In 1807 the armies of the Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, passed through the allied Kingdom of Spain on their way to annex Portugal. The armies that quietly entered the kingdom never left---instead when the conquest of Portugal had been completed they began pouncing on Spanish forts. The ruling Bourbon family was now compelled to abdicate and the Spanish field armies were defeated and scattered. In 1809 Napoleon left Spain, satisfied that his work was done---he never returned again. However the Spanish guerilleros fought a long and savage war of resistance that so drained the occupying Frenchmen that on his deathbed Napoleon was forced to acknowledge, "The Spanish ulcer ruined me!"
After the Spanish state, as represented by the King and his court, had been extinguished and the Spanish army as an organized force had been broken, the Spanish people took on the onus of resistance. Bands of former soldiers and peasants, armed with muskets, swords, knives, and pitchforks, spread out throughout the Spanish countryside. They ambushed isolated French pickets, murdered every courier and looted every supply train, and by way of reprisal tortured, blinded, and boiled alive French prisoners! These actions isolated the different French armies from each other and allowed the English under the Duke of Wellington to fight their way from the Portuguese coast right up to the Pyrenees.
This people's resistance came to be called guerrilla warfare---named after the Spanish guerilleros (bands of fighters). In the Indian context the closest parallel to the war in Spain is the thirty years war in the Kingdom of Jodhpur, which began in 1678 with the death of its ruler and the usurpation of that country by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The Rajput clan of that Kingdom, under its numerous sub-sections, fought a guerrilla war against the occupiers of their country---their war-bands cut down isolated Mughal outposts, plundered their supply caravans, and dominated the roads passing through the Kingdom. On Aurangzeb's death in 1707 the Mughal garrisons were evicted from the numerous forts and Jodhpur at last came under its hereditary rulers. However since this guerrilla warfare was restricted to the ruling clan of Jodhpur it will not be covered in this series---the aims of the Rajputs were specific and the war ended when they were achieved.
This war overlapped with the general Rajput discontent across Rajputana, Malwa, and Bundelkhand---but even all these together were secondary to Aurangzeb's life or death campaign against the Marathas, which forever altered the course of Indian History. That campaign also involved guerrilla warfare by the Marathas and will be covered in part-II of this series. In a third category, and in the same Emperor's reign, were the risings that streaked across limited areas for brief periods of time---one such rising was that of the Sikhs in the Punjab and the neighboring hills.
The dominating feature of northern India is the chain of mountain ranges that protect the continent from the cold of Tibet and from the dry winds of Central Asia. In the west these ranges are barren and merge into the highlands of Afghanistan---several gaps in these mountains lead into the green lower hills that receive moisture from the annual monsoon. In the geography of the Mughal Empire these lower hills were part of the province of Kabul.
South and east of the Jhelum River stretch the plains of the Punjab (five rivers) crossed at intervals by the Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej Rivers. On the banks of the Ravi stood the city of Lahore, the capital of the province, by which name the Mughal Punjab was also known. The population and the fertility of the land increased towards the east but the region as a whole remained on the fringes of Indo-Persian civilization throughout the medieval era. The lands south of the Sutlej River were included within the Delhi province. The five rivers converge and fall into the Indus near Multan, which was the capital of a separate province peopled by speakers of the Seraiki language.
To the north and east of Punjab tower the mighty Himalayas, from whose snows and glaciers the five rivers originate. Between the Himalayas and the Punjab plains are numerous hill ranges and valleys, each forming a separate Rajput Kingdom throughout the medieval era. This region was known as either the Jammu hills or the Kangra hills in Mughal records---from the leading Rajput Kingdoms of those names. In this paper the region will be referred to as the eastern hills or the Jammu and Kangra hills for the sake of convenience.
The inhabitants of these eastern hills protected their identity and ancient heritage to a greater extent than the people of the plains. The republics (janapad) of Ancient India survived in these hills centuries after their counterparts in the plains had been swallowed by the newly rising monarchies---the ruling system of the republics broke up into segments called Rajas, Ranas, and Thakkars (these communities still exist in Himachal Pradesh to this day; the first two being classed as Rajputs). Contact with Islamic powers really came with the Mughals and their artillery but even this contact was limited in its effects to the rulers of the region. Throughout history these hilly tracts afforded security to merchants and common people of the plains from outside invaders and local oppressors, while their rulers gave sanctuary to kings and adventurers of the plains who had been dispossessed by rivals. The economies of these states were based on forestry, revenue from agriculture in the fertile valleys, and trade.
 From the 6th Century BCE onwards, monarchies like Magadha, Anga and Kaushambhi came to dominate the Indo-Gangetic plains. The republics in the hills were only ended by the Guptas eight hundred years later.
 The word Rajput is used only by the Hindu warriors in these hills. Although nowadays some Punjabi Muslims also lay claim to being Rajputs, the evolution of that word through the period of Islamic invasions does not allow for such a claim. Because as far as the Mughals were concerned the word Rajput could not be applied to those who had converted to Islam, since they were now members of the ummah.
The inhabitants of the western hills have been vulnerable to aggression and cultural influence from two sides---from the lands across the Afghan mountains and from powers based in the Punjab plains---the more dominating influence coming from the plains. In ancient times these hills were home to a splendid and rich culture but in the medieval era small states abounded whose inhabitants eked out a living from subsistence agriculture and trade. Added to these difficulties was the incursion of Pasthun tribes from Afghanistan into these tracts, who carved up these valleys among themselves and fought the original Gakhar, Awan, Janjua and Gujjar inhabitants to a standstill---whenever invaders from mainland India or Central Asia marched through these hills, or a powerful chief rose in the Punjab plains, all these people would join such armies as mercenaries. The Pashtuns themselves came in the wake of Turk invaders who targeted the richer cities of the fertile plains and obtained only a nominal allegiance from these hilly tracts.
Figure 1 http://www.rolandziegler.de/Railtours/pakistan96/malakwal2/salt_range.jpg the Punjab plains north of River Jhelum. In the distance are the hills of the Salt Range
Over the years the Turks in the plains eliminated all resistance to their rule from the local warriors who were either exterminated or converted to Islam. The remainder of the population, unlike in the hilly regions, thus had a higher proportion of Jats (pronounced Jatts in Punjabi). These people were mostly farmers who could take to arms if provoked---but as long as the Turk power was strong they remained quiet revenue-paying cultivators. When the power of the Turks declined in the 14th Century it were the states based in the surrounding hills, the Gakhars of the Salt Range, the Raja of Kangra, and even the Sultan of Kashmir, who came to plunder and dominate the Punjab plains with their cavalry.
Muskets were introduced by the Mughals (and by the Portuguese in South India) in the 16th Century and improvements in their design and accuracy by the close of the 17th Century would lead to the rise of infantry groups like the Berads, Telegus, Ruhelas, Jats, and Purbias (see RMA I, II, III). Before that time the powers of the north had been absorbed into the Mughal military system, prompted mostly by Akbar's enlightened policy of recruiting and promoting capable men from all communities, and also by a new spirit of toleration infused by this young Emperor.
This enlightened and pragmatic policy was opposed by Akbar's brother, Mirza Muhammad Hakim of Kabul, and by several Muslim mansabdars who conspired to overthrow Akbar in 1580. The attempt was defeated on the Indus River by Akbar's valued allies, the Kachhawa Rajputs under Kunwar Man Singh. These Rajputs next defeated the Yusufzai Pathans, recent immigrants to the lower hills, who had been oppressing and robbing the original inhabitants. This region then remained quiet over the next century and was witness to the march of Mughal armies to and from Afghanistan. The local inhabitants, whether they were Janjuas from the Potohar plateau or Gakhars and Kambohs from Rawalpindi, served with distinction in the Mughal army and administration. Increased populations of Pashtun tribes in the late 17th Century again caused an eruption of their lawless activities, led by Afridis, Yusufzais, and Khattaks---these tribesmen used their matchlocks to harass the Mughal armies marching through the rocky defiles and valleys. However in the pitched battles the Mughal artillery devastated the Pathan ranks while the cavalry, under the best Rajput and Muslim mansabdars, scattered the enemy formations and thus crushed their resistance.
The Rajas of the Jammu and Kangra hills joined in the campaigns of the Mughal armies. In the Mughal records these Rajputs are credited with excellence in hill fighting and for good marksmanship with their matchlocks. But on the whole the Mughals could not control the eastern hills from the Punjab---the reason for that lay in geography. The Kangra fort commands the approach into an undulating plain called the Kangra valley (the ancient Trigartta), which is the largest and richest piece of arable land in the hills.
 These were early days for the muskets, which were no match for the talwars and the charging cavalry of the Rajputs.
 The word Kamboh is believed to be derived from Kamboja, the name of an ancient Hindu Kingdom.
 For this reason they were prominent in the Mughal campaign to conquer Central Asia in 1645, where the army was led by Raja Jagat Singh Pathania of Nurpur, and in the attempts to take the fort of Kandahar from the Persians, where Raja Rajrup Patahania and Raja Man Singh Guleria were noted for their attempts to surprise the garrison by an infantry assault.
Figure 2 the fertile valley of Kangra between the snow-clad Dhaul Dhar and the Shivalik lower hills. From http://www.hpkangra.nic.in/
Whoever held that fort would also command the wealth of the valley and would thus have the resources to dominate the entire hilly region---even though the Raja of Kangra had submitted to Akbar and had become a mansabdar the hills could only be under Mughal rule once Kangra fort was captured. This fact prompted even the local rivals of the Kangra Rajas to hinder the Mughals in their attempts to take the fort. But victory came to the Mughals finally in 1620; the Raja of Kangra retired to the Dhaula Dhar Range and began a guerrilla war that would last three generations.
In the plains of Punjab much of the population was concentrated in the major towns while a belt of land around each such town flourished with cultivation. The rest of the province remained poor and vast areas were covered with jungle and scrub. Apart from the Jats, pastoral tribes like the Gujjars, and the wild Ranghars made their homes in these desolate tracts and sustained themselves through highway robbery and raids. Whenever the Mughal power was weakened by a campaign against a great Raja or by the rebellion of a Mughal prince, these robber-bands would crawl out of their hiding places and increase their raids---only to make a humble submission when the power of the government was restored. But a new set of enemies emerged in the 17th Century---their leaders acquired wealth and power not by raids but through the offerings of their devoted followers. The guerrilla warfare by these Sikhs eventually transformed the history of the northern regions.
 In Akbar's failed attempt of 1572, Raja Govind Chand Jaswal defended the fort for his kinsman Raja Jai Chand Katoch, while in Jahangir's siege of 1615-20, Raja Suraj Mal Pathania blocked the progress of the Mughals and eventually went into rebellion. The Raja of Guler however remained on the Mughal side.