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Treaty of Gulistan

Treaty of Gulistan
Treaty of Peace between Imperial Russia and Persian Empire
Northwestern Iran's borders before and after the treaty
Location Gulistan
Effective 24 October 1813
Signatories Nikolai Rtischev
Mirza Abolhassan Khan Ilchi

The Treaty of Gulistan (Russian: Гюлистанский договор; Persian: عهدنامه گلستان‎‎) was a peace treaty concluded between Imperial Russia and Persia (modern day Iran) on 24 October 1813 in the village of Gulistan (in modern-day Goranboy Rayon of Azerbaijan) as a result of the first full scale Russo-Persian War, lasting from 1804-1813. The peace negotiations were precipitated by Lankaran's fall to Gen. Pyotr Kotlyarevsky on 1 January 1813.

The treaty confirmed the ceding and inclusion of what is today Republic of Azerbaijan, and parts of northern Armenia from Iran into the Russian Empire.

The text was prepared by the British diplomat Sir Gore Ouseley who served as the mediator and wielded great influence at the Persian court. It was signed by Nikolai Rtischev from the Russian side[1] and Mirza Abolhassan Khan Ilchi from the Persian side.

The result of the treaty thus was that it forcefully ceded the bulk of Iran's Caucasian territories, while it also made up the direct follow-up for the next war of the 19th century, namely the North Caucasian Republic of Dagestan were Iranian territory until they were occupied by Russia in the course of the 19th century.[3][4][5][6][7][8]


  • Background and the Russo-Persian War 1
  • Terms 2
  • Assessment 3
  • Aftermath 4
  • Precursor to Second Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Sources 8
  • External links 9

Background and the Russo-Persian War

  1. "Russia by this instrument was confirmed in possession of all the khanates -- Karabagh, Gandja, Shekeen, Shirvan, Derbend, Kouba, and Baku, together with part of Talish and the fortress of Lenkoran. Persia further abandoned all pretensions to Daghestan, Georgia, Mingrelia, Imeretia, and Abkhazia."[15]
  2. These lands include:
  3. All the cities, towns, and villages of Black Sea, such as:
  4. Megrelia,
  5. Abkhazia,
  6. Imeretia,
  7. Guria;
  8. Almost all the cities, towns and villages of the khanates in the South Caucasus and partly North Caucasus including:
  9. Baku khanate (now capital of Azerbaijan Republic),
  10. Shirvan Khanate,
  11. Derbent Khanate,
  12. Karabakh khanate,
  13. Ganja khanate,
  14. Shaki Khanate,
  15. Quba Khanate,
  16. part of the Talysh Khanate;
  17. Iran loses all rights to navigate the Caspian Sea, and Russia is granted exclusive rights to station its military fleet in the Caspian Sea.
  18. Both countries agree on the establishment of free trade, with Russians having free access to conduct business anywhere in Iran.
  19. Iran is also given complete and free access to Russia, yet both must pay a 5% ad valorem tax on any items imported into each respective country, thus being seen as a light import/export duty tax.[16]
  20. Russia in return promises to support Abbas Mirza as heir to the Persian throne after the death of Fath Ali Shah.
  21. Assessment

    Even until today, Iran officially sees this and the succeeding ."[17]

    Russian imperial historians maintain that Russia's absorption of the Transcaucasus territories delivered their population from constant Iranian and Ottoman invasions, and the Christian nations of the Caucasus were liberated from Muslim repression, ushering in the years of peace and relative economic stability.

    Very vital to the signing of the treaty was the agreement made by Fath Ali Shah with Britain. With their defeat in the Russo-Persian War, the Shah understood that another attack by the Russians was close to inevitable. Britain saw the war as unwinnable for the Persians and used this to strengthen their foreign affairs. Using their new-found diplomatic connections with the British, Persia established the Treaty of Defensive Alliance in 1812. This promised that Britain would “offer a defensive alliance against further Russian encroachments”. It essentially had terms stating that Persia would provide defense against any European army from entering India (which stationed a majority of British troops) and in return, Britain would provide military and financial aid in case of another Russian attack.[18]


    The treaty did not answer vital questions such as whether the Persian army would be disarmed or be able to regroup. It was known to both sides that Persia would strike again because they considered the regions rightfully theirs and were furious towards Russia’s treatment of the land and people. The war was becoming costly in terms of troops and finance, so the Treaty of Gulistan led to over a decade of nominal peace (1813–1826) between Russia and Persia, mainly for the clause regarding trade: both governments saw much potential with it and used it to their advantage. Permanent diplomatic missions were set up in Persia as well as Russia in order to keep trade open as long as possible.[19] It was a period of tense stability, though, as both countries understood that the treaty was written very vaguely and that nothing was written about provisions to the military mainly to prevent Persia from trying to regain the regions of Georgia or the Caucasus, thus greatly leaving open the possibility of another future war.

    According to Prof. Svante Cornell:

    As another result of Persia's losses to Russia, the two treaties of Gulistan and Turkemenchai also divided Azerbaijani[21] and Talysh[22] people from their brethren in Iran.

    The area to the North of the river North Caucasian Republic of Dagestan were Iranian territory until they were occupied by Russia in the course of the 19th century.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

    Precursor to Second Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828

    The Treaty of Gulistan left the possibility of conflict open between the two countries, thus being weak from the start. Russia's main priority before the war was to focus on the wars being fought with Napoleon, which explains the small numbers of troops they dedicated for the Russo-Persian War. The treaty of Gulistan was mainly a way for both countries to “gain a breath”[23] so that the Russo-Persian War could end and they could focus on other issues. After the Treaty was signed, Persia started to rapidly build up its army once more, as Fath Ali Shah was fully devoted to regaining the lost territories. It was surprising to no one when Fath Ali Shah ordered his military commander, Abbas Mirza to start training troops in 1823, three years in advance of the second Russo-Persian War of the century, which was three times as much military preparation than he spent for the first War. The clergy in Persia also publicly announced that the jihad against Russia was not over.[24] In 1826, once again Persia attacked on the territories lost to Russia (with the British supporting the Persians more). The second Russo-Persian War lasted two years and Persia lost 35,000 troops to Russia’s 8,000. Performing poorly in the war, Persia lost, leading to the signing of the Treaty of Turkmenchay, which resulted in the loss of modern-day Armenia and the remaining parts of contemporary Azerbaijan.

    See also


    1. ^ (Russian) Treaty of Gulistan
    2. ^ Fisher et al. 1991, p. 329.
    3. ^ a b  
    4. ^ a b L. Batalden, Sandra (1997). The newly independent states of Eurasia: handbook of former Soviet republics. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 98.  
    5. ^ a b E. Ebel, Robert, Menon, Rajan (2000). Energy and conflict in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 181.  
    6. ^ a b Andreeva, Elena (2010). Russia and Iran in the great game: travelogues and orientalism (reprint ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 6.  
    7. ^ a b Çiçek, Kemal, Kuran, Ercüment (2000). The Great Ottoman-Turkish Civilisation. University of Michigan.  
    8. ^ a b Ernest Meyer, Karl, Blair Brysac, Shareen (2006). Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia. Basic Books. p. 66.  
    9. ^ Sicker, Martin. The Islamic World in Decline: From the Treaty of Karlowitz to the Disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Praeger Publishers, 2000. Pg. 98-104
    10. ^ Keddie, Nikki R.. Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution, Updated Edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. Pg. 32-39
    11. ^ David M. Lang “Griboedov's Last Years in Persia”, American Slavic and East European Review, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Dec., 1948), pp. 317-339
    12. ^ Sicker, Martin. The Islamic World in Decline: From the Treaty of Karlowitz to the Disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Praeger Publishers, 2000. Pg. 106-112
    13. ^ Polk, William R.. Understanding Iran: Everything You Need to Know, From Persia to the Islamic Republic, From Cyrus to Ahmadinijad. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Pg. 75-84
    14. ^ The Cambridge history of Iran By William Bayne Fisher, Published by Cambridge University Press, 1991, pp. 145-146.
    15. ^ John F. Baddeley, "The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus", Longman, Green and Co., London: 1908, p. 90
    16. ^ Issawi, Charles. "European economic penetration, 1872–1921." From Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic. Cambridge University Press, 1991. Pg. 192-210
    17. ^ Muhammad Riza Nasiri, "Asnad va Mukatabat-i Tarikh-i Qajariya", Tehran, Intisharat-i Kayhan, 1366/1987, pp. 7-8.
    18. ^ Sicker, Martin. The Islamic World in Decline: From the Treaty of Karlowitz to the Disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Praeger Publishers, 2000. Pg. 104-107
    19. ^ Kazemzadeh, F. "Iranian relations with Russia and the Soviet Union, to 1921." From Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic. Cambridge University Press, 1991. Pg. 330-338
    20. ^ Prof. Svante Cornell, "Small nations and great powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus", Richmond: Curzon Press, 2001, p. 37.
    21. ^ "However the result of the Treaty of Turkmenchay was a tragedy for the Azerbaijani people. It demarcated a borderline through their territory along the Araxes river, a border that still today divides the Azerbaijani people." in Svante Cornell, "Small nations and great powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus", Richmond: Curzon Press, 2001, p. 37.
    22. ^ Michael P. Croissant, "The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: causes and implications", Praeger/Greenwood,1998 - Page 67: The historical homeland of the Talysh was divided between Russia and Iran in 1813.
    23. ^ Lambton, Ann K. S. "Persia: The Breakdown of Society." The Central Islamic Lands from Pre-Islamic Times to the First World War. Cambridge University Press, 1970. Pg. 435-452
    24. ^ Sicker, Martin. The Islamic World in Decline: From the Treaty of Karlowitz to the Disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Praeger Publishers, 2000. Pg. 114-122


    • H. Pir Nia, Abbas Eghbal Ashtiani, B. Agheli. History of Persia. Tehran, 2002. pp. 673–686. ISBN 964-6895-16-6
    • Fisher, William Bayne; Avery, P.; Hambly, G. R. G; Melville, C. (1991). The Cambridge History of Iran 7. Cambridge:  

    External links

    • BBC: 200th Anniversary of Treaty of Gulistan (in Persian)

By this treaty:

Persia in 1808 according to a British map, before losses to Russia in the north by the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan, and the loss of Herat to Great Britain in 1857 through the Treaty of Paris.


According to Cambridge History of Iran:

Numerically, Persian forces had a considerable advantage during the war: a ratio of 5 to 1 over their Russian adversaries. However, the Persian forces were technologically backwards and poorly trained - a problem that the Persian government did not recognize until a far later juncture. Despite these crippling disadvantages, fighting continued in northern Persia, jihad upon them, demanding that its people unite to fight the war against them.[12] Persia was actually losing the war and asked for military and financial aid from France’s Napoleon (with which they had a France-Persian Alliance), yet France's relations with Russia were more important to them after the two countries signed the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, resulting in France leaving Persia unassisted. The Battle of Aslanduz on 31 October 1812 was the turning point in the war, which led to the complete destruction of the Persian army, thus leaving Fath Ali Shah with no other option but to sign the Treaty of Gulistan.[13]

Although Persia entered the war mainly for the goal of recapturing the majority of the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, and Georgia which Agha Mohammad Khan had managed to prior to his death, Fath Ali Shah had heard about the atrocities being committed by Russian Commanders in Georgia, the commanders ruling “through massive extortion and maladministration”.[11]

With the alliance, Persia entered into the first Russo-Persian War against a militarily pre-occupied Russia, which was heavily invested in the Napoleonic Wars. [10] Persia was trying to align with France in 1801 to better position itself in case of war with Russia, yet those attempts fell through. Ironically, as both Russia and Britain were currently engaged in the Napoleonic wars, Fath Ali Shah instead brokered a deal with Britain that provided Persia with military support from Indian-British troops in exchange for preventing any European country from entering India.[9]

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