The fourth ruler of Qajar kings, and son of Mohammad Shah and Mahd-olia, Nasseraddin Shah was born in July 17th 1831. In his early youth, he was trained by Mirza Taqi Khan Amir Kabir. While only fourteen years old, he married a Qajar Princess, Galin Khanom.
In 1847, he became the governor of Azerbaijan and left for Tabriz. When his father, Mohammad Shah died, Mahd-olia took the power in her hands until his son returned to Tehran. He came to the throne and appointed Mirza Taqi Khan Amir Kabir as his grand vizier. His early years of rule were coincided with many riots and uprisings including those of Salar-od-dowleh in Khorassan, the Babis and Agha Khan Mahallati. Following the suppression of these riots, order and tranquility were restored in the country which helped Amir Kabir to make some fundamental political, economic, and social reforms. However the courtiers opposed to these reforms and forced the young and inexperienced Shah to remove and kill his wise vizier.
A totally devoted to The British, Mirza Agha Khan Nouri succeeded Amir Kabir. His inefficiency in administration of the country restored the previously existing disorder in the cities; Herat was separated from Iran and was in the hands of the British. Some northern parts of Iran including Marv, Kharazm and Khiveh were given to Russia. Some parts of Siestan and Baluchestan were separated from Iran by the British. Mirza Agha Khan's treasons led to the Shah's anger and his dismissal.
The Shah did not appoint another grand vizier, but formed a sort of small cabinet of six ministers. Furthermore, he founded a governmental consultative assembly. However, none of these were efficient for the country's needs. After six years, again he appointed Mirza Mohammad Khan Sepahsalar as grand vizier. His premiership did not last long. He was a military man and could not handle the public affairs. Mirza Hossein Khan Sepahsalar Qazvini succeeded him. In his period, the mines concession was granted to a Jewish British, Reuter which was cancelled due to strong opposition of the clergy and people. He was the grand vizier who provided the preliminaries for the Shah's two visits to Europe.
The next two grand viziers were Mirza Yusef Mostowfi-al-mamalek and Mirza Ali Asghar Amin-os-soltan. Nasseraddin Shah's next visit to Europe was prepared by Amin-os-soltan. In the same visit, the Shah granted the lottery and tobacco concessions to Iranian minister in London, Mirza Malkam Khan and the British Talbot, respectively. On his return, both contracts were received with strong criticism. The Shah ordered to cancel the lottery concession. In respect of the tobacco concession, groups of clergies including Seyyed Jamaladdin Assadabadi opposed to it strongly. He encouraged Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Hassan Shirazi to issue a religious decree to ban the consumption of tobacco. Eventually, the Shah was forced to cancel the above contract.
Under his reign, many other concessions including those of foundation of Imperial bank for six years, mint, and shipping in Karun were granted to the British and Anzali-Tehran road concession to the Russians. During the second half of the 19th century, simultaneous with Nasser-ad-din Shah's time, the Europeans were enjoying the merits of freedom and the rule of law. But the Islamic countries of Middle East were deprived of personal freedom and social life. Specifically in Iran, the people felt desperate because of these oppressions. Meanwhile, Seyyed Jamaladdin Assadabadi turned out to be the leader of freedom seeking men. The Shah ordered for his exile from the country. However, on the eve of 50th anniversary of Nasseraddin Shah's rule, one of his students, Mirza Reza Kermani made an attempt on his life and put an end to it.
He had a nice handwriting, and composed poetry. He showed great passion to painting, sketching, taking pictures, and hunting. As his predecessors, he carried out a life of self-indulgence and excessive polygamy.