Siege of Lahore, to 22 December 1241

The siege of Lahore (to 22 December 1241) was an early Mongol success against the Delhi Sultanate, and took advantage of a state of political confusion in the Sultanate.

After the death of Sultan Iltutmish in 1236 the throne remained in his family, but real power was held by the Forty, the most prestigious of Iltutmish's slave officers. In 1240 they had deposed Raziya Sultan, the only female ruler of the Sultanate, and replaced her with Iltutmish's son Bahram Shah, Sultan Mu'izz al-Din. Over the next year Bahram attempted to gain real power, but only succeeded in alienating his original supporters.

In 1241 a Mongol horde under Tair Bahadur invaded the Punjab. Originally they were heading for Multan, but stiff resistance there deflected towards Lahore. The defence was commandeered with some skill by Malik Kara Kush (or Qaraqush), but the citadel was poorly provisions and the citizens were divided. Many of them traded in areas controlled by the Mongols, and had official passports and permits, which they hoped would protect them now.

Sultan Bahram responded to the siege by sending a relief army led by most of his senior nobles. While the army was on its way the Sultan was tricked into condemning these nobles to death. When they discovered this, they turned the army around and returned to Delhi, where they successfully besieged the Sultan (22 February-10 May 1242). Five days after being captured Bahram was executed.

The failure of the relief army and the divided opinion within the city helped convince Kara Kush that the city could not be held. On 21 December he escaped from the city, under the cover of a night attack on the Mongol camp. On the following day the Mongols stormed the city. Despite the disappearance of the governor the garrison fought well, and the Mongols suffered heavy losses in the street fighting, amongst them Tair Bahadur. After the fall of the city the citizens were massacred and the city walls were razed to the ground. The Mongols then retreated with their loot, although they would soon be back in Lahore.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 April 2010), Siege of Lahore, to 22 December 1241 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_lahore_1241.html

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