Medieval Indian History - Delhi Sultanate


  • After Muhammad Ghori’s death, slave sultans were ruled India.

The Slave Sultans (AD. 1206-1290)

  • Mamluks were the earliest rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. They are also known as the Slave Kings because many of them were either slaves or were the sons of slaves and became Sultans.

  • The first of the slave kings was Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who was the general of Muhammad Ghori. After the death of Ghori, Qutb-ud-din stayed in India and established his kingdom.

Qutb-ud-din Aibak
  • The ruler of Ghazni tried to annex the territory held by Qutb-ud-din, but he failed. When lltutmish succeeded Qutbud-din as Sultan, a separate kingdom was established in the northern India, namely Delhi Sultanate.

  • Over a period of time, the Sultans of Delhi extended their control up to Bengal in the east and Sind in the west.

  • During the Sultanate period, there was the problem of the local Indian rulers who had been conquered. Sultans had taken territories of some rulers and some others were allowed to keep it.

  • The rulers who were allowed to keep their territories paid a sum of money as a tribute and agreed to help the Sultan with military support when required.

  • Sultanate had also problems from the north-west, for example, the rulers of Afghanistan were quiet, but the Mongol people of Central Asia, led by Chenghiz Khan, made fresh conquests.

  • The Sultan Iltutmish had faced the administrative problems. However, when he died, his daughter Raziya became the sultan and she had to face the problems.

  • After Iltutmish, the next important Sultans was Balban, a strong and iron-willed Sultan. He was more successful in solving the problems than his predecessors. He defended the Sultanate from the attacks of the Mongols.

  • Balban fought against the local rulers who troubled him. His biggest problem was the nobles who had become very powerful and were threatening the position of the Sultan. Slowly but firmly, Balban broke their power and finally the position of the Sultan became all-important.

  • Qutb-ud-din Aibak
  • Balban’s success was integrated into his strategic administrative policy. He successfully changed the organization of the army and curbed the revolt of the nobles.

  • Balban encouraged people to do the ‘sijdah’ in his presence. Sijdah means, people had to kneel and touch the ground with their forehead in salutation to him (Balban).

  • Sijdah, horrified the orthodox Muslims. According to Muslims belief, “all men are equal, and therefore, no one should do the sijdah before anyone else except God.”