Black Death

jayabarathi barathi at PC.JARING.MY
Wed Jun 3 14:46:31 UTC 1998

At 05:46 PM 6/2/98 -0700, you wrote:
>Greetings Indologists:
>Could anybody tell me if India experienced the Black Death ( 1347-1351)
>which so devastated Europe?
> It seems the Black Death originated in China and travelled with the
>Golden Horde and affected areas in the Middle East and North Africa as
>well as Europe, but I have not found references to India.
>I am not having any luck finding info in places where I assume it should
>be, e.g. Ibn Battuta.
>Any help would be gratefully received. Thanks!!
>Mary Storm

                Greetings Ms.Mary Storm,

                        Yes. There is reference to the Black Death
                in India. And it is recorded by Ibn Batuta himself.
                        Madurai, the capital of the Pandya Empire
                was ransacked by Malik Kafur, Kusrau Khan, and finally
                was captured by Mohamed bin Tughlaq in 1323 A.D.. He made
                it into the 23rd province of his Delhi Sultanate. He sent
                Jallaluddin Hassan Shah as its governor. Ibn Batuta had
                married one of the daughters of this Hassan Shah.
                        But Hassan Shah declared himself independant
                and created the Sultanate of Maabar(Madurai) in the
                year 1333 A.D. Muhammad bin Tughlaq himself led an
                army and marched towards Madurai to punish Jallaluddin
                in 1341 A.D. But when he was proceeding from Devagiri,
                the erstwhile kingdom of the Yadavas, to Warangal, the
                capital of the earstwhile kingdom of the Kakatiyas,...
               " a pestilence broke out in his camp and carried away some
                of his officers. The Sultan himself was subject to an
                attack of the dangerous disease. Rumours were set afloat
                to the effect that the Sultan was dead. He left Malik Maqbul
                at Warangal and himself returned to Dawlatabad(Devagiri) and
                thence to Dihli never to regain Ma'bar.
                        After a few years in Delhi, Ibn Batuta took leave
                of Muhammad bin Tughlaq and travelled to Calicut, the
                Maldives and went to Ceylon. From a place called Patlam,
                 he took a ship to go to the Madurai Sultanate. When he
                was eight miles off-shore, the ship wrecked and was
                abandoned. Ibn batuta was saved by some pagan natives(Hindus).
                        On reaching the land he reported his arrival to the
                de facto ruler of the country. This was Sultan Ghiasuddin
                Damghani Shah. He had married another of Jallaluddin
                Hassan Shah's daughters and hence was a co-brother of
                Ibn batuta. Ghiasuddin was a monster and was performing
                genocide in the Tamil country. He was the Sultan who
                treacherously played out the Hoysala emperor Ballala III,
                and finally skinned him and had it stuffed with sraw,
                and hung it from the walls of the Fortress of Madurai,
                where Ibn Batuta saw it hanging.
                        Ibn Batuta stayed with Ghiasuddin for some time,
                and then went to a place called Fatan(Kilzakkarai).
                After sometime he went to see the Sultan in Madurai.

                His description:
                        "On my arrival at Madurai, I found a contagious
                disease prevailing there: people died of it in a short
                time. Those who were attacked by it, succumbed on the
                second or third day; if death was delayed, it was only
                until the fourth day. When I went out, I saw only the
                sick or the dead. I bought a young slave girl here,
                being assured that she was healthy; but she died the
                next day.
                        Once a woman whose husband had been the Vazir of
                Sultan Hasan Shah came to me with her son, aged eight years,
                a nice lad full of intelligence and spirit. She omplained
                of poverty, and I gave some money to her and her son.
                Both of them were strong and healthy; but the next day the
                mother  returned, asking for a shroud for her son, as he
                had died suddenly. I saw in the audience hall of the Sultan
                at the time of his death, hundreds of women servants, who
                had been brought to pound rice for preparing for food
                for other persons than the souvereign; these women, taking
                ill, were thrown on the ground, exposed to the sun's heat.
                        When Ghiasuddin entered Madurai, he found that
                his mother, his wife and his son had fallen ill. He remained
                three days in the city, and then he went out to a river
                at distance of one parasang, on the banks of which is
                a temple belonging to the infidels.
                        I went to meet him on a Thursday and he ordered
                me to be lodged with the Qazi. When the tents had been
                erected for me, I saw people hastening along pushing one
                another. One of them said: "The Sultan is dead"; another
                asserted that it was his son that had died. We ascertained
                the truth and found that the son was dead. The Sultan had
                no other son, and the death aggravated his own disease.
                The Thursday following, the mother of the Sultan died.
                        The third Thursday, Ghiasuddin died. I heard of
                it and hastened to return to town, for fear of a tumult.
                        This happened in 1345 A.D.
                        The Black Death in a way altered the course of
                the history of Tamil Nadu. Saving it from Tughlaq's
                punitive invasion; secondly saving it from the
                cruellest tyrant who was committing calculated genocide
                of the Tamils; weakening the Madurai Sultanate,
                to be conquered by Kampana of Vijayanagar at a later date.


                1.History of Pandya Country by S.A.Q.Hussaini

                2.Foreign Notices of South India by K.A.Nilakanta Sastri




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