From the Medes to the Mullahs: a History of Iran

Medes lecture cover

The history of Iran, or Persia, is rich and complex.

 It is a history that is perhaps unknown, forgotten or ignored by many people who look at today’s Islamic Republic of Iran.


This talk aims to redress this balance by giving a brief account of the country’s history starting with the period of the Medes in around 600 BCE. We look at the conquests of Alexander the Great and the relationship between the Ancient Roman Empire and the Persian Empire.

Of great significance was the Islamic conquest of the 7th century and the Sunni/Shi’a schism, which was played out in Iraq/Iran and is still with us today. We also cover the golden age of Islam under the Abbasids and destruction by the Mongols, the Shi’a theocracy of the Safavid dynasty, the Pahlavi monarchy and the build up to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Finally we will look at the situation in Iran today.

This lecture, which has proven to be popular with U3A (University of the Third Age) audiences, can easily be adapted for a Study Day.

The book From the Medes to the Mullahs: a History of Iran, which is available at Amazon, accompanies this lecture.