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The Slave Dynasty                      [1206 AD - 1290 AD]


Ghori's conquest became the nucleus of a new political entity of India - the Delhi Sultanate. For almost one hundred years after that, the Delhi Sultanate was involved in foreign invasions, internal conflicts among the Turkish leaders and the dispossessed Rajput rulers and chiefs to regain their independence.

Ghori left his Indian possessions in the care of his former slave, General Qutb-ud- din Aibak. He played an important part in the expansion of the Turkish sultanate in India after the battle of Tarrain. On the death of his master, Aibak severed his links with Ghazni and asserted his independence, and founded Slave Dynasty mamluks. This helped to prevent India being drawn into central asian politics and enabled the Delhi Sultanate to develop independently.

Iltutmish (1210 AD - 1236 AD), son-in-law of Aibak - succeeded Aibak as the sultan by defeating Aibak's son. Thus, the principle of heredity, of son succeeding his father was checked at the outset. Iltutmish must be regarded as the real consolidator of the Turkish conquests in north India. He gave the new state capital, Delhi, a monarchical form of government and governing class. He introduced Iqta - grant of revenue from a territory in lieu of salary. He maintained a central army and introduced coins of Tanka (silver) and Jital (copper). The famous Qutub Minar was completed during his reign. He despatched an expedition against the Chalukyas of Gujarat but it was repelled with losses.

During his last years, Iltutmish finally nominated his daughter Raziya (1236 AD - 1239 AD) to the throne. In order to assert her claim, Raziya had to contend against her brothers as well as against powerful Turkish nobles, and could rule only for three years. Though brief, her rule had a number of interesting features like the beginning of the struggle for power between the monarchy and the Turkish chiefs, sometimes called as the forty or Chahalgami. She sent an expedition against Ranthambhor to control the Rajputs, and successfully established law and order in the length and breadth of her kingdom. In 1239 AD, an internal rebellion broke out in which Raziya was imprisoned and killed by bandits.

The struggle between the monarchy and the Turkish chiefs continued till one of the Turkish chiefs Balban (Ulugh khan) (1265 AD - 1285 AD) ascended the throne. During the earlier period he held the position of naib or deputy to Nasiruddin Mahmud, a younger son of Iltultmish. He broke the Chahalgami and made the Sultan all important. Through changes in the organisation of the army and administration, he was able to control any revolt among the nobles. Balban got rid of many of his other rivals by fair and foul means. But there is no doubt that with his accession to the throne there began an era of strong, centralised government.

After Balban's death, there was again confusion in Delhi for some times. In 1290, the Khilji's, under the leadership of Jalaluddin Khilji, wrested power from the incompetent successor of Balban.