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Reza Shah Pahlavi
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Monarch
    (March 15, 1878-July 26, 1944)
    Born in Alasht, Iran
    Led the Persian Cossack Brigade in occupying the capital, Tehran (February 21, 1921)
    Commander in Chief of the Army and Minister of War (1921-25)
    Was de facto leader behind several prime ministers
    Appointed Prime Minister (1923-25)
    Formally overthrew the Qajar Dynasty and established the Pahlavi Dynasty (December 12, 1925)
    Shah of Iran (1925-41)
    Had nation's name changed from Persia to Iran (1935)
    Forced by an Anglo-Soviet invasion to abdicate in favor of his son (September 16, 1941)
    Died in exile in Johannesburg, South Africa
    He took power in a military coup.
    He said, 'Every country has its own ruling system and ours is a one man system.'
    Most of his early advisors ended up imprisoned, exiled or dead under mysterious circumstances.
    He made himself the richest man in Iran by confiscating estates.
    His modernization programs angered Muslim clergy.
    He ordered soldiers to fire on an unarmed crowd protesting against laws requiring people to wear Western-style clothes (1935).
    During World War II, he refused to allow arms to be shipped across Iran to the Soviet Union.
    In response, the Soviets and British invaded and forced him to abdicate.
    He took power at a time when the government had lost control of almost all of the country outside of Tehran.
    During his reign, Iran's first university, public hospital, national bank, and railroad were established.
    He encouraged women to abandon the hijab (veil), allowed women to attend college, and ordered restaurants and theaters to open their doors to both sexes.
    He allowed Jews to move out of the ghettos and was the first Iranian ruler in 1400 years to visit a synagogue.
    The Iranian parliament posthumously added the sobriquet 'the Great' to his name (1950).
    His mausoleum was destroyed by the Islamic state that took over after his son was deposed (1979).

Credit: C. Fishel


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