Shēr Shāh of Sūr

Shēr Shāh of Sūr

▪ Indian emperor
original name Farīd Khān
born 1486?, Sasarām, India
died May 22, 1545, Kālinjar

      emperor of North India (1540–45) in the Islāmic Sūr (Afghan) dynasty of 1540–57 who organized a long-lived bureaucracy responsible to the ruler and a carefully calculated revenue system. For the first time during the Islāmic conquest the relationship between the people and the ruler was systematized, with little oppression or corruption.

      One of eight sons of Ḥasan Khān, a horse breeder, Farīd rebelled against his father and left home to enlist as a soldier in the service of Jamāl Khān, the governor of Jaunpur. He later worked for the Mughal king of Bihār, who rewarded him for bravery with the title of Shēr Khān. After he defeated a Bengal army, he took over the rule of Bihār. In early 1539 he conquered Bengal and, through clever deception, the Rohtās stronghold southwest of Bengal. At the Battle of Chausa on June 26, 1539, he defeated the Mughal emperor Humāyūn and assumed the royal title of Farīd-ud-Dīn Shēr Shāh. In May 1540 at Kannauj he again defeated Humāyūn and had driven his foes from Bengal, Bihār, Hindustān, and the Punjab and also suppressed the Baluch chiefs on the northwestern frontier. Intent on expanding the sultanate of Delhi, he captured Gwalior and Mālwa but was killed during the siege of Kālinjar.

      One of the great Muslim rulers of India, Shēr Shāh rose from the rank of private to be emperor, efficiently administered the army and tax collections, and built roads, rest houses, and wells for his people. He was generally tolerant of non-Muslims, except in his massacre of Hindus after the surrender of Raisen. His tomb at Sasarām is one of the most magnificent in India.

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Universalium. 2010.

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