Nadir Shah, Or Kuli Khan, a king of Persia, born in Khorasan in 1688, assassinated June 19 or 20, 1747. His father was a maker of sheepskin caps and coats. For four years Nadir was held in captivity by the Uzbecks, from which at the age of 21 he escaped, and afterward entered the service of the governor of Khorasan. Here he attained high rank, but was degraded and punished, whereupon he placed himself at the head of a band of robbers. The invading Afghans had dethroned the Persian monarch early in the 18th century. Nadir joined Tamasp, son of the shah, with 5,000 men, in 1727, was given the supreme command, drove the Afghan king out of Khorasan, overtook the retreating army at Per-sepolis, and cut it to pieces. For these services he received in 1730 the provinces of Khorasan, Mazanderan, Seistan, and Kerman, and took the title of Tamasp Kuli (Tamasp's slave), to which Khan was added by the king. In 1731 he defeated the Turks on the plains of Hamadan, and then marched against the Afghans. In his absence Tamasp was defeated by the Turks and signed a treaty ceding them several provinces. Nadir, taking advantage of the popular discontent, proclaimed that he would carry on the war, and in August, 1732, dethroned the sovereign, who was afterward put to death.
The infant son of Tamasp was made nominal ruler as Abbas III., but died early in 1736; and at an assembly called to consider the state of the kingdom, Nadir accepted the crown. He had already recovered from the Turks the ceded provinces, and he now moved against the Afghans. He captured the city of Candahar in 1738, and his son Riza Kuli crossed the Oxus and overthrew the ruler of Bokhara and the Uzbecks. Afghanistan was conquered, and Nadir, marching into Hindostan in 1739, defeated the Mogul army, and entered Delhi. The inhabitants of that city rose against their conquerors, and Nadir thereupon ordered a general massacre of Hindoos in every house in which a dead Persian was found. He returned to Persia with plunder amounting to $100,000,000, including the Koh-i-noor diamond, having also taken from the Mogul emperor the provinces west of the Indus. In 1740 he subjugated the sovereign of Bokhara, and defeated and put to death the khan of Khiva. In his latter years he became capricious and cruel, finally putting whole cities to the sword on the slightest pretext. He had also grown so avaricious that the taxes levied upon the empire were intolerable. At length four noblemen, who learned that their names were in a proscribed list, broke into his tent at night and despatched him.
His life was written in Persian by Mirza Mohammed Ma-hadi Khan, his secretary, and translated into French by Sir W. Jones (London, 1770; English, 1773). A detailed account of his career is given by Malcolm in the second volume of the "History of Persia" (1815), and of his earlier life and conquests by Fraser, whose authorities were Persian manuscripts, in his " History of Nadir Shah" (1742).