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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kingmakers of the Indian sub-continent during dynastic rule

Kingmaker is the one who either lack resources or due to other restraints such as legal one cannot be contender to the throne, but can influence the successful candidate in the game of throne. The person or group can be termed as king makers. Kingmaker can use political, monetary, religious or military means to influence the succession.

The word kingmaker has negative connotation. The very idea of someone ruling from the shadows might go some way toward explaining why there is a negative connotation to the term "kingmaker”.

Two interesting groups and individuals who were termed as power broker or king maker During Indian dynastic rule are discussed below.

Chihalgain, Chalisa or Turkan-i-chihalgani was a group of nobles.

Shams-ud-din Iltutmish or Altamash (1167-1236) after ascending to the throne realized that Turkish nobles were not trustworthy and could conspire against him to overthrow his rule. Therefore, he had a group of faithful slaves to protect him. This group was known as Amir-i-Chahalgani.

The group which is also called ‘The Forty’ had become a power on their own. After the death of Iltutmish, the successor kings were not able to take control of the state affairs. This group took the role of king-maker and king remover.

Historian Ziauddin Barani writes that since ‘The Forty’ were slaves of Iltutmish and were posted on high ranks at the same time, they considered themselves important and were not ready to recognize any of their colleagues as superior. The members also competed with other members of the group in control of the army, possessing property and wealth. As a result, there was strong rivalry and conflict among them too.

The number of nobles known as chihalgani has never been more than twenty five.

Later when Ghiyas ud din balban, one of former member of chihalgani, became king, he broke the power of these nobles. Ghiyas ud din balban recognized the fact that he could not become a real ruler in the presence of Chihalgani members; therefore he removed them one by one. Being the former member of the group he knew their modus operandi. Even he poisoned his cousin, who was a member of the group of Forty. The network of spies, established by him, helped him to remain aware of Chihalgani moves.

Sayyid brothers in era of Mughal

These were two powerful Generals in Mughal army. The brothers were from the community known as Sadaat-e-Barha. Names of two brothers were Syed Hassan Ali Khan Barha and Syed Hussain Ali Khan Barha.

Two brothers became influential after the death of Aurangzeb which was followed by anarchy. During the anarchy the brothers became king-makers. During the decade of 1710 the brothers were virtual ruler over the state and the king was reduced to the figurehead. When Muhammad shah ascended the throne, Sayyid brothers became his regents. Later on the King Muhammad Shah took back control of the state by arranging the killing of the two brothers. Hussain Ali khan was murdered while Hassan Ali khan was poisoned to death. In this way the rule of Sayyid Brothers came to an end. Hence Muhammad shah proved to be Balban for the Sayyid brothers.

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