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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