Delhi Sultanate

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Delhi Sultanate

Delhi Sultanate, refers to the various Muslim dynasties that ruled in India (1210–1526). It was founded after Muhammad of Ghor defeated Prithvi Raj and captured Delhi in 1192. In 1206, Qutb ud-Din, one of his generals, proclaimed himself sultan of Delhi and founded a line of rulers called the Slave dynasty, because he and several of the sultans who claimed succession from him were originally military slaves. Iltutmish (1210–35) and Balban (1266–87) were among the dynasty's most illustrious rulers. Constantly faced with revolts by conquered territories and rival families, the Slave dynasty came to an end in 1290. Under the Khalji dynasty (1290–1320), the conquests of Ala ud-Din Khalji brought Muslim dominion in India to its greatest height until the Mughul empire. Early in the reign of Muhammad Tughluq, founder of the Tughluq dynasty (1325–98), the power of Delhi was acknowledged even in the extreme S of India. His eccentric rule and ferocious temperament provoked a series of revolts, notably that of the Hindu Vijayanagar kingdom in the south, and a steady loss of territory; by his death (1351) the Hindu south had recovered its independence and the Deccan had become a separate Muslim state, the Bahmani kingdom. Under Tughluq's successors the sultanate of Delhi began to disintegrate into several small states. With the sack of Delhi by Timur in 1398, the once great sultanate fell, although local rulers lingered on at Delhi until the invasion of Babur and the Mughal conquest.

See V. D. Mahajan, The Sultanate of Delhi (2d ed. 1963); I. Quereshi, Administration of the Sultanate of Delhi (5th ed. 1971); N. K. Hamida, Agriculture, Industrial and Urban Dynamism under the Sultans of Delhi, 1206–1555 (1986).

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