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Timur Shah Durrani

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Timur Shah Durrani
تیمور شاہ درانی
Shah of the Durrani Empire
Emir of the Durrani Empire
Reign16 October 1773 – 20 May 1793
PredecessorAhmad Shah Durrani
SuccessorZaman Shah Durrani
Mashhad, Iran[1]
Died20 May 1793 (aged 46)
Char Bagh, Afghanistan
Burial21 May 1793
Maqbara-i-Timur Shah, Kabul
SpouseGauhar-un-Nissa Begum
Maryam Begum[2]
Gauhar Shad Begum[3]
Ayesha Durrani[4]
IssueZaman Shah Durrani
Mahmud Shah Durrani
Shah Shujah Durrani
Timur Shah Abdali Dur-e-Durran
FatherAhmad Shah Durrani
ReligionSunni Islam

Timur Shah Durrani, (Pashto/Dari: تیمور شاہ درانی; 1748– May 20, 1793) was the second ruler of the Durrani Empire, from 16 October 1773 until his death in 1793.[5] An ethnic Pashtun, he was the second eldest son of Ahmad Shah Durrani.

Early life

Drawing of Timur Shah Durrani
Drawing of Timur Shah Durrani

Timur Shah was born in 1748, in Mashhad, and had a quick rise to power by marrying the daughter of the Mughal Emperor Alamgir II.

Coin of Timur Shah Durrani as Nizam of the Punjab, minted in Lahore, dated 1757/8
Coin of Timur Shah Durrani as Nizam of the Punjab, minted in Lahore, dated 1757/8

He received the city of Sirhind as a wedding gift and was later made the Governor of Punjab, Kashmir and the Sirhind district in 1757 (when he was only 9 years old), by his father Ahmad Shah Durrani for one year, from May 1757 until April 1758. Ahmad Shah Durrani had immediately appointed Toryal Khan Afridi, the eldest son of his army's commander and his most trustworthy soldier Awalmir Khan Afridi to teach horseback riding and swordsmanship to Timur Shah Durrani. Toryal Khan Afridi also had the responsibility for safety & protection of Timur Shah Durrani so he used to stay with Timur Shah Durrani round the clock in the royal palace.

This would prepare Timur Shah for his prepared succession of the Durrani Empire.

Ahmad Shah Durrani's invasions of India

Ahmad Shah Durrani, seeking revenge and retribution had invaded india for the fifth time in 1759, they first met the Sikh and Maratha armies at the Battle of Lahore (1759), where the Sikh and Maratha armies had repelled the Afghan army, Ahmad Shah Durrani and Timur Shah had then went to meet the Maratha army at the Second Battle of Sikanderabad, where the Afghan army had proven victorious.[6] With the Marathas on their back foot, Ahmad Shah Durrani had pressed ahead and met the combined Maratha force at the Third Battle of Panipat, with his Rohilla allies, Ahmad Shah Durrani was able to inflict a decisive victory. Timur Shah had led portions of Durrani's army during the battle, and had led regiments of cavalrymen to cut down people fleeing and deserting the battle, Timur Shah was ahead with his father, Ahmad Shah Durrani amongst commanding the army while they were engaging the Marathas.[7][8][9]

After Panipat, Ahmad Shah Durrani did not follow up on his victories and returned to Afghanistan, with Timur Shah left to govern Punjab, he fought a battle with the Sikhs at the Battle of Sialkot (1761), in this battle Timur Shah was defeated by the Sikhs, who had engaged in guerilla warfare hit and run tactics, they had also lead a blockade of the city, and when an opening came, Timur Shah was forced to flee the city, with the Sikhs not chasing in pursuit but capturing the city instead.[10][11]

After this, Timur Shah had spent most of his time governing Herat before his father's death.[12]

Declaration of Succession

A few months before the death of Ahmad Shah, he had summoned Timur Shah from Herat and publicly declared him heir to the Durrani Empire. Ahmad Shah made this decision without consulting with his tribal council, as a result the authority of the Durrani Emperor was put into question and created a growing rift that would toil the Durrani empire for years to come, as the tribal council had in majority, supported Ahmad Shah's eldest son and Timur Shah's brother, Sulaiman, the governor of Kandahar. Prominent figures in court who supported the Sulaiman faction were Shah Wali Khan, Ahmad Shah's Wazir, and Sardar Jahan Khan. The court had attempted to urge Ahmad Shah to reconsider his decision, coinciding with the fact that the eldest son should acend to the throne. Ahmad had ignored this, and quoted: "Timur Shah was infinitely more capable of governing you then his brother". As well as accusing Sulaiman of being "Violent without clemency", and out of favour with the Kandahari Durranis. Ahmad Shah's decision could have been influenced by his illness, which had affected his brain and his mental state, however choosing of succession to Timur Shah was likely to restrict power to the Senior Generals and the Durrani Tribal Council, to which he deemed as a threat to his dynasty in the future.[13]

When Ahmad Shah was on his death bed, Sadar Jahan Khan had capitalized on Timur Shah's far proximity with him ruling over Herat, and poisoned the ear of the Shah. This had worked as Timur Shah was denied an by Ahmad Shah on his deathbed, as a result, Timur Shah had begun mobilizing his forces for the inevitable conflict with his brother. Timur Shah's plans were stalled however, as a rebellion by Darwish Ali Khan under the Sunni Hazaras, likely instigated by the Sulaiman faction had risen up. Timur Shah had crushed this revolt quickly and Darwish Khan was imprisoned, however he had escaped. Timur Shah had then lured him into Herat, offering pardon, where then Timur Shah had ordered his execution where his nephew, Muhammad Khan would be appointed in his place.[14]

Death of Ahmad Shah

During the revolt of Darwish, Ahmad Shah had died of his illness. Shah Wali Khan and Sardar Jahan Khan kept the Shah's death a secret by placing the body on a palanquin covered by thick curtains.[14] They had then left the King's mountain, taking as much treasure as they could and marched to Kandahar. Shah Wali Khan had also announced to everyone that the king was ill and had given orders to not disturb him except his trusted officials. To make the deception more believable, Ahmad Shah's chief eunuch, Yaqut Khan had brought food for the "Sick" Ruler. Shah wali Khan had then notified Sulaiman that Ahmad Shah was dead and proclaimed Sulaiman as king. However, Yaqut Khan, Ahmad Shah's eunuch was secretly a Pro-Timur supporter, as a result he had sent a confidential messenger to Herat to notify Timur Shah of Ahmad's death. Timur Shah had immediately marched on Kandahar with a sizeable force, and by the time he had reached Farah, Sulaiman's support had completely collapsed. Shah Wali Khan and Sardar Jahan Khan went to Timur Shah's camp to plead for mercy, begging for their lives. Timur Shah showed no mercy and had them executed. Timur Shah had then entered Kandahar, where he was proclaimed Emperor.[15]


Timur Shah had marched on Kandahar, forcing Sulaiman to retreat to India. Timur Shah was then declared King of the Durrani Empire, beginning his reign on the Durrani throne.[15]


During his reign, he shifted the capital from Kandahar to Kabul due to intense revolts, disloyalty in Kandahar, and to appeal to the other ethnic groups of Afghanistan such as the Tajiks, which as a result alienated Pashtun tribal aristocracy and brought civil war to the Durrani realm, with eternal strife plaguing the empire beyond Timur's reign and brought his successors into conflict.[16][17] He chose Peshawar as the winter capital in 1776.[18] His court remained influenced by Persian culture and he became reliant on the Qizilbash bodyguard for his personal protection.

Rebellion of Arsalan Khan

Early to Timur Shah's reign, conspirators and people against him were constant, with Fayz Allah Khan having orchestrated a prepared revolt to place his brother, Sikander, on the throne of the Durrani Empire and in 1778 when Timur Shah was visiting Peshawar, many Sardars and Fayz Allah Khan, having planned the revolt marched on the palace. The Conspirators were nearly successful, they had murdered the guards of the palace and forced Timur Shah into refuge of the Upper story of the Palace. However the Royal guard had assembled and smashed the rebelling Sardars. Arsalan had managed to escape, and he had fled to his base in the Kyber Pass.[19][20]

As a result, Timur Shah, noticing the inflicting problems, as well as having to deal with the open rebellions throughout the empire had led ahead a army of 15,000 Durrani men, marching to Arsalan's fort in the Khyber pass, they had begun sieging the fort, however Arsalan Khan had fled again. Timur Shah, having been fed up with trying to chase him had sworn an oath on the Quran, promising him to be forgiven. Arsalan Khan had returned to Peshawar expecting to be forgiven as promised by Timur Shah, however Timur Shah had ordered his throat cut, this stained Timur Shah's image over breaking an oath on the Quran, and as a result would anger the Mohmands and Afridis. [21][22]

Rebellion of Al-Khaliq Khan

Two months after the Peshawar rebellion by Arsalan Khan, Khaliq Khan, a grandson of 'Abd Allah Khan Sadozai had revolted, likely due to the anger of the oath betrayal by Timur Shah for swearing on the Quran. This had forced Timur Shah to recall his general, Madad Khan Ishaqzai from Multan to return back to Kabul. Khaliq Khan had also previously revolted against Timur Shah's father, Ahmad Shah, but was defeated and he had fled to Multan. After the Sikhs had captured Multan, they freed Khaliq Khan on the condition that he would raise an army against Timur Shah. Khaliq joined forces with Muhammad Akbar, and Ibrahim Khan. All grandsons of Allah Khan Sadozai. They had a long standing blood-feud against Timur Shah's family, as Ahmad Shah had ordered the assassination of their father, Muhammad Khan and two of his brothers. Nasir the I, the Khan of Kalat had also supported the rebellion, alongside many Durrani and Ghilji chiefs. In early March 1775, Khaliq had marched out of Kalat toward Kandahar, with the intent to depose Timur Shah. However, following the defection of many chiefs last minute, the rebellion was crushed and Al Khaliq was captured alongside Ibrahim and Muhammad Akbar. Ibrahim Shah was executed, while Khaliq and Muhammad Akbar were blinded and imprisoned in the upper Bala Hissar. Timur Shah had then ordered the entire lineage of Allah Khan to be hunted down and killed.[23]

Capture of territories in Punjab

He secured Multan and Rohtas, Bhawalpur and Kashmir in 1780.[24][25]

Insurgency of Sindh

In 1786, Timur dispatched a force under Dilawar Khan to quell the insurgents. However the Talpur had united against him, and as a result Dilawar Khan's force was defeated. however Sindh had negotiated toward recognizing Timur Shah's suzerainty and paid him tribute. The Talpur had tied off from Durrani Suzerainty in a matter of 3 years from that point.[26]

March to Bukhara

Having dealt with Sindh, Timur Shah had become more of a less pressured and lenient leader. As a result, the King of Bokhara, Shah Morad had lead open revolt against Timur Shah, with the efforts of trying to consolidate his dominions against Timur Shah's overlaying territories. Timur Shah had marched with a large army to Kunduz, meeting the Bukharan armies under Shah Morad. The two armies met, ready for battle, however Shah Morad had offered to retreat back to Bokhara with him recognizing Durrani Suzerainty over Balkh, Timur Shah agreed to this.[27]

March to Multan and Bahawalpur

Timur's governor in Multan and Bahawalpur, Rukn al-Din Muhammad Bahawul Khan Bahadur ʿAbbasi and Nusrat Jang Hafiz al-Mulk, had orchestrated a revolt. They had suspended the payment of tribute and taxes to the Shah and declared independence. Timur Shah, learning of this was angered and led his forces to Multan and Bahawalpur, quelling these revolts by his governor and restoring order in the Durrani owned territories.[28]

Rebellion of Azad Khan

Azad Khan, the governor of Kashmir had orchestrated a revolt and led his forces against the Afghan Garrison in the region, and took out the force. Timur Shah, having heard the news was furious and left from Peshawar with a large army. From there he sent Sardar Madad Khan Ishaqzaʾi and other Sadars to root out Azad Khans army. This army had acrossed Attock and camped near Kashmir. Azad Khan resisted these campaigns and fought skirmishes with the Durrani army. Eventually however, Madad Khan managed to induce Azad Khan's supporters and defeated him.[29]

Protecting Shah Alam II

By 1788, Timur Shah Durrani, attempted unsuccessfully to ford the plains of Punjab to rescue his brother-in-law, the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II. The emperor had been blinded by the Rohilla leader Ghulam Qadir, who occupied and plundered Delhi for two and a half months in 1788. Timur Shah prepared an invasion and wrote letters to the English authorities, including Earl Cornwallis, and pleaded for a quick restoration of Shah Alam II to the throne, but was informed that he already had been restored as emperor by the Marathas. Timur Shah ascertained this information by sending an ambassador to the Mughal court and later requested that the British protect and obey the Mughal dynasty.[30][31]

Instability and civil war

During Timur Shah's early reign, he gave up effective control of Sindh and major parts of Bactria, which only remained through feudal ties to the Durrani Empire. With the Sadozai monarchy and Pashtuns losing influence, Timur Shah was put to blame, flaming massive orchestrations of infighting and rebellion throughout the empire. As a result Timur Shah had attempted to host a National consensus to bring stability to the ailing empire, it went to no avail.[32]

Timur Shah's shift of the capital from Kandahar to Kabul had drastic consequences, it alienated Pashtun tribal aristocracy, and he had appealed to other ethnic groups such as the Tajiks. which had rallied massive support against him due to the Tajiks also gaining more influence within the Durrani army. As a result, Timur shah led most of his reign fighting civil war and precarious Revolts to prevent the Durrani Empire from collapsing. The Pashtun lower class was also burdened with taxes, and with no effort of reconciliation. All of these problems combined with the toiling empire prevented Timur Shah from leading further campaigns in Punjab and Hindustan. [33]

Personal life

Timur Shah himself left twenty-four sons,[18] and the succession struggle that followed his death began the process of undermining the authority of the Durrani authority.[18] Under Timur Shah's eventual successor, Zaman Shah Durrani, the empire disintegrated.[18] In 1797 Shah Zaman, like his father and grandfather before him, decided to revive his fortunes and fill his treasuries by ordering a full-scale invasion of Hindustan.[18]

Timur Shah prided himself on being a man of taste. He revived the formal gardens of the Bala Hisar Fort in Kabul, first constructed by Shah Jahan's Governor of Kabul.[34] In this endeavour, he was inspired by his senior wife, Gauhar-un-Nissa Begum, a Mughal princess, the daughter of Emperor Alamgir II,[35] who had grown up in the Delhi Red Fort with its remarkable courtyard.[18] Furthermore, like his Mughal in-laws, he had a talent for dazzling display, such as in the way he dressed and groomed himself. The conflict between his sons Mahmud Shah Durrani, Zaman Shah Durrani, and Shah Shujah Durrani continued after his death.

Death and legacy

Tomb of Timur Shah Durrani in Kabul
Tomb of Timur Shah Durrani in Kabul

While Timur Shah was returning from his winter quarters in Peshawar to Kabul through the Khyber Pass, his horse stumbled and Timur Shah fell to the ground. When Timur Shah arrived in Jalalabad, he reported suffering from a severe fever, alongside sharp pains in his kidney, and headaches.[36] Timur Shah had insisted on the march to Kabul, however when his son Zaman Shah Durrani rode out to meet him at Char Bagh, Timur and his advisors knew he had just a few days to live. On Timur Shah's deathbed, he declared Shah Zaman to be his successor. Eventually, Timur Shah died on 20 May 1793 at the age of 46, and what followed was a massive conflict between his sons for power, instigating civil war that would tear the Durrani Empire.[37]: 107  His tomb is located in Kabul.

Timur Shah left a blackmark on the Durrani Empire. His reign was filled with his attempts to consolidate power through unpopular methods, and appeal to the other ethnic groups giving them more power and influence. As a result, this balance left unchecked fragments within the Durrani realm, spiraling into civil war, where Timur Shah's over 24 sons competed for power to be the king of the Durrani Empire.[38][39][40][41] 5 of his sons would eventually become rulers in their own right or contendents for power. According to Fayz Muhammad those sons were as follows (notable sons are in bold):

  1. Humayun Mirza (would rebel after Timur Shah's death in Kandahar and would attempt to take the throne on 3 separate occasions)[42]
  2. Mahmud Shah (ruled Afghanistan 1801-1803 and 1809-1818, ruled from 1818 to 1829 in Herat)[43]
  3. Ahmad Mirza
  4. Zaman Shah (ruled Afghanistan 1793-1801)
  5. Sultan Mirza
  6. Nurdah Mirza
  7. Malik Gawhar
  8. Akbar Mirza
  9. Husayn Mirza
  10. Hasan Mirza
  11. 'Abbas Mirza
  12. Buland Akhtar
  13. Shahrukh Mirza
  14. Shahpur Mirza
  15. Jahan Wala
  16. Firuz al-Din Mirza (ruled Herat virtually independent from 1801 to 1818)[43]
  17. Ibrahim Mirza
  18. Farrokh Mirza
  19. Shuja ul-Mulk (ruled Afghanistan 1803-1809), controlled Peshawar briefly in 1810, fled into Sikh and later British protection, made an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Kandahar in 1834, was installed as ruler of Afghanistan by the British from 7 August 1839 until his assassination on 5 April 1842)
  20. Khawar Mirza
  21. Ayyub Mirza
  22. Mirza Miran
  23. Mirza Kohandil
  24. Nader Mirza


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External links

Preceded by
Emir of Afghanistan
4 June 1772 – 18 May 1793
Succeeded by

Removed duplicate

This page was last edited on 16 October 2021, at 15:45
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