Lodi dynasty

Orfeas Katsoulis | Feb 8, 2023

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The Lodis (Pashtu: لودي) were a powerful family or clan of Pathan notables in northern Pre-India in the 14th to 16th centuries. Originally the family settled in the Punjab, around the city of Multan, where they served as local administrators (muqti), army chiefs and governors under the Sultan of Delhi. Between 1451 and 1526, members of the clan were themselves sultan of Delhi; they are called the Lodi dynasty. The last Lodi sultan was defeated in 1526 by the Moguls, who added Delhi to their empire. However, the Lodis along with other Afghan clans continued to offer strong resistance to the Mogul emperors at the beginning of the Mogul period.

Background and origin

Beginning in the 12th century, the northern Pre-India was ruled by an originally foreign, Islamic, Afghan-Turkish elite. Although over the ensuing centuries, through marriages and absorption of native notables converted to Islam, this elite was somewhat augmented with Indian blood, most of the "new" rulers and soldiers employed by the sultans came in as adventurers from Persia, Afghanistan or Central Asia. Such was the case with the Lodi tribe, which settled in Multan under Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq (1351 - 1388). The tribe's leader, Malik Bahram, served the governor of Multan.

The looting of Delhi by Timur Lenk in 1398 does not seem to have harmed the Lodis. Malik Bahram's eldest son, Malik Sultan Shah Lodi, led the army of Khizr Khan, the founder of Delhi's Sayyid dynasty. Thanks to his merits in fighting the sultan's enemies, he was appointed governor of Sirhind in 1419. His successor, nephew and son-in-law, Bahlul Khan Lodi, was appointed amir (nobleman) by Sultan Mahummad Shah IV. Bahlul Lodi managed to increase his power through military successes against Malwa, the enemy of the sultans of Delhi. Finally, he managed to become sultan himself in 1451.

Lodi dynasty of Delhi

Delhi's Lodi dynasty spanned the governments of three sultans. Bahlul Lodi (reigned 1451 - 1489) managed to increase the power of the sultanate significantly through military successes against Malwa and the conquest of Jaunpur. He appointed his eldest son Barbak Shah as governor in Jaunpur and appointed another son, Nizam Khan, as his successor. Upon his death in 1489, this led to a battle between his sons. However, Nizam Khan managed to hold on to power and ruled under the name Sikandar Lodi (1489 - 1517).

Sikandar Lodi was a gifted diplomat, military man and administrator. He abolished unpopular taxes and stimulated trade. He founded the city of Agra (1504) and patronized art and science. However, because of his intolerant policies toward religions other than Islam, he is a controversial figure in Indian history. He had temples demolished and mosques built in their place.

His successor and son Ibrahim Lodi (reigned 1517 - 1526) did not possess the statesmanship of his father. His reign was marked by rebellions by the nobles, led by his brothers and uncles. The Mogul field lord Babur, who ruled Kabul, invaded the Punjab in 1519 at the invitation of Ibrahim's uncle, Alam Khan. A descendant of Timur, Babur claimed to be the rightful ruler in Delhi. Needless to say, Ibrahim Lodi did not wish to acknowledge this claim. There followed a short, decisive battle at Panipat, where Babur managed to crush the sultan thanks to superior weapons and tactics (especially the use of muskets and cannons was revolutionary for the time). Ibrahim Lodi was among the fallen.

Subsequent Lodis

While Babur had installed himself as the first Mogul emperor in Delhi, a brother of Ibrahim Lodi, Mahmud Lodi, claimed to be the rightful sultan. The Afghan nobility, which wanted nothing to do with the Mogul (Turkish) invaders, supported his claim. Mahmud Lodi, moreover, knew himself supported by the Rajput rulers of Mewat and Mewar. Maharana Rana Sanga raised a huge army. In the battle of Khanwa (1529), however, the military importance of Babur's new method of warfare was again demonstrated. Once again the Mogul army slashed a numerically much stronger opponent.

Then Mahmud Lodi fled east, where he led the Afghan resistance against the Moguls in Bihar. This time he was supported by the Sultan of Bengal, Nusrat Shah. However, the combined forces of the Afghan nobility and the Bengali prince were again defeated by a much smaller Mogul army at the Battle of Ghaghara (1529). This victory allowed Babur to add Bihar to his empire and dealt a severe blow to the rebellious Afghan nobility. Although Mahmud Lodi again escaped, several of his Afghan allies now supported Babur, including Jalaluddin Khan Lohani and Sher Shah Suri, who were related to the Lodis.

The unexpected death of Babur in 1530 changed the situation, but the Afghan nobility now chose with Sher Shah Suri another leader as the center of the rebellion against the Moguls. The latter managed to (temporarily) expel Babur's son Humayun from the West Indies. However, the political role of the Lodis was over.


  1. Lodi dynasty
  2. Lodi's
  3. ^ Herbert Hartel calls the Lodi sultans Turco-Afghan: "The Turco-Afghan sultans of the Lodi Dynasty...".[3]
  4. Percival Spear: A History of India, Band 2: From the sixteenth century to the twentieth century. Penguin, 5. Aufl. 1973, S. 16.
  5. Louis Frédéric 1996, p. 337
  6. a et b Marc Gaborieau, Les États indiens : les sultanats dans Claude Markovits 1994, p. 47
  7. a et b Louis Frédéric 1996, p. 339
  8. Marc Gaborieau, Les États indiens : les sultanats dans Claude Markovits 1994, p. 48
  9. ^ Louis Frédéric, 1996, p. 337
  10. ^ a b Marc Gaborieau, Les États indiens: les sultanats in Claude Markovits, 1996, p. 47

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