‘The Persian State’ and the Safavid Inheritance: Views from the Caspian, 1722–1781

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Book Chapter

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On 12/23 September 1781, Count Marko Voĭnovich, the commander of Russia’s naval squadron in the Caspian Sea, composed a message from Mazandaran to Grigoriĭ Potemkin in St Petersburg. Voĭnovich, a Montenegrin naval commander who entered Russian service during the most recent Russo-Ottoman War (1768–1774) , had been sent by Potemkin to establish a settlement for trade in the south-eastern corner of the Caspian Sea. Officials of the central Russian state had long seen Mazandaran and Astarabad as potentially advantageous sites for a such an outpost. Since the early 1770s, they had accelerated efforts to survey the region and open commerce via Iran to Central Asia and India. Attracted by invitations from Yomut Turkmen emissaries and by the prospects of expanded fishing, seal hunting and oil revenues, they began planning an expedition in the mid-1770s. Potemkin, who coordinated Russia’s diplomacy with Iran in his capacity as...


Chapter 3 in The Contest for Rule in Eighteenth-Century Iran, Charles Melville (Ed.).

ISBN:9780755645961 (paperback), 9780755645985 (eBook)