The Slave Dynasty (1206-1290) Delhi Sultanate

The Slave Dynasty (1206-1290) – Delhi Sultanate

The Slave Dynasty


The Early Turkish Empire, which lasted from 1206 to 1290 A.D. popularly known to the students of history as “The Slave Dynasty” and sometimes known as the Pathan or Afghan dynasty. It is generally believed that the dynasty derives its name from Qutbuddin who was originally a slave.

No Slave ascended the throne unless he got manumission from his Master

Qutbuddin Aibak got a letter of freedom from the nephew and successor of his royal Master.

The early Sultans of Delhi were Turks and not Afghans or Pathans. Qutbuddin Aibak was broght from Turkistan and sold to Qazi Fakharuddin of Nishapur. The author of the Nishat Namah says, ” No slave bought at a price has ever become a king except among the Turks.” The accession of Qutbuddin to the throne of Delhi, has established this fact that Islam makes no distinction between master and servant.

Sultan Muhammad Ghuri had left no male issue and so his empire was divided among his Turkish slaves who were trained up in the art of warfare and administration.

Of all the slaves of Muhammad Ghuri, Qutbuddin Aibak played the most important role in the history of Indo-Pakistan. Qutbuddin was purchased early by Qazi Fakhruddin Kufi of Nishapur who gave him the best education and most efficient training.

After the death of Qazi, he was sold to a merchant who brought him to Ghazni where he was bought by Sultan Muhammad Ghuri. By his devotion and services, he soon endeared himself to his master who raised him to the position of Amir Akhur (Lord of the stables). Qutbuddin accompanied the Sultan during his Indian expeditions and as a general he made a deep impression upon the mind of the sultan.

After the second battle of Tehrain, Muhammad Ghuri left him in charge of the Indian possessions. Qutbuddin fully justified the confidence placed in him by his master. Within a short time, he extended the territory of the empire by capturing Hans, Meerut, Delhi, Ranthambar, Koil and Qanauj.

Qutbuddin had also due share in the conquest of Benares, Kalinjar and Mahoba. Bengal and Bihar were conquered by Qutbuddin  lieutenant, Muhammad bin Bakhtiar Khalji. The credit for this conquest goes to Qutbuddin.

Qutbuddin proceeded to Lahore and there ascended the throne in 1206 A.D.

Qutbuddin defeated Yalduz in a battle and forced him to flee to Kuhistan. Qutbuddin  became so powerful that the Khutba was read and coins struck in his name.

But Qutbuddin could not enjoy the fruits of his labours or long. Qutbuddin  died on November, 1210 A.D while playing Polo and buried at Lahore.

On the death of Qutbuddin Aibak, the nobles raised Aram Shah, who was neither son nor brother to the Sultan, to the throne  of Delhi. But the new Sultan proved himself quite inefficient and unpopular. The nobles then invited Iltutmish, the son-in-law of Qutbuddin and the governor of Badaun, to ascend the throne. Iltutmish accepted the invitation and defeated Aram Shah in a battle near Delhi.


Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish ascended the throne of Delhi in 1211. He belonged to the reowned Ilbari tribe in Turkistan. His intelligence, sagacity and handsome appearance excited the jealousy of his brothers who sold him into slavery in infancy.

Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish received his early education and training in the cultured family of the Cheif Justice of Bokhara. Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish  had helped Sultan Muhammad Ghuri in quelling there billion of the turbulent Khokhar tribe of the punjab and in recognition of his service he was manumitted by his master at the Sultan’s order.

Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish found himself confronted with innumerable dangers and difficulties. He had to fight against Tajuddin Yalduz, the ruler of Ghazni, and Nasiruddin Qubacha of Sind, who were asserting their independence.

Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish took a storng action against those Qutbi nobles who had revolted against him and refused to recognize his sovereignty. Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish was obliged to wage war against Yalduz. Yalduz was defeated in the field of Tarain (1216).

After the overthrow of Yalduz, Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish take action against Nasiruddin Qubacha who had occupied Lahore. Nasiruddin Qubacha was epelled from that city by Iltutmish in 1217 and his power was finally crushed in 1228.

In 1223 Iltutmish led a vast army against Ghiyasuddin Khalji who declared independence and assumed the royal title.

In 1229,  Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish received a robe of honour and a patent of investiture from the Khalifah of Baghdad who had recognized him as the Sultan of India.

In 1231 A.D Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish attacked Gwalior, besieged the fort for eleven months and at last defeted its ruler, Mangal Dev. In 1234 A.D he marched against Malwa and easily conquered the towns of Bhilsa and Ujj.

Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish was a great builder and the famous Qutb Minar at Delhi which was completed by him in 1231-32 A.D.

The Slave Dynasty Qutub Minar

Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish died in April 1236.


Sultana Raziya was the first Muslim lady who sat on the throne of Delhi. She was popular among the people but she was not acceptable to the nobles and theologians. She further offended the nobles by her preference for an Abyssian slave Yakut.

Soon after her accession, the governors of Multan, Badaun, Hansi & Lahore openly revolted against her. There was a serious rebellion in Bhatinad. Altunia, governor of Bhatinda refused to accept suzerainity of Razia. Razia accompained by Yakut marched against Altunia.

However, Altunia got Yakut murdered and imprisoned Razia. Subsequently, Razia married Altunia and both of them marched towards Delhi. In 1240 AD, Razia became the victim of a conspiracy and was assassinated near Kaithal (Haryana)

Sultana Raziya ruled Delhi for 1236 to 1240.

After Sultana Raziya Iltutmish’ third son Bahram Shah ruled Delhi only for two years 1240-1242. He was considered only as de jure ruler, while Naib-e-mamlakat (the regent) was de facto ruler. Bahram Shah lost his life after failed attempt to assert his authority once on the throne.

Masud Shah son of Raknuddin but was disposed after Balban and Nasiruddin Mahamud’ Mother, Malika-e-Jehan, conspired against him and established Nasiruddin Mahamud as the new Sultan.

Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud (1246-1266) was an amiable and pious king who led the life of a Saint. He was honoured with the title of “Ulugh Khan” by the Sultan. Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud was generous, compassionate. simple and God fearing. Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud died in 1266 after a reign of 20 years.

Ghiyasuddin Balban (1266-86) ascended the throne in 1266 at the age of Sixty. He restore the authority and prestige of the Sultanate which had been shaken by the weakness of his predecessors. He maintained a strict and splendid court after the manner of the old Persian Kings and introduced Persian etiquette and ceremonies.

Ghiyasuddin Balban fully realised that the stability of his government depended upon a strong and efficient army. He reorganised the whole army on a firm basis.

Ghiyasuddin Balban had a strong and well organised spy system. The spies were made independent of the governors and commanders. The spies even watched the activities of the sons of the Sultan.

Ghiyasuddin Balban was very strict in the administration of Justice. When complaint was made that Malik Barbaq, a big jagirdar of Badaun, killed one of his servants, Ghiyasuddin Balban ordered him to be put to death.

Ghiyasuddin Balban destroyed Mewati Rajputa brigandage in the doab, where forests were cut and forts built. In his last days he overlooked Sultanate affairs due to dealth of his eldest and most loving son, Muhammad, and rebellion by his closed and most loved slave, Tughril. Muhammad died fighting Mongolians in 1285 and Tughril was captured and beheaded.

Ghiyasuddin Balban was died in 1287 after a reign of about 22 Years.

Kaiqabad (1287-1289) the son of Bughra Khan, to the throne in 1287. Kaiqubad was killed by the Khiliji family, which saw end of Slave dynasty and beginning of Khiliji dynasty at Delhi throne.

The Slave Dynasty Sultans covered a period of 84 years. During this period, eleven Sultans ruled successively in Indo-Pakistan of the Sultans, Qutubuddin, Iltutmish and Balban were the prominent and the most successful.

The authority of the Sultans was established over the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, Bihar, Gwalior, Sindh and some parts of Rajputana and Central India.

The main achievements during the “The Slave Dynasty” is the Unification of Northern India and checking of the Mongol inroads.