Decline of Sur Empire: Murder of Firoz Shah Suri

In a previous post, we discussed the harsh treatment of Salim Shah Suri (r: 1545-1554) towards his nobles. Among the few individuals he trusted were Daulat Khan Ulaja, Taj Khan Karrani, Isa Khan Hijab, and Muhammad Shah Fermuli. Many revolts occurred during his rule, and he spend most of his time in crushing them.

Salim Shah was greatly troubled by the future of his beloved son, Prince Firoz Shah. He had growing suspicions about his cousin, Mubariz Khan, also known as Mamrez Khan, who happened to be the brother of his wife, Bibi Bai. Mubariz Khan resided in Bayana and pretended to be eccentric and mad to avoid being punished. Salim Shah repeatedly warned Bibi Bai about the serious threat that Mubariz Khan posed to their son.

One day, Salim Shah addressed Bibi Bai, "If you truly care for our son Firoz, grant me permission to eliminate your brother Mubariz Khan, who is a constant obstacle in our path. On the other hand, if you value your brother, then you must distance yourself from the life of our son, as he is in great danger from Mubariz Khan." The empress defended her brother, claiming he was harmless and only interested in music and entertainment, not power.

Despite Salim Shah's efforts to persuade her with compelling evidence, Bibi Bai remained unconvinced. Frustrated, he sighed and said, "You know best. Our son is in great danger from Mubariz Khan, and you will in the end understand what I have just said!"

Salim Shah made a final attempt to persuade her while lying on his death bed: "I have the reins still in my hand, and have as yet lost nothing. If you desire your son to succeed me, tell me to do it, and I will cause your brother Mubariz Khan to be removed." Bibi Bai, moved to tears, could not bring herself to agree. Salim Shah warned her, "You will regret this at a time when regret will avail nothing."

Before his death, Salim Shah appointed Taj Khan Karrani, the governor of Sambhal, to look after his son.

Accession of Firoz Shah Suri:

Upon Salim Shah's death, his twelve-year-old son Prince Firoz Shah took over the throne in the fort of Gwalior, with Taj Khan serving as his regent. Ahmad Yadgar notes that Taj Khan issued orders to the nobles as he saw fit, while still prioritizing the interests of the state and his young ruler. However, some disaffected nobles approached Bibi Bai with allegations that Taj Khan was amassing power for himself and plotting to claim the throne. They urged her to exile him to the district of Malwa, which she promptly did.

Later on, things turned out as Salim Shah had predicted. Just a month after Taj Khan's departure, Mubariz Khan began a secret correspondence with certain nobles, winning them over to his cause. Subsequently, he marched towards Gwalior with a large army, with the intention of assassinating the young prince.

Bibi Bai fell at the feet of his brother and pleaded for the life of her son, "Please spare my son, for he is the light of my life. I am willing to renounce all claims to the throne and depart for the Deccan with my son." She reminded her brother of her past services, recounting how she had intervened when Salim Shah had planned to harm him. Despite Salim Shah's threats, she had convinced him to spare her brother by appealing to his emotions. She had argued that her brother posed no threat to his empire and had successfully persuaded Salim Shah to abandon his harmful intentions.

Despite Bibi Bai's heartfelt pleas, Mubariz Khan remained unmoved and heartlessly murdered the young prince before his mother's eyes.

After the murder of Firoz Shah, Mubariz Khan proclaimed himself as Muhammad Shah Adil, also known as Adil Shah Suri (r: 1554-1555), although he was commonly referred to as Adali.


Tarikh-i-Salatin-i-Afghana of Ahmad Yadgar / The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. Elliot & Dowson


Except Ahmad Yadgar, all other contemporary historians state that Firoz Shah was assassinated within three days after his accession to the throne.