ḴOSROWŠĀH B. BAHRĀMŠĀH, with honorifics variously recorded as Moʿezz-al-Dawla, Neẓām-al-Dawla, Moʾayyed-al-Dawla wa’l-Din, and Tāj-al-Dawla, penultimate ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty (r. ca. 552-55/1157-60),  apparently still in Ghazna until the dynasty found its last home at Lahore in northwestern India at a date around or soon after the time of his death (Bosworth, 1996, pp. 296-97).

The long reign of his father Bahrāmšāh had ended in attacks by the Šansabāni ruler of Ghur ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Ḥosayn Jahānsuz, who devastated the capital Ghazna itself and other centers of Ghaznavid power.  Bahrāmšāh was forced to flee to his Indian possessions, only returning to his ancestral territories shortly before his death, which took place probably around 552/1157 (Juzjāni, I, pp. 241-42; Ebn al-Aṯir, IX, p. 188; Bosworth, 1977, pp. 119-20).  Ḵosrowšāh was apparently the eldest surviving son of Bahrāmšāh, but the exact date of his accession to the throne and, indeed, the whole chronology of his brief reign and that of his son and successor Ḵosrow Malek (q.v.), are very confused and uncertain, with many disrepancies in the sources.  There are no contemporary sources, and only Ebn al-Aṯir and Juzjāni seem to have reasonably accurate historical information about the last decades of Ghaznavid rule.  Numismatics is of no help, since the few extant coins of these last two rulers lack both dates and mints (Album, p. 84).  Some of Ḵosrowšāh’s very few coins acknowledge Sultan Sanjar Saljuqi (q.v.) as suzerain, following his father’s acknowledgment of this tributary status.  Sanjar had died in 552/1157, but news of this event probably did not reach Ghazna for some time.

It seems that Ḵosrowšāh’s position in Ghazna was very speedily threatened by fresh attacks from the Ghurid ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Ḥosayn, now released from his captivity imposed by the Saljuqs.  Juzjāni (I, p. 234; tr. I, p. 111) states that the Ghurids had already taken over the Ghaznavid possessions in southeastern Afghanistan, that is, Zamindāvar, the Bost region and the whole of the garmsir, and the middle reaches of the Helmand river valley, although this may have been an anticipation of what actually happened. An anecdote narrated by Faḵr-e Modabber (pp. 280-82; Shafi, pp. 232-34) mentions a battle between the two leaders in which the Ghaznavid forces were defeated.

At all events, this worsening situation in eastern Afghanistan must have been an unsettling factor in Ḵosrowšāh’s reign, and it was probably soon after his death that a final, irrevocable decision was made to abandon Ghazna and retreat to the Ghaznavids’ Indian possessions based on Lahore, as had previous Ghaznavid sultans on occasion  (see ḴOSROW MALEK).  The chronology here is, however, confused and uncertain.  Ebn al-Aṯir (XI, p. 262) gives the date of Rajab 555 (July 1160) for Ḵosrowšāh’s death, but Juzjāni (I, p. 243; tr. I, pp. 111-12) implies that his death did not occur until 559/1164 and states that, towards the end of his life, he had retreated to Lahore when a group of Oghuz adventurers from Khorasan (whose leader is named by Ebn al-Atir as one Zanki b. ʿAli b. Ḵalifa Šaybāni) had seized control of Ghazna  (Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, pp 305-6; Bosworth, 1977, p. 124).  Wherever Ḵosrowšāh may have ended his days, we unfortunately know nothing about cultural life at his court, and poems dedicated to him by Sayyed Ḥasan Ḡaznavi may have been written during the lifetime of his father, Bahrāmšāh, before his own accession to the throne (see Bosworth, 1977, p. 183, n. 39).



Stephen Album, A Checklist of Islamic Coins, 2nd ed., Santa Rosa, 1998, p. 84.

Clifford Edmund Bosworth, “The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World (A.D. 1000-1217),” in John A. Boyle, ed., The Cambridge History of Iran V: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, Cambridge, 1968, p. 161.

Idem, The Later Ghaznavids: Splendour and Decay.  The Dynasty in Afghanistan and Northern India 1040-1186, Edinburgh and New York, 1977, pp. 119-23.

Idem, The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual, Edinburgh 1996, pp. 296-97.

Ebn al-Aṯir, al-Kāmel fi’l-taʾriḵ, ed. C. J. Tornberg, 13 vols., Beirut, 1965, XI, pp. 165, 168. 

Faḵr-e Modabber Mobārakšāh’s Ādāb al-ḥarb wa’l-šajāʿa, ed. Aḥmad Sohayli Ḵᵛānsāri, Tehran, 1967, pp. 271, 446-47.

Menhāj-e Serāj Juzjāni, Ṭabaqāt-e nāṣeri, ed. ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Ḥabibi, 2 vols., Kabul, 1963-64, I, pp. 242-43; tr. H. G. Raverty, as Ṭabaḳāt-i-Nāṣeri, 2 vols., London, 1881-99, I, pp. 111-13, 448.

(C. Edmund Bosworth)

Originally Published: January 18, 2013

Last Updated: December 6, 2012