He’s crowned and then attacks Afghanistan.
Continuing Nadir Shah Captures Delhi,
our selection from History of Persia by Sir John Malcolm published in 1815. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in eleven easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Nadir Shah Captures Delhi.
Time: February 26, 1736
He retired, that their deliberations might seem more free, but was soon recalled to hear their unanimous request that he who had saved his country and was alone able to protect it, would accept the crown. He refused this offer, protesting solemnly that the idea of ascending the throne of Persia had never once entered his imagination! The same scene was enacted every day for a month, till Nadir, appearing to be subdued by their earnest solicitations, agreed to comply with their wishes, but said, when he made this apparent concession: “I must insist that, as I sacrifice so much for Persia, the inhabitants of that nation shall, in consideration for one who has no object but their tranquility, abandon that belief which was introduced by Shah Ismail, the founder of the Suffavean dynasty, and once more acknowledge the legitimate authority of the four first caliphs. Since the schism of Shiah has prevailed,” he added, “this country has been in continued distraction; let us all become Sunnis, and that will cease. But as every national religion should have a head, let the holy imam Jaffer, who is of the family of the Prophet, and whom we all venerate, be the head of ours.” After the assembly had consented to this change, and a royal mandate had been issued to proclaim it, Nadir informed them that he would communicate what had been done to the Emperor of Constantinople, and require that monarch to give full effect to this advance to general concord among Mohammadans; and he would also insist that, as there were now four orthodox sects among Sunnis, the Persians, under the name of the sect of Jaffer, should be admitted as the fifth, and that another column should be added to the four which already decorated the temple at Mecca, in honor of this new branch of the true religion.
The historian of Nadir is careful in informing us that the crown of Persia was placed upon the head of the conqueror exactly at twenty minutes past eight on the morning of February 26, 1736. The moment, no doubt, had been fixed by the most skillful astrologers. The ceremony was performed in a splendid hall erected for the occasion, and Nadir was seated on a throne covered with precious jewels. Various coins were immediately struck in his name, on which was the following inscription: “The impression stamped on this gold proclaims to the world the sovereignty of Nadir, native of the land of Persia, and the monarch who subdues the earth.” On the reverse was a short Arabic sentence, which signified “That which has happened is the best.” But even the flatterer who records these particulars confesses that there were malicious wits who made free with the latter sentence, and, by the alteration of the position of one letter, made it signify “That which has happened is not the best.”
Nadir Shah, soon after his elevation to the throne, marched to Ispahan; but the short time he spent in that capital was solely devoted to military preparations; he had resolved on the entire extinction of the Afghans as a separate power, and that could not be effected without the reduction of the city and province of Kandahar, which was then in possession of a prince called Hasan Khan, the brother of the celebrated Mahmud; but before he proceeded upon this expedition he adopted every measure that could secure the internal tranquility of Persia during his absence. The peace of the country round Ispahan had been much disturbed by the depredations of a numerous and barbarous tribe, called Bukhteearees, who inhabit the mountains that stretch from near this capital to the vicinity of Shuster. The subjugation of these plunderers had ever been deemed possible. Their lofty and rugged mountains abound with rocks and caverns, which in times of danger serve them as fastnesses and dens. But Nadir showed that this fancied security, which had protected them for ages, was a mere delusion. He led his veteran soldiers to the tops of their highest mountains; parties of light troops hunted them from the cliffs and glens in which they were concealed, and in the space of one month the tribe was completely subdued. Their chief was taken prisoner and put to death; but the policy of Nadir treated those of his followers who escaped the first fury of his troops with lenity and favor; he assigned them better but more accessible lands than what they before possessed; he also took a number of them into his army; and this corps, by its extraordinary bravery at the siege of Kandahar, confirmed the wisdom of his generous conduct.
Nadir marched with an army of eighty thousand men through Khorasan and Sistan to Kandahar. He met with no resistance of any consequence before he reached that city; but he found its defenses were too formidable to give him hopes of its early surrender. His first resolution was to subdue it by blockade; and he not only made permanent cantonments for his army in its vicinity, but ordered the lines of a new city to be traced out, which he called Nadirabad, or the “Abode of Nadir.” He also built towers all around Kandahar, and so connected them with small batteries that it became impossible for the besieged to maintain any intercourse with the surrounding country. Observing, however, that the Afghans were not intimidated by the indications which his conduct gave of his determined resolution to conquer them, and that they had still abundance of provisions, he was compelled, after a year had been wasted in the blockade, to commence a more active course of operations.
The city of Kandahar stood on the face of a hill, and was defended by a wall and by a number of small towers. The Persians made themselves masters of some of the most commanding eminences, to which they conveyed, with incredible labor, both cannon and mortars. Aided by the fire of these, they successively assailed the different towers. At some they were repulsed with great loss; at others they succeeded; but the bravery of the corps of Bukhteearees, who have been before mentioned, was successful in carrying a principal tower, which enabled them to enter the citadel, and placed the whole town at their mercy. The Governor, however, with the principal part of the garrison, still held out in a detached fort; but seeing that resistance was vain, he offered to capitulate, and Nadir readily gave him a promise of forgiveness and protection.
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