Sultan Mahmud left two sons, one of whom, Mohammed, had, by his gentleness and docility, so ingratiated himself with his father, that he fixed on him for his successor in preference to his more untractable brother, Masaud. Mohammed was accordingly put in possession, and crowned as soon as Mahmud was dead; but the commanding temper and headlong courage of Masaud, together with his personal strength and soldier-like habits, made him more popular, and, in fact, more fit to govern, in the times which were approaching. Accordingly a large body of guards deserted from Mohammed immediately after his accession; and by the time Masaud arrived from his government of Isfahan, the whole army was ready to throw off its allegiance. Mohammed was seized, blinded, and sent into confinement; and Masaud ascended the throne within five months after his father’s death.
The situation of the new monarch required all the energy by which he was distinguished; for
the power of the Seljuks had already risen to such a height as to threaten his empire with the calamities which they afterwards brought on it.
The origin of this family is not distinctly known; and their early history is related in different ways. The most probable account is, that the chief from whom they derived their name held a high station under one of the great Tartar princes; that he incurred the displeasure of his sovereign, and emigrated with his adherents to Jaund, on the left bank of the Jaxartes. His sons were afterwards subject to Sultan Mahmud; and, by one account, were either induced or compelled by him to move to the south of the Oxus, and settle in Khorasan873. It is, however, more probable that they remained in Transoxiana, under a loose subjection to the Sultan, carrying on wars and incursions on their own account, until the end of his reign, when they began to push their depredations into his immediate territories. They received a check at that time, as has been related, and did not enter Khorasan in force until the reign of Masaud.
Though individuals of the Turki nation had long before made themselves masters of the governments which they served, as the Mamluk guards at Bagdad, Alptegin at Ghazni, &c.; yet the Seljuks were the first horde, in modern times, that obtained possessions to the south of the Oxus; and, although the invasions of Chengiz Khan and
Tamerlane were afterwards on a greater scale, the Seljuk conquest was raised to equal importance from the fact that the representative of one of its branches still fills the throne of Constantinople874.
At the time of Masaud’s accession their inroads into Khorasan began again to be troublesome. They did not, however, seem to require the personal exertions of the new king, who was therefore left at leisure to reduce the province of Mecran,
under his authority; and as within the next three years he received the submission of the provinces of Mazanderan and Gurgan,
then in the hands of a family of unconverted fire-worshippers, he had, before his power began to decline, attained to the sovereignty of all Persia, except the province of Fars.
While engaged with Mecran he received intelligence of a doubtful battle with the Seljuks in Kharism. Mahmud’s favourite general, Altun Tash, was killed in this battle, and his successor thought it prudent to come to terms very inconsistent with the dignity of the monarchy. Notwithstanding this misfortune, Masaud thought himself sufficiently at liberty to enter on an Indian expedition, the only result of which was the capture of Sersuti, a place of no importance on the left bank of the Satlaj. The next year was marked by a pestilence, which raged with unexampled violence over the
whole of Persia and the neighbouring countries, including India, and which probably occasioned a sort of suspension of military operations; but in AD 1034, AH 425, while Masaud was engaged in settling Mazanderan, his generals received another defeat from the Seljuks, to whom all his wisest counsellors thought it was now time for their sovereign to give his most serious attention. But Masaud, perhaps deceived by the submissive language of the Seljuks, who still professed themselves his slaves, thought he had time to settle some disturbances in the opposite extremity of his dominions. He first quelled a rebellion at Lahor, in which the royal army employed against the insurgent (a Mussulman governor) was composed of Hindus, under a chief whose name (Tilok, son of Jei Sein) shows him to have been of their own nation and religion. Next year he himself headed an expedition to India, took Hansi, and left a garrison in Sonpat, near Delhi.
In the mean time the danger from the Seljuks had become too serious to be dissembled. The Sultan marched against them in person. His conduct of the war evinced more activity than skill; and after two years of indecisive operations (during which Toghral Beg once made an incursion to the gates of Ghazni), his affairs were in a worse position than when he first took the field.
At length the two parties met on equal terms: a decisive battle was fought at Zendecan or Dandunaken, near Merv. Masaud, being deserted on the field by some of his
Turki followers, was totally and irretrievably defeated, and was compelled to fly to Merv. He there assembled the wreck of his army, and returned to Ghazni; but, far from being able to collect such a force as might oppose the Seljuks, he found himself without the means of repressing the disorders which were breaking out round the capital. In these circumstances he determined to withdraw to India, and avail himself of the respite thus obtained to endeavour to retrieve his affairs. But discipline was now dissolved, and all respect for the king’s authority destroyed; soon after he had crossed the Indus his own guards attempted to plunder his treasure; and the confusion which followed led to a general mutiny of the army,
the deposition of Masaud, and the restoration of his brother Mohammed to the throne.
The blindness of the latter prince rendering him incapable of conducting the government, he transferred the effective administration to his son Ahmed, one of whose first acts was to put the deposed king to death.
Masaud was more than ten years on the throne, and, notwithstanding the turbulent and disastrous character of his reign, he found time to promote the progress of knowledge, and showed himself a worthy successor of Mahmud in his patronage of learned men and in the erection of magnificent public buildings.
The defeat which overthrew the government of Masaud was attended with the most important consequences to India, as it raised the Mussulman province there from a despised dependency to one of the most valuable portions of the kingdom; but the events which follow have little interest in Indian history. The revolutions in the government, being like those common to all Asiatic monarchies, fatigue without instructing: the struggles with the Seljuks only affected the western dominions of Ghazni; and those with the Hindus had no permanent effect at all. For the history of the people, Asiatic writers afford no materials. Yet this period must have been one of the most deserving of notice of the whole course of their career. It must have been then that permanent residence in India, and habitual intercourse with the natives, introduced a change into the manners and ways of thinking of the invaders, that the rudiments of a new language were formed, and a foundation laid for the present national character of the Mahometan Indians.
The remaining transactions of the house of Ghazni need not therefore occupy much space.
Modud, the son of Masaud, was at Balkh, watching the Seljuks, when he heard of his father’s murder. He set off for Ghazni, and thence for Hindostan, and at Derra Nur, or Fattehabad, in the valley of Laghman, he was met by Mohammed
and his son Ahmed, whom he totally defeated. Both of those princes, with all their relatives, fell into his hands, and he put them all to death, except one, whom he spared on account of the respect he had shown to his father, Masaud, while the rest were insulting him in his misfortunes.
He was soon after opposed by his own brother, who set up his standard in the east of the Panjab, and to whom his troops were deserting in bodies, when he was relieved from this danger by the sudden death of the pretender, and was enabled to turn his attention to the affairs of the west. After the defeat of Masaud the whole kingdom of Ghazni lay open to the invader; but the views of the Seljuks were not limited to that conquest. They met at Nishapur, crowned Toghral Beg king, and divided the country conquered and to be conquered into four provinces, to be held under his authority.
Their principal force was turned towards the west; and Abu Ali, to whom Herat, Sistan, and Ghor were assigned, was not strong enough singly to bear down the opposition of the Ghaznevites875. From this cause Modud was able not only to maintain himself in Ghazni, but to recover Transoxiana; and as he was married to the daughter of Jaker Bey (called by the Mussulmans, Daud), the brother of Toghral and father of Alp Arslan, he appeared to be in a favourable position towards the conquerors who had so lately threatened the existence of his monarchy.
While he was thus successful in the west, the raja of Delhi took advantage of his absence to recover Tanesar, Hansi, and all his father’s conquests beyond the Satlaj; and encouraged by this unusual success, he declared that the god of Nagarcot had appeared to him in a dream, and invited him to his temple, which he was destined to deliver. Though Nagarcot was now better guarded than when it fell into the hands of Mahmud, such was the spirit excited among the Hindus, that they entered the Panjab in numbers, were joined by zealots from all parts, and ere long found themselves masters of the temple.
The raja contrived that the image supposed to have been demolished should be found miraculously preserved: the oracle of the temple was revived and was consulted by innumerable votaries; while the Hindus, aroused by the Divine interposition in their favour, took up arms throughout the whole of the Panjab, and were soon in a condition to lay siege to Lahor. The Mahometans, driven to their last retreat, and indignant at the thoughts of yielding to those whom they had so often defeated, defended the place with the utmost obstinacy; no relief appeared from Ghazni, and after a siege of seven months, they were reduced to extremity; but even then they took a manly resolution, and, swearing to stand by each other to the last, they rushed out on the Hindus, who little expected such an effort, and drove them from their lines, of which they took possession. The Hindus had probably already
begun to lose heart from the length of the siege; and now, fancying that all was to begin again, and that succours must soon arrive from beyond the Indus, they raised the siege and withdrew.
Their alarms were groundless. Modud was again engaged in hostilities with the ever restless” Seljuks, and was, besides, in danger from revolts of his own subjects. He had also engaged to assist Yeheia, prince of Ghor, in recovering his territory from Abu Ali (whether the Seljuk, or a prince of the same name of the Ghori’s own family, does not appear); and when he had succeeded, by means of his alliance, he perfidiously put the prince of Ghor to death, AD 1046, AH 438, and rendered the country tributary, and in some shape dependent, on himself.
At length he found time to send an officer to recover his affairs in Lahor. This chief began his operations prosperously, and was succeeding, by a mixture of force and conciliation, in restoring the royal authority, when he was recalled, in consequence of the enmity of the ministers, and put to death by their intrigues.
Before Modud knew the extent to which his confidence had been betrayed, he was taken ill himself, and died at Ghazni, after a reign of nine years.
On the death of Modud an attempt was made to set up his infant son, but was crushed by his brother Abul Hasan. The new king’s dominions
were limited to Ghazni and the neighbourhood; Ali Bin Rabia, the general who had set up the infant, fled infant,, and not only secured the territories which had been possessed by Modud on both sides of the Indus, but recovered Multan, where the Afghans had asserted their independence, and some of the nearest parts of Sind, which they appear to have conquered.
In the west, also, the whole country was in arms in favour of Abul Rashid, the king’s uncle, who, in the course of time, advanced on Ghazni, and deposed Abul Hasan, after he had reigned two years.
The new reign began auspiciously. Ali Bin Rabia was induced to return to his allegiance; and the Hindus must, by this time, have abandoned their attempt on the Panjab, as one of Abul Rashid’s first acts was the recovery of Nagarcot. But his prospects were soon clouded by the revolt of a chief named Togral in Sistan. Abul Rashid hurried to oppose him, leaving the bulk of his army in India. His force proved unequal to that of the rebels, and he was compelled to shut himself up in Ghazni, where he was taken and put to death, with nine princes of the blood royal, before he had completed the second year of his reign. Togral seized on the vacant throne, but was assassinated within forty days; and the army, having now returned from India, thought only of continuing
the crown in the line of Sebektegin. Three princes of his house were discovered imprisoned in a distant fort; and no one of them having a superiority of title to the others, it was determined to settle the succession by lot. The chance fell on Farokhzad, who was forthwith raised to the throne.
Farokhzad had a longer and, in some respects, a more prosperous reign than his predecessor. During the six years that he sat on the throne he gained such advantages over the Seljuks in the declining years of Aker Bey Daud, that he looked forward to recovering the whole of Khorasan; and though his career was checked by the rising genius of Alp Arslan, he remained on a footing of honourable equality with his competitor, till he was assassinated by some slaves while in the bath.
He was succeeded by his brother Ibrahim. The new king had, from his youth, been remarkable for his devotion and for the sanctity of his manners. His first act was to make peace with the Seljuks, renouncing all claim to the territories which they had conquered from his family. He next turned his attention to internal reforms, extended the fast of the Ramzan to three months, and strictly enforced the observance of it for this increased
period; he distributed large sums in charity; he also attended lectures on religion; and bore patiently with the rebukes he sometimes received on those occasions. He was, moreover, an eminent proficient in the beautiful art of penmanship, so much prized in the East. Yet he did not, it is said, neglect the duties of his government or the administration of justice. He even, on one occasion, took the field in person, and captured Adjudin and two other places on the Satlaj from the Hindus. This is the only achievement recorded of him, except that he sent two Korans, written with his own hand, to the calif; and we can scarcely blame the indifference of his historians, who have left it uncertain whether his inglorious reign lasted for thirty-one years or forty-two. He left thirty-six sons and forty daughters, the latter of whom he gave in marriage to learned and religious men.
His successor, Masaud, was endowed with equal gentleness and more energy. His generals carried his arms beyond the Ganges, and he himself revised the laws and formed them into a consistent code. In his time the residence of the sovereigns began to be transferred to Lahor.
The friendship which had so long continued with the Seljuks had been drawn closer by matrimonial alliances, and this intimate connection was in time the occasion of a rupture.
Arslan, on the death of his father, Masaud II., seized and imprisoned his brothers. Behram, one of the number, had the good fortune to escape, and appealed to Sultan Sanjar Seljuk, whose sister, the mother of all the princes, was greatly offended at the conduct of her eldest son towards the rest. Incited by her, and perhaps by his own ambitious views, Sanjar called on Arslan to release his brothers, and on his refusal, marched against him with an army rated by Ferishta at 30,000 horse and 50,000 foot. Arslan was defeated, after an obstinate engagement, and fled to India; but as soon as Sanjar had withdrawn his army he returned, chaced out Behram, who had been left in possession, and obliged Sanjar to take the field again. This struggle was his last; he was constrained to seek refuge among the Afghans, but was overtaken and put to death, leaving Behram in undisturbed possession of the throne, which he himself had occupied for only three years.
The beginning of Behram’s reign was disturbed by two insurrections of his governor in India, who
was pardoned on the first occasion, and lost his life on the second.
Behram had then leisure to indulge his natural disposition to literature, of which, like all his family, he was a distinguished patron. He encouraged original authors both in poetry and philosophy, and was particularly zealous in promoting translations from other languages into Persian. The famous poet Nizami resided at his court, and one of the five great poems of that author is dedicated to him.
It would have been happy if he had never been withdrawn from those pursuits. Towards the close of a long and prosperous reign he was led into a course of greater activity, which ended in the merited ruin of himself and all his race.
After the murder of the prince of Ghor by Modud, that territory seems to have remained dependent on Ghazni, and the reigning prince, Kutbudin Sur876, was married to the daughter of Sultan Behram. Some difference, however, arose between those princes; and Behram, having got his son-in-law into his power, either poisoned him or put him openly to death. The latter is most probable; for Seif u din877, the brother of the deceased, immediately took up arms to revenge him, and advanced towards Ghazni, whence Behram was
compelled to fly to Kirman in the mountains towards the east.
Seif u din was so secure in his new possession, that he sent back most of his army to Firuz Coh, his usual residence, under his brother Ala u din. But in spite of all endeavours to render himself popular in Ghazni, he failed to shake the attachment of the inhabitants to the old dynasty: a plot was entered into to invite Behram to return; and as soon as the snow had cut off the communication with Ghor, that prince advanced against his former capital with an army collected from the unsubdued part of his dominions. Seif u din, conscious of his present weakness, was about to withdraw, but was persuaded, by the perfidious promises and entreaties of the people of Ghazni, to try the fate of a battle; and being deserted on the field by the citizens, the small body of his own troops that were with him were overpowered, and he himself was wounded and taken prisoner.
Behram’s conduct on this occasion was as inconsistent with his own character as it was repugnant to humanity. He made his prisoner be led round the city with every circumstance of ignominy; and, after exposing him to the shouts and insults of the rabble, put him to death by torture. He also ordered his vizir, a Seiad or descendant of the Prophet, to be impaled.
When the news reached Ala u din, he was raised to the highest pitch of rage and indignation, and vowed a bitter revenge on all concerned.
He seems, in his impatience, to have set out with what was thought an inadequate force, and he was met with an offer of peace from Behram, accompanied by a warning of the certain destruction on which he was rushing. He replied, “that Behram’s threats were as impotent as his arms; that it was no new thing for kings to make war on each other; but that barbarity such as his was unexampled among princes.”
In the battle which ensued, he appeared at one time to be overpowered by the superior numbers of the Ghaznevites; but his own thirst for vengeance, joined to the bravery and indignation of his countrymen, bore down all opposition, and compelled Behram to fly, almost alone, from the scene of action.
The injuries, insults, and cruelties heaped on his brother, by the people no less than the prince, would have justified a severe retaliation on Ghazni; but the indiscriminate destruction of so great a capital turns all our sympathy against the author of it, and has fixed a stigma on Ala u din from which he will never be free as long as his name is remembered878. This noble city, perhaps at the time the greatest in Asia, was given up for three, `
and some say seven, days to flame, slaughter, and devastation. Even after the first fury was over, individuals were put to death, and all the Seiads that could be found were sacrificed in expiation of the murder of Seif u din’s vizir. All the superb monuments of the Ghaznevite kings were demolished, and every trace of them effaced, except the tombs of Mahmud, Masaud, and Ibrahim; the two first of whom were spared for their valour, and the last probably for his sanctity.
The unfortunate Behram only lived to witness the calamities he had brought on his country; for, during his flight to India, he sank under fatigue and misfortune, and expired after a reign of thirty-five years.
His son Khusru continued his retreat to Lahor, and was received amidst the acclamations of his subjects, who probably were not displeased to see the seat of government permanently transferred to their city.
Most of the few remaining events of the history of Ghaznevite Sultans will appear in that of the house of Ghor, and it is only to complete the series that I insert their reigns in this place.
Khusru governed his Indian territory in peace for seven years till AD 1160, AH 555. His administration was acceptable to his subjects, but was marked by no event except a feeble attempt on Ghazni.
Khusru Malik reigned for upwards of twenty-seven lunar years. He recovered the whole of the province of Lahor, to the same extent as was possessed by Sultan Ibrahim. But at length he was invaded, and ultimately subdued, by the kings of Ghor, in whose history that of Ghazni thenceforth merges, the race of Sebektegin expiring with this prince, AD 1186, AH 582.
The origin of the house of Ghor has been much discussed: the prevalent and apparently the correct opinion is, that both they and their subjects were Afghans. Ghor was invaded by the Mussulmans within a few years after the death of Yezdegerd. It is spoken of by Ebn Haukal as only partially converted in the ninth century880. The inhabitants, according to the same author, at that time spoke the language of Khorasan.881
In the time of Sultan Mahmud it was held, as has been observed, by a prince whom Ferishta calls Mohammed Soory (or Sur) Afghan. From his time the history is easily brought down to the events last related.
When Ala u din had satiated his fury at Ghazni he returned to Firuz Coh, and gave himself up to
pleasure, as was his natural propensity. He had not long enjoyed his new conquest, before he was called to meet a more formidable antagonist than he had yet encountered.
Sultan Sanjar was now the nominal head of the empire of the Seljuks; and, although the subordination of his nephew in the western part of it was merely nominal, yet he possessed in effect the greater part of the power of the family.
When he placed Behram on the throne of Ghazni, he stipulated for a tribute882 which he affected to consider as still due from Ala u din. The latter prince refused to acknowledge the claim, and Sanjar marched against him, defeated him, and made him prisoner. He however treated him with liberality, and admitted him to his familiar society.
Ala u din, who was naturally lively and agreeable, profited by the opportunity, and so won on Sanjar by his insinuating manners and his poetical and other accomplishments, that the Seljuk prince determined to restore him to liberty, and even to replace him on his throne883.
This generous resolution of Sanjar’s was, no doubt, strengthened by his own situation, which
did not render it desirable for him to embarrass himself with new conquests.
A few years before this time Atziz, Sanjar’s governor884 of Kharizm, had rebelled, and, dreading his sovereign’s resentment, had called in the aid of the Khitans, a Tartar tribe, who, having been driven by the Chinese from the north of China, made their appearance in Transoxiana. These allies enabled Atziz to defeat the Sultan. In the course of the next two years the power of the Seljuks again prevailed, and Atziz was for a time constrained to acknowledge their supremacy.
But the invasion of the Khitans had more permanent effects than those; for their arrival displaced the portion of the tribe of Euz885 which had remained in Transoxiana while the other portion was conquering in Syria and Asia Minor; and these exiles, being forced on the south, became in their turn invaders of the territories of the Seljuks. Sanjar opposed them with his usual vigour, at the head of an army of 100,000 men.
In spite of all his efforts he was totally defeated886, fell into the hands of the enemy, and remained in captivity for
three years, till within a few months of his death in AD 1156, AH 551.
Before the release of Ala u din, Sultan Khusru resolved to seize the opportunity of recovering Ghazni; but acted with so little promptitude, that he heard of the captivity of Sanjar before he reached his destination, and immediately returned to Lahor.
He however now found unexpected allies; for the Euzes, after defeating Sanjar, poured over all the open part of Ala u din’s territory, and took possession of Ghazni, which they retained for two years: after that time they either evacuated or neglected it, and it fell for a time into the hands of Khusru887. His success, even for a time, was probably owing to the death of Ala u din, who expired in AD 1156, AH 551, and was succeeded by his son, Seif u din, after a short but eventful reign of four years.
Not long before the death of Ala u din, he had placed his two nephews, Gheias u din and Shahab u din, in confinement. Whatever may have been the real motive of this proceeding, a natural one presents itself in the desire of securing the succession of his young and inexperienced son, to whom those active princes were likely to prove formidable
competitors. This consideration had no weight with Seif u din, whose first act was to release his cousins and restore them to their governments; a confidence which he never had reason to repent.
His other qualities, both personal and mental, corresponded to this noble trait, and might have insured a happy reign, if among so many virtues he had not inherited the revengeful spirit of his race. One of his chiefs appearing before him decorated with jewels which had belonged to his wife, and of which she had been stripped after his father’s defeat by Sanjar, he was so transported by passion at the sight that he immediately put the offender to death with his own hand. Abul Abbas, the brother of the deceased, suppressed his feelings at the time; but seized an early opportunity, when Seif u din was engaged with a body of the Euz, and thrust his lance through the Sultan’s body in the midst of the fight. Other historians say that he went into open rebellion, and killed the king in a regular action; and there are different accounts of the transactions that followed that event. They terminated, however, in the death of Abul Abbas, and the succession of Gheias u din, the elder of the late Sultan’s cousins. Seif u din had reigned little more than a year888.
Immediately on his accession, Gheias u din
associated his brother, Mohammed Shahab u din, in the government. He retained the sovereignty during his whole life, but seems to have left the conduct of military operations almost entirely to Shahab u din; on whom, for some years before Gheias u din’s death, the active duties of the government seem in a great measure to have devolved.
The harmony in which these brothers lived is not the only proof that they retained the family attachment which prevailed among their predecessors. Their uncle, (who ruled the dependent principality of Bamian, extending along the upper Oxus from the east of Balkh,) having attempted to seize the throne on the death of Seif u din, was defeated in battle, and so surrounded that his destruction seemed inevitable; when his nephews threw themselves from their horses, ran to hold his stirrup, and treated him with such profound respect, that, although he at first suspected that they were mocking his misfortune, they at last succeeded in soothing his feelings, and restored him to his principality. It continued in his immediate family for three generations, until it fell, with the rest of the dominions of Ghor, on the conquest by the king of Kharizm889.
All these transactions took place in less than five years from the fall of Ghazni, and the two brothers began now to turn to foreign conquest with the vigour of a new dynasty.
They took advantage of the decline of the Seljuks to reduce the eastern part of Khorasan; Gheias u din was personally engaged in that enterprise, and also in the recovery of Ghazni; and from that time forward he divided his residence between Firuz Coh, Ghazni, and Herat. At the last city he built the great mosque so much spoken of for its magnificence in those and later ages.
Shahab u din’s attention was, for a long time, almost entirely turned to India; and he may be considered the founder of the empire in that country which has lasted till our time.
He did not begin till AD 1176, AH 572, when he took Uch, at the junction of the rivers of the Panjab with the Indus.
Two years afterwards he led an expedition to Guzerat, in which he was defeated, and compelled to retreat with as many disasters as Mahmud, and without the consolation of success.
In two expeditions to Lahor he broke the strength of Khusru Malik, the last of the Ghaznevites, and compelled him to give up his son as a hostage.
His next expedition was to Sind, which he overran to the sea shore.
After his return he again engaged in hostilities with Khusru Malik, who, taking courage from despair, made an alliance with the Gakkars, captured one of Shahab u din’s strongest forts, and obliged him to call in the aid of stratagem for a purpose which force seemed insufficient to accomplish. He affected alarms from the west, assembled his army as if for operations in
Khorasan, and, professing an anxious desire to make peace with Khusru Malik, released his son, who had been hitherto kept as a hostage. Khusru Malik, entirely thrown off his guard by these appearances, quitted Lahor, and set out to meet his son, so unexpectedly restored to him; when Shahab u din put himself at the head of a strong body of chosen cavalry, and, marching with celerity and secrecy through unfrequented routes, suddenly interposed himself between Khusru Malik and his capital; and, surrounding his camp by night, made him prisoner, and soon after occupied Lahor, which no longer offered resistance.
Khusru and his family were sent to Gheias u din and imprisoned in a castle in Ghirjistan, where many years after they were put to death by one or other of the contending parties during the war with the king of Kharizm.
Shahab u din had now no Mahometan rival left, and the contest between him and the Hindus seemed at first sight very unequal. As his army was drawn from all the warlike provinces between the Indus and Oxus, and was accustomed to contend with the Seljuks and the northern hordes of Tartars, we should not expect it to meet much resistance from a people naturally gentle and inoffensive, broken into small states, and forced into war without any hopes of gain or aggrandisement: yet none of the Hindu principalities fell without a severe struggle; and some were never entirely subdued, but still remain substantive states after the Mussulman empire has gone to ruin.
This unexpected opposition was chiefly owing to the peculiar character of the Rajputs, arising from their situation as the military class in the original Hindu system. The other classes, though kept together as casts by community of religious rites, were mixed up in civil society, and were under no chiefs except the ordinary magistrates of the country. But the Rajputs were born soldiers; each division had its hereditary leader; and each formed a separate community, like clans in other countries, the members of which were bound by many ties to their chiefs and to each other. The rules of cast still subsisted, and tended to render more powerful the connection just described.
As the chiefs of those clans stood in the same relation to the raja as their own retainers did to them, the king, nobility, and soldiery all made one body, united by the strongest feelings of kindred and military devotion. The sort of feudal system that prevailed among the Rajputs890 gave additional stability to this attachment, and all together produced the pride of birth, the high spirit and the romantic notions, so striking in the military class of that period. Their enthusiasm was kept up by the songs of their bards, and inflamed by frequent contests for glory or for love. They treated women with a respect unusual in the East; and were guided, even towards their enemies, by rules of honour, which it was disgraceful to violate. But, although they had so many of the characteristics of chivalry,
they had not the high-strained sentiments and artificial refinements of our knights, and were more in the spirit of Homer’s heroes than of Spenser’s or Ariosto’s. If to these qualities we add a very strong disposition to indolence (which may have existed formerly, though not likely to figure in history), and make allowances for the effects of a long period of depression, we have the character of the Rajputs of the present day; who bear much the same resemblance to their ancestors that those did to the warriors of the “Maha Bharat891.”
With all the noble qualities of the early Rajputs was mixed a simplicity derived from their want of intercourse with other nations, which rendered them inferior in practical ability, and even in military efficiency, to men actuated by much less elevated sentiments than theirs.
Among the effects of the division into clans, one was, that although the Rajputs are anything but a migratory people, yet, when they have been compelled by external force to leave their seats, they have often moved in a body like a Tartar horde; and when they occupied new lands, they distributed them in the same proportions as their former ones, and remained without any alteration but that of place.
Shortly before the time of Shahab u din, the four
greatest kingdoms in India were – Delhi, then held by the clan of Tomara; Ajmir, by that of Chouhan; Canouj, by the Rathors; and Guzerat, by the Baghilas, who had supplanted the Chalukas: but the Tomara chief, dying without male issue, adopted his grandson Pritwi, raja of Ajmir, and united the Tomaras and Chouhans under one head.
As the raja of Canouj was also grandson of the Tomara chief by another daughter, be was mortally offended at the preference shown to his cousin; and the wars and jealousies to which this rivalship gave rise contributed greatly to Shahab u din’s success in his designs on India.
His first attack was on Pritwi Raja, king of Ajmir and Delhi. The armies met at Tirouri, between Tanesar and Carnal, on the great plain, where most of the contests for the possession of India have been decided. The Mussulman mode of fighting was to charge with bodies of cavalry in succession, who either withdrew after discharging their arrows, or pressed their advantage, as circumstances might suggest. The Hindus, on the other hand, endeavoured to outflank their enemy, and close upon him on both sides, while he was busy with his attack on their centre. Their tactics were completely successful on this occasion: while Shahab u din was engaged in the centre of his army, he learned that both his wings had given way, and soon found himself surrounded, along with such of his adherents as had followed his example in refusing
to quit the field. In this situation he defended himself with desperate courage. He charged into the thickest of the enemy, and had reached the viceroy of Delhi, brother to the raja, and wounded him in the mouth with his lance, when he himself received a wound, and would have fallen from his horse with loss of blood, had not one of his followers leapt up behind him and supported him until he had extricated him from the conflict, and carried him to a place of safety.
The rout, however, was complete. The Mahometans were pursued for forty miles; and Shahab u din, after collecting the wreck of his army at Lahor, returned, himself, to the other side of the Indus. He first visited his brother at Ghor, or Firuz Coh, and then remained settled at Ghazni, where he seemed to forget his misfortunes in pleasure and festivity. But, in spite of appearances, his disgrace still rankled in his bosom, and, as he himself told an aged counsellor, “he never slumbered in ease, or waked but in sorrow and anxiety892.”
At length, having recruited an army, composed of Turks, Tajiks, and Afghans, many of whom had their helmets ornamented with jewels, and their armour inlaid with silver and gold, he again began his march towards India893.
Pritwi Raja again met him with a vast army, swelled by numerous allies who were attracted by
his former success. He sent a haughty message to Shahab u din, with a view to deter him from advancing. The Mussulman general replied in moderate terms, and spoke of referring to his brother for orders; but when the Hindus, in blind reliance on their numbers, had encamped close to his army, he crossed the brook which lay between them about daybreak, and fell upon them by surprise before they had any suspicion that he was in motion. But, notwithstanding the confusion which ensued, their camp was of such extent, that part of their troops had time to form, and afford protection to the rest, who afterwards drew up in their rear; and order being at length restored, they advanced in four lines to meet their opponents. Shaba u din, having failed in his original design, now gave orders for a retreat, and continued to retire, keeping up a running fight, until he had drawn his enemies out of their ranks, while he was careful to preserve his own. As soon as he saw them in disorder, he charged them at the head of 12,000 chosen horse, in steel armour; and “this prodigious army once shaken, like a great building, tottered to its fall, and was lost in its own ruins894.”
The viceroy of Delhi, and many other chiefs, were slain on the field; and Pritwi Raja, being taken in the pursuit, was put to death in cold blood.
Shahab u din was more sanguinary than Mahmud.
When he took Ajmir, soon after this battle, he put some thousands of the inhabitants, who opposed him, to the sword, reserving the rest for slavery. After this barbarous execution he made over the country to a relation (some say a natural son) of Pritwi Raja, under an engagement for a heavy tribute.
He then returned to Ghazni, leaving his former slave, Kutb u din Eibak, who was now rising into notice, and who afterwards mounted the throne, as his representative in India.
Kutb u din followed up his successes with ability, and took possession of Delhi, and of Coel, between the Jamna and the Ganges.
Next year, Shahab u din returned to India, defeated Jeia Chandra, the Rahtor Raja of Canouj, in a battle on the Jamna, north of Etawa, and took Canouj and Benares. This victory destroyed one of the greatest Indian monarchies, extended the Mussulman dominions into Behar, and opened the way, which was soon followed up, into Bengal. Notwithstanding its importance, the circumstances of the battle, the taking of the towns, the breaking of idols, and the acquisition of treasures, present so little novelty, that we are left at leisure to notice the capture of a white elephant, and the incident of the body of the raja being recognised by his false teeth, a circumstance which throws some light on the state of manners. An event of great consequence followed these victories, which was the retreat of the greater part of the Rahtor clan from
Canouj to Marwar, where they founded a principality, now in alliance with the British government.
Shahab u din having returned to Ghazni, Kutb u din had to defend the new raja of Ajmir against a pretender; and, after saving his government, he proceeded to Guzerat, and ravaged that rich province.
Next year, Shahab u din came back to India, took Biana, west of Agra, and laid siege to the strong fort of Gwalior, in Bundelcand. It is probable that he was recalled by some attack or alarm in Khorasan, for he left the conduct of the siege of Gwalior to his generals, and returned, without having performed anything of consequence, to Ghazni.
Gwalior held out for a long time; and when it was taken, Kutb u din (who was still governor in India) was obliged to march again to Ajmir. The raja set up by the Mussulmans had been a second time disturbed by his rivals, and protected by Kutb u din; and be was now exposed to a formidable attack from the rajas of Guzerat and Nagor, supported by the Mers, a numerous hill tribe near Ajmir. Kutb u din was overpowered on this occasion, and had difficulty in making his way, covered with wounds, to Ajmir, where he remained, shut up within the walls. Reinforcements, however, were speedily sent from Ghazni; the siege was raised; and, by the time he was sufficiently
recovered to move, he was in a condition to retaliate on his late conquerors. He set out for
Guzerat, by the way of Pali, Nadol, and Sirohi. In the last named district be found two great feudatories of Guzerat, strongly posted on the mountain of Abu, and in too great force to be left in his rear. He therefore entered the hills, reached and carried their position, and, having dispersed their army, proceeded to Anhalwara. He took and garrisoned that capital; and, after ravaging the province, returned again to Delhi. Next year he took Calinjer and Calpi, forts in Bundelcand, and appears likewise to have gone against Badayun, in what is now called Rohilcand.
The Ganges, indeed, had long ceased to be an obstacle; and, at this very period, Kutb u din was waited on by Mohammed Bakhtiar Khilji895, who had already conquered part of Oud and North Behar; and who, on his return to his command, reduced the rest of Behar and Bengal, taking Gour or Laknouti, the capital of the latter province896.
During these transactions, Shahab u din was engaged in contests with the King of Kharizm (who had subverted the government of the Seljuks in Persia, and succeeded to their place as competitors with the Ghoris for the ascendancy in central Asia). He was between Tus and Serakhs, in Khorasan, when he heard of his brother’s death,
and returned to Ghazni to take possession of the throne.
Gheias u din appears to have resumed his activity before his death, and to have been present in person in all the campaigns in Khorasan, except this last897.
As soon as he had arranged his internal government, Shahab u din assembled an army, and proceeded to make a decisive attack on Kharizm. He gained a great victory over the king of that country898, besieged him in his capital, and soon reduced him to such straits as to constrain him to sue for aid to the Khitan Tartars. By their assistance he so completely changed the face of affairs, that Shahab u din was obliged to burn his baggage, and attempt to draw off towards his own territory. He was so hard pressed on his retreat that he could not avoid an action, and received such a defeat, that it was with difficulty he made his way to Andkho, half way between Balkh and Herat. At Andkho he made a stand, and only surrendered on condition
of being allowed to depart on payment of a sum of money.
The destruction of Shahab u din’s army, joined, as it was, at first, to a report of his death, was the signal for general confusion in a great part of his dominions. Ghazni shut her gates against him, though the governor, Taj u din Eldoz was one of his favourite slaves. Another of his chiefs went straight from the field of battle to Multan, and presenting himself with a feigned commission from the king, occupied the place on his own behalf. The wild tribe of the Gakkars issued from their mountains in the north of the Panjab, took Lahor, and filled the whole province with havoc and devastation. Kutb u din remained faithful in India, as did Herat and other western countries, where the governments were held by three nephews of the king’s. Shahab u din collected some adherents, and first recovered Multan. He then received the submission of Ghazni, and pardoned Elam. He afterwards made an attack on the Panjab, in concert with Kutb u din, and not only recovered that country, but induced the Gakkars to embrace the Mahometan religion, which was the easier done as they had very little notion of any other. Ferishta mentions that the infidels in the hills east of Ghazni were also converted at this period899.
Internal tranquillity being restored, Shahab u din set off on his return to his western provinces, where he had ordered a large army to be collected, for another expedition to Kharizm. He had only reached the Indus, when, having ordered his tent to be pitched close to the river, that he might enjoy the freshness of the air off the water, his unguarded situation was observed by a band of Gakkars, who had lost relations in the late war, and were watching an opportunity of revenge. At midnight, when the rest of the camp was quiet, they swam the river to the spot where the king’s tent was pitched; and entering, unopposed, dispatched him with numerous wounds.
This event took place on the 2d of Shaban, 602 of the Hijra, or March 14th, 1206. His body was conveyed, in mournful pomp, to Ghazni, accompanied by his vizir and all his principal nobles. It was met by Eldoz, who unbuckled his armour, threw dust on his head, and gave every sign of affliction for the death of his benefactor.
He left prodigious treasures, and was succeeded by his nephew Mahmud.
The conquests of Shahab u din in India far surpassed those of Sultan Mahmud, and might have surpassed them in Persia, if the times had been as favourable. Yet, though an enterprising soldier, he had neither the prudence nor the general talents of that great prince, who was a discoverer as well as a conqueror, and whose attention was as much devoted to letters as to arms. Accordingly, the
name of Mahmud is still one of the most celebrated in Asia, while that of Shahab u din is scarcely known beyond the countries over which he ruled.
At his death, Shahab u din held, in different degrees of subjection, the whole of Hindostan Proper, except Malwa and some contiguous districts. Sind and Bengal were either entirely subdued, or in rapid course of reduction. On Guzerat he had no hold, except what is implied in the possession of the capital. Much of Hindostan was immediately under his officers, and the rest under dependent, or, at least, tributary princes. The desert and some of the mountains were left independent from neglect.
Though Mahmud was proclaimed throughout the whole of his uncle’s dominions, and his sovereignty acknowledged by all the officers under it, yet the kingdom broke, at once, into separate states, which were scarcely held together, even in name, by his general supremacy.
Shahab u din, having no son, was fond of bringing up Turkish slaves; and many of his training rose to great eminence. Three of these were in possession of extensive governments at the time of his death. Kutb u din, in India; Eldoz, at Ghazni; and Nasir u din Kubachi, in Multan and Sind. Each of these three became really independent on their master’s death; and, as the subordinate principality of Bamian was held by a separate
branch of his own family, Mahmud’s actual possession was confined to Ghor, with Herat, Sistan, and the east of Khorasan. His capital was at Firuz Coh.
Mahmud, on his accession, sent the title of king and the insignia of royalty to Kutb u din to be held under him. He does not appear to have attempted to disturb Eldoz in his possession (although two sons of the prince of Bamian asserted the rights of their family, and for a time expelled Eldoz from Ghazni); but, on the death of Mahmud, which happened within five or six900 years, there was a general civil war throughout all his dominions west of the Indus, and those countries had not recovered their tranquillity when they were all subdued by the kings of Kharizm.
Ghazni was taken by those conquerors in AD 1215, and Firuz Coh at an earlier period. Many accounts, indeed, represent Mahmud as having been killed on that occasion.901
873. Amir bin Kadr Seljuki was left by Mahmud in the command of a garrison in India in 1021, AH 412.
874. De Guignes. D’Herbelot. Price.
875. De Guignes, vol. ii. p. 190.
876. Called Kootb ooddeen Mahomed Ghorry Afghan, in Briggs’s “Ferishta,” vol. i. p. 151.
877. Seif ooddeen Soory, Ibid. vol. i. p. 152.
878. He is always called Jehansoz, Burner of the world, and, though otherwise praised, is mentioned by no historian on this occasion, without the strongest terms of censure. Even the unprovoked massacres of Chengiz and Tamerlane are spoken of with much less disapprobation: a proof, perhaps, of the more civilised character of the earlier period, in which such proceedings excited so much surprise.
879. Called, in the “Tabakati Nasiri,” the house of Sansabani.
880. Ouseley’s Ebn Haukal, pp. 221. 226. See also p. 212. He there says that all beyond Ghor may be considered as Hindustan; meaning, no doubt, that it was inhabited by infidels.
881. The Afghans look on the mountains of Ghor as their earliest seat; and I do not know that it has ever been denied that the people of that country in early times were Afghans. The only question relates to the ruling family. An author quoted by Professor Dorn (History of the Afghans, annotations, page 92.), says that they were Turks from Khita; but it is a bare assertion of one author; for the other quotation in the same place relates to the successors of the house of Ghor. All other authors, as far as I can learn, include them in the Afghan tribe of Sur; though they are all guilty of an inconsistency, in deriving them from Sur and Sam, two sons of Zohak, a fabulous king of Persia, quite unconnected with the Afghans. The same authors add some extraordinary legends regarding their more recent history. They relate that, after the time of Mahmud, the head of the house of Sur, whose name was Sam, was obliged to desert his country and fly to India, where, though still a sincere Mussulman at heart, he became a servant in a temple of idols. He there amassed a fortune, and was on his return home, when he was shipwrecked and drowned on the coast of Persia. His son, Husen Suri, clung to a plank, on which he floated for three days; and although for all that time he had a tiger, which had been also in the wreck, for a companion, yet the animal did not attempt to molest him, and he made his way to a city. He was there thrown into prison; but being at length delivered, he set out for Ghazni. On the road he fell in with a band of robbers, who, glad of so fine a recruit, gave him a horse and arms, and compelled him to join their troop. On the same night they were all seized and brought before the Sultan, who happened to be the pious Ibrahim, and were ordered to be beheaded. Husen, however, told his story; and, as his appearance was prepossessing, the Sultan believed him, and ultimately sent him as governor to his native kingdom. From all this we are tempted to infer that some adventurer did gain authority in Ghor, through the Sultans of Ghazni; that he either belonged originally to the tribe, or was adopted into it, perhaps marrying into the chief’s family (as is so common with Normans and others in the Highland clans), and afterwards invented the above romantic story, and equally romantic pedigree, to cover his low origin. Professor Dorn, in the annotations above quoted, has collected all that has been written on the origin of the house of Cher, as well as on the eight different accounts of the origin of the Afghans, and has come to very rational conclusions on both questions. On the house of Ghor, see also many articles in D’Herbelot, De Guignes, vol. ii. p. 181., and Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. i. p. 161.
882. De Guignes, vol. ii. p. 252.
883. End of 1152, 547, or the beginning of the next year. De Guignes and D’Herbelot make the date 1149, AH 544; but it must have been after the taking of Ghazni, and before Sanjar’s captivity, which fixes the date with precision. Some of the verses that had such an effect on Sanjar are preserved; but it must have been to their complimentary turn rather than their poetical merit that they owed their success.
884. This is the origin of the kings of Kharizm, so celebrated in the East, who overthrew the kingdom of Ghor, and were in their turn overthrown by Chengiz Khan.
885. The Euz tribe are Turks, who were long settled in Kipchak. They are, according to De Guignes, the ancestors of the Turkmans (vol. i. part ii. pp. 510. 522., vol. ii. p. 190.). They are also called Uzes, Guz, Gozz, Gozi, and Gazi; but in Ferghana, where they are the ruling tribe, they are still called Euz (pronounced like the English verb use.)
886. De Guignes, vol. ii. p. 256.
887. Ferishta and De Guignes make the Euz retain Ghazni for fifteen years.
888. D’Herbelot. Ferishta. Abstract of Mussulman histories, in Dorn’s “Afghans.”
889. D’Herbelot. Dorn’s Annotations.
890. See page 144. of this volume.
891. Their modern history is full of instances of loyalty and military honour. Their last great war was between the rajas of Jeipur and Jodpur for the hand of a princess of Oudipur. (See Tod’s Rajasthan, and other books and official publications.)
892. Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. i. p. 173.
893. This description is from Ferishta: he fixes the number at 120,000 horse.
894. Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. i. p. 177.
895. Ferishta, vol. i. p. 198.
896. Introduction to Bird’s History of Guzerat, p. 85.
897. De Guignes, vol. ii. p. 265. Ferishta, vol. i. p. 186. D’Herbelot, article “Ghaiathudin.” This account is inconsistent with Ferishta (p. 180.), who represents Gheias u din as merely retaining the name of king during the last years of his life; but is supported by D’Herbelot and De Guignes, who quote respectable Persian histories, and are better authority on western affairs than Ferishta.
898. De Guignes, vol. ii. p. 265.
899. It is not improbable that the people of the inaccessible regions, now inhabited by the Jajis and Turis, may not have been converted till this late period.
900. 1208, AH 605 (De Guignes). 1210, AH 607 (Dorn). 1212, AH 609 (D’Herbelot).
901. For particulars of Mahmud’s reign and the subsequent confusions, see De Guignes (art. “Kharizme”). D’Herbelot (art. “Mahmoud”), and the history of the house of Ghor, in the annotations on Professor Dorn’s “History of the Afghans.” The Ghoris appear to have recovered from this temporary extinction; for in the beginning of the fourteenth century, less than 100 years after the death of Jenghiz Khan, we find Mohammed Sam Ghori defending Herat against one of the successors of that conqueror. (D’Ohson, vol. iv. p. 515, &c.); and at a later period, Tamerlane, in his Memoirs, mentions Gheias u din, son of Aaz (or Moizz) u din, as ruler of Khorasan, Ghor, and Ghirjistan; and in many places calls him and his father Ghoris. (Mulfuzat Timuri, p. 145). Princes of the same dynasty are mentioned in Price, vol. ii., who calls their family Kirit, or Gueret, and all the names mentioned on those occasions are found in a list of Kurt kings, given by professor Dorn (Annotations, p. 92.), from Janabi, who says they are asserted to be of the Sur Alghori.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage