HIstory – Medieval India

Delhi Law Academy

This includes the Muslim Period (997-1707) which started with the raids by Mahmud of Ghazni and led to the establishment of the Sultanate of Delhi.

Sultanate of Delhi (1206-1526)
Muhammad Ghori’s conquests became the nucleus of a new political entity in India—The Sultanate of Delhi and the beginning of Muslim rule in India. This can be divided into five distinct periods, they are:

  1. The Slave Dynasty (1206-90)
  2. The Khilji Dynasty (1290-1320)
  3. The Tughlak Dynasty (1320-1414)
  4. The Sayyid Dynasty (1414—51)
  5. The Lodhi Dynasty (1451-1526)

Slave Dynasty
Founded by Qutub-ud-din Aibak (1206-10), it included the following famous rulers:

  1. Shamas-ud-din Iltutmish (1210-36)
  2. Razia Sultan (1236-39), the first and only Muslim lady who ever ruled India
  3. Nasir-ud-din Mahmud (1246-66)
  4. Balban (1266-87)

Khilji Dynasty
Founded by Sultan Jalal-ud-din Khilji (1290-96) who brought under his sway all the Rajput kingdoms. Alaud-din Khilji (1296-1316) was the nephew of Sultan Jalal-ud- din, whom he killed and succeeded in 1296. Khusro Khan in 1320, killed Qutub-ud-din Mubarak Shah, the successor of Ala-ud-din Khilji and ended the Khilji dynasty.

Tughlak Dynasty
Founded by Ghiasuddin Tughlak (1320-25). Other important rulers of the Tughlak Dynasty were: (1) Mohammed-bin Tughlaq (1325-51) who introduced token coins of brass and copper and (2) Firoz Shah Tughlak (1351-88). Ibn Batuta was an African traveller who visted India in 1333. He was appointed as the Chief Qazi of Delhi by the Sultan. Timur, a Turk, invaded India in 1398 and ended the Tughlak Dynasty.

Sayyid Dynasty
Timur’s nominee Khizr Khan (1414-21) captured Delhi and was proclaimed the new Sultan who ruled for about 7 years. The last Sayyid King Alam Shah (1443-1451) abdicated in favour of Bahlol Lodhi.

Lodhi Dynasty
Founded by Bahlol Lodhi (1451-88), one of the Afghan Sardars who established himself in Punjab after the invasion of Timur. Sikander Lodhi (1489-1517) and Ibrahim Lodhi (1517-26) were the famous rulers of the Lodhi Dynasty.

First Battle of Panipat (1526):  The first battle of Panipat was fought in 1526 between Ibrahim Lodhi-the ruler of Delhi and Babur-the ruler of Kabul. Babur won this battle and established the Mughal Dynasty.

Mughal Dynasty

Period 1526-40 and 1555-1857
Famous Rulers

  1. Babur (1526-30): Is said to have founded the Mughal empire. He defeated Ibrahim Lodhi in the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 and became the emperor of Delhi in 1527 after defeating Afghans in the Battle of Gorge.
  2. Humayun (1530-40): Was the son of Babur and ascended the throne in 1530.
  3. Sher Shah Suri (1540-45): An Afghan, who ruled the country for a brief period after defeating Humayun. He introduced a brilliant administration, land revenue policy and several other measures to improve the economy. He issued the coin called ‘Rupia’ and built the Grand Trunk Road (GT Road) linking Peshawar to Calcutta.
  4. Akbar (1556-1605): The eldest son of Humayun who is said to be the real founder of Mughal empire because Babur and Humayun could not consolidate the empire as Akbar successfully did. He was the first ruler who divorced religion from politics and his attitude towards Hindus was very conciliatory.

Second Battle of Panipat (1556): The second battle of Panipat fought between Hemu, the Hindu leader and Akbar’s regent Bairam Khan. Hemu was defeated on 5 November 1556, captured and slain by Bairam Khan. This ended the Mughal- Afghan contest for the throne of Delhi in favour of the Mughals and enabled Akbar to reoccupy Delhi and Agra.

Battle of Haldighati (1576): This battle was fought in 1576 near Gogundo (Haldighati) between Rana Pratap Singh of Mewar and the Mughal Army led by Man Singh of Amber. Rana Pratap Singh was defeated but he continued the struggle and did not submit.

  1. Jahangir (1605-27): Salim, son of Akbar ascended the throne after Akbar’s death in 1605. He is known for his strict administration of justice. He married Mehr-un-nisa in 1611, who later on was given the title of ‘Nur Jahan’.
  2. Shahjahan (1628-58): Son of Jahangir, ascended the throne after his father’s death. Three years after his accession, his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal died in 1631 and to perpetuate her memory he built the Taj Mahal at Agra. He is known for the promotion of art, culture and architechure. The Red Fort and Jama Masjid are some of the magnificent structures built by him. Shahjahan’s failing health set off the war of succession among hisfour sons. His third son, Aurangzeb, crowned himself emperor in 1658 and Shahjahan was imprisoned by him till he died in captivity In 1666.
  3. Aurangzeb (1659-1707): The son of Shahjahan who ruled for 50 years. He was a Muslim fanatic who demolished several Hindu Temples and banned all religious festivals. He executed Guru Teg Bahadur (the 9th Guru of Sikhs) when he refused to embrace Islam.

Decline of Mughal Empire
In 1739, during the reign of Mohammed Shah, a Persian king, Nadir Shah, invaded India and broke up the Mughal empire. He plundered Delhi and took the Kohinoor diamond with him to Afghanistan.

Vijayanagar Empire
Founded in 1336 by Harihara I (1336-56) as a result of the political and cultural movement against the Tughlaq authority in south India. Genealogically the Vijayanagar empire is classified as:

  1. Sangam Dynasty: (1336-1485 ad)
  2. Tuluva Dynasty: (1505-70)
  3. Aravidu Dynasty: (1570-1652)

Sikhs and Marathas

Sikhs: In the 15th century, the Sikhs grew into a strong community. Aurangzeb captured Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th guru of Sikhs in 1675 and executed him when he refused to embrace Islam. The Sikhs resented the Mughals for their religious intolerance. Guru Gobind Singh, son of Guru Teg Bahadur, organized his followers into a military force called Khalsa to avenge the murder of his father. Guru Gobind Singh, however, was murdered in 1708 by an Afghan in the Deccan.

Marathas: Marathas became powerful after the departure of Nadir Shah. Shivaji played a pivotal role in liberating India from Muslim rule. It was he who initiated the strategy of guerrilla warfare.

War with Shivaji Shivaji was the most powerful Maratha king and an arch enemy of Aurangzeb. When Aurangzeb could not eliminate him, he conspired with Jai Singh of Amber, a Rajput, to eliminate Shivaji. In 1665, on an assurance given by Jai Singh, Shivaji visited Aurangzeb’s court. Shivaji was imprisoned by Aurangzeb but he managed to escape and in 1674 proclaimed himself as an independent monarch. He died in 1680 and was succeeded by his son Sambhaji, who was executed by Aurangzeb. Sambhaji was succeeded by his brother Rajaram and after his death in 1700, his widow Tarabai carried on the movement.

Rise of Autonomous States
With the declining poser of the Mughal empire in the eighteenth century, there emerged various autonomous states in India.
Some of the important ones are listed here:

  1. Bengal under Murshid Quli Khan
  2. Oudh (Awadh) under Sadat Khan Barhan-ul Mulk
  3. Hyderabad under Nizam-ul-mul Asaf Jah
  4. Carnatic under Saadatullah Khan
  5. Mysore under Hyder Ali
  6. Jats under Churaman and Surajmal
  7. Sikhs under Ranjit Singh