Durrani Empire

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This article is about the "Durrani Empire". For Durrani dynasty, see Durrani dynasty.
Durrani Empire
د درانیانو ټولواکمني
1747–1826
 

 


Flag

The Durrani Empire at its greatest extent
Capital Kandahar
(1747–1776)
Kabul
(1776–1823, 1839–1842)
Peshawar
(1776–1818; winter capital)[1][2]
Herat
(1818–1826)[3]
Languages Pashto
Religion Islam
Government Absolute monarchy
Shah
 -  1747–1772 Ahmad Shah Durrani (first)
 -  1839–1842 Shuja Shah Durrani (last)
Historical era Early modern period
 -  Established October 1747
 -  Disestablished 1826
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Afsharid dynasty
Mughal Empire
Maratha Empire
Khanate of Bukhara
Abdali
Emirate of Afghanistan
Qajar dynasty
Sikh Empire
Today part of  Afghanistan
 India
 Iran
 Pakistan
 Tajikistan
 Turkmenistan
 Uzbekistan

The Durrani Empire (Pashto: د درانیانو واکمني‎), also called the Sadozai Kingdom and the Last Afghan Empire,[4] was founded in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani with its capital at Kandahar, Afghanistan.[5][6] The Durrani Empire at its maximum extent encompassed present-day Afghanistan, northeastern Iran, eastern Turkmenistan (including the Panjdeh oasis), most of Pakistan, and northwestern India, including the Kashmir region. Durrani's Pashtun soldiers also instigated the Sikh holocaust of 1762 when they killed thousands of Sikhs in the Punjab.[7][8][9] With the support of various tribal leaders, Ahmad Shah Durrani with his Baloch allies extended Afghan control from Khorasan in the west to Kashmir and Delhi in the east, and from the Amu Darya in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south.[10][11] In the second half of the 18th century, after the Ottoman Empire the Durrani Empire was very briefly the second-largest Muslim empire.[11]

The Afghan army began their conquests by capturing Ghazni and Kabul from the local rulers. In 1749 the Mughal ruler ceded sovereignty over what is now Pakistan and northwestern India to the Afghans. Ahmad Shah then set out westward to take possession of Herat, which was ruled by Shahrukh Afshar. He next sent an army to subdue the areas north of the Hindu Kush and in short order all the different tribes began joining his cause. Ahmad Shah and his forces invaded India four times, taking control of the Kashmir and the Punjab region. Early in 1757, he sacked Delhi, but permitted the Mughal dynasty to remain in nominal control as long as the ruler acknowledged Ahmad Shah's suzerainty over the Punjab, Sindh, and Kashmir.[12]

After the death of Ahmad Shah in about 1772, his son Timur Shah became the next ruler of the Durrani dynasty who decided to make Kabul the new capital of the empire, and used Peshawar as the winter capital. The Durrani Empire is considered the foundation of the modern state of Afghanistan,[13] with Ahmad Shah Durrani being credited as "Father of the Nation".[2][12]

Reign of Ahmad Shah Durrani (1747–1772)[edit]

In 1709 Mir Wais Hotak, chief of the Ghilzai tribe of Kandahar Province, gained independence from the Safavid Persians. From 1722 to 1725, his son Mahmud ruled Iran and declared himself as Shah of Persia. However, the Hotaki dynasty came to a complete end in 1738 after being toppled and banished by the Afsharids who were led by Nader Shah of Persia.

The year 1747 marks the definitive appearance of an Afghan political entity independent of both the Persian and Mughal empires.[14] In October 1747 a loya jirga (grand council) concluded near the city of Kandahar with Ahmad Shah Durrani being selected as the new leader of the Afghans, thus the Durrani dynasty was founded. Despite being younger than the other contenders, Ahmad Shah had several overriding factors in his favor. He belonged to a respectable family of political background, especially since his father served as Governor of Herat who died in a battle defending the Afghans. He also had a well-trained larger army and possessed a substantial part of Nadir Shah's treasury, including the world's largest Koh-i-Noor diamond.[11]

Early victories[edit]

One of Ahmad Shah's first military action was the capture Ghazni from the Ghilzais, and then wresting Kabul from the local ruler. In 1749, the Mughal ruler was induced to cede Sindh, the Punjab region and the important trans Indus River to Ahmad Shah in order to save his capital from Afghan attack. Having thus gained substantial territories to the east without a fight, Ahmad Shah turned westward to take possession of Herat, which was ruled by Nader Shah's grandson, Shah Rukh of Persia. Ahmad Shah next sent an army to subdue the areas north of the Hindu Kush mountains. In short order, the powerful army brought under its control the Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkmen, and other tribes of northern Afghanistan. Ahmad Shah invaded the remnants of the Mughal Empire a third time, and then a fourth, consolidating control over the Kashmir and Punjab regions, with Lahore being governed by Afghans. He sacked Delhi in 1757, but permitted the Mughal dynasty to remain in nominal control of the city as long as the ruler acknowledged Ahmad Shah's suzerainty over Punjab, Sindh, and Kashmir. Leaving his second son Timur Shah to safeguard his interests, Ahmad Shah left India to return to Afghanistan.

Relations with China[edit]

Alarmed by the expansion of China's Qing Dynasty up to the western border of Kazakhstan, Ahmad Shah attempted to rally neighboring Muslim khanates and the Kazakhs to unite and attack China, ostensibly to liberate its western Muslim subjects.[15] Ahmad Shah halted trade with Qing China and dispatched troops to Kokand.[16] However, with his campaigns in India exhausting the state treasury, and with his troops stretched thin throughout Central Asia, Ahmad Shah lacked sufficient resources to do anything except to send envoys to Beijing for unsuccessful talks.

Third Battle of Panipat[edit]

Ahmad Shah Durrani and his coalition decisively defeat the Maratha Confederacy, during the Third Battle of Panipat and restored the Mughal Empire to Shah Alam II.[17]

The Mughal power in northern India had been declining since the reign of Aurangzeb, who died in 1707; In 1751-52, Ahamdiya treaty was signed between the Marathas and Mughals, when Balaji Bajirao was the Peshwa.[18] Through this treaty, the Marathas controlled virtually the whole of India from their capital at Pune and Mughal rule was restricted only to Delhi (the Mughals remained the nominal heads of Delhi). Marathas were now straining to expand their area of control towards the Northwest of India. Ahmad Shah sacked the Mughal capital and withdrew with the booty he coveted. To counter the Afghans, Peshwa Balaji Bajirao sent Raghunathrao. He defeated the Rohillas and Afghan garrisons in Punjab and succeeded in ousting Timur Shah and his court from India and brought Lahore, Multan, Kashmir and other subahs on the Indian side of Attock under Maratha rule.[19] Thus, upon his return to Kandahar in 1757, Ahmad was forced to return to India and face the formidable attacks of the Maratha Confederacy.

Ahmad Shah declared a jihad (or Islamic holy war) against the Marathas, and warriors from various Pashtun tribes, and 25,000 Baloch warriors from various Baloch tribes joined his army under the command of Khan of Kalat Mir Noori Naseer Khan Baloch. Early skirmishes were followed by victory for the Afghans and Baloch against the smaller Maratha garrisons in Northwest India and by 1759 Ahmad and his army had reached Lahore and were poised to confront the Marathas. By 1760, the Maratha groups had coalesced into a big enough army under the command of Sadashivrao Bhau. Once again, Panipat was the scene of a confrontation between two warring contenders for control of northern India. The Third Battle of Panipat (January 1761), fought between largely Muslim and largely Hindu armies was waged along a twelve-kilometer front. Despite decisively defeating the Marathas, what might have been Ahmad Shah's peaceful control of his domains was disrupted by many challenges. As far as losses are concerned, Afghans too suffered heavily in the Third Battle of Panipat. This weakened his grasp over Punjab which fell to the rising Sikh misls. There were rebellions in the north in the region of Bukhara.

Decline[edit]

The victory at Panipat was the high point of Ahmad Shah's—and Afghan—power. His Durrani empire was the second largest Islamic empire in the world, behind the Ottoman Empire at that time.[20] However, even prior to his death, the empire began to unravel. In 1762, Ahmad Shah crossed the passes from Afghanistan for the sixth time to subdue the Sikhs. He assaulted Lahore and, after taking their holy city of Amritsar, massacred thousands of Sikh inhabitants, destroying their revered Golden Temple.[21] Within two years, the Sikhs rebelled again and rebuilt their holy city of Amritsar. Ahmad Shah tried several more times to subjugate the Sikhs permanently, but failed. Ahmad Shah also faced other rebellions in the north, and eventually he and the Uzbek Emir of Bukhara agreed that the Amu Darya would mark the division of their lands. A decade after the third Battle of Panipat, Marathas under the leadership of Mahadji Scindia entered and recaptured Delhi in 1771, cutting off Rohillas from the Durranis forever. Ahmad Shah retired to his home in the mountains east of Kandahar, where he died on April 14, 1773.[22] He had succeeded to a remarkable degree in balancing tribal alliances and hostilities, and in directing tribal energies away from rebellion. He earned recognition as Ahmad Shah Baba, or "Father" of Afghanistan.[2][12]

Other Durrani rulers (1772–1826)[edit]

Ahmad Shah's successors governed so ineptly during a period of profound unrest that within fifty years of his death, the Durrani empire per se was at an end, and Afghanistan was embroiled in civil war. Much of the territory conquered by Ahmad Shah fell to others in this half century. By 1818, the Sadozai rulers who succeeded Ahmad Shah controlled little more than Kabul and the surrounding territory within a 160-kilometer radius. They not only lost the outlying territories but also alienated other tribes and lineages among the Durrani Pashtuns.

Timur Shah (1772–1793)[edit]

Main article: Timur Shah Durrani

Ahmad Shah was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah, who had been deputed to administer his fathers conquests in northern India, but had been driven out by the Marathas. Upon Ahmad Shah's death, the Durrani chieftains only reluctantly accepted Timur's accession. Most of his reign was spent fighting a civil war and resisting rebellion; Timur was even forced to move his capital from Kandahar to Kabul due to insurgency. Timur Shah proved an ineffectual ruler, during whose reign the Durrani empire began to crumble. He is notable for having had 24 sons, several of whom became rulers of the Durrani territories. Timur died in 1793, and was then succeeded by his fifth son Zaman Shah

Zaman Shah (1793–1801)[edit]

Main article: Zaman Shah Durrani

After the death of Timur Shah, three of his sons, the governors of Kandahar, Herat and Kabul, contended for the succession. Zaman Shah, governor of Kabul, held the field by virtue of being in control of the capital, and became shah at the age of twenty-three. Many of his half-brothers were imprisoned on their arrival in the capital for the purpose, ironically, of electing a new shah. The quarrels among Timur's descendants that threw Afghanistan into turmoil also provided the pretext for the intervention of outside forces.

The efforts of the Sadozai heirs of Timur to impose a true monarchy on the truculent Pashtun tribes, and their efforts to rule absolutely and without the advice of the other major Pashtun tribal leaders, were ultimately unsuccessful. The Sikhs became particularly troublesome, and after several unsuccessful efforts to subdue them, Zaman Shah made the mistake of appointing a forceful young Sikh chief, Ranjit Singh, as his governor in the Punjab. This "one-eyed" warrior would later become an implacable enemy of Pashtun rulers in Afghanistan.

Zaman's downfall was triggered by his attempts to consolidate power. Although it had been through the support of the Barakzai chief, Painda Khan Barakzai, that he had come to the throne, Zaman soon began to remove prominent Barakzai leaders from positions of power and replace them with men of his own lineage, the Sadozai. This upset the delicate balance of Durrani tribal politics that Ahmad Shah had established and may have prompted Painda Khan and other Durrani chiefs to plot against the shah. Painda Khan and the chiefs of the Nurzai and the Alizai Durrani clans were executed, as was the chief of the Qizilbash clan. Painda Khan's son fled to Iran and pledged the substantial support of his Barakzai followers to a rival claimant to the throne, Zaman's older brother, Mahmud Shah. The clans of the chiefs Zaman had executed joined forces with the rebels, and they took Kandahar without bloodshed.

Mahmud Shah (first reign, 1801–1803)[edit]

Main article: Mahmud Shah Durrani

Zeman Shah's overthrow in 1801 was not the end of civil strife in Afghanistan, but the beginning of even greater violence. Mahmud Shah's first reign lasted for only two years before he was replaced by Shuja Shah.

Shuja Shah (1803–1809 and 1839–1842)[edit]

Main article: Shuja Shah Durrani

Yet another of Timur Shah's sons, Shuja Shah (or Shah Shuja), ruled for only six years. On June 7, 1809, Shuja Shah signed a treaty with the British, which included a clause stating that he would oppose the passage of foreign troops through his territories. This agreement, the first Afghan pact with a European power, stipulated joint action in case of Franco-Persian aggression against Afghan or British dominions. Only a few weeks after signing the agreement, Shuja was deposed by his predecessor, Mahmud. Much later, he was reinstated by the British, ruling during 1839–1842. Two of his sons also ruled for a brief period in 1842.

Mahmud Shah (second reign, 1809–1818)[edit]

Main article: Mahmud Shah Durrani

Mahmud's second reign lasted nine years. Mahmud alienated the Barakzai, especially Fateh Khan, the son of Painda Khan, who was eventually seized and blinded. Revenge would later be sought and obtained by Fateh Khan's youngest brother, Dost Mohammad Khan.

Sultan Ali Shah (1818–1819)[edit]

Main article: Ali Shah Durrani

Ali Shah was another son of Timur Shah. He seized power for a brief period in 1818-19.

Ayub Shah (1819–1823)[edit]

Main article: Ayub Shah Durrani
The main street in the bazaar at Caubul

Ayub Shah was another son of Timur Shah, who deposed Sultan Ali Shah. He was himself later deposed, and presumably killed in 1823. The loss of Kashmir during his reign opened a new chapter in South Asian history.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hanifi, Shah Mahmoud. "Timur Shah transferred the Durrani capital from Qandahar in 1775-76. Kabul and Peshawar then shared time as the dual Durrani capital cities, the former during the summer and the latter during the winter season." p. 185. Connecting Histories in Afghanistan: Market Relations and State Formation on a Colonial Frontier. Stanford University Press, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
  2. ^ a b c Singh, Sarina (2008). "Like the Kushans, the Afghan kings favoured Peshawar as a winter residence, and were aggrieved when the upstart Sikh kingdom snatched it in 1818 and levelled its buildings." p. 191. Pakistan and the Karakoram Highway. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  3. ^ L. Lee, Jonathan (1996). The Ancient Supremacy: Bukhara, Afghanistan and the Battle for Balkh, 1731-1901 (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 116. ISBN 9004103996. Retrieved March 8, 2013. [The Sadozai kingdom] continued to exist in Herat until the city finally fell to Dost Muhammad Khan in 1862. 
  4. ^ "Last Afghan empire". Louis Dupree, Nancy Hatch Dupree and others. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  5. ^ "Aḥmad Shah Durrānī". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  6. ^ "Afghanistan (Archived)". John Ford Shroder. University of Nebraska. 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  7. ^ ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I: 1469-1839, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1978, pp. 144-45.
  8. ^ ^ According to the Punjabi-English Dictionary, eds. S.S. Joshi, Mukhtiar Singh Gill, (Patiala, India: Punjabi University Publication Bureau, 1994) the definitions of "Ghalughara" are as follows: "holcaust, massacre, great destruction, deluge, genocide, slaughter, (historically) the great loss of life suffered by Sikhs at the hands of their rulers, particularly on 1 May 1746 and 5 February 1762" (p. 293).
  9. ^ Syad Muhammad Latif, The History of Punjab from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Time, New Delhi, Eurasia Publishing House (Pvt.) Ltd., 1964, p. 283; Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I: 1469-1839, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 154.
  10. ^ http://www.khyber.org/books/pdf/ahmad-shah-baba.pdf
  11. ^ a b c "The Durrani dynasty". Louis Dupree, Nancy Hatch Dupree and others. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  12. ^ a b c "Ahmad Shah and the Durrani Empire". Library of Congress Country Studies on Afghanistan. 1997. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  13. ^ "Afghanistan". CIA. The World Factbook. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  14. ^ D. Balland (December 15, 1983). "Afghanistan x. Political History". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  15. ^ Kim, Ho-dong (2004). Holy war in China: the Muslim rebellion and state in Chinese Central Asia, 1864-1877. Stanford University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-8047-4884-1. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  16. ^ Newby, Laura J. (2005). The Empire and the Khanate: a political history of Qing relations with Khoqand c. 1760-1860. BRILL. p. 34. ISBN 978-90-04-14550-4. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  17. ^ S. M. Ikram (1964). "XIX. A Century of Political Decline: 1707–1803". In Ainslie T. Embree. Muslim Civilization in India. New York: Columbia University Press. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  18. ^ Patil, Vishwas. Panipat.
  19. ^ Roy, Kaushik. India's Historic Battles: From Alexander the Great to Kargil. Permanent Black, India. pp. 80–1. ISBN 978-81-7824-109-8. 
  20. ^ "Afghanistan and the Search for Unity" Omrani, Bijan, published in Asian Affairs, Volume 38, Issue 2, 2007, pp. 145–157.
  21. ^ Purnima Dhavan, When Sparrows Became Hawks:The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699, (Oxford University Press, 2011), 112.
  22. ^ Reddy, L. R (2002). Inside Afghanistan: end of the Taliban era?. APH Publishing. p. 65. ISBN 978-81-7648-319-3. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 

References[edit]

  • Malleson, George Bruce (1879) History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878 W.H. Allen & Co., London, OCLC 4219393, limited view at Google Books
  • Singh, Ganda (1959) Ahmad Shah Durrani: Father of Modern Afghanistan Asia Publishing House, London, OCLC 4341271
  • Fraser-Tytler, William Kerr (1953) Afghanistan: A Study of Political Developments in Central and Southern Asia Oxford University Press, London, OCLC 409453
  • Tanner, Stephen (2002) Afghanistan : a military history from Alexander the Great to the fall of the Taliban Da Capo Press, New York, ISBN 0-306-81164-2, also available from NetLibrary
  • Elphinstone, Mountstuart 1779-1859 An account of the kingdom of Caubul, and its dependencies in Persia, Tartary and India : comprising a view of the Afghaun nation and a history of the Dooraunee monarchy.London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815. Available in digital formats from the Internet Archive Digital Library [1] [2]

External links[edit]