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Far East Kingdoms

South Asia

 

Southern Khorasan (Quhistan / Kohistan)

The ancient province of Arachosia in South Asia lay largely within central areas of modern Afghanistan, and perhaps edging into western Pakistan. Prior to its late sixth century BC domination by the Achaemenid Persians, Arachosia seems to have formed part of a much larger and more poorly-defined region known as Ariana, of which the later province of Aria was the heartland.

Arachosia formed part of the crossroads between ancient Transoxiana, Persia and India. The unexpected death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC meant that his empire was fractured, but the east generally fell into the hands of the Seleucid empire.

Much of Arachosia, however, seemed to have formed part of the rival Mauryan empire until barbarian incursions saw various short-lived empires ruling within constantly shifting borders. These empires included the Kushans, Indo-Sassanids, and the eastward arm of the Sassanids. When the latter fell to a tidal wave of conquests by the newly-created Islamic empire in the seventh century AD, Arachosia was submerged within the emirate of Khorasan.

By the ninth and tenth centuries, various factions were agitating for dominance in what was generally referred to as 'Greater Khorasan'. The Samanid ruler faced internal uprisings in the tenth century, and the Ghaznavid ruler, Sebuktigin, went to his assistance, defeating the rebels at Balkh and then Nishapur. Sebuktigin was granted the title 'Nasir ud-Din' ('Hero of the Faith') while his son, Mahmud, was made governor of a northern Khorasan which was removed from Samanid authority.

This meant a permanent division of Khorasan into north and south, with the southern section being cut up into several regional power bases. It is this southern region which largely formed later eastern Persia and a good deal of modern Afghanistan. It can also be referred to as Quhistan or Kohistan, but this not quite the same as today's eastern Iranian province of South Khorasan.

Cairo's Sultan Hasan Mosque, Egypt

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Origin of the Turks and the Turkish Khanate, Gao Yang (Tenth Türk Tarih Kongresi, Ankara 1986), from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from Ethnogenesis in the tribal zone: The Shaping of the Turks, Peter Benjamin Golden (2005), from The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, Susan Wise Bauer (2010), from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), from King of the Seven Climes: A History of the Ancient Iranian World (3000 BCE - 651 CE), Khodadad Rezakhani (Touraj Daryaee, Ed, Ancient Iran Series Vol IV, 2017), from Kushan, Kushano-Sasanian, and Kidarite Coins, D Jongeward & J Cribb (American Numismatic Society, 2015), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

Afghan (Turkic) Samanid Subject Kings (Southern Khorasan)
AD 962 - 977

With the fracturing of the Islamic conquest-era emirate of Khorasan in southern Central Asia and northern South Asia, a north-south divide had formed. Various factions had long been agitating for dominance in what was generally referred to as 'Greater Khorasan'. The Samanid ruler faced internal uprisings in the tenth century, and the Ghaznavid ruler, Sebuktigin, had to go to his assistance, defeating the rebels at Balkh and then Nishapur.

This Sebuktigin was granted the title 'Nasir ud-Din' ('Hero of the Faith') while his son, Mahmud, was made governor of a northern Khorasan which was removed from Samanid authority. This meant a permanent division of Khorasan into north and south, with the southern section being cut up into several regional power bases and becoming known as Southern Khorasan.

The Yamanids claimed descent from the last of the Sassanid kings, Yazdagird III, whose family had fled the Islamic invasion following the king's death in AD 651. They resettled in early Turkestan (Tokharistan), where they intermarried with the locals over the subsequent three centuries.

In the early tenth century one of their number, the aforementioned Sebuktigin who was still only twelve years old at the time, was captured by a neighbouring tribe and ended up being purchased by Alptigin, the Turkic-born ex-slave governor of Samanid Khorasan.

However, with regional politics remaining highly confrontational, Alptigin backed the losing side in a dynastic squabble amongst his masters. Fleeing the Samanid city, he crossed the Hindu Kush to seize Zabulistan and Ghazni in the south-east of modern Afghanistan, from the local governor, Abu Bakr Lawik.

He subsequently established an independent Khorasanian Sunni Muslim kingdom there. Sebuktigin went with him to be created a general, and he continued in that role until his own accession.

Cairo's Sultan Hasan Mosque, Egypt

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, Susan Wise Bauer (2010), from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

962 - 963

Alptigin / Alp-Tegin

Seized this eastern Afghan region from Samanid governor.

962

FeatureAlptigin, a Turkic name (see feature link) which means 'brave prince', seizes Ghazni and expels the Samanid governor of Zabulistan, Abu Bakr Lawik.

Although he establishes independent rule of Ghazni, coins from the era show that Alptigin nominally acknowledges Samanid overlordship for the last year of his life (he dies in 963), always a useful ruse for avoiding a retaliatory attack by former masters.

Alptigin, founder of the Ghaznavid dynasty in Afghanistan
A monument to Alptigin, founder of the Ghaznavid dynasty in Afghanistan, located in the town of Söğüt in western Turkey

963 - c.963?

Abu Ishaq Alptegin

Son. Briefly lost Ghazni to the Samanid ex-governor.

c.963? - c.965?

The former the Samanid governor of Zabulistan, Abu Bakr Lawik, briefly manages to wrest back control of what had been his subject domain before he is expelled and the independent kings of Ghazni re-establish their rule.

c.963? - c.965?

Abu Bakr Lawik

Samanid governor of Zabulistan. Restored. Expelled.

c.965 - 966

Abu Ishaq Alptegin

Restored with Samanid aid. Died childless.

966

Abu Ishaq Alptegin dies childless, so the commanders of his army select one of their number, Bilgetigin, as his successor. Information on this period in Ghazni seems to be sparse, but Bilgetigin appears to be a somewhat capable general and then governor until he dies during a siege of a Lawik-held city by the name of Gardez.

966 - 975

Bilgetigin

Former Turkic army commander. Died during a siege.

975 - 977

Piri / Pirai / Böritigin / Böri

A former Turkic slave of Alptigin. Succeeded by Ghaznavids.

977

During his reign, the cruel Piri is threatened by Abu Ali Lawik, the son of the expelled would-be governor, Abu Bakr Lawik. Piri is rescued by General Sebuktigin, who surprises the enemy army near Charkh, on the east bank of the River Lohgar. Many of the enemy number are killed and ten elephants are taken along with prisoners.

Lower Swat Valley, Pakistan
Kadang in the lower Swat Valley in Pakistan, long part of the shifting pattern of domination of South Asia's petty states, would for a time have been under Ghaznavid control

Probably thanks to this success, and following Piri's death in the same year, it is Sebuktigin himself who succeeds to rule Ghazni and its surrounding territories, creating a Yamanid dynasty of rulers in this Ghaznavid emirate.

Afghan (Turkic) Ghaznavid Dynasty (Southern Khorasan)
AD 977 - 1186

The Yamanids claimed descent from the last of the Sassanid kings, Yazdagird III, whose family had fled the Islamic invasion following the king's death in AD 651. They had resettled in early Turkestan (Tokharistan), where they intermarried with the locals over the subsequent three centuries.

In the early tenth century one of their number, Sebuktigin, was captured by a neighbouring Turkic tribe and ended up being purchased by Alptigin, the Turkic-born ex-slave governor of 'Samanid Subject' Southern Khorasan.

Sebuktigin succeeded Alptigin and his short-lived successors in 977 to become governor of the city of Ghazni in Southern Khorasan. The city is located a hundred and twenty kilometres to the south-west of Kabul, with both being in modern Afghanistan (Ghazni is now an eastern province).

Sebuktigin immediately began strengthening his domains and increasing his territory. This was at a time in which both the ruling Samanids themselves and the Buwayids in the west were fading in power. However, while the kingdom was essentially independent it perhaps still showed nominal allegiance to the Samanids. For the most part, Lahore was the easternmost bastion of Ghazni power, although they frequently raided farther east. That eastwards presence played a major part in introducing Islam into India.

Bist (otherwise known as Bost or Bust) became the winter capital of the Ghaznavids (sometimes Ghaznevids), perhaps especially because its climate was entirely suitable for war elephants. Located on the junction between the River Argandab and the Helmand, the city had served as an early outpost of Islam in the region. Before that it was within the area which had been dominated by the 'Benefactors' of Cyrus the Great, the Ariaspae people of Indo-Iranian Central Asia.

During the tenth century migrations of the Turkic peoples from Central Asia, one group which was led by a chief named Seljuq settled itself in the lower reaches of the Syr Darya (the River Jaxartes) and later converted to the Sunni form of Islam.

They supplied frontier defence forces for the Samanids, and later for Yamin-ud-Dawlah Mahmud of Ghazna (998-1030). Seljuq's two grandsons, Chaghri Beg and Toghrïl Beg, enlisted Iranian support to win realms of their own, conquering Khorasan, western Iran and Mesopotamia.

Cairo's Sultan Hasan Mosque, Egypt

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Origin of the Turks and the Turkish Khanate, Gao Yang (Tenth Türk Tarih Kongresi, Ankara 1986), from Türkiye halkının kültür kökenleri: Giriş, beslenme teknikleri, Burhan Oğuz (1976), from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The Origins of Northern China's Ethnicities, Zhu Xueyuan (Beijing 2004), from Ethnogenesis in the tribal zone: The Shaping of the Turks, Peter Benjamin Golden (2005), from The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, Susan Wise Bauer (2010), from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), from Times Atlas of World History, (Maplewood, 1979), from Encyclopaedia Britannica (Eleventh Edition, Cambridge, 1910), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and the Turkish Cultural Foundation.)

977 - 997

'Abū Manur Sebuktigin / Sebuk-Tigin

Son-in-law of Samanid Alptegin. First Yamanid Ghaznavid.

994

The Samanid ruler faces internal uprisings, and Sebuktigin goes to his assistance. The rebels are defeated at Balkh and then Nishapur, and Sebuktigin is granted the title 'Nasir ud-Din' ('Hero of the Faith'), while his son, Mahmud, is made governor of Khwarazm.

Samarkand coin
Shown here are two sides of a typical Abbasid-era coin, with this one being nineteen millimetres in diameter, issued in Samarkand, which was soon taken by the Samanids

997

Mahmud of Khwarazm campaigns against the Qara-Khitaï to the north, in Central Asia, but is ultimately defeated. His failure is a harbinger of problems to come where the Qara-Khitaï are concerned. However, during his reign Sebuktigin is able to establish a vassal emirate in Makran.

997 - 998

Ismail

Son. Captured and imprisoned for life.

998

Ismail is Sebuktigin's chosen heir, but Mahmud of Khwarazm, his elder half-brother, contests his claim to the Ghaznavid throne. Initially in command of Nishapur, Mahmud hands it over to his uncle, Borghuz, and younger brother, Nur-ud-Din Yusuf, and marches on Ghazni. The capital city is captured and Mahmud claims the throne, imprisoning his brother in a fort in Joorjan.

999 - 1005

The Turkic Karakhanids depose the Samanid emir, Mansur II, allied with the Buwayids who are supreme in south-western Persia and Mesopotamia. The Karakhanids briefly take possession of areas of what is now Afghanistan before being ousted by the Ghaznavids in 1005. The Abbasid caliph in Baghdad soon recognises the Ghaznavids as the temporal successors to the Samanids.

Ghaznavid soldiers
This computer-generated image of Ghaznavid regular troops provides a pretty good replica of the real thing which can be somewhat hard to pin down in contemporary illustrations from a region which was in a near-constant state of warfare at this time

998 - 1030

Yamin-ud-Dawlah Mahmud

Brother. Former governor of Khwarazm. First sultan.

1003

Khalaf I of Saffarid Seistan has long been exhibiting irrational behaviour, including the act of putting to death his own son, Tāher. He has largely alienated popular support within Seistan in favour of the Ghaznavids.

Yamin-ud-Dawlah Mahmud is now able to march into Seistan, defeat the emir, and carry him off into captivity where he later dies.

Seistan now becomes a province of the growing Ghaznavid empire (as does the territory of the ancient province of Carmania), and the once-mighty Saffarid house is extinguished. A Nasrid malik is soon put in place to govern Seistan.

1008

Mahmud is responsible for turning his once-small kingdom into a large empire, and for transforming Ghazni from a small regional capital into a large and wealthy city.

Turning his attentions eastwards, he defeats the Rajput confederacy, conquering Gwalior, Kannauj, Nagarkot, Thanesar, and Ujjain and leaving them in the hands of native client kings, as well as regularly raiding further into India. Soon afterwards, Balkh is brought under direct control after the death of its friendly emir, Abu Nasr Mohammad.

Somnath Temple, Gujarat
Somnath Temple in Patan in Gujarat, which was rebuilt by Nagabhatta II of Kannauj (805-833) and rebuilt again in the late twentieth century

1017 - 1019

Making good the loss of AD 995, Mahmud conquers the emirate of Khwarazm after the emir (his relative) is killed in a rebellion. He apparently regains 'Greater Khorasan' in its entirety which also includes territory to the south of the present emirate and small principalities such as that of Ghor.

Within two years, Mahmud also begins a much greater invasion of India, notably by sacking Kannauj, the capital of the Pratihara kingdom. However, even though Rajputana is divided amongst small warring states Mahmud finds himself being repulsed by the Rajput Chandelas.

1023

Mahmud conquers the Punjab of the Pallavas while the entire region is still suffering from the disruption which has been caused by the very recent Chola invasion.

1030

The death of Mahmud ends the dominance of the Ghaznavids. Conflicts between various Ghaznavid claimants and lesser rulers arise (such as the Seljuq Turks). As a result the empire starts to crumble, and Makran is lost to revolt.

The Ghaznavid governor of Seistan, Nasr, soon declares his independence and founds a Nasrid emirate there, based around the Nimruz province of modern Afghanistan (the country's south-western corner, abutting Iran to the west and what is now Pakistan to the south).

Tadj al-Din I Abu l-Fadl Nasr coin
Shown here is the obverse side of a coin which was issued during the reign of the founder of the Nasrid dynasty, Tadj al-Din I Abu l-Fadl Nasr at Seistan, an important eastern Iranian city in what is now Afghanistan

1030 - 1031

Jalal-ud-Dawlah Mohammed

Son. Overthrown and imprisoned.

1031

Mohammed is the younger of twins, and his accession leads to strife between him and his brother, Masud. Masud wins, overthrowing Mohammed and claiming the throne. Mohammed is blinded and imprisoned.

1031 - 1040

Shihab-ud-Dawlah Masud I

Twin brother. Imprisoned and murdered.

1040

Masud is unable to preserve his father's empire. Disastrously defeated by Seljuq Turks at the Battle of Dandanqan, he loses the western Ghaznavid territories, including Khwarazm and the already largely-independent Seistan.

In reduced circumstances his successors continue to rule much of the territory which later becomes Afghanistan and also areas of northern India. Masud himself is deposed by a rebellion of his own troops, and his brother is restored. Masud is assassinated whilst in prison.

1040 - 1041

Jalal-ud-Dawlah Mohammed

Restored, but killed by Mawdud in revenge for Masud's death.

1041

Responding to the death of his father and the seizure of the throne, Mawdud gathers together his forces from his governor's base in Balkh and marches on Ghazni. Mohammed is overthrown and then executed by him.

The city of Ghazni,now in Afghanistan
Under the Ghaznavids, the small town of Ghazni was built up into a rich and important city, with it today lying in the east of Afghanistan

1041 - 1049

Shihab-ud-Dawlah Mawdud

Nephew (son of Masud). Seized throne. Not fully recognised.

1041

Mawdud's brother in Lahore does not recognise his rule, but he soon dies, leaving Lahore to be ruled directly from Ghazni. Some of the empire's extreme eastern territories are lost to rebellion, however, and the empire continues its slow decline with a series of short-lived rulers and internal disputes. Details about these are scarce.

1049

Masud II

Son. Died, circumstances unknown.

1049 - 1050

Baha-ud-Dalwah Ali

Uncle (son of Masud I). Betrayed by vizier & killed.

1050 - 1053

Izz-ud-Dawlah Abd al-Rashid

Captured & executed, along with 11 other princes.

1051 - 1053

The Ghaznavid general, Tughril, leads an army against one of the great Oğuz military leaders of the Seljuqs, Alp Arslan. He wins a battle at Hupyan in the Hindu Kush during the winter of 1051, before failing to take the fortress of Taq near Seistan.

Instead, and with a fresh victory in the field against the Seljuqs, he declares his disloyalty to his Ghaznavid commander, Izz-ud-Dawlah Abd al-Rashid. He captures Ghazni with his experienced army, and then executes Rashid and eleven other princes of the noble dynasty.

However, he fails to win support from his Ghaznavid peers in other strongholds and is quickly murdered by a ghulam (slave soldier) named Nushtigin.

Seljuq cavalry
A stone relief of Seljuq cavalry, which swept through Iran, northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia in the eleventh century

1053

Qiwam-ud-Dawlah Tughril

Turkic slave general & usurper. Murdered.

1053 - 1059

Jamal-ud-Dawlah Farrukhzad

Son of Masud I. Generally enjoyed a peaceful reign.

1059 - 1099

Zahir-ud-Dawlah Ibrahim

Brother. Last great Ghaznavid.

1059

Ibrahim re-establishes a truncated empire after the unstable two decades preceding his rule. He agrees peace terms with the Seljuqs and restores cultural and political links, although apparently he is not able to restore Ghaznavid dominance of Seistan.

However, the empire is increasingly sustained only by riches which have been gained in raids across northern India, and the Rajput rulers there offer stiff resistance.

1072

Seljuq Sultan Alp Arslan decides to recapture Turkestan (Tokharistan), the ancestral home of the Seljuk Turks. The region may be under the domination of the Ghaznavids at this time.

He reaches the banks of the Oxus where a number of fortresses prevent his further advance. Yussuf Kothual, the Khwarazmian governor of one of the fortresses, delays Alp Arslan for several days before surrendering.

Yussuf is brought before Alp Arslan, who condemns him to a cruel death. Yussuf draws his dagger and attacks the Seljuq commander, who waves away his guards before drawing a bow on the attacker, But he stumbles in his haste and the arrow misses. Yussuf plunges his dagger into Alp Arslan's breast, and the sultan dies of the wound a few hours later, on 15 December 1072.

Ahmad Sanjar
The Seljuq ruler of Khwarazm, Ahmad Sanjar (1097-1157), held territory in the wider region of Khorasan while his brother commanded as the 'Great Sultan' in Iran, but Ahmad's dominance of the east increased beyond that of a subsidiary ruler so that, in 1119, he was able to challenge for command of central Iran itself and control of the title of 'Great Sultan'

1099 - 1115

Ala-ud-Dawlah Masud III

Son. Died.

1115

Masud's death begins a period of instability and the further decline of the empire. His sons fight amongst themselves for the throne, with Bahram Shah eventually winning out.

1115

Kamal-ud-Dawlah Shirzad

Son. Overthrown by Arslan after less than a year.

1115 - 1118

Sultan-ud-Dawlah Arslan Shah

Brother. Defeated in battle by Bahram Shah. Imprisoned.

1118

Bahram Shah wins the internecine fight with his brothers, but only as a vassal of the Seljuqs. However, the death in the same year of the great Seljuq sultan, Muhammad Tapar, results in the enforced division of Seljuq territory.

1118 - 1152

Yamin-ud-Dawlah Bahram Shah

Brother. Seljuq vassal. Forced to Lahore in 1150.

1119

A vassal of the Seljuq 'Great Sultan', Mahmud II, is one Garshasp II, the Kakuyid emir of the eastern Iranian cities of Abarkuh and Yazd. Now disgraced, Mahmud removes him from office by force.

Garshasp, however, escapes and returns to Yazd where he requests protection from his brother-in-law, Mahmud's rival in the east, Ahmad Sanjar.

Giving Ahmad all sorts of intelligence on Mahmud's defences and forces, Garshasp persuades him to launch an attack on central Iran. Ahmad's coalition army of five kings defeats Mahmud at Saveh. The kings are known to include Garshasp, the emirs of Khwarazm and Seistan, and two others who are unnamed.

Shah Taj al-Dunya Arslan
Taj al-Dunya Arslan of Khwarazm, pictured here at the start of his reign in 1156 (seated on the throne, centre-right), was one of a long line of shahs of this region of greater Persia until its conquest by the Mongols

The east (Khwarazm and much of Iran) is now under the overall control of Ahmad Sanjar, Mahmud's uncle, although he has already dominated the eastern Iranian lands for many years. Garshasp has been restored to his domains while Mahmud now rules only in Iraq and the westernmost fringes of Iran.

1146

The Ghurids begin to assert their control in the region in the face of weakening Ghaznavid control. They gradually chisel away at Ghaznavid holdings and establish their own increasing dominance in the region.

Raids into Ghaznavid Indian territories also begin to weaken their hold there (these holdings will later form the basis of the Delhi sultanate).

1150

The Ghaznavid emirate is effectively brought to an end when Ghazni is captured by the Ghurids. Ghaznavid power continues in northern India alone, with them ruling from Lahore, although they do briefly recapture Ghazni in 1157.

Temple complex at Pattadakal
The temple complex at Pattadakal reached the peak of its development under the Western Chalukya kings who dominated a great swathe of India in the eleventh century

1152 - 1160

Muizz-ud-Dawlah Khusrau Shah

Son. In Lahore (and Ghazni in 1157).

1160 - 1186

Taj-ud-Dawlah Khusrau Malik

Son. In Lahore. Defeated by Ghurids. Imprisoned & killed.

1186

Having barely managed to keep Lahore independent for a number of years (at least once paying off an attacker to get them to pull back), Khusrau Malik is unable to repeat the same trick just one more time. Lahore is conquered by the Ghurids who also inherit Pallava Punjab.

Ghurid Sultanate / Shansabani Dynasty (Southern Khorasan)
AD 1149 - 1215

The Yamanids of Ghazni were Islamicised Sassanid descendants who had resettled in early Turkestan (Tokharistan). There they had intermarried with the locals over the subsequent three centuries before one of their number was enslaved and purchased by Alptigin, the Turkic-born ex-slave governor of 'Samanid Subject' Southern Khorasan.

This slave-solder adoptee of Alptigin was named Sebuktigin. He succeeded Alptigin and a few other, short-lived, successors in 977 to become governor of the city of Ghazni in Southern Khorasan. This city sits a hundred and twenty kilometres to the south-west of Kabul, in modern Afghanistan (Ghazni is now an eastern province).

Sebuktigin immediately began turning his governorship into the Ghaznavid emirate, with his successors expanding it over to the south-eastern corner of the Caspian Sea. For the most part, Lahore was the emirate's easternmost bastion, where the Ghaznavids played a major part in introducing Islam into India.

The Ghurids (or Ghorids), from Bamiyan in the Afghan mountains, were initially one of many groups to be conquered by the Ghaznavids. Such a location makes it possible that their heritage may have had elements of Indo-Parthian or Indo-Scythian, and certainly the more generalised Indo-Iranian with Turkic additions which could be found in many groups in the eastern Iran of this period. They may also be the ancestors of today's Ghilzai Pashtuns (according to Gene Gurney, at least, but opposed more generally in twenty-first century literature).

Following the drawn-out Islamic conquest of eastern Iran, they converted from 'paganism' (the regionally-dominant Buddhism) to Islam in the eleventh century. The following century saw Ghaznavid power waning in the face of concerted attacks by the powerful Seljuqs.

As a result the Ghurids began to assert their own control over Ghaznavid lands. From 1146 at least, they gradually chiselled away at Ghaznavid holdings and asserted their own increasing dominance in the region.

In 1149 their ruling figure, Aladdin Hussein, turned the tables on his masters. He sacked the city of Ghazni in 1150, ending Ghaznavid rule in Afghan territories. Ghurid rulers from the Shansabani clan were now dominant, able to form a short-lived sultanate of their own.

Some scholars link the Shansabani name to that of the Sassanids, many of whom had fled east during the Arab invasion of Persia in 651. That would also make them potential relatives (direct or indirect) of the ancestors of the Ghaznavids.

Cairo's Sultan Hasan Mosque, Egypt

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, Susan Wise Bauer (2010), from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), from Kingdoms of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, Gene Gurney (New York, 1986), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

?

Amir Suri

Local (Buddhist) ruler of Ghor (central Afghanistan).

? - c.1011

Muhammad ibn Suri

Son. (Buddhist) ruler of Ghor. Committed suicide.

c.1011

The Buddhist ruler of Ghor is Muhammad ibn Suri. He is defeated by the Ghaznavid sultan, Yamin-ud-Dawlah Mahmud, and his territory is conquered. Muhammad is captured by Mahmud, made prisoner along with his son, and taken to Ghazni where he dies by his own hand using poison. The population of Ghor is forcibly converted to Islam.

The city of Ghazni,now in Afghanistan
Under the Ghaznavids, the small town of Ghazni was built up into a rich and important city, with it today lying in the east of Afghanistan

c.1011 - 1035

Abu Ali ibn Muhammad

Son. (Buddhist, then Islamic) ruler of Ghor. Deposed.

c.1035 - 1060

Abbas ibn Shith

Nephew. (Usurper) ruler of Ghor. Deposed by Ghaznavids.

c.1060 - 1080

Muhammad ibn Abbas

Son. Ruler of Ghor. Deposed by Ghaznavids.

c.1080 - 1100

Qutb al-din Hasan

Son. Ruler of Ghor. Killed suppressing a tribal revolt.

c.1100 - 1146

Malik 'Izzudin al Hosain

Son. Ruler of Ghor. Suppressed the revolt.

1146

The Ghurids begin to assert their control in the region in the face of weakening Ghaznavid control. They gradually chisel away at Ghaznavid holdings and establish their own increasing dominance in the region. Raids into Ghaznavid Indian territories also begin to weaken their hold there (these holdings will later form the basis of the Delhi sultanate).

1149

Kutbuddin Mohammed

Son. Poisoned by Ghaznavid ruler, Bahram Shah.

1146 - 1149

Sayf ud-Din Suri

Brother. Established early territories. Crucified.

1149

Kutbuddin Mohammed and Sayf ud-Din Suri quarrel, with it being serious enough for the former to seek refuge in Ghazni. Once there he is poisoned by the ruling Ghaznavid emir, Bahram Shah. Sayf ud-Din Suri seeks revenge by defeating the emir in battle near Ghazni.

Minaret of Jam
The Ghurids constructed the minaret of Jam in the late twelfth century as a royal commemorative tower, although today (2022) it is in need of urgent repair work

Within a year, Bahram Shah gains his own revenge by defeating Sayf ud-Din Suri in battle, followed by crucifying his captured opponent. A third brother, Baha' ud-Din Sam, dies of natural causes on his way to conduct the latest bout of revenge.

1149

Baha' ud-Din Sam (I)

Brother. Died of natural causes.

1149 - 1161

Ala-uddin 'Jahan-Suz' Husain (II)

Brother. Founder of the sultanate. Seljuq vassal from 1152.

1150

The Ghaznavid emirate is effectively brought to an end when Ghazni is captured by Ala-uddin as he avenges the deaths of all of his brothers. The city is burned in a conflagration which lasts for seven days and seven nights, earning Ala-uddin the title of 'Jahan-Suz', or 'world-burner'.

Ghaznavid power continues in northern India alone, with them ruling from Lahore, although they do briefly recapture Ghazni in 1157. Ala-uddin, though, is never able to beat off Seljuq domination which even imprisons him for two years (1152-1154).

Further conquests include Bamiyan which is gifted to Fakhr al-Din Masud and his newfound Bamiyan Ghurid holdings.

1161 - 1163

Sa'if ud-Din Muhammad

Son. Killed in battle.

1162 - 1163

A year after recapturing Seistan from the Seljuqs, the death of Sa'if ud-Din Muhammad appears to cause fractures within the sultanate, with two rulers appearing, one each in Firuzkuh and Ghazni. Shihab ud-Din Muhammad is forced to conquer Ghazni (in 1173) in order to establish his own claim on the Ghurid throne, and it is he who succeeds in reuniting the sultanate.

Zangid coins
Shown here are two sides of a coin which was issued in contemporary Zangid-controlled Mosul on the farther side of Iran, most probably during the rule of Sayf al-Din Ghazi II, son of the powerful atabeg of Aleppo and elder brother of Qutb ad-Din Mawdud

1163 - 1203

Abu'l-Fath Muhammad Shams ad-Din

Son. In Firuzkuh (location unknown). Opposed by Shihab.

1173 - 1206

Shihab ud-Din Muhammad (III)

Brother. In Ghazni. Lord of Delhi. Assassinated. Childless.

1186

The Ghurids established a vassal emirate in Makran, which has largely been independent (or close to) since the death of Ghaznavid ruler, Yamin-ud-Dawlah Mahmud, in 1030.

In the same year, having barely managed to keep his Lahore rump state independent for a number of years (at least once paying off an attacker to get them to pull back), Khusrau Malik is unable to repeat the same trick just one more time. Ghaznavid Lahore is conquered by the Ghurids who also inherit Pallava Punjab.

1194

Muhammad sacks and destroys the Rajput kingdoms of the Gahadavalas and Chauhans. Unfortunately, in the same year, the Khwarazm emirate gains independence from the Seljuq Turks by overthrowing them and occupying much of the rest of Greater Khorasan, including Ghurid Seistan and the heartland of Iran itself.

1206

Muhammad Ghori dies without an heir. After a battle of succession, the Turkic ex-slave general, Qutub uddin Aibak, takes possession of Muhammad Ghori's Indian empire. He establishes his capital first at Lahore, and later at Delhi. Ghiyathuddin Mahmud gains the western section of the empire, focused on territory which largely forms modern Afghanistan.

The Qutub Minar of India
The Qutub Minar was constructed largely between 1199-1220 as one of the first architecturally-grand structures of the newly-founded sultanate of Delhi

1206 - 1212

Ghiyathuddin Mahmud (III)

Secured western half of sultanate from Ghazni.

1206 - 1215

Taj ud-Din Yïldïz Mu'izzi

Turkic slave-soldier. In Ghazni. Forced to stand down.

1212 - 1213

Baha' ud-Din Sam (II)

Son of Ghiyathuddin Mahmud. Imprisoned.

1213

With Baha' ud-Din Sam having been captured by the Khwarazm shahs and carried off in captivity, it is they who now dominate the eastern Iranian lands. Ala-uddin Atsiz is supported as the new sultan of Ghor, but he is killed just a year later by a Turkic slave-solider named Taj ud-Din Yïldïz Mu'izzi (Tajuddin Yildoz).

1213 - 1214

Ala-uddin Atsiz

Son of Ala-uddin 'Jahan-Suz'. Khwarazm vassal. Killed.

1214 - 1215

Ala-uddin Mohammed (IV)

Cousin. Khwarazm vassal. Captured and exiled.

1215 - 1221

The remaining Ghurid territories in northern India are taken over by the Delhi sultanate which also gains the Punjab of the former Pallavas. Ghazni and its heartland are controlled by Khwarazm until 1221.

1221

After the shah of Khwarazm decapitates the Mongol ambassador from Chingiz Khan, the emirate is attacked twice by the Golden Horde. Khwarazm is reduced to its western section covering northern Mesopotamia and western Persia.

Shamsuddin Bahram Shah of Seistan is killed, and Bukhara and then Samarkand are captured by the Mongols. Chaos results, with thousands being massacred or sold into slavery.

Mongol warriors
A modern depiction of Mongol warriors in the twelfth century, when Chingiz Khan led them across vast swathes of Asia to encounter and conquer much of what they saw

The rest of Ghurid Southern Khorasan does not escape unscathed. The Mongols raze the city of Bamiyan and exterminate its inhabitants. Areas of central Southern Khorasan around Herat (and Bamiyan) are soon seized by the deposed Ghurids, then to be governed by their subjects and replacements, the Kartids.

Descendants of the Ghurid rulers reassert control over areas of Southern Khorasan between 1332-1369, before being swept away by Timur and his expanding Timurid empire.

Before that happens, however, it is the Kartids who remain the main regional power in Southern Khorasan, even if it has to be under Mongol overlordship.

 
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