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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Sybot

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Hello, and welcome to this AAR! There's not much to say here except that this AAR is played with the Pops of Darkness (aka Pop Demand Mod) and KanyeWest's Titles for Governments. The objective here, as the title may imply, is to bring Persia into the modern age and turn it into an empire worthy of its legacy. The AAR will mostly be in history-book style. I feel it fits the Victoria era better.

((Authors notes are in double brackets))

House Rules:

1) No reloading.
2) No breaking the infamy limit deliberately, unless I end up fascist or communist
3) Nothing seriously gamey, like conquering something on the other side of the world when there's no way it could be held in real life.

Other rules may be added as I think of them.

Table of contents:

Prologue: Qajari Persia
Chapter One: Wars inthe East
Chapter Two: Pride
Chapter Three: March Onwards
Chapter Four: The Reform Era
Chapter Five: Rising Status
Chapter Six: The Dawn of Industry
Chapter Seven: The First Kurdish War
Chapter Eight: Rebuilding and Rearming
Chapter Nine: Onwards, Brothers
Chapter Ten: From Sea to Sea
Chapter Eleven: Red Star, Shining Bright
Chapter Twelve: A New Kind of War
Chapter Thirteen: A World Aflame
Chapter Fourteen: Total War
Chapter Fifteen: The Fate of Empires
Chapter Sixteen: Aftermath
Chapter Seventeen: The Battle for Persia
Chapter Eighteen: Reconciliation and Cooperation
Chapter Nineteen: Gilded Age
Chapter Twenty: Extending Control
Chapter Twenty One: Red Fork
Chapter Twenty Two: The Descent
Chapter Twenty Three: The Climb
Chapter Twenty Four: New World Order

The Ancient Empire
Prologue: Qajari Persia

Civilization has existed in Persia for millennia, and the land has borne powerful empires and nations for almost as long. As a vital trading centre for goods flowing between east and west Eurasia it has seen unprecedented wealth and power and also great jealousy from those around it that has lead to countless invasions and conquests. The Empire of Alexander the Great, the Arab Caliphate, a variety of Turkic peoples, and most devastatingly the Mongols under Genghis Khan all sought to and successfully conquered Persia. But through all these disasters the identity of the Iranian nation persisted and emerged once again in the 16th Century as a series of dynasties that fought to rebuild the country's power and make it great as it had once been in antiquity.

By the 19th Century, Persia was under the rule of the Qajar dynasty which came into conflict with Russia over the Caucasus, ending in disaster and the complete loss of the region. At the same time the rulers of this dynasty were beginning to open up Persia to Western ideas in order to modernize and catch up with the powerful Russian Empire. However this lead to competition between the European powers, Russian and Britain in particular, who sought influence in this highly valuable and strategic territory. With these competing influences, the spread of European ideas through the nation and the reaction to them, and the inevitable coming of the Modern Era, the Persian Empire stood on the precipice of a new age. Would they become another European puppet or find their place in the new order and rise to the challenge of the industrial age?



This country has lost many battles, and now is the time that we halt our decline and restore what was once great. We must look outwards, not inwards, and carve out our Empire once again.
– Mohammed Shah Qajar speaking to his advisers after securing the throne, 1834


In 1836 Persia was far from its greatest extent, but its traditional borders remained mostly intact. To the west the Ottoman Empire focused on its internal issues and showed no immediate interest in pushing further east, while to the north Russia seemed similarly content with the acquisition of the Caucasus and was now focusing on expanding its control of Central Asia. In the east Britain was spreading its tendrils through north-west India and Afghanistan, but the strength of the Sikh Empire had not yet buckled to their influence. If Persia was to grow stronger, it would have to face up to one of these three Great Powers and risk disaster.



Twelve dozen muskets, ten bronze cannon, and ten men of good standing lead by Major Roger Warren to train in their use, thus that the Iranian people can defend themselves against foreign aggression
– manifest of British shipment of arms to Persia, 1830s


Persia had always been a centre of culture, and already Western ideas were beginning to catch on among the academics and bureaucrats that built up this culture. As Mohammed Shah turned his eyes to the West, the character of the nation was said to be becoming enlightened, at least by the standards that Europeans measured the 'uncivilised' nations of the world. However this change had not yet made much impact in the official policy of the Shah. Relations had been opened with a number of European nations, but for the most part all that was being traded was weaponry, and occasionally medicine and medical techniques to heal the sick among the upper classes.

((PoD/PDM adds many new National Values across four tiers. Enlightenment is in the lowest tier, which is the basic Unciv tier. Other nations that start with this NV include Egypt and the Sikh Empire, while the majority of other Uncivs start with the Tradition NV, which is the other one in the tier.))



Estimates place the Persian population of 1836 at approximately one and half million adult men, about six million people in total. Of these the majority were of Iranian descent with a substantial minority being Turkic Azeri in the Tabriz region. This minority was mostly integrated into the government as the Qajar tribe that had seized power forty years earlier came from this region and still held ties to the local warlords. Other minorities did not see such recognition but were treated fairly equitably by the standards of the time.
– The Qajar Dynasty and the Persian Restoration, published 1957


The many losses that the Persians had suffered had achieved one important effect. The Empire was withdrawn to its natural borders but it also meant that the vast majority of the population were Iranians loyal to the growing national identity or Azeris loyal to the Shah. There was some measure of stability provided by having very few agitated minorities which gave Persia a core strength that many other nations in a similar situation lacked. However this also meant that the nation was far smaller than its neighbours in terms of population. With the Russian Bear to the north outnumbering them fifteen-to-one and the vast populations of India and China to the east, one wrong move could see Persia swamped by numerically superior opponents.



They seek to control us, and yet we cannot refuse them or we will fall behind the times and be consumed by force. While we can marvel at the technologies they demonstrate and sell to us, we must never forget that they do not truly care for our interests.
– Mohammed Shah Qajar, speaking regarding the Great Powers, 1836


With regards to the Great Powers of the day, only Britain, Russia and the Ottoman Empire held much interest in Persia as it sat on the boundary of their respective spheres of influence. The country would take too much effort to directly conquer so all three powers had some measure of political pressure being applied. Britain was investing directly on top of this, as the East India Company sought to open up valuable trade routes from India. However, the Ottoman Empire was failing and was forced to focus its attention elsewhere, which left the situation as a conflict between Britain and Russia. At the time it remained to be seen if the Shah would side with either of these two powers or try to force his own way forward as the future beckoned.

When that choice was made, it would shape the history of the region for the next hundred years and even ultimately have an impact on the state of the world today.

To be continued...
 
Last edited:

Rabid

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Persia is such a fun country to play, your strategic location means you can take advantage of all sorts of opportunities if they arise. I don't think I've seen a HoD Persia AAR yet so hope this goes well!
 

MondoPotato

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Good luck! Persia is a fun country to play, with loads of good challenges and options. Before I started writing my AAR about Central America, I was thinking about doing one as Persia. I'm looking forward to see where you lead them!
 

Sybot

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Thank you everyone for your comments. Normally I'd answer everyone individually, but this early there isn't too much comment on. I will aim to have around two-three chapters a week. I find that this style takes a lot longer to write than my usual style, which is gameplay with some narrative, because everything has to properly fit part of the historical narrative. But it will be interesting to see how it goes.

This Chapter doesn't cover very much, but the first couple of years are usually the busiest anyway as there is a lot of reorganisation to be done.

The Ancient Empire
Chapter One: Wars in the East



A failure to unite can be seen as the greatest failing of the Central Asian tribes. Even when faced with Russian and Persian aggression they continued to fight one another over petty feuds that did nothing but waste their strongest soldiers and brightest leaders.
- Legacy of the Khans, published 1980


The early 19th Century was a tumultuous time in Central Asia. This was not a particularly unusual state of affairs, as very little had changed in the region from the time of the Mongol invasions. However the battles between Bukhara and Kokand over small pieces of Uzbekistan in 1836 had farther reaching consequences. The Persians and Afghans moved to exploit the distraction of the horsemen that so often raided their northern reaches.



I feel a kinship with my Turkmen brothers to the north. Although we are separated by the great Caspian, my people share a common heritage with theirs and together we can provide a united front against that will benefit both out peoples and the peoples of Persia too.
- Mohammed Shah Qajar shortly after meeting with Khivan emissaries, 1836


To further secure the northern frontier, the Shah sought an alliance with the tribes of the Khivan Khanate, It was readily accepted, as they feared Russian encroachment and sought a more powerful ally to support them should the time come. However for all of his words of support, it was questionable whether the Shah intended to make any use of this alliance except as a guarantee of border security. The following year an alliance was secured with Kokand after they were defeated by Bukhara.



Point One: All tribal disputes are to be brought to the administration in the nearest city such that they may be judged in a court that is in the sight of Allah.
Point Two: Settling a dispute through theft or violence outside of such a judgement is punishable by mandatory Zakat paid to the injured party, on top of the punishment for other crimes committed in the process.
Point Three: Each tribe may elect a representative, or ask the court to provide one for them.
Point Four: All disputes will be heard, and Allah's judgement delivered through His approved courts will be rendered fairly. By this means the tribal bloodshed in the region will be brought to an end.
- Official Persian government document rendered in both Farsi and Azeri, 1830s


The greater bureaucracy of the Persian state was almost made up of Iranians, while the Azeris made up more of the military command structure. The Qajar dynasty had not yet made much effort to integrate the two cultures more closely, but that did not stop large attempts to recruit people from the Tabriz region into government service. There was a great desire among some in Tehran to see the Turkic tribes settled down into proper administrations that could be taxed and mobilized efficiently.



It pains me to see the men that fought for my predecessors sent home, but the state cannot afford to have so many men under arms. They can serve better guarding their homes and families and ensuring the stability of our outlying regions. Perhaps one day I will have need to mobilize them again and they can taste the fury of battle once again.
- quote attributed to Mohammed Shah Qajar sometime in the 1830s


Much of the Persian military was severely understrength, some of it critically so. It was a result of overextended expansion of the army during the wars with Russia which had never been fully demobilized in the intervening years of peace. To counter this, the Shah ordered some of the worst-off brigades to stand down and return to their homes to form local militia, while imported weapons were used to equip a smaller elite force that would be the core of the army from now on. While this lead to the effective size of the military shrinking, it also made it stronger and more flexible.

((PDM handles infantry in a slightly strange way that I'm not totally happy with. There's no reason to build Irregulars unless you start without Flintlock Rifles, and almost all Uncivs of note start with it or can get it quickly as their first reform. Besides that, you get Regulars from your accepted pops and weaker Infantry from non-accepted and mobilized pops which I think is reasonable.))



The nature of the Iranian military is one of nepotism and incompetence. If we are to prevent our nation being torn apart by the arms of Russia and Britain then this failure must be pulled up by the roots so that new shoots can grow.
- Sadr-e Aazam (First Minister) Hajj Mirza Agahsi, speaking in 1836


Supporting the Shah's reforms was his First Minister, Hajj Mirza Agahsi. He took a much harder line on the weaker links of the Persian army and instigated policies that saw many commanders who had been in charge of their forces since the Russian wars demoted and replaced and in the worst cases outright purged. This did not earn him friends among the military and it was only the fact that many of these same forces were being dispersed into local militias that prevented a large-scale revolt.

((PDM has a system where a minister with certain stats will be selected every ten years (or after every election in democratic country). Of course I just happened to pull one of the worst for my situation. I have no factories and it digs into valuable leadership which should be supplying my armies with commanders.))



I can collect the majority of the what the Shah demands of me, but I cannot give a him all of it. So I pay him what I can and say that the rest is hidden away by criminals. Of course most of what is 'hidden' is money that I need to pay to the most powerful criminals to keep them quiet, the local tribesmen to keep their support, and naturally a nice bonus for myself. I deserve extra reward for the stress that this task brings onto me.
- Testimony of an anonymous tax collector in Kerman province, 1830s


The Persian economy in the 1830s was weak and fragile. Taxes were frequently very high to support the Shah's expansions of the bureaucracy, but at the same time they were also sporadically enforced which lead to far lower government income which fed back into many of the problems of the nation. Crime was rampant in many regions as there was simply not enough oversight against corruption. While the treasury was strong by the standards of a minor power, it would not take long for it to be drained and often wages to one set of public employees or another had to be cut to keep the country afloat.



Such aggression on the frontier of India will be watched with a very careful eye. Expansion deeper into the region would begin to infringe on rightful British subjects and will not be tolerated. There are many men who could rule Persia, some far more compliant and far less bloodthirsty. Remember this.
- Letter from Lord Auckland, Governor-General of India, to Mohammed Shah Qajar, 1836


The first target of expansion for the restoration of the Empire was Makran. Baluchistan was a natural part of Persia, and the weak armies of the small coastal state would prove a good first test for the newly organised Persian forces. The amassing of the Shah's men on their eastern frontier with the Baluchi states did not go unnoticed by the British. Warnings were dispatched but the fact of the matter was that the region was not very deeply under British influence, so they had no cause to oppose the invasion directly.



War has broken out in Asia. According to sources within the East India Company the armies of Persia and Afghanistan are advancing against their neighbours. There has been no official word from His Majesty or the Company regarding our position in this matter, but our experts believe it will have no major impact on colonial policy.
- Excerpt from a minor article in a newspaper, published 1837, London


The war against Makran began shortly after the start of 1837. While it made headlines across Persia, the rest of the world paid far less attention. The colonial government in India was concerned, but the average citizen in Europe was paying no attention to the affairs of primitives. They were far more concerned by the ongoing crisis in Spain between the Carlists and the government. Closer to Persia, the Emirate of Afghanistan launched a larger campaign to pacify the tribes to their north. In their war they drove back the horsemen, still exhausted from the war with Kokand, and took control over the remainder of the Kandahar region.



I assure you that we are only reclaiming lands that our rightfully ours, and the remainder of India is under no threat. Now, enough of this dreadful talk. Please, feel free to explore the city. I will make sure that my men are welcoming to you. We have a lot to discuss.
- Mohammed Shah Qajar, speaking to British observers, 1837


The war had drawn British attention to Persia, and soon a variety of observers were arriving to ensure that the Shah did not step beyond his purview. Far from rebuking them, the Shah allowed them almost free reign to meet with his court and generals. While this wasn't a popular policy, he hoped it would allow some of the European ideas to enter the consciousness of the ruling class of the country and pave the way for further reform along European lines.



They stood no chance against our new guns. We could reload them twice as fast as the older ones, and we had enough men to stand several rows deep to keep the fire on them. Their horses fell from under them, and when our cavalry engaged them the battle was won. Victory was ours and we wiped them out to a man so they could not rise against us for a generation.
- Testimony of a Persian soldier during the invasion of Makran


Makrani resistance only lasted as long as it took for the Persian army to march on the fort in Gwadar. The ruler of Makran surrendered after the obliteration of his army and was forced to grovel for his life at the feet of the Persian officers. He was granted that after the humiliation had been done, and allowed to flee while the army began to move and seize control of the remainder of the region.



The Europeans are dangerous. I trust the Shah and I trust Allah to guide us to victory, but I do not trust those men from the West. Nonetheless their knowledge has granted them enormous wealth, and with the right men in the right places we can start to bring some of this wealth to ourselves.
- Soheil Mirza Majidi in a letter to his allies shortly before the coup, 1837


While the army was away, the machinations of court continued. There was a lot of discontent among the military regarding the purges of the First Minister, and there was much debate among the upper nobility about the Westerners now setting up in the cities. Behind the scenes there was a lot of manoeuvring, but in the end an alliance of some of the leading officers who were not out on the war front and some of the more ambitious nobility were able to quietly overthrow First Minister Agahsi. In his place was a young nobleman named Soheil Mirza Majidi. He was very interested in what the Europeans had to offer with regards to commercial and agricultural techniques, but nonetheless urged the Shah to keep his distance and not give too much ground to them.

((Absolute monarchies get the option to remove the first minister once a decade. I don't usually take it because the effect of the Minister is usually not that bad and there are some penalties to taking the decision, but in this case he was absolutely terrible for my situation. It was a dice roll as I could get worse, but I was lucky and got not the best but one that at least helped my money situation.))

However, his desires for peaceful growth of wealth were not to be. Fresh from their respective victories, the armies of Persia and Afghanistan began to march along their shared border and posture against one another. The Emir of Afghanistan recognised the growing threat of the Empire, and the Shah did the same to the Afghani state. A conflict was inevitable, and when it came it would decide the fate of Central Asia.

To be continued...
 

MondoPotato

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Great update. It had a little bit of everything! Good luck against Afghanistan, assuming you're going to war. Last time I played a game as Persia, although beating Afghanistan isn't really the concern, I found the loss of soldiers life required to do it was something that could really make or break your immediate future.
 

Sybot

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MondoPotato: The biggest concern would be British intervening, which they did twice in real life, to prevent the Persians invading Afghanistan. The AI isn't quite that competent though.

The Ancient Empire
Chapter Two: Pride



Men, I am here to do one thing and one thing alone. Crush the Afghans! With such fine soldiers nothing will stand in our way as we march on Kabul and tear the Emir from his throne. All the world will see just how powerful we are, and know that Persia has risen again!
- General Nosret Shirazi speaking to his troops on the Persian-Afghan border, late 1837


As tensions were on the rise on the Afghani border, the Shah dispatched one of his most aggressive generals to the front. While many of his senior staff painted General Shirazi as a buffoon, he had a strong aggressive and risk-taking attitude that the Shah believed would be decisive. Across the border the Afghan armies patrolled and scouts reported that they still appeared to be depleted after their war with Bukhara. This further emboldened the Persians, as they were fully recovered from their own war on the coast.

((I like how being ballsy is enough to basically balance out being incompetent.))



Thousands of Hazara women and children were taken to be sold as slaves in the markets of Kabul and Kandahar, while numerous towers of human heads were made from men of fighting age as a warning to others who might challenge the rule of the Emir.
- Persian newspaper report on the situation in Bamyam following a tribal Pashtun raid, January 1838


One of the key points of conflict was the rightful Persian territory that many believed the Afghans were holding on to. Herat was seen as a key part of the Persian Empire by many, and had many Persian inhabitants besides, while further from the border Bamyam held a significant number of Persian-speaking Hazara who were hated and attacked by the Pashtun majority. The Shah made vocal his desire to take back Herat and free the oppressed people of Bamyam by any means necessary. The Western powers watched with interest, as they wanted to see which of the two dominate Central Asian powers came out victorious and which would be the biggest threat to them. They had no way to intervene at present as tensions in Europe were on the rise due to disagreements about the mounting situation in Egypt and no one wanted risk inflaming the situation in the Muslim world further.



It's all very simple. The Afghans will melt before us as we keep the initiative and push as hard and fast into their territory as we can. Strategy is not important when you have the numbers. Should our attack falter, our allies will advance from the north and crush them from behind while we dig in after freeing Herat and Bamyam. This can't possibly fail.
- General Nosret Shirazi speaking regarding the Invasion of Kandahar, March 1838


Plans had been drawn up for the invasion to liberate the Kandahar region and true to General Shirazi's personality they were aggressive, straightforward and limited in contingencies. Documents recovered from the era indicate some disagreement amongst the General's officers over whether the plans were genius in their simplicity or a incredibly dangerous risk. It was pointed out the that the Emir could call in his allies, or the terrain could allow the defenders to hold out for years against the invaders, or that the horsemen to the north might not honour their alliances and come to Persian aid. Any one of these things could break the campaign, but the complaints never reached the Shah and so the war began.



I thank you for your words of support in your last letter. The friendship of those who oppose the Turk will not be diminished by distance. They are failing, and soon I will be free to build my own Empire. Perhaps one day we can fight together as Sultan and Shah and tear down Istanbul once and for all.
- Letter from Muhammed Ali, Khedive of Egypt, to Mohammed Shah Qajar, early 1838


With the escalating crisis in Egypt the Ottoman Empire was rapidly losing prestige and power, and many were starting to agree that they could no longer be considered one of the Great Powers. During this time there was a lot of correspondence between Egypt and Persia, but the Shah was not willing to support Ali's plans beyond advice and words of friendship as it would mean attracting the attention of even more European powers which had a vested interest in propping up the ailing Ottomans.



It has often been said that a defender that knows the terrain can defeat any number of better equipped invaders, and that Afghanistan is the greatest example of this. The Afghans used every advantage they could muster to trap Persian attackers in mountain passes and ambush them as they crossed rivers. However, this was occurring in a region with large, Persian-speaking minorities who were more than willing to assist the invaders by acting as guides and spies. The defender's advantage only lasts as long as the people they are defending want it to.
- Passage on Persian and Afghan tactics taken from Legacy of the Khans, published 1980


Armed with more advanced weapons, the Persians were able to advance and push back the Afghan defenders, but not without casualties. The Afghans knew the terrain far better and fought a delaying action for as long as they could before being forced to retreat entirely. Soon the border regions had fallen under Persian control. Neither side had called in their allies yet as both sides believed they had the situation under control. The Persians were convinced that the war would be done within a year, while the Afghan Emir was lobbying the British to intervene and prevent the Persian Empire from getting too powerful.



Discussion on Persia lasted for an hour as intervention was debated. Fears of Russia backing Persia were discussed, but it was pointed out that there was no evidence of such. The Maharajah's open support of Persia troubled some ministers, but with the French on the move and ongoing commitments in the Burmese and Chinese regions it was agreed that no troops could be spared to aid Afghanistan at this time, especially if it risked spilling into other parts of the region.
- Excerpt from minutes of a meeting of ministers in London, April 1838


The British had bigger issues to contend with. France was beginning to deploy troops in preparation to support Egypt against the Ottomans, while Prussia and Austria were moving men south to prop up the ailing Turks. The whole situation could break into war at any moment and they did not want to open up another front against Persia at this time. Additionally, the Maharajah Ranjit Singh had proclaimed his open support for the Shah and might join the war on their behalf if the British intervened. They did not want to whole of Asia to descend into anarchy so they left the situation alone.



No foreigner should be allowed out of the Quarter after 8 PM or before 6 AM without an escort.
Bodyguards shall be appointed by the office of the Shah.
No business may be partly or wholly owned by a foreigner outside of the Quarter.
Embassies may only be built inside the Quarter.
Crimes committed by foreigners will see them returned to their embassy and then expelled from the country.
- Directives on restrictions against Europeans posted in Tehran, 1838


However the British did expand their embassy in Tehran, as did many of the other powers. With more and more Europeans entering the country, First Minister Majidi formally granted them a district of the city to establish themselves and also to keep them from agitating the general populace by mingling among them. However the mere presence of the legation quarter caused dissent among the more suspicious members of the nobility.



Those horsemen trouble me not. This is the age of gun and cannon, and a few pillaging nomads can not stop the march of such an army. We will be in Kabul by the end of the year, if the enemy has not already broken by then. I'm sure of it.
- General Nosret Shirazi speaking regarding Pashtun raids in eastern Persia, late 1838


The Persian army could not be everywhere at once, and their pacification of the Pashtun tribes in the western regions of Afghanistan was far from perfect. Many of them rose up and began launching raids into Persia itself in an effort to force them to withdraw from their lands. General Shirazi was not interested in this, so he kept pushing onwards and aimed to crush the remnants of the Emir's army and force him to surrender before the raiders did too much damage.

((This is what I get for not calling my allies. Apparently they had military access through Khiva.))



The Shah of Persia shall be recognised as the Emir of Kandahar, the Emir of Herat and the Guardian of the Hazara. All Afghan forces are to withdraw from the new lands held under his rule and all Pashtun tribes are to submit or face reprisals, and a levy of ten percent of all income will be extracted from them to pay for war costs and cover lost taxes until tax collectors can be dispatched.
- Excerpt of the Treaty of Herat, signed December 30th 1838


His plan was a success, as the Emir was forced out of Kandahar entirely and retreated to Ghazni with the bulk of his forces. With almost all of Kandahar under Persian control, no sign of British involvement and the Sikhs and northern tribes looking at his lands hungrily, the Emir had no choice but to give in. General Shirazi would be looked at for decades to come as one of the most audaciously brilliant campaigns in Persian history. In less than a year he had subjugated half of Afghanistan and cemented Persia as the dominate power in the region. However, many outside of Persia realized that his success only came because the Great Powers' eyes were elsewhere and the plan had not run into unexpected complications. This did not dull the swelling pride of the Iranian people though.



- A map of Central Asia at the beginning of 1839

With the Persian-speakers of the Kandahar region freed, Persia now looked to the south-east to secure the remainder of Baluchistan and with it the eastern frontier of their Empire.



I offer my sincerest congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Victoria on her ascension to the throne, and my deepest condolences regarding the loss of her uncle. The peoples of the Persian Empire hope that we can work together with our friends in Britain to bring cultural enlightenment upon the world, so that the future will be ever brighter.
- A letter from Mohammed Shah Qajar to Queen Victoria following her coronation on August 29th, 1839


The ascension of Victoria to the throne of the United Kingdom presented a new opportunity for the Shah to normalise relations with the British Empire. He sent a great deal of gifts and messages to the young queen, doing his best to paint a picture of Persia as the bastion of civilization in Central Asia fighting to bring the light of knowledge to the region. The exact effectiveness of this strategy never really became clear, as subsequent events would play a much bigger role in British policy towards Persia.



The beginning of the 1840s saw many long-brewing conflicts across Asia flare up, and much of Persia's success at the time can be attributed to the Great Powers being far more focused on the immediate problems that presented themselves within the Ottoman Empire and China. The Shah was able to deftly manoeuvre his way through the diplomatic quagmire and continue to advance the interests of his Empire until...
- The Qajar Dynasty and the Persian Restoration, published 1957


As a new decade dawned upon the world, the crises finally broke. The Ottoman Sultan declared that Muhammed Ali would be forced to kneel or lose his head, and ordered an invasion of Egypt. Almost immediately the European powers began scrambling to support one side or the other and Britain pondered whether to join in as well. However, their attention was diverted by a diplomatic crisis in China that very rapidly escalated into a full-blown war that saw the British seek to carve out their own area of influence within the enormous state. Even the Americas saw chaos, as the USCA dissolved into civil war. It was the perfect time for Persia to strike.



It would only take a few months, Shah. The Kalati are weak and our armies are invincible now that they are buoyed by such a great victory. If you would let me, I would march in and obliterate them, thus demonstrating to Russia and Britain and all the rest that we will not be kept down. And if they oppose that, I say that we take the fight to them.
- General Nosret Shirazi speaking to the Shah, early 1840


And strike they did. The Kingdom of Kalat was crushed in a swift campaign lead by General Shirazi. Their army was in disarray as the war between Persia and Afghanistan had indirectly ruined their economy and it was easily forced aside by the aggressive General's forces. To avoid too much scrutiny from the rest of the world, only a small part of their country was seized and many of their royal artefacts were looted in a humiliating gesture. This lead to them being effectively a dependant state of Persia as they were almost completely surrounded and thus depended on Persia for their economy.



Let it be known that the Iranian peoples will not stand by while their brothers in arms are invaded by such unjust assailants. A state of war will now exist between Persia and Russia until this aggression is defeated and the lands of the people of Asia are restored to them.
- Mohammed Shah Qajar's declaration of war against Russia, January 8th 1841


The string of victories brought great prestige to the Persian Empire but they also brought a great amount of confidence, perhaps even overconfidence. With increasingly aggressive advisers at his side, the Shah found himself pushing for more and more military expansion. Many of his court were already agitating for another war with Russia now that the Persians had regained their strength and dignity after the last defeats. That chance finally came when Russia moved to subjugate the Central Asian tribes which nominally had an alliance with Persia. This was the spark that lit off the latest war between them, but was Persia truly ready for such a challenge?

To be continued...
 

Jokolytic

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Subscribed, this AAR is amazing. Are you going to attempt to take the Holy Land as the Ottomans start to die out?
 

InvisibleSandwi

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Just found out about this AAR - considering that your MiscMods work (The HAARd Way and The Pharoahs Return) was what got me into AARland in the first place, I'd have to say that not knowing beforehand was a serious oversight on my part.
 

Sybot

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Jokolytic: The Ottomans are one of my best targets as the Russians and British clean up the remaining uncivs around me, so it's in my long term goals. At the moment the Ottomans have picked up a number of Great Power allies so it's not really feasible until I'm civilized and caught up in tech.
InvisibleSandwi: I'm glad you enjoy my AARs and hope you enjoy this one as well!

The Ancient Empire
Chapter Three: March Onwards



These traitors do not understand what is happening. Nicholas will not stop until all the Khans are under his control, and then he will come for us. I believe that we can outlast this war, but our allies may not. Whatever happens, Khiva will be next and I will crush them myself if the Russians can't get there first.
- Mohammed Shah Qajar, speaking to his advisers, January 1841


Almost immediately upon declaring war on Russia, the Shah dispatched messengers to his allies to rally them against the Bear. However, none of the tribes answered his call. At this critical moment with the Tsar making his move against Central Asia they ran in fear. Such a betrayal would not go unpunished, but there were other concerns for the Persian Empire. A lack of allies would mean that all of Russia's strength would come down on Persia and the Kokand Khanate and he had to prepare for it.



All men with skill on horseback or knowledge of guns between the ages of sixteen and fifty are hereby ordered to assemble at the nearest military grounds and prepare to march to Tehran. Compliance is mandatory except for designated militia and the sickly. These orders come from the office of the Shah, such that the Iranian peoples can be defended from Russian aggression.
- Draft orders delivered to the Isfahan region, early 1841


The Shah called up all the tribesmen from the far-flung corners of the Empire to fight for him. Russia had more than a quarter-million men under arms and so every single body he could muster would help hold back the tide. However the numbers that he could draw up were a fraction of what they could be, particularly in outlying regions where the Empire held little sway.



There were so many of them, and they just kept on going on and on and on. Our forts were rubble within hours and when we tried to attack them our men were blasted into pieces. So many explosions around, I don't know how I survived, I just...I don't want to fight those roaring demons ever again.
- Anonymous soldier describing Russian bombardment, early 1841


The first battle of the war was a massacre. Bringing in powerful artillery, the Russians tore through the border garrison in Azerbaijan. Their knowledge of the terrain did not help them in open battle against a far superior enemy, and the forces were forced to dissolve into the countryside where they could only launch small raids against the enemy. But this alone would help slow down the invasion and increase the losses they took, making it easier for the Shah's armies when they finally arrived from their former stations in the east.



These are our lands. The Russians suffer for every step they take while we can march wherever we want and be greeted as liberators. As such, we should push on and constantly keep the Russians on the back foot. If we let them advance beyond Tabriz the capital will be threatened so let us stay on the attack, retaking whatever should fall and keeping them trapped in their very own nightmare of attrition.
- General Nosret Shirazi speaking to his aides while on the march, May 1841


It was not until May that the bulk of the Persian armies, commanded by General Shirazi, arrived in the region. The Russians had made very little progress as a result of the mountainous terrain and constant harassment by local militia. Gathered together, the Persian army outnumbered any one Russian force but if a decisive battle was to take place they would most likely be defeated simply because of the number of guns the Russians had at their backs. General Shirazi was not deterred though and he ordered his men onwards to liberate territory that had fallen, risking a Russian counterattack in the process.



The Russian soldiers had assembled a barricade against us and had set up a rota of men taking turns to send volleys into our assembled forces. We had no horsemen to easily flank them with and no cannon to destroy the barricade, so we awaited support before advancing. However, the men under my command were both too eager and too scared. At least two units deserted in the middle of the battle, while three units attempted direct assaults against my orders and were cut down by well-organized gunfire. By the time we had removed the Russians from their position, we had lost several hundred men.
- A Persian officer describing the actions of his soldiers in battle, mid 1841


While the elite of the Persian army fought in Azerbaijan, the reserves that the Shah had called up attacked a small incursion that had been threatening Tehran. The battle was a slaughter. Despite outnumbering the Russians four to one, the Persian army took twice as many losses and was only able to drive the Russians from the field through sheer weight of numbers. Despite the Pyrrhic nature of the victory it was the first victory in the field against the Bear, which buoyed national spirits.



Discipline is the ultimate requirement of a soldier. With enough of it a man will march into the barrel of a loaded cannon and without it he will break when the first bullet passes his head. To instil discipline, the simplest method is to make each soldier more afraid of his officers than he is of the enemy. Any infraction should be punished harshly and publicly. The other side of the coin is camaraderie. Each unit should be built around men from the same region who can feel kinship around their shared past and fortune. With enough pressure from officers, the unit should form a cohesive whole where no man is willing to leave his brothers behind and will do whatever it takes to protect them.
- British training manual, 1840's


Ever since the war had begun, the Shah had been petitioning Britain for aid. He was well aware that the British were in the middle of their Great Game with Russia and did not want to see the Tsar make any more inroads into Asia from where he could threaten India. While Britain was still tied up in the Oriental Crisis, which had escalated to the point where shots were being fired in Europe, it was willing to commit a few more officers to help drill the Persian army and hone them into a more efficient fighting machine.



Well done to my good friend General Meshhedi for his victory. Our men are already showing their strength against these vile foes. Now we must turn this victory into a righteous counterattack and drive them out completely. Time is running out for our allies.
-General Nosret Shirazi in a letter to General Ahmad Meshhedi, October 1841


The effects of European training were already making themselves felt by the end of 1841, when a major victory was won in Sanandaj. The Russian retreat was cut off and they were forced to flee deeper into Persia where they were wiped out to a man. However despite this victory the Russians were still swarming through the areas around Tabriz, their superior numbers making it hard to amass enough men to launch a counterattack. General Shirazi was still confident however, as the Russian armies were already showing signs of exhaustion and he believed it would take just one well timed strike to break their lines, free Azerbaijan and march into the Caucasus.



See the bear. See the lion. The bear attacks the lion. The lion has claws. The bear is hurt and runs away.
-Nasser Al-Din Qajar's first English writing at age 10 under the instruction of British tutors, late 1841


British men and women were an increasing presence at court, as the Shah had seen the successes their military trainers had offered and now wanted to extend that to other areas of governance. He even took the unprecedented step of handing his own children over to be educated directly by governesses. It was his intention to have the next generation of Persian leaders be the ones capable of leading the country into the coming Golden Age. The Shah had always been a sickly man, and with the stress of rulership taking its toll he did not know if he would live to see it.



My friend, I wish you a swift recovery from your latest illness and your troops swift victory against the Russian pigs. They have taken many of my outlying towns and villages and brought in almost fifty thousand men to the campaign. My army numbers less than twenty thousand, and each engagement sees fine horsemen fall that I cannot replace. I implore you to send arms and men before it is too late. I thank you deeply for standing by my side even when your other allies would not, so now let us stand together before we are all crushed.
-Letter from Shir Ali, Khan of Kokand, to Mohammed Shah Qajar, November 1841


The war dragged on as winter began, but while the Persians held fast against the Russians their allies did not fare so well. The Kokandi horsemen had been driven back by the modern Russian military and now the Tsar intended to seize some of their land directly. Despite pleas for help, the Shah was not able to send any aid as the loss of his allies in Central Asia meant that he had no route to send reinforcements.



The first time I saw war was observing from the walls of Tehran a great glow in the distance. It was beautiful but horrifying, as it was in fact the Russians marching south from their beachhead and burning all in their path. History may look down on me for giving in at this sight, but I will not let that happen to my city.
- Mohammed Shah Qajar in a letter, late 1841


The situation came to a head when a large Russian force crossed the Caspian Sea and landed just north of Tehran. The regional defenders were driven back and General Shirazi's forces were still tied down holding Azerbaijan so there would be no way to stop the Russians marching on the capital and at the very least laying siege to it. The Shah could not abide having his capital become a warzone, so this was the act which caused him to request peace.

((I have no idea how these Russians managed to slip past me))



The Persians have conducted themselves agreeably in surrendering their alliance with the barbarians. Our armies met on the field of battle and advanced on their capital to force their surrender. This victory marks another success of the nation's policy towards our southern frontier, one that will be repeated in future as we subdue the remaining primitives and bring them Russian culture.
-Tsar Nicholas I in a Russian correspondence, early 1842


Peace with Russia included the acknowledgement of Russian supremacy over Kokand and the withdrawal of all Persian support from the nation. It was now the Tsar's to do with as he pleased. But while this loss was humiliating, it was also a very well fought defeat. The Persians had given as good as they had gotten and for the majority of the war the Russians had been confined to the mountains of the north-west where their troops steadily wasted away from hunger, disease, and insurgency. If the country had just been better prepared, and had not been fighting to defend a land it had no hope of supporting, the Shah believed that he and his men could have fought the Russians to a draw or perhaps even defeated them.



The failure of the Sikh Empire and Egypt to resist the western powers left Persia alone in the region, besides a number of smaller nations on the periphery that ultimately fell under the influence of one power or another. The Ottoman Empire remained intact, if only through propping up by the Great Powers, and Russia and Britain closed the noose tighter. The events of the next decade would decide the fate of the last independent nation between Turkey and the Far East.
-The Qajar Dynasty and the Persian Restoration, published 1957


The next few years were a time of consolidation and rebuilding. The military was in incredible shape, for having faced the Bear head on. Persia emerged from the war stronger than ever before and with a great deal of knowledge about the ways of war. At the same time, the administrative reorganisation of the country went ahead without serious issues. Events on the outside continued without much fanfare within Persia. Britain saw the threat that Persia presented and moved quickly to secure the last remaining nation in Central Asia that could stand up to it before the Shah could bring it under his control as well. Eventually the Oriental Crisis came to an end with a defeat for the Egyptians and their French backers. However, the fact that the Ottoman Empire required aid from Britain, Prussia and Austria did not help their reputation as the sick man.



I've read of a land far to the west, called America, where every man can vote for a leader and they have no Shah. It sounds like a very strange state of affairs, but they are still considered one of the Great Powers. The Shahs of Europe have also allowed the common man some rights and their Empires are still strong. The British are the greatest of the Great Powers and they have acknowledged that all men have the right to be free and banned the ownership of man. Why can't we make this official here too, father?
-Nasser Al-Din Qajar speaking to his father regarding the Rights of Man, 1842


Many new ideas were being brought into the country by the British. Most notably, the governess of the Shah's son was adamant that slavery be completely abolished in Persia. It was an interesting thought and there were many discussions between her and the Shah regarding it, but despite slavery technically being legal there were very few real slaves outside of some of the more remote tribes. Years of British economic pressure had weakened the slave trade enough that it was effectively gone and it was not worth angering some of the more suspicious members of the aristocracy or sending troops to far-flung regions to enforce a ban.



The borders of Sindh and Punjab shall be held as inviolable by the Persian Empire, and in return the borders of Afghanistan and Baluchistan shall be held inviolable by the United Kingdom and its allies. In the name of opposition against expansionism in Asia, further British aid will be supplied to Persia and these arms shall be used to secure the peoples of the region from any other power that seeks to oppress them.
-Treaty of Quetta, signed August 17th 1845


The invasion of the Sikh Empire fully secured the borders of India under British protectorates, and so they were able to put the next part of their plan for the Great Game into motion. Persia had shown itself very capable in the war against Russia, and now the British were willing to use them as a powerful buffer state against the intent of the Tsar in Central Asia. At Quetta an agreement was reached between the Governor of India and the Shah, where Persia would agree to not make any further inroads into India and in return the British would give them free reign to expand into Central Asia. There were a number of other clauses regarding never signing an alliance with Russia and the promise to open up more areas of the country to British observers as well. With official British approval the Persian army marched into Afghanistan and took Kabul. The Emir was forced into hiding and his country subsumed into rising Empire.



I have learnt a great deal from our great supporters in the West, and they have shown me that their way is the way forward. We cannot be left behind or history will sweep us aside as it has the Khans, the Afghans, and the Sikhs. Russia came within hours of this palace and unless we can reach their level of technology they might make it next time and bring an end to our nation. We cannot stop moving forward.
-Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar speaking upon taking the throne, November 1845


The Shah did live long enough to enjoy his victory. By the end of the year his ill health had caught up to him and he died of gout. A full month of mourning was declared by the palace, and quickly events were put in motion to secure his heir's place on the throne. A large progressive faction had been building up lead by Amir Kabir, a bureaucrat and diplomat who had been instrumental in securing the treaty with the British. First Minister Majidi opposed his influence as it would diminish the power of the aristocracy in favour of the national bureaucracy, but did not have the strength to launch a coup of his own. He fled the capital and began to gather support, but he could only find it from the most reactionary nobility who wanted European influence removed totally. He could not agree to this demand, so all his attempts to forge alliances fell through. This infighting prevented a serious aristocratic uprising occurring immediately, although the prospect of one still lay in the future as the new Shah's reforms advanced.

((When an unciv reaches 50% Westernisation in PDM they can move onto a Tier 2 National Value, the advanced unciv tier. These are Progress, Loyalty, and Independence. You can only pick Progress if you started with (or rarely switched to by event) Enlightenment, and Independence if you started with Tradition. Loyalty is the middle of the road NV and only really worth taking if you can't make the requirements for one of the other two. While Progress/Independence give a bonus/malus to research points and an increase/decrease in militancy, their real power lies in the Tier 3 civilised NVs that they ultimately lead to.))

Amir Kabir declared himself acting regent and First Minister for the fourteen year-old Nasser and set about enacting a series of administrative reforms that further consolidated the power of the bureaucrats. At the same time the young, idealistic, and optimistic Shah began to make proclamations on the direction the country was taking. His father had set things in motion, and now he intended to forge his country into a modern one based on the Western ideals he had learned from his tutors. Progress could not be stopped.

To be continued...
 

Rabid

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You need to tech up fast and protect Central Asia from the Russians, by annexing them of course :p
 

Sybot

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spiller68: Thanks!
Rabid: The remaining nations in Central Asia would take a bit too long to annex without risking Russia jumping in while I have a truce with them, so I have a different plan for them for the moment.

The Ancient Empire
Chapter Four: The Reform Era



My friends, we do not need to be rash with our actions. The Europeans have given us wealth and power which we will need to survive further Russian attacks. We cannot simply execute them all. I know they are infidels, but there is more to the world than which Prophet they follow. Ah. That's all right, I spoke hastily. I'll be leaving now, before this conversation declines further.
-Soheil Mirza Majidi speaking to his more reactionary allies, 1845


There was a great deal of discontent under the surface of the nobility, who saw the new Shah's reforms as tearing up Persia's past and submitting to the Great Powers. However there was a great deal of of tension between various factions in the movement, with some like former First Minister Majidi wanting to keep some of the more useful reforms and others intending to completely close of the country from Western influence. It was up to First Minister Kabir to keep these factions in check for as long as possible and keep them divided.



I have every intention of honouring my father's promises. Now that Kalat is under our control, the Persian Empire has reached its natural eastern border. We have no will to advance deeper into India. Of course, I understand the other half of the agreement was that your support would be granted for adventures in other areas, which I hope will be forthcoming.
-Nasser Shah Qajar in a letter to the Governor-General of India, mid 1847


Two years were spent consolidating the boy-Shah's power so that when he turned sixteen in 1847 he was able to take charge with a large base of supporters in his government. His first act was to declare war on Kalat and bring them under full control, finally completing what his father had started. As per the Treaty of Quetta, the borders between the Persian Empire and British India were now strictly defined and no more expansion in the region by either side would be permissible without retaliation.



The demographics of Persia began to change with the conquests of the Qajar dynasty. As the ppoulation passed ten million, Persians were reduced to a minority majority but with the help of the Azeri tribes and the Persian-speaking Hazara they maintained a thin majority. Nonetheless the leaders of the nation were well aware that a wrong move could see their carefully-built cultural alliances come apart and the nation with it.
-The Qajar Dynasty and the Persian Restoration, published 1957


Completing the annexation of Baluchistan brought the Persian population over ten million, a level that had not been seen since the Mongol Invasion. However, more than a third of these were Afghans and other minorities as a result of the conquests that had been conducted in the past decade. It would be a long time before these people were completely integrated into the nation, but the mere fact that Persia's population reached this level helped to expand its knowledge and power.

((Population has an effect in PDM that slightly buffs large nations and weakens small nations. Population bonuses goes up in stages of 1 then 3: <100k, 100k, 300k, 1m, 3m, 10m, 30m, 100m, 300m. Lower levels have higher population growth but lose research points, while higher levels gain research points without losing any growth. Generally you should always be aiming for the next level within limits. Only a few nations can make it to 100m, and you're unlikely to make 300m without ruling China or India.))



Persia is the greatest nation in Asia, and I promise my Shah and my people that I will stop at nothing to see us claim our rightful place and tear down the Russians and Turks who dare stand in the way of our Empire.
- Haroun Mirza Tir upon being appointed as First Minister, mid 1847


Amir Kabir stood down as Regent shortly after the Shah came of age, and took up the vaguely defined title of 'Minister of Progress' so that he could continue to influence the court. In his place one of the nobility was brought up in order to placate some of the old guard. Haroun Tir was suspicious of the advances being made, but he was also very eager for power and would stop at nothing to see Persia and by proxy himself grow stronger even it meant compromising a few traditions.



Any man who can read can learn to command men, build a house, organize a business, or assemble a rifle. When the day comes that we can hand out books to all the men of the nation and have them rise up to the challenge of building a city or leading an army nothing will be able to stand in our way.
- Nasser Shah Qajar writing on the importance of literacy, 1849


The early years of the Shah's reign were emphasised by a focus on education. British teachers had been in the country for years now, and a new generation of Persians who had been trained by them were now coming of age and spreading their own knowledge even further. Classes were being established across the country for the children of the nobility and for the clergy, and the average literacy rate of the nations slowly began to rise as a result.



The Qing launched a major crackdown on Christian literature in the years leading up to the rebellion and brutally put down anyone who showed support for Hong Xiuquan. Through sheer force the Heavenly Kingdom was strangled before it was born so that when war broke out there it could be crushed once and for all with ease.
- The Kingdom of Heaven, published 1992


Persia looked forwards, an as result events that happened alongside it were not treated with great interest. The Shah kept up with current events but only superficially. The liberal uprisings in Europe caught his eye, but ultimately they petered out with the Hungarian Revolution failing and many smaller states like Krakow getting conquered. Elsewhere, the Heavenly Kingdom rose up in rebellion against the Qing but that too came to nothing, as it was far too weak to oppose the full strength of China.



The peoples of Asia are suffering under the threat of the Russian yoke. Already they have invaded and subjugated Kokand, are inevitably they will aim to do the same to the remaining free people. Thus, with Allah's blessing we will move forward to secure these people under rightful and powerful Muslim rulers before they can be taken by anyone else.
- Nasser Shah Qajar's proclamation of protectorate over Khiva and Bukhara, early 1851


At the urging of First Minister Tir and with the Persian military stronger that it had ever been, preparations were made to invade the remaining territory of Central Asia. Russia's attention had been drawn away and the British were continuing to back Persian adventures in the region, so there was nothing stopping the spread of the Empire. The Shah also appreciated that he was claiming vengeance for the Khivan's slight against his father, although he was not especially interested in exacting a brutal revenge. The remaining Khans would be torn down and loyal Persian vassals installed in their place.



It was humbling to see. I took part in some of the first battles with Russia in the Kokand War, and I could see how these men opposing us now fought with the courage but also sheer disorganisation that we fought with in those early days. Where once we feared the horsemen of the steppes, they had become just another stepping stone as we might have been if things had gone differently.
- Testimony of an anonymous officer in the Central Asian campaign, late 1851


The campaign was swift and effective. Very little had changed out on the steppes in the past centuries besides the slow adoption of firearms. Faced with organised formations of Persian troops armed with imported flintlocks and British training the Khans broke after inflicting very few losses. Within a year and a half both Khiva and Bukhara had surrendered and their Khans had offered up the loyalty to the Shah. In the interests of keeping them as a buffer against Russia, the Shah did not completely seize their lands for the Empire but instead allowed them to continue ruling with a great deal of Persian influence in their courts.



On the seizure of property – All land that is cultivatable but is not currently under cultivation is subject to purchase by outside bidders for half the recommended price. Special dispensation is granted to take land at one quarter the price in the case that it carries a strategic resource or covers a key route where a road might be constructed. Failure to abide by these instructions will be sufficient cause for the land in question to be taken by force.
- Purchase order for land in the Baluchistan region, early 1850s


The Shah continued his reforms as the war was ongoing. In order to break up many of the old families, he began to force the purchase of many of the massive regions of the country that were ruled by ancient families and divide them up amongst the more loyal bureaucrats and merchant classes. This would help to improve the efficiency of the land as more and more of it would be cultivated. To prevent an uprising, he allowed Iranian and Azeri nobility to have their pick of land out in Pashtun and and Baluchi areas to make up for their losses although this would in turn anger the people out there.



I can see now how I looked at the time. I was a man only looking for power and trying to ally with whomever I could to achieve it. But Amir Kabir and the Shah, they were smarter men than I. They built up a foundation of allies and more importantly they fought for their ideals and their nation rather than themselves. It is no coincidence that I was only able to find true support among the Pashtun tribal leaders who were angered by our dominance. No honest Iranian wanted anything to do with a man who would hold back the rising nation for his own gain.
- memoirs of Soheil Mirza Majidi, published 1875


His strategy meant that when a rebellion did come, it was focused almost entirely in Pashtunistan and was far away from any real centres of power. The army eventually cleaned up the situation and took the chance to confiscate even more land to be handed out to loyal members of the government and some of the wavering aristocrats. By this means, a full-scale uprising across the country was prevented.



The failure to crush the Persians had caused consternation amongst the Russians, and after that the fall of Khiva and Bukhara damaged the government's diplomatic credentials. The undercurrent in St Petersburg was that Russia needed to reassert itself and resolve the Eastern Question before returning to Central Asia to deal with the upstarts.
- Crimea, Russia's Bane, published 1970


World events finally became relevant to Persia once again in 1853, with a crisis between Napoleon III's French Empire, Russia and the Ottoman Empire over the Holy Land and Eastern Christians. Russia began an invasion of Turkey, while France and Austria came to its defence. With two of Persia's big rivals at each other's throats the Shah watched this with interest. The resulting conflict became known as the Crimean War when French and Turkish troops crossed the Black Sea and launched an invasion of the peninsula. Persia remained neutral, not wanting to attract British attention into the crisis and escalating the situation even further.



Each valley should have cannon positions carved into the rock facing the Russian border, and positions where men might fire onto marching armies. Where a strongpoint is required dirt should be heaped against the barricade to soften the impact of enemy artillery against the walls and force the enemy to climb a hill to storm the fort.
- Orders for fortification on the Azeri border with Russia, late 1853


In order to prevent the conflict from spilling over into Persian territory, the Shah ordered a large number of constructions along the Russian and Turkish borders. British engineers were drafted in to oversee and advise the buildup. A great deal of knowledge was passed on to the Persian army at the same time, which they intended to use in future campaigns.



If Persia's resistance to Russian invasion damaged the image of the Bear, the Crimean War shattered it completely. Ever since the Congrees of Vienna the military strength of Russia had been seen as one of the key balancing points of Europe, but now it was defeated with just a minor invasion from France and support from its Austrian and Turkish allies.
- Crimea, Russia's Bane, published 1970


The Crimean War lasted just one year. Russia was under pressure from Austria in the west, so they had very few armies to spare in defending the Black Sea coast. Sevastopol fell, and soon afterwards the Tsar sued for peace. The Treaty of Paris was humiliating and saw Russia stripped of any claim to the Holy Land, although they did get influence over Romania to make up for it. The defeat was so terrible that Russia was no longer considered amongst the Great Powers, and while its sheer size meant it would inevitably reclaim its place it was clear to all that the Tsar was entirely beatable.



Knowledge and understanding are the keystones of power. The greatest general might be nothing if he had not read Sun Tzu. The greatest architect might be a failure if he could not draw his design. Here, all these things will be made possible. The future is ours for the taking.
- Nasser Shah Qajar formally opening the Dar-al-Funun, March 3rd 1857


The years following the Crimean War were quiet, with a great deal of effort being put into the ongoing literacy campaign. This culminated in the opening of the Dar-al-Funun, a great centre of learning in Tehran. Here the nobility of the country could be deeply educated in the sciences that were being imported from Europe, and in the future could begin to build on that and discover new knowledge that would lead Persia into the new era.

((This is a really nice unique decision for Persia. A free reform, one that gives 10% westernisation and a boost to research, for reaching 15% literacy makes Persia one of the best choices for a powerful unciv. Personally I'd say only Japan and (with a little luck dealing with Britain) the Sikh Empire are better. I don't know if it's possible to get this decision by the historical date of 1851, possibly if you encourage nothing but clergy from the start or invade a high-lit place like Japan.))

The twelve years since the Shah took the throne would come to be known as the Age of Reform in Persia. The country was rapidly changing as Western ideas absolutely flooded in, and soon it would be able to stand alongside the Europeans with pride.

To be continued...
 

VILenin

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Good progress so far, but it looks like Persia's running out of easy targets. Fortunately, your westernization program seems to be moving ahead briskly so perhaps Persia will be able to challenge some other major powers in the near future. Perhaps a showdown with the Ottomans to determine the master of the middle east once and for all?
 

germanpeon

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I was thinking the same thing as the above. Once you've caught up (with the Turks, at least) you should be in a position to challenge them for Iraq, at least. There's your doorway to the rest of the Arabian peninsula.

I'm a huge fan of this AAR, by the by. I love the style, the screenies, and the captions. You capture everything important in a brief yet flavorful way. :)