The Khilji (Khalji) dynasty: Problems of succession and power-transfers Death of Balban-emergence of Khalji power

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The Khilji (Khalji) dynasty:

Death of Balban-emergence of Khalji power

  • Economy stabilizes, market towns increase in number—due to increased migration from Afghanistan and Persia
  • Mongols contained on NW border
  • Power of chehelgan reduced, through iqta reform and garrison towns, but they become more hostile to centralized rule
  • Balban’s severe punishments and killings greatly reduce the number of qualified officers and generals, independent action discouraged and sycophancy encouraged
  • No competent successor remains when Mohammad, the older son is dies in 1285.

Problems of succession

  • Turkish custom did not favor primogeniture
  • The nobility had some say in the selection of the next ruler if sultan did not appoint an heir
  • Balban’s attempt to create a succession failed
    • Younger son Bughra Khan resented and feared his father since 1275 events in Bengal
    • Muhammad’s son Kaykhusrau was designated heir after Mohammad’s death in 1285 but opposed by amirs
    • Bughar Khan’s son Kayqabad and his son Kayumars both had short reigns while the chehelgan attempted to use them as puppet rulers, Bughra stayed far away from Delhi

The Khaljis

  • A tribe of mixed Afghani/Turkish descent
  • Benefited from Balban’s reforms, had greater cohesion than other groups, unite and nominate their senior chief, Jalal-ud-din Khilji as ruler (r. 1290-96)
    • His generosity had won support, but is later criticized
    • Growing evidence of his lack of desire from confrontation makes Khaljis nervous
    • His nephew Ala-ud-din Khalji demonstrates superior military and leadership skills, particularly in the raid on Deogiri (1293-95), Khaljis begin to support him instead
    • Jalal ud-din is assassinated on his nephew’s orders in 1296

Ala-ud-din Khalji’s Campaigns

  • Suppresses several attempts by mongols and secures NW borders b/w 1296-1306
  • 1299—Gujarat (important for sea trade) and Ranthambor annexed
  • 1302-3—Orrisa and Bengal campaign unsuccessful
  • 1303 Chittor and Central India
  • Malik Kafur’s expeditions
    • Campaign against the Yadavs (Devgiri) 1306-07
    • Against the Kakatiyas of Warrangal 1309-1310
    • Against the Hoysalas of Dvarsamudra 1310
    • Against the Pandyas (southernmost) 1311
  • Ala-ud-Din’s addition of tribute paying areas

Khilji reforms--military

  • Treasure from raids and economic reforms funds Military improvements
    • Branding and registration of horses
    • Role calls for soldiers
    • Regulation of horse trade
    • Fixed and regular cash salaries for soldiers reduces reliance on iqtas
    • Ample supplies assured through economic reforms

Iqta Reforms

  • Iqtas accessed and registered to reduce fraud and corruption
  • Not hereditary, but assigned for a limited use, revert to treasure at end of appointment period
  • Sizes kept small, holdings scattered to reduce influence of iqta holders
  • Share of taxes from Iqtas reduced for chehelgan, other nobility and headmen, reducing their income, increasing the share of the treasury

Market Reforms

  • Grain prices in cities and towns regulated to prevent excessive profits and ensure regular supply even in times of scarcity
  • Markets for different goods created, regulated by officers inspecting goods for quality, weights, and measures
  • Safety along trade routes increases, market towns proliferate starting in this period
  • Registration of Merchants, advances made for certain trade goods from treasury

Controls over Chehelgan

  • Reduced income from reforms, control over army also reduced
  • More dependent on king for salaries and assignments
  • Prohibited from forming alliances through marriages or under cover of parties
  • Increased surveillance of activities, audits of wealth and tax collections

South Asia at the time of Khilji’s death, 1316

  • Long period of stability, furthest extent of Sultanate empire
  • Power of Chehelgan greatly reduced, that of new groups such as Afghans and some Rajputs increases—this too has some drawbacks
  • Economic gains continue into the later sultanate dynasties
  • Royal patronage leads to greater interest in architecture, patronage of literature, founding of schools (madrasas)
  • Relative prosperity of Indian Sultante leads to greater migration of scholars, Sufis, from Iran and Afghanistan as Mongal invasions continue (cont. next slide)


  • Greater period of Urbanization, Muslims mainly to be found in Urban areas—both rich and poor
  • Urban poor, certain peasants, new migrants favor Sultan—as do some ulema and sufis who gain patronage
  • The Urban rich (Nobility, some merchants) antagonized.
  • Some Sufis such as the Chistis critical of growing power of Sultan.
  • Reaction of Peasants mixed—due to market reforms

End of Khilji rule: Problems of Succession

  • Ala-ud-din Khilji was bed-ridden and ill during his last year, Malik Kafur, his general, was in a much stronger position to grab the throne than his teenage sons.
  • During a bloody coup, many of the Khilji princes were killed, but their body-gaurds were able to resist Kafur and kill him.
  • Mubark Shah succeeded as Khilji king, however, he delegated much of his authority to his generals. He had a close relationship with one.

The last Khilji Sultan

  • By the early 14th century, the Khilji army had large numbers of Hindu soldiers working for various emirs—Hindu and Muslim
  • Khusrau Khan, a recent convert, was the general and using his power base in the army killed Mubarak Shah in a coup in 1320.
  • Only the opposition of the Turkish emirs stopped Khusrau Khan from ruling—the last of the important Sultanates, the Tughlaqs, would replace him.
  • To what extent were the rulers of the Delhi Sultanate
  • able to create stable political and social institutions
  • in South Asia?
  • In framing your answer analyze some of these (ex. the iqta system, administration, economy, religious patronage, etc) in detail to explain how they supported or undermined the rule of the Sultans.
  • Paper 1

Create Thesis, Organize evidence

  • After reviewing readings and notes, select the strongest evidence you have—factors creating stability or instability in the Sultanate.
  • Are any of these points related? Can you frame them more concisely?
  • Pick the 3 or so strongest points to discuss in paper and formulate thesis

Creating a good thesis

  • Do not state the very general points or merely repeat what the question asks: ex. of weak thesis: “Many factors created a stable (or unstable) administration during the Sultanate period in South Asia.”
  • Use specific and clear wording in your thesis:
    • Ex. “The (specific elements) helped foster stability during the Sultanate period because. . . .”
  • Offer an argument or identify a causal factor (how or why something happens)

A good thesis Cont.

  • A strong thesis can offer shades of complication, but to do it well, make sure you have a clearly worded sentences.
    • Ex. some institutions can have mixed impacts, i.e. promote stability in some situations, instability in others (ex. Market reforms)
  • Do not have one long, run on sentence that offers a list of factors, but does not explain their interconnections, or offer a strong argument

Organize Paper

  • Structure your paper around your thesis, make sure you transition well from one point to another.
  • For each point discussed, find specific evidence from the readings. Make sure you cite your evidence correctly. Without citations your paper will get an automatic “F”
  • Each paragraph should add a little bit more to your argument/thesis. This is a short paper—stay focused on your argument
  • Make sure your conclusion wraps all your evidence together
  • Proofread paper and CHECK CITATIONS before handing in the paper

Chicago Style

  • You may use either endnotes or footnotes
  • Please use the “Insert” menu, (select references) in MS word, instead of doing it manually, this will save you time and re-number notes as you add and delete sections in your draft.
  • All bib. Information is in your syllabus.
  • You do not need a bibliography.

Example of Chicago citation

  • Ist mention of a text:
  • Joe Author, Title of book, (New York: Publishing Co, 2003), 7. or
  • Joe Author, “Title of Essay, “ in (rest same as the 1st example from book), or
  • Joe Author, “Article Title,” Journal Name, Issue no, date, 14.
  • 2nd citation and after, use short form: Smith, 35.

For slides or Lecture notes

  • Use my last name and date of the lecture.
  • Slides on website are titled with the day they were used.
  • Keep in mind—
    • Primary sources (such as Beruni) are best
    • Secondary sources (such as Rizvi and other authors) are also good.
    • Slides and lecture notes are the weakest form of evidence. Use them sparingly.

Research Proposal

  • Step 1—meet with me this week to explore bibliography and topic possibilities
  • Finalize bibliography and title with me by end of week 3 (this can be done on email, but leave lots of time—24+hrs for my response)
  • Start reading your strongest sources to formulates proposal—skim others for now

Framing a proposal

  • Don’t offer a vague idea you have not thought through: “my paper is about the court poet Amir Khusrau and his life.”
  • Your proposal should explain what specific issue about your topic you will explore and why it is important: “I will examine the writings of Amir Khusrau (1253-1325) to understand how the Turkish emirs of the Delhi Sultanate assimilated facets of Indian culture into their traditions. This research will help explain in what ways Sultanate culture became rooted in South Asia, etc.”
  • Explain how your sources relate to your topic, their possible strengths and weaknesses.
  • Create a strong bibliography that matches your proposal.

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