Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sharqi Dynasty of Jaunpur

The efforts of rulers of the Delhi Sultanate to assert their rule over the conquered territories became unsuccessful. As a result several provincial dynasties came into being and wielded substantial sovereign power and contributed to the growth of art , architecture and literature. One such dynasty was the Sharqi dynasty of Jaunpur, north of Varanasi in the present Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Sharqi dynasty of Jaunpur was founded by Malik Sarwar, a eunuch belonging to Sultan Firuz Tughluq. Malik Sarwar’s astonishingly fast rise to power can be attributed to the chaos that ruled supreme after the death of Firuz in 1388. Malik Sarwar was made wazir of the Delhi sultanate by Firuz’s younger son, Muhammad Shah (1390-93) who conferred on him the title of Sultanus-Sharq (Ruler of the Eastern Kingdom).

Malik Sarwar’s rise continued and in 1394 was appointed governor of Jaunpur, where he successfully repulsed the uprisings by the Hindu chiefs of Bihar and Avadh. The chiefs of Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Champaran and Tirhut were forced to accept his suzerainty. When Timur, great Mongol leader of Central Asia, left Delhi in 1399 after his invasion of India, Sarwar proclaimed himself the independent ruler of Jaunpur. When Sarwar died in 1399, his kingdom extended to Kol (modern Aligarh), Rapri (Mainpuri district) and Sambhal (Muradabad). The eastern boundaries of Sharqi kingdom ran along Tirhut and Bihar.

Malik Sarwar was succeeded to the throne by his adopted son Malik Mubarak Qaranfal (1399-1401). His reign was not eventful. After him, Ibrahim Shah Sharqi (1401-40), the younger brother of Malik Sarwar, became the ruler of Jaunpur and was the greatest of the Sharqi rulers. He entered into an alliance with Kirti Singh of Tirhut. He sent his forces to help the ruler of Tirhut when the latter was invaded by a Muslim army. Another military expedition of Ibrahim Shah Sharqi was the invasion of Bengal to remove the Hindu ruler Ganesha from the throne. The small independent sultanate of Kalpi was also annexed to his kingdom. His military ambition did not stop. He invaded the Delhi sultanate which was being ruled by the Saiyid ruler Muhammad Shah (1435-46). The Siyid ruler was forced to make an alliance which was sealed with a marriage between Ibrahim’s son and the Sultan’s daughter.

Ibrahim was succeeded by his son, Muhmud Shah Sharqi (1440-57), who was also an ambitious ruler. After Mahmud’s death, Muhmmad became the next Sharqi ruler, who was deposed after a few months because of his excessive cruelty. Muhmmad was succeeded by Husain Shah Sharqi, who concluded peace with Behlul Lodi, the founder of the Lodi dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. He is credited to have strengthening his army, and compelled Gwalior and Orissa to submit to his rule. The Lodi rulers of Delhi Sultanate were keen to extend their rule and as result invaded the Sharqi kingdom of Jaunpur. Husain Shah Sharqi was unable to withstand the forces of Delhi Sultanate and as a result the Sharqi kingdom of Jaunpur was annexed into the Delhi Sultanate. Husain Shah died in 1505.

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