India Medieval India

History of Medieval India

The term Medieval India is used to refer to the post classical history of India. It is divided into the early medieval period and into the late medieval period.

The following are the major events and personalities in Medieval India:

Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate was established by the Central Asian Turks who conquered parts of northern India around the 12th and 13th century.

Slave Dynasty

The rulers that ruled Delhi were either descendants of slaves or the slaves. In other words, it was the slave dynasty. They took advantage the good relationship and experience that they had with the former masters in order to take over leadership. Eventually, they moved from slavery to leadership.

The Slave Dynasty is sometimes referred to as the Mamluk Dynasty. It ruled the Delhi Sultanate between 1206 and 1290.

  • The dynasty was guided into northern India by a Turkic general known as Qutubuddin Aibak. He came from Central Asia and was the fist Sultan of the Slave Dynasty. He reigned from 1206 to 1210.
  • The second Sultan was Aram Shah.
  • Aram Shah was defeated in battle by Shams-Ud-Din Iltutmish who became the third sultan of the dynasty. Shams-Ud-Din Iltutmish ruled from 1211 – 1236 and shifted the capital of the dynasty from Lahore to Delhi.
  • Razia al-Din (also Raziya) was the fifth Sultan of the Slave Dynasty and also the first female Muslim ruler in the Indian sub-continent.

The dynasty ended with the rise of the Khiliji Dynasty.

Khilji Dynasty:

The Khilji Dynasty reigned over much of South Asia from 1290 to 1320. It was the second dynasty to control the Delhi Sultanate.

  • It was established by Jalal-Ud-din Firuz Khilji.
  • Alauddin Khilji then assumed the reigns of the dynasty. He ruled for twenty years, and after his death, the dynasty descended into chaos.

The period also witnessed various cases of raising of taxes in order to fund its military expenses.

Tughlaq Dynasty:

The Tughlaq Dynasty was of Turkish origin.

  • The Tughlaq Dynasty was established in 1320 when Ghazi Malik assumed the Khilji Dynasty throne under the title Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq.
  • After his death in 1325, the dynasty was ruled for 26 years by his eldest son, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. During his reign, the Delhi Sultanate experienced its biggest geographical reach.
  •  Firoz Shah Tughlaq ruled the Delhi Sultanate for 37 years after the death of Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq.

They dynasty was able to rule for a considerable amount of time because of the friends it made such as the Afghans. The kingdom began to disintegrate after the death of Firoz Shah Tughlaq.

Vijaynagara Empire (1336-1646) – South Indian Kingdom

The Vijayanagara Empire was founded in southern India because of the frequent attacks. It liberated the southern parts of the Indian sub-continent from the Delhi Sultanate.

The Vijaynagar Empire was an empire in the Deccan plateau (South India). Its legacy include monuments in the South of India, temple architecture, and various technological practices such as irrigation.

Sayyid Dynasty

The Sayyid Dynasty ruled the Delhi Sultanate after the Tughlaq Dynasty from 1414 – 1451. They claimed to have been direct descendants of Prophet Muhammad.

  • Khizr Khan was the founder of the Sayyid dynasty.  He was notable rulers. However, his reign was characterized by chaos and utter disorder.
  • Mubarak Shah, the son of Khizr Khan, assumed the throne after his death in 1421.
  • He was succeeded by his nephew Muhammad Khan who ascended the throne with the title of Muhammad Shah.
  • The last rule of the dynasty was Ala-ud-Din Alam Shah.

Lodi Dynasty

The Lodi (Lodhi) dynasty was a dynasty of Afghan Pashtun.

  • The Lodi Dynasty was established by Bahlul Lodi in 1451.
  • Sikandar Lodhi, Bahlul’s second son, succeeded him to the throne after his death in 1489.
  • Ibrahim Lodi, his son, was elevated to the throne without any opposition. The First Battle of Panipat was fought between armies of Ibrahim Lodi and Mughal Emperor Babur. The war took place on the 21st day of April 1526. The defeat of Ibrahim Lodi marked the end of the dynasty. The dynasty ended when Ibrahim Lodi was defeated by Babur in the battle.

Sikhism

The growth of Sikhism reached its peak between the 15th and 17th centuries. The religion is based on the teachings of its founder, Guru Nanak. He was born on the 15th of April 1469 and traveled far and wide teaching people about God.

Guru Nanak was born in Talwandi. Guru Nanak made extensive travels including places such as Tibet. Guru Nanak was a kind man who had gained favor from the people.

Suri Empire

The Suri Empire was founded by an ethnic Pashtun by the name Sher Shah Suri. Some of its rulers were:

  • Sher Shah (1540 – 1545),
  • Islam Shah Suri, real name was Jalal Khan (1545 – 1554), and
  • Adil Shah Suri whose rule ended in 1556 marking the end of the empire.

The dynasty had a rich legacy that included the following :

  • promoting justice and reducing the general oppression of the people,
  • administrative as well as economic reforms,
  • less corruption, and
  • systematized relationship between the government officers and the general people.

Suri Empire interrupted the reign of the Mughal Empire which began after the decline of the Lodi dynasty.

Mughal Empire

  • Mughal Emperor Babur founded the empire in 1526 after the first battle of Panipat. He was a a Mongolan leader.
  • During the rule of Humayun, Babur’s successor, Sur empire interrupted the reign of the Mughal Empire.
  • Its reign was restored with the ascension of Akbar the Great. The Rajput Policy of Akbar had 13 main features and was aimed at securing cooperation from the Rajputs. The Religious Policy of Akbar advocated for religious tolerance.
  • Jahangir was the fourth ruler of the empire after the death of his father.
  • Shah Jahan, the fifth emperor, is associated with the golden age of the empire. He built the Taj Mahal, a historical monument.
  • The empire started its decline during the reign of Aurangzeb due to the resurgence of the Maratha military.

Some of the changes they brought to India includes:

  • a centralized form of government,
  • delegation of authority and responsibility,
  • the art and culture of Persia,
  • introduction of an organized system of education which was concerned with the need of the people.

Maratha Empire

The Maratha Empire was a prominent dynasty in the 17th century. It is also referred to as Maratha confederancy. They are known for ending the dynasty of the Mughal.

  • The kingdom was established by Chhatrapati Shivaji (also Shivaji Bhonsle, Shivaji Maharaj).
  • Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj was the kingdom’s second ruler, and he continued with the expansionist policies of his father.
  • After his death, Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj ascended the throne.
  • Shivaji II was the next emperor with his mother assuming control of the kingdom on his behalf because he was still young.
  • Thereafter, Chatrapati Shahu managed to gain control of the kingdom was accepted as emperor.

Peshwas

During the Peshwa era, the Peshwas were in charge of the army and ultimately the defacto leaders of the Maratha empire. The people who held the office of Peshwa in the kingdom included Balaji Vishwanath, Baji Rao I, and Balaji Baji Rao.

Third Battle of Panipat

The Third Battle of Panipat took place in Northern Delhi. Under the leadership of Sadashivrao Bhau in 1759, the Maratha Empire recaptured Delhi, the former capital of Mughal Empire, from the Afghans. Massive armies made up of varied forces and led by Ahmad Shah Durrani then planned to fight against the Marathas. The two forces collided on the 14th of January in 1761 in what is known as the Third Battle of Panipat. The Marathas were defeated in this battle. Peshwa Madhavrao I was the fourth Peshwa of the Maratha Empire. He restored the kingdom.

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