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Reza Shah Pahlevi

Reza Shah Pahlevi (rēˈzä shä päˈləvē) [key], 1878–1944, shah of Iran (1925–41). He began his career as an army officer and gained a reputation for valor and leadership. He headed a coup in 1921 and became prime minister of the new regime in 1923. He negotiated the evacuation (1921) of the Russian troops and (1924) of the British forces stationed in Iran since World War I. Virtually a dictator, Reza Khan deposed (1925) Ahmad Mirza, the last shah of the Qajar dynasty, and was proclaimed shah of Iran. He changed his name to Reza Shah Pahlevi, thus founding the Pahlevi dynasty, and in 1935 officially changed the name of Persia to Iran. He introduced many reforms, reorganizing the army, government administration, and finances, and abolished all special rights granted to foreigners, thus gaining real independence for Iran. Under his rule the Trans-Iranian RR was built, the Univ. of Tehran was established, and industrialization was stepped-up. In World War II his rapprochement with the Germans was protested by the Allies, and in 1941 British and Russian forces invaded and occupied Iran. Forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi, he died in exile in South Africa.

See biographies by G. R. Afkhami (2009) and A. Milani (2011).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Iranian History: Biographies


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