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Mamluk dynasty (1206-1290)

This post gives a brief but comprehensive description of the Mamluk dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate founded by Qutb-ud-din Aibak in 1206.  

Who were the Mamluks?

Mamluk is a Turkic word that means a soldier of a slave origin. Mamluks started to occupy a powerful position in Muslim armies from the 9th century because of their royalty, bravery and command of warfare skills. They enjoyed both military and political powerful positions in Iraq, Egypt, Central Asia, and India. 

Mamluk dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate

The Mamluk Dynasty was marked by the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1525). Set up by Kutb ud-Din Aibak, a Turkic slave general from Central Asia, the dynasty reigned the sultanate for 84 years, from 1206 to 1290.  

Before the establishment of Mamluk rule in Delhi and surrounding regions, Aibak ruled India from 1192 to 1206 as part of the Ghurid empire under Sultan Muhammad of Ghore. 

The table given below provides a list of rulers of the Mamluk dynasty in chronological order.

Table: Rulers of Mamluk Dynasty (1206-1290)

Serial no. Rulers Tenure
1Qutb-ud-din Aibak1206-1210
2Sultan Aram Sha1210-1211
3Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, Nasir Amir-ul-Mu’minin 1211-1236
4Rukn-ud-din Feroze, SultanApril 1236-November 1236
5Razai Al din Sultana1236-1240
6Sultan Muiz ud din Bahram1240-1242
7Sultan Alaudin Masud 1242-1246
8Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmood1242-1266
9Sultan Siyath-ud-din Balban1266-1287
10Sultan Muiz-ud-din Mahamamd 1287-1290

The sultanate was characterized by palace intrigues and murders within the royal family as part of the attempts to succeed to the throne. For instance, the 3rd ruler, Sultan Iltumish, the son-in-law of Aibak, ascended to the throne after murdering the second king, Sultan Aram Shah. Similarly, the fourth Sultan, Rukn-ud-din Feroze, was assassinated along with his mother by the Chihalgani.

Chilhalgani was a council of 40 Turkic and non-Turkic nobles, initially formed by Aibak, to help the Sultan in the administration of the sultanate. However, over the course of time, the council had become so strong that it did not hesitate to replace Sultans. 

The fifth ruler, Razia Sultana ruled hardly for a couple of years because of the opposition to her rule from the Turkish nobles and her half brother, Muiz-ud-din Bahram, who with help of Chihalgani forced her to flee in a battle. Likewise, the 6th Sultan, Muiz-ud-din Bahram, was killed within two years of his rule by Chihalgani that had helped him come on the throne. 

Chihalgani brought Ala-ud-din Masud to the throne as the 7th Sultan. The new sultan was soon replaced by another grandson of Iltumish, Nasiruddin Mahmud, chiefly as a result of the intrigues of the palace nobles.  The new Sultan was just a symbolic ruler as the actual power of the sultanate was exercised by his deputy  Ghiyath-ud-din Balban who became the Sultan from 1266 to 1287.

The Successor of Balban and last Sultan, Muiz-ud-din Muhammad Qaiqabad was murdered by Jalal-ud-din Khalji, an imperial officer and influential figure in the royal court. The Khalji declared himself Sultan after the murder of the last Sultan. 

End of Mamluk dynasty in India

The Mamluk dynasty came to its end after 84 years of its rule. It was succeeded by the Khalji dynasty founded by Jalal al-Din Firuz Khalji in a successful coup in June 1290. As discussed above, Khalji murdered Sultan Muiz-ud-din that marked the start of the Khalji dynasty that ruled the sultanate for 30 years from 1290 to 1320.  

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