East Azerbaijan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is located in Iranian Azerbaijan, bordering with Armenia, Republic of Azerbaijan, Ardabil Province, West Azerbaijan Province, and Zanjan Province. The capital of East Azerbaijan is Tabriz.
The Name (Etymology)
The name Azerbaijan itself is derived from Atropates, the Persian Satrap (governor) of Medea in the Achaemenid empire, who ruled a region found in modern Iranian Azerbaijan called Atropatene. Atropates's name is believed to be derived from the Old Persian roots meaning "protected by fire." The name is also mentioned in the Avestan Frawardin Yasht: âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide which translates literally to: "We worship the Fravashi of the holy Atare-pata." According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam: "In Middle Persian the name of the province was called Āturpātākān, older new-Persian Ādharbādhagān (آذربادگان/آذرآبادگان), Ādharbāyagān, at present Āzerbāydjān/Āzarbāydjān, Greek Atropatḗnē (̓Ατροπατήνη), Byzantine Greek Adravigánon (᾿Αδραβιγάνων), Armenian Atrpatakan, Syriac Adhorbāyghān." The name Atropat in Middle Persian was transformed to Adharbad and is connected with Zoroastrianism. A famous Zoroastrian priest by the name Adarbad Mahraspandan is well known for his counsels. Azerbaijan, due to its numerous fire-temples has also been quoted in a variety of historic sources as being the birthplace of the prophet Zoroaster although modern scholars have not yet reached an agreement on the location of his birth.
With Qajar Iran being forced to cede to Imperial Russia its Caucasian territories north of the Aras River (that is, modern-day Georgia, Dagestan, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan) during the course of the 19th century, through the treaties of Gulistan (1813) and Turkmenchay (1828), vast amounts of soil were irrevocably lost. Following the disintegration of the Russian Empire in 1917, as well as the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, in 1918, the leading Musavat government adopted the name "Azerbaijan" for the newly established Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which was proclaimed on May 27, 1918, for political reasons, even though the name of "Azerbaijan" had always been used to refer to the adjacent region of contemporary northwestern Iran. Thus, until 1918, when the Musavat regime decided to name the newly independent state Azerbaijan, this designation had been used exclusively to identify the Iranian province of Azerbaijan.
Like that of any other residential locations, the early history of Tabriz is not well documented yet. Some archaeologists, David Rohl and Eric H.Cline in particular, suppose that the Garden of Eden was probably located in Tabriz. For the first time, Tarui or Tauris (History of Median Empire or Medes of Diakonov p. 203 and Taurus in Wikipedia) are mentioned in Assyrian King Sargon II's epigraph in 714 B.C. A recent excavation (2003) at the site of the Iron Age museum, in the north of the Blue Mosque site, uncovered a graveyard of first millennium B.C. The men and women of whom some decaying skeletons and small earthenware pots survive look like any people buried in the other ancient graveyards.
It is more likely that Tabriz once was a cluster of human settlements scattered broad-ly over the landscape, as the dispersed small settlements in the valley with a river flowing through the valley and toward Urmia Lake in the west. Whatever the facts, the history of the city is a controversial discourse put to a framework mostly by the Orientalists and accepted by the public readers. The history of Tabriz is integrated with the history of Iran.
The history of Tabriz and the Region Around will be described in this book in the scope of the history of Iran. The dynasties ruling in the Iranian plateau will be discussed in terms of their effects in the region. Thus, the same identification of the periods of the history of Iran is used to cover the history of Tabriz and Azerbaijan, a region embracing the city Tabriz.
During the permanent settlement of the Sumerian tribes in Mesopotamia between c. 5500 and 4000 BC, some tribes with agglutinative languages settled in the mountainous land now called Azerbaijan and developed a marvelous culture. This hypothesis was con-firmed by the excavations in Khodafarin and on the banks of Aras River in 2009. Those excavations were done after the archeological excavations (2003) at the site of the Iron Age museum, in the north of the Blue Mosque site, uncovered a graveyard of first millennium B.C. Both of the excavations were carried out at a depth of 10 meters from ground level uncovered 88 graves belonging to people at the Iron Age. The findings suggest that the present city of Tabriz had been used as a human settlement during the first millennium B.C.Moreover, the remains of the primitive people around the Azerbaijan cities of Varzgan and Horand found in 1998 and tested by Carbon dating (C 14) estimated that people lived in Azerbaijan about 4000 years ago. Several inscriptions, written in the Assyrian cuneiform script, indicate the existence of some large settlements in Azerbaijan in the early years of the first millennium B.C. Three significant cuneiform inscription are explained below.
After the conquest of Iran by Muslims, the Arabic Azd tribe from Yemen resided in Tabriz and the development of post-Islamic Tabriz began as of this time. The Islamic geographer Yaqut says that Tabriz was a village before Rawwad from the tribe of Azd arrived at Tabriz. In 791 AD, Tabriz was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake.
After the Mongol invasion, Tabriz came to eclipse Maragheh as the later Ilkhanid capital of Azerbaijan until it was conquered by Timur in 1392. Chosen as a capital by Abaqa Khan, fourth ruler of the Ilkhanate, for its favored location in the northwestern grasslands, in 1295, his successor Ghazan Khan made it the chief administrative center of an empire stretching from Anatolia to the Oxus River and from the Caucasus to the Indian Ocean. Under his rule new walls were built around the city, and numerous public buildings, educational facilities, and caravansarais were erected to serve traders traveling on the ancient Silk Road. The Byzantine Gregory Choniades is said to have served as the city's Orthodox bishop during this time. In the 13' century, many western expediters who visited Tabriz in their way to the east, all were amazed by the richness of the city, its magnificent buildings and institutions. Marco Polo who traveled thorough the Silk Road passed Tabriz about 1275 described it as: "...a great city surrounded by beautiful and pleasant gardens. It is excellently situated so the goods bring to here from many regions. Latin merchants specially Genevis go there to buy the goods that come from foreign lands..."
During the Middle Ages, a Jewish community existed in the town. In the 16" century a Jewish Yemenite traveler to the town described the deteriorating conditions of Jewish life there. From 1375 to 1468, Tabriz was the capital of Qara Qoyunlu state in Azerbaijan, and from 1469 to 1501 the capital of Aq Qoyunlu state. Some of the existing historical monuments, including the Blue Mosque, belong to Qara Qoyunlu period.
In 1501, Shah Ismail I entered Tabriz and proclaimed it the capital of his Safavid state. In 1514, after the Battle of Chaldiran, Tabriz was temporarily occupied by the Ottomans, but remained the capital of Safavid Iranian Empire until 1548, when Shah Tahmasb I transferred it to Qazvin. Between 1585 and 1603, Tabriz was occupied by the Ottomans but was then returned to the Safavids, after which it grew as a major commercial center, conducting trade with the Ottoman Empire, Russia, central Asia, and India. In 1724-1725 the city was again occupied by the Ottomans, and two thousand of its inhabitants were massacred. The city was retaken later by the Persian army. In 1780, a devastating earthquake near the city killed over 20,000, which is regarded as 25th most deadly disaster of all times.
During Qajar dynasty the city was the residence for the Crown Prince. The crown prince normally served as governor of Azerbaijan province as well. One of the most important events in this period was the war between Iran and Russia. With the last series of the Russian-Iranian wars the city was captured by Russia in 1826. After signing the peace treaty the Russian army retreat from the city; however, the Russian political influence remained a major issue up to the fall of Russian empire. After retreat of Russian army Abbas Mirza, Qajar prince of crown, started a modernization scheme launched from Tabriz. He introduced Western-style institutions, imported industrial machinery, installed the first regular postal service, and undertook military reforms in the city. He rebuilt Tabriz and established a mod-ern taxation system.
The Contemporary Era
The Constitutional Movement
The two treaties were not welcome by the newly-formed class of merchants and the reformists. Many social events caused the revolutionary ideas to be born among the people. The country, traditionally divided into Feudal territories, was casting out its old system and a new system was being established. The term "nation" was used for the first time in a poem by Abul Ghasem Lahooti. The peasants had already begun to turn into citizens. The country was in turmoil.
The social protests during the reign of Naser ad-Din Shah, the return of the educated elite from Europe with new revolutionary ideas, the publication of widespread journals, the desire for power among the clergymen and the rise of the individuals to the public leader-ship all caused the Shah to be humiliated by the events. Moreover, Mozaffar ad-Din Shah had the strains of democracy in his character. He was a king with no power and needed to share the power of governing the country with some new rulers. After many social protests and camping out in the gardens of the British Embassy, in August 1906, Mozaffar ad-Din Shah agreed to allow a parliament, and in the Fall, the first elections were held. In all, 156 members were elected, with an overwhelming majority coming from Tehran and the merchant class.
October 1906 marked the first meeting of the majles, who immediately gave them-selves the right to make a constitution, thereby becoming a Constitutional Assembly. The Shah was getting old and sick, and attending the inauguration of the parliament was one of his last acts as king. Mozaffar ad-Din Shah's son Muhammed Ali, however, was not privy to constitutionalism. Therefore they had to work fast, and by December 31, 1906 the Shah signed the constitution, modeled primarily from the Belgian Constitution. The Shah was from there on "under the rule of law, and the crown became a divine gift given to the Shah by the people." Mozaffar ad-Din Shah died five days later.
Within the decade following the establishment of the new majles a number of critical events took place. Many of these events can be viewed as a continuation of the struggle be-tween the constitutionalists and the Shahs of Persia, many of whom were backed by foreign powers against the majles.
In January, 1907, Shah Mohammad Ali, the 6th Qajar Shah, came to power. He moved to "exploit the divisions within the ranks of the reformers" and eliminate the Majles. In August 1907 an Anglo-Russian agreement divided Iran into a Russian zone in the North and a British zone in the South. The British switched their support to Shah, abandoning the Constitutionalists. Persia tried to keep free from Russian influence through resistance via the majles to the Shah's policies.
The achievements of the Constitutional Movement seemed to have been lost for ever when Sattar Khan stirred the people in Tabriz to resist against Mohammad Ali Shah. Sattar Khan rose from obscurity to head Constitutionalist rebels from the Amirkhiz district of Tabriz. By 1907, he had become a favored leader of the rebels. After shelling the Majles (parliament) of Iran in the capital Tehran, 40 thousand of Mohammad Ali Shah's soldiers were ordered to attack Tabriz, where Constitutional rebels were holding out. In June 1908, under the leadership of Sattar Khan, a High Military Council was established.
Sattar Khan was appointed the Commander in chief of High Council, Bagher Khan as his deputy, and Ali Musyo, Haji Ali and Seyyed Hashem Khan as other notable members.
By April 1909, the Tabriz rebels had lost a large number of their fighters in driving out royalist forces from the city. Taking into account Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan's heroism during the battle, Sattar Khan was honored by the title of "Sardar-e Melli" (National General) and Bagir khan "Salar-e Melli" (National Leader) by the order of the Assembly.
The early victories of the rebels in Tabriz greatly influenced other Constitutionalists across Iran. Special committees with the name of "Sattar Khan" were established in Tehran, Rasht, Qazvin, Esfahan and other cities. Sattar Khan's reputation also led to the powerful Bakhtiyari tribal leaders to throw in their lot with the Tabriz rebels.
Most of the cities of Azerbaijan province were cleared of royalist military forces by October 1908. Mohammad Ali Shah authorized the reopening of the Majles in Tehran in or-der to try and placate the opposition.
The Second Majles was held in December 1908. It ordered a plaque of honor with images of Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan carved on it in gold as a token of appreciation for their services.
The strengthening of revolutionary power in the wake of the Tabriz victory frightened not only the Qajar Shah but also his allies, Russia and Great Britain. In March 1910, Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan set out for the capital Tehran with 300 soldiers, where they were greeted by large numbers of supporters on April 3, 1910.
The Sattar Khan and his warrior camped out in Atabey Park, where they refused to obey the Shah's order to disarm. The Shah's troops and police forces led by Yeprem Khan (Davidyans), head of Tehran police, launched a brief but violent confrontation on the night of August 7, 1910, and succeeded in surrounding and disarming Sattar Khan's forces. About 30 warriors were killed and Sattar Khan was wounded in his leg — remaining disabled until his death at the age 48, on November 9, 1914. He was buried in the famous Shah-Abdul-Azim shrine cemetery in Shahr-e Ray, just outside Tehran.
The death of Sattar Khan did not end his fame across the country. It spread the man's reputation among the nation. His brave decisions and actions put an end to the despotism of the Kings. The later Kings proved to be puppets to the International Powers.
The Pahlavi dynasty (1925-79)
During the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi, educational and judicial reforms were affected that laid the basis of a modern state and reduced the influence of the religious classes. A wide range of legal affairs that had previously been the purview of Shiite religious courts were now either administered by secular courts or overseen by state bureaucracies, and, as a result, the status of women improved. The custom of women wearing veils was banned, the minimum age for marriage was raised, and strict religious divorce laws (which invariably favoured the husband) were made more equitable. The number and availability of secular schools increased for both boys and girls, and the University of Tehran was established in 1934, further eroding, what had once been a clerical monopoly on education. Nonetheless. Reza Shah was selective on what forms of modernization and secularization he would adopt. He banned trade unions and political par-ties and firmly muzzled the press. Oil concessions were first granted in 1901, during the Qajar period, and the first commercially exploitable petroleum deposits were found in 1908. Reza Shah renegotiated a number of these concessions, despite the anger these agreements raised among the Iranian people. The concessions were to remain a violent point of dispute in Iran for decades to come.
Reza Shah's need to expand trade, his fear of Soviet control over Iran's overland routes to Europe, and his apprehension at renewed Soviet and continued British presence in Iran drove him to expand trade with Nazi Germany in the 1930s. His refusal to abandon what he considered to be obligations to numerous Germans in Iran served as a pretext for an Anglo-Soviet invasion of his country in 1941. Intent on ensuring the safe passage of U.S. war material to the Soviet Union through Iran, the Allies forced Reza Shah to abdicate, placing his young son Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi on the throne.
Azerbaijani provinces have played a major in the cultural and economic life of Iran in both the Pahlavi era as well as the Iranian Constitutional and Islamic revolution.
In February 1978, 40 days after 19 Day protest in Qom, groups in a number of cities marched to honour the fallen and protest against the rule of the Shah. The state brought in "troops and tanks from nearby bases." This time, violence erupted in the northwestern city of Tabriz. According to the opposition, 500 demonstrators were killed there, according to the government ten were. "A recent [circa 2004] pro-revolutionary review of the event, however, has stated definitively that the total was 13 dead."
After the Islamic Revolution
After the Islamic Revolution, the people of Azerbaijan played an important role in various developments in the country. Azerbaijan played a pivotal role during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, and many of the commanders of the war were Azerbaijani forces. Azerbaijan, after Tehran and IsfahanT has the highest number of martyrs in this war. Their role was highly important.
Iran-Iraq war like most other wars had a number of geniuses in term of the science of military; those who changed the equation of power when they entered the frontline. 2 out of 13 known figures who indeed lost their lives in that war were of Iranian Azeri background. Mehdi Bakeri was the commander of the most or the second most important battle during Iran-Iraq war and many other major battles. He was known for his bravery and fighting tirelessly. He is a known war hero. Javad Fakoori was the most influential commanders of Iranian airforce. He was the one who designed the 2 of the most important airstrike missions during the war; Operation Kaman 99 and H-3 airstrike. Kaman 99 destroyed half of the Ba'athist airforce on the second day of war and H-3 (he was involved in that mission) was perhaps the most sophisticated operation by Iranian airforce that attacked the only air base Saddam thought Iran would never be able to attack.
Now East Azarbaijan province is one of the important, high populated and well developed provinces of Islamic Republic of Iran. This province is one of the industrial poles of I.R. of Iran, and existence of some industries with specific potentials has helped industrial boom and development of the region.