Malwa Sultanate

Orfeas Katsoulis | Jan 25, 2023

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The Malawi Sultanate was a Muslim state in northern India that existed in Malwa in 1401-1531, 1537-1542, and 1555-1562. The Malawi Sultanate was separated from the Delhi Sultanate during the weakening of the Tughlaqid dynasty after Tamerlane's Indian campaign. In 1531 the territory of Malawi Sultanate was annexed to Gujarat, but Malwa was soon occupied by the troops of Mughal Padishah Humayun. After a seven-year period of independence in 1542, the sultanate became part of the state of Surid, after the collapse of which in 1555, the Malawi Sultanate gained independence for the last time. In 1562, the Sultanate was finally incorporated into the Mughal Empire.

Before the appearance of Muslim troops Malwa was ruled by the Maharajahs of the Rajput dynasty of Paramara (c. 800 - 1305), who offered prolonged fierce resistance to the Muslims. The same resistance to the Muslim army was offered by the rulers of Chittor and Udjain. Finally, in 1305 the Delhi commander Ain-ul-Mulk Multani defeated the troops of Maharaja Mahlakadeva in a decisive battle and annexed Malwa to the Delhi Sultanate. The capital of Malwa, the city of Dhara, was the seat of the Delhi viceroy. In 793 AH (1390-1391), Sultan Muhammad Shah III Tughlaqid appointed Gurid Husayn Dilawar Khan as the governor of Malwa. When Tamerlane invaded India in 1398-1399, Delhi Sultan Mahmud-shah Tughlaqid fled Delhi to Dhar and took refuge with Dilawar Khan.

The crushing defeat of the Delhi Sultanate by Tamerlane's army in 1398-1399 led to a sharp decline in the power and authority of the Delhi sultan, which, in turn, led to the rapid collapse of the Tughlaqid Empire in the next few years. The viceroys of the most important provinces (Jaunpur, Gujarat, etc.) began to secede from Delhi, founding their own states. One of them was Husain Dilawar Khan, the governor of Malwa, who in 804 AH (1401-1402) ordered not to mention Delhi's Sultan anymore in khutba and proclaimed himself the Sultan of Malwa under the name of Amid Shah Daud.

The son and successor of Amid Shah Daud, Sultan Khushang Shah (1406-1435) moved the capital to the well-fortified city of Mandu, where extensive construction was begun. Decorated with magnificent architectural creations, Mandu was renamed Shadiabad ("City of Joy"). Hushang Shah and his successor Muhammad Shah Guri (1435-1436) made several campaigns into Hindu Orissa and were constantly at war with neighboring Muslim sultanates (Bahmanid, Delhi, Jaunpur and Gujarat).

The Malawi Khalji dynasty descended from the same Turkic tribe as the same name dynasty of the Delhi Khalji sultans who ruled in 1292-1320, but were not directly related to it. The amir of the Khalji tribe, Mahmud Khan, became the vizier of the Sultan of Malwa Muhammad-shah Guri, whom he poisoned in 1436. By removing from power his minor son and heir Masud-shah Guri (who managed to escape to Gujarat), Mahmud-khan himself ascended the throne of Malawi sultans under the name Mahmud-shah I Khalji, founding a new Khalji dynasty.

Mahmud Shah I Khalji (1436-1469) is considered the most powerful sultan of Malwa. He greatly expanded the borders of the Malawi Sultanate, spending the entire period of his reign in wars with the Gujarat Sultanate, the Bahmanid state, with the Rajput principality of Mewar, and with other neighbors. In 1442 Mahmud Shah I made a campaign to Delhi. The fame of Mahmud-shah Khalji's greatness reached the court of the Abbasid caliph in Cairo, who sent him formal signs of authority.

During the reign of the next Sultan Giyas Shah (1469-1500) an era of peace and prosperity began for the Sultanate of Malawi. Judging by the coins of Giyas Shah, he was the first to use in his titulature the phrase as-Sultan bin as-Sultan ("Sultan, son of Sultan"). The Sultan himself, however, had little interest in state affairs, preferring to spend his time in his harem, built in the form of a ship and surrounded by artificial lakes, rather than in the meeting hall.

In the late 15th century, the Sultan was notoriously violent in temper, and by the end of the 15th century, he had turned some of the higher dignitaries of the sultanate against himself, even his own mother, Rani Khurshid. The latter was notable for his violent temper and by the end of the 15th century had turned some of the highest dignitaries of the sultanate and even his own mother, Rani Khurshid, against him. His brother Shuja Khan stood up against Abdul-Qadir Khan and proclaimed himself sultan under the name of Ala ad-din-shah, supported by his mother and a part of amirs. On April 6, 1500, Abdul-Qadir-khan revolted against his father, entrenching himself in Dhara. After a short time he seized the sultanate's capital city of Mandu, deposed his father from the throne, imprisoned his mother, and ordered his brother to be executed. On November 20, 1500, he was crowned sultan under the name of Nasir Shah Khalji. His father, Sultan Ghiyas Shah, formally abdicated on January 4, 1501, and was soon poisoned by order of Nasir Shah. Over the next few years Nasir Shah successfully put down a rebellion by disgruntled vassals and also repulsed attacks by the Raja Mewar. The reign of Sultan Nasir Shah is remembered for its many cruel executions as well as for the Sultan's rampant drunkenness. The post of vizier under him was occupied by a Hindu, Vasanta Rai, which caused great discontent among the Muslim court dignitaries. With the reign of Nasir Shah Khalji (1500-1511) the decline of the Malawi sultanate began, sinking more and more into feudal anarchy.

The ethno-religious composition of the population of the Malayalam Sultanate was dominated by the Rajput Hindus, divided into various clans, whose heads were subordinated to the Turkic-Muslim group originating from the Khalji (Khilji) tribe who were in power. But it should not be thought that the ethnic majority did not have access to public office. Hindus played a significant role in government, occupying a number of important administrative posts in the sultanate (for example, the post of vizier under Sultans Nasir Shah Khalji and Mahmud Shah II Khalji was held by Hindu Vasanta Rai), which often led to serious conflicts between Muslim and Hindu court factions. Under Mahmud Shah II Khalji, the Rajputs for a time generally ousted Muslims from all major government posts.

The rich land resources of Malwa historically contributed to the development of agriculture on its territory. In addition to agricultural production, the Malawi sultanate harvested timber. The mines, mines and quarries on the territory of the Sultanate produced marble of various shades (from white to pink and yellow), diamonds (in Panna, Raipur and Ratanpur) and other precious stones. A significant branch of the economy of the sultanate was the processing of precious stones and the production of gold and silver jewelry. The Mandu metropolitan area was a recognized center for the production of high quality glazed ceramics. Among the Malawian textiles, the brocades were especially famous.

The administrative system of the state was headed by the hereditary monarch, who had the titles of sultan and shah. State issues were discussed by the Sultan at meetings of his court held in the form of public audiences (Bar-i-Am). Bar-i-Am were open to all interested persons and were one of the means of communication between the sultan and his subjects. The proclamation of the heir to the throne and the reception of foreign ambassadors also took place at the Bar-i-Am. However, the final decision of most administrative matters was made by the Sultan together with his closest dignitaries at a closed assembly called Majlis-i-Khas. Private audiences with the sultan were called Mahfil-i-Uns.

The highest officials who directly administered the sultanate in accordance with the sultan's commands were the vizier (vazir), who headed the civil administration and was responsible for the sultanate's finances, and the ariz-e-mumalik, responsible for the organization and leadership of the Malawan army. Religious affairs were administered by the Sheikh-ul-Islam together with the Islamic judges, qazi. In the Malawi Sultanate there was a system of gradation of officials according to the ranks assigned to them of the leaders of a certain number of soldiers (from 500 to 20,000). This system was later adopted by Sher Shah Suri and became the prototype of the mansabdar system in the Mogul Empire.

The Sultanate's revenues are very little known to us. The Sultanate's state treasury had a certain part of its revenues from the annual tribute paid by the vassals of the sultan's territories. According to extant information, most of the Sultanate's land holdings were given as ikta to the Malayalam warlords of various levels. The treasured lands left under the direct control of the sultan were called khalsa. The income from the use of the khalsa lands went directly to the state treasury.

The territory of the Malawi sultanate reached its maximum size during the reign of Sultan Mahmud Shah I Khalji (1436-1469), whose power, apart from Malwa proper, extended to the central Indian towns and districts of Bayan, Kalpi, Chanderi, Surguja, Raipur, Ratanpur, Bhopal, Ellichpur, the northern spurs of the Satpur mountain range, and in the west reached the towns of Dakhod, Banswar, Deola, Pratapgarh and Mandsaur. Most of these territories, however, were not directly subordinated to the sultan because they were a group of semi-independent states (Bayana, Kalpian Sultanate, Surguja, Raipur, Ratanpur, Bhopal, Baglana), which were in a state of formal vassal dependence on the Malayalam sultan. The sultan's power was recognized, they paid annual tribute to him and in return enjoyed his protection from the attacks of neighboring states.

The Malawian territory itself was divided into provinces and border districts. The latter included Ranthambore, Mandsaur, Gagraun, Chanderi and Kherla. The main provinces of the Malawi Sultanate were Udjain, Sarangpur, Bhilsa and Hoshangabad. The capital city of Mandu and the districts of Dhar and Nalcha constituted the center of the sultanate and were under the direct rule of the sultan himself.

In 1510, at the very end of Nasir Shah's reign, his eldest son Shihab ad-Din revolted against the sultan. However, the sultan managed to solve the case peacefully, depriving Shihab ad-din of the right of succession and making his third son Azam-Khumayun the heir. The death of Nasir Shah in December 1510 signaled the struggle of his three sons for the throne of Malwa. Each of them declared himself the rightful heir and assumed the title of sultan. After the death of Shihab ad-Din in July 1511, his amirs declared his minor son as sultan under the name Hushang Shah (II), but were soon defeated by the troops of Mahmud Shah II (Azam-Humayun) and fled to the mountains. On May 2, 1511, Azam-Humayun was crowned Sultan of Malwa, taking the name Mahmud-shah Khalji (II). Nasir Shah's second son Sahib Khan captured Shadiabad (Mandu) in late 1511 and was crowned Sultan under the name of Muhammad Shah Khalji (II). The following year, however, Mahmud Shah succeeded in regaining control of the capital. After a five-year struggle, Mahmud Shah succeeded in defeating his brother.

Sultan Mahmud Shah II Khalji was a brave warrior, but utterly lacking in leadership talents and abilities to rule the state. Besides the internecine war with his brother, Mahmud Shah II had to constantly fight with external enemies and rebellious amirs inside Malwa. In 1512 he suppressed the rebellion of the viceroy of Satwas Sikandar Khan. Under Mahmud Shah II, actual power in the sultanate gradually began to pass to Rajput ministers and dignitaries. The discontent of the Muslim nobles culminated in open action against the Rajputs, as a result of which the Vizier of Mahmud Shah II, the Hindu Vasanta Rai, was assassinated. In the ensuing internecine struggle, the Rajput raja Medini Rai seized de facto power in the sultanate. As a result, Muslims began to leave Malwa, and Medini Rai appointed Hindus to most government posts. An unusual situation was created in which the sultan was a Turk-Muslim and his entire bureaucracy was composed of Rajput Hindus. To get rid of the power of the Rajputs, Mahmud Shah II in 1517 sought help from the Sultan of Gujarat, who helped him regain control of the sultanate. However, to the aid of the Rajputs of Malwa came the Maharana Mevara Sangram Singh I (1509-1527), who not only defeated the army of the hapless Sultan Mahmud Shah II, but also captured him himself. Mahmud Shah II was released only after he sent his sons to Chittor as hostages. The Rajputs again came to power in the sultanate.

In March 1531 the Gujarat Sultan Bahadur Shah invaded Malwa, captured Mandu, deposed Sultan Mahmud Shah II, and ordered him to be killed in prison. Malwa became a province of Gujarat, which was soon occupied by the troops of the Mughal padishah Humayun (1534). After the withdrawal of Humayun's troops and the assassination of Sultan Bahadur Shah by the Portuguese on 13 February 1537, power over Malwa was in the hands of Amir Mallu Khan, who began to rule as Qadir Shah, minting coin and reciting hutba in his name only.

In 1542-1543, Malwa was completely conquered by Sher-shah Suri, who appointed Shujaat-khan as his viceroy here. After the death of Sultan Islam-shah in 1554, the Surid empire was bursting at the seams, and Shujaat-khan became the de facto independent ruler of Malwa. Shuja'at Khan died in 962 AH (1554).

The last Sultan of Malwa, Baz-Bahadur Shah, setting out for a decisive battle against the Mughal army, ordered his palace guards to immediately kill all the concubines in his harem in case of his defeat. When news of the defeat of Baz-Bahadur Shah reached the capital, the guards began a massacre in the harem, but the Mughal army was able to stop them. The Mughals also attempted to capture Sultan Baz-Bahadur Shah's famous mistress, Rani Rupamati, but she committed suicide. After the victory, Adham Khan ordered the extermination of the numerous captive soldiers of Baz-Bahadur, both Hindu and Muslim.

Soon Adham-khan was recalled from his post as commander and replaced by Pir-Muhammad, who led his troops to the Khandesh Sultanate, where he was defeated by the combined forces of Sultan Khandesh Miran Mubarak-shah II, Vizier Berar Tufal-khan Dahni and Baz-Bahadur-shah. Pir Muhammad died in retreat. The Mughals were expelled from Malwa. Baz-Bahadur Shah briefly returned to power. In the following year, 1562, Padishah Akbar sent another army led by Abdallah Khan Uzbek, who finally defeated Baz-Bahadur Shah, who had fled to Chittor. Malwa became part of the Mughal Empire. In 1572 the Malwa Suba was established on the territory of the former sultanate.


  1. Malwa Sultanate
  2. Малавский султанат
  3. 1 2 Рыжов (VII—XV века), 2004.
  4. Day, 1965, p. 14.
  5. ^ For a map of their territory see: Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 147, map XIV.4 (a). ISBN 0226742210.
  6. ^ a b Haig, T.W. & Islam, Riazul (1991). "Mālwā". In Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E. & Pellat, Ch. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume VI: Mahk–Mid. Leiden: E. J. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-08112-3.
  7. Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2006). The Delhi Sultanate, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, pp.173-86
  8. Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2007) The Mughul Empire, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan,, pp.112-3
  9. Khare, M.D. (ed.) (1981). Malwa through the Ages, Bhopal: the Directorate of Archaeology & Museums, Government of M.P., pp.193-5
  10. Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2007). The Mughul Empire, Mumbai:Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, ,pp.804-5
  11. ^ Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2006). The Delhi Sultanate, Mumbai, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, pp. 173-86
  12. ^ Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2007) The Mughul Empire, Mumbai, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 2007, pp. 112-3

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