Medieval Period-The History of Delhi Sultanate

Advent of Islam in India

 Arab contact with India is very old. Arab merchants used to come to the western coast of India even before the emergence of Islam in Arab. The Arab conquered Sind in 712 A.D. The arabic work Chach Nama ; Tarikh-e-sindh by Mir Mohammad Masud give detailed information of Arab conquest of Sind. The Arab also conquered Multan in 713 A.D. The economic result of Arab conquest of Sind are not negligible. Through Sind India established commercial contact with the rest of the Muslim world.

The State set up the Turks towards the end of the 12th century in Northern India, gradually developed into a powerful and highly centralised state which, for sometime, controlled almost the entire country, extending as far south as Madurai. Qutubuddin Aibak founded the Delhi Sultanate in 1206 A.D. That marked the beginning of Medieval period in Indian history. 

Foundation of Muslim state

The Mamluks, Who had already conquered Persia (Modern Iran) came to conquer India around 1100 AD. They were able to beat the Rajput kings of India by 1192 AD and took over northern India. Qutubuddin Aibak, the trusted general of Mohammad Ghori was successful in occupying Delhi and started a dynasty of rulers which together with some later dynasties, came to be called the Delhi sultanate. 

In 1206 AD when Mohammadd Ghori was killed and Qutubuddin Aibak became the ruler of Hindustan, the Sultanate included many of the important towns and strategic places in Northern India.

i) The Ilbari Turks Slaves 1206-1290 AD

ii) The Khiljis 1290-1413 AD

iii) The Tughlaqs 1320 – 1413 AD

iv) The Sayyids 1414 – 1451 AD 

v) The Lodhis 1451 – 1526 AD

Slave Dynasty 1206-1290 A.D

Mohammad Ghori was the real founder of Muslim domination in India. Through the conquest of Multan and Uchh in 1175 A.D he laid the foundation of Ghur domination in India.

In 1191 A.D the Hindu princes of North India formed a confederation and fought against Mohammad Ghori under the leadership of Prithwiraj Chauhan. In the first battle of Tarain (1191 A.D), Ghori’s army was totally routed and Mohammad ghori went to Ghazni.

In 2nd battle of Tarain(1192 A.D.) Prithwi Raj chauhan was defeated and killed, this made further conquest easier. Mohammad Ghori returned Ghazni leaving the Indian campaigns to his trusted slave Qutubuddin Aibak.

Qutubuddin Aibak(1206 -1210 A.D)

Mohammad Ghori died in 1206 A.D. without leaving any male heir to succeed him. Qutubuddin Aibak grabbed this opportunity and proclaimed himself as the sovereign of India. His coronation took place at Lahore in 1206 A.D. First Sultan of Delhi is also regarded as the founder of “Slave Dynasty” because some of the line were slaves in their early life. Qutubuddin Aibak laid the foundation of QutubMinar in Delhi, after the name of the sufi saint Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki.

Historians like Elphinstone and Smith have described the dynasty founded by Qutubuddin Aibak as ‘Slave Dynasty’. Sultan Qutubuddin ruled for four years, and he is credited with having laid the foundation upon which the huge structure of Delhi Sultanate was built.

Who was called Lakh Baksh?

Qutubuddin Aibak was given the title of ‘Lakh baksh'(giver of Lakhs).

Click here for Previous paper of WBCS Prelims


Iltutmish (1211 – 1236 A.D)

After death of Qutubuddin Aibak his adopted son Aram Shah ascended the throne of Delhi. He was weak and incompetent. Iltutmish son in law of Aibak occupied the throne killing Aram Shah.  Iltutmish belonged to Ilbari clan, so his dynasty is also known as Ilbari dynasty. Iltutmish was the real founder of Delhi sultanate. He made his capital Delhi in place of Lahore. He saved Delhi sultanate from the wrath of Chengiz Khan.

Qutubuddin’s Arch rival Taj ud din Yildiz claimed sovereign authority over whole India. Iltutmish defeated him in the battle of Tarain (1216 A.D.).  Yildiz was taken to prisinor and sent to the fortress of Badaun where he was later put to death.

Iltutmish drove away Nasiruudin Qubacha from punjab in 1217 A.D. Iltutmish was successful in extending the territorial limits of Delhi sultanate. After the conquest of Malwa he carried the statue of Vikramaditya as war trophy.

In 1229 A.D Iltutmish obtained from Caliph of Bagdad the title of ‘Sultan-i-Azam‘. He inscribed on his coins the words ‘Aid of the commander of faithful’. According to the scholars he was the real founder of Delhi sultanate.

Iltutmish organised the famous Iqta system, where in he divided his empire into numerous big and small Iqta, an assignment of land in lieu of salary which he distributed to his turkish officers. Iltutmish was the first Turkish ruler of Delhi who organised the army of the sultanate as King’s army i.e an army centrally recruited, centrally paid, centrally administrated.

Click Here for WBCS Practice Set 

He gave the country a Capital, a sovereign state, a monarchial form of government and a governing class or nobility, known as Turkan -i-Chahalgani or Chalisa. He set up an official nobility of slaves known as Chahalgani.

Iltutmish issued the Tanka(Silver) and Jital(Copper) coins for the first time. He patronised Minhaj-ul-siraj author of Tabaqat-i-Nasiri

Iltutmish took his last breath in 1236 A.D.n


The successors after Iltutmish were given below:-

Rukn-ud-din Firoz Shah (1236 AD)

Raziya Sultana (1236-1240 AD)

Bahram Shah (1240-1242 ADD)

Alauddin Masud Shah(1242-1246 AD)

Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah (1246-1266 AD)




 Ghiyasuddin Balban(1266-1286)


Balban ascended the throne in 1266 AD. He was the consolidator of the Sultanate of Delhi as he broke the power of Chahalgani. He was conferred the title of Ulugh Khan by Sultan Nasir-ud-din Mahmud Shah, after repelling Mongol invasion in 1246. 

He adopted the famous policy of Blood and Iron. He was the first sultan to put forward his divine Theory of Kingship. A separate Military department known as Diwan-e-Wizarat and Diwan-e-Arz was established. He also setup a network of news writers and spies throughout his dominion. They reported to the sultan about all the important developments in their respective areas of posting.

On Balban’s death his grandson Kaiqubad succeeded him to the throne. During his short reign of 3 years, He became paralysed.  Kaiqubad was murdered in his palace and Jalal ud din Khilzi ascended to the throne. The rule of Ilbari Turks came to an end in 1290 AD.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.