The Slave Dynasty: History & Rulers

4 Mar 2023  Read 551 Views

The Slave Dynasty or Mamluks of Delhi sultanate gave birth to the first Islamic rulers of India. The Ghurid rule declined when Muhammad Ghori died in 1206 CE; however, his slave generals formed different kingdoms out of the empire. The rulers of that era are as follows:

  1. Qutb ud-Din Aibak (1206) - formed the Sultanate of Delhi at the beginning of the Mamluk Dynasty
  2. Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha (1210) – the ruler of Multan
  3. Tajuddin Yildiz – the ruler of Ghazni
  4. Ikhtiyaar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji – ruler in parts of Bengal

As the de facto governor of Delhi, Qutbuddin Aibak, a Turkish slave of Muizzuddin Muhammad of Ghor, played a crucial role in the consolidation of northern India. In an effort to take control of the entire empire, the slave generals sparked a civil war among themselves. Aibak marched against Yildiz, who had marched from Ghazni to Punjab to seize the control of India’s province, forcing him to flee to Kohistan.

Ghiyasuddin Mahmud, Muhammad Ghori's brother, finally acknowledged Aibak as the Sultan of Hindustan in 1209 CE, ushering in the Mamluk or Slave dynasty's control over India. With this, the Delhi Sultanate was established, and it lasted for 320 years under the control of many dynasties, including the Mamluks, Khiljis, Tughluqs, and Lodhis.

The Slave Dynasty

The kings of the slave dynasty were also referred to as Turkic mamluks or the Mamluk dynasty. Contrary to the Ghulam, or domestic slave, the mamluk was an "owned slave." These slaves were set free after training in various subjects, including Islamic studies, martial skills, and court etiquette. They were yet required to continue obedience to their lord and work in his home.

Let us now look at the Rulers:

Qutubuddin Aidak (1206-1210)

  • After the Ghurid victory in the Second Battle of Tarain in 1192, Muhammad Ghori appointed Aibak to lead his Indian domains. By capturing and raiding numerous locations within the Chahamana, Gahadavala, Chaulukya, Chandela, and other kingdoms, Aibak increased the Ghurid supremacy in northern India.
  • Aibak became the Sultan in 1206-09, commencing the Slave dynasty's rule, and established Lahore as his capital to protect the kingdom's western border.
  • Aibak concentrated on setting his rule in the areas already under his control rather than expanding his domain after being acknowledged as the ruler of India.
  • He also goes by the name "Lakh Baksh" due to his charity of 1 lakh copper coins, or jitals.
  • He favoured the respected academic Hasan Nizami.
  • To honour the Sufi saint Qutub ud din Bakhtiyar Kaki, Qutb-Uddin Aibak began work on the renowned Qutub Minar in Delhi.
  • Iltutmish, his son-in-law, completed it in 1220.
  • In Delhi, he also constructed the mosque known as Quwwat-ul-Islam, or "Triumph of Islam."
  • Over the ruins of an old Jain and Hindu temple complex, this mosque was built.
  • Between 1192 and 1199, Aibak also gave the go-ahead for the building of Adhai din ka Jhopra at Ajmer.
  • While playing chaughan, or horse polo, he passed away in 1210. Lahore is home to Qutubuddin Aibak's tomb.
  • Aram Shah replaced him, however it's unclear how he and Aibak were related.
  • The Turkic noble (maliks and amirs) named Aram Shah as his successor since Aibak died suddenly without designating an heir in order to prevent unrest in the country.
  • Aram Shah is not mentioned prior to his selection as Aibak's successor.
  • Although literary evidence only refers to Aibak having three daughters and no sons, it was rumoured that he was Aibak's son.
  • However, the Khalji nobles of Bengal rebelled against him, and the Turkish nobles in other Sultanate regions resisted his ascendancy. Iltutmish was invited to sit on the throne by a group of nobles.

Iltumish (1211- 1236)

  • Aram Shah was an ineffective leader. Whether he was Aibak's son or not is unclear. A group of nobles plotted against him by inviting Shamsuddin Iltutmish to lead the country.
  • Aibak's son-in-law was Iltutmish. He was in charge of northern India's Ghurid areas.
  • He was a Central Asian-born Turkic slave.
  • The greatest slave king of Delhi was Iltutmish. He moved the seat of government from Lahore to Delhi.
  • In the 1210s, Iltutmish's armies took control of Bihar, and in 1225, they invaded Bengal.
  • Iltutmish disregarded the Indus River Valley in the first half of the 1220s while it was being fought over by the Mongols, the Khwarazm rulers, and Qabacha. Qabacha took control of the area after the Khwarazmian danger and the Mongol threat subsided, but Iltutmish invaded his land in 1228–1229.
  • He withstood both the Rajputs and Mongol invaders while defending his dominion.
  • He halted Genghis Khan's assault in 1221.
  • He finished both the Qutb Minar and the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque.
  • He put the kingdom's government in place.
  • He improved Delhi by constructing mosques, water systems, and other facilities, making it suitable as the capital.
  • He introduced the copper jital and the two Sultanate coins: the silver tanka.
  • Added the Iqtadari system, which divided the realm into Iqtas and handed them to nobles in exchange for payment.
  • He passed away in 1236, and his daughter Razia Sultana succeeded him since he didn't think his sons were adequate for the task.

Razia Sultana (1236-1240)

  • Born in 1205 as the daughter of Iltutmish.
  • Had a good education, thanks to her father.
  • The only Muslim woman to rule Delhi, she was also the first.
  • Additional name: Razia al-Din.
  • After her father's passing, her half-brother Rukn ud-din Firuz briefly held the throne of Delhi before taking the crown himself. However, the nobles decided to instal Razia as the next monarch after Firuz was killed six months after assuming the throne.
  • She was regarded as an effective and fair leader.
  • She was wed to the governor of Bathinda, Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia.
  • She allegedly died at the hands of her brother's men.
  • She was succeeded by her brother Muizuddin Bahram Shah.

Ghiyas ud din Balban (1266-1287)

  • The monarch following Razia, who is famous.
  • In the Mamluk dynasty, the ninth Sultan.
  • He served as the wazir for Nasir-ud-din-Mahmud, the grandson of Iltutmish.
  • His first name, Bahauddin, was Turkish because he was born there.
  • Iltutmish purchased him as a slave. He soon moved up the ranks.
  • As an officer, he led victorious military campaigns.
  • Balban proclaimed himself the Sultan after Nasir died because the former had no male heirs.
  • After Iltutmish and Alauddin Khalji, he established military and civil changes in the administration, making him the greatest Sultanate ruler.
  • Balban was an authoritarian leader, and his court represented restraint and unwavering devotion to the monarch. Even worse, he insisted that everyone bow down to the king.
  • He outlined severe penalties for even the most minor offences committed by his courtiers.
  • He had a spy apparatus in place to monitor his nobles.
  • He brought the Navroz celebration from Iran to India.
  • During his leadership, there were several conversions in Punjab.
  • After his passing, Delhi's throne was inherited by his grandson Qaiqubad.
  • In 1290, Qaiqubad suffered a stroke, and his three-year-old son Shamsuddin Kayumars took over as ruler.
  • Jalal ud-Din Firuz Khalji assassinated Kayumars, ending the Mamluk Dynasty and establishing the Khalji Dynasty.

End of the Slave Dynasty

Din Ghiyas Balban held the sultanate's position until he died in 1287. Prince Muhammad Khan, the elder son of Balban, was to have been his heir, but in 1285 he was killed fighting the Mongols. Bughra Khan, his other son, preferred to hold onto his position as king of Bengal rather than ascend to the throne.

Prince Muhammad's son Kaikhasrau, the grandson of Balban, was selected as the heir apparent. After his passing, his nobles chose Qaiqubad, another grandson of Balban, to succeed him as Sultan.

The Slave dynasty ended in 1290 when Qaiqubad was deposed by his guardian, Jalal ud din Firuz Khalji, who was also very weak and inept. Shamsuddin Kayumars was Qaiqubad's three-year-old son who forced to take over as ruler after his father died of a stroke.

About the Author: Gurpreet Kaur Dutta | 80 Post(s)

A legal content writer who pursued BBA-LL.B.(H) from Amity University Chhattisgarh. She has a keen interest in corporate and IPR sectors. 

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