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    * Zaki Khan *

    زکی خان

    - See Zaki Khan Zand: Half Brother of Karimkhan of Zand Dynasty who ascended the throne in Shiraz. (Wikipedia) - Zaki Khan

    Zaki Khan Zand (died June 6, 1779) was an Iranian military commander and contender for the throne. A member of the Zand Dynasty of Iran, Zaki Khan, though he never became Shah of the Persian Empire, managed to exert power over the Empire during the three months between the death of his half-brother Karim Khan, on March 2, 1779, and his own brutal death.


    Origins and early years

    Zaki Khan was born into the Zand tribe, who had been uprooted by Nadir Shah from their ancestral lands near Hamadan, in the central Iranian region of Lorestan, and settled in Northern Khorasan. At Nadir''s death in 1747, the Zand returned to Lorestan, and their leader Karim Khan managed to gain vast political power, taking control of Isfahan in 1750, where they installed a puppet underage Shah, Ismail III. After ten more years, Karim Khan was proclaimed Shah, and his power extended over most Central and Western Iran. Zaki Khan was doubly related to Karim Khan: he was his first cousin through their fathers, and his half-brother on the mother''s side. The fortunes of Zaki Khan followed those of his half-brother and protector the Shah, and he was considered of his main generals.

    First rebellion and years as a general (1763-1779)

    However, Iranian sources note that Zaki Khan was by then already infamous for his cruelty and opportunism. In 1763, returning from the last campaign against Azad Khan Afghan in Azerbaijan, seemingly disappointed by a lack of recognition from the Shah, Zaki Khan seized the former Safavid capital of Isfahan for himself, and exploited mercilessly its population. When Karim Khan learned of these exactions, he personally marched on Isfahan. Zaki Khan fled from him to Dezful, in Khuzestan, recruiting Bakhtiari warriors on the way, and then allying himself with the rebellious governor of Dezful. After a year of unsuccessful fighting and negotiations, Zaki Khan eventually begged for the mercy of his brother the Shah, and received it.

    During the next fifteen years, Zaki Khan remained one of the main generals of Karim Khan. He led forces to submit principalities on the Persian Gulf coast, the main one a naval expedition against Oman in 1773, that ended in total failure and Zaki''s disgrace. Two years later however, he was assigned a punitive expedition against the Qajar stronghold of Mazandaran, by the Caspian Sea. There, he succeeded, and left a reputation of brutal terror.

    Three months of power

    Zaki Khan was a major participant in the struggles for political power that followed the death of Karim Khan on March 2, 1779. Karim Khan died naturally after a long illness, so Zaki Khan, as well as many others, was not caught off guard. He had managed in the previous years to marry his daughter to Muhammad Ali Khan, Karim Khan''s second son, who was still a child. By the time of Karim Khan''s death, he was logically at the head of the faction pushing for Muhammad Ali to be proclaimed Shah. The elder son, Abol Fath Khan, only 13 years old, also had supporters among the main members of the royal family. However, as soon as Karim Khan was dead, Zaki Khan had most of them killed, and Abol Fath imprisoned. Among Abol Fath''s supporters, only Sadiq Khan Zand managed to escape the capital, Shiraz. Muhammad Ali was proclaimed Shah, and Zaki Khan regent with full power over the Empire. But the children''s mother intervened in favor of Abol Fath, and Zaki Khan, to win her support, had to accept that both sons of Karim Khan would be invested with the supreme honor.

    The rule of Zadik Khan was contested from the start. First, the Qajar prince Agha Muhammad Khan, whom Karim Khan had retained as a hostage in Shiraz to prevent further rebellions from his powerful Northern clan, escaped and headed for his stronghold. To catch him, Zaki Khan sent his nephew, Ali Murad Khan. However, as soon as he reached Isfahan, Ali Murad Khan mutinied against his uncle and gave his allegiance to Abol Fath. Sadiq Khan was gathering an army in the South-East with a similar purpose. Zaki Khan decided to deal with Ali Murad Khan first, and led an army towards Isfahan.

    Death and legacy

    On his way to Isfahan, Zaki Khan committed the atrocities at the settlement of Izadkhvast. But this time, he went so far that even his own men were shocked. A group of tribal leaders among them eventually murdered him as he was resting in his tent still in the village of Izadkhwast. After his elimination, the war would carry on between Sadiq Khan and Ali Murad Khan, who would both claim the throne in the following years.

    His youngest son Akbar Khan Zand, that he had left in charge of Shiraz, tried to pursue his father''s career and ambition after Zaki Khan''s death, but was blinded and killed in 1782 by his cousin, the future Shah Jafar Khan.

    Tags:Abol Fath Khan, Afghan, Azad, Azerbaijan, Bakhtiari, Caspian, Caspian Sea, Dezful, Dynasty, Hamadan, Iran, Iranian, Isfahan, Karim Khan, Karimkhan, Khan, Khorasan, Khuzestan, Lorestan, Mazandaran, Oman, Persian, Persian Empire, Persian Gulf, Qajar, Safavid, Shah, Shiraz, Wikipedia, Zaki Khan, Zand, Zand Dynasty

    See Also:Zaki Khan Zand

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