Mirza Melkum Khan (1834–1908; Persian: میرزا ملکم خان; Armenian: Հովսեփ Հակոբի Մելքումյան, romanizedHovsep’ Hakobi Melk’umyan, lit.'Joseph Jacob Melkumyan'), also spelled as Melkum Khan, was an Iranian modernist writer, diplomat, and publicist. He is known for his social reform efforts, as well as for being the first Christian to adopt the title of 'Mirza' in Persian. He is considered one of the fathers of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution.

Mirza Melkum Khan
Mirza Melkum Khan
1st Ambassador of Iran to Austria
In office
MonarchNaser al-Din Shah Qajar
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byEmanuel Goldberger de Buda
Ambassador of Iran to the United Kingdom
In office
MonarchNaser al-Din Shah Qajar
Preceded byMuhsin Khan Mo'in al-Molk
Succeeded byMohammed-Ali Ala al-Saltaneh
Ambassador of Iran to Germany
In office
MonarchNaser al-Din Shah Qajar
Ambassador of Iran to Italy
In office
MonarchMozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar
Preceded byNariman Qawam al-Saltana
Succeeded byMohammad Ebrahim Ghaffari
Personal details
New Julfa, Iran
Rome, Italy
NationalityIranian Armenian
OccupationPolitician, Diplomat
ProfessionPublisher, Translator

Biography edit

Melkum Khan was born to an Armenian Christian family in Iran[1] and educated at the Samuel Muradian school in Paris from 1843 to 1851. He later returned to Iran 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.[2]

Melkum Khan introduced societies similar to the Freemasons in Iran[3] in 1859, and was exiled by Nasser ad-Din Shah for doing so in 1862.[2] 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 Hosein Khan 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.[2] Nasereddin Shah explains in his third trip's memoir, how he went to Mirza Melkum Khan's house an evening, met his wife and his three daughters, two of them as old as 19-20 and the third one who was 6 at the time (1889).

From London, Melkum Khan attacked both the shah and Iranian government, and edited the news-sheet Qanun, which was banned in Iran but read by the shah and his ministers. Melkum Khan eventually became recognized 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.[2]

References edit

  1. ^ Lloyd Ridgeon, Religion and Politics in Modern Iran (I.B.Tauris, 2005), ISBN 1-84511-072-2. p. 14.
  2. ^ a b c d 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.
  3. ^ Amin Banani (1959). Impact of the West on Iran, 1921-1941: A study in modernization of social institutions (PhD thesis). Stanford University. p. 16. ISBN 9781084919372. ProQuest 301883678.
  4. ^ Algar, Hamid. Mīrzā Malkum Khān: A Study in the History of Iranian Modernism p. 10 University of California Press, 1973. ISBN 978-0520022171

Further reading edit

  • Mehrdad Kia, Pan-Islamism in Late Nineteenth-Century Iran, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 30-52 (1996).