The Qajars were a Turkmen tribe the leader of which was Agha Mohammad Khan. After Karim Khan Zand’s death in 1779, Agha Mohammad Khan started his efforts to reunify all the provinces of Iran which were acting independently under the rule of local governors.
Defeating all his rivals, Agha Mohammad Khan established the Qajar dynasty in1795and set Tehran as the capital of his kingdom.
The Qajar period was the beginning of the foreign influence in the internal affairs of the country. Foreign governments, especially Russia, Britain and France rivaled excessively for Iran. As a result of the different contracts and treaties, such as Golestan and Turkmanchai, Iran lost several provinces and granted the foreigners so many privileges.
One of the most important turning points in the history of Iran was the constitutional revolution that happened in 1906 and was led by the clergymen and the merchants in the time of Mozaffar a-din shah’s ruling. As a result the first Majlis (parliament) of Iran was founded so that the people’s representatives could observe and supervise the government’s policies and activities. With the help of Russia, the next successor to the throne, Mohammad Ali shah revoked the parliament but despite the many barriers and through widespread revolts, people reopened it and continued the constitution.
The most famous and successful of the Qajar kings was Naser a-Din Shah. He and his consultant, Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Kabir, who had helped him ascend the throne, started a multilateral reformation to change the disastrous situation of the country. The most important of Amir Kabir’s works, was the foundation of the first modern university of Iran, Dar al-Fonoon, with Iranian, French and Russian instructors in order to impart the modern techniques and knowledge of the day to the Iranian students.
World War I (1914-1918) broke out in the time of Ahmad Shah, the last, the youngest and the weakest Qajar king. During the war, though neutral, Iran was occupied by the British and Russian forces and suffered aggressions and violations until Reza Khan, a military figure, was established the dictator of Iran by a coup in 1921 and later n 1925 he was chosen the first king (Shah) of the Pahlavi dynasty.