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Medieval History / Delhi Sultanate

Slave Dynasty in India


    Delhi Sultanate was founded in the year 1206 and ruled up to 1526. There were 5 different dynasties in Delhi Sultanate, namely Mamluk Dynasty (1206 - 1290 AD), Khalji Dynasty (1290 - 1320 AD), Tughlaq Dynasty (1320 - 1440 AD), Sayyid Dynasty (1440 - 1451 AD) and Lodi Dynasty (1451 - 1526 AD). Qutb-ud-din Aibak was the founder of Mamluk dynasty. Mamluk dynasty is also known as Slave dynasty because Qutb-ud-din Aibak was a slave of Muhammad of Ghor.

    Persian was the official language of Delhi Sultans as well as Mughals. Two historians gave information about the history of Slave dynasty through their books. Hasan Nizami, who was in the court of Iltutmish, wrote a book named Taj-ul-Maasir in Persian. It deals with Qutb-ud-din Aibak and Iltutmish. Minhaj-i-Siraj, who was in the court of Razia Sultana, wrote a book named Tabaqat-i-Nasiri.

    Political History of Slave Dynasty

    Qutb-ud-din Aibak (1206 – 1210 AD)

    • Qutb-ud-din Aibak ruled from Lahore. He never took the title Sultan. He took the titles of Malik, Sipahsalar (Military Governor) and Lakh Baksh (Giver of lakhs to poor).
    • He died in an accident while playing a game called Chaugan (Horse Polo). After his death, his slave cum son-in-law Iltutmish ruled the kingdom.
    • He built 2 mosques in India, Quwwat-ul-Islam in Mehrauli (Qutb Minar is Azan of Quwwat-ul-Islam) and Adhai Din ka Jhonpra in Ajmer.

    Iltutmish (1211 – 1236 AD)

    • Iltutmish can be regarded as the real founder of Delhi Sultanate as he shifted the capital to Delhi. He started his career as a slave to Aibak. He got appointed as a Sar-i-Jandar (Head of royal bodyguards) and later got appointed as the Governor of Badaun.
    • He introduced new coins called Silver Tanka and Copper Jital (1 Tanka = 48 Jitals). He is the first Muslim king to introduce coins and he is also the first Muslim king to get Mansur from Khalifa.
    • Iltutmish saved India from the brutal attack of Genghis Khan ( the Greatest warrior after Alexander) in a diplomatic manner in 1221 AD. Genghis Khan conquered Khwarezmia and the king Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu fled to Delhi but asylum was rejected to the king by Iltutmish.
    • He introduced a new system called Iqta system, which is a land (may be a Village, Taluk, Province, etc.) assignment given to officers in lieu of salary in cash along with the military responsibility (maintaining military).
    • Not all the lands are given as Iqta. Khalisa is the crown land whose income goes to the king's treasury. King used to maintain his army known as Standing Army. The Iqtadars used to supply the remaining army.
    • An association of the nobles (Iqtadars) got formed and it was named as Turkan-i-Chahalgani. It had 40 officers, who belonged to Turkish race. This association is also called Chalisa as it had 40 members.
    • Chalisa made an adverse impact on the Iqta system. The king became a puppet in the hands of Nobles. The Chalisa organization became the de facto authority and the king became the de jure authority.

    Razia Sultana (1236 – 1240 AD)

    • Razia Sultana is the only Muslim woman to rule India (First and last woman). Ulemas refused Razia as the Sultan as Sharia clearly states that a woman cannot be a ruler. Sultans of Medieval period were controlled by Ulemas and kings used to give land grants known as Sayurghal or Inam to Ulemas.
    • She tried to empower the non-Turkish people. Afghans were given high positions by her.
    • A Habshi (slave) named Jamal-ud-din Yakut was the favorite person of Razia. He was appointed as Amir-e-Akhur (incharge of elephants and horses), a position reserved for the Turkish. All the nobles were against Razia. Even her Prime Minister Nizam-ul-Mulk Junaidi was also a rival to her. She was killed along with Jamal-ud-din Yakut. After Razia, there were 3 rulers, who are not that important.

    Balban (1266 – 1286 AD)

    • Balban is the most important king of Slave dynasty. He became a Sultan from an ordinary slave. He was appointed as a Khasdar (personal attender) to Iltutmish. When Nasir-ud-din Mahmud was the Sultan, Balban was made as Wazir (PM) and after that he was promoted as Deputy Sultan. In 1266, after the death of Nasiruddin, he declared himself as the Sultan of Delhi.
    • He never spent time on conquests. He concentrated on consolidation of kingdom. Chahalgani was destroyed by Balban, who was being an active member before. He murdered most important nobles.
    • He introduced some Iranian traditions in the court.
      • Sijda (bowing down before a person) – Each person has to do Sijda before the Sultan.
      • Paibos (it is kissing the feet) – Every visitor should kiss the feet of the Sultan to show supremacy of the Sultan.
      • Navroz (Iranian New Year day) was introduced in the court. Every officer is expected to come and give some gifts to their superiors.
    • He created the Department of Military (previously it was with Finance Department, Diwan-i-Wazarat, headed by Wazir), which is now called Diwan-i-Ariz.
    • A gold coin was introduced by him called Dirham.
    • He suppressed the Meos (robber tribal community of Mewat and Rohilkhand) and restored the law and order. Blood and Iron policy was adopted by him and Meos were brutally killed.
    • Balban suppressed the revolt of Tughril Khan, Governor of Bengal (through blood and iron policy) and Balban's son Bughra Khan was appointed as Bengal Governor. Balban enjoyed de jure and de facto authority.

    Qaiqabad (1286 – 1290 AD)

    • Qaiqabad was the grandson of Balban. He was very weak physically (paralyzed).
    • He was assassinated by his officer named Jalal-ud-din Khalji and hence the Slave dynasty came to an end and Khilji Dynasty came into power.
Extra Information

    History of Delhi

    Former name of Delhi was Indraprastha (Pre-Mauryan period). After Mauryan period, the city got disappeared. In 8th Century, a Rajput ruler of Tomara Dynasty named Anangpal built a new city called Dhillika (capital of Tomaras) on the site of Indraprastha. Muslim rulers captured Dhillika and around it, they built 7 cities. Dhillika along with 7 cities is called Delhi. 5 cities were built by Delhi Sultans and 2 by Mughals.


    Name of the city Builder
    Mehrauli Qutb-ud-din Aibak
    Siri Allah-ud-din Khilji
    Tughlaqabad Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq
    Jahanpanah Muhammad bin Tughlaq
    Firozabad Firoz Shah Tughlaq
    Din Panah Humayun
    Shahjahanabad Shah Jahan