Back to Table of Contents 8
To next page
Note on Africans in The Deccan

Taken from :

The Deccan, in south-western India, was another area in which the Habshis gained prominence, and, as elsewhere, became involved in many conflicts of the day. At the beginning of the fifteenth century the local Bahmani ruler, Sultan Firuz (1397-1422), had many Habshi slaves as his personal attendants, as well as in his bodyguard, and harem. He incurred the enmity, however, of his brother Ahmad, who subverted the Habshi bodyguard, by one of whom Firuz was assassinated. Ahmad, though brought to power by the Habshis, feared their growing strength, and placed his trust instead in Persians, Turks and other foreigners of the Shiah faith. The Habshis and local Deccanis, both of whom were Sunni, thus both lost favor.

Malik Ambar (left) who was born a slave in 1550 in Ethiopia and rose to high position in the Deccan.
Ahmad, unlike the rulers of Bengal, did not, however, banish the Habshis, who therefore continued to be both prominent. and powerful. During the subsequent reign of Ala-ud-Din Ahmad (1436-1458) they stood for example on the left of the throne, though the other foreigners were assigned the more prestigious position on the right. This did not, however, prevent Habshis from continuing to play a major role in political affairs, as when Ala-ud-Din's son and successor, Humayan "the tyrant", was stabbed to death by a Habshi maid-servant, in 1461.

Several other notable Habshis feature in the Deccan annals of the time. One, named Khudavand Khan, served as governor of Mahur, while another, a eunuch called Dastur Dinar, ruled Gulbarga. Habshis thus governed two out of the four Bahmani provinces. A third Habshi, Mahmud, was keeper of seals, while a fourth, Jauhur, is on record as executing one of the principal nobles, who had been accused, perhaps falsely, of disloyalty to the ruler.
Note on Africans in Bengal

Taken from :Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora by Joseph E. Harris

As the sources for this information date from outside the middle ages, only a short note is given.
During the second half of the fifteenth century , Africans in another part of northern India, Bengal, organized and asserted considerable political power. Rukn-ud-din Barbak, king of Bengal (1459-74) is said to have been the first Indian king to promote substantial numbers of African slaves to high rank. He maintained an estimated eight thousand African slave-soldiers in his army. In 1481 Barbak was succeeded by his son, who was in turn succeeded by his son. The last named was deposed in favor of an uncle, Jalal-ud-din Fath Shah, who subsequently incurred the hostility of the African slave-soldiers. Thus, in 1486 a eunuch named Sultan Shahzada, commander of the palace guards, led the Africans in a successful usurpation of power, killed Fath Shah, and assumed the throne under the title of Barak Shah. However, an African who was loyal to Fath Shah and was commander of the army, Amir-ul-Umara Malik Andil (Indil Khan), later murdered Barbak. At the request of Fath Shah's widow, he ascended to the throne under the title of Saif-ud-din Firuz. Some historians report that henceforth it became the rule in Bengal that he who killed the king's assassin had a right to the throne. In any case, Fizuz's three-year reign restored a measure of discipline to the army and peace to the kingdom. When he died Nasr-ud-din Mahmud, a minor whose ancestry remains in dispute, became king. Habesh Khan, another African, became Mahmud's regent . When Habesh Khan assumed dictatorial power, Sidi Badr, an African guardsman, seized the throne in 1490. He ruled for over three years, under the title of Shams-ud-din Abu Nasr Muzaffar Shah. His army of 30,000 reportedly included 5,000 Abyssinians. After his assassination in 1493, the Africans in high posts were dismissed and expelled from the kingdom. This marked the end of the African dynasty in Bengal.