The Mamluk Dynasty (sometimes referred as Slave Dynasty or Ghulam Dynasty) (Persian: سلطنت مملوک), (Urdu: غلام خاندان) was directed into Northern India by Qutb ud-Din Aibak, a Turkic general from Central Asia. The Mamluk Dynasty ruled from 1206 to 1290; it was the first of five unrelated dynasties to rule as the Delhi Sultanate till 1526. Aibak's tenure as a Ghurid dynasty administrator lasted from 1192 to 1206, a period during which he led invasions into the Gangetic heartland of India and established control over some of the new areas.
The Mamluk, literally meaning owned, was a soldier of slave origin who had converted to Islam. The phenomenon started in the 9th century and gradually the Mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies. Mamluks held political and military power most notably in Egypt, but also in the Levant, Iraq, and India.
In 1206, Muhammad of Ghor, Sultan of the Ghurid Empire was assassinated. Since he had no children, his empire split into minor sultanates led by his former mamluk generals. Taj-ud-Din Yildoz became the ruler of Ghazni. Mohammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji got Bengal. Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha became the sultan of Multan. Qutb ud-Din Aibak became the sultan of Delhi, and that was the beginning of the Slave dynasty.
Aibak rose to power when a Ghorid superior was assassinated. However, his reign as the Sultan of Delhi was short lived as he died in 1210 and his son Aram Shah rose to the throne, only to be assassinated by Iltutmish in 1211.
The Sultanate under Iltutmish established cordial diplomatic contact with the Abbasid Caliphate between 1228–29 and had managed to keep India unaffected by the invasions of Genghis Khan and his successors. Following the death of Iltutmish in 1236 a series of weak rulers remained in power and a number of the noblemen gained autonomy over the provinces of the Sultanate. Power shifted hands from Rukn ud din Firuz to Razia Sultana until Ghiyas ud din Balban rose to the throne and successfully repelled both external from the Chagatai Khanate invasions and internal from the rebellious sultanate nobles threats to the Sultanate. The Khilji dynasty came into being when Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji overthrew the last of the Slave dynasty rulers, Muiz ud din Qaiqabad, the grandson of Balban, and assumed the throne at Delhi.
The first Sultan of the Mamluk dynasty was Qutb ud-Din Aibak (قطب الدین ایبک), who had the titular name of Sultan (سلطان) and reigned from 1206 to 1210. He temporarily quelled the rebellions of Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha of Multan and Tajuddin Yildoz of Ghazni. Making Lahore his capital, he consolidated his control over North India through an administrative hold over Delhi. He also initiated the construction of Delhi's earliest Muslim monuments, the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and the Qutb Minar. In 1210, he died due to injuries received from an accident while playing a game of polo in Lahore; his horse fell and he was impaled on the pommel of his saddle. He was buried near the Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore.
The second Sultan was Aram Shah (آرام شاہ), who had the titular name of Sultan and reigned from 1210 to 1211. An elite group of forty nobles named Chihalgani ("the Forty") conspired against Aram Shah and invited Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, then Governor of Badaun, to replace Aram. Iltutmish defeated Aram in the plain of Jud near Delhi in 1211. It is not quite certain what became of Aram.
The third Sultan was Shams-ud-din Iltutmish (شمس الدین التتمش), who had the titular name of Nasir Amir-ul-Mu'minin (ناصرامیر المؤمنین ) and reigned from 1211 to 1236. He shifted the capital from Lahore to Delhi and trebled the exchequer. He defeated Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha of Multan and Tajuddin Yildoz of Ghazni, who had declared themselves contenders of Delhi. Mongols invaded India in pursuit of Jalal-ud-din Mangabarni who was defeated at the Battle of Indus by Genghis Khan in 1221. After Genghis Khan's death, Iltutmish consolidated his hold on northern India by retaking many of the lost territories. In 1230, he built the Hauz-i-Shamsi reservoir in Mehrauli, and in 1231 he built Sultan Ghari, which was the first Islamic mausoleum in Delhi.
The fourth Sultan was Rukn-ud-din Feroze (رکن الدین فیروز), who had the titular name of Sultan and reigned from April 1236 to November 1236. He ruled for only seven months and his mother, Shah Turkan, for all practical purposes was running the government. He abandoned himself to the pursuit of personal pleasure and debauchery, to the considerable outrage of the citizenry. On November 9, 1236, both Rukn-ud-din Feroze and his mother Shah Turkan were assassinated by the Chihalgani.
The fifth Sultana was Razia al-Din (رضیہ الدین ), who had the titular name of Jalâlat-ud-dîn Raziyâ Sultana (جلالۃ الدین رضیہ سلطانہ ) and reigned from 1236 to 1240. As the first female Muslim ruler in Inda, she initial managed to impress the nobles and administratively handled the Sultanate well. However, she began associating with the African Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, provoking racial antagonism amongst the nobles and clergy, who were primarily Central Asian Turkic and already resented the rule of a female monarch. She was defeated by the powerful nobleman Malik Altunia whom she agreed to marry. Her brother Muiz-ud-din Bahram, however, usurped the throne with the help of the Chihalgani and defeated the combined forces of the Sultana and her husband. The couple fled and reached Kaithal, where their remaining forces abandoned them. They both fell into the hands of Jats and were robbed and killed on October 14, 1240.
The sixth Sultan was Muiz-ud-din Bahram (معز الدین بہرام), who had the titular name of Sultan and reigned from 1240 to May 15, 1242. During his reign, the Chihalgani became disorderly and constantly bickered among each other. It was during this period of unrest that the Mongols invaded the Punjab and sacked Lahore. Muiz-ud-din Bahram was too weak to take any action against them, and the Chihalgani besiged him in the White Fort of Delhi and put him to death in 1242.
The seventh Sultan was Ala-ud-din Masud (علاءالدین مسعود), who had the titular name of Sultan and reigned from 1242 to 1246. He was effectively a puppet for the Chihalgani and did not actually have much power or influence in the government. Instead, he became infamous for his fondness of entertainment and wine. By 1246, the chiefs had become upset with Ala-ud-din Masud's increasing hunger for more power and replaced him with Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, who was another son of Iltutmish.
The eighth Sultan was Nasir-ud-din Mahmud (نصیر الدین محمود ), who had the titular name of Nasir-ud-din Feroze Shah (نصیر الدین فیروز شاہ) and reigned from 1246 to 1266. As a ruler, Mahmud was known to be very religious, spending most of his time in prayer and was renowned for aiding the poor and the distressed. It was his Deputy Sultan, Ghiyath-ud-din Balban, who primarily dealt with state affairs.
The ninth Sultan was Ghiyath-ud-din Balban (غیاث الدین بلبن), who had the titular name of Sultan and reigned from 1266 to 1287. Balban ruled with an iron fist and broke up the Chihalgani group of noblemen. He tried to establish peace and order in India and built many outposts with garrisons of soldiers in areas where there had been disorder. Balban wanted to make sure everyone was loyal to the crown, so he established an efficient espionage system.
The tenth and final Sultan was Muiz-ud-din Muhammad Qaiqabad (معز الدین قیق آباد), who had the titular name of Sultan and reigned from 1287 to 1290. Being still young at the time, he ignored all state affairs. After four years, he suffered a paralytic stroke and was later murdered in 1290 by a Khilji chief. His three-year-old son Kayumars nominally succeeded him, but the Slave dynasty had ended with the rise of the Khiljis.
The architectural legacy of the dynasty includes the Qutb Minar by Qutb ud-Din Aibak in Mehrauli, the Mausoleum of Prince Nasiru'd-Din Mahmud, eldest son of Iltumish, known as Sultan Ghari near Vasant Kunj, the first Islamic Mausoleum (tomb) built in 1231, and Balban's tomb, in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park.