Sur Empire

Summary

The Surid dynasty or Suri (Pashtu د سوریانو ټولواکمني) was a medieval Muslim dynasty of rulers of Northern India of Pashtun origin (1539-1555), founded by the Bihar warlord Sher Khan, the last dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate.

The Surid dynasty descended from the Pashtun tribe of Suris who migrated to India from Afghanistan during the reign of the Delhi Sultan Bahlul-khan Lodi (1451-1489). One of the tribe”s leaders, Hasan-khan ibn Ibrahim-khan Suri, was given the towns of Sasaram, Khaspur and Tand as jagir by the ruler of Jaunpur Jamal-khan at that time.

The son of Hasan-khan Farid-khan Suri was educated in Jaunpur, after which on behalf of his father he engaged in the management and improvement of his jagir, in which he was very successful. In 1522 Farid-khan ibn Hasan-khan entered the service of the Afghan ruler of Bihar Bahar-khan Lohani, from whom Farid-khan for his loyalty and bravery has received the title Sher-khan (“Lion-Lord”). After the battle of Panipat in 1526, Sher-khan Suri entered the service of Babur and in 1528, with his support, took his late father”s jagir from his half-brothers.

After the death of Bahar Khan Lohani in 1529, Sher-khan Suri became the guardian of his minor son and heir Jalal-khan, thereby concentrating power over Bihar in his hands. In 1530 he seizes the fortress of Chunar with the treasury of the Lodi dynasty stored there (about 900,000 rupees).

The dissatisfaction of the upper Lohani tribe with the increased power of Sher Khan Suri in Bihar led to the fact that in 1533 the Lohani chiefs allied against him with the Bengal Sultan Giyas al-Din Mahmud Shah, to whom the underage Jalal Khan Lohani soon escaped. In 1534 Sher Khan defeated the coalition Bengal-Lohani troops at Surajgarh on the bank of the river Kiul. This victory completely eliminated the Lohani tribe from the political scene and broke the military might of Bengal, and Sher Khan Suri became in fact an independent ruler of Bihar and much of Bengal. The Afghan tribes, dissatisfied with the Mughal power, rallied under his banners.

In 1535 Sher Khan seized the Bengal territories as far as Bhagalpur, in 1537 he besieged and on April 6, 1538 took the capital of Bengal, Gaur. Mahmud Shah fled to the Great Mughal Humayun, who soon invaded Bengal at the head of an impressive army and captured Gaur. Sher Khan Suri retreated to Bihar and locked himself up in the fortress of Rohtas.

On June 27, 1539, Sher Khan Suri defeated the army of the Great Mogul Humayun at Chausa, near Buxar. Humayun fled, and Sher Khan got all of Bengal and Jaunpur. In December 1539, Sher Khan Suri was crowned as Sher Shah and took the title of Sultan (Shah) of Northern India. In May 1540 at Kanauja Sher Shah gained a final victory over the 40-thousand army of Humayun, after which the Great Mogul left North India for a long time. Sher Shah occupied Delhi, where he was again crowned. By 1542 Sher Shah had conquered Gwalior, Malwa, Udjain, Sindh and Punjab. In 1544, Sher Shah, at the head of an 80-thousand army, invaded Rajputana, conquered Ajmir, Jodhpur and Chitor, but was soon killed by a bomb blast during the siege of Kalanjar fortress. For the first time in history the Rajput principalities became vassals of the Muslim ruler of Delhi.

During the reign of Sher Shah many important administrative and financial reforms were carried out. Among other things, on his orders, he began measuring arable land, established firm rates of land tax, regulated the collection of trade duties and was the first to issue a full-fledged rupee, which became the prototype of the modern Indian rupee. The economic policy of Sher Shah led to the revival of trade, which was also facilitated by the extensive construction of roads. The construction of 1700 caravanserais along trade and other routes is attributed to Sher Shah.

The administrative policy of Sher Shah resulted in a significant strengthening of central authority and a weakening of the position of the local nobility. The state was divided into 47 administrative units (sarkars), which, in turn, were divided into several taxing districts (parganas). Sher Shah pursued a wise policy of religious tolerance toward Hinduism and widely recruited Hindus for military, administrative, and other services for the benefit of his empire.

Farid ad-din Sher-shah in 1545 was succeeded by his son Jalal ad-din Islam-shah, against whom another son of Sher-shah Adil-khan opposed. Soon, however, Islam-shah defeated Adil-shah”s troops at Sikri and established himself in power. Islam Shah concentrated his efforts on subduing the rebellious Afghan amirs and conquering the Punjabi tribe of gakhars, and he redistributed the jagiras of courtiers and dignitaries to those who owed their positions to him personally. Under Islam Shah the western borders of the state in the region of Kashmir were strengthened.

Islam-shah, who died in 1554, was succeeded by his 12-year-old son Firuz-shah, who was assassinated one month after his coronation by Abu”l-Muzaffar Muhammad Adil-shah (d. 1557), son of Nizam-khan Suri, one of Sher-shah”s brothers. Having usurped the throne, Muhammad Adil-shah tried to give his power an appearance of legitimacy, but other members of the Surid dynasty did not want to recognize him as sultan and revolted.

The Great Mogul Humayun took advantage of the situation to invade India again and seized Lahore in February 1555. In May 1555, Humayun”s troops defeated the army of Sultan Sikandar Shah Suri at the battles of Machivara and Sirhind, after which Humayun occupied Delhi, where he died on 26 January 1556. Sikandar Shah retreated to the Punjab, where he continued to fight the Mughal forces led by Bairam Khan after the death of Padishah Humayun. At the same time Hemu defeated and killed the Sultan of Bengal, Shams ad-din Muhammad-shah Suri, at Chhaparghat.

Taking advantage of the temporary disorganization of the Mughal forces caused by the death of the Padishah, Hemu advanced from Bengal and took Delhi on 6 October 1556. Not wishing to see any of the Surids on the throne, on 7 October 1556 Hemu was crowned emperor of India according to Hindu tradition, taking the ancient Sanskrit title of samrat and taking the throne name of Chandra Vikramaditya (Sanskrit for “Shining might”).

However, the reign of Samrat Chandra Vikramaditya lasted only a month: on November 5, 1556, at the second battle of Panipat, his troops were defeated by the Mughal army led by the young padishah Akbar and regent Bayram Khan; he himself was mortally wounded on the battlefield, captured and beheaded. In May 1557, Mughal troops besieged Sultan Sikandar Shah Suri in the fortress of Mankot and forced him to surrender in exchange for a promise of his life and possessions. Two years later, Sikandar Shah died peacefully on his estate. In the same year, 1557, Adil Shah Suri”s army was defeated in Bihar by the Bengalis, and he himself died.

Muhammad-khan Suri was appointed Wali of Bengal in 1545, and in 1554 he proclaimed himself independent Sultan of Bengal under the name of Shams ad-din Muhammad-shah. Although he was defeated and killed at Chhaparghat in 1555 by the commander Hemu, his son Giyas ad-din Bahadur Shah II captured Bengal that same year and proclaimed himself sultan. In the same year, Gias-ad-din Bahadur-shah II defeated and killed Sultan Adil-shah Suri. Toward the end of his reign, Giyas al-Din Bahadur Shah II would attempt to capture Jaunpur, but was defeated by the Mughals. In 1561, the brother of Bahadur Shah II, Giyas al-Din Jalal Shah Suri, who was on the throne for only two years, became the Sultan of Bengal. In 1563 he was succeeded by his son, who was assassinated a few months later. The last Surid Sultan of Bengal, Giyas ad-Din Bahadur Shah III (1563-1564), was overthrown and killed by the Afghan Taj Khan Karrani, who founded a new dynasty of Bengal sultans.

Sources

  1. Суриды
  2. Sur Empire
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