• Ghiyasuddin Balban laid down the foundation of a new dynasty called the Balbani Dynasty although he was intimately related with the dynasty of Iltutmish as both Sultan Masud Shah and Sultan Nasiruddin were his sons-in-law and his own son Bughra Khan was married to the daughter of Sultan Nasiruddin by his another wife.
  • Originally known as Ulugh Khan, He was one of the Chihalgani Turks. Although He ascended the throne only in 1266, the entire period from 1246 to his death in 1287 may be called the age of Balban because he was the dominant figure at Delhi during this time.
  • Early Career
    • Dr A.L. Srivastava believes that Balban was an Ilbari Turk whose father was a Khan of 10,000 families. His original name was Bahauddin. Balban was taken prisoner in his early youth and sold as a slave in Baghdad by the Mongols. His master Khwaja Jamaluddin brought him to Delhi where he was purchased by Iltutmish in 1233 CE and, after sometime, promoted to the rank of Khassadar.
    • Raziya appointed him to the post of amir-i-shikar. However, Balban proved unfaithful and became a party to oust Raziya from the throne.
    • Bahram Shah gave him the jagir of Rewari and Masud Shah assigned him the jagir of Hansi. Wazir Abu Bakr appointed him amir-ihajib and from that position he got the opportunity to consolidate his position among ‘the forty’.
      • He conspired against Masud Shah and was primarily responsible to put up Nasiruddin on the throne.
        • Nasiruddin was inexperienced and had little interest in political and administrative affairs. He was placed on throne by Balban. 
      • In 1249 CE, he married his daughter to Sultan Nasiruddin, got the post of naib-i-mamlakat and also the title of Ulugh Khan.
    • During the reign of Nasiruddin, Balban practically enjoyed all the powers of the state except for a brief interval of about a year. By ability, tact and diplomacy, Balban, certainly, had become the first among the powerful Turkish nobility.
    • Due to the efforts of the Turkish nobles that in 1253 Balban was asked to quit his post as naib and Imaduddin Raihan (a Hindustani) was appointed as naib. Later, Balban could again regain his position and Imaduddin Raihan was killed. 
    • According to Ibn Battuta and Isami, Balban poisoned Nasiruddin and ascended the throne in 1266 AD.

Balban as the Ruler (1266-87)

  • It was beginning of an era of strong, centralized government. 
  • His Difficulties
    • Though Balban had ruled for nearly 20 years during the reign of Sultan Nasiruddin, yet there were many difficulties which he had to face when he himself became the Sultan. The primary necessity of the state as well as that of Balban was to regain the lost prestige of the Sultan.
      • After Iltutmish’s death, his Turkish slave-nobles attempted to capture the throne and succeeded in its efforts. One after another, the successors of Iltutmish gave way to the rising power of the nobles and therefore, the prestige of the Crown was lost. It was Balban who had captured the ruling power.
      • Thus, the power and prestige of the Sultan was completely lost. Balban himself had contributed towards it. But when he became the Sultan himself he realised the necessity of restoring the power of the Crown. He, therefore, felt the necessity of breaking the power of the nobility and creating awe and terror among the general population.
    • Another difficulty that Balban faced was providing security to the Delhi Sultanate and consolidating it further. All other problems were connected with it.
      • In the North-West, it was absolutely necessary to check the growing power of the Mongols.
      • In the East, Bengal had become independent and it was necessary to bring it under the control of the Delhi Sultanate so that other provinces were not encouraged to follow its example.
      • The Hindus were revolting against the Delhi Sultanate in Doab, Malwa, Bundelkhand and Rajasthan and it was necessary to stop them from making further inroads.
      • The Meos in Mewat and the Hindus in Katehar were revolting within the territories of the Delhi Sultanate and even the capital was not safe from their terror so that the Western gate of Delhi was always closed after the afternoon prayer. All this needed Sultan’s immediate attention.
  • Balban sought to increase the prestige and power of the monarchy, and to centralise all authority in the hands of the sultan because he was convinced that this was the only way to face the internal and external dangers facing him. 
Slave Dynasty Map

Balban’s Theory of Kingship:

  • It was based on Prestige, Power and Justice of king (sultan). 
  • Balban was the first Sultan of Delhi who expressed a clear and strong opinion concerning the powers of the Sultan.
    • Professor K.A. Nizami believed that it was necessary for restoring not only the dignity of the Sultan and eliminating the possibility of conflict with the nobility but also due to inferiority complex and guilty conscience.
  • Balban wanted to impress upon his nobles that he got the throne because of Divine will and not by the poisoned cup or the assassin’s dagger.
  • Primarily, Balban highlighted two points regarding his theory of kingship. Firstly, he gave currency to the epithet Zil-i-Ilahi, the Shadow of God for himself and secondly, it was necessary for the Sultan to be a despot.
    • Sultan as a representative of God on earth: Balban followed the Iranian theory of kingship, according which, the king was divine in character, and answerable only to God. 
    • King as a despot: He believed that Sultan was fountainhead of power. His word was the law. He said to his son Bughra Khan that “Kingship is the embodiment of despotism”. 
  • He expressed that Kingship was the vice-regency of God on earth (niyabat-ikhudai) and it was next only to prophethood. He ruled by ‘divine sanction’ and was not answerable to any worldly authority for the discharge of his power and functions as sovereign.
    • He believed that Kingship was the embodiment of despotism. On another occasion he declared that it was the King’s super-human awe and status which could ensure the people’s obedience.
  • Nobility and Royal descent: 
    • Balban believed that persons born in low and ignoble families should not become nobles. He also believed that nobles are in no way equal to sultan but are dependent on the sultan’s favour.
      • The historian Barani, who was himself a great champion of the Turkish nobles, says that Balban remarked ‘whenever I see a base born ignoble man, my eyes burn and I reach in anger for my sword (to kill him).” 
    • Balban realized that people at that time believed that it was only the prerogative of the ancient royal families to rule and exercise power, he therefore claimed to be a descendent of the Iranian hero, Afraisyab
  • Dignity of the Sultan: 
    • He focused on maintain dignity of his position. In order to enhance the dignity of the throne, he maintained a splendid court in which all the nobles had to stand in serried ranks, strict order was maintained. 
    • The Court was richly decorated. 
    • Balban himself maintained the utmost dignity in the Court. He would neither laugh out aloud himself nor allow anyone else to do so. He gave up drinking in his assemblies. 
    • In his court anyone presented to him had to perform the sijda and pabos (prostration i.e. or kissing of the feat of the monarch in the court) before the sovereign, a practice which, according to the theologians, was reserved for God alone. 
    • Balban sternly refused to give audience at court to Fakhr Bawni since he was only the chief of the merchants, (Malik-ut-Tujjar) and it would compromise the dignity of the sovereign.
  • Justice: 
    • Balban tempered his despotism by laying great emphasis on justice. According to historian Barani, his justice won the favour of his subjects and made them zealous supporters of his throne.
    • In the administration of justice, he was inflexible, showing no favour to his brethren or children, or to his associates or attendants. 
    • He appointed spies (barids) in all the cities, districts and iqtas to keep himself informed of the doings of the officials, and to ensure that no acts of oppression or high handedness was perpetrated by them on anyone, including their slaves and domestic servants.
    • Thus, when he learned that Malik Bakbak who was governor of the iqta of Badaun, had flogged one of his servants to death in a drunken rage, and his widow appealed to the Sultan for justice, he ordered the malik to be flogged to death, and the barid who had not reported this matter to the Sultan to be publicly hanged. 
    • Another noble, Malik Haibat who had been his superintendent of arms and governor of Awadh had, under the influence of wine, killed a person. 
      • He was ordered to be given 500 strokes of the whip in public, and then handed over to the dead man’s wife for extracting revenge for blood guilt, i.e. putting him to death if she so desired. He saved himself with great difficulty by paying her 20,000 tankas. 
    • In his attitude to the people we see a combination of harshness and benevolence.
      • Balban was convinced that both excess of wealth or overt would make eole rebellious.
        • Hence, he advised his son, Bughra Khan, to be moderate in levying land tax (kharaj) on the peasants. 
      • When Balban was a Khan in the iqta under his charge, he tried to help those cultivators who had been ruined (on account of vagaries of nature, oppression by previous iqtadars or wars). 
      • In this way, he became famous for helping the poor and the helpless, and for making his iqta prosperous. 
      • As sultan, whenever the army camped anywhere, he used to pay special attention to the poor, the helpless, women, children and the old, to ensure that none of them suffered any loss, or physical harm (from the soldiers). 

Balban Policies and Contributions: 

 Blood and Iron Policy: 
  • But Balban was extremely harsh when he found any rebelliousness on the part of the people or disturbance of the peace. 
  • Following the death of Iltutmish, the Meos around Delhi had grown in numbers and boldness. They had become so daring as to attack the city at night, break into peoples’ houses. All the inns in the neighbourhood had been plundered by the Meos, thereby affecting trade. 
    • During the first two years of his reign, Balban spent a whole year in suppressing the Meos and cutting the forests around Delhi. 
    • He slaughtered a large number of Meos, built a fort, and established many thanas (military outposts) and assigned them to Afghans. Tax-free villages were set apart for their maintenance. 
    • Thus, Delhi was freed from the fear of the Meos. 
  • In the Doab, robbers and dacoits had closed the roads to Delhi from all sides, and it had become impossible for the caravans and the traders to come and depart. 
    • To fix this, Balban appointed powerful iqtadars to the various territories in the doab.
    • He ordered the villages of the disobedient to be totally destroyed, the men were to be killed and their women and children seized as spoils of war. The thick forests in the area were cut down. 
  • Balban adopted similar measures to deal with the rebels in Katehar (modern Rohilkhand), who were plundering the villages, and harassing the people in the territories of Badaun and Amroha.
  • Thus disturbances in Mewat, Doab, Awadh and Katihar were ruthlessly suppressed.
  • In AD 1279, encouraged by the Mongol threats and the old age of Sultan the governor of Bengal, Tughril Beg, revolted, assumed the title of Sultan and had the khutba read in his name. Balban sent his forces to Bengal and had Tughril killed. 
  • These harsh methods of Balban have been called by some modern historians a policy of “blood and iron.” But it would be wrong to apply this to all of Balban’s policies. 
  • He introduced the Persian festival of Nauroz to impress the nobles and people with his wealth and power. 
  • He stood forth as the champion of Turkish nobility. At the same time he didn’t share power with other Nobles. 
Administration & System of espionage: 
  • The administrative system of Balban was halfmilitary and half-civil. All his officers were supposed to perform both administrative and military duties.
    • Balban himself kept control over the entire administration. There was no post of naib during his reign and the position of the wazir too had become quite insignificant.
    • Balban himself supervised the appointment of all officers and was particular that only people of noble birth were appointed to higher posts. Balban was successful in providing peace and justice to his subjects.
  • Balban owed his success largely due to an efficient ororganization of his spy- system. He set up a network of newswriters and spies (Barids) throughout his dominions to watch the activities of his governors, military and civil officers and even that of his own sons.
    • Balban appointed them himself and they received fat salaries. They were expected to provide every important information to the Sultan and were severely punished if they failed to submit correct and prompt reports to the Sultan about the wrongful activities of the nobility.
    • Every spy had direct access to the Sultan though none met him in the court. Balban’s spy-system struck terror in the hearts of the government employees, strengthened the hold of the central government over them and helped the Sultan in the establishment of an absolute monarchy.
Destruction of “The Forty”: 
  • Even when Balban worked as the Prime Minister of Sultan Nasiruddin, he attempted to break up the power of the group of ‘the forty’ as he regarded it necessary to restore the powers of the Sultan.
    • He assigned junior officers to high ranks so that they could be loyal to him. He punished severely the members of the forty for minor offences with a view to destroy their image. 
  • By the time Balban ascended the throne, most of these nobles had either died by themselves or were destroyed by Balban. The rest who remained were now killed or deprived of power.
    • The governor of Badaun, Malik Baqbaq, who had beaten one of his slaves to death, was flogged publicly, demoted and disgraced.
    • Another influential noble and the governor of Avadh, Haibat Khan was whipped publicly with 500 stripes and then delivered to the widow of the slave whom he had murdered while he was drunk.
    • The same way Amin Khan, governor of Avadh was hanged at the gate of the city of Ayodhya when he failed to suppress the revolt of Tughril Khan of Bengal.
    • Another member of the forty’ and cousin of Balban, Sher Khan was poisoned as Balban became jealous of his ability and suspicious of his ambition.
  • Balban brought about the destruction of the forty who have grasped the power of the state from the weak hands of the successors of Iltutmish. Thus, Balban, a member of the Chalisa himself brought about the destruction of that group.
Organised a strong centralized army:
  •  A strong, centralized state needed a strong army. He tried to reorganise and expand the central army which was directly under the control of the sultan. 
  • Thus, brave and experienced maliks and sardars were appointed over the royal forces to which several thousand new sawars were added, care being taken to see that they were given adequate remuneration by assigning them fertile villages in iqta. 
  • As part of the reform process, Balban also ordered an enquiry into the position of old Turkish soldiers, many of whom had been given villages in the doab as iqta in lieu of salary.
    • Many of the soldiers had become too old to serve, but continued to hold the villages in connivance with the diwan-i-arz (Department of the Muster-Master). 
    • Balban wanted to pension off the old soldiers, but withdrew his order at the instance of Fakhruddin, the kotwal of Delhi. 
  • To keep the army active and vigilant, Balban undertook frequent hunting expeditions in which thousands of horsemen, archers and footmen were employed. These expeditions were kept a secret, orders being passed only the previous night. Thus, officers and men were always kept in a state of alert. 
  • It was to deal with internal disturbances, and to repel the Mongols who posed a serious threat to the Delhi Sultanate. 
  • Balban re-organised the military department (diwan-i-arz). 
  • The nobles were left to recruit their own soldiers. 
  • Balban attached great importance to horses and elephants. 
    • While Balban had a ready supply of elephants from Bengal and Assam, the Mongol conquest of Central Asia had made it difficult to obtain horses from those areas. 
    • Hence, Balban had to fall back on Indian horses from the Siwaliks, the Punjab etc.
    • For the army, too, recruitment of soldiers and slaves from Turkistan, Khurasan etc. had become difficult. Afghans and Indians, including Hindus, seem to have filled the vacuum. 
  • Despite a large and efficient army which was kept in a state of readiness by constant exercises, Balban did not try to expand the territories of the Delhi sultanat, or raid the neighbouring kings of Malwa or Gujarat because, as Balban explained to his close associates, the “wretched Mongols were always looking for an opportunity to raid the doab and ravage Delhi”. 
Struggle for the Territorial Integrity of the Sultanat: 
  • The Mongol threat was a major preoccupation of Balban, and the reason for not leading expeditions anywhere far away from Delhi. 
  • According to Barani, when Balban attained the throne, the dignity and authority of government was restored, and his stringent rules and resolute determination caused all men, high and low, throughout his dominions to submit to his authority. 
  • But in reality while the prestige and power of the Central Government increased under Balban, internal dissensions continued to raise their head. These consisted of two elements:
    • first, the attempt of ambitious Turkish nobles and chiefs, some of them neighbours of India, to carve out an independent sphere of authority for themselves. 
      • In Sindh and Multan, a number of governors raised the banner of independence, Balban were able to reassert control over Multan and Sindh. 
      • In the east, Bengal and Bihar were largely under the control of the governors of Lakhnauti who sometimes tendered formal allegiance to the sultan at Delhi, and sometimes asserted their independence, according to circumstances. 
        • First, Balban appointed Yuzbek, as governor of Lakhnauti. But, Like his predecessors, Yuzbek also soon assumed airs of independence. 
        • Later, Balban appointed Tughril as governor of Lakhnauti. But He too broke the allegiance with Delhi, after consolidating his position. He assumed the title of a sultan, and had the khubah read in his name. 
        • Tughril’s rebellion( Tughril was governor of Bengal appointed by Balban) is the most prominent example. 
        • Balban sent two senior Turkish officers Amir Khan, the governor of Awadh, and Bahadur, one by one. But, they failed to contain the rebellion. 
        • Ultimately, Balban himself had to personally lead a campaign against Tughril and Tughril was killed. Balban gave savage punishment to the followers of Tughril at Lakhnauti. 
  • Second was the attempt of Rajput rajas and rais, including big zamindars, to assert themselves, and if possible, to expel the Turks from their territories. 
    • e.g. In the confusion following the death of Razia, both Gwaliyar and Ranthambhor had to be abandoned by the Turks. Balban recovered Gwaliyar, but his efforts to recapture Ranthambhor were not successful. 
    • South of the Jamuna, the Bundelkhand area continued to be ruled by different branches of Rajputs—the Chandelas, the Bhar and the Baghelas. Balban led an expedition against the Baghela chief of Rewa to clear the plain area south of Kara. However, the expedition had limited political significance. 
    • It will be seen that none of the Rajput efforts threatened the existence, or the essential territorial integrity of the Turkish state. However, the alleged Hindu threat was sometimes used by the rulers to counter internal dissension or differences. 
  • Although Lahore remained under Delhi’s nominal control, the effective frontier in the north-west was the river Beas, so that the Punjab was largely lost. 

Steps taken to combat the Mongol menace

  • Balban used both ‘force and diplomacy‘ against the Mongols. 
  • Diplomatic steps: 
    • Balban as a naib sent an envo to Halaku who was the most imortant fiure amon the successors of Chingez. 
    • Halaku sent a return embassy in 1260 which was given a grand and impressive reception by Balban. 
    • By the time Balban ascended the throne in 1266, Halaku had died, thereby ending goodwill between the Mongols and the ruler of Delhi. 
  • Building powerful army. (covered above) 
  • No territorial expansion: Despite a large and efficient army which was kept in a state of readiness by constant exercises, Balban did not try to expand the territories of the Delhi sultanat, or raid the neighbouring kings of Malwa or Gujarat because of danger of Mongols’ raid. He kept a vigil eyes on North West frontier. 
  • Construction of Forts: In order to strengthen the north-west frontier Balban got constructed a series of forts on it like Forts of Bhatinda, Sarsa, Bhate, Abohar. 
  • Appointment of powerful chiefs: 
    • Sher Khan a cousin of Balban, was appointed in charge of the north-western frontier. He checked the Mongol invaders with efficiency and valour and terrified them. 
    • The post of the warden of marches was given to Muhammad (Balban’s Son) after the death of Sher Khan in 1270 A.D. He had lost life in 1286 AD while fighting Mongols who had attacked Punjab. 
    • The provinces of Lahore. Multan and Uchh were also kept under his supervision while Bughra Khan was made in charge of Sunam, Samana and Dipalpur. 
  • Securing the Capital: Balban did not leave unsafe the capital also. He gave up the policy of expansion. 
  • Focus on internal Security: Balban focused on internal security through heavy hand and formed powerful spy system so that he could face any external challenges without worrying much about internal rebellion. 
    • There were three major invasions of Mongol during Balban era: 
      • Attack on Lahore in 1241 (though Balban was not having control over throne at this time). In 1279, Mongol attacked and defeated by Muhammed, Bugra Khan and Mubarak bakhtiyar. Attack on Punjab in 1285 under Taimur Khan — Defeated by Muhammad — Muhammad died fighting bravely. 

Assessment of Balban: 

  • Balban was undoubtedly one of the main architects of the Sultanate of Delhi, particularly of its form of government and institutions. 
  • Balban adopted a policy of consolidation rather than expansion. By asserting the power of the monarchy, He introduced a new theory of kingship and redefined the relations between the Sultan and nobility. This way he strengthened the Delhi Sultanate. 
  • Although Balban did not succeed in setting up a dynasty, by his stern enforcement of law and order within the upper doab or Indo-Gangetic plain which formed the essential part of his kingdom, sternly suppressing the lawless elements, and freeing the roads for the movement of goods and merchants, he created the necessary basis for the growth and future expansion of the sultanat. 
  • Although there is no evidence that Balban made any systematic efforts to reorganise the system of administration, particularly at the local or provincial levels, His tight control over the iqtadars, with the barids informing him of all developments, imply that the revenues which were previously appropriated by the “Chihalani” or Turkish slave-officers for their own use now bean to be made available to the central government. 
    • A part of these funds were used by Balban for setting up a highly ostentatious Court and the rest for strengthening the central army. 
  • He Could not fully defend northern India against the attacks of the Mongols. Balban did manage to contain the Mongols at the Multan-Dipalpur-Sunam line along the river Beas. But he was not able to push back the Mongols from the tract beyond Lahore, although he was faced only with second rank Mongol commanders, the attention of the Mongol rulers being concentrated on Iran, Iraq, Syria etc. 
    • Thus, it can be argued that there was no real threat to Delhi from the Mongols. However, Balban obviously could not take any chances. 
  • A serious failure of Balban to control Tughril’s rebellion in Bengal for six long years. The failure of two senior Turkish officers—Amir Khan, the governor of Awadh, and Bahadur, and many of their soldiers deserting to Tughril, suggests that there was growing dissatisfaction with Balban’s management of affairs and his policies. 
    • The Turkish soldiers were never satisfied with their salaries, but expected to supplement these with plunder (ghanim). Balban’s policy of consolidation provided them no such opportunity. 
  • The attempt of two of Balban’s own slaves, Yuzbek and Tughril, to become independent in Lakhnauti shows that even Balban’s sternness could not put down the innate Turkish tribal desire for independence.
  • By excluding non-Turkish from positions of power and authority and by trusting only a very narrow racial group he made many people dissatisfied. This led to fresh disturbances and troubles after his death (in AD 1287). 
  • He formed a group of loyal and trusted nobles called “Balbani“. The removal of many members of the “Forty” deprived the state of the services of veterans and the void could not be fulfilled by the new and not so experienced ‘Balbani’ nobles. This situation inevitably led to the fall of the Ilbarite rule, paving the way for the Khaljis. 
  • Nevertheless, Balban’s achievements were greater than his limitations. He built a polity which was capable not only of sustaining itself, but had the capacity to embark on a policy of expansion as soon as the narrow constraints he had put on it were broken, and men of proven worth and efficiency were pushed forward.

Hasan Nizami’s Taj-ul Maasir 

  • Hasan Nizami’s Tajul Maasir— ‘The Crown of Exploits’, deals primarily with the history of Qutbuddin Aibak. He joined service under Qutbuddin Aibak. The narrative of his book commences from the year 1191-92 when Muhammad Ghori invaded India, to avenge his defeat suffered previously at the hands of Prithvi Raj III, the Chauhan ruler of Delhi and Ajmer, and fought the second battle of Tarain. The author gives in detail the military exploits of Aibak. The author does not mention Aram Shah but describes the events of Iltutmish’s reign up to 1217. 
  • Tajul Ma’asir is the first historical narrative which deals with the beginning of the Muslim rule in India; it thus untags the history of the Delhi Sultanate from that of Ghazni, Central Asia or Islam, the usual starting points of many other contemporary chronicles. Its medium of expression is a unique mixture of Arabic and Persian languages, in poetry as well as prose. 
  • It is partly history and partly fiction; in the midst of the historical narrative, the author starts giving fantastic accounts of certain other subjects or characters in an eloquent style. Not only this; Hasan Nizami introduces, in the style of Panchtantra literature of ancient India, a subordinate series of descriptions within one leading subject, which include qualities of mirrors, rules of chess, natural elements, seasons, fruits, flowers etc. 

Minhaj- us Siraj’s Tabaqat-i-Nasiri 

  • Tabaqat-i Nasiri, named for Sultan Nasir-ud-Din (son of Iltutmish, reigned: 1246–1266), was written in Persian by Minhaj-i Siraj Juzjani and completed in 1260. 
  • Minhaj us Siraj accompanied Iltutmish to Delhi and was patronized by him. Minhaj served as a chief Qazi under Sultan Iltutmish and Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud (1246-66). 
  • Minhaj-us Siraj was an historian par excellence. He produced an elaborate history of the Islamic world in his book Tabaqati Nasiri. 
  • Book gives the history of Aibak and his son Aram Shah, Nasiruddin Qabacha, Bahauddin Tughril, the first four rulers of Lakhnauti, Iltutmish and early history of Balban. 

Consisting of 23 volumes and written in a blunt straightforward style, Minhaj-i-Siraj devoted many years to the creation of this book even providing references for his information. 

  • Tabaqat-i Nasiri starts with the prophets and explains their piety and morality. This continues up to Abdullah, father of the prophet Muhammad, at which point a history of the prophet’s life is told. 
  • Volume XI: It is a history of the Ghaznavids from Sabuktigin to Khusrau Malik. 
    • Although a large portion of the book is devoted to the Ghurids, it also contains a history of the predecessors in Ghaznavids. 
  • Volume XVII: Gives an historical account of the Ghurids and their rise to power in 1215 to their end with Sultan Alauddin. 
  • Volume XIX: It is a history of the Ghurid sultans Saifuddin Suri to Qutbuddin Aibek. 
  • Volume XX: It is a history of Aibek and the first four rulers of Laknauti until their demise by Iltutmish in 1226. Volume XXII: It iIs a biographical volume of courtiers, generals and provincial governors within the sultanate from 1227 until the early history of wazir Balban. 
  • Volume XXIII: Gives indepth information concerning Genghis Khan, his successors up to 1259, and the atrocities committed by the Mongols against Muslim.

Book contains the biographical sketches of the eminent courtiers, military generals, provincial governors and other men of repute of the sultanate period, ending with the early history of Balban. 

  • Within his Tabaqat-i Nasiri, he tells of his religious views and his historiographical approach to Islam and Muslim rulers.
  • The Tabaqat-i Nasiri is the only source for the Khaljis rebellion in Bengal against the sultan of Delhi from 1229-1230. 
  • Tabaqat-i-Nasiri preserves a valuable record of the Mongol menace in central Asia, including India; it makes references to Chengiz Khan and his descendants. 
  • Tabaqat-i-Nasiri is written in a simple, straight forward and accurate language. By its very nature, the work is brief; the author does not resort to useless discussions or side-tracking of the main issues. It can be said to his credit that his judicial profession and true historian’s spirit carries a deep imprint on the methodolog and contents of the book. 
  • Tabaqat-i-Nasiri was well-known to the later medieval historians though the Mughal emperors did not encourage its wide circulation because, in the twenty-third volume, the author had done some plain speaking about the Mongol marauders and the destruction wrought by them in Central Asia; the atrocities committed by them on the Muslims were exposed, particularly, by Minhaj. 

Ziauddin Barani 

  • Ziauddin Barani (b. 1285), the celebrated author of Tarikh-i-Firoze Shahi, has been rated the greatest of all the contemporary historians of the early medieval India. Barani joined the imperial court under Muhammad bin Tughluq. 

Tarikh-i-Firoze Shahi 

  • Barani started his work just where Minhaj-us Siraj had left it; his narrative is thus a continuation of the Tabaqat-i-Nasiri or Minhaj-us-Siraj; it gives the history of nine rulers from Balban’s accession in 1265 to Firoze Shah Tughluq, upto the sixth year of his reign. It covers the whole gamut of the consolidation, expansion and early phase of disintegration of the Delhi Sultanate, covering the reigns of rulers like Balban, Jalaluddin, Alauddin, Ghiyasuddin Tughluq, Md. Bin Tughluq and Firuz Shah Tughluq whose policies, achievements and failures have been commented upon by Barani. 
  • Barani is an authentic narrator of events and had personal contact with Md. Bin Tughluq and Firoz Shah Tughluq, while his uncle Ala-ul Mulk had been adviser to Alauddin. He was able to gain authentic information. 
  • Barani’s write-up, excluding the narrative of Firoze Tughluq, constitutes a standard work of history which establishes his reputation as premier historian of his age. Barani is masterly in his sketches of character, brilliant in his insights on complicated economic situations and administrative measures. 
  • Barani’s account is not descriptive but analytical and critical; he does not bother about the details; instead, he takes up the political and administrative issues as a ‘compact whole’ and, through a manner of scientific presentation, reveals the characteristics of the period to which they belong. 
  • His references to the events throw a flood of light on the working of the minds of the rulers, and prides and prejudices of the age. In spite of his subjective approach, which involved his religious outlook, class consciousness, aristocratic complexion and his subsequent personal discomfiture, Barani reveals the true historian in him. 


  • Barani’s Fatawa-i-Jahandari is a complementary volume to the Tarikh-i-Firoze Shahi. In this book, he recapitulates and further elaborates the political philosophy of the Sultanate and examines the principles and norms of governance under the Sultans. 
  • The book deals with subjects like powers and functions of the crown, privileges of the nobility, the doctrine of safety of the state, law and order problems, crime and punishment, religion and politics, the role of the army and the intelligence services of the sultans.

Criticism of Barani’s account 

  • Barani’s presentation was often biased. For example: His description of Muhammad bin Tughlucription of Muhammad bin Tugq’s reign is unfair; he distorted the facts deliberately and wrote with a biased mind. 
  • Similarly, his narrative of Firoze Tughluq’s reign was prepared under duress; having been disgraced by the royal court, Barani set aside his duties as a historian and, instead, resorted to the flattery of the Sultan in order to pacify his wrath. The title of the work, Tarikh-i-Firoze Shahi, is, in fact, a misnomer; Barani’s true worth as scientific historian is known not by what he writes about Muhammad bin Tughluq or Firoze Tughluq but the preceding Sultans.
  • Barani is deficient in dates; at certain places, he gives an analysis of the events and political developments out of chronological order but it might have been because of the fact that he wrote the book just from his memory during the last year of his wretched living when he had no benefit of notes or other references to verify and correct himself.

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