Mirza Malkam Khan

Mirza Malkam Khan

Mirza Malkom Khan
Ambassador of Iran to Italy
In office
?  1908
Monarch Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar
Preceded by Nariman Qawam al-Saltana
Succeeded by Mohammad Ebrahim Ghaffari
1st Ambassador of Iran to Austria
In office
Monarch Naser al-Din Shah Qajar
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Emanuel Goldberger de Buda
Personal details
Born 1833
New Julfa,
Died 1908 (aged 7475)
Nationality Iranian Armenian
Occupation Politician, Diplomat
Profession Publisher

Mirza Malkam Khan (1833-1908), also spelled as Malkom Khan, was a prominent Iranian modernist, preoccupied with the transformation of Iran into a modern state. The most remarkable aspect of his work was his promotion of 'law', to bring about an orderly society in which royal power was subjected or 'conditioned' (mashrut) to checks and regulations. He developed these ideas in a number of works, but most importantly in his newspaper Qanun (Law), which had a wide readership among Iran's modernists. As such, he can be considered one of the fathers of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution.


Malkam Khan was born to an Armenian Christian family in Persia[1] and educated at the Samuel Muradian school in Paris from 1843 to 1851. He later returned to Persia, converted to Islam,[2] and entered government service. He was elected as instructor at the newly established Polytechnic in Tehran called Dar ul-Funun, in 1852. He went to Paris in the diplomatic service in 1857.[3]

Malkom Khan introduced societies similar to the Freemasons in Persia in 1859, and was exiled by Nasser ad-Din Shah for doing so in 1862. He was later pardoned and given a post at the embassy in Constantinople. There, two years later, he married the daughter of Arakel, a prominent Armenian, with the ceremony taking place in an Armenian church.[4] He returned to Tehran in 1872 as assistant to Grand Vizier Mirza Hasan Khan Pirnia, Moshir od-Dowleh, and became the chief of the Persian legation in London (and later ambassador) in 1872. He remained in the position until 1888, and lost his position in 1889 as the result of a scandal over selling a cancelled concession for a lottery.[3]

From London, Malkam Khan attacked both the shah and Persian government, and edited the news-sheet Qanun, which was banned in Persia but read by the shah and his ministers. Malkam Khan eventually became recognised as the most important Persian moderniser of the century, and he was later pardoned and reinstated as ambassador to Italy by Mozaffar ad-Din Shah in 1898 with the title of Nezam od-Dowleh. He remained ambassador to Italy until his death in 1908.[3]


  1. Lloyd Ridgeon, Religion and Politics in Modern Iran (I.B.Tauris, 2005), ISBN 1-84511-072-2. p. 14.
  2. The Iranian constitutional revolution, 1906-1911, by Janet Afary, pg. 26
  3. 1 2 3 Nikki R. Keddie, with a section by Yann Richard, Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2006), ISBN 0-300-12105-9. pp. 431-32.
  4. Algar, Hamid. Mīrzā Malkum Khān: A Study in the History of Iranian Modernism page 10 University of California Press, 1973. ISBN 978-0520022171

Mirza Hasan Pirnia (Moshir al=Dowleh is wrong. It must change to Mirza Hossein Moshir al-Dowleh (Sepahsalar)

Further reading

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