Shah Shujah Durrani

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Shuja Shah Durrani
Ruler of the Durrani Empire
Shah-Shuja-ul-Mulk.png
An old sketch work showing Shah-Shuja-ul-Mulk
5th Durrani ruler
Reign 13 July 1803– 3 May 1809 (First reign)
7 August 1839– 5 April 1842 (Second reign)
Coronation 13 July 1803
Predecessor Mahmud Shah Durrani
Successor Ali Shah Durrani
Born 4 November 1785
Died 5 April 1842 (aged 56)
Kabul, Durrani Empire, now Afghanistan
Wives
  • Daughter of Fath Khan Tokhi
  • Wafa Begum
  • Daughter of Sayyid Amir Haidar Khan
  • Daughter of Khan Bahadur Khan Malikdin Khel
  • Daughter of Sardar Haji Rahmatu'llah Khan Sardozai
  • Sarwar Begum
  • Bibi Mastan
Full name
Shuja Shah Durrani
Dynasty Durrani dynasty
Father Timur Shah Durrani

Shuja Shah Durrani (also known as Shāh Shujāʻ, Shah Shujah, Shoja Shah, Shujah al-Mulk) (4 November 1785 – 5 April 1842) was ruler of the Durrani Empire from 1803 to 1809. He then ruled from 1839 until his death in 1842. Shuja Shah was of the Sadozai line of the Abdali group of Pashtuns. He became the fifth Emir of Afghanistan.[1]

Career[edit]

Depositions, imprisonments and alliances[edit]

Shuja Shah was the governor of Herat and Peshawar from 1798 to 1801. He proclaimed himself as King of Afghanistan in October 1801 (after the deposition of his brother Zaman Shah), but only properly ascended to the throne on July 13, 1803. In Afghanistan, a blind man by tradition cannot be Emir, and so Shujah who was too tender hearted to have his brother Zaman killed, instead had him blinded as Shujah's surgeon with "delicate skill" used a lancet to pull out his eyes.[2] After coming to power in 1803, Shuja ended the "blood feud" with the powerful Barakzai family and also forgave them. To create an alliance with them, he married "their sister" Wa'fa Begum.[3]

Shuja allied Afghanistan with the United Kingdom in 1809, as a means of defending against an invasion of Afghanistan and India by Russia.[4] In 1809, a British diplomatic mission was sent to Afghanistan, which at time was to the British a remote and mysterious part of Asia. According to Mountstuart Elphinstone, "The King of Kabul [Shah Shuja] was a handsome man". He also wrote "of an olive complexion with a thick black beard.....his voice clear, his address princely." Shuja wore the Koh-i-Noor diamond in one of his bracelets when Elphinstone visited him.[5] William Fraser, who accompanied Elphinstone to meet Shah Shuhah was "struck with the dignity of his appearance and the romantic Oriental awe..."[6] Fraser also "judged" him to be "about five feet six inches tall" and his skin colour was "very fair, but dead...his beard was thick jet black and shortened a little by the obliquely upwards, but turned again at the corners....The eyelashes and the edges of his eyelids were blackened with antimony". He also described Shuja's voice as "loud and sonorous".[7]

Order of the Durrani Empire, founded by Shuja Shah in 1839. It was awarded to a number of officers of the Bengal Army. Musée national de la Légion d'Honneur et des Ordres de Chevalerie.

In June, 1809,[8] he was overthrown by his predecessor Mahmud Shah and went into exile in India, where he was captured by Jahandad Khan Bamizai and imprisoned at Attock (1811–1812) and then taken to Kashmir (1812–1813) by Atta Muhammad Khan. When Mahmud Shah's vizier Fateh Khan invaded Kashmir alongside Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army, he chose to leave with the Sikh army. He stayed in Lahore from 1813 to 1814. During his time in India, Shujah lost the Koh-i-Nor ("Mountain of Light") diamond to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He stayed with Ranjit Singh so that later on he can struck a deal for their support to attack Dost Mohammad Khan.

From 1818 onward, Shujah who liked to live in a lavish style with his wives and concubines had collected a pension from the East India Company, which thought he might prove useful one day.[9] Shujah stayed first in Punjab and later in Ludhiana with Shah Zaman. The place where he stayed in Ludhiana is presently occupied by Main Post Office near Mata Rani Chowk and a white marble stone inside the building marking his stay there can be seen.

During his time in exile, Shujah indulged his cruelty by removing the noses, ears, tongues, penises, and testicles of his courtiers and slaves when they displeased him in the slightest.[10] When the American adventurer Dr. Josiah Harlan visited Shujah's court in exile he noted that all of Shujah's courtiers and slaves were missing some part of their bodies as all had in some way displeasured their master at some point along the line, to whom they were all slavishly devoted to despite his abuse of them as Harlan noted that there was an "earless assemblage of mutes and eunuchs in the ex-king's service".[11] When Shujah went out for picnic with his four wives and the wind blew down his tent, Shujah flew into a rage and he had the man responsible for putting up his tent, Khwajah Mika-a slave from East Africa who had already had his ears chopped off-to be castrated on the spot as punishment for not erecting his tent more firmly, much to Harlan's horror.[12] Shujah's grand vizier, Mullah Shakur had grown his hair long to cover up that both his ears had been chopped off while he spoke in the distinctive high-pitched voice of an eunuch; Harlan noted he was lucky as the rest of his body was still intact.[13] Despite or perhaps because he was mutilated, Shujah's grand vizier took a great deal of pleasure in mutilating others and was always inciting his master to have somebody mutilated.[14] Harlan noted all of the men around Shujah were missing at least one part of their bodies, if not more, and all seemed extremely afraid of their master, who was apt to fly into a rage whenever he did not get his way with anything, and when he was angry, body parts tended to get severed.[15] Harlan commend on "the grace and dignity of His Highness's demeanor", observing the sense of power he projected, but also that "years of disappointment had created in the countenance of the ex-King an appearance of melancholy and resignation."[16] Harlan, a man without much military experience and knowledge of Pashto, offered to lead an invasion of Afghanistan to restore Shah Shujah, an offer that led the former monarch to break "...into a poetical effusion in praise of Kabul" and its gardens, its trees laden with fruits, and its music culminating with "Kabul is called the Crown of the Air. I pray for the possession of those pleasures which my native country alone can afford".[17] When Harlan pressed him on whatever he wanted to accept his offer or not, Shujah agreed.[18] Harlan had a tailor sew up an American flag, which Harlan hosted up in Ludhiana, and started to recruit mercenaries for the invasion of Afghanistan, making out that he was working for the U.S. government (which he was not).[19] Harlan ultimately grew disillusioned with Shah Shujah, writing he did not view him as the "legitimate monarch, the victim of treasonable practices", but rather as "a wayward tyrant, inflexible in moods, vindictive in his enmities, faithless in his attachments, unnatural in his affections. He remembered his misfortunes only to avenge them".[20]

In 1833 he struck a deal with Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Punjab: He was allowed to march his troops through Punjab, and in return he would cede Peshawar to the Sikhs if they could manage to take it. In a concerted campaign the following year, Shuja marched on Kandahar while the Sikhs, commanded by General Hari Singh Nalwa attacked Peshawar. In July, Shuja Shah was narrowly defeated at Kandahar by the Afghans under Dost Mohammad Khan and fled. The Sikhs on their part reclaimed Peshawar.

In 1838 he had gained the support of the British and the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh for wresting power from Dost Mohammad Khan Barakzai. Lord Auckland believed that most Afghans would welcome the return of Shujah as their rightful ruler, but in fact by 1838, most people in Afghanistan could not remember him, and those that did remembered him as a cruel, tyrannical ruler whom they absolutely hated.[21] During the march on Kabul, the main British camp was attacked by a force of Ghazis, of whom 50 were captured.[22] When the prisoners were brought before Shuja, one of them used a knife he had hidden in his robes to stab to death one of Shuja's ministers, causing Shuja to fly into one of his rages and to order all 50 prisoners to be beheaded on the spot.[23] The British historian Sir John Kaye wrote the "wanton barbarity" of the mass execution as all 50 prisoners were beheaded strained the campaign, stating the "shrill cry" of the prisoners as they waited to be executed was the "funeral wail" of the "unholy policy" of attempting to restore Shujah.[24] Shujah was restored to the throne by the British on August 7, 1839,[25] 30 years after his deposition, but did not remain in power when the British left. Upon being restored, Shujah announced that he considered his own people to be "dogs" who needed to be taught to be obedient to their master, and spent his time wrecking bloody vengeance on those Afghans whom he felt had betrayed him, making him extremely unpopular with his people.[26] He shut himself away in the Bala Hissar, Kabul, on leaving it he was assassinated by Shuja ud-Daula, at the insistence of Akbar Khan on April 5, 1842.[27][28]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Encyclopædia BritannicaShah Shoja
  2. ^ Perry, James Arrogant Armies, Edison: CastleBooks, 2005 page 111.
  3. ^ Dalrymple 2012, p. 23.
  4. ^ Dalrymple 2012, p. 5.
  5. ^ Dalrymple 2012, p. 18.
  6. ^ Dalrymple 2012, p. 20.
  7. ^ Dalrymple 2012, p. 21.
  8. ^ Dalrymple 2012, p. 27.
  9. ^ Perry, James Arrogant Armies, Edison: CastleBooks, 2005 page 111.
  10. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 29.
  11. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 29.
  12. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 29.
  13. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 29.
  14. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 29.
  15. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 33.
  16. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 30.
  17. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 32.
  18. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 32.
  19. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 page 33.
  20. ^ Macintyre, Ben The Man Who Would Be King, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002 pages 170-171.
  21. ^ Perry, James Arrogant Armies, Edison: CastleBooks, 2005 page 112.
  22. ^ Perry, James Arrogant Armies, Edison: CastleBooks, 2005 page 117.
  23. ^ Perry, James Arrogant Armies, Edison: CastleBooks, 2005 page 117.
  24. ^ Perry, James Arrogant Armies, Edison: CastleBooks, 2005 page 117.
  25. ^ Moon, P. (1989). The British Conquest and Dominion of India, London: Duckworth, ISBN 0-7156-2169-6, p.515
  26. ^ Perry, James Arrogant Armies, Edison: CastleBooks, 2005 page 121.
  27. ^ Moon, P. (1989). The British Conquest and Dominion of India, London: Duckworth, ISBN 0-7156-2169-6, p.552
  28. ^ Buckland, C.E. (1968). Dictionary of Indian Biography. Haskell House Publishers ltd. p. 385. 

References[edit]