In October 1971, soldiers in Persian costumes marched to celebrate the 2500th anniversary of the establishment of the city of Trent at the ruins of Persepolis
100 years ago, on February 21, Reza Khan, a Persian officer, achieved a coup d’état almost without blood, and seized power from the Turkic Kaiga dynasty. Four years later, he established the Pahlavi dynasty, calling himself the emperor of the “Fourth Persian Empire”. In another 10 years, he ordered that “Persian” and “Persian” should no longer be used, and “Iran” and “Iranian” should be used instead.
The term “Persia” originated from the place name “Fars” in southern Iran. It became the Greek name for the Iranian region around the 6th century BC. Later, it spread widely with the deepening of Mediterranean trade. The name “Iran” is derived from the Sassanid dynasty’s self-proclaimed “Elan Shahr” in history, which means “Aryan Empire”.
Behind the change of the name of the country is an ancient country that once dominated the Mesopotamia and controlled the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. It was not reconciled to become an outlier in this region, and instead used a seemingly renovated name to associate with an older ethnic origin.
Originated from Aryan and established a great empire
According to historical records, the earliest ethnic group found in Iran was the Elamites. Their ethnicity is unknown, but there seems to be some kind of kinship with the Gudharavidians of the South Asian subcontinent. Because the main activity area is close to the Mesopotamia, Elam was consumed severely in the battle with Mesopotamia civilization, and the migration of the Aryans accelerated this process.
As a group of ancient Indo-European people, the Aryans went south to western Iran in batches. The first ascendants established the Kingdom of Medes and basically maintained their nomadic qualities; later ones entered the territory of Elam further south and merged with the locals. Six of them were transferred to farming. So far, among the Aryan foreigners, strong Medes and weak Persians appeared.
The threatened State of Elam was eventually destroyed by the Assyrian Empire, which was known for its militarism. But Medes soon united with New Babylon, eliminated Assyria, became the new nobility in the Middle East, and became the new oppressor of the Persians. However, the Medes, who only knew how to bow and shoot big eagles, eventually lost to their former vassals and lost to the Persians unified by Cyrus II.
The Achaemenid dynasty of Cyrus the Great was the first in Persia, so it was later called the First Persian Empire, or the Ancient Persian Empire. When it rose, the first great migration of nomads had come to an end, and the emerging Persia was no more powerful. It first conquered the same people in eastern Iran, then destroyed Lydia, who inherited Hittite, Chang and Midea, and finally captured the two rivers. The basin has made Aryan Persia replace the Semitic countries and become the only center of West Asian civilization. At that time, the Greeks also attached a myth, saying that the Persians were descendants of the Greek hero Parsius.
Parthia, located in the middle of the Silk Road as a transit trade, became a target of public criticism.
Although Cyrus the Great died in the war with the Central Asian Nomadic Alliance, the flourishing Persia still sang all the way and wars continued. But soon, the ancient Persian empire exposed its shortcomings of rapid expansion and unstable foundation. It lost the Hippo War and suffered setbacks in the war against the nomadic peoples in the East. It had to switch to the mode of internal governance.
Looking at the political changes in the two river basins, they all point to the same political stubborn disease: excessive competition in a limited area and lack of experience in cross-regional governance and management. Persia’s previous model of “supporting local nobles” in the conquered areas was very risky. After learning from the painful experience, Darius I regained the Assyrian provincial system from the old paper pile to improve it, supplemented by the post system, and unified the currency. With weights and measures, governance gradually improved, and the empire reached its peak.
Alexander II at the tomb of Cyrus the Great
The ancient Persian empire failed in its two expeditions to the ancient Greek city-states. Although it did not engage in further warfare, it did not reconcile the military. The West Asian civilization circle and the Mediterranean civilization circle are still facing each other, and the ancient Greek states are in danger. When the marginal power of ancient Greek civilization, the Kingdom of Macedonia, unified Greece, the British Lord Alexander the Great inherited the anti-Persian stance of the ancient Greek city-states, and took Persia as an imaginary enemy, and set off a vigorous Alexander campaign.
The Achaemenid dynasty at this time, prosperous and declining, was actually destroyed and quickly destroyed, and Persia ushered in the Hellenistic era. Fortunately, the Persians lost the war but won the conquerors.
Alexander II, who was deceived by the propaganda of the demonization of ancient Greeks, discovered that the Persians were not as barbarous and depraved as the legend, but were worthy of the center of civilization. He chose to win over Persia in order to use the powerful nomadic cavalry in Central Asia for his own use, and even engage in collective political marriage; Macedonian soldiers are greedy for Persia’s gentle homeland and reluctant to think about it. This situation of no distinction between the enemy and the enemy, and the same light as the dust, survived the early death of Alexander and the split of the Macedonian Empire until the fall of the Seleucid Kingdom.
Destroy Parthia, defeat to Arabia
It was not the Persians who replaced the Seleucid Kingdom, but the Kingdom of Parthia, a close relative of the “Eastern Iranian” of Central Asia. Parthia, who was born in a steppe tribe, remained a nomadic character, and his style was simple and vigorous. He swept away the extravagance of the ancient Persian Empire. He quickly joined the war and fought against the new overlord of the Mediterranean, Ancient Rome. Killing the glory of the enemy commander Crassus, but in the end it will only hurt both sides.
What is really terrible is that the battle for hegemony at this time is no longer comparable to the waves of war under the conditions of the city-state system in the past. Since the opening of the Silk Road, the desire for Eastern wealth has made the eyes of the countries along the Silk Road red. Parthia, located in the middle of the Silk Road as a transit trade, has become a target of public criticism-the lower reaches of ancient Rome thought Parthia was too expensive to sit on the land, and the upper reaches The nomadic tribes of Central Asia consider Parthia to be greedy and shameless. Parthia thus fell into the dilemma of fighting on the two fronts, no matter you are strong and good at fighting, you will be exhausted and run out.
The Persians once again staged the play of Cyrus subverting the Medes. The Sassanid dynasty that was born in Fars, the core area of Persia, eliminated Parthia and not only recovered the entire territory of Persia, but also re-followed the various systems of the Achaemenid dynasty and repaired the first of Persian civilization since Alexander’s invasion. A big fault. Therefore, the Sassanid dynasty was regarded as the continuation of the Achaemenid dynasty and was later called the Second Persian Empire.
The Sassanid dynasty took over halfway and inherited the entire war with ancient Rome. At this time, the Roman Empire was encountering the “crisis of the third century,” with repeated battles and defeats. Even the emperor Valerian was defeated and captured. Later, the Roman Empire was divided between the East and the West. The Persian Second Empire was inspired, and despite the fact that the country was not long established and had a weak foundation, it continued to cling to the battle for hegemony in the two major civilization circles of West Asia and the Mediterranean.
The war also had a low ebb: At the end of the 4th century, Sassanid Persia chose a truce, because at this time it and its opponents ushered in a more difficult enemy-nomads from the East. This is the second great migration of nomadic peoples triggered by the westward migration of the Eastern Huns: The Huns are like fierce lions. They flee westward under fear of wolves, tigers and leopards along the way, causing an impact on the farming civilization. For example, the Huns, another species of Huda (a yellow-white hybrid, also known as the “White Huns”), destroyed the Guishuang Empire in Central Asia and forced Sassan to claim tribute after several major victories.
The Sassanid dynasty took over halfway and inherited the entire war with ancient Rome
Sassanid Persian chose to join forces with the Western Turks who had fleeed from Central Asia due to their defeat in the Tang Dynasty of China, and defeated them. The Turks who collected all the territories quickly became a new threat to Sassanid Persian. It can be said that the front door refuses the tiger and the back door enters the wolf. Fortunately, China sent troops to suppress the Turks, and Persia was relieved of the burden and rejoined the struggle with the Eastern Roman Empire.
Two exhausted old opponents, they tried their best and couldn’t play any new ideas. Before the death of Eastern Roman Byzantium, Sassan first ushered in its destruction.
It was the Arabs who ruined Sassanid Persia. The little servant who had not been seen by Persia and who had followed Cambyses on the expedition to Greece has achieved unity. The Arabs who are still under the military democracy order unification, with few distracting thoughts, the iron cavalry torrents raging violently, converging into a powerful combat force far surpassing Alexander the Great. Sassan was only a mere six years ago, and he was obedient to the steps of the new conqueror and was even forced to convert to Islam.
The Arab boom, many people with string control, lack of civil servants, and highly civilized Persians quickly enriched into the regime of the new master. Not only that, the Persian aristocracy was deeply involved in Arab internal conflicts and stood on the side of the minority. Even if they failed, they still adhered to the Shia faith and later regarded it as the state religion.
Battle of Chardiran
The leader war is only the beginning of the Great Split. Once the expansion ceases, the Arab empire will fall into a new round of internal friction, and the Arabs are not good at internal governance, and the provincial system inherited from the Persians is riddled with the erosion of the nomadic military feudal system. The governors and military chiefs of the Krai continue to raise their flags and stand on their own, especially in Eastern Iran and Central Asia. Rebellious nomads have successively established local governments to fight against the empire, while the Arabs have to deal with Western wars and have no time to look around, sitting and watching the dynasties of Central Asia.
Although the countries of Central Asia have followed the traditions of Sassanid Persian to varying degrees, very few of them were actually founded by Persians. Most of them were created by Central Asian nations or Turks and cannot be regarded as the revival of Persians. When the last king, Khwarazim, died in the hands of Mongolia, the Persians once again ushered in a new conqueror.
Disruption and continuity of civilization
The Mongolian invasion constituted the main content of the third great migration of nomadic civilization. Through several western expeditions, the Mongols established multiple feudal khanates in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and West Asia. After the last western expedition, the famous general Hulagu was divided into Persia and founded the Ili Khanate. The Khanate relied on Mongols, Turks, and Kurds militarily, and relied on Persians administratively, just like the Arab empire ruled.
As a minority Mongols, although they have carried out localization reforms such as converting to Islam, they are still unable to shake the reality of the Turkic population. After the Mongol Empire fell into decline, the Timur dynasty established by the Turkic Mongols (from the Chagatai Khanate) did not last long. Subsequently, the two Turkmen Turkmen dynasties, the Black Sheep and the White Sheep, ruled Persia one after another.
Ismail I declared Shi’ites as the state religion, which was the first in the history of Persia for the unity of politics and religion.
After the Aries replaced the black sheep, it didn’t last a few days, because the Ottoman Turkey, which belongs to the Turkic family, was so powerful that after the Byzantine Empire was uprooted from the “Millennium Nail Household”, it spared no effort to clear the rear. Inside, the Persians also did it.
Unlike before, this time it was the militarized religious group Safavid, not the secular lords, who led the rebellion. The place where it took place was neither the core area of Persian civilization nor the rebellious Central Asian steppes, but the northwest border. The reason why it is led by a pro-Shia religious group is largely due to the hostility and suppression of the Shia by the Sunni Turks, and the Aries dynasty is also Sunni.
Driven by religious fanaticism, the Persians quickly eliminated the Aries dynasty and established the Safavid dynasty. The Safavid family is of Kurdish descent, but Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid dynasty, claimed to be a descendant of the Sassanid dynasty, reinvigorating the legacy of the two ancient Persian empires, so Safi-Persia was regarded as the third empire of Persia.
Ismail I declared Shi’ites as the state religion, which was the first in the history of Persia for the unity of politics and religion. This is the “green-clothed food” Fatimid dynasty in 1171. The Shia sect has won such a status in an Islamic country for the first time. Today’s Iranian system can be traced back to this.
The advantage of the integration of politics and religion is the concentration of power, but the disadvantage is rigid thinking, conservative behavior, and poor flexibility. This was clearly seen in the long war between Safavid and the Ottomans: in the face of the military revolution in the firearm era, the Turks had a high level of firearms, while the Persians still depended on the blood and courage of the Turkic cavalry. Although they continued to succeed, they would eventually become the capital city in 1585. Shame broken.
The Safavid dynasty ushered in Abbas I at the end of the 16th century, and initiated reforms that were vital to the fortune of the country. The enlightened hero adopted a moderate religious policy, stabilized Ottoman Turkey, embraced Europe enthusiastically, and even formed an alliance with Habsburg Austria. He also established a standing army, introduced European instructors, and improved the level of firearms in the army, suppressed Turkic troops internally, and repeatedly defeated Ottoman Turkey and Mughal in India. In the Persian Gulf, power reaches as far as India.
But happiness came too suddenly and went faster. After the death of the strongman Abbas, his successors were unable to control the powerful centralization mechanism, and the leaders of the Central Asian Army, who had been silent because of Abbas’s “de-Turkization”, waited for an opportunity. Although the Safavid dynasty barely suppressed the rebellion with the help of external forces, the Turkic soldiers made a comeback through the counter-insurgency war. The Safavid dynasty was finally established by the Turkic general Nadirsha Afshar (meaning red hat, characteristic of Turkic soldiers) Dynasty replaced.
From the Afshar dynasty to the Kaja dynasty, Persia has always been ruled by the violent and conservative Turkic warrior group, which quickly lags behind the trend of the world, and the unique and superior geographical position eventually attracted the European powers. In the 19th century, Tsarist Russia swallowed the land of Persia, and even the King’s Guard in Persia organized the use of Russian Cossacks. Persia was like a fish belly, imitating the Nizam reform of Russia’s Peter I, but was also culled by Turkic warriors. In 1919, after the October Revolution, Russia shrank completely, and Persia was reduced to the protection of Britain under the one-paper agreement and was completely colonized.
The Persian street resistance forced Britain, which was also weakened by the First World War, to choose a relatively mild strategy of fostering pro-British agents. Reza Khan, a magnate in the military, was taken in by the British, and he eventually overthrew the Khajja dynasty and established the Pahlavi dynasty.
We are not the same? !
In fact, Reza Khan is a nationalist and does not rely on Britain. He has always introduced foreign aid to check and balance Britain. Changing the country’s name to Iran to win over Germany is the diplomatic skill of Reza Khan.
At that time, German Nazi racism was rampant. In order to highlight the nobility of their own blood, they recognized their ancestors all the way back to their ancestors, thinking that the Germans were descendants of Aryans. In order to change the diplomatic structure of Persia, which relies on the British family, it hopes to establish relations with Germany, which is in the limelight. Moreover, the Aryan element in the name of “Iran” helped the Pahlavi dynasty to include parts of the surrounding Central Asia and the Caucasus into its sphere of influence, just like Turkey’s ideology of promoting pan-Turkism today.
The builder of the Pahlavi dynasty-Reza Khan
Obviously, the founding prince was out of line. With the outbreak of World War II, the pro-German Reza Khan was regarded as a destabilizing factor by the allies. After the army was suppressed, he had to give way to his son Muhammad Reza Pahlavi.
The old and new eras alternated, and the Persians who had not yet completed their modernization were quickly dragged into the modern era. Regarding the modernization of the nation, the old king was knowledgeable and had a strong sense of crisis. He chose the right direction of “liberalization” and “secularization” on the national road. However, the limitations of his military origin made him choose a simple and rude short, flat and fast path. The reform was very radical, and the social foundation formed by the long-term integration of state and church has reacted violently.
In the meantime, although the Mosadai civil government used a gradual approach to mediate, the Prime Minister of Mosadai stepped down because the nationalization of oil violated the interests of Britain and the United States. The Persians, who missed the opportunity for progressive reform, could not stand the arrogance of the new king, and finally chose the traditional religious group represented by Khomeini. Through the Islamic Revolution in February 1979, they regained the family heirloom of the unity of politics and religion.
With the outbreak of World War II, the pro-German Reza Khan was regarded as an unstable factor by the allies.
The Islamic Revolution created a new Iran that went against the trend of the world. When the conservative Arabs were also washed away by the economic boom brought about by the oil boom and tended to become secularized, Iran, which once led the Middle East in the Pahlavi period, put back heavy masked black robes on women. Laughing at the Arabs for being too superficial and having little background. In Iranian words, there is always a cold arrogance and nobility of “we are different.”
Mohamed Reza Pahlavi (middle)
It is true that Iranians have aloof and lofty capital: the cross-regional empire of 2500 years ago, the self-contained Persian civilization circle, and the native religions that influenced other countries are all conveying the message of “we are different.” Iran is in West Asia, just like China is in East Asia. Its provincial system, Zoroastrianism, and Ghulam (meaning “trained slave”) military system have not only shaped the politics and ideology of the region and marginal areas, but also influenced China as far as possible. ; It is like Japan in East Asia, always showing a maverick and out-of-group heterogeneous roots, yelling “God Bless God,” in reality, it is always overwhelmed by foreigners.
However, Persian civilization is not that different. Without the nourishment of the Lianghe civilization, there would be no Achaemenid beauty; without the influence of Hellenism, the jewels on the Sassanid crown would inevitably be less brilliant; without the Arabs forcing Islam, how can it come from Shia and Xia? What’s the difference between Nepal? Safi’s unity of church and state is even more difficult to talk about. Of course, if there is no iron cavalry torrent in the Central Asian grasslands, all of the above will be impossible to achieve.
Tracing back to its roots, the Persian style of coldness, arrogance and nobleness, the roots of which are still in the period of the first empire-the shaping period of the Persian nation. When Cyrus the Great prided himself on the “king of the four directions of the universe”, his origin and center were himself in the spiritual coordinate system based on the actual geographical position, and his explanations of the surrounding characters were all developed from this.
This coincides with the ancient Chinese “four-square pattern view”: the Chinese civilization divides the surrounding ethnic groups into Dongyi (hunting), Beidi (livestock meat), Xirong (metallurgy), and Nanban (multi-worm) according to social patterns. According to this logical interpretation, the Persian surroundings present the following scenes: the Western Regions in the East, the Turks in the North, the Arabs in the South, and the Europeans in the West. The “child of someone else’s family” who is in the center of a civilized area and has long occupied the C position. The self-centered worldview ultimately shaped the values of solipsism.
Yes, we are not the same, but really not that different.