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Great Battles #17 - Tarain 1191-92 ( Birth of the Delhi Sultanate)

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Austerlitz, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    BATTLES OF TARAIN 1191 -92

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    (The Tripartite Contest)
    BACKGROUND :

    INDIA - EVOLUTION OF THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE


    The Imperial guptas represented the last great long standing centralized empire in India that dominated the subcontinent of the pre-islamic period.Gupta power was however fading by the 6th century and the early half of the 7th century in India was dominated by Harshavardhana's empire in North India and the Chalukya emperor Pulakeshin in South India.By the 8th century,the political landscape had changed again - 3 great powers came to rule the subcontinent.The Gurjara Pratiharas of Western India based in Gujarat and Rajasthan,the Palas of Eastern India based in Bengal and the Rashtrakutas who replaced the Chalukyas as the greatest power of South India ,with their power base in the Deccan.

    An important event of this time was the first encounter of Indian Kingdoms with the warriors of Islam - in form of the Arab invaders of the Umayyad Caliphate. The muslim arabs having annexed large parts of the byzantine empire and completely overrun the Persian Sassanid empire ,had began intrusions on a small scale by the end of the 7th century into the westernmost reaches of the subcontinent.Between 711-715 AD the arabs conquered Sind.But further attempts to extend their rule to the East of the Indus failed.In 738-39 AD in a series of battles collectively known as the Battle of Rajasthan,the arab forces were decisively routed by an alliance of the ascendant Gurjara Pratiharas and the Chalukyas (whose most powerful feudatories would shortly establish the Rashtrakuta dynasty) supported by the Guhilot and Chauhan Rajput clans(feudatories of pratiharas).Hereafter the arab threat gradually receded and the kingdom of sind had over time become tributaries of the powerful pratiharas.

    The next 150 years in Indian history is dominated by what is called the 'Tripartite Struggle' between the 3 great empires of India over Harshavardhana's capital -Kannauj,which had replaced Pataliputra as the symbolic seat of imperial power in India( later replaced by Delhi).Each empire had brief periods of supremacy ,though eventually the pratiharas were left in control of Kannauj.The rashtrakutas were the strongest overall,and generally when they appeared in force in the North they had their way over the other two - but they lacked any staying power.After one and a half century of pyrrhic warfare, the Rashtrakutas devastated Kannauj in a final attack to try and break the deadlock.The long struggle ultimately proved to be the bane of all 3 empires - which broke up within a remarkably short time of each other in the early 10th century into smaller kingdoms.This would have security implications for the Western frontier of India where the Pratiharas had for 2 centuries stood as a powerful bulwark against invasion.

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    Rise of the Rajputs -
    After the Rashtrakutas we do not see major interventions in the North from any Southern empire, and the politics of North and South largely drifted into their own orbits.Political mastery in North India was taken up by the Rajputs,who established their own kingdoms.Rajputs are a loose grouping of 36 patrilineal clans found in the Indian sub-continent who enter historical records from around the 6th century AD ,after the decline of the Gupta empire.It is generally thought that the rise of the decentralized 'Samanta' system in what has been called 'Indian Feudalism' created this group.The later Guptas unable to maintain salaried standing armies due to financial crisis( loss of western trade,White hun invasions) initiated the process of land grants in lieu of salary to their military officials(mostly kshatriya caste),this practice was extended in scope under Harsha and reached its peak during the Tripartite struggle era,by which time coinage had become sparse.Thus a centralized power with a standing army and bureaucracy was replaced first by a network of vassals or feudatories,and as central power collapsed altogether these curved out their own spheres of influence and grew into new powers.Another theory of Rajputs being the result of assimilation of huns into Indian society has not found favour in genetic studies.By 1000 AD with the disintegration of the Pratihara empire,their former feudatories gradually established power bases all over Western and Central India.The most prominent were the Chalukya Solankis in Gujarat,the Chauhans in Ajaymeru(Ajmer),the Tomars in Delhi,Parmars and Chandellas in central India.The Eastern Rajputs established themselves in the gangetic basin under the Gahadvalas(who would come to control Kannauj eventually) and Kalachuris.The Shahi dynasty of the Kabul valley was under Janjua Rajputs.Even as the Rajput kingdoms established their supremacy in North India,wider developments were taking place in Central Asia and the Middle East which would eventually be felt in the subcontinent.The most important of these was the ascendancy of the Turks in the Islamic world.

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    (Rise of the Turks)

    ASCENDANCY OF TURKISH POWER :

    The turks (Turushkas in Sanskrit) in medieval history refer to a broad array of nomadic peoples of Central asian origin.The earliest mention is from Chinese sources where the Turks were a part of the Xiongnu (usually equated with the greater Huns)Confederation.After the breakup of the greater Xiongnu ,the turks as a political entity first emerge in the 6th century under the Gokturk Empire -a great confederation of turkic peoples of central asia(map top left).Gokturk Khaganate gradually collapsed by the 7th century owing to civil war and Chinese Tang Dynasty pressure. From the 8th century they came in contact with the Arabs who were probing into central asia and began to convert to Islam.The turkic mastery as horse warriors was not unnoticed by the Arab Caliphates which from the 9th century onwards instituted the Ghulam system.Under this system young turkish boys were bought from central asia by the Sultan and trained for warfare as personal slave-soldiers of the ruler and loyal only to him.This practice spread rapidly and these Mamluks or Ghulams replaced the arabs as the military elite of the islamic world.After the breakup of the Abbasids into smaller emirates/sultanates these troops emerged as the kingmakers and kingbreakers.Thus a strong turkish military elite caste already existed by the turn of the millenium in the islamic world and would gradually usurp political power in many areas as well.The Turks of central asia also broke out into Persia and would between the 11th and 12th centuries under the Seljuk sultans conquered most of the islamic world.They also suceeded in breaking through the Byzantine defensive frontier in Anatolia which had held against the might of the arab caliphates at their peak for 400 years.(after the byzantine debacle at Manzikert 1071).A breakaway emirate of the greater seljuks in anatolia would eventually evolve into the Ottoman empire.

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    (Ghaznavids -greatest extent)
    Ghaznavids -
    One of the first Turkic sultanates was founded in Ghazni,where a former mamluk general of the Iranian Samanid empire Alptigin broke away.His son in law Sabuktigin founded the Ghaznavid dynasty and began the initial confrontations with the Shahi dynasty.It was under Mahmud ,his son that the Ghaznavids became a great power - they overran the Shahis after inflicting a series of battlefield defeats and the turks penetrated into the Indian heartland for the first time.Mahmud launched 17 large scale raids (generally targeting the wealthy religious centres which would both amass loot and gain fame for mahmud in the wider islamic world as a 'ghazi')into 'Hindustan' causing widespread death and devastation and carrying off huge amounts of plunder.However there was no bid at permanent conquest,and the rajputs recovered relatively quickly.A legacy of Mahmud's attacks however was that Western Punjab with Multan and Lahore passed under muslim rule .After Mahmud's death, the Ghaznavids declined gradually owing to defeats at the hands of the seljuks.

    Rajput Responses -

    The period between 1000-1200 has been termed the 'Age of conflict' as they witnessed constant battles between the rajputs and the turks.Ghaznavi's last attack came in 1025 AD.Between 1025 and the rise of the ghorid power in the 1170s culminating in the twin battles at Tarain in 1191 and 1192, there were numerous engagements between the succesors of Ghazni looking to follow through on his successes and the Rajput Kingdoms.The Parmars under Bhoja in the first half of the 11th century and the Gahadavalas under Govindacharya (2nd half of 11th century) repulsed major ghaznavid attacks.By the 12th century the Chauhans were the rising power in Western India. Ajayraj Chauhan founded Ajay-meru(Ajay's hill) in probably 1113 AD which became the Chauhan capital of Ajmer.His successor Arnoraraja,grandfather of Prithviraj won a major victory over the turks near Ajmer.His son Vigraharaja made an alliance with the Tomar rajputs of Delhi who became their vassals.Chauhan power reached its peak under Prithviraj II (1178-1192) who expanded his kingdom and warred with all his neighbours- particularly the Chandellas and the Solankis.He also had a rivalry with Jaichandra,the Gahadavala ruler of Kannauj and the breach became irrepairable when prithviraj supposedly abducted jaichandra's daughter from her wedding ceremony(of her own will) and married her - a well known romantic folktale.At the time of Muhammad ghori's invasions, North India was thus divided into 3 main power centres - Solanki Chalukyas of Gujarat,the Prithviraj Chauhan of Ajmer and Delhi and the Gahadavalas under Jaichandra at Kannauj.However due to the politics of the day,these 3 powers were mutually antagonistic towards one another.

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    (Prithviraj Chauhan)


    Ghurids-

    The region of Ghor in Afghanisthan converted to Islam from buddhism during its conquest under Mahmud.The local rulers wer the Ghurid Dunasty of Tajik ancestry,.Initially vassals of the Ghaznavids they grew in power as the region was a reknowned centre for ironworking and horsebreeding.As Ghaznavid power decreased they gradually asserted themselves, in 1149 they sacked and burned Ghazni and became independent.From 1163 they came to be ruled by the brothers Ghiyath al Din and Muizz -al- din,under whom the empire would reach its zenith.Ghiyath -al Din concentrated on the Western domains campaigning in Central Asia against the Khwarezmian empire ,while Muizz -al din (Mohammad Ghori) after helping his brother secure the West turned his eyes Eastwards.

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    (Muhammad Ghori)

    Ghurid Invasions (1173 -1191) -

    Unlike Mahmud,Ghori from the beginning aimed at creating a permanent empire in Hindustan any Westward expansion being blocked by the powerful Khwarezmids.In 1175 he took Multan and Unch from the Ismailis and expanded his control over Sindh.Gujarat now appeared a ripe target for him .In 1178 he offered Prithviraj to provide him passage and divide up the Chalukya Solanki kingdom between themselves.This was rebuffed ,but Prithviraj didn't send any aid to the Solankis either.Undeterred Ghori marched his army on a circuitous route through the Thar desert into the fringes of Chalukya territory.Here the turkish army found itself unexpectedly opposed by the chalukya army led by Queen regent Naikidevi drawn up in battle formation on the valley of Gadarghata.Ghori's army tired and thirsty from the journey and unable to use the mobility of its cavalry in the closed valley properly was forced into a set-piece frontal battle by the rajputs and routed.However the fleeing turks were not pursued by the chalukyas in any serious capacity owing to the rajput customs of the time and thus escaped annihilation.

    Ghori however didn't give up.He rebuilt his forces and having been repulsed in Gujarat now sought to enter Hindustan via Punjab.In the next decade he methodically took Peshawar ,then Sialkot and in 1187 ended the last remnant of the Ghaznavids by conquering Lahore.This now brought the borders of the Ghurid empire in contact with the Prithviraj's domains.Between 1187-90 there were several small to mid sized turkish incursions,but these were rebuffed by the chauhans.Things came to a head in the winter of 1190 when Ghori took Bhatinda - a important border fortress.This finally galvanized Prithviraj into action ,who amassed a large army and marched towards the Ghurid forces.The 2 armies met on the fields of Tarain(Taraori) in 1191 in the first of two fateful battles fought on this battlefield.

    NEXT : OPPOSING ARMIES
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
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  2. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    OPPOSING ARMIES :

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    GENERAL TRENDS IN WARFARE : THE CAVALRY REVOLUTION 500-1000 AD

    The solid tree saddle and the stirrup -two seemingly innocuous pieces of horse equipment at first glance,yet they were to change the history of the world forever.The medieval age has been described as the 'golden age of cavalry'.Cavalry had existed as a combat arm for thousands of years,and was for nomadic societies the only battle arm ,yet in the ancient ages very few cavalry units could frontally destroy enemy infantry with ease.Even though cavalry increased rapidly in importance from the late antiquity period ,it was mostly a testament to its immense advantage in mobility.Innovations in cavalry equipment in the early medieval period would see an exponential increase in its combat potential which would make the man on horseback the undisputed king of the medieval age (until the 14th century).

    The earliest manifestations of the stirrup are found in ancient India 2nd century BC,but these were more of a toe loop to hold the big toe and offered very little support.The Kushan coins also depict platform style stirrups which acted more as footrests.The modern stirrup design originated amongst nomads in Northern China .With this adoption the proto-mongoloid Xianbei tribes defeated the Xiongnu and overran Northern China in the 4th century.By the 5th century were in widespread use in China.The Avars brought the stirrup to Europe in the 7th century.The stirrups are solidly attached to the horse, thus eliminating the muscle strain of holding on with the legs. The stirrup stabilizes the rider, allowing him to couple (and decouple) with the horse at will. This, in turn, allows for dramatically better control. It gives the rider a much firmer base to push against when swinging a sword or axe, significantly increasing the power behind the weapon. The stirrup also allows a significantly less skilled rider to stay in the saddle while taking advantage of the horse's speed and agility. It turns a rider's legs and trunk into shock absorbers that steady him making it much more difficult to unhorse the rider.For mounted archers too it brings excellent advantages.With the stirrup ,a horse archer by bending his waist could shoot arrows in all directions even when their horses were at full gallop.The rider could now half stand on his stirrups with a slight forward lean and loosen off arrows in rapid fire mode.Though both his hands were off the reins,still by exerting pressure on the saddle and stirrup he could keep the horse running in a particular direction.Heavy cavalry like western knights generally used the long stirrup with relaxed knees,while eastern cavalry(particularly horse archers) prefered the short stirrups with more suited to riding with bent knees.

    The saddle cloth was used by many ancient societies,first notably by the Assyrians.The romans used the first solid tree framed 4-horned saddle ,but without stirrups in the west.The development of the solid saddle tree was significant; it raised the rider above the horse's back, and distributed the rider's weight on either side of the animal's spine instead of pinpointing pressure at the rider's seat bones, reducing the pressure on any one part of the horse's back, thus greatly increasing the comfort of the horse and prolonging its useful life. The invention of the solid saddle tree also allowed development of the true stirrup as it is known today.Without a solid tree, the rider's weight in the stirrups creates abnormal pressure points and makes the horse's back sore.The combination of a framed solid tree saddle with the stirrup was a technological breakthrough.In the West the Pommel and Cantel were further raised during the feudal era to further facilitate the shock charge of the armoured knight.All these developments were to radically alter the balance of power between cavalry and infantry and have disastrous consequences for the settled agrarian societies of Eurasia.

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    (Turco-afghan Cavalryman)

    THE GHURID ARMY :


    The ghurid army was very similar to the turkic armies prevalant in the Islamic world during the period.The cavalry was the strike arm with the Sultan's elite Ghulams being the core.These were supplemented by the Turkish tribal horsemen and Afghan cavaliers.The ghurid armies differed from the earlier arab armies in 2 key aspects - their use of vast amounts of horse archers and the effective use of Afghan military manpower.Infantry also existed but do not seem to be used in large numbers in early indian expeditions to preserve superior mobility.They were however used in central asian campaigns,as garrisons and in sieges.By all accounts no infantry in mentioned in sources on the Ghurid side in any of the sources and the Ghurid army by all accounts on both occasions seems to have been wholly mounted.The primary advantage of the turkish armies were in both strategic and tactical mobility,which the elephant-centric indian armies simply couldn't match.A turkish cavalry army in an expedition rode 45 miles in one night,an unthinkable feat for an Indian-style army of the time.The other advantages were command and control and firepower in the form of the deadly composite bow.Traditional turkish tactics provided for an advance guard,two wings ,a centre and a reserve.Even though most of the ghurid army was composed of recent converts and adventurers looking for glory and plunder,a common religion provided greater cohesion and the concept of Jihad added an ideological dimension to the conflict.

    The Rajput Samanta system and the Turkish Iqta system may seem similar - both are based on land grants to military officers.But there are some key differences.In the samanta system,the King is simply the greatest chief and not the absolute ruler like a Sultan.Moreover the Iqta grant to an Emir(muslim military chief) doesn't confer upon him legal authority in that land which the sultan retains.Nor does the Iqtadar become the owner of that land,merely the holder who is expected to equip a force with revenue from that territory and send the rest to the central treasury.Crucially the Iqtadar can be transferred at the Sultan's will and thus the system is much more centralized and the commander (the sultan) can exercise absolute command over his army in the field unlike in the samanta system where each chief brings his own men and equipment,and his loyalty to the King or Maharaja rests on a combination of his superior military power,vassalage obligations,kinship or clan ties or matrimonial relations.

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    ''Philosophers have accorded that there are 3 nations known for their peculiarities - the turks for their cavalry'' -Al-Beruni

    Horse Archers -
    The bow enjoyed a near sacred status amongst turkic cultures of the period,generally considered the greatest of all weapons.Cultures with a steppe origin by their very environment produce mounted bowmen of excellence owing to the imperatives of survival on the vast open steppe,where the horse is essential for covering vast distances and archery for hunting.Consequently steppe horsemen learn to ride and shoot from very young ages and this produces a ready reserve of manpower with a very potent skillset that can be harnessed for military activity with little training.For the Ghulam/Mamluks this was supplemented by regimented single minded military training from a young age.The turkish weapon of choice was the central asian composite bow made of animal horn,wood and sinew laminated together.This was used with a thumb draw and a thumb ring was used to prevent sore thumbs by the horse archers.

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    The effective range of the composite bow was 300 yrds ,with a maximum range of 500(rarely if ever used).It could at medium ranges pierce mail armour.Modern horse archery expert Lajos Kassai has demonstrated an astonishing rate of fire of 6 shots in 10 seconds on horseback at short ranges .For longer ranges,according to mamluk manuals the rule was the third arrow should be released by the time the first just reached its target and the second was mid flight.At long ranges the horsemen would often dismount to take better aim.Horse archers could carry upto 60-80 arrows in 2 quivers allowing for a continuous relentless barrage ,with more spare arrows carried by camels in the baggage train.The bows were carried in leather cases to protect them from moisture when not in use.As mentioned earlier stirrups only made horse archers deadlier.The ghurid horse archers were armoured allowing them to act as melee cavalry as well.Non-horse archers used ranged weaponry such as crossbows, which could be used from horseback and though had one third the range of the composite bow and slow rate of fire required no archery training and was capable of penetrating any armour.Hasan Nizami,a contemporary muslim historian writes the crossbow,horseshoes and superior armour as major factors in the victories of the invading armies.

    The elite mamluk cavalry practised rigorously to perfect their archery and horsemanship skills.Hunting exercises improved unit co-ordination and shooting skills,while Chaugan(Polo) was a popular sport used to improve horsemanship.Apart from this there was regular shooting practice in the hippodrome and archery range.Apart from the straight shot in all directions including the famous' Parthian shot' while retreating,they also practiced downward shots for use against infantry and upward shots for use against the eyes and riders of elephants,against enemy soldiers on a wall in sieges and for shooting birds during hunting.

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    A mamluk training manual describes part of the training -

    ''This chapter relates how to shoot arrows on horseback. It has many graceful things. It is necessary that you should have a proper horse. I have described before the horse that is good for shooting. When you wish to start shooting arrows on horseback (while) riding, you should take a weak bow and arrow(s) which are good for this skill. Then erect five barcas that are following each other. The distance between each of them should be forty arshins(yard). Then take five arrows, ride your horse fast and shoot these one after the other. When you become good at shooting at these, make the distance between them thirty arshins. Every time reduce (the distance between the barcas) like that, until the distance is seven steps. When you also become skillful at this, try to shoot fast. This (seven steps) is the limit in this practice. Then erect (them) in another way, that is to say, three barcas on your left side and opposite to them two barcas on your right side. Then ride (your horse) fast, come and shoot first at the ones that are on your left side and then at the ones that are on your right, if you can. When you become skillful also at this, take a strong bow and shoot with it in the same way that you had done with a weak bow. Once you have perfected your accurate shooting, from then on you will shoot accurately everywhere, that is to say, in the time of war, while shooting deer and in the hippodromes. From then on you will not be afraid of shooting arrows.

    Then erect ten barcas, five of them on your left and five of them on your right in various places. The distance between each of them should be in accordance with the limit that we had mentioned earlier. Take ten arrows that are suitable for this practice. Hold five of them together with the grip (of the bow) and insert (the other) five between the fingers of your right hand. When you finish shooting the arrows that were between your fingers, take the arrows next to the grip and insert them between your fingers, then shoot them as before. These arrows should be thin, so that they will fit between your fingers while you shoot. And only God knows better.''

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    (Mounted Ghulam/Mamluk)
    Ghulams -
    The story of an entrenched military caste like the mamluks/ghulams/ghilmans in Islamic societies begins with the ninth century Abbasid Caliphate..The earliest ghulams were prisoners of war,but these were replaced by the custom of purchasing young turkish boys who would be more malleable.A Ghulam was trained and educated at his master's expense and could earn his freedom through his dedicated service.They had by the 10th and 11th centuries come to predominate in all armies of the islamic world notably in the Saracen armies of Saladin during the crusades.The great advantage was that lacking local roots the ghulams were totally dependant on their master and thus usually loyal.These slave-soldiers formed a crack body of professional troops that acted as a standing force.Ghulam cavalry usually fought as composite cavalry,capable of both horse archery as well as shock action with lance.They were armed with lances,composite bows,shields,swords and maces and clad in mail and lamellar armour.Former ghulams rose to power in many regions - the most famous being the Mamluk sultans of Egypt .In Ghor the mamluks were rapidly gaining prominence,and most of Mhd.Ghori's main generals were mamluks -like Qutb-uddin Aibak,Nasiruddin Qabacha and Yalduz.By the time of Ghori's death they had completely superseded the traditional afghan nobility of ghor,so that the succession was fought over amongst the mamluk generals..Aibak would establish the slave dynasty in India followed by his own mamluk - Illtutmish.

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    (Elite Royal Ghulam Lancer with horse armour and facemask )
    WEAPONS AND EQUIPMENT :

    The turks enjoyed certain technological advantages in equipment.The riders used iron stirrups with flat footrests which allowed the rider to stand on them to shoot arrows while galloping or for thrusting while standing.The rajputs had circular wooden stirrups,where the ability of the rider to stand up while riding was absent.They also used horseshoes which were unknown to the Indians and imparted the horses greater strategic mobility and longevity,as well as crossbows and superior armour.But the biggest advantage of the turkish cavalry was in its superb central asian horses.The cavalry was mounted on the now extinct Turkoman horse ,which was superior in endurance and speed compared to the Indian ponies.Superior natural horse breeding requires large arid tracts of grasslands which were not present in the cultivated plains of India with its humid climate.This advantage allowed the turkish cavalry to engage and disengage at will ,enjoy superior tactical and strategic mobility and retreat safely if a battle was lost without the Indian cavalry being able to chase them down effectively.Modern breeds like the Thoroughbred have turkoman ancestry.


    “The Turkoman horse is the noblest in the whole of Central Asia and surpasses all other breeds in speed, endurance, intelligence, faithfulness and a marvellous sense of locality. The Turkoman horse is tall with a long narrow body, long thin legs and neck ……… on their predatory expeditions the Turkomans often cover 650 miles in the waterless desert in five days They owe their power to the training of thousands of years in the endless steppes and deserts,and to the continual plundering raids, which demanded the utmost endurance and privation of which horse and rider were capable'' - Cambridge Medieval history


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    (The Akhal Teke breed - a descendant of the Turkoman horse)

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    Chainmail armour was usually worn all over the body down to the knees and provided good protection against slashing attacks.A lamellar jacket was worn above mail for additional protection against projectiles.Lighter horse archers might only wear lamellar.The conical helmet was common throughout the islamic world ,with a mailed coif underneath for further protection.The cavalry used both arab and sassanid style -straight swords and turkish scimitars.The scimitar types - namely the persian origin Shamshir and the turkish Kilij were capable of deadly cuts and were more efficient to use from horseback .The later Indian Tulwar was derived from these designs.

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    (Shamshir and Kilij)

    NEXT : RAJPUT ARMIES
     
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  3. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    RAJPUT ARMIES :

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    Although there is a huge wealth of information on the armies of the Rajputs during the late sultanate and mughal period ,precise knowledge on the early rajputs is lacking and most of what is available is pieced together from indirect sources and architecture of the time.The ancient military system of India was the Chaturangabala system - the four fold division of Infantry, Cavalry, Elephants and Chariots.Chariots were initially the most important but by the late gupta era had been wholly discarded.Infantry remained important but a support arm and the battles came to be generally decided by elephants and cavalry.Warriors in ancient India were called Balas.The professional kshatriya warriors that formed the core of the centralized armies of the early empires were Maula balas.With the breakdown of the centralized army structure,the later kingdoms came to rely on less reliable Bhrta balas (mercenaries led by their own chieftains) and Sreni Balas (forces maintained by guilds).The Samanta system further exacerbated the situation.The standing army immediately available to a rajput king would be his clan warriors(cavalry) and elephants ,which could be a redoubtable force indeed.However the greater part of the armies were assembled on an ad-hoc basis as necessary by an assembly of the samantas supplemented by mercenaries and peasant levies.There was not always a clear chain of command in such armies.Prithviraj's army at the second battle of Tarain was a collection of 150 rajput chiefs and their contingents.The army generally divided into a centre and 2 flanks and the tactic was the simplest - a frontal massed assault with cavalry and elephants.There was no real concept of a strategic reserve.

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    ( Gupta cavalry on top and Indian cavalry of the Rajput period below)

    Cavalry -

    The Kushanas and the Sakas brought armoured cavalry into the subcontinent.The gupta cavalry was modelled on the kushanas and their heavy cavalry was equipped with scale armour covering the upper body.Armour in the Indian subcontinent was always somewhat lighter due to the oppressive heat and humidity,particularly in summer.Gupta cavalry evolved a sophisticated signalling system based on pennants to act as rallying points and for withdrawal-counterattack and the youths were given military training at the expense of central government in boarding houses.The Rajputs didn't have such command and control systems on the battlefield,and we are unaware of the training procedure of the kshatriya warriors during this period.Whatever it was,it however did produce excellent individual warriors with superb swordsmanship who generally proved to be the superior of the turks in close combat.The Rajput cavalry was equipped with lances and straight bladed broadswords for hacking.(as can be seen in the second set of sculptures).Horseback archery,though not unknown was not very popular amongst the rajputs and they prefered close quarter shock combat like the European knights.The Rajput cavalry was more heavily armoured than the Guptas , had access to leather and mail armour and were mounted on native indian horses or crossbreeds of native ponies with arabians.The horse factor was an important consideration for the rajputs.Even during the Tripartite struggle era the Palas and Gurjaras had imported 'Kamboja' horses from central asia .Now however with no access to central asian breeds,the Indian kings were forced to import Arabian horses through the ports on the western coast. Over 10,000 horses were annually imported and this constituted India's largest import.However Marco Polo observed that most of the horses (4 out of 5) became lame very soon due to muscle strain during the journey onboard ships,lack of indian knowledge on proper feeding procedures and lack of horseshoes.The rajasthani Marwari horse traces its origin from this period as a crossbreed between the arabian and the native indian breeds.A common rajput habit was to take Opium or drink Bhaang (local intoxicant)before a battle.While this added to their reckless courage on the battlefield ,it certainly didn't help discipline or improve command and control.

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    (Rajput warrior)
    Above depicts a Rajput elite warrior .The sword and shield are representative of the era,but the body armour is from the mughal era( earlier timeframe type would have been clad in chainmail).Lesser wealthy warriors would wear a turban and leather jacket /mail hauberk.The prestigious Khanda broadsword was the typical rajput weapon of the era.

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    (Elephants and Infantry)
    Elephants -
    Elephants were a unique and dominant factor of the Indian battlefield and the turkish armies were weary of them.They acted as command vehicles,missile platforms for archers/javelinmen sitting atop or as shock weapons to inspire terror.They inspired considerable awe ,and is described by Hasan Nizami as 'mountains of steel'.Mahmud of Ghazni incorporated elephants into his army for use against his central asian enemies and the Delhi sultanate would follow suit.Elephants were a very effective counter to cavalry unfamiliar with them as horses would normally refuse to go near them.However by the time of Tarain ,the turkish armies had been in constant combat with the elephant centric armies of Hind for 2 centuries and had overcome this problem.The turks developed special techniques for dealing with elephants - including scaring them with naptha fireballs,holding off elephant charges by spreading caltrops on the ground or more commonly to attack each elephant with 3-6 horse archers from front, right and left . While staying out of the reach of the animal's trunks,they would try to use the standoff range of their superior bows to try and pick off the riders or the mahout ,or target the elephant's eyes or exposed feet.Jaichandra of Kannauj was killed in this manner while leading his army atop his elephant against Ghori's forces in 1194.Despite its imposing stature the elephant restricted the logistics and strategic mobility of Indian armies.They were also not fit for heavy campaigning in the summer as they couldn't endure the thirst.

    Infantry -
    The infantry or paiks were a poor third amongst the 3 troop types.The bulk of the Infantry were a mass of largely untrained peasants with little discipline and no uniform equipment.The more reliable infantry was supplied by the mercenaries from the dynamic indian military labour market and the guild forces.The infantry were spearmen or foot archers and generally didn't wear armour.(combination of weather and lack of means).The infantry generally coated themselves in oil before a battle.They used shields , spears and short swords for close combat and the venerable Indian bamboo longbow for ranged combat.The Bamboo longbow was a powerful weapon capable of excellent armour penetration and simple to construct and maintain in Indian conditions,but it lacked the range of the turkish composite bows which outranged them.The guptas had introduced steel bows to counter the Hepthalite(white huns) horse archers,but this experiment seems to have largely died with the empire.Crossbows that had kept infantry relevant as a combat arm in europe throughout the middle ages were unknown in India.

    [​IMG]

    ''Night attacks are the strategem of cowards'' -Rajput saying
    RAJPUT WAY OF WAR :

    The Rajputs were dominated by a particular military ethos and practiced a form of 'ritualistic warfare' or 'Dharmayuddhya' (honourable war),where war was more like a sport to gain fame and display one's skills rather than an all-important aspect of statecraft.Arab historian Abu Zaid of the 9th century noted that the objective of the Indian rulers of the period in war was limited.They didn't aim at permanent annexation of the enemy's territory or restructuring of his administration,but merely to replace the ruler with another from the same clan ,preferably a family member of the fallen prince who would carry on ruling in the name of the conqueror.There was no change in policy ,merely regime change.Within the limits of this restricted warfare,systematic depredations were not carried out against conquered peoples.Conduct on the battlefield was to be honourable and chivalrous with codes of conduct which can be traced back to heroic age of the Mahabharata times(perhaps they forgot that war was won by deception).Enemies which submitted were not to be harmed,there was to be no use of deception in battle,no night attacks or ambushes which were considered signs of cowardice.Armoured men were not to attack unarmoured ones,and fleeing enemies were allowed to leave.This chivalrous code of conduct was encouraged by the religious scriptures of the time and was glorified in Bardic literature.Rajputs thus disdained collective effort and often battles degenerated into single combat between duelists on a huge scale -something the rajput warriors were pastmasters at.This ritualistic way of war met the much more realistic and brutal turkish way of war ,which had its origins in the harsh 'survival of the fittest' environment of the steppes.The surprising thing is that despite 2 centuries of conflict with the turks the Rajputs made no effort to adapt and pragmatize their way of war,holding the traditional way as best.

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    (Bhala and Khanda)
    The main weapons of the rajput cavalry were the Bhala spear and the Khanda double edged broadsword.The latter was considered a sign of nobility and was a hacking weapon of devastating power which could be wielded by one or both hands.Indian metallurgy and steel weapons enjoyed a global reputation as the best in the world and were much harder than the turkish ones.Nizami records Indian swords made of Wootz steel were so sharp that not even iron armour was proof against them.This made the rajputs even more formidable in close combat.

    NEXT : THE BATTLES OF TARAIN
     
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  4. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    BATTLES OF TARAIN

    [​IMG]
    FIRST BATTLE OF TARAIN :

    The opposing armies of ghori and prithviraj met for the first encounter on the fields of tarain,150 kms North of Delhi.The size of the armies are unknown for this battle,only that Prithviraj's army was larger.Notably however neither the Solankis nor the Gahadavals of Jaichandra come to the aid of the Chauhan army.Ghori deploys his army in standard turkic battle formation with advance guard,strong centre and 2 wings and a modest reserve of 4000 elite ghulam lancers.His flanks are commanded by his Khalji and Khorasani generals.Prithviraj deploys the army of the Chauhan confederacy into 2 wings and a centre with elephants in front(light coloured boxes are infantry,generally elephants had a small infantry guard).His brother and ruler of Delhi, Govind Rai is in the vanguard in the centre.The right wing is led by the Chauhan 'Senapati'(general) Skanda.Ghori begins the battle with a probing attack by his horse archers of the vanguard on the rajput line.Prithviraj responds with a full scale frontal assault with his whole army.

    1-2. The Rajput cavalry strike the turkish flanks with full force.The rajput prowess in melee combat and weight of numbers begins to tell as the ghurid flanks are driven back and are being cut off from the centre.Unable to bear the pressure the turkish flanks are broken and begin to flee.

    3. Meanwhile,the war elephants and cavalry of Prithviraj's centre drive back the ghurid vanguard onto their centre.Under sustained pressure the turkish centre begins to waver.Ghori seeing his flanks routing and centre wavering,attempts a last ditch personal effort to inspire his men and launches himself into the fray with his final heavy cavalry reserve.He comes face to face with Govind Rai on his elephant and hurls his spear at him.Govind rai is able to block the blow with his shield but the impact breaks two of his teeth.He hurls his own spear in turn which hits Ghori in the shoulder with the added momentum of being thrown from a elevated position and seriously injures him,knocking him unconscious.His life is saved by a Khilji bodyguard who takes the sultan on his horse and carries him off the battlefield.

    4. The leaderless turkish army breaks and routs.Rajputs pursue for about forty kilometres but then abandon the chase.This has been seen as a crucial error by historians,as a strong strategic pursuit would have likely annihilated the bulk of the survivors.However ,this was not done due to a combination of factors.The principles of Dharmayuddhya(non-pursuit of fleeing enemies) as well as the practical reason that the inferior rajput horses couldn't keep up with the faster turkoman breeds.Thus ended the First Battle of Tarain.

    In a static battle,the Rajputs were in their element -they were equipped with high quality steel weapons,and their skill,v alour and individual mastery of personal arms was superb.Ghori severely underestimated the Rajput strength in close combat and was forced into a frontal set piece battle by an energetic Prithviraj,who took the initiative and retained it throughout the engagement.The Ghurid army was left reacting to events throughout the whole battle and was unable to properly employ its advantage in ranged firepower and mobility.

    [​IMG]

    INTERVAL PERIOD :


    In the aftermath of the battle,the Rajputs besieged Bhatinda ,but lacking heavy assault infantry and proper siege equipment were forced to try and starve out the defenders.Prithviraj left one of his generals in charge and returned to Ajmer.The Chauhan army was finally able to take the fortress after 13 months after food and water ran out . Prithviraj's resounding victory made him complacent and he is said to have spent most of the time between the 2 battles in leisure and marital bliss with his new wife. (Possibly the Gahadvala princess Samyukta).He set up no early warning system ,nor strengthen the frontier defences in the North West.Instead he sent 2 of his prominent generals Udayraja and Skanda with armies to campaign elsewhere ,and these commanders would be absent in the second battle of Tarain the following year.

    Back in his domains,Muhammad Ghori was enraged at his defeat and swore to refrain from all luxury until he had avenged himself.He publicly humiliated and dismissed his generals that had withdrawn on the flanks .Recovering from his injuries he slowly rebuilt his armies over the next one and half year - raising a new force comprised of turks, tajiks and afghans.Ghori re-entered Punjab in late 1192 and retook the fortress of Bhatinda.Here he sent a letter to Prithviraj to ask him to accept his sovereignity ,this was predictably refused.Prithviraj now alerted to the danger,began to mobilize his forces again.The 2 armies again came face to face on the fields of Tarain. Ghori's army was this time larger than in the first battle,this can be discerned from the fact that Prithviraj offered to Ghori to keep the fortress of Bhatinda if he returned to his domains - something he had not done in the first battle.The exact sizes of the armies are not certain.Sources mention Ghori raised an army of 120,000 while Prithviraj's army comprised 300,000 men and 3000(!) elephants.Both these figures are highly suspect.

    The ghurid army of 120,000 is generally taken as the whole army of the empire and Ghori would have to leave behind a significant portion behind to defend the Ghorid heartland from any attack by his powerful Khwarezmid neighbour.In any case all the sources on the battle itself mention only around 52,000 troops which implies ghori invaded with half the total force available to the empire.( some forces left behind to garrison Bhatinda and the fortresses along his line of communications).Medieval field armies were generally small in number as there was no advanced logistical depot system and the armies generally lived off the land.To put things in perspective Saladin ,a contemporary of Ghori and one of the most powerful Islamic rulers of the time fought in the Third Crusade with field forces never exceeding 30,000-50,000.At the time of Genghis Khan's death in 1227 , just 4 decades later, the standing army of the huge Mongol Empire stood at 125,000.The numbers given for Prithviraj's forces are even more ludicrous.This number was attested to by the scholar Firishta who was writing 4 centuries after the actual event and is interpreted as the total force the Rajput kingdoms of North India could theoretically muster.The figure of 3000 elephants is also grossly exaggerated,not only would it be logistically near impossible to accomodate this force on a single battlefield -but elephants in India were found mostly in the forested regions of Eastern and Southern India,while Prithviraj's kingdom was centred on the drier western regions around Punjab,Haryana and Rajasthan. Jaichandra of Kannauj was supposedly the most powerful of the Rajput kingdoms in elephant forces,and he deployed over 300 elephants in his battle with Ghori in 1194.The approximate modern estimates for Prithviraj's army is thus around 100,000.

    [​IMG]

    SECOND BATTLE OF TARAIN :

    As the two armies camped facing each other at Tarain,Ghori replied to Prithviraj's offer with a ruse to lull him into a false sense of security.He wrote that he had no authority to withdraw and needed time to ask for the permission of his elder brother,meanwhile he proposed a truce.He continued his preparations and reconnoitered the rajput camp with his light cavalry constantly to assess their state of preparedness.After a fortnight of this standoff,the Ghorid army left the camp in secret one night leaving its campfires burning so as to give the impression that all was as usual.They marched in the night and before dawn had taken up position behind the Rajput camp.Then before daybreak as the rajputs were just waking to perform their early morning rituals and relieve themselves,the turkish cavalry struck them from the rear of the camp.Rajputs were caught completely unprepared,as night attacks were taboo in their military culture.There were few if any sentries and Prithviraj was caught sleeping in his tent.The turkish cavalry caused carnage ,inflicting heavy casualities and neutralizing several of the elephants.The rajputs however recovered relatively quickly and counterattacked with their own cavalry which was usually concentrated in the middle of the camp.The turkish cavalry now disengaged and withdrew .The Chauhan army took time to redress their ranks and followed them into the plains where they found the ghurid army deployed and waiting for them.

    Ghori deployed his army in a particular formation,instead of a static battle line he divided his cavalry into 5 divisions to conduct a fluid battle which would maximize the mobility of his cavalry . 4 divisions each of 10,000 men were to act as mounted archers ,behind these on the edge of the plain was Ghoris' final reserve of 12,000 elite ghulam mailed lancers.He may have possibly employed caltrops to prevent an elephant charge though it is unknown exactly how.Prithviraj deployed his army in the traditional manner with 2 wings and a strong centre and the remaining elephants in front.

    [​IMG]
    1.Ghori begins the battle by sending forward 2 of his flank divisions of horse archers to attack the Rajput left flank.They are given strict instructions to engage solely in ranged harassment and to not engage in close combat with the rajput cavalry.
    2.The turkish horse archers attack the rajput lines with their lethal composite bows using caracole tactics ,their accurate archery causing mounting losses in the rajput frontlines.
    3.The Rajput cavalry surges forward to engage their assailants and the unwieldy Rajput left and left centre tries to change frontage to meet the flank attack.Reinforcements are sent from the centre.

    As the Rajput cavalry closes to enagage,the turkish cavalry breaks off its attack and retreats firing as it does in Parthian fashion causing further casualities.The indian horses are unable to catch up to the faster turkish horses and the disorganized rajput cavalry gives up the chase after a while ,wary of overextending and thinking of having driven off the attackers.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Ghori now attacks the Rajput right flank with his other 2 divisions in the same manner and the same sequence of events follow.Rajputs take significant casualities and their battle line is disrupted while being unable to come to grips with the mounted horse archers.(On the map diagram the solid larger green blocks behind the smaller boxes denoting skirmishing ghurid hosre archers are the reserve line ,which acts as reinforcing point and as the forward lines become tired , fresh horsemen from this line are rotated into the front line to keep up a relentless barrage).

    [​IMG]
    Ghori again attacks Prithviraj's flanks in turn with his horse archer divisions.Their devastating archery continues to inflict a steady stream of casualities.The Rajput army is forced to shift frontage repeatedly losing all cohesion(being an army composed of contingents of 150 chiefs) and is steadily whittled down by archery fire. Prithviraj reinforces his flanks with troops from the centre as they are attacked and the Chauhan centre is being steadily denuded.This process continues throughout the whole day and ghori attacked the rajput army a total of 4 times in this manner .With mounting casualities and confusion ,demoralized at being unable to fight back against this new tactic the less reliable forces of the confederate army begin to desert.

    [​IMG]
    After causing heavy attrition among the rajput army ,and seeing their battle lines in confusion Ghori launches a final attack with all of his divisions.
    1.The flank divisions now move to engage the Chauhan flanks ,but this time they do not withdraw but intend to pin them down.
    2.The Rajput cavalry moves engage the oncoming ghurids,and desperate fighting takes place on the flanks.This draws away final rajput reserves from the centre.
    3-4 .Ghori with his final reserve of 12,000 mailed lancers charges Prithviraj's weakened centre and breaks through.
    5.The ghulams then swing and attack the engaged rajputs from flank and rear.The Chauhan army disintegrates, some chiefs fleeing while the more committed ones stand their ground and fight on till death as per rajput custom.Govind Rai is killed in the battle ,Prithviraj was captured and executed during the pursuit.

    AFTERMATH :

    The Chauhan confederacy lost the bulk of its army and leadership in the battle,while the ghurids only suffered serious casualities in the final stages.After his victory at Tarain ,Ghori was able to conquer Prithviraj's domains with relative ease. Jaichandra who had stood aloof then faced his turn and was defeated in 1194.The turks were able to in a short span of time overrun the entire gangetic plain area upto Bengal.Rajput power in Gujarat was able to successfully resist for another century until the reign of Alauddin Khilji. The remnants of the Chauhan clan established their new stronghold in Ranthambore and continued to resist the new Delhi sultanate. Ghori was assasinated by a vengeful Jat tribesman in 1206 ,and was succeeded in power by his mamluk general Qutb-uddin Aibak who founded the Slave dynasty of the Delhi sultanate . Tarain was a decisive battle in that it laid the foundations of what has been called the muslim period in Indian history.

    After Tarain,the Rajput position in North India declined dramatically in a very short period.Within a less than a decade ,the turks were able to bring under their control the gangetic heartland.With the revenue resources of both the Indus valley and the Gangetic valley - two of the most prosperous agricultural regions in the world at their disposal the Delhi sultanate was able to mobilize huge armies .The Rajputs thus lost the quantitative superiority they had generally enjoyed until Tarain,a position they would never recover.Unable to properly face the mobile turkish cavalry on the open plains and lacking in numbers they turned to static defense around forts( thus we see heavily contested sieges at Jaislamer, Chittor, Jalore, Siwana, Ranthambore etc) and withdrew into the more defensible deserts and hills of Rajasthan proper,which became the centre of Rajput resistance. The Delhi sultanate was never able to subdue Rajput power in Rajasthan despite numerous expeditions and they remained a hostile force throughout.Rajput power rose again significantly during the late sultanate era,rallying around the Sisodias of Mewar,but the particular nature of their clan based organization prevented their unification as a political entity.The last attempt at a renewed Rajput confederacy to dominate North India was made under Rana Sanga of Mewar.

    The turks continued to dominate the affairs at Delhi atleast until the time of the Tughluqs.But their power was in decline from the mid sultanate era.The Mongol invasion and devastation of Central Asia and the Islamic world brought a huge influx of initial refugees,but after the Mongols had established themselves in Central Asia and Persia the inflow of fresh turks from the region(on which the military power the Sultanate depended to a large extent)dried up,the Sultans had to make do local converts and depend more and more on Afghan military manpower(whom they consequently settled in the Gangetic valley in numbers).The afghans thus by the late sultanate era became the dominant element in the army which lost its turkish character and eventually captured power in Delhi.

    [​IMG]

    ANALYSIS :

    Mobility -
    The greatest asset of turkish armies were in mobility.Both tactical and strategic.Strategic mobility allowed them conduct long distance raids and deep penetration operations with relative ease and evade defending armies if at a disadvantage.Tactical mobility allowed them to engage and disengage the enemy on the battlefield in parts of the battleline as and when they wished and also to escape annihilation if defeated.The mobility advantage was a result of superior horses and streamlined logistics.

    Firepower -
    The Turco-mongol composite bow was probably the deadliest weapon of the medieval era.The mastery of this weapon,combined with the mobility imparted by the horse employed within a flexible tactical system gave nomadic or steppe origin armies a great advantage over their adversaries .At the first battle of Tarain, Ghori didn't employ his horse archers to their full potential at all but in the second showed that he had learnt his lesson.The Second Battle of Tarain can justifiably be seen as a triumph of horse archery.Nor was this an isolated case, if we look back , Mahmud of Ghazni's predecessor Sabuktigin had used very similar tactics to what Ghori did in his battle against the Shahi ruler Jaypala outside Kabul.He divided most of his army into bodies of 500 horse archers and sent them to harass the shahi army throughout the day,once they were in disarray he defeated them with a well timed heavy cavalry charge with his reserve.Mahmud of Ghazni employed similar tactics in the Battle of Peshawar against the Shahis.

    The trend was clearly visible in the wider world of the time - the Magyar raids rampaging in Europe,the collapse of Byzantine power that had held the Arab caliphates at their peak at bay for centuries against the light turkish cavalry at and after the battle of Manzikert in 1071. The final proof of the potential power of steppe style armies with horse archery as their core strength would be amply demonstrated mere decades from Tarain when the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan burst through from the steppes and swept all in their path in the vast Eurasian landmass.From the Islamic empires of Central Asia(including the Ghorid rivals -the Khwarezmids) and the Middle East,to China and Eastern Europe they defeated every opponent they faced and left unprecedented death and destruction in their wake.Pointedly the only 2 areas where the mongols were repulsed ( though not while they were still an unified empire under a single Khan) were in Mamluk Egypt and the Delhi Sultanate in India,both of whom had turkic armies using similar steppe tactics.Thus seen from a particular and rather detatched point of view,the triumph of the turkish armies in Hindustan can be argued to be in the logic of history.Steppe armies would retain their military advantage until the 15th and 16th centuries when sedentiary societies began to field gunpowder armies.

    Political Disunity -
    This can be seen as a vital larger strategic factor in the defeat of the Rajputs.One of the reasons the Arab armies were unable to penetrate into India was that they were opposed by a singular Rajput political entity in the Pratihara empire ,which also recieved reinforcements from South India and was thus able to present a unified front against the invaders and bring overwhelming force to bear.Ghori fought one major battle with the Solankis and lost,and two with the Chauhans -one of which he won.It was thus by no means a one sided contest and had the 3 main Rajput kingdoms acted in co-ordination it would have been likely impossible for Ghori to succeed.Jaichandra here is usually painted as a short sighted scapegoat,but it must be remembered that Prithviraj himself did nothing when Ghori attacked the Solankis and had also antagonized both his neighbours with his aggressive expansionism.It is likely the Rajput chiefs failed to recognize the nature of the threat.Until Ghori's time the turkish raids were aimed primarily at plunder,not longstanding conquest.These raids which devastated the territories of a neighbouring Rajput power were often convenient to another Rajput ruler,as it weakened his rival.By the time the Rajput rulers realised this time it was different it was too late.

    [​IMG]

    Superior Tactics -
    Tarain proved valour alone is not an adequate substitute for tactical acumen.Ghori's tactics were manifestly superior in the 2nd battle.He decieved the Rajputs and achieved total surprise with his night attack,chose the battlefield and controlled the battle throughout ,making Prithviraj react to his moves constantly.He made the greatest use of his own army's strength while minimizing his opponent's strength,kept a strong reserve and employed it with impeccable timing.Ghori's personal strength was in his determination,perseverance and ability to learn from his mistakes.The Rajputs in contrast were unable to improvise a backup plan when confronted with these new tactics.They generally had no concept of a strong reserve in battle.To be fair ,the loose force structure and technical deficiencies in equipment/horses made it difficult for them to counter steppe tactics,but the fact that no definite counters were adopted even though they had been in confrontation with turkish armies for 2 centuries is a damning point.Rajput military culture and ethos stood as a barrier to tactical innovation and contributed to the defeat.They lost a key oppurtunity after the first battle to carry out a vigorous pursuit and were taken completely by surprise with the night attack.A rajput ruler if outmatched ,could not for instance refuse battle, retreat and carry out a scorched earth policy . If he did his chiefs would either desert him or replace him with another.Yet this was how the Ahoms were able to repel turkish expeditions into Assam.The noble but outmoded Rajput chivalrous style of warfare was not suited to contend with the turkish way of war ,where the end justified the means.Nor did this situation alter greatly over time.Rajput armies continued to rely solely on the frontal charge as their main battle tactic as can be seen at Khanua or Haldightai centuries later.Thus Babur was to remark at Khanua -''Swordsmen though some Hindustanis may be, most of them are ignorant and unskilled in military movement and positioning, in soldierly counsel and procedure.''

    Technical Inferiority -
    The Indians were not technologically inferior to the invaders,indeed there were areas where they were superior -especially metallurgy.However the turks were able to use a series of technical devices which were unknown to the Indians within a particular tactical system in a manner so as to render the Indian technological advantages in other areas useless.This is particularly applicable for superior ranged weaponry like composite bows with thumb rings ,crossbows and cavalry equipment such as iron stirrups (compared to circular wooden stirrups) and horseshoes.Natural advantages such as availability of better horses was an additional factor.

    Command and Control -
    The ghurid army enjoyed better command and control on the battlefield and were able to maneuvre with effect.Orders for attack,retreat,counterattack were transmitted amidst the chaos of battle by using drums,trumpets and tamburins. Unit flags were used to carry out movements.The chain of command was more organized with the Sultan as an absolute authority.The Rajput army had a more segmented force structure which was an assembly of large number of chieftains unused to operating together.Prithviraj is criticised for not keeping a strong reserve in the battle,but it must be noted that he had to operate within these constraints.

    Religious Zeal -
    Religious zeal embodied by the concept of Jihad acted as a contributing factor in favour of the ghurid forces which added cohesion and provided an ideological motivation to the army.The Hindu Rajputs ,while disdainful of the foreign 'Mlecchas'(outsider/outcast) ,lacked a similar concept of Holy war.

    Social Composition -

    Social scientists,particularly Marxist historians have emphasized the point that the social divisions of Hindu society into caste groupings prevented the rajputs from effectively mobilizing the full military potential of the society they ruled over .There is truth in this ,but the extent of its importance has been exaggerated.Medieval warfare by and large were elitist affairs usually decided by smaller bodies of a elite warrior class like the feudal knights in Europe , Mamluks in Egypt.The masses didn't necessarily make effective soldiers,as trained warriors on horseback could decimate whole bodies of poorly trained levies.Medieval states also found it difficult to sustain huge armies financially.An exception to this were nomadic armies which were not only more egalitarian in nature due to tribal social organization,but were also able to mobilize if necessary every adult male for warfare as they were free of the requirement of attending to the cultivation of lands throughout the year.Regarding the Islamic mamluk system,while the idea of military slaves may seem abhorrent when viewed under the lens of modern standards of morality,for its time it did allow men of insignificant social origin to rise to the highest echeleons of power based on merit -a feature absent in rajput of european feudal armies where generally kshatriya caste or noble blood was vital.However where social division did make a difference was in the absence of any real popular resistance to the foreign rulers.Transition of power occurred from one elite class to another,the bulk of the commoners and peasantry remained indifferent.The Rajput chieftains were unable to build any popular sentiment on a large scale and were generally only able to mobilize popular forces in their immediate localities and only if he was a charismatic individual.An old medieval saying i North India sums up the situation - ''As long as the rains come in time ,and the tax collectors do not come who cares who reigns in Delhi?''

    Sources -
    From Hydaspes to Kargil - Kaushik Ray
    Battles that shaped Indian History - Ajay & Monisha Singh
    Philosophers of War - Daniel Coetzee
    Technology in medieval India - Irfan Habib
    Military history of India - Jadunath Sarkar
    India's Historic Battles -Kaushik Ray
    Osprey - Mamluk


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    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
  5. sanyogita chauhan

    sanyogita chauhan IDF NewBie

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    Dear Austerlitz,

    Your knowledge about the Battles of Tarain is good. You dealt every aspect about the Battles of Tarain in detail though you left out few important aspects about that great Tarain Battles.

    You treats the last Hindu Emperor Prithviraj Chauhan as a war-hero. but in reality Prithviraj is a love-hero, and not war-hero. Prithviraj was the primary cause for the failure of the huge Hindu army against the small Muslim army of Ghori. And it was due to his excessive lust and extreme infatuation for his beautiful beloved young youthful wife Samyogita.

    You didn't dealt that romantic history of Prithviraj-Samyogita in detail which lead to Prithviraj's failures at Tarain and also you left out to mention about the rape of Rani Samyogita by ugly Shahabuddin Ghori.

    You have to deal about the romantic love-life and marriage of Prithviraj-Samyogita in detail and you also need to explain about the rape of Hindu Queen Samyogita by Muslim barbarian Ghori.

    And you must understand that Ghori's burning desire to rape Samyogita was the prime reason for Ghori to attack Prithviraj so soon again and it is rightful to call Rani Samyogita as the Hindu Helen!

    The renowned and revered professor of History Arnold J. Toynbee said, “Between the two Great Battles of Taraori, Prithviraj gave himself to excessive sexual indulgence in the company of his buxom bride Samyogita. His nights were spent in erotic revelries and amorous enjoyment of carnal pleasures with his newly-wedded wife Samyogita. But still Prithviraj felt more sensuous even in the day and so he was honeymooning endlessly with his beautiful seductive bride Samyogita. Prthviraja-Vijaya and Prabandha-Cintamani attribute his defeat on the fateful day at Taraori to his excessive enjoyment of carnal pleasures with his buxom bootylicious bride Samyogita.”

    Prof. Arnold J. Toynbee aptly calls Samyogita “Hindu Helen of Troy”.

    I'm a hardcore fan of Prithviraj and I personally fantasize Prithviraj to be my husband. But still as a professional history post-graduate student, i like to conclude that Samyogita is the indirect cause and Prithviraj is the direct cause for the destruction of Hindu India forever!

    I need to discuss a lot with you and i will be glad to hear from you swiftly.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2017
  6. Golden_Rule

    Golden_Rule Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Oooooh ..... Chivalrous and Kamadeva ... rarely occurs once in a lifetime .... if this is what you fantasize, you should look for a guy with Purva Phalguni nakshatra :)
     
  7. NKVD

    NKVD Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Great Analysis !!!Another Proof Of My believe No army can win War being Morally Right
     
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  8. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Or may be Rohini Nakshatra. The nakshatra of Lord Krishna and also mine.
     
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  9. IndiranChandiran

    IndiranChandiran Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Aapko sashtang namaskaar.Bas 3000 varshon se aap maat kha gaye warna kisi Kanhaiya se kam thode hi ho aap, maharaj.
     
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  10. Golden_Rule

    Golden_Rule Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    The meaning of Rohini is - the rosy, blushing lady. This nakshatra symbolizes fertility and creativity. Rohini's deity is Brahma. It is a star of rajas - fertility, passion, motivation, and creative powers of all sorts.

    I was being a bit realistic and so proposed Arjuna's nakshatra :) - he was born on the day when moon passed through both the Purva and Uttara Phalguni - in a single day. This earned him the name of Phalguna.

    And so with romance (purva phalguni) comes friendship and marriage (uttara phalguni)

    cheers
     
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  11. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    I was born in Rohini tritiya Pad on Shukla Paksh, Pratipad tithi. some of the maha tharki and maha gyaani are born in such mahurat.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
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  12. IndiranChandiran

    IndiranChandiran Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Kya khoob swayam parichay diya aapne .Hume toh aap apna shagird hi bana lijiye.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
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  13. Golden_Rule

    Golden_Rule Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    True Gyaaniji, your island experience of Seychelles confirms it :)

    Rohini tritiya pad is ruled by Mithun Navamsha lagna. And Mithuna is opposite of Dhanu which is ruled by Mula nakshatra - the mooladhara Chakra (driving the tharki spirit) and so Mithuna is indeed at Sahasrara (the Gyaani spirit).
     
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  14. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    I am amazed at your knowledge of Astrology. I studied it as a subject and do pride myself about its knowledge but you are really amazing.
     
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  15. Golden_Rule

    Golden_Rule Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    You can consider me to be in the same category as yours as I too have a mithuna navamsha lagna :)
     

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