Delhi, Sultanate of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Delhi, Sultanate of


a feudal state in India (1206-1526), with its capital in Delhi. After northern India was conquered by the Muslim state of the Ghurids in the late 12th century, the Sultanate of Delhi was founded by the military commander and vicegerent of Muhammad of Ghur in India, Qutb al-Din Aibak, who proclaimed himself sultan.

The Sultanate of Delhi was a feudal monarchy and the first major state in India’s history in which the elite of the ruling class consisted of foreign feudal nobility of the Muslim faith. The conquerors and their descendants founded a number of dynasties: the so-called Ghulams (13th century), the Khiljis (late 13th and early 14th century), the Tughlaks (14th and early 15th century), the Sayyids (early to mid-15th century), who were of Turkish origin, and the Lodis (mid-15th to early 16th century), who were of Afghan origin.

Indian feudal lords were under the Muslims’ authority. The economic basis of the feudal lords’ rule in the Sultanate of Delhi was feudal ownership of land. The land was distributed as military benefices (iqta), most of which became hereditary feudal estates in the mid-14th and 15th century. The Sultanate of Delhi attained its greatest territorial extent during the rule of Ali al-Din Khilji (1296-1316). In the mid-14th century the sultanate began to weaken, and after Timur’s invasion of India (1398-99), Delhi lost many of its possessions, including Gujarat and Malwa. In 1526 the Sultanate of Delhi was conquered by the Great Moguls.


Ashrafian, K. Z. Deliiskii sultanat: K istorii ekonomicheskogo stroiia i obshchestvennykh otnoshenii (XIII-XIV vv.). Moscow, 1960.
Istoriia Indii v srednie veka. Moscow, 1968.
The History and Culture of the Indian People. Vol. 6: The Delhi Sultanate. London, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.