Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

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ArmenT
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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby ArmenT » 07 Sep 2010 10:19

Pratyush wrote:I dont understand. Why was he trying to buy from the british. Why the Sikhs could not develop the armanents at home using the skills present in India.

What was lacking, which prevented the development of Musket manufacturing in the Sikh empire.

Firearms did come very early on to India, but by the time the British arrived, firearms technology in the Indian subcontinent hadn't progressed much since the invention of firearms. For instance, all Indian armies still used ancient matchlock technology for their firing mechanism, which is the same technology that came to India via Babur in the 1520s. By contrast, most English weapons had moved to using flintlocks and later (after 1839) percussion locks, which were both much more safer, reliable and not vulnerable to bad weather conditions.

Europeans had also started experimenting with machine tools. Also division of labor was much more common in Europe and therefore manufacturing became more efficient.

It was the same story with cannons as well. Cannons came very early in Indian history, but the tech development had basically stagnated since then and the Portuguese and Dutch did a brisk business selling cannon to Indian rulers.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby ramana » 07 Sep 2010 10:25

ArmenT, There are refs to matchlocks with Vijayanagar forces. Will find the refs.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Pratyush » 07 Sep 2010 12:08

LM, AT,

Thanks for your replies. Perhaps I am glancing at yesterday wearing todays glasses and finding a disturbing parallal in the situation faced by the ancient Indian Kingdoms and the modern republic.

Ramana,

Regarding matchlocks in Vijaynagar service. In this thread it self there is a reference of them being used in a battle against one of the Deccan sultans in a seige. The guns were acquired from the Purtugies(SP??) along with Arabian hources.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby peter » 07 Sep 2010 12:56

Lalmohan wrote:peter - not sure you can come to that conclusion quite so easily.

Why not? Do you find I misrepresented Baburnama in any way?

Lalmohan wrote: i urge you to obtain and read sandhu's book

I don't have this book but I was able to read parts of it at google books where only snippets from it are visible. Here I quote relevant stuff:

Page 390:
"What was worse the negotiations enabled the envoy, the chief of Raisen, to enter into treasonable arrangement with Babur. He had earlier converted to Islam and seems to have acted on the principle that his own interests must be secured against all eventualities"


Page446:
...... manifested itself at a critical juncture. The turncoat prince of Raisen who had unfortunately been trusted with the command of the van guard by the Rana deserted to the enemy with his whole contingent. The Rana had no option but to withdraw from the field of the battle. The rajputs met with a disaster when they had every prospect of a decisively successful outcome. Rana Sanga was severely ....


These excerpts from:
A military history of medieval India
Author Gurcharn Singh Sandhu
Publisher Vision Books, 2003
Length 887 pages

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby ArmenT » 07 Sep 2010 12:58

Pratyush, it wasn't just the Indians that had stagnated. The whole area from the middle east to Japan were still using technology from the dawn of firearms, even until the mid 1800s or so.

For instance, Japan got firearms technology from China as early as 1270 AD. These were very primitive weapons with just a basic metal tube. 275 years later, that was still the state of firearms technology in Japan when the Portuguese landed in 1543 and traded a few matchlock weapons with them. Japanese rapidly cloned these matchlock weapons and actually had more matchlock guns that any European country at one point. However, they later closed off the country to all foreigners and the tech development stagnated again. Since samurai were opposed to guns, they even stopped using them in large scale battles. Well into the 1800s, they were still using exact clones of the Portuguese musket model from 1543!

Incidentally, you might be interested in a series of articles that I wrote about damascus barrels. India has a lot of contributions in that area of firearms technology.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Pratyush » 07 Sep 2010 13:51

Curious,

As warfare ought to improve the state of the art as far as ending of lives is concerned. Yet we are seeing a stagnation in this regard as far as the whole of asia is concerned (Almost). Interesting, this is so in a period where the regions are under most stress from the Sea born powers.



Thanks, for the link I have become a follower and will read more when at home.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Lalmohan » 07 Sep 2010 14:01

Peter, my view is that baburnama cannot be taken literally (it is praising the emperor and glosses over various things and highlights others, particularly an emphasis on ghazi-like kaffir slaying attributes, which is common to other contemporary historians). It comes from the tradition of "the secret history of the mongols" which was commissioned by Genghiz, and then each Kha-khan added to it. Ofcourse, there have been other -namah's since.

Quite apart from the written word, there has to be some level of interpretation based on sanku's factors, e.g. strategic, societal, etc., which allow us to question what is written. e.g. if every ghazi slaughtered x lakh kaffirs, then india should have been depopulated, etc.

it is likely that baburnamah does not make much of firearms, because by this time the turko-mongols had become accustomed to warfare with firearms and it was not such a novelty for them - sandhu quotes several types of names for contemporary light cannon, which indicates that these were well established in service. i believe that many of the names are taken from the baburnamah itself

the rajputs whilst perhaps familiar with these weapons, chose not to worry about them overmuch at khanua - since this was the first time they encountered them in a "serious manner", by which i mean the tactics used by babur. a characteristic seen many times in history. even at the start of WW1, british and french generals thought that all it would take to defeat the germans was one decent cavalry charge. even in 1942, a mongol division of the soviet army charged a panzer battallion at 'full gallop, stirrup to stirrup, sabres flashing in the bright sun' - with the predictable disasterous outcome.

sandhu goes into these factors at some depth - particularly from a military man's perspective - which is what i find very valuable about his analysis. he is clear that the mughal flanks are under great stress and have to be reinforced from the rearguard - this is in the baburnamah. he discusses how the centre is under great pressure despite the large casualties the rajputs had taken. he discusses how the mughal light horse archers then try to envelop and pin down the rajput flanks and the 'house hold cavalry' then attack the centre. all through this the rajputs continue to attack and then continue to hold ground once stalled at the defensive line. they only retreat when they see that they cannot advance any further. and do so in good order and fight their way out of the encirclement.

khanua remains a defeat for the rajputs, but certainly not a rout.

I have asked you to develop your hypotheses for what happened at panipat and khanua so that we can engage in the debate without all of us having to trawl through the data (i.e. we are not going to read the baburnamah or todd or whoever else, end to end), your arguements need to begin with a hypothesis, backed by analysis and highlighting the relevant data that supports your conclusions. you are engaging in the discussion by asking as to read all the data first... going to be difficult to do that!

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Sanku » 07 Sep 2010 14:38

@Peter, Lalmohan.

Just as there is a question of discussion strategy and tactics and chosing various amongst them, we can also rank the tactics in terms of importance.

Quite clearly the various accounts do show that the overwhelming tactical advantage that Babur had was treason of Silhadi, the factors exist, but clearly the treason does stand out. Based on whatever has been posted in this thread from Sandhu and other sources, firearms play a role, but not one which is significant.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Lalmohan » 07 Sep 2010 14:59

sankuji - opinions will vary ofcourse! :-)
i would say firearms played a significant role, but perhaps not the decisive one

on a related note - the rajput khanda broadsword is increasingly in my thoughts. the maharana of mewar was supposed to have cut a turk and his horse in half with one blow (from the khanda I assume). it also is represented in various other images, dating back i think to kushan times with even kanishka being depicted with one?

perhaps the BR master swordsmiths can enlighten us further?

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby darshhan » 07 Sep 2010 20:01

^^ It is Maharana Pratap who is supposed to have cut a mughal soldier as well as his horse with a single blow.There is also a famous painting based on this encounter

Actually if you visit Udaipur and go to the city palace which has been now converted to a museum you can find this painting(I have been there).In this painting however Maharana is not using a Khanda but a regular curved sword or Talwar(as far as I remember).

It is hard say whether this incident really happened or is just a myth.Although it would need superhuman effort to pull such a strike cutting both rider and horse in a single blow.And mind you in the painting the mughal soldier is wearing a helmet as well.

According to me such a strike(the sword passes through helmet,then the complete upper body and then the body of the horse) is very unlikely.

By the way there is also a knife and dagger shop in the city palace.I myself bought a khukri for me.According to the shop owners it is damascus steel.They sold it to me with a blunt edge(which is legal).I had to get it sharpened on my own.But if you are interested in medeival knives and daggers this is one of the best places to go.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Lalmohan » 07 Sep 2010 20:34

darshan-ji, i have seen the painting too (many moons ago) but my memory is weak. i doubt very much that a slashing curved blade could cause such an injury. but a khanda possibly could, though two animals and armour does seem to be far fetched. that said, there must be some truth behind it (even if partially correct)

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Rahul M » 07 Sep 2010 20:49

LM ji, both could manage serious injuries (although there is certainly some amount of exaggeration in the one described) however a talwar is likely inflict deeper cuts during the withdrawing motion.

moreover, the khanda was a two-handed sword, if the legend says that rana pratap was atop a horse then the khanda becomes that much more unlikely. it is much more likely to be used on ground.

most common ancient Indian swords as depicted in artwork is the leaf-bladed sword.
Image

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Lalmohan » 07 Sep 2010 20:56

IIRC the painting shows a horseborne rana slashing his opponent and mount in half at the gallop
my khanda theories are based on viewing "utlimate warrior" recently and dude using khanda to chop his way through three (separately placed) cow carcasses with considerable ease

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Rahul M » 07 Sep 2010 21:02

true, it was a fearsome weapon but not suited for use on horseback. IMO the rajputs adopted the curved blade as they became more cavalry oriented although the khanda was still carried as a side weapon IIRC.

p.s. kanishka's sword was a leaf-bladed one as well.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby peter » 08 Sep 2010 08:53

Lalmohan wrote:it is likely that baburnamah does not make much of firearms, because by this time the turko-mongols had become accustomed to warfare with firearms and it was not such a novelty for them - sandhu quotes several types of names for contemporary light cannon, which indicates that these were well established in service. i believe that many of the names are taken from the baburnamah itself


This does not seem correct. The notion about mounted archers/musketry/artillery being a decisive factor is largely a myth for the battle at Khanua. It would seem some over eager historians needed to find a "reason" for the defeat and the mere presence of these things was good enough and hence they invented phrases like "Babur's artillery mowed down Rana Sanga's cavalry".

Lalmohan wrote:the rajputs whilst perhaps familiar with these weapons, chose not to worry about them overmuch at khanua - since this was the first time they encountered them in a "serious manner", by which i mean the tactics used by babur. a characteristic seen many times in history. even at the start of WW1, british and french generals thought that all it would take to defeat the germans was one decent cavalry charge. even in 1942, a mongol division of the soviet army charged a panzer battallion at 'full gallop, stirrup to stirrup, sabres flashing in the bright sun' - with the predictable disasterous outcome.

Yes this is precisely the problem. We modern people think in terms of modern artillery with their modern rate of firing and precision. And then we back project it to medieval ages and make the mistake of assuming that things were similar. Khanua is a prime example. Dharmat could be considered another one.

Lalmohan wrote:[..] what happened at panipat and khanua so that we can engage in the debate without all of us having to trawl through the data (i.e. we are not going to read the baburnamah or todd or whoever else, end to end),

Have already culled and posted description of this battle and analysis in earlier section.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby peter » 08 Sep 2010 08:56

darshhan wrote:It is hard say whether this incident really happened or is just a myth.Although it would need superhuman effort to pull such a strike cutting both rider and horse in a single blow.And mind you in the painting the mughal soldier is wearing a helmet as well.

Actually the cut was not made through the head rather the neck and down the solar plexus. MRP is not the only warrior who was attributed to this feat. Many other descriptions exist. So splitting a man into two was considered a pinnacle of swordsmanship.

Also damascus steel is a misnomer. Crucible steel technology was invented in India and was exported to multiple places before the birth of Christ. Damascus became an important source for Indian steel swords and from their it went to other parts of the world. This is how the name Damascus steel got stuck in people's heads just like Arabic numerals!

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby peter » 08 Sep 2010 09:52

Rahul M wrote:true, it was a fearsome weapon but not suited for use on horseback. IMO the rajputs adopted the curved blade as they became more cavalry oriented although the khanda was still carried as a side weapon IIRC.

Wonder if this is true. At old prome in Burma archaeologists discovered terracota horse riders with curved swords in their hands. They dated this sculpture to before 11th century A.D.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Yagnasri » 08 Sep 2010 13:10

Fire arms are referred in Telugu writings relatings to Vijaya Nagara Emprire and they are from Portuguse fellows. Theyare called as Budathakichu. Even now the word struck and short fellows are called as such in Telugu.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby sol » 08 Sep 2010 16:38

Did firearms play a major role in the defeat of the Peshwes at the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali in the Battle of Panipat in 1761? Could someone elaborate on this topic?

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Rahul M » 08 Sep 2010 16:50

peter wrote:
Rahul M wrote:true, it was a fearsome weapon but not suited for use on horseback. IMO the rajputs adopted the curved blade as they became more cavalry oriented although the khanda was still carried as a side weapon IIRC.

Wonder if this is true. At old prome in Burma archaeologists discovered terracota horse riders with curved swords in their hands. They dated this sculpture to before 11th century A.D.

how does this bit of info relate to what I said ?

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Atri » 08 Sep 2010 18:08

sol wrote:Did firearms play a major role in the defeat of the Peshwes at the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali in the Battle of Panipat in 1761? Could someone elaborate on this topic?


It was other way round, when it comes to musketeers.. overall artillery was useless in that battle for both sides... the gardi musketeers put forth the best fight against the right flank of Abdali.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby peter » 08 Sep 2010 22:33

peter wrote:
Rahul M wrote:true, it was a fearsome weapon but not suited for use on horseback. IMO the rajputs adopted the curved blade as they became more cavalry oriented although the khanda was still carried as a side weapon IIRC.

Wonder if this is true. At old prome in Burma archaeologists discovered terracota horse riders with curved swords in their hands. They dated this sculpture to before 11th century A.D.

Rahul M wrote:how does this bit of info relate to what I said ?


Should have given more info. My bad. In India sculptures from Buddhist times depict curved sword blades being used by people. So how does this information agree/disagree with the staement "rajputs adopted the curved blade as they became more cavalry oriented "?

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Rahul M » 08 Sep 2010 22:52

curved blade or curved edge ? the two are not same, curved edged sword was definitely there as was the kharga (if you call it a sword and it is curved in the opposite direction) but I'm not aware of any curved sword in India before medieval period.
if you can post the exact references it would be helpful.

weapons in SE asia usually follow a different evolution path. the slightly curved chinese dao is a possible source for example. it's difficult to say anything unless we have a look at the terracota figure can we ?

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby SwamyG » 10 Sep 2010 05:54

From one of the yahoo groups I frequent.
In my School days I remember having read that MARUDHU PANDYAs created a Fort Wall (obstructing Wall to the advancing British Cannons) OVERNITE !! yes literally in a SINGLE NIGHT ( SAY ABOUT 10 HRS SPAN )!!

The morter mix of Lime (Sunnambu - powder dust made like a balm) - sand - clay with PANANJARU (juice of Palm fruits) created such a bonding effect which with stood Cannon fire - though built just under 12 hrs !! Curing was so faster when Panajaru was used !! We need not less than 14 days to get such Curing of modern Cement while concreting !!

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby svinayak » 10 Sep 2010 12:46

Pradeep P. Barua, "The State at War in South Asia (Studies in War, Society, and the Militar)"
University of Nebraska Press | 2005-05-01 | ISBN: 0803213441 | 440 pages | PDF | 1,8 MB

http://www.ebookee.com/The-State-at-War ... 49091.html

Much research has been done on Western warfare and state building but very little on the military effectiveness of states, until now. Using South Asia as a case study, The State at War in South Asia examines how the state, from prehistory to modern times, has managed to wage war. The State at War in South Asia is the first book to cover such a vast period of South Asian military history-more than three thousand years. In doing so, Pradeep P. Barua explores the state's military effectiveness and moves beyond the western and nonwestern dichotomy characterized by most military analysis to date. He leads the reader through a selective study of significant battles, campaigns, and wars fought on the subcontinent.


This book is an attempt to offer alternatives to the above-mentioned
theses. Its focus is not on warfare’s role in state building but on how the
state from prehistory to modern times has managed to wage war. In other
words, this is an exploration of the state’s military effectiveness – another
neglected aspect of the currently available studies of warfare and state building.
Furthermore, the book examines South Asia as a case study. South Asia
makes a compelling example for two main reasons. First, it has at different
times since prehistory undergone long periods of isolation from external inxii
Introduction

fluences. Second, it has endured equally lengthy periods of foreign influence
and domination.
The central theme that runs through this book is an analysis
of how the Indian state in its many guises has waged war. In order to
accomplish this I have followed the relatively unorthodox step of combining
detailed battle history with a general discussion of state building, politics,
and strategy.
My attempt to construct battle history has several reasons behind it. First,
a need exists to establish a clear picture of how a state’s strategic plans translate
into operational reality. Without a qualified examination of the battles
(i.e., the ‘‘operational art’’) themselves, our understanding of military evolution
in the subcontinent is essentially incomplete. Additionally, I want to
regenerate interest in battle histories, seemingly a lost cause in the current
historical trend. The few works that venture into South Asian military history
focus exclusively on the region’s social and cultural development. A case
in point is Seema Alavi’s The Sepoys and the Company. Alavi’s work, which concentrates
on British India from 1770 to 1830, rejects the notion that military
capability had anything to do with the East India Company’s dominance of
North India. Alavi attempts to break away from ‘‘guts-and-glory’’ history by
focusing exclusively on the East India Company Army’s social and cultural
aspects. According to Alavi, the company’s ability to generate knowledge of
‘‘Indian customs and religious practices’’ through its recruitment of Indian
soldiers enabled it to dominate North India.9 The study ignores the fact that
the East India Company managed to engage in an exhaustive study of its
sepoys’ customs and traditions only after its successful military domination
of the North Indian powers.

Finally, Indian military history students have fewscholarly studies of battle
histories available to them. However, I want to point out that this book is
only a small start in this massive undertaking. I readily acknowledge that
many gaps exist in the battle reconstructions, especially in the prehistoric
and medieval periods. There is a wealth of archaeological, epigraphical, and
even archival material that remains untapped. My hope is that these battle
studies will kindle an interest and desire in others to seize the baton in this
quest. I also want to point out that this study’s limited scope restricts me
from engaging in themeticulous battle reconstruction, which focuses heavily
on individual soldiers’ experiences, that Keegan first introduced in his book
The Face of Battle.10 Finally, this is by no means a comprehensive review of all
the ‘‘major’’ battles, campaigns, and wars fought on the subcontinent. Instead,
it examines only those conflicts that offer us the most insight into the
introduction of new tactics, organization, and technology. As a result, some
famous wars such as the sepoy rebellion or mutiny of 1857 have not been disxiii
Introduction
cussed. On the other hand, I have examined in some detail engagements that
have traditionally been considered ‘‘obscure.’’ A case in point is the Maratha-
Afghan campaign of 1763, which culminated in the pivotal battle at Panipat
in North India and witnessed an Indian state entity’s first large-scale use of
European-style infantry armed with matchlocks.
To achieve its goals the book presents a considerable amount of historical
data and analysis in thirteen chapters. These chapters have been categorized
into six parts, which serve as the work’s periodization. Part 1 begins
with the Indus Valley civilization, progresses to the early and later Vedic periods,
discusses the classical period, and culminates with themedieval period.
Chapters 1 and 2 analyze the nature of state formation in addition to examining
various Indian states’ war-making abilities.
The chapters show that state
formation and warfare proceeded hand in hand, feeding and indeed relying
upon each other throughout this period.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby svinayak » 10 Sep 2010 12:52

^^^^
The Macedonian Invasion
Prior to the Macedonian-led invasion of India, the Persians under Cyrus II
(c. 585–c. 529 bc) and Darius I (522–486 bc) subdued western India’s border
regions. Cyrus II subjugated the Indian tribes of the Paropanisus (Gandhara/
Hindu Kush) and the Kabul River valley, while Darius I advanced up to
the Indus River. According to Herodotus, this part of India formed the twentieth
satrapy (the jurisdiction of a satrap, or governor) of the Persian Empire.
It was also the richest, providing Darius I’s tax collectors with no fewer than
350 talents of gold dust.30 Darius I’s successor, Xerxes I (ruled 486–465 bc),
used Indian soldiers in his wars against the Greeks, giving the latter their
first glimpse of Indian soldiers. Herodotus noted, ‘‘The Indians clad in garments
made of cotton carried bows of cane, the latter tipped with iron. . . .
[The Indian cavalry were] . . . armed with the same equipment as in the case
of the Infantry, but they brought riding horses and chariots, the latter being
drawn by wild asses.’’31
8


Warfare in Prehistoric and Classical India
In Herodotus’s account we see confirmation of the information in the
Mahabharata and the Vedas, namely, that the primary weapon was still the
bow and arrow and that chariots still played a central role in Indian armies.
Darius III also used Indian troops against Alexander the Great in 330 bc.The
chronicler Arrian notes that ‘‘Darius’s army had been reinforced by the Sogdians,
the Bactrians, and Indian tribes on the Bactrian border. . . . Darius’
total force . . . [included] a few elephants. . . . [T]he Indian troops from the
hither side of the Indus had about fifteen of them.’’32
AfterdefeatingDarius’s army Alexander began his invasion of India during
the spring of 327 bc. He directed his first attacks against the fortified local
cities of the Aspasians, Assakenians, and Gouriains. Alexander also took the
cities of Massaga, Bazira, and Aornus.33 It is ironic that the descendants of
the Aryan invaders found themselves being overrun in the same manner that
their ancestors had once overcome the original inhabitants of northern India.
It was only on the banks of the Hydapses (Jhelum) that an Indian ruler, Porus
(Paurava), dared to confront Alexander in the open field.
The battle of the Hydapses is the first military action in ancient India documented
by contemporary observers, all of whom were Greek or Macedonian.
In sharp contrast, no equivalent Indian account of this famous battle exists.
By the end of June 327 bc, Alexander’s army was camped near the town of
Jhelum on the west bank of the river.34 Porus and his army stood on the
east bank ready to oppose any crossing. The precise number of troops deployed
by both sides continues to be a mystery, with differing accounts from
Arrian, Diodorus, Plutarch, and Curtius. The general consensus is that Alexander
commanded about 11,000–15,000 men.35 Porus led at least 20,000 infantry,
fewer than 4,000 cavalry, approximately 100 elephants, and some 300
chariots.36
After Alexander’s initial deployment a brief period of movement and countermovement
followed during which Alexander moved his troops up and
down the riverbank, looking for a suitable place to cross, while Porus countered
his every move. Alexander then split his army, and, under the cover of
darkness and rain, the Macedonian main force effected a crossing using a
wooded midriver island to further shield them from the Indians.37 Unsure if
this was the main attack or a feint, Porus dispatched a small contingent to
confront the Macedonian bridgehead, but Alexander made quick work of this
small force.38 Porus then moved most of his army to meet Alexander after
leaving a small contingent to guard the Haranpur ford, where he had been
standing vigil. According to the Greek observers, the two forces confronted
each other on the Karrai plain.The Macedonians deployed in their traditional
formations, with their heavy infantry drawn up in phalanxes in the center
9



Warfare in Prehistoric and Classical India
and the cavalry on the flanks. Porus’s army lined up in a similar fashion, with
the added presence of chariots and elephants. Each commander placed his
elephants in front of the infantry in the center of the army and deployed the
chariots on the flanks with the cavalry.39
Alexander maintained the initiative by attacking the Indian forces with his
cavalry. He first unleashed his mounted archers on the Indian cavalry’s right
flank. While coping with this barrage, he ordered his lieutenant, Coenus, to
strike the Indian cavalry with his cavalry squadrons. Alexander led the remainder
of his cavalry to crush the Indian cavalry on the other flank on the
inland side.40 With Porus’s cavalry and chariots routed, Alexander ordered
his heavy infantry to advance upon the Indian center. The mighty Macedonian
phalanxes advanced but soon recoiled when they confronted the Indian
elephants.41 Porus seized this opportunity and ordered his forces to attack
the Macedonian cavalry and infantry. However, the Macedonians recovered
quickly and began to engage the pachyderms, soon driving them from the
battlefield. Without the support of the elephants, the disorganized Indian
militia were helpless against the Macedonian phalanx. A Macedonian cavalry
attack to the Indians’ rear compounded their problems. Alexander’s forces
encircled and captured the remnants of Porus’s army after hours of bloody
conflict.


In many ways, Alexander’s military genius and the effectiveness of his veterans
made the battle’s end result a foregone conclusion. But this need not
necessarily have been the case. This engagement was the most difficult of all
of Alexander’s battles. The Greek chroniclers vividly describe the fierceness
of the fighting. Their estimate of a thousand Macedonian dead and several
thousand wounded is one of the highest casualty rates that any of Alexander’s
armies suffered, especially in proportion to the number of troops engaged
(11,000–12,000). Although Porus is not known as a great military captain, he
was an adequate commander. Never letting Alexander’s reputation overawe
him, he maneuvered his army with a firm hand prior to the battle, matching
all of Alexander’s moves on the west bank of the Hydapses. When the
Macedonians destroyed his son’s small force, he did not panic but instead
quickly moved to meet what he correctly perceived to be Alexander’s main
force. Porus’s deployment prior to the battle (the infantry and elephants in
the center flanked by the chariots and the cavalry) was the best under the
circumstances. Even when the Macedonian cavalry swept away his cavalry
and chariots, Porus not only maintained his formation but also managed to
launch a quick attack when he saw the vaunted Macedonian phalanx waver.
In this phase of the battle Porus experienced his best chance to claim a victory
and inflict the heaviest casualties upon the Macedonians. According to
10
Warfare in Prehistoric and Classical India
Arrian, Alexander remarked, ‘‘I see at last a danger that matches my courage.
It is at once with wild beasts [elephants] and men of uncommon mettle that
the contest now lies.’’42
Thus, Porus’s defeat cannot be blamed on his poor leadership. He did
make some serious tactical errors: his decision to oppose Alexander’s river
crossing, which gave the initiative to the Macedonians, and his decision to
fight on the rain-soaked and muddy riverbanks, which robbed his chariots of
their limited mobility. But it is also clear that Porus’s fate was sealed long before
he faced Alexander’s veterans. The roots of his army’s demise lay in the
centuries of military stagnation prior to the Macedonian invasion. The organization,
equipment, and battle tactics that constituted Porus’s armyensured
its destruction on that fateful day.


Macedonian and Indian Military Organization
Porus’s army was organized along the cahturanga concept, dating back to the
days of the Mahabharata. This arrangement involved the army’s fourfold division
into elephants, chariots, cavalry, and infantry. The only change that had
taken place since that time was that the elephant had displaced the chariot
as the choice mount of the king and his elite officers. The militia infantry
continued to be the least significant element in this organization. The Macedonians
approached battle in a completely different manner. For them, the
heavy infantry phalanx was an important offensive weapon. The Macedonians
drew their heavily armored infantry into a modified version of the Greek
phalanx in a tighter and more cohesive formation bristling with the dreaded
24-foot-long sarissa to present an almost impenetrable and unstoppable mass
of men and spears on the move. The Macedonian infantry elite, the famous
Hypaspists, were less heavily armored and as a result more mobile. They
formed a link between the slower phalanx and the more mobile cavalry on
the flanks.43


In contrast, the Indian infantry simply did not deploy in such a compact
mass or move with such precision. Its main role was to serve as a moppingup
force for a successful elephant and/or chariot attack. Indeed, the Indian
infantry’s poor equipage seems to support this follow-up role. The Indian
infantryman carried a sword and spear approximately 9 feet in length. With
the exception of senior commanders, no one wore any metal armor.44 An infantryman
probably had some cloth protection (a wadded turban or some
sort of leather corselet and guard), but this was far inferior to the armor of
even the Macedonian light infantry, the Hypaspists. Such a force could and
did melt away in the face of the advancing Macedonian phalanx. The lack
11
Warfare in Prehistoric and Classical India
of armor and the absence of swords and heavy spears among the Indian infantrymen
were not the result of an ignorance ofmetallurgy in India. Indeed,
India was well known in the classical world for its skills in iron making.45
The main difference between the Macedonian and Indian infantries lay
in their social composition and training. Indian infantry forces consisted
mostly of peasant levies constituted hurriedly to meet the invader. These
forces lacked the Macedonian heavy infantry’s cohesiveness, training, and
discipline. The latter had been a professional military force since Philip II
(Alexander the Great’s father) replaced his tribal militia with standing infantry
units composed of peasant conscripts. After the Peloponnesian War
(431–404 bc), a large number of impoverished and landless farmers were
readily absorbed into the army, which lessened the financial burden of maintaining
such a large force; presumably, they did not cost as much as peasant
conscripts. Later, successive wars of conquest continued to support the
army.46 The constant training and campaigning enabled it to function as a
well-disciplined, unified force ‘‘with a cohesiveness and weight of armament
that was unmatched in the contemporary world.’’47
The Indian infantry’s only saving grace was its archers, who fought with
a very powerful long bow. According to the Greek historian Megasthenes
(c. 350–c. 290 bc), the Seleucid ambassador to Chandragupta’s court, the
Indian infantryman carried a bow approximately as long as himself. The arrow
is described as being little shorter than 3 yards, ‘‘and there is nothing
which can resist an Indian archer[’]s shot,–neither shield nor breastplate.’’48
As in Vedic times, the bow and arrow continued to be the personal weapon
of choice with Porus’s soldiers. He even armed his chariot- and elephantmounted
warriors with bows. A significant number of the Macedonian dead
was among their cavalry.49 Since the Indian cavalry or chariots could not have
caused these casualties, the bowmen must have inflicted this damage. The
Macedonian death rate might have been far greater if the soggy, rain-soaked
ground had not prevented many Indian bowmen from notching their powerful
weapons.50
Thus, the Macedonians hopelessly outclassed the Indians in cavalry, infantry,
and battle tactics. The only offensive weapons at Porus’s disposal were
his war elephants. Not even the vaunted Macedonian phalanx could stand
up to the charge of these martial pachyderms. But by themselves, the elephants
could not decide the battle’s outcome, for, like the tanks of today,
they too needed infantry support to protect their flanks and rear. In this
regard the Indian infantry failed miserably. The Greco-Macedonians, after
recovering from their initial shock, quickly surrounded the elephants and
assailed them from all sides, stabbing, hacking, and even burning them. Al-
12
Warfare in Prehistoric and Classical India
though the elephants were well armored and trained to meet frontal attacks,
the attacks from the rear, sides, and below must have panicked them. In the
final analysis, the Indian infantry’s inability to follow through and support
the elephants’ initial assault doomed any hopes Porus had of reinforcing his
counterattack.


Chandragupta Maurya
For reasons still not entirely clear, Alexander ended his campaign in India
and left the subcontinent in 325 bc. By doing so he avoided an inevitable confrontation
with the most powerful kingdom in northern India, that of the
Nandas. The Nanda dynasty were initially rulers of Magadha but had gradually
expanded their power from the central Gangetic Plain to the entire valley
in addition to substantial territories in the south up to the Godavari River.
Soon after Alexander’s departure, Chandragupta Maurya (died c. 297 bc),
the founder of the Mauryan dynasty, overthrew theNanda dynasty. According
to Plutarch, a youthful Chandragupta had actually met Alexander between
326 and 325 bc.51 Considerable confusion exists as to how exactly Chandragupta
ascended the throne in Magadha about 320 bc. According to Plutarch,
he first overthrewAlexander’s prefects in northwestern India and then seized
power in Magadha. However,when and how Chandragupta seized the throne
and defeated Alexander’s prefects is still a mystery.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby sol » 11 Sep 2010 21:20

Atri wrote:
sol wrote:Did firearms play a major role in the defeat of the Peshwes at the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali in the Battle of Panipat in 1761? Could someone elaborate on this topic?


It was other way round, when it comes to musketeers.. overall artillery was useless in that battle for both sides... the gardi musketeers put forth the best fight against the right flank of Abdali.


Could you provide an insight into the battle, in terms of firearms used? I think I've read that the Gardis defected to Abdali's side at the penultimate hour (I'm not sure of it though).

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Lalmohan » 12 Sep 2010 15:39

sol, there is a reasonable description on wiki - but its insufficient

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Airavat » 13 Sep 2010 04:05

sol wrote:Could you provide an insight into the battle, in terms of firearms used? I think I've read that the Gardis defected to Abdali's side at the penultimate hour (I'm not sure of it though).

THE PANIPAT CAMPAIGN
Due to their victory at Kunjpura, and the money and grain taken there, the Marathas had greater confidence and took the initiative in the almost daily skirmishing. Maratha horsemen circled around the enemy camp, probing their defences, attacking enemy patrols, carrying off horses, elephants, and camels. But the Afghans had greater numbers and an overwhelming superiority in infantry firepower (almost 45,000 against 8000). The real victor would be the one who managed to starve out the other side first.
<snip>
The Abdali army's lines extended the Maratha lines by almost a kilometer on either wing. The field artillery on the two sides was fired after the armies had formed up and had little impact on the battle. The Abdali guns were of light caliber and their shots did not carry the distance, while the Maratha guns, due to faulty elevation and erratic aiming fired their shots over the enemy heads. Rockets were used by both sides, and were a particular favorite of the Marathas—useful in stampeding horses or when fired into a dense mass of soldiers, but ineffective at long range. The Abdali swivel guns came into play after the Maratha cavalry charge.

Commencement of the Battle (10:00 am)

Ibrahim Khan Gardi, mounted on a horse, with a flag in one hand and a musket in the other, led his Telugu battalions from the left wing. These were drawn up in long columns, as was the French practice. He made two of these march further to the left at an angle, to prevent the Abdali cavalry (Barkhurdar Khan) from attacking him in the left flank. With his remaining 7 battalions (6300 men) he marched within range and attacked the Ruhelas (14,000 men) directly in front with a hail of bullets.

the disciplined firing of the Gardis in 3 hours had badly mauled the Ruhelas, killing or wounding more than 8000. A small cavalry contingent under Damaji Gaikwad (3000 men) provided valuable support to the Gardis. The two battlaions on the far left had by this time also charged Barkhurdar's cavalry and dispersed them by its firing.

3000 cavalry were sent to support the Ruhelas. By this time the Gardis had almost exhausted their ammunition. The Ruhela infantry was steadily pushing back what was left of their battalions. Then the reinforcements galloped in from all sides and wiped out the remaining Maratha infantry. On the far left Barkhurdar Khan was also able to overcome the two Gardi battlaions. Only 1500 infantry survived and retreated during the confused fighting.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Lalmohan » 13 Sep 2010 12:59

what is interesting about the battle is that instead of being a 'single field single day event', it has expanded in both scale, scope and time. in many ways it is remensiscent of the large scale battles of the napoleonic era that follow it a few decades later (I am sure that warfare was changing for everyone, but I can only speak about the battles that I know of)

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby ss_roy » 14 Sep 2010 01:10

The lack of indigenous technological development in the field of small arms during the 16th-18th century come down to an attitude that persists to this day.

If a society operates in a manner such that any competent person taking risks is taken advantage of, instead of being helped, nobody of any real ability will even bother innovating. Only the incompetent, corrupt and connected will be left to do what requires competence and dedication.

Other Asian countries such as china and japan had the same problems during that era- and to some extent STILL have the same problems. Even the west today has started morphing into something closer to a hereditary kleptocracy.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby ss_roy » 15 Sep 2010 03:30

The great irony about the paucity of gunpowder weapons in India is that it was the biggest exporter of Saltpeter (potassium nitrate) to the west during the 1600-1800 period. The other two ingredients, charcoal and sulfur, are relatively easy to obtain, but saltpeter is not.

Is it not peculiar that a country/region that sold the most important ingredient of gunpowder to the west never developed or used gunpowder weapons to the same level as the west?

The Indian saltpeter trade, the military revolution and the rise of Britain as a global superpower.
http://www.allbusiness.com/trade-development/international-trade-export/13256077-1.html

INTRODUCTION

BETWEEN 1601 AND 1801, ships made thousands of voyages carrying goods from Asian ports to the primary European markets for East Indian commodities: Amsterdam, London, l'Orient, Copenhagen, Lisbon, and Stockholm. (1) On average, these Indiamen measured 1,000 tons burden, with approximately 2,830 [m.sup.3] of cargo space. (2) Sixteen percent of this cargo space, according to the normal practice of East India captains, consisted of saltpeter--some 452.8 [m.sup.3] of nitrates, weighing 1.6 metric tons. Sometimes, saltpeter was shipped in heavy bags, weighing between 150 and 170 pounds, but usually it was shoveled loose into the bottom of the hold, a marketable ballast that looked like mud and smelled like sewage. Aboard an Indiaman, especially in thesultry atmosphere of tropical waters, the pungent, penetrating odor of saltpeter, buried under tons of coffee and calicoes, was inescapable and euphemistically described, by English sailors, as "the smell of the ship." (3) That unpleasant smell, however, was also the aroma of latent political power.


AND

Indian Gunpowder – the Force Behind Empires
http://2ndlook.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/indian-gunpowder-the-force-behind-empires/

India’s gunpowder production system

India was the largest gunpowder production system – in the history of the world, till the 20th century. Specifically Bengal and Bihar regions. Operated by a caste of peoples called the nuniah, saltpetre beds supplied the most vital element in gunpowder – saltpetre. And India produced virtually all of it. Especially, Bihar, Bengal, Agra and Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Karanataka regions (Anantapur, Coimbatore, Guntur, Kurnool). The Guntur Sircar also manufactured saltpetre on a commercial scale. A mid 17th century Royal Society paper documented how saltpetre was made in India. Most of the miniscule amounts of saltpetre produced in the rest of the world was calcium nitrate, a hygroscopic salt, which spoilt easily by absorbing moisture from air. The Armenians, the ill-fated Omichund, a “notorious Calcutta merchant who was later to engineer the Plassey Revolution” played an important part in the Bengal/Bihar saltpetre trade. They were all significant players in the export of saltpetre (potassium nitrate). Also known as niter, saltpetre was a necessary ingredient for gunpowder.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby ramana » 15 Sep 2010 03:38

So they never made their own gunpowder? There were stories in "Sea Hawk" about Kanoji Angre buying GP from the Portugese and how it wasn't same quality that they used as the shot fell far short.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby ArmenT » 15 Sep 2010 11:49

Yep, most of Europe was importing saltpetre from India for a long time. I wrote some information about this in my blog. For those who are interested, details are here:
http://firearmshistory.blogspot.com/2010/06/propellants-basics.html
http://firearmshistory.blogspot.com/2010/06/propellants-black-powder-i.html <--- India's involvement in the process
http://firearmshistory.blogspot.com/2010/06/propellants-black-powder-ii.html <--- Explains why European powder was considered superior to Asian or American manufactured powders. Not all powders from Europe were high quality though.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby tsarkar » 15 Sep 2010 12:37

Ramana, MM was a very meticulous writer, and his story is correct.

India supplied only raw material. Inhouse production process, quality control, standardization was poor and local gunpowder didn’t usually stand up to European stuff. A similar situation today would be Orissa iron ore exported to Korea and POSCO making better quality steel than SAIL or local private players for variety of reasons. Indians have been manufacturing gunpowder for long – I read somewhere that Hemu started as a gunpowder manufacturer and supplier. His production facilities gave him an assured supply base vis-à-vis opponents.

Defective European material supplied to natives is correct. These materials for trading with natives were deliberately manufactured to lower standards to avoid the possibility of the material being used against them. Simple example would be elevation screws that would wear out after “x” operation cycles, and reduce range. Spare parts, ToT, metallurgy was never provided.

The Europeans never used captured native cannons sold earlier by themselves or other Europeans because they knew their lower performance standards. On the other hand, captured English, French, Dutch, Portuguese or Danish cannons were prized, and even salvaged from sunk ships.

It is recorded in Bombay Presidency archives that British urgently replaced Maratha cannons from Khanderi fort with British ones from ships on capturing the island.

Incase anyone is interested, I have detailed pictures on the layout and equipment of Khanderi available. The approach is so complex that any ship entering has to execute a proper “S” followed by a “P” to enter the harbor, or it will sink striking sharp rocks just under the sea surface. Many modern ships of the RCF factory opposite Khanderi have sunk on those rocks even today because of careless navigators.

Added later - Armen has explained the technical aspects much better.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby ss_roy » 15 Sep 2010 20:16

tsarkar,

The real question is-

Why did Indians not develop the process of gunpowder manufacture to the levels seen in the west?

There was no lack of intelligent and hardworking people, nor was the basic process or equipment sophisticated. So why not?

My answer is twofold-

1] Indian rulers never saw gunpowder weapons as particularly important for waging war. Even the mughals were content with basic artillery and matchlocks.

2] Societies with rigid hierarchies and low risk tolerance do not foster innovation. Remember that it took the black death, renaissance and a lot of wars to weaken the rigid social hierarchies in Europe.

The more 'traditional' and stable a society- the less it can innovate. The easiest way to make a society innovative is to destroy its existing hierarchy.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby tsarkar » 16 Sep 2010 11:19

SSR, you have gone into the crux of the matter. I am reminded of what was taught at Staff College.

Any nation/community’s future is decided by choices made by majority of its people. People have two social/political options at any point of time. Either maintain status quo or change status quo.

People of stable societies want to maintain status quo – like Europe & India today. People of unstable societies like Israel in 1948 and Pakistan today want to change status quo.

Imperatives for changing status quo are many – intra-community conflict for limited resources, population explosion, etc.
Babur was kicked out of Samarkand by Uzbeks and had no place to go. So he was desperate to change status quo. Same was the story in Europe, children were kicked out of homes to seek their fortunes in America, India or Africa. Charles Dickens clearly depicts the pathetic state of European societies those days, in comparison; an Indian household in similar times fared much better and had better living conditions.

Now, those wanting to change status quo are desperate, and they innovate, improvise, and push the limits. They have great freedom of actions, and most importantly, NOTHING TO LOSE. Those with nothing to lose fight the best, because they are not restricted by anything, and every gain is a tangible gain.

A Turk lived by the sword. Intra & Inter tribal fighting was so rampant that he could be killed anywhere. India was a much safer place for him to go. And his quest for survival in intra & inter tribal fighting toughened and wisened him. His experiences taught him the tricks of war that Indians lacked the experience to learn.

An European lived his life by the gun. He could be killed in his home, his village or city, or in his country in intra-community fighting (For example, the initial part of Count of Monte Cristo). The colonies were a safer place for a European to be in. He was desperate to ensure his gun was the best and when most people in the community thought this way, innovations were bound to emerge in the population base. European adventurers worldwide share profits made in colonies with weapons manufacturers. Weapons manufacturers knew if the adventurers succeeded in colonies, they would buy more weapons. So they bettered those weapons.

On the contrary, people of stable societies have no imperative to fight, or innovate, improvise or push the limits of their military prowess.

To summarize, those wanting to change status quo have more options available to them. Those wanting to maintain status quo have less options available to them.

Victory belongs to those most desperate for it.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby ArmenT » 16 Sep 2010 12:05

Like I said earlier, it wasn't just India, but also most of Asia that stopped doing significant tech development in weapons. Well, Europe was also not doing much in the Dark Ages either, but they they had the Renaissance in the 1300s and they took off. Something like the Renaissance never happened in Asia.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby rkirankr » 16 Sep 2010 12:23

Some Analysis on Battle of Talikota

Some highlights
In spite of all these disadvantages, historians agree that the biggest reason for the defeat was the betrayal by two key Vijayanagara muslim commanders, the Gilani brothers who had thousands of soldiers under their command. These commanders were defectors from the Adil Shahi kingdom and later employed by Aliya Rama Raya. The Gilani brothers are known to have fled the battlefield at a key juncture. This has been strongly supported by the writings of two European travellers, Frendricci and Frenchman Anquetil Du Perron who visited Vijayanagar in 1567 C.E.

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Re: Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Postby Lalmohan » 16 Sep 2010 12:27

to tsarkar's point, following the english-scottish war of the jacobite rebellion, the 2nd and 3rd sons of scottish aristocrats and other upper classes had no viable income or means of support since their estates were either ravaged or paying tax to london. most of these men ventured abroad and were the core of the british empire, in india and north america and elsewhere


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