Table of Contents
In the twelfth century, Delhi rose to prominence in India. In the middle of the 12th century, it was the capital city of the Tomara Rajputs, which were conquered by the Chauhans of Ajmer. The creation of the Delhi Sultanate was marked when Mohamed Ghori defeated Prithviraj Chauhan and seized Delhi in 1192. Qutub-ud-din Aibak, one of his slaves and a general, was the one who declared himself ruler of Delhi. With his Slave Dynasty of kings, he paved the way for the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate. For 320 years (1206–1526), the Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic empire centered in Delhi that ruled over extensive swaths of the Indian subcontinent. The Mamluk dynasty (1206–1290), the Khalji dynasty (1290–1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1414), the Sayyid dynasty (1414–1451), and the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526) controlled the Delhi Sultanate in succession. It spanned significant swaths of modern-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and sections of southern Nepal.
From around 1206 to 1290 CE, the Slave dynasty ruled. It was also known as the ‘Mamluk’ dynasty, after the Arabic word mamluk, which means “slave/owned.” During this period, three dynasties rose and fell :
1. Qutub-ud-din Aibak founded the Qutbi dynasty – 1206 to 1211
2. Iltumish founded the first Ilbari dynasty – 1211 to 1266
3. Balban founded the second Ilbari dynasty – 1266 to 1290
Qutub-ud-din Aibak was a Muslim ruler who lived from 1206 until 1210.
Qutub-ud-din Aibak formed the Slave Dynasty. He was a Turkish slave of Muhammad Ghori who expanded the Turkish Sultanate in India following the Battle of Tarain. Muhammad Ghori appointed him governor of his Indian holdings. After the death of Muhammad Ghori (c. 1206 CE), Tajuddin Yaldauz, the ruler of Ghazni, gained control over Delhi, while Nasiruddin Qabacha, the governor of Multan and Uchch, sought independence. He fought Yaldauz and broke all ties with Ghazni, thus establishing the Slave dynasty because of his generous donations; Muslim poets called Aibak “Lakh Baksh,” or “Lakh Giver.”He took the title “Sultan” and established Lahore as his capital. He also began work on the Qutub Minar (first level only), named after the eminent Sufi saint Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar. Iltumish finished it after that. In 1210, Aibak died while playing Chaugan (horse polo).
Qutub-ud-son din’s Aram Shah replaced him as ruler, but he was incompetent. The Turkish soldiers opposed him, and his reign lasted barely eight months.
Because Iltutmish was a member of the Ilbari tribe, his dynasty was known as the Ilbari dynasty. Iltutmish was a wise and powerful ruler. He received ‘Mansur,’ the letter of acknowledgment from the Abbasid Caliph, making him the legitimate sovereign ruler of India, in c. 1229 CE. He finished the Qutub Minar in Delhi, India’s tallest stone tower (238 ft).In addition, he introduced Arabic money to India, and the 175gram silver tanka became a standard coin in medieval India. The current rupee is still based on the silver tanka. Turkan-i-Chahalgani, a new class of the ruling elite comprising forty great military men, called the Forty, was organized by Iltutmish. He nominated his daughter as his successor.
Ruknuddin Feruz Shah -1236 CE
He was Iltutmish’s eldest son who succeeded to the throne with the support of nobles. Ruknuddin Feroz Shah marched to destroy the uprising of the governor of Multan. With the support of the Amirs of Delhi, Iltutmish’s daughter Raziya ascended to the throne of the Delhi Sultanate.
Raziya Sultan was a Muslim ruler who reigned from 1236 to 1239 CE. Raziya Sultan was the first and only female ruler of the Sultanate period. The appointment of a few more non-Turks to high-ranking offices enraged the Turkish aristocracy. Raziya Sultan removed her feminine apparel and presided over the court, exposing her face, causing greater resentment. She even led the army and went hunting. Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda, revolted against her in 1240 CE. Raziya and Yaqut marched against Altunia, but on the route, Turkish Altunia supporters assassinated Yaqut and kidnapped Raziya.
Meanwhile, the Turkish nobility installed Bahram, another Iltutmish son, on the throne. Raziya, on the other hand, won over her captor, Altunia, and married him before proceeding to Delhi. On the way, however, she was defeated and slain by Bahram Shah.
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Bahram Shah- 1240 to 1242
The fight for supremacy between the Sultan and the nobles persisted during Bahram Shah’s reign. The Turkish aristocrats initially favored Bahram Shah, but the situation deteriorated, and his soldiers assassinated Bahram Shah during the riots.
Alauddin Masud Shah
Alauddin Masud Shah was a Muslim ruler who reigned from 1242 until 1246 CE. He was the nephew of Raziya Sultan and the son of Ruknuddin Feroz Shah. He was appointed as the new emperor after Bahram Shah died. Nasiruddin Mahmud dismissed him because he was incompetent and incapable of handling the business of the administration.
Nasiruddin Mahmud was a Muslim ruler who lived from 1246 to 1265 CE. He was the young and inexperienced grandson of Iltutmish and ascended the throne with the support of Balban/Ulugh Khan. Because he married his daughter to Nasirruddin, the actual power was in Balban’s hands. Nasirruddin Mahmud died in 1265 CE, and historians such as Ibn Batuta and Isami claim that Balban poisoned him and ascended the kingdom.
He reorganized the army and formed a distinct military department, Diwan-e-arz. Instead of expanding his realm, Balban focused on restoring law and order. Tughril Khan, the governor of Bengal, revolted against Balban in 1279 CE. Tughril Khan was beheaded by Balban’s soldiers in Bengal. Balban named his son Bughra Khan as Bengal’s governor. The Mongols reappeared in the northwest, and Balban dispatched his son Prince Mahmud to fight them. However, the prince was killed in the combat, and Balban suffered a moral defeat. Balban died about the year 1287 CE. He was a key figure in the formation of the Delhi Sultanate. However, he was unable to totally protect India from the Mongols.
Kaiqubad – 1287 to 1290
Kaiqubad was the grandson of Balban and was made the Sultan of Delhi by the nobles. He was soon replaced by his son, Kaimur. Feroz, the Ariz-e-Mumalik (the minister of war), murdered Kaimur and captured the throne. He took the title of Jalal-ud-din Khalji and established the Khalji dynasty.
Khalji Dynasty – 1290 to 1320
1. Jalal -ud -din Khalji – 1290 to 1296
He was the founder of the Khalji dynasty. During his reign, Alauddin conquered Devagiri and acquired vast amounts of wealth. He slew his father-in-law near Kara and took the throne of Delhi during the reception in 1296 CE.
2. Alauddin Khalji – 1296 to 1316
Alauddin Khalji was Jalal-ud-din Khalji’s nephew and son-in-law. During the reign of Jalaluddin Khalji, he was appointed as the Amir-i-Tuzuk (Master of Ceremonies) and the Arizi-i-Mumalik (Minister of War).
3. Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah – 1316 to 1320
After Alauddin Khalji’s death, Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah (one of Alauddin’s sons) ascended the throne. He was assassinated because he was unable to administer the administration effectively.
4. Nasiruddin Khusrau Shah – 1320 CE
Mubarak Shah was assassinated by Nasiruddin Khusrau Shah. His reign was short-lived. Ghazi Malik, the ruler of Dipalpur, assassinated Khusrau Shah and seized the throne of Delhi as Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq.
Tughluq Dynasty – 1320 to 1414
1. Ghiyasuddin Tughluq – 1320 to 1325
He was the founder of the Tughluq dynasty. In 1325 CE, Jauna Khan assassinated his father and succeeded to the kingdom as Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
2. Muhammad Bin Tughluq – 1325 to 1351
He was the only Delhi Sultan with a thorough literary, theological, and philosophical education. He died in 1351 due to the worsening of his health.
3. Firoz Shah Tughluq – 1351 to 1388
After the death of Muhammad bin Tughlaq in c.1351 CE, Firoz Shah Tughlaq was chosen as the Sultan by the nobles. After Firoz Shah Tughlaq’s death in 1388 CE, the Sultan and nobility resumed their struggle for supremacy. Firoz’s successors (such as Muhammad Khan, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq Shah II, Abu Bakr Shah, and Nasiruddin Muhammad) had to deal with slave revolts.
Sayyid Dynasty – 1414 to 1451
1. Khizr Khan- 1414 to 1421
He is regarded as a powerful monarch of the Sayyid dynasty. He attempted but failed to unite the Delhi Sultanate. In the year 1421 CE, he died.
2. Mubarak Shah – 1421 to 1433
Khizr Khan was succeeded by his son Mubarak Shah.
3. Muhammad Shah – 1433 to 1443
Muhammad Shah died in 1445 CE and was succeeded by his son Alam Shah.
4. Alam Shah – 1445 to 1451
Lodhi Dynasty – 1451 to 1526
1. Bahlol Lodhi – 1451 to 1489
He was the founder of the Lodhi dynasty. He died in 1489 and was succeeded by his son Sikandar Lodhi.
2. Sikandar Lodhi – 1489 to 1517
He was a good administrator, he developed roads, and he supplied many irrigation facilities for the peasantry.
3. Ibrahim Lodhi – 1517 to 1526
Sikander Lodhi was succeeded by his eldest son, Ibrahim Lodhi, who was an arrogant and repressive ruler. In the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 CE, Babur marched against Delhi, defeated, and killed Ibrahim Lodhi. As a result, the Afghan kingdom survived barely seventy-five years.
Frequently Asked questions
Raziya Sultan was the only female ruler of the Delhi Sultanate period.
Five dynasties ruled over the Delhi Sultanate.
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