Official Languages: Persian, Turkic
Established: 1736 AD/CE
Disestablished: 1796 AD/CE
Nader Shah was born (as Nadr Qoli) into a humble semi-nomadic family from the Afshar tribe of Khorasan, where he became a local warlord. His path to power began when the Ghilzai Mir Mahmud Hotaki overthrew the weakened and disintegrated Safavid shah Sultan Husayn in 1722. At the same time, Ottoman and Russian forces seized Iranian land. Russia took swaths of Iran's Caucasian territories in the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia, as well as mainland northern Iran, by the Russo-Persian War, while the neighbouring Ottomans invaded from the west. By the 1724 Treaty of Constantinople, they agreed to divide the conquered areas between themselves.
On the other side of the theatre, Nader joined forces with Sultan Husayn's son Tahmasp II and led the resistance against the Ghilzai Afghans, driving their leader Ashraf Khan easily out of the capital in 1729 and establishing Tahmasp on the throne. Nader fought to regain the lands lost to the Ottomans and Russians and to restore Iranian hegemony in Iran. While he was away in the east fighting the Ghilzais, Tahmasp allowed the Ottomans to retake territory in the west. Nader, displeased, had Tahmasp deposed in favour of his baby son Abbas III in 1732. Four years later, after he had recaptured most of the lost Persian lands, Nader felt confident enough to have himself proclaimed shah in his own right at a ceremony on the Moghan Plain.
Nader subsequently made the Russians cede the taken territories taken in 1722–23 through the Treaty of Resht of 1732 and the Treaty of Ganja of 1735. Back in control of the integral northern territories, and with a new Russo-Iranian alliance against the common Ottoman enemy, he continued the Ottoman–Persian War. The Ottoman armies were expelled from western Iran and the rest of the Caucasus, and the resultant 1736 Treaty of Constantinople forced the Ottomans to confirm Iranian suzerainty over the Caucasus and recognised Nader as the new Iranian shah (king).
In the spring of 1735, Nader attacked Persia's archrival, the Ottomans, and regained most of the territory lost during the recent chaos. At the same time, the Abdali Afghans rebelled and besieged Mashhad, forcing Nader to suspend his campaign and save his brother, Ebrahim. It took Nader fourteen months to crush this uprising.
Relations between Nader and the Shah had declined as the latter grew alarmed by his general's military successes. While Nader was absent in the east, Tahmasp tried to assert himself by launching a campaign to recapture Yerevan. He ended up losing all of Nader's recent gains to the Ottomans, and signed a treaty ceding Georgia and Armenia in exchange for Tabriz. Nader, furious, saw that the moment had come to depose Tahmasp. He denounced the treaty, seeking popular support for a war against the Ottomans. In Isfahan, Nader got Tahmasp drunk then showed him to the courtiers asking if a man in such a state was fit to rule. In 1732 he forced Tahmasp to abdicate in favour of the Shah's baby son, Abbas III, to whom Nader became regent.
Nader decided, as he continued the 1730–35 war, that he could win back the territory in Armenia and Georgia by seizing Ottoman Baghdad and then offering it in exchange for the lost provinces, but his plan went badly amiss when his army was routed by the Ottoman general Topal Osman Pasha near the city in 1733. Nader decided he needed to regain the initiative as soon as possible to save his position because revolts were already breaking out in Persia. He faced Topal again with a larger force and defeated and killed him. He then besieged Baghdad, as well as Ganja in the northern provinces, earning a Russian alliance against the Ottomans. Nader scored a decisive victory over a superior Ottoman force at Yeghevard (modern-day Armenia) and by the summer of 1735, Persian Armenia and Georgia were under his rule again. In March 1735, he signed a treaty with the Russians in Ganja by which the latter agreed to withdraw all of their troops from Persian territory, those which had not been ceded back by the 1732 Treaty of Resht yet, mainly regarding Derbent, Baku, Tarki, and the surrounding lands, resulting in the reestablishment of Iranian rule over all of the Caucasus and northern mainland Iran again.
In 1738, Nader Shah conquered Kandahar, the last outpost of the Hotaki dynasty and established Naderabad, Kandahar. His thoughts now turned to the Mughal Empire based in Delhi. This once powerful Muslim state to the east was falling apart as the nobles became increasingly disobedient and the Hindu Marathas of the Maratha Empire made inroads on its territory from the south-west. Its ruler Muhammad Shah was powerless to reverse this disintegration. Nader asked for the Afghan rebels to be handed over, but the Mughal emperor refused.
Nader used the pretext of his Afghan enemies taking refuge in India to cross the border and invade the militarily weak but still extremely wealthy far eastern empire. In a brilliant campaign against the governor of Peshawar, he took a small contingent of his forces on a daunting flank march through nearly impassable mountain passes, and took the enemy forces positioned at the mouth of the Khyber Pass completely by surprise, decisively beating them despite being outnumbered two-to-one. This led to the capture of Ghazni, Kabul, Peshawar, Sindh and Lahore.
As Nader moved into the Mughal territories, he was accompanied by his loyal Georgian subject and future king of eastern Georgia, Erekle II, who led a Georgian contingent as a military commander as part of Nader's force. Following the defeat of Mughal forces priorly, he then advanced deeper into India, crossing the river Indus before the end of year. The news of the Persian army's swift and decisive successes against the northern vassal states of the Mughal empire caused much consternation in Delhi, prompting the Mughal ruler, Muhammad Shah, to summon an overwhelming force of some 300,000 men and march this massive host north towards the Persian army.
The Persian troops left Delhi at the beginning of May 1739, but before they left, he ceded back to Muhammad Shah all territories to the east of the Indus that he had overrun. Nader's soldiers also took with them thousands of elephants, horses and camels, loaded with the booty they had collected. The plunder seized from India was so valuable that Nader stopped taxation in Iran for a period of three years following his return. Nader attacked the empire to, perhaps, give his country some breathing space after previous turmoils. His successful campaign and replenishment of funds meant that he could continue his wars against Iran's archrival and neighbour, the Ottoman Empire.
After Nader's death in 1747, his nephew Ali Qoli (who may have been involved in the assassination plot) seized the throne and proclaimed himself Adil Shah ("The Just King"). He ordered the execution of all Nader's sons and grandsons, with the exception of the 13-year-old Shahrokh, the son of Reza Qoli. Meanwhile, Nadir's former treasurer, Ahmad Shah Abdali, had declared his independence by founding the Durrani Empire. In the process, the eastern territories were lost and in the following decades became part of Afghanistan, the successor-state to the Durrani Empire. The northern territories, Iran's most integral regions, had a different fate. Erekle II and Teimuraz II, who, in 1744, had been made the kings of Kakheti and Kartli respectively by Nader himself for their loyal service, capitalized on the eruption of instability and declared de facto independence. Erekle II assumed control over Kartli after Teimuraz II's death, thus unifying the two as the Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti, becoming the first Georgian ruler in three centuries to preside over a politically unified eastern Georgia, and due to the frantic turn of events in mainland Iran he would be able to remain de facto autonomous through the Zand period. Under the successive Qajar dynasty, Iran managed to restore Iranian suzerainty over the Georgian regions, until they would be irrevocably lost in the course of the 19th century, to neighbouring Imperial Russia. Many of the rest of the territories in the Caucasus, comprising modern-day Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Dagestan broke away into various khanates. Until the advent of the Zands and Qajars, its rulers had various forms of autonomy, but stayed vassals and subjects to the Iranian king. Under the early Qajars, these territories in Transcaucasia and Dagestan would all be fully reincorporated into Iran, but eventually permanently lost as well (alongside Georgia), in the course of the 19th century to Imperial Russia through the two Russo-Persian Wars of the 19th century.
Adil made the mistake of sending his brother Ebrahim to secure the capital Isfahan. Ebrahim decided to set himself up as a rival, defeated Adil in battle, blinded him and took the throne. Adil had reigned for less than a year. Meanwhile, a group of army officers freed Shahrokh from prison in Mashhad and proclaimed him shah in October 1748. Ebrahim was defeated and died in captivity in 1750 and Adil was also put to death at the request of Nader Shah's widow. Shahrokh was briefly deposed in favour of another puppet ruler Soleyman II but, although blinded, Shahrokh was restored to the throne by his supporters. He reigned in Mashhad and from the 1750s his territory was mostly confined to Khorasan. In 1796 Mohammad Khan Qajar, the founder of the Qajar dynasty, seized Mashhad and tortured Shahrokh to force him to reveal the whereabouts of Nader Shah's treasures. Shahrokh died of his injuries soon after and with him the Afsharid dynasty came to an end. Shahrokh's descendants continue into the 21st century under the Afshar Naderi surname.