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Slave Dynasty

First Muslim Dynasty of India

The Slave Dynasty was the first Muslim dynasty to rule India. The reign of the Slave Dynasty lasted about 84 years. Three great Sultans of this dynasty, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, Shams-ud-din Iltutmish and Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, were themselves slaves before they ascended the throne.

The Afghan ruler Muhammad Ghuri raised thousands of slaves like his children as he lacked a son of his own. He trained them like the children of royal families. During his regime, slaves occupied all key positions in the government offices. Ghuri’s successor was a slave named Aibak. Aibak could rule only for four years from 1206 to 1210. Following Aibak’s death, his son Aram Shah succeeded him. But due to Aram Shah’s incompetence, he was replaced by Iltutmish , one of the slaves and son-in-law of Aibak. Iltutmish ruled for around 25 years from 1211 to 1236 and was responsible for strengthening the Delhi Sultanate. The next Slave ruler was Balban. He ruled from 1266 to 1287. Balban further strengthened administrative process of the empire and completed the works started by Iltutmish . The successors of Balban proved incompetent rulers, and it was not possible for them to meet the administrative standards set by their predecessors.

One of the key feature of the Slave Dynasty was the institution of ‘Chalgan’ or the Forty by Iltutmish . The Chalgans were a body of powerful officers. They were organized as the personal supporters of the Sultan, more like the Sultan’s cabinet. But after the reign of Iltutmish , they became more interested in their personal gains and manipulated the princes. Their strength increased in due course. Although Balban strengthened his rule by crushing the Chalgans, the real power of the Slave dynasty came to an end with the Chalgans.

Updated on 1st June, 2019

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