Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate is the name used to describe five short-lived medieval dynasties which were successful in establishing the Muslim rule in India for the first time. These dynasties or sultanates were of Turkic origin and ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526 AD. The five dynasties which are together termed as the Delhi Sultanate are listed as follows:
  • Mamluk Dynasty (1206 AD to 1290 AD)
  • Khilji Dynasty (1290 AD to 1320 AD)
  • Tughlaq Dynasty (1320 AD to 1414 AD)
  • Sayyid Dynasty (1414 AD to 1451 AD)
  • Lodi Dynasty (1451 AD to 1526 AD)
Of these, the Mamluk Dynasty was the first to establish its rule at Delhi.

Mamluk Dynasty

The Mamluk Dynasty, famously known as the Slave Dynasty, was founded by Qutb-ud-din Aibak in 1206 AD. Its founder Qutb-ud-din Aibak was initially a slave to Muhammad Ghori and it is for this reason that the Mamluk Dynasty is famously known as the Slave Dynasty. In fact, the word ‘Mamluk’ in the ‘Mamluk Dynasty’ also meansslave. Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first sultan of Delhi, was successful in conquering most portions of northern India in a small duration of time. He initiated the construction of Qutub Minar but was unable to complete it in his lifespan. Qutub Minar was later completed in the reign of IItutmish who was his successor and son-in-law. Though Qutub-ud-din Aikbak’s son, Aramshah, was his legitimate successor but the nobles preferred IItutmish over him, who was the Subedar of Badaun before Qutub-ud-din Aibak’s death. Ittutmish successfully completed the construction of Qutub Minar and was succeeded by his daughter, Razia Sultan. Razia Sultan was a magnanimous administrator and the first female ruler in the entire Muslim world. She was succeeded by Balban who ruled successfully till 1286. After Balban’s death there was a widespread turmoil in the empire for succession of the thrown resulting in weakening the empire. Revolts by the conquered territories and the rival dynasties further weakened the empire and theMamluk Dynasty finally declined.

Khilji Dynasty

Khilji Dynasty was the second Muslim dynasty which was able to establish its rule in India, next only to the Slave Dynasty. After the death of Balban, there was a widespread turmoil and political instability in the Slave Dynasty, in wake of which Jalal-ud-din Khilji was successful in conquering the territory of Delhi and established a new dynasty, which was later named as the Khilji Dynasty. After his conquest of Delhi, Jalal-ud-din Khilji began to extend the boundaries of his newly set empire in all directions. Later, he was succeeded by Ala-ud-din Khilji under whose reign the empire flourished. His reign is considered as the golden period of the Khilji Dynasty and was marked by revenue reforms, market control regulations and innovative administrative. After his able rule the Sultanate was succeeded by his son Shahab-ud-din Umar but he was soon removed from the crown by his brother Qutub-ud-din Mubarik who proclaimed himself as the new Sultan himself. After a short rule of thirty years, between 1290 AD and 1320 AD, theKhilji Dynasty declined with the rise of a Hindu slave, who was given the name Khusrav Khan by Malik Kafur of theKhilji Sultanate.

Tughlaq Dynasty

After the decline of the Sultanate of Khilji, Khusrav Khan became the new king of Delhi. He gradually replaced all Muslim officers with Hindus under his regime which provoked the Muslims in his empire. He was later killed by the Muslims and his death gave rise to the Tughlaq Dynasty which ruled for an approximate period of about hundred years, between 1320 and 1414 AD. Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq became the first ruler of this sultanate and ruled till 1325, after which he was succeeded by Jauna Khan. Jaun Khan was an able ruler and is known to have shifted the capital city from Delhi to Devgiri in his reign. He was famously known as Muhammad-bin Tughlaq and was succeeded by Firoz Shah Tughlaq, who was a great reformer. Firoz Shah Tughlaq ruled for a period of thirty-seven years between 1351 and 1388 AD. After his death, the Tughlaq Dynasty began to decline and finally came to an end in 1414.

Sayyid Dynasty

The Sayyid Dynasty was founded by Khizar Khan when he defeated Mahmud Shah, the last ruler of the Tughaq Dynasty in 1414 AD. Under his reign, different provinces of the Delhi Sultanate declared independence and the territory of the Delhi Sultanate was constrained to present day’s western Uttar Pradesh, western Punjab and Sind. After Khizar Khan, the reign of the Mubarak Shah of the Sayyid Sultanate was marked by internal and external revolts. Finally, in 1451, when Bahlul Lodhi conquered and established his rule at Delhi, the Sayyid Dynasty came to an end.

Lodi Dynasty

The Lodi Dynasty was the last dynasty of Delhi Sultanate, founded by Bahlul Khan Lodi in 1451. It was basically a Pashtun Dynasty and ruled till 1526. Nizam Khan, also known as Sikandar Shah, succeeded his father as the second ruler of the Lodi Sultanate.  After his death, a war for succession waged between his two sons, Ibrahim Lodi and Jalal Lodi, which weakened the roots of the empire. Later, Ibrahim Lodi became the ruler of Delhi Sultanate but soon lost his empire the Babur, founder of the Mughal Dynasty, in the first battle of Panipat, 1526. His defeat marked an end to the 320 year rule of the Delhi Sultanate in India.


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