The Delhi Sultanate c. 1100–1400


Map Code: Ax01885

Assassination was the favoured route to succession among the Delhi sultans, and perhaps the most original was perpetrated by Muhammad Tughluq (1325–51) who had his father crushed under a collapsing gazebo by stampeding elephants. His ways did not mend. Ibn Battuta, the Arab explorer, a (often terrified) visitor records ‘the entrance to the palace running with streams of gore’ from his continual mass executions, including having ‘prisoners tossed about by elephants with swords fixed to their tusks’. It was under Tughluq that the Sultanate reached its greatest extent, but his excesses bankrupted the Sultanate, and after initial military success and expansion it was beset by rebellions and its dominions began to shrink. Fittingly, the Sultanate had been founded (1206), when Muhammad of Ghor was assassinated, and power seized by one of his slaves. The Ghurids had been first to extend Muslim rule to the Gangetic plain and Bengal after overthrowing the Ghaznavids. Southern India remained under Hindu rule, with first Chola and then Vijayanagar barring Delhi’s attempts at expansion.

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