Mirza Muhammad Khan I
|Mirza Muhammad khan I|
|Khan of Baku|
|Reign||1747 – 1768|
|Predecessor||Galem of Gilan (as governor for Afsharids)|
|Successor||Malik Muhammad Khan|
|Died||17 October 1768 (aged 40–41)|
His ancestors - namely his great-grandfather Mahammadhuseyn bek and grandfather Heybet bek arrived from Iran to Baku in 1592 and held various commanding posts. His father Dargahqulu bek was a landlord in Mashtaga who seized the city and killed sultan who was appointed by Safavids, then began to call himself khan, appointing Selim khan as naib of Absheron. He defeated forces of Surkhay khan of Qaziqumuq and later Haji Davud of Shirvan and extended his rule to Shabran and Gobustan. He surrendered castle to Mikhail Matyushkin with 700 soldiers in 1723 and was acknowledged by Russian Empire as local ruler.
He was born in 1727, in Baku. His father ruled at least till 1731. However he was charged with treason and relieved of duty in unknown year. He rejoined Nadir Shah and was killed in 1738 in a battle. After Treaty of Ganja, Nadir Shah appointed a certain Galem from Gilan as a sultan of Baku, also awarded Ashur khan Afshar with lands in Absheron peninsula, including Sabunchu, Keshla and Zabrat. His grandson, son of Malik Muhammad Khan, is named after him. He also acknowledged his grandson Mirza Muhammad as khan at age of 11.
Taking advantage of Nadir's fall, he seized the city and killed the sultan, appointing former naib Selim khan's grand Muhammed Selim bek as new sultan in 1747. His first action was to rebuild navy, as he was also a former admiral of Nadir Shah and chief of shipyard of Langarud.
Situations changed in 1749, when new Afshar shah Ebrahim Afshar demanded reinforcements from Northern Azerbaijani khanates. Out of all khans, only Hajji Muhammad Ali Khan of Shirvan submitted to new Persian shah. Khanates of Karabakh, Shaki, Baku, Salyan and Sultanate of Gabala trying to keep their independence, invaded Shamakhi in alliance, forcing Hajji Muhammad to swear that he won't submit to Afsharids. Hajji Muhammad soon was deposed and replaced by a yuzbashi appointed by Haji Chalabi. Another player in regional politics was adventurer Ahmed khan Shahsevan, a chief of Shahsevan tribe. He urged khans to end Haji Chalabi's supremacy. Mirza Mahammad sided with Ahmed khan, however battle was a disaster and Mirza Muhammad barely escaped with his life.
In 1756, he engaged his son to the daughter of Ahmed Khan of Shahsevan. However the Salyan khan Ibrahim khan Rudbar seized her before marriage, taking advantage of the death of Ahmed Khan. Mirza Muhammad Khan decided to fight with the Salyan khan and even made two bridges to cross Kura. We do not have information about the results of this campaign, apparently it did not take place, since in 1757 the crown prince of Guba, Fatali and his army attacked the Salyan khanate, expelled Ibrahim Khan and annexed Salyan to Guba.
Next year, another threat from Persia - Muhammad Hasan khan landed in Azerbaijan. Mirza Muhammad unsuccessfully tried to establish with Shahverdi khan against him at first, but seeing the odds, sent his Haji Abdul Ali with tributes to Muhammad Hasan. As further precaution, he employed a naval company under leadership of John Elton, now having 3 warship and 3 merchant ships at his disposal.
He soon acknowledged suzerainty of Fatali khan of Guba and started to join his military campaigns, such as capturing of Muji castle. He cemented this alliance by marrying his son to Fatali khan's sister, after when he was practically absent from politics. He died on 17 October 1768. His body was taken and buried in Karbala.
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