Ahmad Shah Durrani, ruler Durranian EmpireDurranian Empire – the historical Pashtun state, which included the territory of modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, the northeastern part of Iran and the northwestern part of India, including Kashmir. It was founded in Kandahar in 1747 by the commander Ahmad Shah Durrani. Under his successors, the state split into a number of independent principalities – Peshawar, Kabul, Kandahar and Herat. Modern Afghanistan claims to continue the traditions of Durrani statehood.CharacteristicAt the Durrani court, Pashto, Farsi and Turkic were spoken. The organization and ceremony of the court of the Durrani shahs generally followed the patterns that Ahmad Shah and his entourage observed at the court of Nadir Shah Afshar.Among the courtiers, especially of the middle and lower ranks, there were many immigrants from India and Kyzylbash. Sometimes kyzylbashs reached high posts. So, a certain world Abdul Hasan Khan, having started his service as a simple soldier, then became a „chestdar-bashi", later a „kulleragasi" and, finally, under Shah Shuja he was appointed the ruler of Peshawar. Even noble Indian and Iranian feudal lords went to serve at the court of the Afghan shahs. Among the courtiers of Ahmad Shah were, for example, relatives of the Nawab Aud and Nadir Shah Afshar.StoryNadir Shah’s reign ended in June 1747 when he was assassinated. The assassination was likely planned by his nephew Ali Koli, although there is no factual evidence to support this theory. However, when Afghan commanders met later that year near Kandahar at the Loya Jirga (council) to choose a ruler for the new unified state, Ahmad Shah was chosen. Although he was younger than the other candidates, there were several main factors in his favor:He was a direct descendant of Assadullah Khan, patriarch in the Sadozai clan – the most famous among the Pashtun tribe at the time.He was undoubtedly the most charismatic leader and experienced warrior, with a trained, mobile force of several thousand cavalry at his disposal.It is equally important that he contributed a significant part to the treasury of Nadir ShahAhmad Shah became the ruler and took the title of „Durrani" („Pearl of Pearls"). The name may have been suggested, as some have argued, by Ahmad Shah himself. The Pashtuns were later known as Durrani, and from their name the name of the new state became the Durrani state.Ahmad Shah began his reign with the capture of Ghazni together with the Gilzai tribe, and then Kabul. In 1749, the Mughal authorities were forced to cede Sindh, Punjab and the important Indus River crossing to defend themselves against an Afghan invasion. Thus, the Afghans gained significant territory to the east without a fight, Ahmad Shah in the west took possession of Herat, which was ruled by the grandson of Nadir Shah Shah Rukh. Herat fell after nearly a year’s siege and bloody battle, as did Mashhad (currently in Iran). Ahmad then dispatched an army to suppress the areas north of the Hindu Kush mountains. In a short time, with a powerful army, the Turkmen, Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara tribes of Northern Afghanistan fell under his control. Ahmad invaded the Mughal empire for the third time and then the fourth, consolidating control over the Punjab and Kashmir. Then, in early 1757, he captured Delhi, but allowed the Mughal dynasty to maintain nominal control over the city as long as the ruler recognized the suzerainty of Ahmad Shah over Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir. Leaving his second son Timur Shah behind to defend his interests, Ahmad Shah left India to return to Afghanistan.ArmyThe shock force of the army of Ahmad Shah was the horse guard, known as the gulyams. By the end of the reign of this shah, the number of the guards had reached 10,000. They were divided into 10 cavalry regiments of 1,000 men each. Such regiments were called daste (detachment). The guardsmen were supplied with weapons and horses at the expense of the shah himself, received a salary from the treasury in money. They mail and made up the heavy cavalry of the Afghan army. Spears were the weapon of the Dastha-i-Ghulaman warriors. But the main weapon of the soldier-guardsman was a musket and a pistol. Each cavalry guards regiment had its own flag of a distinctive color. The commanders wore red turbans, while the soldiers wore yellow. The tactics of this kind of troops, as well as many other things in the Afghan military organization, were from Nadir Shah. Dastkha-i-ghuluman, step by step, in horse formation, approached the enemy, fired a volley and then retreated. Thus, the Afghan Horse Guards, squadron after squadron, conducted almost continuous volley fire at parts of the enemy army, bringing it down to the weakest point in the enemy’s battle formation. According to their ethnic composition, the guards, as a rule, were recruited not from members of the Afghan tribes, but from the Kyzylbash, Tajiks, and later, under Timur Shah, from the Hazaras and Char-aimaks. Ordinary ghouls were paid a monthly salary from the treasury, and their commanders either received a salary, or instead of a salary, they were given jagirs. Composed of non-Afghans, under the complete subordination of the Shah, the relatively disciplined guard was a counterbalance to the Afghan khans’ militias and served as the direct military support of Ahmad Shah. At the same time, his guard, as mentioned above, was the main striking force of all Afghan troops. Usually it was kept in reserve in order to bring it down on the enemy at the decisive moment and thus ensure an advantage over the enemy and his defeat. In relation to the total number of Afghan troops, the guards, as a rule, amounted to only about 10%. French eyewitness Jean Lo, who visited Delhi in 1758, left the following description of Ahmad Shah’s guards in his memories of the Mogul empire:"In the Abdali troops," he wrote, "there is nothing like disorder in the Indian armies. Everything is really in place here: people, horses, and weapons. The troops of the Afghan Shah are divided into strong squadrons of a thousand horsemen each. Each squadron has the distinctive color of the flags on the spears and is under the command of commanders who are required to personally report to the abdali twice a day. The squadron leader has junior commanders for whose conduct he is responsible. During each month, the troops are subjected to a rigorous inspection and – what deserves special attention – they are punished, at least not less often than they are rewarded. While the Abdali troops are generally good, there are individual units among them that are far superior to the rest. They are made up of people of proven courage and military prowess. During his military campaigns, this sovereign always keeps 12 or 15 such squadrons with him. This is his reserve corps, intended for the decisive blow, the force of which the Marathas had to experience more than once. „The army of the Durrani Empire during the reign of Timur Shah consisted of 20,000 people. The main core of his guard was a detachment of 12,000 mounted kyzylbashs under the command of Sardar Muhammad Khan Bayat.


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