The Thirteenth Century

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The Thirteenth Century

Q1. Internal strife and conflict beset with personal ambitions was enough of an invitation for the Ghurids to invade India. Discuss. (2019) 

Ans. In the history of Central and West Asia, the Seljuk Dynasty was divided into two i.e. Khwarezmid Empire and Ghori Dynasty. The second of them fought a war for the area of Transoxiana, which resulted in the defeat of the Ghori Dynasty. Due to this, they had to look towards their South and North-West of the Indian Frontier to fulfill their ambitions. 

The personal ambition of acquiring resources to continue the Ghori Dynasty attracted its rulers to invade India. But apart from this, internal strife and conflicts going on in India were no less a reason. 

     At the time of the Ghorian invasion, there was no political unity among the rulers and they kept fighting with each one another. The ruler of Ajmer, Prithviraj Chauhan, was in love with Sanyogita, the daughter of Jaichand, the ruler of Kannauj. Due to this, many rulers along with Jaichand opposed Prithviraj Chauhan and they kept on fighting among themselves. This became an additional reason for the rulers of the Ghori Dynasty to invade India, in which they were successful.In North India , the Chauhan power had been steadily growing.The expansion of Chauhan power towards the Punjab brought them into conflict with the Ghurids rulers of the area.

 Hence, this invasion and the successive battles fought i.e. the Battles of Tarain and the Battle of Chandawar not only led to the defeat of Rajputs at the hands of Turks but also laid the foundation ofTurkish rule in India. 

Q2. The battles of Tarain And Chandawar Laid the foundations of Turkish rule in India'" Elaborate.(2018) 

Ans.  The historiography of Tarain is known from the famous book Prithviraj Raso written by Chand Bardai in Hindi. The two Battles of Tarain i.e; 1191 AD and 1192 AD and the Battle of Chandawar in 1194 AD led to the defeat of Rajputs and paved the way for Turkish rule in India.

Battle of Tarain : 

               The First Battle of Tarain was fought between Mohammad Bin Sam and Prithviraj Chauhan over the region of Tabarhind in 1191 AD which led to the defeat of Mohammad Bin Sam and he ran away. Prithviraj Chauhan took no action and control and came back to Ajmer.

The second Battle of Tarain :

                After a year later, Mohd Bin Sam known as Muhammad Ghori invaded for the second time and the Second Battle of Tarain was fought in 1192 AD. This battle led to the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan and the victory of Muhammad Ghori. 

   Battle of Chandawar:

                 Due to some ongoing tension with Jaichand, the Kannauj ruler, Muhammad Ghori was called back and the Battle of Chandawar was fought between the two in 1194 AD that led to the defeat of Jaichand and victory of Muhammad Ghori in the battle.

Hence, due to these two events, the foundation of Turkish rule took place in India which later became the Delhi Sultanate with the founder and the real founder as Qutub-ud-din Aibak and Iltutmish respectively.

Q3. Critically examine the 'blood and iron' policy of Balban. (2017) 

Ans. Balban ruled from 1266 to 1286 A.D and as a Naib from 1246 to 1266 during the period of his predecessors. He examined the politics closely and then started ruling efficiently.

As he knew that the 'Corps of Forty' would try to interfere in his rule, he disintegrated the association as soon as he became the ruler. He followed the policy of 'Blood and Iron' and successfully pushed aside whosoever came in his way. This policy was a policy of harsh behavior, ruthlessness and extreme vigour to save the empire from internal conflicts as well as outside rebellions. Historians have given a few examples to show the ruthless behavior of Balban. Barani says that in Lakhnauti and in Delhi such behaviour ofBalban was seen. Several members of the Corps ofForty were poisoned secretly. V.A.Smith opines that some people were crushed under the feet of elephants. Balban gave a harsh punishment to anyone who came in his way. 

     His policy of Blood and Iron came out to be successful in reducing the number of crimes being committed in the empire. The places became safer to live in. The Justice System was also well carried out. 

              Balban based his empire on certain principles including the policy of Blood and Iron, Theory of Divine Kingship, etc which made Balban a powerful ruler in the history of the Delhi Sultanate.

Q4. Evaluate The contents of the Tabaqat-i -Nasiri as a source of medieval history. (2016)

Ans. The work Tabaqat-i-Nasiri is written by an Islamist scholar Minhaj-al-Siraj, who was a staunch Islamist whereby in his work he has written about the history of the Sultanate from Qutbuddin Aibak as the founder to Raziya Sultan, who was the first woman emperor ofthe Sultanate.

The contents of the Tabaqat-i -Nasiri as a source of medieval history:

  • Minhaj-al-Siraj in his work mentioned that after the death of his master, Qutubuddin Aibak laid the foundation of the Delhi Sultanate whereby he controlled the area from the north- west till Bengal in the east. 
  • In Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, it is mentioned that the successor of Qutubuddin Aibak, Iltutmish, was a very progressive ruler and worked towards consolidating the Delhi Sultanate. Iltutmish, who completed the five-storey minaret named as Qutub Minar, was started by Qutubuddin Aibak during his reign.
  • Iltutmish, when on his death- bed announced Raziya, his daughter, as his successor and the next Sultan of the Sultanate; it showed his progressive outlook towards the Sultanate.
  • Minhaj-al-Siraj mentions that Raziya became the Sultan after some confusion which took place at the time of the demise of Iltutmish.
  • She started the policy of expanding the territorial extent of the Sultanate whereby she started to recruit soldiers and warriors from other ethnicities which was not acceptable to the Turks who believed in racial supremacy and also the elite classes including the Corps of Forty. 
  • The Corps of Forty being orthodox to Islam did not accept Raziya as attending the court proceedings without wearing a veil. All these reasons led to the brutal assassination of Raziya Sultan which is elaborately mentioned in the work of Minhaj-al-Siraj. 

Hence, Tabaqat-i-Nasiri has provided historians to reconstruct the Medieval history with authenticity as Minhaj-al-Siraj wrote this work as a historian.

Q5. What measures did Balban adopt to combat the Mongol menace? (2015)

Ans. Three incidents of Mongol attacks took place during the reign of Balban, which were successfully thwarted. The historiography of the information is known from the source 'Fatwa-i-Jahandari by Zia-ud-din Barani. 

Some of the measures adopted by Balban to combat the Mongol menace were as follows:

(a) Maintaining a large army: Balban maintained a powerful and strong army and also established the department of Ariz for keeping a check on the Mongols. 

(b) No territorial expansion: Balban did not take any initiatives for the territorial consolidation of his empire. This kept a check on the Mongols. 

(c) Diplomatic missions: Balban also sent some diplomatic missions such as to Halaku Khan II (of Mongol),to maintain peace and stability in the empire. 

(d) Deployment of powerful rulers: On the North-West Frontier of the empire, powerful rulers such as Sher Khan were appointed and after the death of Sher Khan, his favorite son Nasiruddin Mahmud was appointed who also died in fighting against the 3rd Mongol invasion in his time period i.e. the Taimur Invasion. While on the Eastern side, his other son Bughra Khan was appointed to keep a check on the Mongols. 

(e) Strong internal security: To keep a check and combat menace, he also tried to maintain strong security. 

In this way, it can be accepted that Balban took no chance and successfully kept the Mongols Away from his politics and empire.

Q6. Analyze The steps taken by RaziaSultan to strengthen her position as an independent ruler despite the various obstacles. (2013)

Ans. Razia Sultan was the first woman ruler of the Sultanate period.Although women had ruled as queens , both in ancient Iran and Egypt , and had acted as regent during the minority rule of princes, the nomination of a woman in preference to sons was a novel step.

According to Minhaj-al-Siraj, she was declared to be the successor of Iltutmish and though the Turkan-i-Chahalgani opposed her, she was still able to gain the Sultanate throne.

Step taken by Razia Sultan :

  • Razia started to appoint people of Non-Turkish origin in the administration. For example, she appointed an Abyssinian horseman named Malik Yakut on a high military post.
  • Razia even started coming into the court without the veil, thus violating the feminine modesty of the medieval times. This was not acceptable to the nobles and they started conspiring against her.
  • When Razia went forward for the territorial expedition, she was conspired against but she managed to escape by marrying one of the conspirators i.e. Altunia, but still she was not able to safeguard herself and was later assassinated.
  • She sent an expedition against Ranthambore to control the Rajputs and successfully established law and order across the length and breadth of her kingdom.

Hence, Razia proved to be an important ruler of the Sultanate period and is regarded as the one whose policy of heterogeneity acted as a catalyst for other rulers later.

Q7. Assess the contribution of Iltutmish for the expansion and consolidation of the Delhi Sultanate. (2011)

Ans. Iltutmish was the successor of Qutubuddin Aibak but is still considered as the real founder of Delhi Sultanate due to his contribution in the expansion and consolidation of the Delhi Sultanate. Iltutmish must be regarded as the real consolidator of the Turkish conquests in north India. The source of this information is Tabaqat-i-Nasiri written by Minhaj-al-Siraj whereby he mentions about the politico-economic steps taken by him

The expansion by Iltutmish was taken in the periphery of Delhi, firstly, over the region of Eastern and Central India. He established his control over the GangaYamuna Doab region. Then he shifted his attention towards the north-western region of India. 

                                                          He established his control over Lahore and Punjab regions as they were fertile. He was able to establish control over North India and assigned the role to further progress to his daughter Razia Sultan on his deathbed. The consolidation of Delhi Sultanate was ensured by implementing the Iqta system in which he maintained a centralized system of revenue collection and placed the military generals as the Iqtadars to maintain the law and order and collect land revenue for the Sultanate. 

This consolidation was also seen in his diplomatic moves.He refused to give asylum to the Iranian Prince Mangabarni to prevent Delhi Sultanate from the aggression of Chengiz Khan, the Mongol ruler.

         The establishment of the Corps of Forty also enabled to legitimize his position and ensured control over the administration.

Due to his progressive ideas and shrewd character, the Slave Dynasty existed during the entire 13th century and was further expanded and consolidated by the powerful rulers like Ghiyassudin Balban. 

Q8. The 'Corps of Forty' and its relations with the Sultans.Short note. (2004) (2008)

Ans. The 'Corps of Forty' or Turkish Chahalgani had come into existence during the reign of Iltutmish. It comprised the religious class or Ulemas and the military generals. These two were the most dominant sections during the reign ofIltutmish specifically and Delhi Sultanate in general. 

It was established to give due respect to the religious class and military generals as well as to get guidance in running the politico-administrative system. This was also meant to legitimize the decision of the Sultan and maintain central power.

With the passage of time, this group emerged as the kingmaker and a tussle began with the Sultans. The first evidence was in the case of Razia Sultan. She was the most capable among all her siblings and became the first Sultan of Delhi after Iltutmish. She recruited several military persons from the non-Turkish race like Malik Yaqut from Abyssinia. She also decided to discard the veil while heading the court. Both the military class and the Ulemas hatched a conspiracy against her and she was assassinated after 3 years of becoming the Sultan.

                                                               After Razia, the Corps of Forty became the real kingmakers and switched several Sultans in a span of 6 years. The scenario changed when Nasiruddin Mahmud became the Sultan and appointed Balban as his Naib Sultan. Balban himself was a member of the Corps of Forty.

Balban knew the tendencies of the Corps of Forty and applied his "Blood and Iron" policy to overcome this group. The members were either killed or arrested. In this manner, the Corps of Forty came to an end.

Hence, there was a tumultuous relation between the Sultan and the Corps of Forty and had a profound impact on the Delhi Sultanate.

Q9. The inferior cavalry of the Rajputs was not the only cause of their defeat at the hands of Turko-Afghan And Mughal.Comment. (2001)

Ans. From the success of Muhammad Ghori to Babur in the First Battle of Panipat, the defeat of Rajputs led to the consolidation of Delhi Sultanate and then the Mughal Empire in the Indian Sub-continent.

A prominent historian J.N Sarkar believes that the defeat of Rajputs was due to the following reasons:

(a) Mutual jealousy and distrust: Mutual jealousy prevailed between the Gahadavalas of Kannauj and the Chauhans of Ajmer at the time of Ghurid invasion and simultaneously, when Rana Sanga invited Babur to invade India which led to their defeat.

(b) The habit of drinking wine: The consumption of wine affected the commitment of the Rajput warriors on one hand and they failed to withstand the zeal and enthusiasm of the Turks.

However, another eminent historian Muhammad Habib has pointed out some other reasons such as:

(a) Inferior cavalry: It Was not the only reason but played a major role in the defeat as Turko-Afghans and Mughals had a better cavalry than that of the Rajputs.

(b) Economic causes: As the feudal system was prevalent the Rajput forces remained to be dependent on the feudal forces supplied by the Samantas. Since the forces came from different regions, there was a lack of coordination and they refused to accept the commands of a single person. While on the other hand, the Turkish forces followed the principle of 'Unity of Command' which resulted in perfect coordination. 

(c) Scientific and technological causes: Professor Muhammad Habib points out that to the discovery of iron stirrups by Turks which was important for maintaining balance on the running horses and use of Rumi Device. They had the quality of horses which provided the desired swiftness and mobility. Moreover, the horses were marked by horseshoes that enabled them to run at desired pace irrespective of the terrain.

                          Rajputs, theoretically, had the responsibility to defend India, which was thwarted by the attacks of Turko-Afghans   and Mughals, who later maintained a stronghold over the Indian Subcontinent   .

Q10. Give an estimate of Ghiasuddin Balban. (1996)

Ans. Ghiasuddin Balban was a remarkable personality, who is credited with laying the foundation of a centralized Turkish State in India.He rose to power as a member of Turkan-i- Chahalgani, first by installing Nasiruddin Mahmud on the throne and controlling him for nearly two decades.

     Though he faced opposition from other nobles, he managed to overcome them and finally placed himself on the throne in 1265.Balban realized the threat ofChahalgani and decided to crush them. His opponents were murdered and he created a nobility base that was completely loyal to him. His 'blood and iron policy' was reflected in his handling of Mewatis and Rajput Zamindars, whose strongholds were destroyed and followed by a brutal massacre of the population.

   His acumen can be witnessed in his handling of the Mongol threat. He entered into an agreement with Dawa Khan and surrendered the portion of Punjab to Mongol. However, he strengthened his defences at Tabirhinde, Sunam and Somana, and maintained Beas as the boundary of his kingdom. His absolute adherence to justice and his theory of king as the representative of God went a long way in consolidating the position of the Sultan.

Thus, he was able to maintain and consolidate the early Turkish Empire and created a centralised monarchy. 

Q11. Balban's theory of kingship. Short note. (1995)

Ans. Ulugh Khan, better known as Balban, occupied the throne of Delhi Sultanate as ruler from 1266 to 1286 A.D. Information about him and his Theory of Kingship is better known from the historical source Fatuia-i-Jahandari written by Ziauddin Barani.

He traced his origin from the Iranian King Afrasiyab and believed himself to be linked with the superior lineage. He did not believe in interacting with the common people and maintained the racial superiority.

       According to his theory, a king was responsible only to God and to not anyone else as the king ranked second only to God. He also introduced two customs for the proof of his superiority i.e. Sijda and Paibos. According to Sijda, people had to bow down before him and according to Paibos had to kiss the feet of the. emperor. The two practices were against the principles ofIslam but still he followed them. 

                                   Balban clearly differentiated between the common people and the king. He also used the system of spies to keep a check on the people. In this way, Balban was able to implement the Divine Theory of Kingship in order to show his power and prestige among the people of the Sultanate.

Q12. What were the problems Balban faced? How far did he succeed in solving them? Was he a trendsetter in his theory of kingship? (1985) 

Ans. Balban is considered to be the most prolific empire builder of the Slave Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate. He emerged as the Sultan from the post of Naib-i-Sultan.

Problems faced by Balban :

(i) The major problem was the Corps of Forty that emerged to be the king makers and even posed a threat to his power. 

(ii) Mongol menace was a big challenge for him. 

(iii) The Military of the Sultanate was not in a stable situation. 

(iv) The value of the post of Sultan was in a way diluted due to the parallel governance by the Corps of Forty. Since Balban was a pragmatic monarch, he brought in new policies and changes to end his problems. Thus, he was able to solve the problems successfully. 

Problem Solver:. 

  • He began to end the Turkan-i-Chanalgani. 
  • He assassinated many Nobles in the group of aristocracy. 
  • He brought in the theory of 'Blood and Iron', according to which anyone against the Sultan would meet the 'Tabut' or would be assassinated and he suppressed the centrifugal tendencies of the States in the empire by his ironlike policies. 
  • He also established the Divine Theory of Kingship, according to which he proclaimed himself to be the Shadow of God and as no one could go against God, similarly, no one could go against the Sultan.
  • To manage the post of Sultan, he brought the policy of court etiquettes whereby there was a compulsion of Sijda (bowing down in-front of the king) and Paibos (touching kissing feet of the Sultan). 
  • He also established Diwan-i-Arz as a military department to safeguard the territorial borders, especially against Mongols. 
  • He appointed his son Prince Muhammad in North- West Frontier to check the Mongol menace. 


On account of these changes, Ziauddin Barani proclaimed him as a trendsetter in the Theory of Kingship. He followed this system to raise the stature and importance of the post of Sultan.

He himself even followed some court etiquettes, like he never laughed or cried in the court. So, he brought a revolutionary change in the post of Sultan by making it higher and superior than other posts.

          Therefore, he is considered a trendsetter even by Amir Khusrau.