Previous Page [Digital South Asia Library] Next Page

Schwartzberg Atlas, v. , p. 195.

Switch to image view

principal centers of power had shifted between the Deccan and the central Gangetic Plain during periods when any single clearly dominant power center could have been said to exist. The persistence of Delhi and its region (extending south to Agra) as the chief locus of Indian power is striking. It continued beyond the Sul- tanate Period through that of Mughal ascendancy and was maintained as a legal fiction by the British to 1857, only to be restored, in fact as well as theory, in 1911. And to this day Delhi maintains its focal role in the political affairs of the subcontinent.

For a brief period after Turkish rule was extended south of the Vindhyas late in the 13th century, a new Tughluq capital was established in Devagiri in 1317 (re- named Daulatābād in 1339), in hopes of providing better governance for the South. But that administrative measure did not suffice to hold together the over- extended sultanate. First to break away, in 1334, was the Sultanate of Ma'bar, with its capital at Madurai in the far South. Within the next year or two, Hindu-led uprisings occurred in various recently conquered provinces. Among the momentous events of the period was the founding in 1336 of the state of Vijayanagara and the Sa&ndot;gama dynasty by Harihara I. In 1347 the military governors of the Deccan revolted against the faltering Tughluqs and established the Bahmanī kingdom under the Afghan Hasan Gāngū (Bahman Shāh).

For the next century and a half the Bahmanīs and Vijayanagara, which rapidly rose to the status of a major power, were engaged in an intermittent and often in- tense struggle for hegemony in the South. This struggle continued even after the breakup of the Bahmanī kingdom into five separate sultanates over the period 1484 to 1512; for the sultanates (save for Berar) combined forces against Vija- yanagara and ultimately crushed it in 1565. But Vijayanagara, like the Bahmanī kingdom, gave rise to a number of successor states that carried on the struggle with the expanding sultanates to the north until their eventual conquest during the Mughal Period.

In viewing the history of southern India during the 14th through the 16th cen- tury, it would be a mistake to regard the struggle for political ascendancy as a sim- ple Hindu-Muslim conflict. Both Hindu and Muslim states fought among them- selves about as much as they did against one another, and while an awareness of religious differences and hostility to those of another faith may have added fuel to the fires of expansionism or steeled the resolve to defend one's homeland, they were rarely in themselves the basic causes of military undertakings. Significantly, large numbers of Hindus served in the armies of the Muslim states of the South and held administrative offices under Muslim rulers. In the North the situation was not greatly different. And Muslim soldiers were sometimes found in the armies of Hindu-ruled states.

The disintegration of the Delhi Sultanate, which began less than a decade after it attained its territorial apogee, was not confined to the South. Bengal asserted its independence, under the house of Ilyās Shāh, in 1339. Between 1394 and 1401 Jaunpur in the central Gangetic Plain, Gujarat, Khandesh, and Malwa all launched their independent careers under Muslim dynasties. Already weakened by its terri- torial losses, the sultanate was crushed at the time of Tīmūr's sack of Delhi in 1398, and the two succeeding dynasties were never to approach the heights reached by the Khaljīs and Tughluqs. If, then, the 15th century was one of decided political dis- unity, it was also one in which freedom from centralized control permitted the growth of distinctive regional cultures and of the languages through which they were largely expressed.

The spread of Islam in Asia during the Sultanate Period was hardly confined to India. With the conversion of the rulers of several of the Mongol khanates that arose as successor states after the death of Chingiz Khān, all of Central Asia, including the modern area of Sinkiang (Chinese Turkestan), came under Muslim rule. No less important for subsequent history was the diffusion of Islam to Southeast Asia by Muslim traders operating largely out of Gujarat and Bengal, who came to re- place the Hindu merchants who had dominated the trade of that region up to the 13th century.

Interest in trade with Southeast Asia during the period covered by section V was not confined to nearby states in India and China. The Arabs had long operated as middlemen in the sale of spices to Europe, and as early as 1224 a trading society was established in Genoa to trade with the Indies. Though Marco Polo's long so- journ in Asia was spent mainly in China, he brought back to Europe valuable knowledge of both India and the lands to its east. In the fifteenth century both the Spanish and the Portuguese pursued their quest for a new sea route to India, cul- minating in Columbus's discovery of America in 1492 and Vasco da Gama's land- ing at Calicut in 1498. Within the next several decades the Portguese established themselves as a major power in the Eastern seas. Although we do touch upon their influence slightly in section V, a detailed consideration of their role, as well as that of other European powers, is deferred until subsection VI.B.

The first four plates of section V, as noted, deal mainly with the political history of South Asia, from c. 1170 to 1526 in the North and from c. 1190 to 1605 in the South. Two maps, however—V.1 (b), "The Convergence of East and West, c. 1200–1400 A.D." and V.3 (d), "The Career of Tīmūr and the Tīmūrid Empire, c. 1370–1405"—put the political events of the time in a much broader political and cultural context. The major religious and artistic developments of the Sultanate Period within South Asia are indicated on plate V.5, and illustrations of some of the principal monuments of the time are presented on plate V.6. Plate V.7, the last of three atlas plates focusing on Southeast Asia, deals with the political history of the largely Indianized states of that region and with the diffusion therein of Islam from c. 1250 to c. 1550. By the latter date Portugal had come to be the dominant ex- ternal force in the region, and its significance as a part of greater India, in a cul- tural sense, diminishes. Thereafter, the interest of this atlas in Southeast Asia is confined mainly to Burma, whose interaction with India, particularly under British rule, continued to be important.

Study of the history of India during the Sultanate Period differs markedly from that of earlier times, because historical records now begin to become available in plenty. Thus the reconstruction of history can be based on the solid textual evidence provided by contemporary writers and supported by others not far removed from the period of which they wrote. Many of these are cited in the list of sources follow- ing the text for each atlas plate. Some of the modern works, dealing with the whole period, are mentioned in the General Bibliography below. Of the texts listed below, that edited by Habib and Nizami and that of Majumdar contain very useful bibli- ographies of original sources. The latter has, in addition, a good list of modern works as well as of articles published in periodicals. Similarly, some of the more specialized works, particularly those by A. B. M. Habibullah (1961), K. S. Lal (1966), and A. M. Husain (1963), mentioned in the text for the plates for which they are relevant, also contain excellent bibliographies, together with an evaluation of important original sources. Storey provides a very good general account of all Persian sources, and Elliot and Dowson's multivolume anthology of annotated translations of extracts from original sources is exceedingly useful, as is Hodivala's excellent critical commentary on their work. Pearson provides an excellent record of articles published in English and other European languages in scholarly periodicals.


Elliot, Henry Miers, and Dowson, John, eds. The history of India, as told by its own historians. 8 vols. London, 1867–77; reprinted in 1960–64.

Encyclopedia of Islam. 4 vols. London and Leiden, 1913–36. New ed., in progress. Leiden, 1960–.

Gomma, Ibrahim. Historical chart of the Muslim world. Leiden, 1972.

Habib, Mohammad, and Nizami, Khaliq Ahmad, eds. The Delhi Sultanate (A.D. 1206–1526). Delhi, 1970.

Haig, Wolseley, Turks and Afghans. Vol. 3 of Cambridge history of India. Cam- bridge, 1928.

Hardy, Peter. Historians of medieval India: Studies in Indo-Muslim historical writing. London, 1966.

Hasan, Mohibbul, ed. and comp. Historians of medieval India. Meerut, 1968.

Hazard, Harry W., comp. Atlas of Islamic history. 3d ed. Princeton, N.J., 1954.

Hodivala, Shahpurshah Hormasji. Studies in Indo-Muslim history: A critical com- mentary on Elliot and Dowson's "History of India as told by its own historians." 2 vols. Bombay, 1939.

Ikram, Sheikh Mohammad. Muslim civilization in India. Ed. Ainslie T. Embree (essentially an abridgement of 1st ed. of the following). New York and London, 1964.

——. Muslim rule in India and Pakistan. 2d ed. Lahore, 1966.

Khan, Yusuf Husain. Glimpse of medieval Indian culture. 2d ed. Bombay, 1959.

Lane-Poole, Stanley. The Mohammedan dynasties: Chronological and genealogical tables with historical introductions. Paris, 1925.

——, ed. Mediaeval India from contemporary sources: Extracts from Arabic and Persian annals and European travels. Bombay, 1916.

Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra, ed. The history and culture of the Indian people. 4th ed. Vol. 5. The struggle for empire. Vol. 6. The Delhi Sultanate. Delhi, 1957, 1968.

Moreland, William Harrison, ed. The agrarian system of Moslem India: A his- torical essay with appendices. Cambridge, 1929; reprinted in 1968.

Pearson, James Douglas. Index Islamicus. Cambridge, 1962, 1967; London, 1972.

Prasad, Ishwari. History of Mediaeval India: [from 647 A.D. to the Mughal con- quest]. 3d ed. Allahabad, 1933; reprinted in 1966.

Qureshi, Ishtiaq Husain. The administration of the Sultanate of Delhi. 5th rev. ed. Delhi, 1972.

——. The Muslim community of the Indo-Pakistan Sub-continent. The Hague, 1962.

Roolvink, R. R., comp. Historical atlas of the Muslim peoples. Cambridge, Mass., 1957.

Sarkar, Jadunath, ed. The history of Bengal. Vol. 2. The Muslim period 1200– 1757. Dacca, 1948.

Sewell, Robert. A forgotten empire: Vijayanagar; a contribution to the history of India. London, 1900; reprinted as "2d ed." in 1970.

Srivastava, Ashirbadi Lal. The Sultanate of Delhi (711–1526 A.D.). 4th rev. ed. Jaipur, 1964.

Storey, C. A. Persian literature, a bio-bibliographical survey. 2 vols. London, 1927, 1958.

Tod, James. Annals and antiquities of Rajasthan. London, etc., 1920; reprinted in 1971.

Tripathi, Ram Prasad. Some aspects of Muslim administration. 2d rev. ed. Allah- abad, 1956.

Previous Page To Table of Contents Next Page

Back to Schwartzberg Atlas | Back to the DSAL Page

This page was last generated on Monday 18 February 2013 at 16:26 by
The URL of this page is: