Shams-ud-din Iltutmish was one of the most powerful Sultan of Slave Dynasty. Shams-ud-din Iltutmish ascended the throne of Delhi Sultanate at Delhi in 1211 AD.
Early life: Though he was born in the family of a noble Ilbani Turk of Central Asia, he was sold in his boyhood as slave by his envious brothers. Later on he was resold to Qutub-ud-din Aibak. He was handsome and promising young chap for whom even Muhammad of Ghur had a soft corner. Qutub-ud-din made him the Amir Shikar or master of the royal hunt. In later days, Qutub-ud-din gave his daughter in marriage to him and appointed him the governor of Badaun.
Accession to the throne: Iltutmish had his own supporters. After Qutub-ud-din’s death the throne of the Delhi Sultanate had some claimants. Iltutmish was the candidate of the nobility and officials of Delhi which had assumed the position of the premier city of Hindustan. His chief rival Aram Shah was supported by a party at Lahore. However, Iltutmish gained the kingship in 1211 A.D.
Early Challenges and difficulties faced by Iltutmish: From the very beginning Iltutmish had many difficulties. At that time the Sultanate of Delhi was almost non-existent. Iltutmish found himself master of Delhi and Badaun and the outlying districts extending from Banaras in the east to the Sivalik hills on the west. But Punjab was against him. The overlord of Multan Kubachah had extended his kingdom to include Bhatinda, Kuhram and Sarasuti. Taking advantage of the quarrel between Aram Shah and Iltutmish Kubachah occupied Lahore. Taking the opportunity of uncertainty that prevailed in the then Delhi, Bengal and Bihar also severed their connection with Delhi. Ali Mardan of Lakshanauti declared himself an independent ruler.
The Rajput rulers who were conquered by Muhammad of Ghur and Qutub-ud-din earlier also refused to accept Iltutmish’s suzerainty. These Rajput kingdoms were trying to regain their power. Jalor, Ranthambhor, Ajmer, Gwalior and Doab all declared independence. In addition to these, Taj-ud-din Yulduz reclaimed the sovereign right of entire Hindustan. Even in Delhi some of the royal guards enter into a conspiracy and alliance with Aram Shah’s party and rose in rebellion.
Success: On such a hot moment Sultan Iltutmish became the king. He was a prudent and realist king. He smells well his insecured position and hence decided to compromise with Yulduz who was advancing to Delhi with a big army. Iltutmish pretended to recognize the over lordship of Yulduz and accepted from him the regal insignia or the canopy and the mace.
Using his clever diplomatic skill he tactfully put down Aram Shah’s party at Delhi and brought the Turkish guards under his control. When he found himself free from the internal troubles he turned to settle his disputes with Yulduz.
Meanwhile Yulduz had expelled Qubachah from Lahore and occupied the greatest part of Punjab. But shortly afterwards he himself was expelled from Ghazni by the Khwarizm Shah and took shelter in Lahore. Iltutmish marched against him and defeated him. The victory enabled Iltutmish to severe all relation with Gazni. In 1217, he also annexed Lahore by defeating Qubachah.
Risk of Mongol invasion: Meanwhile Iltutmish was faced with the menace of Mongol invasion. Changiz Khan (also Temujin, Chengez Khan, Genghis Khan) was the great warrior leader of the Mongols.
Chasing the fugitive ruler of Khwarizm, Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, Changiz reached Afghanistan. Jalal-ud-din Mingburnu sought refuge to Iltutmish. Iltutmish dared not to risk the invasion of a dangerous and powerful invader like Changiz. So, though out of princely etiquette and discourteous he prudently refused to give asylum to the Khwarizm Prince.
Changiz, however, did not enter Hindustan and returned from Afghanistan. The infant Turkish Sultanate of Delhi was thus saved from a great disaster. Mingburnu who had occupied Punjab from Qubachah also left in 1224. Taking the opportunity Iltutmish occupied Bhatinda, Kuhram and Sarasuti. He then occupied Multan. The states of Multan and Sindh thus became an integral part of Delhi.
Expansion of Empire: Iltutmish now was free to conquer Bihar and Bengal. Soon Bengal and Bihar were reconquered and the Sultan separated the provinces and appointed two governors each for Bengal and Bihar. Rajputana was also reconquered by Iltutmish. Ranthambhor, Jalor, Mandor, Bayana, Thangir, Ajmer, Sambhor, Jodhpur, Gwalior all fell soon. Next came the turn of Doab region. Badaun, Kanauj, Banaras all were reconquered by Iltutmish one by one.
Achievements: He not only recovered all the territories conquered by Muhammad of Ghur in Hindustan, but subsequently lost, but also added to them a considerable territory in Rajputana and the northern parts of the modern Uttar Pradesh. He also built several Mosques, Dargah and other buildings for the pilgrims.
Also read: Major achievements of Iltutmish.
Iltutmish also added a great moral prestige to the territorial conquests of the Turkish Sultanate. He saved it from the threat of a terrible Mongol invasion before which the older and mightier empires of the Central Asia had fallen with terrible crash. By his tact, prudence and capability he reduced his Turkish rivals to submission and imposed the Sultan’s will upon them.
The greatest achievement of Iltutmish as the Sultan of Delhi Sultanate may be described under three headings as follows:
- He saved the infant Turkish kingdom from destruction.
- He gave it for the first time a legal status.
- He perpetuated his dynasty by ensuring the succession of his children to the throne of Delhi.
Death: Iltutmish died in April 1236. But before his death, he laid the foundation of a military monarchy which was subsequently further strengthened by the Khaljis.