Russo-Persian War (1722–23)

Russo-Persian War (1722–1723)
Part of Russo-Persian Wars
Date18 June 1722 – 12 September 1723
LocationNorth Caucasus, South Caucasus and North Iran
Result Russian Victory
Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1723)[1]
Russia gains Derbent, Baku, and the provinces of Shirvan, Gilan, Mazandaran, and Astrabad. All returned to Persia 9 and 12 years later.

 Russian Empire

Kingdom of Kartli[2]
Melikdoms of Karabakh and Armenian rebels[3]
Kabardia (lesser and greater)[4]
Kalmyk Khanate[4]
Shamkhalate of Tarki[5]

Tabasaran principality[6][7]
Safavid Persian Empire
Ottoman Empire
Gazikumukh Khanate
Commanders and leaders
Russia Peter the Great
Russia Fyodor Apraksin
Russia Mikhail Matyushkin
Russia Ivan Matveevich the Red Faced
Danylo Apostol
Vakhtang VI
Davit Bek[3]
Isaiah Hasan Jalalyan[3]
Murza Cherkassky[4]
Ayuka Khan[8]
Shah Tahmasp II
Ahmed III
Sultan Mahmoud Otemishsky
Ahmet Khan
Knyaz Aydemir
Knyaz Chopalav
Surkhay Garay Ibn Bey
Haji Davud Myushkyursky
Russian Army: 61,039[9]
Cossacks: 22,000
Georgian-Armenian Army: 40,000
Gholam Regiments: 10,000
Safavid Tofangchian: 30,000
Topchi Brigade, Qizilbash Regiments: 30,000
Casualties and losses
36,664 Russian army deaths[9] unknown

Russo-Persian War, 1722–1723, known in Russian historiography as the Persian campaign of Peter the Great,[10] was a war between Russia and Persia (Safavid Iran), triggered by the tsar's attempt to expand Russian influence in the Caspian and Caucasus regions and to prevent its rival, Ottoman Empire, from territorial gains in the region at the expense of declining Safavid Iran.

The Russian victory ratified for Safavid Irans' cession of their territories in the Northern Caucasus, Southern Caucasus and contemporary Northern Iran to Russia, comprising the cities of Derbent (southern Dagestan) and Baku and their nearby surrounding lands, as well as the provinces of Gilan, Shirvan, Mazandaran, and Astrabad conform the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1723).[9]

The territories remained in Russian hands for 9 and 12 years, when respectively according to the Treaty of Resht of 1732 and the Treaty of Ganja of 1735, they were returned to Iran.



Before the war the nominal Russian border was the Terek River. South of that the Khanates of Dagestan were nominal vassals of Persia. The ultimate cause of the war was Russia’s desire to expand to the southeast and the temporary weakness of Persia. At the start of the war the Persian capital was under siege. One of the pretexts was the grave economic damage inflicted to the many Russian merchants who inhabited the Safavid Iranian city of Shamakhi, when in 1721 rebellious Lezgins from within the Safavid domains sacked and looted the city, as well as killing many of its inhabitants, including several Russian merchants.[11][12] Artemy Volynsky, Russia's ambassador to Safavid Iran reported on the great damage done to the Russian merchants, to then incumbent Tsar Peter the Great (r. 1682–1725).[13][12] The report stipulated that the 1721 event was a clear violation of the 1717 Russo-Iranian trade treaty, by which the latter guaranteed to ensure the protection of Russian nationals within the Safavid domains.[13] With Safavid Iran in chaos, and the Safavid ruler in no possible way able to safeguard the provisions of the treaty, Volynsky urged Peter to take advantage of the situation, and to invade Iran, on the pretext of restoring order as an ally of the Safavid king.[13][12] Indeed, Russia shortly after used the attack on its merchants in Shamakhi as one of the pretexts to launch the war.[14][15] Between 1714-20, several Russian sailors had mapped the Caspian Sea. On 15 July 1722, Peter issued a manifesto in several local languages justifying the invasion, drawn up by Dimitrie Cantemir. Peter gathered 22,000 infantry, 9,000 dragoons and 70,000 Cossacks, Tatars and Kalmyks. For transport he created the Caspian Flotilla at Astrakhan under Fyodor Apraksin. The infantry, artillery and stores were to be shipped by sea to the mouth of the Sulak River while the cavalry went overland from Tsaritsyn and Mozdok.


All dates old style since dates given only in months could not be converted. Add 11 days for the modern calendar.

Phase One 1722: The flotilla arrived at the mouth of the Sulak on 27 July 1722 and Peter, carried ashore by four boatmen, was the first to disembark. Here he learned that some of his cavalry had been defeated by the Chechens at Enderey – the first time the two peoples had fought. Peter responded with a punitive expedition using Kalmukh troops. He went south and camped at what later became Petrovsk. On 12 August he made a state entry into Tarki, the capital of the Shamkhalate of Tarki, where the ruler received him as a friend. Next day he headed south to Derbent, the flotilla following coastwise. He sent envoys to the next major ruler, the Utsmi of Karakaitag. The Utsmi killed the envoys and gathered 16000 men at Utemish to bar the way. The mountaineers fought valiantly but could not withstand disciplined infantry. Utemish was burned and all the prisoners hanged in revenge for the murder of the envoys. On learning of this the Khan of Derbent offered Peter the keys to the city (23 August). Derbent is at a narrow point on the coastal plain and has long been considered the northern gateway to Persia. While in Derbent he learned that the flotilla had been caught in a storm and most of the supplies lost. Since there was no possibility of resupply this late in the season he left a strong garrison at Derbent, marched back to the Terek River, took ship to Astrakhan and on 13 December made a triumphal entry into Moscow.

Phase Two 1722/23: Vakhtang VI of Kartli (central Georgia) was a vassal of Persia and had been their captive for seven years. Given Persian weakness he made an arrangement with Russia. In September 1722 he advanced on Ganja. When the Russians did not join him he returned to Tbilisi (November). This provocation of Persia led to a disastrous invasion of his country.

Before leaving Astrakhan Peter, on 6 November, sent Colonel Shipov and two battalions south to occupy the Persian city of Rasht at the southwest corner of the Caspian. The locals wanted help against the Afghans but quickly changed their minds. 15000 men were gathered, Shah Tamasp ordered the Russians out (February) and towards the end of March the Russians defeated the Persians, and had decisively taken the Caspian Sea town.

In 1723 General Matyushkin took the Persian town of Baku (25 July) and soon Shirvan to the west and then the three Persian provinces on the south coast of the Caspian – Gilan Province, Mazandaran Province and Astarabad. On 12 September the Russians and Persians made a treaty in which the Russians would drive out the Afghans and restore Shah Tamasp to the throne in return for the cession of Derbent, Baku and the three south coast provinces. Next year Prince Meshchersky went to Persia but was unable to secure ratification and was almost killed.

The war was formally concluded by the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1723), which recognized the Russian annexation of the west and south coasts of the Caspian. By the Treaty of Constantinople (1724) Russia recognized Turkish control of nearly everything west of what they had captured, thereby partitioning the Trans-Caucasus between the two powers. The Russians lost many soldiers to disease. Nadir Shah restored Persian power. In 1732, by the Treaty of Resht, Russia withdrew to, approximately, the current Iranian border. In 1735, by the Treaty of Ganja, Russia withdrew to its former border along the Terek River.

Aftermath and consequences

The war was a costly war for both sides in different measures. Iran had lost swaths of its territories, while Russia had suffered large human losses. The campaign proved costly; of the 61,039 men who took part in 36,663 did not return.[9] Grave damage was inflicted by the Russians on the occupied areas.[9] Thus in Gilan one of the consequences of the occupation was the rapid decline of sericulture, as many of those involved in it fled.[9] It took years for the industry to revive.[9]

Peter was determined to keep the newly conquered Iranian territories in the Caucasus and northern mainland Iran. He was concerned however about their safety and thus ordered the fortifications at Derbent and Holy Cross to strengthened.[9] He was determined to attach Gilan and Mazandaran to Russia.[9] In May 1724 the Tsar wrote to Matiushkin, Russian commander in Rasht, that he should invite "Armenians and other Christians, if there are such, to Gilan and Mazandaran and settle them, while Muslims should be very quietly, so that they would not know it, diminished in number as much as possible."[9]

In 1732, on the eve of the Russo-Turkish War, the government of Empress Anna Ioannovna, Peter's successor, returned many of the annexed territories to Persia as a part of the Treaty of Resht, to construct an alliance with the Safavids against the Ottoman Empire.[16] By the Treaty of Ganja (1735), the remaining territories were returned, such as Derbent, Baku and Tarki, and Persia was again in full possession of its territories in the North and South Caucasus and in contemporary northern Iran. The Russian troops nevertheless had not evacuated from the Iranian provinces until 1734.[17]

As the Cambridge History of Iran adds, "perhaps the only long-term consequence was the consciousness on the part of Russia's rulers that their armies had once marched beyond the Caucasus, that the Russian flag had flown over the southern shore of the Caspian Sea."

The sequel was however additionally disastrous for the Georgian rulers who had supported Peter's venture. In eastern Georgia, Vakhtang VI of Kartli lost his throne and sought protection of the Russian court in 1724. In western Georgia, Alexander V of Imereti had to accept an Ottoman suzerainty on more stringent terms. The Ottomans, further, alarmed by the Russian intervention, strengthened their hold along the Caucasian coastline.[18]

See also


  1. Treaty of St Petersburg (1723), Alexander Mikaberidze, Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. I, ed. Alexander Mikaberidze, (ABC-CLIO, 2011), 850.
  2. Персидский поход 1722-23
  4. 1 2 3 4 "722". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  5. 1 2 "Кумыкский мир". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  6. 1 2 "". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  7. 1 2 Официальный сайт администрации Табасаранского района Населенные пункты
  8. Konstantin Nikolaevich Maksimov. Kalmykia in Russia's Past and Present National Policies and Administrative System Central European University Press, 2008 ISBN 9639776173 p 86
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Fisher, William Bayne; Avery, P.; Hambly, G. R. G.; Melville, C. (1991). The Cambridge History of Iran. 7. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521200950.
  10. Elena Andreeva, Russia and Iran in the Great Game: Travelogues and Orientalism, (Routledge, 2007), 38.
  11. Axworthy 2010, p. 42.
  12. 1 2 3 Fisher et al. 1991, p. 316.
  13. 1 2 3 Sicker 2001, p. 48.
  14. Axworthy 2010, p. 62.
  15. Matthee 2005, p. 28.
  16. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, Vol. II, ed. Spencer C. Tucker, (ABC-CLIO, 2010), 729.
  17. Langaroudi, EIr; Langaroudi, R. Rezazadeh (2009). "GĪLĀN vi. History in the 18th century". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. X, Fasc. 6. pp. 642–645.
  18. Allen, W.E.D. (1950). "Two Georgian Maps of the First Half of the Eighteenth Century". Imago Mundi, Vol. 10: 99.


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