Latest From the Land of the Jahanpanah
Shah Najeeb Ummaid of Kabul defeats the Chowdhary of Peshawar in a battle fought near Peshawar. The Chowdhary goes into secret exile. The Shah appoints one of his generals as the new Jagir of Peshawar.
We have always wanted to play games involving Indian History. So far the only game involving any sort of Indian troops has been the Battle for Srirampur, set in the turbulent year of 1857. But it was principally an Anglo-French battle with very little Indian flavour. We wanted something involving the colourful Mughals, Rajputs, Afghans and all those numerous characters which make Medieval Indian history so interesting. And thus was born the Campaign For the Peacock Throne, set in the 1500s. The campaign begins with the Delhi Throne occupied by the 82 year old Sultan Dilawar Khan who is without issue. As the Sultan grew older, contenders for the throne began to surface from as near as Rathambore and as far away as Kabul. And thus in the year 1541 a chain of events were started which would eventually decide the fate of the Peacock Throne.
We are using Kenneth Baggaley's Campaign generation system for creating the campaign. The battles will be fought using house rules which are adapted from of Piquet (Band of Brothers) and SAGA Renaissance Warfare rules. Thanks to Ken for the excellent campaign system! We were able to come up with some really interesting non playing characters by using the system.
Note: There is also a boardgame style Hex Map for the campaign.
The key players so far
House of Delhi: Dilawar Bin Ibrahim Mehmood Khan, the Jahanpanah, Emperor of the Mughal empire was 82 years old and still going strong. He had no sons, something which he was beginning to regret in his old age not for personal reasons but for political ones. Rumours of revolts plotted by vassals were spreading in the markets and courts of Delhi. The rumours dwelt upon how every provincial ruler who was somebody was plotting one scheme or the other to grab the throne. There were even stories about Zamindars poisoning the Wheat supply for Delhi to help their masters. So far none of the rumours had proven to be true. The Emperor believed that as long as the he was in charge the plotters would not dare act. But if the outward calmness in the Empire were to be disturbed by any chance spark things would surely take a turn for the worse. Even his majestic personality, vast armies and grasp of political affairs would not help Dilawar Khan if say, Malwa, or (Allah Forbid!!) Marwar or Rathambore were to rise in revolt. The Sultan aid his prayers, sent out more spies and waited.
House of Rathambore: The word of Maharana Udai Pratap Singh was law all the way from Chittorgarh to Bharatpur. This centenarian Rathore warrior was uncrowned King in the lands which his house controlled. Highly ambitious he was still hoping to see himself crowned the King in Delhi. Helping him in this mission were his brother Jai Pratap Singh and his nephew, Raj Pratap Singh. The Pratap Singhs were by nature a warlike clan. The only exception was Ram Pratap Singh, Udai Pratap Singh's son and the only one in the family to have given up arms in centuries. At the young age of 32, he had renounced his fortune and the red turban of state and taken up preaching the word of God, the white turban of the saint on his head. When his father, uncle and cousin chanted war cries, Ram Pratap Singh found his peace in reciting devotional verses of Tulsidas and Ramanand. Beneath a thin veneer of deference to Delhi, the Pratap Singhs thirsted for conquest and glory. They patiently their time for the best occasion to strike.
House of Kabul: Najeeb Ummaid Shah deemed himself the most fortunate man on Earth. He had good reasons to think so. At 78 when most Afghans would lead a life or retirement at the mercy of their children Najeeb Shah was the proud ruler of most of Afghanistan, albeit as a vassal - governor of the Emperor in Delhi. He was also a much feared warrior and enjoyed the undivided loyalty and attention of a young and lusty concubine. His elder brother Mujib Shah was happy to see "young Najeeb" manage the affairs of state. The main concerns of the Shahs was Peshawar. Though nominally a minor vassal state Peshawar had never been entirely pacified. Since any kind of military action ought to be in favour of Delhi, Najeeb Shah was exploring pretexts to initiate war and subjugate Peshawar. Peshawar was unique - it controlled the passes and the main routes to Delhi. And if Najeeb Shah were ever to lead an army to the Peacock throne itself, he would need that route.
Zamindari of Peshawar: Chowdhary Ayaz Amir grew up with the firm belief that ambition could take a man far. But age had made him more of a pragmatist than an optimist, and he now believed that in ambition could only take you so far. Born to a penniless noble house, Ayaz Amir had managed to get himself married to a rich socialite widow. He had used the fortune to elevate himself as Mansabdar of all of Peshawar. At 60, he looked forward only to improving the state of affairs in Peshawar. Anything beyond the hills which bordered his small state was ruled out.
House of Jaipur: The Rani Bhagmathi and her sister the Lady Padmavathi were not born in Jaipur. And yet in the year 1541 their word was law all over the small Rajput Kingdom of Jaipur. At the age of fourteen Bhagmathi Chandravarkar had first entered the Jaipur household as the wife of the heir nominate, the Prince Chandrachud Singh. The elderly King and Queen were worried about the ascetic inclinations of the young prince and had married him to the most beautiful girl in the realm as part of a plan to bring his attention back to worldly matters and groom him for the throne. The plan worked for a while as the prince spent his time with his new wife during the first few years of the marriage. However he soon went back to his old ways and gave up the responsibilities and pleasures of royal life one by one. When the King and queen died of advanced age the crown prince devoted himself completely to God.
The weight of the crown fell upon the reluctant Bhagmathi. Very soon her reluctance was replaced by an eagerness to explore the newly found freedom and to win the myriad battles which she fought every day in the Royal courts. The Rani played the game so well that the initial torrent of potential aspirants for the throne soon died down to a trickle. Within a few years she contrived to get her younger sister by her side through a marriage of convenience to the meek younger brother of Prince Chandrachud. The Lady Padmavathi proved herself to be a capable warrior and able adjutant to her elder sister. As the Emperor in Delhi grew older the political ambitions of the sisters began to soar once again...
Key events of 1541
From 'Kitab-E-Jahanpanah' The Book of the King, by Mirza Galib
Allah the all knowing had deemed that the terrible winter should spread itself not just in the lands He had created but in the minds of the men who ruled them as well. For there could be no better explanation for the Sultan of Bijapur pillaged the shops of his own merchants and left to fend for themselves, all under the thin pretext that they were spying for the Jahanpanah Delhi. But the Lord is all knowing, and he saw it fit that the men should be granted even better riches in the service the very noble man they were accused to work for. Under His Majesty's orders the Mansabdar of Agra has granted them permission to set up shops in Agra fort itself. The thankful men are now engaged in the prosperous trade of running tax caravans from the Deccan to Delhi.
It is also God's will that the Jahanpanah be tested to prove his mettle. An urgent message has been received from Bharatpur warning of raiders assembling in its borders and preparing to raid. Ishmael Ali is not the best of the mansabdars, but even he would not send a message like this in vain. An army has started assembling in Delhi to respond.
The Raid of the Mahrattas
In the mansion of Ishmael Ali, Mansabdar of Bharatpur: Ishmael Ali had hardly finished his Namaz when Maqbool Hussan, his retainer, came begging for an audience with panic writ all over his face. Ali's suggestions to calm down did not have any effect. Hussan was shaking all over. "Ali Husoor, all hell has broken loose!! The Djinns from Hell have entered our lands!! Thousands of them husoor, more than the entire army of the Empire!!" Ali was deeply concerned by the news. Maqbool Hussan was illiterate and prone to use religious metaphors. Of course he meant some sort of raiders. The Djinns of hell were for Maqbool Hussan the fiercest creatures to be found, and if he invoked their name it must be serious indeed.
"When were they seen? Where??" Asked the Mansabdar. Maqbool Hussan had only incoherent answers to offer. Dismissing the man in irritation Ali asked for his minister to be sent for. If the news were to prove itself true, he would have to send for his levies and raise an army. "And, send news to all the villages. I want them to be ready when the "Djinns" come!"
Tens of miles from Bharatpur: The Mahratta Captain checked his horse's progress and raised his war pick to point in the direction of the village ahead. "See that? That is sumer. And by the grace of Holy Lord of Kailas, we shall feast there! Har Har Mahadev!!!" And with these words the man lead his horsemen into a gallop towards sumer. This was an ordinary village, unprotected by a garrison or any walls. Easy meat.
Within minutes, flames were growing in the village. The hoarse war cries of Gore and his men could be heard amidst shrieks of men, women and children. An hour or two later, Gore was seated in the chieftains hut surrounded by loot from the village. Raising a jug of bhang, a strong local wine, he burst into a drunken song. "The sweet lady of Bijapur, When she came to my house..."
Several days later, mansion of Ishmael Ali: The angry Mansabdar was pacing up and down his hall muttering all the while to himself. It had been three weeks since the raiders had descended upon Bharatpur like locusts. Three villages had already been looted and raided. In the village of sirpur, a hundred of the villages men had made a desperate stand against the marauders to no effect. On the contrary the raiders burned the village after massacring all its inhabitants who forfeited any little clemency by rising in arms. "Where in the Kings name are my Levies?!!!" Messengers and drummers had gone out in all directions two weeks ago and yet only three hundred soldiers had turned up so far for the muster. The raiders were at least three thousand strong if the tales told by survivors were to be believed. Ali had also sought help from neighbouring Jaipur, but no Rathore cavalry had arrived yet. "Curse the raiders!" Ali was due to be married and was hoping for a promotion when the raid had fell upon Bharatpur. "Allah save me if the raiders escape before the army can be mustered!!"
A few weeks later, near the border between Bharatpur and Rathambore: Ajey Yeshwant Gore turned back to look at the village they had just exited after pillaging. The trees all around the village bore the weight of the hanging bodies of the villagers who had dared to block the path of the marauding Gore. Smiling exposed his broken teeth, legend had that the mercenary captain had exchanged it for a broken nose in a market scuffle as a youngster in Pune. the raid had been an extraordinary success. Nota single Mughal soldier had turned up where ever they went and the enemy army had never turned up. Udai Pratap Singh would be pleased indeed. He lead his heavily laden horse forward. Time to go home.
Mansion of Ishmael Ali: What should have been a pleasant marriage occasion had turned out to be a gloomy day in the aftermath of the raid. The raiders had long left when the muster was finally completed and the Bharatpur forces finally reached the villages. The Rajput cavalry had appeared near the river but had withdrawn when it became clear that the raiders were gone. TO top it all, a Royal 'firman' had come from Delhi demoting Ishmael Ali to a the rank of 'Commander of Five hundred' from the 'Commander of Two Thousand' that he presently was. To add injury to the insult he had lost his mansabdari and his bride, whose father insisted that he would not give his daughters hand to a mere Commander of Five Hundred who was not even a Mansabdar. There was nothing left for Ali but to leave for Allahabad, his hometown. But, Ali promised himself "I swear that I will avenge this insult, how many ever years it takes !"
Key events of 1541
The Battle of Peshawar
From 'Kitab-E-Jahanpanah' The Book of the King, by Mirza Galib: The events leading to the search, capture and hanging of the notorious bandits Saif Ali brothers involves more than what meets the eye. Even though born in Peshawar, the brothers Said Ali had left the city in 1529 after they had outstayed their welcome at the palace of the then Chowdhary, Daulat Pakiza. Even though this happened before the time of Chowdhary Ayaz Amir, it was he who eventually came to pay the price for his predecessors indulgence of bandits.
After being run out of Peshawar the Saif Alis took up residence in the Khyber Pass, occasionally venturing into Kabul for supplies. They subsisted for a while by raiding the trade caravans who rode the pass. But when the wealthy merchants began protecting their men and merchandise with armed guards, the bandits' business declined. They were soon forced out of the pass and rumour has it that they became small time crooks in the Kabul and Kandahar markets. Then late in the summer of 1540, they disappeared altogether.
Their names returned to prominence in 1541 after a series of raids on tax collection parties by armed bandits suspected to be the Saif Alis. The Shah of Kabul accused the Chowdhary of Peshawar of aiding and abetting them in such anti royalist activities. Since the charge of treason was not lightly treated the matter assumed importance in the regional courts. After nearly a dozen diplomatic broadsides, the issue reached a climax when the Shah of Kabul threatened to march to Peshawar "to protect the interests of the Jahanpanah Emperor and the Empire".
The Chowdhary of Peshawar sought assistance from Delhi but with the events of Rathambore and the Rajput revolts looming the Emperor and his courts advised Peshawar to settle the matter with Kabul. Furthermore, Kabul was a valuable ally in checking the ever present Uzbeck incursions across the northern boundaries of the empire and therefore the word of the Shah were naturally more listened to than that of the Chowdhary.
In short order thereafter, the Kabul army matched against Peshawar and defeated the Chowdhary's army in a short and sharp battle fought near Peshawar. The Chowdhary went into secret exile with an intention to lobby the Delhi court for his cause.
One of the interesting fall outs of the battle was the seed sown for the creation of orphan companies, the well sought mercenary bands of orphans all of who claim parentage by Ibrahim Talimud Naqvi. Naqvi was a Kabul commander who played a key role in the battle of Peshawar. The companies fought well for the Empire before their line came to an end half a century later when they were routed by the Uzbecks and the orphanage was demolished by the local governor as part of a deal with the religious leaders who resented the power centre.
What Happens Next?
We will post campaign notes and battle reports as the events unfold in the weeks to come. Watch this space for more news from the Land of the Jahanpanah.