ottoman and Russian complaints; Elgood, p. 126; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, 1977, pp. 938-39, 1033; Bakhash, p. 277).
Governorship of Tehran. Like many of the court’s very wealthy figures, Kāmrān Mirzā used his influence and position for personal profit in business ventures and concession deals. His eventual control over the military budget as well as the governorship over Tehran provided further opportunities for this. Kāmrān Mirzā was also able to use real estate business and commercial supervision to generate personal income. In 1884 Tehran’s merchants founded a council (Majles-e vokalā-ye tojjār), which gave them a certain independence and self-control and undermined the possibility of the imposition of extra dues and commercial constraints. Kāmrān Mirzā, supported by a few others, was instrumental in convincing the shah to abolish it within a few months. Exactions on the butchers and bakers also proved very profitable. ʿAbbās Mirzā Molk Ārā claimed that, as governor of Tehran, Kāmrān Mirzā had a habit of not repaying debts and of procuring merchandise such as jewels without payment. He supposedly also controlled a gang of thieves who broke into wealthy households and looted valuables. In this way the prince came into possession of Mirzā ʿAli Khan Amin-al-Molk’s jewels (Molk Ārā, p. 104).
In his role as governor of Tehran and head of the military and police, Kāmrān Mirzā was faced with the difficult task of overseeing the suppression of the Babi and Bahai threat. Charged with this by Nāṣer-al-Din Shah, but also eager to prove himself against a movement which might threaten his own prerogatives, Kāmrān Mirzā periodically initiated arrest and persecution. He employed spies (often clerics) and offered bounties on the heads of important figures in the movement, as well as authorizing outright police measures, deception, blackmail, and torture (Momen, passim).
KĀMRĀN MIRZĀ VERSUS AMIN-AL-SOLṬĀN
While systematically promoting Amin-al-Solṭān to become his unequaled political confidant, the shah fostered and used Kāmrān Mirzā to counterbalance the shrewd grand vizier (Ṣadr-e aʿẓam). In the same way, the shah’s unrestrained and open favoritism towards Kāmrān Mirzā was certain to strain and counterpoise the enmity among his three elder sons.
Over the later years of his rule, Nāṣer-al-Din Shah increasingly relied on both Amin-al-Solṭān and Kāmrān Mirzā Nāyeb-al-Salṭana. Intimately close to the shah and uncompromisingly ambitious, Amin-al-Solṭān faced challenges to his claim to power from serious rivals, among whom Kāmrān Mirzā was the most immediate and determined. In order to keep his grand vizier in a “chronic state of anxiety,” Nāṣer-al-Din Shah resorted to the old method of counterbalancing him against his son (Amanat, 1997, pp. 438-39; Kazemzadeh, p. 193).
Both favored and used by the shah, holding the ministry of war and the governorship of Tehran, in addition to being head of police and controller of all bureaus related to the military, Kāmrān Mirzā made repeated encroachments into Amin-al-Solṭān’s bureaucratic domain, emerging as the latter’s strongest rival. Both men’s intense mutual enmity cast a pervasive shadow over Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s court and government (Bakhash, pp. 263, 269; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, 1977, passim).
In 1888 Amin-al-Solṭān engineered one of the biggest coups against the shah’s sons, resulting in Ẓell-al-Solṭān’s lasting curtailment of power. In this debacle Kamrān Mirzā, too, was stripped of his post of commander-in-chief and his governorships. The proclamation of both sons’ dismissal was received with “very great astonishment” in the capital’s political circles. Nāṣer-al-Din Shah claimed, “his sons had become too powerful” (Nicholson to FO, decipher, no. 31, 1 March 1888, FO 60/495; Nicholson to Salisbury, no. 29, confidential, 1 March 1888, FO 248/464; Nicholson to Salisbury; No. 32, confidential, 13 March 1888; IO L/P&S/90/190). However, in contrast to the permanent curtailment of the Ẓell-al-Solṭān’s power, Kāmrān Mirzā was reinstalled the very next day as minister of war, commander-in-chief, and governor of Tehran, but he lost his governorship of various provinces (Bamdād, III, p. 158; Mostawfi I, pp. 355-77). The whole affair proved to him the shah’s favor towards him, but also served to highlight Amin-al-Solṭān’s power and threat, as well as acting as a provocation for revenge in the mind of Kāmrān Mirzā (Nicholson to Salisbury and government of India; No. 26, 28 February 1888, FO 248/464 or FO 65/1347 and IO L/P&S/9/190; Persian FO to Malkam Khan in London, 5 March 1888, FO 248/461 or FO 65/1348). This affair was a key event in establishing Amin-al-Solṭān as, in effect, the shah’s right-hand man, and particularly so for the foreign powers, to whom he methodically impugned Kāmrān Mirzā’s reputation, blaming him for maladministration and political difficulties and even accusing him of disloyalty towards the shah (Lascalles to FO, Nos. 166 and 167, 9 November 1892).
THE TOBACCO REGIE PROTESTS AND ASSASSINATION OF THE SHAH
Tobacco Regie protests. One of Kāmrān Mirzā’s most infamous exploits, which forever tarnished his image, involved the Tobacco Regie protests in 1891-92. He, like numerous other officials and courtiers, accepted large British bribes. But, although on several tense occasions he tried to force the harem to resume smoking and in critical gatherings demonstratively smoked himself, it has been widely accepted that he was one of the figures instrumental in bringing down the Regie and was involved in the forging of the fatwā banning the use of tobacco (Molk Ārā, pp. 116-19. Bakhash, p. 242; Lascalles to Salisbury, 22 December 1891, FO 60/553; idem, no. 18, 29 January 1892, enclosure including copy of a letter from Amin-al-Solṭān to the shah denying [incorrectly] that he received any money in this affair, FO 60/554 cited in Kazemzadeh, p. 251; Preece to Legation, No. 4, 29 January 1892, FO 248/584; Bayat, p. 19).
The shah’s attempts to expel Mirzā Ḥasan Āštiāni from the capital if he did not rescind the fatwā against smoking resulted in a major urban riot. In Kāmrān Mirzā’s messy and maladroit attempt to dispel the rioting crowd that threatened to storm the palace on 4 January 1892, at least six people (some sources say 20 to 30) were killed. This fact has been repeated and extensively discussed in memoirs and histories of Iran for the past century, and it left him with a lasting image of ineptitude (Kazemzadeh, pp. 254-56; Lascalles to Salisbury no. 24; 6. February 1892, FO 60/532; idem, no. 2, 14 January 1892 FO 65/1434; Taymuri, pp. 79, 223).
Assassination of the shah. One of the Regie confrontations’ longer-term consequences was the shah’s increasingly strong reliance on the police apparatus, which under Kāmrān Mirzā turned both more efficient and oppressive (Amanat, 1993, p. 74). Concomitantly the sharp oppression of Babis and Bahais continued unabated, as did those of other opposition forces and dissenters who sympathized with figures like Jamāl-al-Din Afḡāni or who spread Malkam Khan’s prohibited Qānun. The excessively harsh imprisonment and maltreatment of many people—particularly Mirzā Reżā Kermāni (follower of Afḡāni and assassin of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah) and Ḥājj Sayyāḥ Maḥallāti—and Kermāni’s account in the post-assassination interrogation have emerged as permanent testimony to Kāmrān Mirzā’s arbitrary exercise of power, earning him an indelible reputation for cruelty and malice. A similar account of the excessive brutality in Kāmrān Mirzā’s prison emerges from the experience of Ḥājj Sayyāḥ, who was banished from Tehran, exiled to Khorasan, and later arrested, imprisoned, and tortured for 22 months in Qazvin prison (Sayyāḥ, pp. 340-50).
The maltreatment of Mirzā Reżā Kermāni, a small merchant in Tehran who had business dealings with Kāmrān Mirzā (who owed him money) became emblematic of his arbitrary use of power. After endless attempts to recover the debt, Mirzā Reżā eventually confronted Kāmrān Mirzā, who paid back the debt, but not without beating and humiliating the man. During the Regie protests in 1891, Kāmrān Mirzā further retaliated by arresting Kermāni on charges of sedition and heresy, torturing him for 18 to 20 months in a Qazvin prison. There is little doubt that the merciless brutality by Kāmrān Mirzā and his henchmen fueled Kermāni’s fatal hatred and drove him to assassinate the shah on 19 April 1896 (for the transcript of Kermāni’s interrogation before his execution, see Bayāni, I, pp. 679-712; see also Browne, pp. 63-93; Sayyāḥ, pp. 322, 340-42, 452; Nāṭeq, 1984, passim; Bayat, pp. 57; Kasakovski, p. 65).
The patrimonial structure of status, centered on the shah, left Kāmrān Mirzā (as well as Masʿud Mirzā) in an acutely precarious situation upon his father’s death. In a different context, Nāṣer-al-Din Shah once impressed on the British that “his sons derived their glory from their parentage,” rather than from their posts (Nicholson to Salisbury, no. 26, confidential 28 February 1888, FO 248/464, also in FO 65/1347 and IO L/P&S/9/190).
In the years following his father’s assassination Kāmrān Mirzā maintained political influence and survived chiefly through his unequalled skill in harem politics. His internal familial strategies betrayed smart tactics and pragmatic foresight. The 1893 marriage of his daughter, Malekeh Jahān, to his nephew, Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah, proved crucial in securing a safe position following Moẓaffar-al-Din’s accession and allowed him to maintain some political clout, even if chiefly through the internal channels of familial links. The shared pro-Russian position and determined royalist anti-Constitutionalism provided a further common denominator between him and Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah, and in the ensuing years Kāmrān Mirzā employed his lifelong political experience chiefly behind the stage. With access to the shah’s private domain, Kāmrān Mirzā, frequently collaborating with his daughter, maneuvered against his political rivals (Bayat, p. 133; Ṣafāʾi, pp. 51, 60).
In the spring of 1907 he managed to again be nominated as minister of war by Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah, but he could not maintain the post in the face of parliament’s opposition, which was distrustful of his “notorious dishonesty and incapacity.” It invoked §59 of the constitution, which stipulated that “Princes of first rank [i.e., son, brother, uncle of the reigning sovereign] are not eligible to serve as Ministers” (FO 251/93, No. 5425, 1907). This barred him from any further governmental posts, leaving him with only informal political influence.
Several contemporaries agreed that Kāmrān Mirzā’s influence was instrumental in turning Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah against Amin-al-Solṭān after he had recalled the latter back into government in May 1907, as well as against such men as Saʿad-al-Dawla, an unequivocal Constitutionalist (Bayat, p. 194; Spring Rice to Grey, 13.9.1907, FO 416/469; Dawlatābādi, II, p. 88).
Over the following years, Kāmrān Mirzā supported his nephew’s anti-Constitutionalist course while attempting to maintain a conservative influence over the Majles. In the early negotiations, Kāmrān Mirzā, along with Mošir-al-Dawla, had been instrumental in meeting with the ulema to discuss the Majles’s legislative powers, but he later worked intensively against the Constitutionalists. He was instrumental in establishing the anti-Constitutional Anjoman-e ʿElmiya, a circle of conservative clerics, courtiers, and others (Bayat, p.136; Ṣafāʾi, p. 106). When Abu’l-Qāsem Khan Nāṣer-al-Molk was appointed as regent, Kāmrān Mirzā managed even to attract some support by moderate Constitutionalists in the fight against the radicals (Dānešvar ʿAlavi, pp. 85-87).
In the crisis of December 1908, when the Russian and British ministers had wrested from the shah consent for a new electoral law and the inauguration of the parliament, Kāmrān Mirzā assembled with the clergy and notables, moving the shah to withdraw his promises (Barclay to Gray, 31. 12. 1908, no. 325, confidential print, 2169, in Burrell, IV, p. 99).
He closely collaborated with old order royalists and the anti-Constitutional ulema, and he worked with Shaikh Fażl-Allāh Nuri, whose anti-Constitutional actions he supported and encouraged. In November 1908, Nuri headed a demonstration at the Bāḡ-e Šāh initiated by Kāmrān Mirzā, Amir Bahādor Jang, Mošir-al-Salṭana, and other reactionaries. They petitioned Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah not to re-open the Majles on the grounds that it was contrary to Islamic law (Monthly Summary No. 12, in dispatch by Marling, No. 307. 3 December 1908, FO 251/72; Bayat, pp. 175, 211).
The collaboration between Kāmrān Mirzā and Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah remained close. During the Tabriz uprisings in April 1909, the foreign press reported, correctly or incorrectly, that the shah had dismissed the premier, Mošir-al-Salṭana, and Amir Bahādor Jang, the minister of war, and in a desperate attempt to save his regime appointed Kāmrān Mirzā to both offices. His reputation preceded him: an “extreme reactionary” (New York Times, 30 April 1909). Upon Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah’s dethronement and exile in 1909, Kāmrān Mirzā, who likewise enjoyed Russian protection, took refuge in the Russian Legation in July. But with the appointment of his young grandson, Aḥmad Shah, he was able to maintain himself in Tehran and over the years exercised important influence over the young shah, who was crowned in 1915 (Burrell, IV, pp. 441-581).
LIFESTYLE AND PUBLIC IMAGE
Kāmrān Mirzā had lavish tastes and a keen understanding of architecture and art. He wrote nastaʿliq calligraphy with some accomplishment and owned vast properties in Tehran, including the Kāmrāniya quarter and the Kāmrāniya palace in Šemirān. He held investments in the bazaar (i.e., the Bāzārča-ye Nāyeb-al-Salṭana) and among commercial properties seems to have owned at least 20 shops in the area of Nāyeb ʿAbbās in the Čāl-e Meydān. The most prominent buildings of his architectural patronage were his two ostentatious Tehran palaces, the Moniriya, probably named and sponsored for his mother, and the Amiriya, famed for its mirror mosaics, which attracted even curious Europeans, who sought permission to view and photograph it. He bought massive amounts of European furniture and commissioned his own porcelain service. Even G. N. Curzon, despising anything Qajar, could not derogate his “style,” taste in “furniture,” or “aesthetic inclinations” (Curzon, I, pp. 421-22; Mahdavi, p. 120. The Kāmrāniya was used largely as a summer, the Amiriya as a winter, palace. Kamrān Mirzā’s main residence was at the heart of the court, adjoining the shah’s residence, his biruni was known as ʿEmārat-e Ḵoršid, the andarun as Sarvestān (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, pp. 51-57; Bāširi, I, p. 90).
At the center of court society, he staged himself as host of large events. He customarily sponsored Tehran’s taʿzia plays and religious fests. On many occasions he hosted the annual majestic, 300-guest Christian New Year’s reception for the foreign establishment, court, and administrative elite. He held lavish receptions for foreign representatives, entertained in Parisian style on the occasion of the shah’s birthday, and hosted the wives of the foreign representatives at his palace (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, pp. 51-57; Ṣafāʾi, p. 77; Curzon, I, pp. 421-22. Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, 1907, pp. 207, 849).
In contrast to most of the Persian memoirs, European contemporaries described Kāmrān Mirzā in ambivalent, but not necessarily unsympathetic, terms; he was considered handsome, “possessed of pleasant manners,” though “unusually stout” at age 35, “amiable,” and fluent in French (Churchill, FO 60/595, in Burrell, I and II; Curzon, I, pp. 421-22). But for political purposes he was considered of little use to the superpowers (particularly the British) and hence a cipher, “weak and inoffensive,” lacking “energy or patriotism” (ibid.; General Gordon on “Zil-es-Soltan and the Naib-es-Soltanah,” in Wolff to Salisbury, No. 118, 10 April 1890, FO 248/498 and FO 60/511; Curzon, I, pp. 421-22). Contemporary Persian memoirs, on the other hand, convey a unanimous and profoundly negative and disparaging profile. The only exception is that of his nephew Dust-ʿAli Khan Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, who occasionally mentions Kāmrān Mirzā’s perfect courteousness and friendliness in personal interactions. He styles him as “handsome, generous … pious” and a talented, dedicated officer, who spoke excellent French and even some German (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, pp. 51-57). Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, intensely disliking the prince, deemed Kāmrān Mirzā “young” and “his conduct not worthy of mention” in an interview with the British (Legation to Salisbury, no. 201 “confidential local news,” 29 May 1890; FO 248/499).
Kāmrān Mirzā died on 15 April 1929 in Tehran and was buried near the tomb of Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah at the Ḥażrat-e Maʿṣuma shrine in Qom (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, p. 57; Bāmdād, p. 161, mistakenly gives the date as 1928 and place of burial as next to Nāṣer-al-Din Shah at Shah ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓim).
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Originally Published: October 29, 2015
Last Updated: October 29, 2015Cite this entry:
Heidi Walcher, “KĀMRĀN MIRZĀ NĀYEB-AL-SALṬANA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2015, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/kamran-mirza-nayeb-al-saltana (accessed on 29 October 2015).