In the interests of exploiting Iran's location and natural resources to launch a projected attack on British India, Napoleon sent a delegation of military advisers to Fath 'Ali Shah. They were charged with designing and reinforcing fortifications, training cavalry and infantry to European standards, and establishing a center of artillery production. He also sent geographers to reconnoiter the country, documenting routes that might be used by French and Persian land forces in a planned but never fulfilled invasion of India.
The work of these officers has often been mentioned in passing but rarely has it been studied in detail. Although shifting geo-political forces ended the Napoleonic experiment, French involvement in the armed forces of 'Abbas Mirza and his brother Mohammad 'Ali Mirza continued. Despite the presence of English officers at Tabriz, the renegade Gaspard or J.B. Drouville headed to Iran, followed after the debacle at Waterloo by a handful of French officers who sought employment outside their native land.
This book is the first detailed study of the French officers who worked in Iran between 1807 and 1826, the impact they had, the innovations they introduced, their trials, and their tribulations. French military involvement in early Qajar Iran produced a host of stories deserving the attention of anyone with an interest in the seeds of military modernization in the Middle East, technology transfer in the 19th century, and the social, political, diplomatic, and military history of the Middle East in one of its most tumultuous phases.
D.T. Potts is Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and History at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW), New York University. From 1991 to 2012 he was the Edwin Cuthbert Hall Professor of Middle Eastern Archaeology at the University of Sydney. Educated at Harvard, he previously taught at the Free University of Berlin (1981-1986) and the Univ. of Copenhagen (1980-1981, 1986-1991). He is a specialist in the archaeology and early history of Iran, Mesopotamia and the Arabian peninsula. He is the founding editor of the journal Arabian Archaeology & Epigraphy; a Corrsponding Fellow of the British Academy; a Corresponding Member of ISMEO; and a Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute. He has excavated at sites in Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and was co-director, with Lloyd Weeks (Armidale) and Cameron Petrie (Cambridge), of a joint Iranian-Australian archaeological project in the Mamasani district of western Fars Province, investigating the prehistory and early history of the area at Tol-e Nurabad, Tol-e Spid and Qaleh Kali. Since 2017 he has been collaborating with Karen Radner (Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Munich) on the excavation of Gird-i Rostam, a multi-period site in Iraqi Kurdistan. His book, Nomadism in Iran: From Antiquity to the Modern Era, published by Oxford University Press in 2014, was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2015 PROSE Awards (American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence) in the Archaeology and Anthropology category. His most recent book, Persia Portrayed, examines portraits done of Persians who travelled to the West between the early 17th and the mid-19th century. His next book, Agreeable News from Persia, examines early American newspaper content related to Iran from the early 18th to the mid-19th century.