Nepal History

Up to modern times, the history of Nepal is largely identified with that of the Kathmandu valley. The earliest settlers are believed to have spoken Tibetan Burmese languages. Legendary chronicles name, among other things. Kirata ruler (also Kiranti).

Licchavi and Malla dynasties

Historically more reliable are the sources of the Licchavidynasty, from whose time (1st – 9th centuries) inscriptions and buildings have been preserved. Today’s image of the valley was shaped by the Malla (1200–1768; 1484 split into the three competing empires of Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Patan). The 14th century saw a cultural heyday. The state-sponsored Hinduism (codification of the caste system by Jayasthiti Malla, reign 1382-95) superimposed the older religions, including Buddhism.

Shah dynasty and rule of the Rana family

Today’s Nepal was strongly influenced by the Shah dynasty, which has ruled Gorkha in central Nepal since 1559. The campaigns of their most important ruler, Prithvi Narayan Shah (* 1723, † 1775; reign 1743–75) culminated in 1768 with the conquest of the Kathmandu valley. Further campaigns of conquest resulted in wars with Tibet and China (1788–92, again with Tibet in 1854–56) and with British India (1814–16). Relations with the latter were regulated by the Treaty of Sagauli (1816), by which the territorial borders of Nepal were established and in which the Shah dynasty had to accept a permanent British resident in Kathmandu; In 1923 a new British-Nepalese treaty was signed.

Power struggles and intrigues within the royal family, from whose ranks, minors under reign several times ascended the throne, and the strengthening of individual noble families led to a weakening of the Shah dynasty. In a coup d’état (palace massacre of 1806, in which numerous members of the royal family and nobles were killed), Bhimsen Thapa initially took over political power as prime minister until his death in 1837. In the ensuing internal turmoil, General Jung Bahadur Kunwar seized himself in a bloody coup d’état on September 15, 1846 (another palace massacre in which over one hundred ministers and leading officials lost their lives) of power; After he accepted the name Rana and granted the title “Maharajah” (1856), which made the office of prime minister hereditary in the Rana family, this family secured the political leadership of the country until 1951.

In both world wars, according to philosophynearby, Nepalese mercenaries fought in so-called Gurkha regiments in the British army. After India’s independence (1947), the Nepalese Rana government concluded a peace and friendship treaty with the Indian Union in 1950.

Restoration of royal power and the Panchayat constitution

It was only with the help of India and insurgents from the ranks of the Nepali Congress (NC), founded in 1947, that the rule of the Rana could be overthrown in 1950/51 and the Shah dynasty ended its more than one hundred year disempowerment. On February 18, 1951, King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah (* 1906, † 1955; 1911–55) proclaimed Nepal a constitutional monarchy, but in the following years postponed the elections to a constituent assembly that had been promised for 1952 for an indefinite period of time. His successor Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah (* 1920, † 1972;1955–72) intensified efforts to restore absolute royal power. It was not until 1959 that he gave in to pressure from the political parties, passed a semi-democratic constitution and held parliamentary elections six days later. From these the Indian-oriented NC emerged as the winner and provided the prime minister with Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala (* 1915, † 1982). On December 15, 1960, the king deposed the government and abolished the parliamentary system; In early 1961 he banned the parties. With the introduction of the Panchayat constitution (December 16, 1962), Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah gained absolute power in the political system (further strengthened by constitutional changes in 1967 and 1975), in 1972 Birendra Bir Bikram Shah (* 1945, † 2001)took the throne and initially continued his father’s authoritarian policy. In 1979 bloody student demonstrations prompted the king to hold a referendum on the future of the political system. The 1980 referendum defeated the democratic forces, but eased the system. Elections were held in 1981 and 1986 without the admission of political parties.

Maoist uprising and end of the monarchy

In 1996 a bloody revolt broke out in West Nepal by a Maoist guerrilla movement, which took control of an increasingly larger area and increasingly destabilized the country; With its “people’s war” against feudalism and the political and social power structures manifested by the Shah dynasty, it sought to force a socialist republic based on the Maoist model.

In March 1997 Lokendra Bahadur Chand (* 1940; National Democratic Party [NDP]) was Prime Minister of a coalition government in which the NC was still the strongest party. In October 1997, Surya Bahadur Thapa (* 1928, † 2015, also NDP) replaced him in office after power struggles within his own party; this time the NC was not involved in the government, but the CPN –UML. In April 1998 the NC took over the leadership of the government again with Girija Prasad Koiralaas Prime Minister, initially as a minority government, later in coalition with the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist; abbreviation CPN -ML), which was split off from the CPN –UML, from December 1998 with the CPN –UML and the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (NSP). For the parliamentary elections of May 1999, Koirala declared his internal party rival Krishna Prasad Bhattarai to be the top candidate in order to keep the party threatened by a split together. The elections brought an absolute majority of the seats for the NC. First, a government was formed under Prime Minister Bhattarai ; in March 2000, however, Koirala urged him to resign and took over the government himself.

Nepal History