HISTORY OF INDIA
THE REIGN OF FIRUZ TUGHLUQ
THE death of Muhammad left the army without a leader and threw it into confusion.
Some historians allege that on his deathbed he designated his cousin, Firuz, the son of Rajab, as his heir, but these are the panegyrists of Firuz, who made no attempt to claim the throne but merely associated himself with other officers in the endeavor to extricate it from a perilous situation. Its Mughul allies under Ultun Bahadur were regarded with apprehension and, having been rewarded for their services, were requested to retire to their own country. They were already retreating when they were joined by Nauruz Gurgin, a Mughul officer who had served Muhammad for some years and now deserted with his contingent and disclosed to Ultun the confusion which reigned in the army.
The army had already begun a straggling and disorderly retreat when it was attacked in flank by the Mughuls and in rear by the Sindis and plundered, almost without opposition, by both. The dispirited and demoralized host had been at the mercy of its enemies for two days when the officers urged Firuz, now forty-six years of age, to ascend the throne, but the situation was complicated by his professed unwillingness to accept their nomination and by the presence of a competitor, a child named Davar Malik, whose claims were vehemently urged by his mother, a daughter of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq. She was silenced by the objection that the crisis required a man, not a child, at the head of affairs, and on March 23, 1351, the nobles overcame the protests of Firuz by forcing him on to the throne and acclaiming him. Having ransomed the captives taken by the Mughuls and the Sindis he attacked and drove off the enemy, so that the army was able to continue its retreat to Delhi without molestation, while a force was left in Sind to deal with the rebel Taghi.
On his way towards Delhi Firuz learned that the aged minister, Khvaja Jahan, had proclaimed in the capital, under the title of Ghiyas-ud-din Muhammad, a child whom he declared to be the son of Muhammad Tughluq, but whom the historians represent as supposititious. We have, however, no impartial chronicle of this reign and there is much to justify the belief that the child was Muhammad’s son and that the allegation that he was not was an attempt by panegyrists to improve their patron's feeble hereditary title.
To the people of Delhi the boy's relationship, whether genuine or fictitious, to their old tyrant was no recommendation, and numbers fled from the city to join Firuz. The king was relieved of much anxiety by the receipt of the news of the death of Taghi in Sind, and by the adhesion to his cause of Malik Maqbul, the ablest noble in the kingdom, a Brahman of Telingana who had accepted Islam and whom he made his minister.
The cause of the child king was hopeless and Khvaja Jahan repaired as a suppliant to the camp and was kindly received and pardoned, against the advice of the officers of the army, but as he was retiring to Samana, where he proposed to spend the rest of his life in seclusion, he was followed by an officer entitled Sher Khan, who put him to death.
On August 25, 1351, Firuz entered Delhi without opposition and ascended the throne. He conciliated his subjects by remitting all debts due to the state and by abstaining from any endeavor to recover the treasure which had been lavished by Khvaja Jahan in his attempt to establish his nominee. For the first year of his reign he was fully employed in restoring peace and order in the kingdom, which had been harried and distracted by the freaks and exactions of his predecessor. Bengal and the Deccan were lost, and he made no serious attempt to recover either, but in the extensive territory still subject to Delhi he did his Best to repair Muhammad's errors. He appointed Khvaja Hisam-ud-din Junaid assessor of the revenue, and within a period of six years the assessor completed a tour of inspection of the kingdom and submitted his report. Firuz reduced the demand on account of land revenue so as to leave ample provision for the cultivator and further lightened his burdens by abolishing the pernicious custom of levying benevolences from provincial governors, both on first appointment and annually. The result of these wise measures was an enormous expansion of the cultivated area, though the statement that no village lay waste and no culturable land remained untilled is certainly an exaggeration. In fertile tracts thriving villages inhabited by a contented peasantry dotted the country at intervals of two miles or less, and in the neighborhood of Delhi alone there were 1200 garden villages in which fruit was grown and which paid yearly to the treasury 180,000 tangas. The revenue from the Doab, which had been nearly depopulated by the exactions of Muhammad amounted to 8,000,000 tangas, and that of the crown lands of the whole kingdom to 68,500,000 tangas, each worth about twenty pence. At a later period of his reign, in 1375, Firuz abolished some twenty-five vexatious ceases, mostly of the nature of octroi duties, which had weighed heavily upon merchants and tradesmen. The immediate loss to the public exchequer was computed at 3,000,000 tangas annually, but the removal of these restrictions on trade and agriculture naturally produced a fall in prices, so that wheat sold in Delhi at eight jitals and pulse and barley at four jitals the man, the jital being worth rather more than one-third of a penny. These rates were virtually the same as those fixed by Ala-ud-din Khalji, but in the reign of Firuz there was no arbitrary interference with the law of supply and demand, except in the case of sweetmeats, the manufacturers of which were justly compelled to allow the consumer to benefit by the fall in the price of the raw material.
It was not only by lightening the cultivator's burden that Firuz encouraged agriculture. He is still remembered as the author of schemes of irrigation, and traces of his canals yet remain. Of these there were five, the most important being the canal, 150 miles long, which carried the waters of the Jumna into the arid tract in which he founded his city of Hisar-i-Firuza (Hissar). He also sank 150 wells for purposes of irrigation and for the use of travelers and indulged a passion for building which equaled, if it did not surpass, that of the Roman Emperor Augustus. The enumeration of three hundred towns founded by him must be regarded as an exaggeration unless we include in the number waste villages restored and repopulated during his reign, but the towns of Firuzabad, or New Delhi, Fathabad, Hissar, Firupur near Budaun, and Jaunpur were founded by him, and he is credited with the construction or restoration of four mosques, thirty palaces, two hundred caravanserais, five reservoirs, five hospitals, a hundred tombs, ten baths, ten monumental pillars, and a hundred bridges.
While resting at Delhi after his return from Sind Firuz performed the quaintly pious duty of atoning vicariously for the sins of his cousin. In his own words he caused the heirs of those who had been executed during the reign of his late lord and master, and those who had been deprived of a limb, nose, or eye to be appeased with gifts and reconciled to the late king, so that they executed deeds, duly attested by witnesses, declaring themselves to be satisfied. These were placed in a chest, which was deposited in the tomb of Muhammad in the hope that God would show him mercy.
The later Tughluqs.
Bengal had for some years ceased to acknowledge the authority of Delhi.
In 1338 Mubarak, styling himself Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah, had established himself in Eastern Bengal, and had been succeeded in 1349 by Ikhtiyar-ud-din Ghazi Shah; and in 1339 Ala-ud-din Ali Shah had assumed independence in Western Bengal. In 1345 Haji Iliyas, styling himself Shams-ud-din Iliyas Shah, had made himself master of Western Bengal, and in 1352 had overthrown Ghazi Shah and established his dominion over the whole of Bengal. Emboldened by success, and by the indifference of Firuz, Iliyas had rashly invaded Tirhut with the object of annexing the south-eastern districts of the now restricted kingdom of Delhi, but Firuz was now free to punish this act of aggression, and in November, 1353, marched from Delhi with 70,000 horse to repel the invader. Iliyas retired before him into Tirhut, and thence to his capital, Pandua, but mistrusting the strength of this stronghold, continued his retreat to Ikdala, a village situated on islands in the Brahmaputra and protected by the dense jungle which clothed the river’s banks, whither Firuz followed him. Firuz failed to reduce Ikdala and Iliyas endeavored to detain the invaders in Bengal until the advent of the rainy season, in the hope that the unhealthiness of the climate and the difficulty of communicating with Delhi would place them at his mercy, but Firuz preferred an undignified retreat to almost certain disaster. Iliyas followed and attacked him, but was defeated with some loss and Firuz continued his retreat without further molestation and on September 1, 1354, entered Delhi.
After his return he founded on the banks of the Jumna immediately to the south of the present city of Delhi, a new capital, which he called Firuzabad, a name which he had already vauntingly bestowed on the city of Pandua. The new town occupied the sites of the old town of Indarpat and eleven other villages or hamlets, and contained no fewer than eight large mosques. A regular service of public conveyances, with fixed rates of hire connected it with Old Delhi, ten miles distant. In the following year Firuz, when visiting Dipalpur, gave directions for the cutting of a canal from the Sutlej to Jhajjar, a town within forty miles of Delhi, and in 1356 he founded Hissar on the sites of two villages Laras-i-Buzurg and Laras-i-Khurd. The neighborhood was arid, and the new town was supplied with water by two canals, one from the Jumna, in the neighborhood of Karnal, and the other from the Sutlej, near the point at which it emerges from the mountains. The canal from Dipalpur to Jhajjar also passed at no great distance from the new town.
In December, 1356, the king was gratified by the receipt of a robe of honor and a commission recognizing his sovereignty in India from the puppet Abbasid Caliph in Egypt, but the envoy also bore a letter which commended to him the Bahmani dynasty of the Deccan in terms which made it clear that the Caliph recognized its independence. At the same time envoys arrived with complimentary gifts from Iliyas, and obtained from Firuz recognition of the independence of Bengal.
Throughout this reign the country was remarkably free from irruptions of the Mughuls, of which only two are recorded, both of them being successfully repulsed.
In 1358 a plot was formed against the life of Firuz. His cousin Khudavandzada, who had unsuccessfully claimed the throne for her son, now lived at Delhi, and she and her husband arranged that the king should be assassinated by armed men on the occasion of a visit to her house, but the plot was frustrated by her son, Davar Malik, who was not in sympathy with his stepfather, Khusrav Malik, and contrived to apprise Firuz by signs that his life was in danger, thus causing him to depart sooner than was his wont, and before the arrangements for his assassination were complete. On returning to his palace he sent troops to surround the house, and the men who were to have slain him were arrested and disclosed the plot. Khudavandzada was imprisoned, her great wealth was confiscated, and her husband was banished.
Expedition to Bengal
Iliyas was now dead, and had been succeeded in Bengal by his son, Sikandar Shah, and in 1359 Firuz, regardless of his treaty with the father, invaded with a large army the dominions of the son. The transparently frivolous pretext for the expedition was the vindication of the rights of Zafar Khan, a Persian who had married the daughter of Fakhr-ud-din Mubarak Shah of Eastern Bengal and whose hopes of sitting on the throne of his father-in-law had been shattered by the conquest and annexation of Eastern Bengal by Iliyas. On the conquest of the country Zafar Khan had fled to the coast and embarked on a ship which carried him round Cape Comorin to Tattah, whence he had made his way to the court of Firuz, who appointed him, in 1357, deputy minister of the kingdom.
Firuz halted for six months at Zafarabad on the Gumti and founded in its neighborhood a city which became known as Jaunpur. Muslim historians derive the name from Jauna, the title by which Muhammad Tughluq had been known before his accession, but the city of Firuz was not the first town on the site and Hindus derive the name, which occasionally takes the form of Jamanpur, from Jamadagni, a famous rishi.
At the end of the rainy season Firuz continued his march into Bengal, and Sikandar, following his father’s example, retired to Ikdala. The second siege was no more successful than the first, and Sikandar was able to obtain peace on very favorable terms. He is said to have promised to surrender Sonargaon, the capital of Eastern Bengal, to Zafar Khan, but the promise, even if made, cost him nothing, for Zafar Khan preferred the security and emoluments of his place at court to the precarious tenure of a vassal throne. From partial historians we learn that Sikandar agreed to pay an annual tribute of forty elephants, but the same historians are constrained to admit that he obtained from Firuz recognition of his royal title, a jeweled crown worth 80,000 tangas and 5000 Arab and Turkish horses.
Firuz halted at Jaunpur during the rainy season of 1360, and in the autumn led an expedition into Orissa. It is not easy, from the various accounts of the operations, to follow his movements with accuracy, but his objective was Puri, famous for the great temple of Jagannath. As he advanced into Orissa, which is described as a fertile and wealthy country, the raja fled and took ship for a port on the coast of Telingana. Firuz reached Puri, occupied the raja's palace, and took the great idol, which he sent to Delhi to be trodden underfoot by the faithful. Rumors of an intended pursuit reached the raja, who sent envoys to sue for peace, which he obtained by the surrender of twenty elephant and a promise to send the same number annually to Delhi, and Firuz began his retreat. He attempted to reach Kara on the Ganges, where he had left his heavy baggage, by a route more direct than that by which he had advanced, traversing the little known districts of Chota Nagpur. The army lost its way, and wandered for six months through a country sparsely populated, hilly and covered with dense jungle. Supplies were not to be had, and numbers perished from the hardships and privations which they suffered, but at length the troops emerged from the hills an forests in which they had been wandering into the open plain. Meanwhile the absence of news from the army had caused at Delhi unrest so grave that Maqbul, the regent, had considerable difficult in maintaining order, but news of the army allayed the excitement of the populace, and the king was received on his return with great rejoicing.
Capture of Kangra
In 1351 Firuz marched from Delhi with the object of attempting to recover the fortress of Daulatabad, but his progress was arrested by reports that the raja of Kangra had ventured to invade his kingdom and plunder some of the districts lying at the foot of the mountains, and he marched to Sirhind with the object of attacking Kangra. On his way to Sirhind he observed that a canal might be cut to connect the waters of the Saraswati with those of another river, probably the Markanda, which rises near Nahan and flows past Shahabad, to the south of Ambala. The two streams were divided by high ground, but the canal was completed by the labors of 50,000 workmen. In the course of the excavation large fossil bones were discovered, some of which were correctly identified as those of elephants, while others were ignorantly supposed to be those of a race of prehistoric men. The records of the reign have proved useful as a guide to later and more scientific investigators, and led to the discovery of the fossil bones of sixty-four genera of mammals which lived at the foot of the Himalaya in Pliocene (Siwalik) times, of which only thirty-nine genera have species now living. Of eleven species of the elephant only one now survives in India, and of six species of bos but two remain.
Firuz enriched Sirhind with a new fort, which he named Firuzpur, and continued his march northwards towards Kangra by way of the famous temple of Jwalamukhi, where he dealt less harshly than usual with the Brahman priests. A panegyrist defends him from the imputation of encouraging idolatry by presenting a golden umbrella to be hung over the head of the idol, which he seems, in fact, to have removed; but he ordered that some of the sacred books, of which there were 1300 in the temple, should be translated, and one in particular, treating of natural science, augury, and divination, was rendered into Persian verse by a court poet, Azz-ud-din Khalid Khani, and named by him Dalail-i-Firuz-Shaku. Firishta describes the book as a compendium of theoretical and practical science, and even the rigidly orthodox Budauni admits that it is moderately good, free neither from beauties nor defects, which is high praise from him. Budauni mentions also some unprofitable and trivial works on prosody, music, and dancing, which were translated. There seems to be no reason for crediting the statement, made with some diffidence by Firishta, that Firuz broke up the idols of Jwalamukhi, mixed their fragments with the flesh of cows, and hung them in nosebags round the Brahmans’ necks, and that he sent the principal idol as a trophy to Medina. The raja of Kangra surrendered after standing a very short siege, and was courteously received and permitted to retain his territory as a fief of Delhi.
The enforced retreat from Sind and the insolence of the Sindis had rankled in the memory of Firuz ever since his accession, and in 1362 he set out for that country with an army of 90,000 horse and 480 elephants. He collected on the Indus a large fleet of boats, which accompanied the army down-stream to Tattah, the capital of the Jams of Sind, which was situated on both banks of the river. The ruler was now Jam Mali, son of Jam Unnar, and he was assisted in the government by his brother’s son, Babaniya. Both were resolute in defending the city, and the royal army was exposed to the sorties of the garrison and suffered from a severe famine and from an epizootic disease which carried off or disabled three-quarters of the horses of the cavalry. The garrison, observing their plight, sallied forth and attacked them in force, and though they were driven back within the walls Firuz, who was humiliated at the same time by the capture of his entire fleet, decided to retreat for a time to Gujarat, where his troops might recruit their strength and replace their horses.
The troops suffered more severely during the retreat than during the siege. The disease among the horses lost none of its virulence, and grain still rose in price. The starving soldiery fell out by the way and died, and the survivors were reduced to eating carrion and hides. The principal officers were obliged to march on foot with their men, and treacherous guides led the army into the Rann of Cutch, where there was no fresh water, so that thirst was added to their other privations, and they suffered terrible losses. Once again no news of the army reached Delhi for some months, and Maqbul, the regent, had great difficulty in restraining the turbulence of the anxious and excited populace, and was at length reduced to the expedient of producing a forged dispatch. The execution of one of the treacherous guides induced the others to extricate the army from its perilous position, and it emerged at length from the desert and salt morass into the fertile plains of Gujarat. Dispatches to Delhi restored order in the city, and the governor of Gujarat, Nizam-ul-Mulk, who had failed to send either guides or supplies to the army, was dismissed from his post, Zafar Khan being appointed in his place.
Conquest of Sind
During the rainy season of 1363 Firuz was employed in Gujarat in repairing the losses of his army.
Officers and men received liberal grants to enable them to replace their horses, the revenues of the province were appropriated to the reorganization of the army, and requisitions for material of war were sent to Delhi. The king was obliged to forgo a favorable opportunity for interference in the affairs of the Deccan, where Bahman Shah had died in 1358 and had been succeeded by his son, Muhammad I. His son-in-law, Bahrain Khan Mazandarani, who was governor of Daulatabad, resented the elevation of Muhammad, against whom he openly rebelled three years later, and now invited Firuz to recover the Deccan, promising him his support, but the king would not abandon his enterprise in Sind, and Bahram was disappointed.
Firuz Shah’s return to Sind was unexpected, and the people, who were quietly tilling their fields, fled before him, destroyed that portion of Tattah which stood on the eastern bank of the Indus, and took refuge behind the fortifications of mud on the western bank. Firuz, hesitating to attempt the passage of the river under these defenses, sent two officers with their contingents up the Indus, which they crossed at a considerable distance above the town and, marching down the western bank, made an unsuccessful attack on the town. After this failure they were recalled and the king sent to Delhi for reinforcements and, while awaiting their arrival, reaped and garnered the crops, so that his army was well supplied while the garrison of Tattah began to feel the pinch of famine. When the reinforcements arrived the Jam lost heart and sent an envoy to sue for peace. Firuz was inclined to leniency, and Babaniya and the Jam, on making their submission to him, were courteously received, but were informed that they would be required to accompany him to Delhi and that an annual tribute of 400,000 tangas, of which the first installment was to be paid at once, would be required. These terms were accepted and the Jam and Babaniya accompanied Firuz to Delhi as guests under mild restraint. The rejoicings on the return of the army were marred by the lamentations of those who had lost relations during the disastrous retreat to Gujarat, and Firuz, who had already, while wandering in the Rann, sworn never again to wage war but for the suppression of rebellion, now publicly expressed regret for having undertaken the expedition to Sind, and ordered that the estates and property of the deceased should descend, rent-free, to their heirs.
In 1365-66 envoys from Bahram Khan Mazandarani, who was now in rebellion against Muhammad Shah Bahmani, arrived at court and besought Firuz to come to the aid of those who wished to return to the allegiance of Delhi, but were curtly told that whatever they suffered was the just and natural punishment of their rebellion against Muhammad Tughluq, and were dismissed.
In 1372-73 the faithful minister, Maqbul Khanjahan, died, and was succeeded in his honors and emoluments by his son, who received his father’s title of Khanjahan; and in the following year Zafar Khan, governor of Gujarat, died, and was succeeded by his son, Darya Khan, who also received his father’s title.
The affectionate disposition of Firuz received a severe blow from the death of his eldest son, Fath Khan, on July 23, 1374, and we may attribute to his grief the gradual impairment of his faculties, evidence of which may be observed shortly after his son’s death. At first he withdrew entirely from public business, and when he resumed its responsibilities one of his first acts was entirely foreign to his previous character. Shams-ud-din Damaghani, a meddlesome and envious noble, insisted that the province of Gujarat was assessed for revenue at too low a rate, and offered, if placed in charge of it, to send annually to Delhi, in addition to the revenue for which the province had been assessed, 100 elephants, 400,000 tangas, 400 slaves, and 200 horses. Firuz was loth to disturb Zafar Khan, but demanded of his deputy, Abu Rija, the additional contributions suggested by Damaghani. Abu Rija declared that the province could not bear this impost and Firuz, ordinarily solicitous to alleviate the burdens of his subjects, dismissed him and his master, Zafar Khan, and appointed Damaghani governor of Gujarat. On his arrival in the province the new governor encountered the most determined opposition to his extortionate demands and, finding himself unable to fulfill his promise, raised the standard of rebellion, but was overpowered and slain by the centurions of Gujarat, who sent his head to court. Firuz then appointed to the government of Gujarat Malik Mufrih, who received the title of Farhatul Mulk.
Devastation of Katehr
In 1377 Firuz was engaged in repressing a rebellion in the Etawah district, where the revenue could seldom be collected but by armed force; and two years later found it necessary to take precautions against a threatened inroad of the Mughuls, which his preparations averted. In the same year his usually mild nature was stirred to a deed of vengeance worthy of his predecessor. Kharku, the raja of Katehr, had invited to his house Sayyid Muhammad, governor of Budaun, and his two brothers, and treacherously slew them. In the king's pious estimation the heinousness of the crime was aggravated by the descent of the victims, and in the spring of 1380 he marched into Katehr and there directed a massacre of the Hindus so general and so indiscriminate that, as one historian says, “the spirits of the murdered Sayyids themselves arose to intercede”. Kharku fled into Kumaun and was followed by the royal troops who, unable to discover his hiding place, visited their disappointment on the wretched inhabitants, of whom vast numbers were slain and 23,000 captured and enslaved. The approach of the rainy season warned Firuz to retire from the hills of Kumaun, but his thirst for vengeance was not yet sated. Before leaving for Delhi he appointed an Afghan to the government of Sambhal, and ordered him to devastate Katehr annually with fire and sword. He himself visited the district every year for the next five years and so supplemented the Afghan's bloody work that in those years not an acre of land was cultivated, no man slept in house, and the death of the three Sayyids was avenged by that of countless thousands of Hindus.
In 1385, the last year of these raids, Firuz founded near Budaun a strong fort which he named Firuzpuri, but the miserable inhabitants called it in derision Akhirinpur (the last of his cities) and the gibe was fulfilled, for Firuz now lapsed into a condition of senile decay, and could no more found cities or direct the ship of state. As a natural consequence of the failure of his intellect his minister, Khanjahan, became all powerful, and soon abused his power. In 1387 he persuaded Firuz that Muhammad Khan, his eldest surviving son, was conspiring with Zafar Khan and other nobles to remove him and ascend the throne. Firuz, without inquiring into the matter, authorized the minister to arrest those whom he had accused, and Zafar Khan was summoned from his fief of Mahoba on the pretext that his accounts were to be examined, and was confined in Khanjahan’s house. The prince evaded, on the plea of ill-health, attendance at a darbar at which he was to have been arrested, but privately gained access to the royal harem by arriving at the gate in a veiled litter which was supposed to contain his wife. His appearance, fully armed, in the inner apartments at first caused consternation, but he was able to gain his father’s ear, and easily persuaded him that the real traitor was Khanjahan, who intended to pave his own way to the throne by the destruction of the royal family. Armed with his father’s authority, he led the household troops, numbering ten or twelve thousand, and the royal elephants to Khanjahan’s house. The minister, on hearing of his approach, put Zafar Khan to death and sallied forth with his own troops to meet his enemies. He was wounded and retired into his house, whence he made his escape by an unguarded door and fled into Mewat, where he took refuge with a Rajput chieftain, Koka the Chauhan. His house was plundered and his followers were slain, and Muhammad Khan returned to the palace. Firuz, no longer capable of governing, associated his son with himself not only in the administration, but also in the royal title, and caused him to be proclaimed, on August 22, 1387, under the style of Nasir-ud-din Muhammad Shah.
One of Muhammad's first acts was to send Sikandar Khan, master of the horse, into Mewat to seize Khanjahan, with a promise of the government of Gujarat as the reward of success. Khanjahan was surrendered by Koka, and Sikandar Khan, after carrying his head to Delhi, set out for Gujarat. Muhammad was hunting in Sirmur when he heard that Farhatul Mulk and the centurions of Gujarat had defeated and slain Sikandar Khan, whose broken troops had returned to Delhi. He returned at once to the capital, but instead of taking any steps to punish the rebels neglected all public business and devoted himself entirely to pleasure. For five months the administrative machinery, which had been adjusted by Firuz in the earlier years of his reign, worked automatically, but the apathy and incompetence of Muhammad became daily more intolerable, and many of the old servants of the crown assembled a large force and rose against him, nominally in the interests of Firuz. An envoy who was sent to treat with them was stoned and wounded, and Muhammad was forced to take the field against them, but, when hard pressed, they succeeded in forcing their way into the palace and, after two days’ indecisive fighting, placed the decrepit Firuz in a litter and carried him into the field. The device, which is of frequent occurrence in Indian history, succeeded. The troops with Muhammad believed that their old master had deliberately taken the field against his son and deserted Muhammad, who fled into Sirmur with a few retainers. Firuz promoted his grandson, Tughluq Khan, son of the deceased Fath Khan, to the position lately held by Muhammad, and conferred on him the royal title. On September 20, 1388, Firuz died, at the age of eighty-three, after a reign of thirty-seven years.
Death of Firuz
Indian historians praise Firuz as the most just, merciful, and beneficent ruler since the days of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, son of Iltutmish, and there is some similarity between the characters of the two, though Firuz was in almost every respect superior. Both were weak rulers, but Firuz was far less weak and vacillating than Mahmud, and both were benevolent, but the benevolence of Firuz was more active than that of Mahmud. Firuz possessed far more ability than Mahmud, and his weakness consisted largely in an indolent man’s distaste for the details of business and in unwillingness to cause pain. His benevolence was indiscriminate, for he showed as much indulgence to the corrupt official as to the indigent husbandman, and his passion for constructing works of public utility was due probably as much to vanity as to benevolence. The discontinuance of the practice of demanding large gifts from place-holders was intended to relieve the poorer classes, on whom the burden ultimately fell, and was perhaps not wholly without effect, but placeholders continued to enrich themselves, and many amassed large fortunes. Firuz Shah’s connivance at corruption and his culpable leniency destroyed the effect of his own reforms. Old and inefficient soldiers were not compelled to retire but were permitted to provide substitutes of whose fitness they were the judges, and the annual inspection of cavalry horses was rendered futile by the many evasions devised by the king himself. One story is told of his overhearing a trooper bewailing to a comrade the hardship of being compelled to submit his horse for inspection. He called the man to him and asked him wherein the hardship lay, and he explained that he could not expect that his horse would be passed unless he offered the inspector at least a gold tanga, and Firuz gave him the coin. The perversity of the act is not perceived by the historian who records it, and he merely praises Firuz for his benevolence. Similar laxity prevailed in the thirty-six departments of state, and in the checking and auditing of the accounts of fiefs and provincial governments. There was a great show of order and method, and a pretence was made of annually scrutinizing all accounts, but notwithstanding all formalities “the king was very lenient, not from ignorance of accounts and business, which he understood well, but from temperament and generosity”. The working of the mint supplies an instance of the fraud and peculation which were rife. In 1370-71 Firuz extended his coinage by minting, for the convenience of the poorer classes, pieces of small denominations, and the integrity of the officers of the mint was not proof against the opportunity for peculation offered by this large issue. Two informers reported that the six jital pieces were a grain short of standard purity, and the minister, Magbul Khanjahan, whose anxiety to hush the matter up suggests his complicity, sent for Kajar Shah, the mint master, who was the principal offender, and directed him to devise a means of establishing, to the king's satisfaction, the purity of the coin. Kajar Shah arranged that the coins should be melted before the metal was assayed, approached the goldsmiths whose duty it would be to conduct the experiment in the king's presence, and desired them secretly to cast into the crucible sufficient silver to bring the molten metal to the standard of purity. They objected that in accordance with the ordinary precautions on such occasions they would be so denuded of clothing that they would be unable to secrete any silver on their persons, but offered to do what was required if the silver could be placed within their reach. Kajar Shah accordingly arranged that the necessary quantity of silver should be concealed in one of the pieces of charcoal used for heating the crucible, and the goldsmiths succeeded in conveying it into the vessel without being observed, so that the king was hoodwinked and the metal, when assayed, was found to be of the standard purity. Kajar Shah's presumed innocence was publicly recognized by his being carried through the city on one of the royal elephants, and the two informers were banished, but both the investigations and the public justification of the mint master were mere sops to public opinion, for Kajar Shah was shortly afterwards dismissed. The comments of the contemporary historian are even more interesting, as an example of the view which an educated an intelligent man could then take of such an affair, than his simple record of the facts. He can see nothing wrong in the concealment of a crime, in the punishment of the innocent and the vindication of the guilty, or in the deception practiced on the simple Firuz, but commends Maqbul Khanjahan for having dexterously averted a public scandal. The same historian, who has nothing but approval for whatever was established or permitted in the reign of Firuz, applauds another serious abuse. Of the irregular troops some received their salaries in cash from the treasury but those stationed at a distance from the capital were paid by transferable assignments on the revenue. A class of brokers made it their business to buy these drafts in the capital at one-third of their nominal value and to sell them to the soldiers in the districts at one-half. Shams-i-Siraj Afif has no word of condemnation for the fraud perpetrated on the unfortunate soldier, and nothing but commendation for a system which enabled so many knaves to enrich themselves without labor.
Some of the measures introduced by Firuz for the welfare of his subjects may be described as grandmotherly legislation. One of them was a marriage bureau and another an employment bureau. The marriage of girls who have reached marriageable age is regarded in India, with some reason, as a religious duty, and Firuz charged himself with the task of seeing that no girl of his own faith remained unmarried for want of a dowry. His agency worked chiefly among the middle class and the widows and orphans of public servants, and was most efficient. The employment agency, unlike those of our day, was concerned chiefly with those who desired clerical and administrative employment, for at this time the extension of cultivation and the construction of public works provided ample employment for laborers and handicraftsmen. It was the duty of the kotural of Delhi to seek those who were without employment and to produce them at court. Here personally made inquiry into their circumstances and qualifications, and after consulting, as far as possible, their inclination, provided them with employment. Whether there was any demand for their services lay beyond the scope of the inquiry, for the business was conducted on charitable rather than on economic principles and probably provided sinecures for many a young idler.
The Pillars of Asoka
The interest of Firuz in public works was not purely utilitarian, and he is remembered for two feats of engineering which appear to indicate an interest in archaeology, but may be more justly attributed to vanity. These were the removal to Delhi, from the sites on which they had been erected by Asoka, of two great inscribed monoliths. The first, known as the Minara-yi-Zarin, or golden pillar, was transferred from a village near Khizrabad, on the upper Jumna, to Delhi, where it was re-erected near the palace and great mosque at Firuzabad, and the second was transported from Meerut and set up on a mound near the Kushk-i-Shikar, or hunting palace, near Delhi. The curious may find, in the pages of Shams-i-Siraj Afif an elaborate and detailed description of the ingenious manner in which these two great pillars were removed and erected in their new positions. The difficult feat elicited the admiration of the Amir Timur when he invaded India, and the pillars, which are still standing, attracted the attention, in 1615, of the “famous unwearied walker”, Tom Coryate, who erroneously supposed the Sanskrit and Prakrit inscriptions of Asoka to be Greek, and referred them to the time of Alexander the Great.
The harsher side of Firuz Shah’s piety was displayed in the persecution of heretics, sectaries, and Hindus. His decree abolishing capital punishment applied only to those of his own faith, for he burnt to death a Brahman accused of trying to propagate his religion, and the ruthless massacres with which he avenged the murder of the three Sayyids in Budaun prove his benevolence to have been strictly limited. In general it seems to have been due to weakness of character and love of ease, but he could be firm when a question of principle arose. In the course of years Brahmans had acquired, probably by the influence of Hindu officials, exemption from the jizya, or poll-tax, leviable by the Islamic law from all non-Muslims, and Firuz was resolved to terminate an anomaly which exempted the leaders of dissent from a tax on dissent, but the exemption had acquired the character of a prescriptive right, and his decision raised a storm of discontent. The Brahmans surrounded his palace and loudly protested against the invasion of their ancient privilege, threatening to burn themselves alive, and thus to call down upon him, according to their belief, “the wrath of heaven”. Firuz replied that they might burn themselves as soon as they pleased, and the sooner the better, but they shrank from the ordeal, and attempted to work on his superstitious fears by sitting without food at his palace gates. He still remained obdurate, but they had better success with the members of their own faith, and it was ultimately arranged that the tax leviable from the Brahmans should be borne, in addition to their own burden, by the lower castes of the Hindus.
The reign of Firuz closes the most brilliant epoch of Muslim rule in India before the reign of Akbar. Ala-ud-din Khalji, who, though differing much from Akbar in most respects, resembled him in desiring to establish a religion of his own devising, had not only extended the empire over almost the whole of India, but had welded the loose confederacy of fiefs which had owned allegiance to the Slave Kings into a homogeneous state. The disorders which followed his death failed to shake seriously the great fabric which he had erected, and the energy of Tughluq and, at first, of his son Muhammad gave it solidity. The latter prince possessed qualities which might have made him the greatest of the rulers of Delhi had they not been marred by a disordered imagination. The loss of the Deccan and Bengal, occasioned by his tyranny, was not an unmixed evil. The difficulty of governing the former, owing to its distance from the centre of administration, had been acknowledged by the ill-considered attempt to transfer the capital to Daulatabad, and the allegiance of the latter had seldom been spontaneous and had depended chiefly on the personality of the reigning sovereign of Delhi, an uncertain quantity. What remained of the kingdom was more than sufficient to engross the attention of a ruler of ordinary abilities, and Firuz had, in spite of two great defects of character, succeeded in improving the administration and in alleviating the lot and winning the affection of his subjects. Military capacity and diligence in matters of detail are qualities indispensable to an oriental despot, and Firuz lacked both. After two unsuccessful expeditions into Bengal he was fain to recognize the independence of that country, and his rashness twice imperiled the existence of his army. His easy tolerance of abuses would have completely destroyed the efficiency of that mainstay of absolute power, had it not been counteracted by the vigilance and energy of his officers, who were carefully selected and entirely trusted by him. His judgment of character was, indeed, the principal counterpoise to his impatience of the disagreeable details of government, and the personal popularity which he enjoyed as the kindly and genial successor of a capricious tyrant secured the fidelity of his trusted officers, but his extensive delegation of authority to them undermined the power of the crown. No policy, however well devised, could have sustained this power under the feeble rule of his successors and the terrible blow dealt at the kingdom within ten years of his death, but his system of decentralization would have embarrassed the ablest successors, and undoubtedly accelerated the downfall of his dynasty.
Firuz was succeeded at Delhi by his grandson, who took the title of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq Shah II, while his uncle, Nasir-ud-din Muhammad, in his retreat in the Sirmur hills, prepared to assert his claim to the throne. Tughluq sent against him an army under the command of Malik Firuz Ali, whom he had made minister with the title of Khanjahan, and Bahadur Nahir, a Rajput chieftain of Mewat who had accepted Islam and now became a prominent figure on the political stage. Muhammad retired to a chosen position in the hills, but was defeated and fled to Kangra, and Khanjahan, who shrank from attacking the fortress, returned to Delhi, satisfied with his partial success.
Tughluq, thus temporarily relieved of anxiety, plunged into dissipation and sought to secure his tenure of the throne by removing possible competitors. By imprisoning his brother, Salar Shah, he so alarmed his cousin Abu Bakr that that prince was constrained, in self-defense, to become a conspirator. He found a willing supporter in the ambitious Rukn-ud-din, Khanjahan's deputy, who had much influence with the household troops. Their defection transferred the royal power from Tughluq to Abu Bakr and Tughluq and Khinjahan fled from the palace by a door opening towards the Jumna. They were overtaken and slain by a body of the household troops led by Rukn-ud-din, and on February 19, 1389, the nobles at Delhi acclaimed Abu Bakr Shah as their king.
The appointment of Rukn-ud-din as minister followed as a matter of course, but he was almost immediately detected in a conspiracy to usurp the throne, and was put to death. This prompt action established for a time Abu Bakr's authority at Delhi, but a serious rebellion broke out in the province immediately to the north of the capital. The centurions of Samana rose against their governor, Khushdil, a loyal adherent of Abu Bakr, put him to death at Sunam, and sent his head to Nasir-ud-din Muhammad, whom they invited to make another attempt to gain the throne.
Muhammad marched from Kangra to Samana, where he was proclaimed king on April 24, 1389. He continued his march towards Delhi, and before reaching the neighborhood of the city received such accessions of strength as to find himself at the head of 50,000 horse, and he was able to take up his quarters in the Jahannuma palace in the old city.
On April 29 some fighting took place at Firuzabad between the troops of the rival kings, but the arrival of Bahadur Nair from Mewat so strengthened Abu Bakr that on the following day he marched out to meet his uncle and inflicted on him so crushing a defeat that he was glad to escape across the Jumna into the Doab with no more than 2000 horse. He retired to Jalesar, which he made his headquarters, and sent his second son, Humayun Khan, to Samana to rally the fugitives and raise fresh recruits. At Jalesar he was joined by many discontented nobles, including Malik Sarvar, lately chief of the police at Delhi, whom he made his minister, with the title of Khvaja Khan, and Nasir-ul-Mulk, who received the title of Khizr Khan, by which he was afterwards to be known as the founder of the Sayyid dynasty. Muhammad was thus enabled, by July, again to take the field with 50,000 horse, and marched on Delhi, but was defeated at the village of Khondli and compelled to retire to Jalesar. Notwithstanding this second blow his authority was acknowledged in Multan, Lahore, Samana, Hissar, Hansi and other districts to the north of Delhi, and was confirmed by executions of those disaffected to him, but the general effect of the prolonged struggle for the throne was temporary eclipse of the power and authority of the dominant race. Hindus ceased to pay the poll-tax and in many of the larger cities of the kingdom menaced Muslim supremacy.
In January, 1390, Humayun Khan advanced from Samana to Panipat and plundered the country as far as the walls of Delhi, but was defeated and driven back to Samana. Abu Bakr had hitherto been detained in Delhi by the fear that his enemies in the city would admit Humayun in his absence, but this success encouraged him to attack Muhammad in his stronghold, and in April he left Delhi. As he approached Jalesar Muhammad, with 4000 horse, eluded him, reached Delhi by forced marches, and occupied the palace. Abu Bakr at once retraced his steps, and as he entered the city Muhammad fled and returned to Jalesar. Abu Bakr’s success was, however, illusory and transient; his authority was confined to the capital and the district of Mewat, where Bahadur Nahir supported his cause, and even at Delhi his rival had many partisans.
In August Islam Khan, a courtier who had great influence in the army, opened communications with Muhammad and placed himself at the head of his adherents in Delhi. The discovery of the conspiracy so alarmed Abu Bakr that he retired with his partisans to Mewat, and Muhammad, on August 31, entered the capital and was enthroned in the palace of Firuzabad. He ordered the expulsion from Delhi of all the household troops of Firuz Shah, whose share in the late revolutions had proved them to be a danger to the State. Most of these troops joined Abu Bakr in Mewat and those who claimed the right, as natives of Delhi, of remaining in the city were required to pronounce the shibboleth khara (brackish). Those who pronounced it khari, after the manner of the inhabitants of eastern Hindustan and Bengal were adjudged to be royal slaves imported from those regions, and were put to death.
The nobles from the provinces now assembled at Delhi and acknowledged Muhammad as king, and Humayun Khan was sent into Mewat to crush Abu Bakr and his faction. The army arrived before Bahadur Nahir’s stronghold in December, 1390, and, being fiercely attacked by the enemy, suffered considerable loss, but eventually drove Bahadur Nahir into the fortress. Muhammad himself arrived with reinforcements and Abu Bakr and Bahadur Nahir were compelled to surrender. The latter was pardoned, but Abu Bakr was sent as a prisoner to Meerut, where he soon afterwards died. Muhammad, on his return to Delhi, learnt that Farhat-ulMulk, who had been left undisturbed in Gujarat after his victory over Sikandar Khan, refused to recognize his authority and sent to Gujarat as governor Zafar Khan, son of Wajih-ul-Mulk, a converted Rajput.
In 1392 the Hindus of Etawah, led by Nar Singh, Sarvadharan the Rahtor, and Bir Bhan, chief of Bhansor, rose in rebellion, and Islam Khan was sent against them, defeated them, and carried Nar Singh to Delhi; but as soon as his back was turned the rebellion broke out afresh and Sarvadharan attacked the town of Talgram. Muhammad now marched in person against the rebels, who shut themselves up in Etawah, and when hard pressed escaped from the town by night and fled. The king dismantled the fortifications of Etawah and marched to Kanauj and Dolman, where he punished many who had participated in the rebellion, and thence to Jalesar, where he built a new fortress, which he named Muhammadabad.
In June, while he was still at Jalesar, the eunuch Malik Sarvar, Khvaja Johan, who had been left as regent at Delhi, reported that Islam Khan, who had been appointed minister, was about to leave Delhi for Lahore, in order to head a rebellion in the Punjab. Muhammad hastily returned and taxed Islam Khali with harboring treasonable designs. He protested his innocence, but the faithlessness of his conduct towards Abu Bakr was fresh in the memory of all, his nephew appeared as a witness against him, and he was put to death.
In 1393 the Rajputs of Etawah again rebelled, but the governor of Jalesar enticed their leaders, by fair words, into Kanauj, and there treacherously slew all except Sarvadharan, who escaped and took refuge in Etawah. In August of the same year the king marched through the rebellious district of Mewat, laying it waste, and on reaching Jalesar fell sick, but was unable to enjoy the repose which he needed, for Bahadur Nahir again took the field and Muhammad was compelled to march against him, and defeated him. From Jalesar he wrote to his son, Humayun Khan, directing him to march into the Punjab and quell the rebellion of Shaikha the Khokar. The prince was preparing to leave Delhi when he heard of the death of his father at Jalesar on January 20, 1394, and on January 22 he ascended the throne at Delhi under the title of Ala-ud-din Sikandar Shah. His reign was brief, for he fell sick almost immediately after his accession and died on March 8.
Nassir-ud-din Mahmud. Invasion of Timur.
So little respect did the royal house now command that the provincial governors, who had assembled their troops at Delhi for the expedition to Lahore, would have left the capital without waiting for the enthronement of a new king, had not Malik Sarvar induced them to enthrone, under the title of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, Humayun’s brother, the youngest son of Muhammad.
The kingdom was now in a deplorable condition. The obedience of the great nobles was regulated entirely by their caprice or interest, and they used or abused the royal authority as occasion served. In the eastern provinces the Hindus, who had for some years past been in rebellion, threw off all semblance of obedience, and the eunuch Malik Sarvar persuaded or compelled Mahmud to bestow upon him the lofty title of Sultan-ush-Sharq, or King of the East, and to commit to him the duty of crushing the rebellion and restoring order. He left Delhi in May, 1394, punished the rebels, and after reducing to obedience the districts of Koil, Etawah, and Kanauj, occupied Jaunpur, where he established himself as an independent ruler. The day on which he left Delhi may be assigned as the date of the foundation of the dynasty of the Kings of the East, or of Jaunpur.
Meanwhile Sarang Khan, who had been appointed on Mahmud’s accession to the fief of Dipalpur, was sent to restore order in the north-western provinces. In September, 1394, having assembled the army of Multan as well as his own contingent, he marched towards Lahore, which was held by Shaikha the Khokar. Shaikha carried the war into the enemy’s country by advancing into the Dipalpur district and forming the siege of Ajudhan (Pak Pattan) but, finding that this counterstroke failed to arrest Sarang Khan’s advance, hastily retraced his steps and attacked Sarang Khan before he could reach Lahore. He was defeated, and fled into the Salt Range, and Sarang Khan appointed his own brother, Malik Kandhu, governor of Lahore, with the title of Adil Khan.
During the course of these events the king visited Gwalior, where Mallu Khan, a brother of Sarang Khan, plotted to overthrow Sa’adat Khan, a noble whose growing influence over the king’s feeble mind had excited the jealousy of the courtiers. The plot was discovered and some of the leading conspirators were put to death, but Mallu Khan fled to Delhi and took refuge with the regent, Muqarrab Khan, who resented the ascendency of Sa’adat Khan and, on the king's return to the capital, closed the gates of the city against him. For two months Delhi was in a state of siege but in November Mahmud, whose authority was disregarded by both parties, grew weary of his humiliating position at the gates of his capital, and fled to the protection of Muqarrab Khan. Sa’adat Khan, enraged by his desertion, summoned from Mewat Nusrat Khan, a son of Fath Khan, the eldest son of Firuz, and proclaimed him in Firuzabad under the title of Nahir-ud-din Nusrat Shah. There were thus two titular kings, one at Delhi and the other at Firuzabad, each a puppet in the hands of a powerful noble. Sa’adat Khan’s arrogance exasperated the old servants of Firuz who adhered to Nusrat Shah, and they expelled him from Firuzabad. He fled, in his extremity, to Delhi, and humbled himself before his enemy, Muqarrab Khan, who gave him an assurance of forgiveness, but a few days later treacherously caused him to be put to death.
The various cities which had at different times been the capital of the kingdom were now held by the factions of one puppet or the other. Muqarrab Khan and Mahmud Shah were in Delhi, Nusrat Shah and the old nobles and servants of Firuz in Firuzabad, Bahadur Nahir, whose allegiance had been temporarily secured by Muqarrab Khan, was in Old Delhi, and Mallu, who owed his life to Muqarrab Khan and had received from him the title of Iqbal Khan, was in Siri, but neither Nahir nor Mallu was a warm partisan, and each was prepared to shape his conduct by the course of events. For three years an indecisive but destructive strife was carried on in the names of Mahmud and Nusrat, but the kingdom of the former, who had been first in the field, was bounded by the walls of Delhi, though Muqarrab Khan reckoned Old Delhi and Siri as appanages of this realm, while the upstart Nusrat Shah claimed the nominal allegiance of the districts of the Doab, Sambhal, Panipat, Jhajjar, and Rohtak. The great provinces were independent.
In 1395-96 Sarang Khan of Dipalpur quarrelled with Khizr Khan the Sayyid, governor of Multan, expelled him from that city, and annexed his fief. Emboldened by this success he marched, in June, 1397, to Samana, and there besieged the governor, Ghalib Khan, who fled and joined Tatar Khan, Nusrat's minister, at Panipat. Nusrat Shah sent a small reinforcement to Tatar Khan, who on October 8 attacked and defeated Sarang Khan and reinstated Ghalib Khan at Samana.
At the close of this year a harbinger of the terrible Amir Timur appeared in India. Pir Muhammad, son of Jahangir, the eldest son of the great conqueror, crossed the Indus and besieged Uch, which was held for Sarang Khan by Ali Malik. A force was sent to the relief of Uch, but Muhammad attacked it and drove it into Multan, where Sarang Khan then was. In May, 1398, he was compelled to surrender and Pir Muhammad occupied Multan.
In June, 1398, the deadlock at Delhi was brought to an end by a series of acts of extraordinary perfidy and treachery. Mallu, resenting the dominance of his benefactor, Muqarrab Khan, deserted Mahmud and joined Nusrat, whom he conducted in triumph into Jahanpanah, after swearing allegiance to him on the Koran. Two days later he suddenly attacked his new master and drove him to Firuzabad and thence to Panipat, where he took refuge with Tatar Khan. Although Nusrat had thus disappeared from the scene the contest was maintained for two months by Mallu on the one hand and Muqarrab Khan, with Mahmud, on the other. At length Mallu feigned a reconciliation with Muqarrab Khan, who entered Jahanpanah in triumph with Mahmud Shah while Mallu remained in Siri. Almost immediately afterwards Mallu treacherously attacked Muqarrab Khan in his house at Jahanpanah, captured and slew him, and, having gained possession of the person of Mahmud Shah exercised the royal authority in his name.
There still remained Tatar Khan and Nusrat Shah to be dealt with, and in August Mallu, carrying Mahmud with him, marched to Panipat. Tatar Khan eluded him and marched to Delhi by another road, but while engaged in a vain attempt to force an entry into the capital learnt that Mallu had captured Panipat, taken all his baggage and elephants, and was returning towards Delhi. Tatar Khan fled and joined his father Zafar Khan, who had, two years before this time, proclaimed his independence in Gujarat, and was now known as Muzaffar Shah, and Nusrat Shah found an asylum in the Doab.
This was the state of affairs at Delhi when, in October, 1398, news was received that Timur the Lame, “Lord of the Fortunate Conjunction”, Amir of Samarqand and conqueror of Persia, Afghanistan, and Mesopotamia, had crossed the Indus, the Chenab, and the Ravi, taken Talamba, and occupied Multan, already held by his grandson. Timor seldom required either a pretext or a stimulus for his depredations, but India supplied him with both. The pretext was the toleration of idolatry by the Muslim rulers of Delhi and the stimulus was the disintegration of the kingdom, unparalleled since its earliest days. The invader's object was plunder, for if he ever had any idea of the permanent conquest of India he certainly abandoned it before he reached Delhi.
Timur had left Samarqand in April, but had been delayed on his way to India by an expedition in Kafiristan, by the construction of fortresses on the road which he followed, and by the business of his vast empire.
He left Kabul on August 15, crossed the Indus on September 24, and two days later reached the Jhelum, where he was delayed by the contumacy of a local ruler, Shibabuddin Mubarak, styling himself Shah, who, having submitted to Pir Muhammad, had changed his policy when that prince appeared to be in difficulties and ventured to oppose Timur, who drove him from his island fortress on the Jhelum. Mubarak and his whole family perished in the river and Timur crossed the Jhelum and the Ravi and on October 13 encamped before Talamba. He agreed to spare the ancient town in consideration of a ransom, but differences regarding its assessment or undue harshness in levying it provoked resistance and furnished him with a pretext for a massacre.
His advance was delayed by the necessity for disposing of Jasrat, brother of Shaikha the Khokar, who had re-established himself in Lahore when Sarang Khan was overcome by Pir Muhammad. Jasrat had entrenched himself in a village near the north bank of the Sutlej and menaced the invader’s communications. His stronghold was taken and he fled, and on October 25 Timur reached the northern bank of the Sutlej, where he met his baggage train and the ladies of his harem. On the following day he was joined by Pir Muhammad, whose movements had been retarded by an epizootic disease which destroyed most of the horses of his army. Timur’s resources, replenished by plunder, enabled him to supply 30,000 remounts for his grandson's troops and Pir Muhammad accompanied him and commanded the right wing of his army during the rest of the Indian campaign.
The camp was situated on the Sutlej about midway between Ajudhan (Pak Pattan) and Dipalpur, both of which towns had incurred Timur's resentment by rising against Pir Muhammad. He marched to Pak Pattan, where he visited the tomb of Shaikh Farid-ud-din Ganji Shakar, dispatched his harem and heavy baggage by way of Dipalpur to Samana, started from Pak Pattan on November 6, and by the morning of the following day arrived, after a march of eighty miles, at Bhatnair, where the fugitives from Dipalpur and Pak Pattan had taken refuge. The ruler of Bhatnair was a Bhati Rajput named Dul Chand, but his tribe was already undergoing the process of conversion to Islam, and his brother bore the Muslim name of Kamaluddin. The city was captured, with great loss to the Hindus, and on November 9 Dul Chand, who had shut himself up in the citadel, surrendered. The refugees were collected and 500 of the citizens of Dipalpur were put to death to avenge their slaughter of Pir Muhammad's garrison in that town. The citizens of Pak Pattan were flogged, plundered, and enslaved. The assessment and collection of the ransom of Bhatnair again provoked resistance on the part of the inhabitants, and after a general massacre the city was burnt and laid waste, “so that one would have said that no living being had ever drawn breath in that neighbourhood”.
On November 13 Timur left this scene of desolation, already offensive from the putrefying bodies of the dead, and marched through Sirsa and Fathabad, pursuing and slaughtering the inhabitants, who fled before him. Aharwan was plundered and burnt, at Tohana about 2000 Jats were slain, and on November 21 Timur reached the bank of the Ghaggar, near Samana, where he halted for four days to allow his heavy baggage to come up. On November 25, near the bridge of Kotla, he was joined by the left wing of his army, which had marched from Kabul by a more northerly route and had captured and plundered every fortress which it had passed. On November 29 the whole army was assembled at Kaithal and on December 2 Timur marched through a desolate country, whence the inhabitants had fled to Delhi, to Panipat. On December 7 the right wing of the army reached Jahannuma, north of Delhi and near the northern extremity of the famous Ridge, overlooking the Jumna. On December 9 the army crossed the river and on the following day captured Loni, the Hindu inhabitants of which were put to death. The fortress, which was surrounded by good pasture land, was made the headquarters of the army.
The invader’s rapid and devastating advance struck terror and dismay into the hearts of Mahmud Shah and Mallu, for the limits and resources of what remained to them of the kingdom were so restricted that no adequate preparations for resistance were possible, but such troops as remained were collected within the walls of the city, which was also crowded with the host of fugitives who had fled before Timur’s advance. On December 12, as Timur, who had led a reconnaissance in force across the river, was returning to Loni, Mallu attacked his rearguard. Two divisions were promptly sent to its assistance, Mallu was defeated and driven back into Delhi, and the only fruit of his enterprise was a terrible massacre. Timur had collected in his camp about 100,000 adult male Hindu captives, and when Mallu delivered his attack these poor wretches could not entirely conceal their joy at the prospect of a rescue. The demonstration was fatal to them, for Timur became apprehensive of the presence in his camp of so large a number of disaffected captives, and caused them all to be put to death.
On December 15 Timur, disregarding both the warnings of his astrologers and the misgivings of his troops, whose inexperience was not proof against absurd fables of the terrors of the elephant in battle, crossed the Jumna, and early on the morning of the 17th drew up his army for the attack, while Mallu and Mahmud led their forces out of Delhi. The Indian army consisted of 10,000 horse, 40,000 foot, and 120 elephants, which are described as being clad in armour, with their tusks armed with poisoned scimitars, and bearing on their backs strong wooden structures occupied by javelin and quoit throwers, crossbow-men, and throwers of combustibles. The mention of poison is probably a figure of speech, for poisoned weapons were not a feature of Indian warfare.
The fighting line of the invading army entrenched itself with a ditch and screens of thatch, before which buffaloes were hobbled and bound together to break the onslaught of the elephants, and the infantry carried calthrops. The Indian attack on the advanced guard and right wing was vigorously met and failed utterly when it was taken in rear by a detached force which circled round its left flank; while the attack of left on the Indian right, after repulsing a few ineffectual counterattacks, was entirely successful, and the Indian army broke and fled. The dreaded elephants were driven off, according to Timur's memoirs, like cows. Mallu and Mahmud reached the city and that night fled from it, the former to Baran and the latter to Gujarat, where he sought the hospitality of Muzaffar Shah. They were pursued, and two of Mallu’s sons, Saif Khan and Khudadad, were captured, besides many other prisoners and much spoil.
On the following day Timur entered the city and held at the Idgadh a court which was attended by the principal citizens, who obtained, by the mediation of the Sayyids and ecclesiastics, an amnesty which proved, as usual, to be illusory. Within the next few days the license of the soldiery, the rigor of the search for fugitives from other towns, who had not been included in the amnesty, and the assessment of the ransom led to disturbances, and the people rose against the foreigners and in many instances performed the rite of jauhar. The troops, thus freed from all restraint, sacked the city, and the work of bloodshed and rapine continued for several days until so many captives had been taken that, in the words of the chronicler, “there was none so humble but he had at least twenty slaves”. Pillars were raised of the skulls of the slaughtered Hindus, “and their bodies were given as food to the birds and the beasts, and their souls sent to the depths of hell”. The artisans among the captives were sent to the various provinces of Timur's empire, and those who were stonemasons to Samarqand for the construction of the great Friday mosque which he designed to raise in his capital.
Capture of Delhi
We are indebted to Timur for an interesting description of Delhi as he found it. Ala-ud-din’s palace-fortress of Siri, some traces of which are still to be found to the east of the road from modern Delhi to the Qutb Minar, was enclosed by a wall, and to the south-west of this, and also surrounded by a wall, stood the larger city of Old Delhi, that is to say the town and fortress of Prithvi Rig, which had been the residential capital of the Muslim kings until Kaiqubad built and Firuz Khalji occupied Kilokhri. The walls of these two towns were connected by parallel walls, begun by Muhammad Tughluq and finished by his successor, the space between which was known as Jahanpanah, “the Refuge of the World”, and the three towns had, in all, thirty gates towards the open country. Firezabad, the new city on the Jumna built by Firuz Tughluq, lay some five miles to the north of Jahanpanah.
The three towns of Siri, Old Delhi, and Jahanpanah were laid waste by Timur, who occupied them for fifteen days and on January 1, 1399, marched through Firuzabad, where he halted for an hour or two, to Vazirabad, where he crossed the Jumna. On this day Bahadur Nahir of Mewat arrived in his camp with valuable gifts and made his submission. At Delhi Timur had already secured the adhesion of a more important personage, Khizr Khan the Sayyid, who had been living since his expulsion from Multan under the protection of Shams Khan Auhadi at Bayana, and, having joined Timur, accompanied his camp as far as the borders of Kashmir.
Meerut refused to surrender to the invader but was taken by storm on January 9, the Hindu citizens being massacred; a detachment plundered and destroyed the towns and villages on the eastern bank of the Jumna, and Timur himself marched to the Ganges. After a battle on that river on January 12, in which he captured and destroyed forty-eight great boat-loads of Hindus, he crossed the river near Tughluqpur on January 13, defeated an army of 10,000 horse and foot under Mubarak Khan, and on the same day attacked and plundered two Hindu forces in the neighborhood of Hardwar. The course which he followed lay through the outermost and lowest range of the Himalaya, and his progress was marked by the almost daily slaughter of large bodies of Hindus who, though they assembled in arms to oppose him, were never able to withstand the onslaught of the Mughul horse and as they fled were slaughtered like sheep. On January 16 he captured Kangra, and between January 24 and February 23, when he reached the neighborhood of Jammu he fought twenty pitched battles and took seven fortresses. Continuing his career of plunder and rapine towards Jammu he arrived before that city on February 26, and sacked it on the following day. Both Jammu and the neighboring village of Bao were deserted, and he was disappointed of human victims, but an ambuscade which he left behind him to surprise the Hindus when they should attempt to return to their homes intercepted and slew large numbers and captured the raja, who was carried before Timur and saved his life by accepting Islam and swearing allegiance to the conqueror.
Shaikha the Khokar had sworn allegiance to Timur after the defeat of his brother Jusrat, but had broken his promise to join the invading army, had given it no assistance, and had insolently ignored the presence in Lahore of Hindu Shah, Timer's treasurer, who had come from Samarqand to join him in India. An expedition was sent to Lahore, the city was captured and held to ransom, and Shaikha was led before Timur, who put him to death.
On March 6 Timur held a court for the purpose of bidding farewell to the princes and officers of the army before dismissing them to their provinces, and on this occasion appointed Khizr Khan the Sayyid to the government of Multan, from which he had been expelled by Sarang Khan, Lahore, and Dipalpur. Some historians add that he nominated him as his viceroy in Delhi, but this addition was probably suggested by subsequent events.
On March 19 Timur recrossed the Indus, and two days later left Bannu, after inflicting on India more misery than had ever before been inflicted by any conqueror in a single invasion. Mahmud's tale of slaughter from first to last probably exceeded his, but in no single incursion did he approach Timur's terrible record.
Disruption of the Kingdom
After his departure the whole of northern India was in indescribable disorder and confusion. Delhi, in ruins and almost depopulated, was without a master, and the miserable remnant of the inhabitants was afflicted with new calamities, in the form of famine and pestilence. Famine was the natural consequence of the wholesale destruction of stores of grain and standing crops by the invading army, and the pestilence probably had its origin in the pollution of the air and water-supply of the city by the putrefying corpses of the thousands of victims of the invader's wrath. So complete was the desolation that “the city was utterly ruined, and those of the inhabitants who were left died, while for two whole months not a bird moved wing in Delhi”.
The kingdom was completely dissolved. It had been stripped of some of the fairest of its eastern provinces by the eunuch Khvaja Jahan, who ruled an independent kingdom from Jaunpur; Bengal had long been independent; Muzaffar Shah in Gujarat owned no master; Dilavar Khan in Malwa forbore to use the royal title, but wielded royal authority; the Punjab and Upper Sind were governed by Khizr Khan as Timur’s viceroy; Samana was in the hands of Ghalib Khan and Bayana in those of Shams Khan Auhadi; and Kalpi and Mahoba formed a small principality under Muhammad Khan. Mallu remained for the present at Baran, but Nusrat Shah, the pretender whom he had driven from Delhi and who had since been lurking in the Doab, again raised his head, and with the assistance of Adil Khan became for a space lord of the desolate capital. Mallu’s influence with the Hindus of the Doab enabled him to defeat a force sent against him from Delhi, and by the capture of its elephants and material of war he obtained such superiority over Nusrat Shah that he expelled him from Delhi and forced him to take refuge in Mewat, his old home, where he soon afterwards died. In 1399 Mallfu defeated Shams Khan Auhadi of Bayana, who had invaded territory considered to belong to Delhi, led an expedition into Katehr, and compelled the turbulent Hindus of Etawah to pay him tribute, but failed to convince them of his supremacy and was obliged, in the winter of 1400-01, to take the field against them. He defeated them near Patiali and marched on to Kanauj with the object of invading the kingdom of Jaunpur, where Malik Qaranful had succeeded his adoptive father, the eunuch Khvaja Jahan, under the title of Mubarak Shah. On reaching Kanauj he found Mubarak encamped on the opposite bank of the Ganges, but for two months neither army ventured to attack the other and a peace was concluded. He had been accompanied on this expedition by Shams Khan Auhadi and Mubarak Khan, son of Bahadur Nahir, but he regarded both with suspicion, and during his retreat from Kanauj took the opportunity of putting them to death.
In 1401, after his return to Delhi, Mallu perceived that the prestige of the fugitive Mahmud Shah would be useful to him, and persuaded him to return to the capital. The wanderer's experiences had been bitterly humiliating. Muzaffar Shah of Gujarat would not compromise his newborn independence by receiving him as king of Delhi, and was at no pains to conceal from him that his presence was distasteful until, after repeated slights, he retired to Malwa, where Dilavar Khan Ghuri, mindful of his obligations to Mahmud's father, received him with princely generosity and assigned to him a residence at Dhar. In this retreat he was probably happier than in his gilded bonds at Delhi, but he could not refuse the invitation to return, and Mallu, after receiving him with every demonstration of respect interned him in one of the royal palaces and continued to govern the remnant of the kingdom with as little restraint as though Mahmud had never returned from Malwa.
In 1402 the death of Mubarak Shah and the accession of Ibrahim Shah in Jaunpur appeared to Mallu to offer another opportunity for the recovery of this territory, and he marched to Kanauj, carrying Mahmud with him, but again found the army of Jaunpur confronting him on the opposite bank of the Ganges. Mahmud, chafing at his subjection to Mallu, fled from his camp by night and took refuge with Ibrahim Shah, from whom he hoped for better treatment, but he was so coldly received that he left Ibrahim's camp with a few followers who remained faithful to him, expelled Ibrahim’s governor from Kanauj, and made that city his residence. Here several old servants of his house assembled round him, and Mallu, who was considerably weakened by his defection, returned to Delhi. Ibrahim acquiesced in Mahmud's occupation of Kanauj and returned to Jaunpur.
Death of Mallu
Later in this year and again in the following year Mallu attempted to recover Gwalior, which had been captured during the confusion arising from Timur's invasion by the Tonwar Rajput Har Singh, and was now held by his son Bhairon, but although he was able to defeat Bhairon in the field and to plunder the country he could not capture the fortress, and was compelled to retire. Bhairon harassed him by lending aid to the Rajputs of Etawah, and in 1404 Mallu besieged that city for four months, but was fain to retire on receiving a promise of an annual tribute of four elephants, and marched to Kanauj, where he besieged Mahmud Shah. Here also he was baffled by the strength of the fortifications, and returned to Delhi. In July, 1905, he marched against Bahrain Khan, a turbulent noble of Turkish descent who had established himself in Samana. On his approach Bahram fled towards the Himalaya, and was pursued as far as Rupar, where a pious Shaikh composed the differences between the enemies and Bahram joined Mallu in an expedition against Khizr Khan. Their agreement was of short duration, for on their march towards Pak Pattan Malta caused Bahram to be flayed alive. As Mallu approached Khizr Khan advanced from Dipalpur and on November 12 defeated and slew him in the neighborhood of Pak Pattan.
On Mallu’s death the direction of affairs at Delhi fell into the hands of a body of nobles headed by Daulat Khan Lodi and Ikhtiyar Khan, at whose invitation Mahmud Shah returned, in December, to the capital. Daulat Khan was appointed military governor of the Doab and Ikhtiyar Khan governor of Firuzabad.
In 1406 Mahmud sent Daulat Khan to reduce Samana where, since Bahram's death, another of Firuz Shah's Turkish slaves, Bairam Khan by name, had established himself as Khizr Khan's deputy, and himself marched to Kanauj with the intention of punishing Ibrahim Shah of Jaunpur for his contemptuous treatment of him when he had fled to his camp from that of Mallu. Ibrahim again marched to the Ganges and encamped opposite Kanauj, and after some days of desultory fighting a peace was concluded, and each monarch set out for his capital, but Ibrahim immediately retraced his steps and besieged Kanauj. Malik Mahmud Tarmati, who commanded the fortress for Mahmud Shah, held out for four months and then, seeing no prospect of relief, surrendered, and Ibrahim, who spent the rainy season at Kanauj, was joined by some discontented nobles of the court at Delhi. This accession of strength encouraged him, in October, 1407, to take the offensive against Mahmud Shah, and he marched to Sambhal, which was almost immediately surrendered to him by Asad Khan Lodi. Having placed Tatar Khan in command of Sambhal he marched towards Delhi, and was on the point of crossing the Jumna when he learnt that Muzaffar Shah of Gujarat, having invaded Malwa and captured Hushang Shah, who had succeeded his father, Dilavar Khan, in that country, intended to pursue his career of conquest towards Jaunpur. He therefore retreated towards his capital, leaving a garrison in Baran, but in the summer of 1408 Mahmud Shah recovered both Baran and Sambhal.
In the meantime Daulat Khan had, on December 22, 1406, driven Bairam Khan from Samana to Sirhind and had, after a short siege, compelled him to surrender. He befriended and patronized his defeated adversary and established himself at Samana, but on the approach of Khizr Khan fled into the Doab, while most of his partisans deserted to Khizr Khan. Besides Samana Khizr Khan captured and annexed Sirhind, Sunam, and Hissar, so that beyond the walls of Delhi only the Doab, Rohtak, and Sambhal remained subject to Mahmud Shah.
In 1408 Mahmud recovered Hissar, but the temporary success profited him little, for on January 28, 1409, Khizr Khan appeared before the walls of Firuzabad and besieged the city, and at the same time sent his lieutenant, Malik Tuhfa, to ravage the Doab. The country, wasted and impoverished by several years of famine, was no longer capable of supporting an army, and Khizr Khan was therefore compelled to retire, and in the following year was employed in recalling to his allegiance Bairam Khan of Sirhind, who had again allied himself to Daulat Khan; but in 1410 he reduced Rohtak after a siege of six months, during which the mean-spirited Mahmud made no attempt to relieve the town, though it was within forty-five miles of the capital. In the following year Khizr Khan marched to Narnaul, plundered that town and three others to the south of Delhi, and then, turning northwards, besieged Mahmud Shah in Siri. Ikhtiyar Khan prudently joined the stronger party, and surrendered Firuzabad to Khizr Khan, who was thus enabled to cut off all supplies from the direction of the Doab, but Mahmud was once more saved by famine, for Khizr Khan was again compelled, by the failure of supplies, to raise the siege and retire. In February, 1413, Mahmud died at Kaithal after a nominal reign of twenty years, during which he had never wielded any authority and had more than once been a fugitive from his capital, and with him died the line of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq.
On his death the nobles transferred their allegiance to the strongest of their number, Daulat Khan Lodi, whose first act as ruler of Delhi was to march into the Doab and compel the Rajputs of Etawah and Mahabat Khan of Budaun to own him as their sovereign. His progress was checked by the discovery that Ibrahim Shah of Jaunpur was besieging Qadir Khan, son of Mahmud Khan, in Kalpi, and in order to avoid an encounter with the superior forces of Ibrahim he returned to Delhi.
In December, 1413, Khizr Khan invaded Daulat Khan's territory and, leaving a large force to besiege Rohtak, marched into Mewat, where he received the submission of Bahadur Nahir's nephew, Jalal Khan. Thence he marched across the Doab to Sambhal, plundered that town, and in March, 1414, returned to Delhi with an army of 60,000 horse and besieged Daulat Khan in Siri. Daulat Khan held out for four months, when some of his officers treacherously admitted the besiegers, and he was forced to throw himself on his enemy's mercy. On May 28 Khizr Khan entered Delhi as its sovereign and founded a new dynasty, known as the Sayyids; and Daulat Khan was imprisoned in Hissar.
The empire of Muhammad Tughluq had included the whole continent of India, with the exception of Kashmir, Cutch and a part of Kathiawar, and Orissa. On the death of his grand-nephew Mahmud the extent of the kingdom was defined by the contemporary saying:
“The rule of the Lord of the World extends from Delhi to Palam”— a small town little more than nine miles south-west of the capital. Independent kingdoms had been established in Bengal and the Deccan before Muhammad's death, and the rebellion of the royal officers in the south had enabled the Hindus to found the great kingdom of Vijayanagar and had facilitated the establishment in Telingana of a Hindu state in subordinate alliance with the kingdom of the Deccan, not with Delhi. During the reigns of the feeble successors of Firuz the province of Oudh and the country to the east of the Ganges as far as the borders of Bengal were formed into the independent kingdom of Jaunpur; the great provinces of Gujarat and Malwa and the smaller province of Khandesh severed their connection with Delhi and became separate states; a Hindu principality was established in Gwalior and Muslim principalities in Bayana and Kalpi; the nominal allegiance of Mewat was transferred from one prince to another at the caprice of the local chieftain; the Hindus of the Doab were almost continually in revolt and the ruler of Delhi had to be content with the small contributions which he could extort from them by armed force when he was not otherwise engaged; and the ruin of the state was completed by the invasion of Timur, who established in the Punjab a power which eventually absorbed the kingdom of Delhi.