Mozzafar al-Din Shah Qajar
Travel Diaries Of The First European Tour
East Publication, Tehran
During the turn of 19th and 20th centuries Iran was reigned by Mozzafar al-Din Shah Qajar. Like his father and other Qajar kings, he was very eager to visit Europe. He travelled to Europe on two occasions and was much criticised for increasing the burden of debt on the country that such visits cost by giving additional concessions to the colonial powers of the time, chiefly the British and the Russians, to finance these trips. There is much written on this subject which is an important chapter of modern history of our country. The king like his father kept very good travel diaries of his European tours. Below are relevant excerpts to this site. The most interesting entry is for 1st of August 1900 as it describes the assassination attempt on the Shah and how it was foiled by one of our ancestors, Mirza Mahmoud Khan Hakim al-Molk, the king's physician and Minister of the Court.
I have translated the Persian text into English as only had the Persian text available. The entries in square brackets are mine.
Hamid, May 2001, London.
Ibrahim Hakimi Meets The Shah
[1318 AH or 15th June 1900]
[One of the reasons for the Shah's European tour was ostensibly for health reasons. He describes travelling in Germany on his way to a small town near the German French border to benefit from the Spa. He meets Ibrahim whom is charged with bringing the best medical minds of the day in France to examine the ailing Shah.]
... After lunch the Minister of Court brought his nephew Mirza Ibrahim Khan the son of deceased Mirza Abolhassan Hakim Bashi to see us. He has studied medicine in Paris, has done very well and has become a competent physician. Having discussed our state of health with him, we commanded him to leave for Paris the next day and bring the recognised medical experts to Centre ... Ville [French name, impossible to back translate from Persian to French] to commence their examination and treatment .....
Salkh Rabi I>>
[1318 AH or 27th July 1900]
[The Shah came to Paris on 27th July 1900. After the usual ceremonies and meeting the President of the Republic, he retires to the residence allocated by the French Government for the visiting royals to the Paris Exhibition and ends the day's entry as follows:]
... Having returned to our
apartments we were too tired to venture out any more today. After sunset
together with Minister of Court and Mirza Ibrahim Khan the son of the deceased
Mirza Abolhassan Khan Hakim Bashi (whom we had written earlier is engaged in the
study of medicine in Paris and has done very well) went out for a short stroll,
returned to our apartments and called for our secretary to write the journal for
today before eating dinner and retiring.
The Assassination Attempt
[The European Anarchist movement was actively looking to assassinate the visiting dignatories to the Paris Exhibition of 1900. Only the week before the attempt on Shah's liffe they had succeeded in assassinating King Humbert of Italy. In the introduction to the Shah's diaries the editor quotes another account of the incident by the French police officer responsible for protecting the Shah.]
Xavier Paolie [right spelling?] who headed the officers responsible for protecting the Shah in France wrote in his book called His Royal Highnesses [right translation?], gives the following account of the above incident:
"When the Shah left the residence set aside by the French Government for the visiting royals, to visit the Exhibition, he was accompanied in his carriage by Mirza Mahmound Khan Hakim al-Molk and General Yaran[?] the officer in charge of the French attending to the Shah, who sat opposite the Shah in his carriage. A man jumped on the running board of the open carriage and drew a revolver aiming it at the Shah's chest, but before he could pull the trigger, a steel hand grabbed his wrist squeezing it so hard that the revolver fell a the Shah's feet, at which time the protection officers apprehended the assailant. With his courageous, agile and well justified intervention, Mahmoud Khan prevented the assassin from firing his weapon which [had it not been for his intervention] could have tragic consequences for the Shah and dire consequences for the French Government, particularly as my investigations later revealed, the assassin is a Frenchman, a brainless fanatic form the southern regions of our country who wanted to kill the poor Shah in sympathy with [or in immitation of] the anarchists who recently had killed the King of Italy."
<<Thursday 5th Rabi al-Sani>>
[1318 AH or 1st August 1900]
Today which is the sixth day of our [State] visit to Paris, a truly strange incident occurred and because of the all mighty's kindness to us, it had a happy ending. Today we are invited by Mr. de la Casse [right spelling?], the French Foreign Secretary to visit the Versailles [Palace] and we have to go there. In the morning after sitting for photographs, we were then informed that our carriage was ready and we went down to the carriage. In the carriage, His Excellency the Prime Minister [Mirza Ali Asghar Khan Amin al-Sultan] sat next to us, the Minister of Court [Mirza Mahmoud Khan Hakim al-Molk] sat opposite and the [French] General assigned as our host sat opposite the Prime Minister next to Minister of Court. The other servants sat in coaches behind ours.
Sa'd al-Doleh our Minister in Belgium, who we had previously instructed to find and purchase some automobiles for us, approached our carriage and said they were ready and parked outside the grounds on the street. Because of the crowds waiting there to cheer us every day we instructed him to take the automobiles round the corner to anther street leading to Bois de Bologne behind the building where we are staying. We had not gone for more than a hundred steps when we saw the automobiles parked on the opposite side of the road, we were looking at the automobiles that we suddenly heard the Minister of Court's voice who was struggling with a man. Naturally we turned out attention to find out the cause of the commotion to see a vicious malicious man standing on the running board of our carriage. He was hanging to the door of our carriage with one hand while holding a revolver in his other hand. He was aiming the revolver to our chest and was about to fire when the Minister of Court with complete agility, bravery and force grabbed his arm, and by applying pressure diverted his arm away from our chest up towards the sky. He had also got up putting himself between us and the assassin to prevent any accidental discharge of the weapon from harming us, in effect using himself as a human shield. No matter how much the malicious assassin tried with his other hand to force the Minister of Court to release his hand, the Minister of Court with complete bravery without any thought of his own life, pushed it away and struggled against his harming us. Once the assassin lost hope of succeeding in his attempt on our life he pulled the gun under the Minister's chin and prepared to fire but luckily the Minister's finger was under the hammer and no matter how much the assassin pulled the trigger, the gun would not go off. Finally after much struggling the Minister managed to force the gun out of the assassin's hand and get control of it. At this stage the policemen assigned to protect us, one of which in the rush had fallen off his bicycle, who we running behind caught up and grabbed the assassin by the back of his collar, dragged him to the ground and held him there.
We because of our trust in the all mighty god were not frightened but His Excellency and the General were extremely worried and frightened for us....
[The picture below is an artist's impression of the assassination attempt and shows Mirza Mahmoud forcing the assassin's gun away from the Shah]