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Alauddin Khalji (1296 – 1316)

Alauddin Khalji (1296 – 1316)

  •  He consolidated his hold by giving harsh punishment to anyone who opposed him. He resorted to a wholesale massacre of the Mongols who had settled in Delhi during the time of Jalaluddin Khalji.
  • He gave harsh punishments even to the wives and children of these rebels, a practice which according to Ziauddin Barani was a new one and was continued by his successors.
  • Alauddin framed a series of regulations to prevent the nobles from conspiring against him. The nobles were forbidden to hold banquets or festivities, or to form marriage alliances without the permission of the Sultan.
  • He also banned the use of wines and intoxicants and also instituted a spy service to inform the Sultan of all that the nobles said and did.
  • So, Alauddin Khalji by these measures was able to contain opposition (the nobles) and made them subservient to the crown.

Jalaluddin Khalji had failed in his attempt to conquer Ranthambor. But Alauddin Khalji began the imperial expansion of the Delhi sultanate.

He was able to initially control the mongol menace and from 1297 to 1307 he faced a series of invasions which he handled well with the help of his famous general Zafar Khan (who died in the third mongol raid in 1299 led by Qutlugh Khwaja).

Later Alauddin Khalji utilised the services of Malik Kafur and Ghazi Malik (Ghiasuddin Tuighluq) in protecting the sultanate from Mongol invasions.

  • Alauddin Khalji did not annex the south India states. He only wanted the gold, silver and annual tributes to be paid in recognition of his overlordship by the Hindu rulers.
  • He thus avoided direct civil administration in far flung territories. He also saved himself from rebellions, so his Deccan policy was based on wisdom and foresight.
  • Alauddin Khalji was an autocratic ruler who revived Balban’s theory of divine rights of Kinship. He believed in the theory that kingship knows no kinship.
  • He, like Balban, respected the Ulema, but did not let them interfere in the affairs of the state. He attempted to graft a secular vein to the muslim state in India. He threw open the state services to commoners, including Hindus.
  • Alauddin never applied for investiture by the Caliph nor did he recognize the Caliph to be his political superior. References to the calph in official records were made simply to keep the tradition of Caliphate theoretically alive.
  • Alauddin, like Balban, struck terror into the hearts of his ministers, nobles and others by his policy of blood and iron and did not allow any leadership to emerge even among his kinsmen.
  • The effect of this policy was that just as the slave dynasty of Balban collapsed four years after his death, similarly with Alauddin Khalji, the Khalji dynasty collapsed four years after his death, similarly with Alauddin Khalji, the Khalji dynasty collapsed four years after his death.

Market reforms of Alauddin Khalji:

The economic policy of Alauddin was a result of his desire to maintain a strong army. No increase in taxation was possible as the people were already burdened to the utmost.

The army organiser thus turned out to be a daring political economist.

  • The market reforms were first adopted as a war measure under the stress of mongol invaders.
  • Then, the influx of gold and silver from the south caused the value of money in the north to fall, leading to a rise in prices.
  • Moreover, the soldiers were not paid high salaries, so to make their life bearable, Alauddin regulated prices by introducing his famous market reforms.

He basically wanted to ensure control over the supplies and establish food security.

The farmers of the Ganga-Yamuna doab region and 200 mile region around Delhi were commanded to sell grain at fixed prices to merchants registered with the state and under the control of government officials.

  • Similarly cloth merchants were required to sell their goods at fixed prices and also were under the control of government officials.  Alauddin Khalji (1296 – 1316)
  • Alauddin set up three markets in Delhi, one where food grains and other eatables were sold, another where cloth and ornaments were sold and the third where animals and slaves were sold.
  • Each market was under the control of a high officer called ‘Shahna’ who maintained a register of the merchants and strictly controlled the shopkeepers and the prices. Spies were employed who reported to the Sultan on the state of affairs in the market.
  • Consumer courts were established and disputes were brought before them. Rationing of food grains was adopted in times of scarcity. So the whole system consisted of control of supplies, control of transport, storage, a highly organised supply system, rationing of consumption when necessary and drastic punishments for evasion.
  • By this system Alauddin was able to put on end to smuggling, hoarding, black-marketing and speculation. Pricing list was properly framed and no one dared to change it except Sultan. The chief beneficiaries of this system were the citizens of Delhi.
  • Ziauddin Barani, the historian says that, “the unfailing price of grain in the markets was looked upon as one of the wonders of the time”.
  • But this system was not enforced in the rest of the country as it was impossible in those days. The cheap rates in Delhi made many learned men and craftsman to migrate to Delhi, increasing its fame. Also people were happy and disciplined and crime rates decreased.
  • But the farmers of the doab and 200 mile region around Delhi were hard hit as they paid half of their produce as land revenue and were forced to sell their other half of the produce at fixed price and purchased their requirements in free unregulated markets.  Alauddin Khalji (1296 – 1316)
  • Cloth dealers also sold their goods at fixed prices and had only a narrow margin of profit.

Medieval History

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