Saturday 23 September 2017

Khilji Dynasty - Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate was a Muslim kingdom based mostly in Delhi that stretched over large parts of the Indian subcontinent for 320 years (1206–1526). Five Dynasties ruled over Delhi over this period starting from Mamluk(Slave) Dynasty. Four of these dynasties were of Turkic Origin and the last one was of Afghan Origin. The sultanate is noted for being one of the few states to repel an attack by the Mongol Empire.

Abandoned Alai Minar, Qutub Complex, New Delhi

The Khilji Dynasty was founded by Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji in 1290 and ruled the Delhi Sultanate of India till 1320 CE. The dynasty is known for their faithlessness and ferocity, as well as their raids into the Hindu south. Jalal ruled from 1290 to 1296 CE. In 1292, the Sultan defeated a Mongol army who had invaded the Dipalpur-Multan region. He then allowed them to retreat. Jalaluddin was killed in 1296 by his nephew Alauddin, who became the next Sultan.

Khilji Empire at it's heights

Ala ud-Din Khilji (r. 1296-1316) was the second and the most powerful ruler of the Khilji dynasty. During his reign,  Mongol attacked and plundered raids from the northwest. The Mongols withdrew after plundering and stopped raiding northwest parts of the Delhi Sultanate. After the Mongols withdrew, Ala ud-Din Khilji continued expanding the Delhi Sultanate into southern India with the help of generals such as Malik Kafur and Khusro Khan.

Sultan Ala ud-Din Khilji

Over the next few years, Alauddin successfully defended India against the Mongol invasions, at Jaran-Manjur (1297-1298), Sivistan (1298), Kili (1299), Delhi (1303), and Amroha (1305). In 1306, his forces achieved a decisive victory against the Mongols near the Ravi riverbank, and in the subsequent years, his forces ransacked the Mongol territories in present-day Afghanistan.

River River

Alauddin subjugated the Hindu kingdoms of Gujarat (raided in 1299 and annexed in 1304), Ranthambore (1301), Chittor (1303), Malwa (1305), Siwana (1308), and Jalore (1311). These victories ended several Hindu dynasties, including the Paramaras, the Vaghelas, the Chahamanas of Ranastambhapura and Jalore, the Rawal branch of the Guhilas, and possibly the Yajvapalas.

Ranthambore Fort

Alauddin's slave-general Malik Kafur led multiple campaigns to the south of the Vindhyas, obtaining a huge amount of wealth from Devagiri (1308), Warangal (1310) and Dwarasamudra (1311). These victories forced the Yadava king Ramachandra, the Kakatiya king Prataparudra, and the Hoysala king Ballala III to become Alauddin's tributaries. Kafur also raided the Pandya kingdom (1311), obtaining a large number of treasures, elephants and horses. It was in these raids that the Khilji Dynasty acquired the famed diamond Koh-i-noor from Warangal.

Thanjavur Temple, Built under Pandya Kingdom

Alauddin Khilji died in December 1315. Thereafter, the sultanate witnessed chaos, coup and succession of assassinations. Malik Kafur became the sultan but lacked support from Muslim amirs and was killed within a few months. Within the next three years, three more Khilji successors violently assumed power but were in turn, all violently put to death in coups.

Tomb of Alauddin Khilji, Qutub Complex, Delhi

To win over the loyalty of the amirs and the Malik clan in the Sultanate, Mubarak Shah offered Ghazi Malik the command of Punjab and others various offices or death. Mubarak Shah ruled for less than 4 years, then was murdered in 1320 by his army general Khusraw Khan. The Muslim amirs in Delhi reached out and invited Ghazi Malik, then Muslim army commander in Punjab to lead a coup against Khusraw Khan. Ghazi Malik attacked Khusraw Khan in Delhi, beheaded him, and rechristened himself as Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, the first ruler of the Tughluq dynasty. He founded the city of Tughluqabad.

Tughliqabad Fort

Saturday 16 September 2017

Early History of Nicargua

Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central America, bordered by Honduras to the north, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Nicaragua's capital, Managua, is the country's largest city and the third-largest city in Central America. The people migrated to Nicaragua from Central Mexico after 500 CE.

Granada, Nicaragua

Most of Nicaragua's Caribbean lowlands area was inhabited by tribes that migrated north from what is now Colombia. The various dialects and languages in this area are related to Chibcha, spoken by groups in northern Colombia. Eastern Nicaragua's population consisted of extended families or tribes.

Ciudad Perdida

Food was obtained by hunting, fishing, and slash-and-burn agriculture. Crops like cassava and pineapples were the staple foods. The people of eastern Nicaragua appear to have traded with and been influenced by the native peoples of the Caribbean, as thatched huts and canoes, both typical of the Caribbean, were common in eastern Nicaragua.

Before the arrival of Spanish, there were three principal tribes, each with a different culture and language: the Niquirano, the Chorotegano, and the Chontal. Each one of these diverse groups occupied much of Nicaragua territory, with independent chieftains who ruled according to each group's laws and customs. Their weapons consisted of swords, lances, and arrows made out of wood.

Chontal art

Monarchy was the form of government of most tribes; the supreme ruler was the chief, or cacique, who, surrounded by his princes, formed the nobility. Laws and regulations were disseminated by royal messengers who visited each township and assembled the inhabitants to give their chief's orders.

Maya Chief

Occupying the territory between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Coast, the Niquirano were governed by chief Nicarao, or Nicaragua, a rich ruler who lived in Nicaraocali, now the city of Rivas. The Chorotegano lived in the central region. These two groups had intimate contact with the Spanish conquerors, paving the way for the racial mix of native and European stock now known as mestizos.

Lake Nicaragua

Founded as a pre-Colombian fishing town, the city of Managua was incorporated in 1819 and given the name Leal Villa de Santiago de Managua. Efforts to make Managua the capital of Nicaragua began in 1824, after the Central American nations formally attained their independence from Spain. Nicaragua became an independent nation in 1838. Managua was officially selected as the nation's capital in 1852.

Old Cathedral of Managua

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Kingdom of the Franks After 561

In 561 CE, when Chlothar I died, the Kingdom of Franks was divided amongst his four sons in a replay of the events of fifty years prior. The kingdom was divided between Charibert, Guntram, Sigebert and Chilperic. This second fourfold division was quickly ruined by fratricidal wars, waged largely over the murder of Galswintha, the wife of Chilperic.

Reconstructed Frankish House

Internecine feuding occurred during the reigns of the brothers Sigebert I and Chilperic I, which was largely fuelled by the rivalry of their queens, Brunhilda and Fredegunda, and which continued during the reigns of their sons and their grandsons.

Marriage of Sigebert I and Brunhilda 

In 587, the Treaty of Andelot signed between Brunhilda and Guntram secured his protection of her son Childebert II, who had succeeded the assassinated Sigebert (575). Together the territory of Guntram and Childebert was well over thrice as large as the small realm of Chilperic's successor, Chlothar II. Three distinct sub kingdoms emerged: Austrasia, Neustria and Burgundy, each of which developed independently and sought to exert influence over the others.

Guntram and Childbert II

When Guntram died in 592, Burgundy went to Childebert in its entirety, but he died in 595. His two sons divided the kingdom, with the elder Theudebert II taking Austrasia plus Childebert's portion of Aquitaine, while his younger brother Theuderic II inherited Burgundy and Guntram's Aquitaine. United, the brothers sought to remove their father's cousin Chlothar II from power and they did succeed in conquering most of his kingdom, reducing him to only a few cities, but they failed to capture him.

An abbey in Burgundy region

In 612 Theuderic unseated and killed his brother Theudebert and the whole realm of his father Childebert was once again ruled by one man. This was short-lived, however, as he died on the eve of preparing an expedition against Chlothar in 613, leaving a young son named Sigebert II. Immediately after his successful coup over Sigbert II, Chlothar II promulgated the Edict of Paris (614). The Edict primarily sought to guarantee justice and end corruption in government.

Chlothar II

By 623 the Austrasians had begun to clamour for a king of their own, since Chlothar was so often absent from the kingdom. Chlothar thus granted that his son Dagobert I would be their king. Though Dagobert exercised true authority in his realm, Chlothar maintained ultimate control over the whole Frankish kingdom. When Chlothar died in 628, Dagobert, in accordance with his father's wishes, granted a subkingdom to his younger brother Charibert II.

Throne of Dagobert I

Charibert II's realm included Toulouse, Cahors, Agen, PĂ©rigueux, and Saintes, to which he added his possessions in Gascony. His fighting force subdued the resistance of the Basques, until the whole Novempopulania (become Duchy of Vasconia) was under his control but after his death they revolted again (632). Dagobert had Charibert's infant successor Chilperic assassinated and reunited the entire Frankish realm again (632), though he was forced by the strong Austrasian aristocracy to grant his own son Sigebert III to them as a subking in 633.


As king, Dagobert made Paris his capital. During his reign, he built the Altes Schloss in Meersburg (in modern Germany), which today is the oldest inhabited castle in that country. Devoutly religious, Dagobert was also responsible for the construction of the Saint Denis Basilica, at the site of a Benedictine monastery in Paris. He also appointed St. Arbogast bishop of Strasbourg. Dagobert died in the abbey of Saint-Denis on 19 January 639 CE and was the first Frankish king to be buried in the Saint Denis Basilica, Paris.

Saint Denis Basilica

After Dagobert's death in 639, the duke of Thuringia, Radulf, rebelled and tried to make himself king. He defeated Sigebert in what was a serious reversal for the ruling dynasty (640). Clovis II (634 – 658 CE) succeeded his father Dagobert I in 639 as King of Neustria and Burgundy. He was initially under the regency of his mother Nanthild until her death in her early thirties in 642. This death allowed him to fall under the influence of the secular magnates, who reduced the royal power in their own favour led by  the mayor of the Neustrian palace, Erchinoald.

Clovis II by Emile Signol(1804 - 1892)

Erchinoald's successor, Ebroin, dominated the kingdom for the next fifteen years of near-constant civil war. On his death (656), Sigbert's son was shipped off to Ireland, while Grimoald's son Childebert reigned in Austrasia. Ebroin eventually reunited the entire Frankish kingdom for Clovis's successor Chlothar III by killing Grimoald and removing Childebert in 661. However, the Austrasians demanded a king of their own again and Chlothar installed his younger brother Childeric II who ruled until 675 CE.

6th century Frankish artifect

In 673, Chlothar III died and some Neustrian and Burgundian magnates invited Childeric to become king of the whole realm, but he soon upset some Neustrian magnates and he was assassinated (675). The reign of Theuderic III,who was king of Neustria (including Burgundy)(675–691) and king of Austrasia from 679 to his death in 691, was to prove the end of the Merovingian dynasty's power. He was succeeded by his son Clovis IV who reigned from 691 to 695 CE. He assumed the throne at the age of nine and died when he was only thirteen.

Theuderic III

Clovis IV was succeeded by Childebert III who was the king of Franks from 695 to 711 CE. During his reign Pepin of Herstal was the mayor of the palace. It was during his reign of sixteen years, in 708, that the bishop of Avranches, Saint Aubert, at the urging of the Archangel Michael, founded the monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel. When Pepin died in 714, however, the Frankish realm plunged into civil war and the dukes of the outlying provinces became de facto independent.

Mont St. Michel at present

During the final century of Merovingian rule, the kings were increasingly pushed into a ceremonial role. The real power was held by the mayor of the palace. During 711 CE until 751 CE Franks were ruled by Dagobert III, Chilperic II, Chlothar IV and Theuderic IV. The Merovingian rule ended in March 752 when Pope Zachary formally deposed Childeric III. Zachary's successor, Pope Stephen II, confirmed and anointed Pepin the Short in 754, beginning the Carolingian monarchy.

Statue of Pepin the Short

Saturday 2 September 2017

Ghaznavid Dynasty

The Ghaznavid dynasty was a Persianate Muslim dynasty of Turkic mamluk origin at their greatest extent ruling large parts of Iran, Afghanistan, much of Transoxiana, and northwest Indian subcontinent from 977–1186 CE. The dynasty was founded by Sabuktigin, who was made the governor of Ghazna(modern Ghazni Province in Afghanistan) in 977 CE.

Alp-tigin was a slave commander of Samanid Empire. Sebutegin served under Alp-tigin until his death in 975 CE. Upon Alptigin's death, both Sebuktegin and Alp-tigin's son Abu Ishaq went to Bukhara to mend fences with the Samanids. Mansur I, amir of the Samanids, then officially conferred upon Abu Ishaq the governorship of Ghazna and acknowledged Sebuktegin as the heir. Abu Ishaq died soon after in 977 and Sabuktigin succeeded him in the governorship of Ghazna; subsequently marrying Alp-tigin's daughter.

Bust of Alp-Tegin

In 977 Sebuktegin marched against Toghan, a commander who had opposed his succession. Toghan fled to Bost(in modern day Afghanistan), so Sebuktigin marched upon it and captured Kandahar and its surrounding area. This prompted the Shahi King Jayapala to launch an attack on Ghazna. Despite the fact that Jayapala amassed about 100,000 troops for the battle, Sebuktigin was soundly victorious. The battle was fought at Laghman (near Kabul). After becoming sick during one of his campaigns, Sebuktegin died in August 997 while travelling from Balkh to Ghazni in Afghanistan.

Laghman, near Kabul

Sebuktegin was succeeded by his son Ismail of Ghazni, as the emir of Ghazna, who reigned for 7 months from August 997 CE until 998 CE. Mahmud, the older brother who was involved in the Samanid civil war, was stationed in Nishapur. On hearing the news of death of Sebuktegin, Mahmud marched upon Ghazna and won the battle of Ghazni against his brother. Ismail spent the rest of his life confined to a fort in Guzgan.

A painting of Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni conquered the eastern Iranian lands, modern Afghanistan, and the northwestern Indian subcontinent (modern Pakistan) from 997 to his death in 1030. Mahmud turned the former provincial city of Ghazna into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire that covered most of today's Afghanistan, eastern Iran, and Pakistan, by looting the riches and wealth from the then Indian subcontinent.

Sultan Mahmud and his forces attacking the fortress of Zaranj, Afghanistan

Mahmud of Ghazni initiated the first of numerous invasion of North India. On 28 November 1001, his army fought and defeated the army of Raja Jayapala of the Kabul Shahis at the battle of Peshawar. In 1002 Mahmud invaded Sistan and dethroned Khalaf ibn Ahmad, ending the Saffarid dynasty. From there he decided to focus on Hindustan to the southeast, particularly the highly fertile lands of the Punjab region.

Disaster of Jayapala Army due to snow fall

In 1014 Mahmud led an expedition to Thanesar. The next year he unsuccessfully attacked Kashmir. In 1018 he attacked Mathura and defeated a coalition of rulers there while also killing a ruler called Chandrapala. In 1021 Mahmud supported the Kannauj king against Chandela Ganda, who was defeated. Mahmud besieged Gwalior, in 1023, where he was given tribute. Mahmud attacked Somnath in 1025. The next year, he captured Somnath and marched to Kachch. That same year Mahmud also attacked the Jat people of Jud.

Mahmud of Ghazni's last success in India against the Jats

The Indian kingdoms of Nagarkot, Thanesar, Kannauj, and Gwalior were all conquered and left in the hands of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist kings as vassal states. Since Mahmud never kept a permanent presence in the Indian northwestern subcontinent, he engaged in a policy of destroying Hindu temples and monuments to crush any move by the Hindus to attack the Empire; Nagarkot, Thanesar, Mathura, Kannauj, Kalinjar(1023) and Somnath all submitted or were raided. Somnath Temple was raided and a booty of 20 million dinars was taken away by him.

Somnath Temple, Gujrat, India

On 30 April 1030 Sultan Mahmud died in Ghazni at the age of 59. Sultan Mahmud had contracted malaria during his last invasion. The medical complication from malaria had caused lethal tuberculosis. Mahmud left the empire to his son Mohammed, who was mild, affectionate, and soft. His brother, Mas'ud, asked for three provinces that he had won by his sword, but his brother did not consent. Mas'ud had to fight his brother, and he became king, blinding and imprisoning Mohammed as punishment. 

Coinage of Mas'ud of Ghazni

Mas'ud of Ghazni soon marched towards Merv to completely remove the Seljuq threat from Khorasan. His army included 50,000 men and 60 or 12 war elephants. A battle shortly took place near Merv, known as the Battle of Dandanaqan, where the army of Mas'ud was defeated by a much smaller army. Although Mas'ud managed to retain his capital Ghazni, he chose to leave the city, and set up a capital in India. The army of Mas'ud, which used to greatly hold him in high esteem, revolted against him, and had his brother Mohammad reinstated to the throne.

Artwork of Battle of Dandanaqan

Mawdud of Ghazni seized the throne of the sultanate from his uncle, Muhammad of Ghazni, in revenge for the murder of his father, Mas'ud I of Ghazni and ruled from 1041 to 1050 CE. Mawdud inherited an empire whose entire western half was overrun by the Seljuk Empire and was battling to continue existing. Mawdud was succeeded by his son, Mas'ud II. In a span of nine years, four more kings claimed the throne of Ghazni. They were Ali(1048 - 1049), Abd al-Rashid(1049 - 1052), Toghrul(1052 - 1053), Farrukh-Zad(1053 - 1059).

Modern Day City of Ghazni 

In 1058, Mas'ud's son Ibrahim, a great calligrapher who wrote the Koran with his own pen, became king. Ibrahim re-established a truncated empire on a firmer basis by arriving at a peace agreement with the Seljuks and a restoration of cultural and political linkages. He ruled until 1098 CE. He was succeeded by his son Masud III who ruled from 1099 to 1115 CE. Signs of weakness in the state became apparent when he died in 1115, with internal strife between his sons ending with the ascension of Sultan Bahram Shah as a Seljuk vassal.

Ghaznavid Art
Sultan Bahram Shah of the Ghaznavids was succeeded by Khusrau-Shah(1157 CE - 1160 CE) and then by Khusrau Malik(ruled 1160 - 1186 CE). In 1061/2, a group of Oghuz Turks seized the Ghaznavid capital of Ghazna, forcing Khusrau Malik to retreat to Lahore, which became his new capital. From there he made incursions into northern India, expanding his rule as far as southern Kashmir. In 1170, Khusrau (or one of his commanders) invaded the southern part of the Ganges. Lahore was finally captured by the Ghurids in 1186, while Khusrau-Malik and his son Bahram-Shah were taken to Ghur and imprisoned, marking the end of the Ghaznavid Empire.

Valley in Kashmir
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