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Lodhi Dynasty

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Lodhi Dynasty

Lodi dynasty

Capital Delhi
Languages Pashto (native)
Persian (official)[1]
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Sultanate
 -  Established 1451
 -  Disestablished 1526

The Lodhi dynasty (Lodhi (Pashto: لودي)) (Pashto: د لوديانو واکمني‎) was an Pashtun dynasty that ruled northern India, including modern day Pakistan, from 1451 to 1526. It was founded by Bahlul Khan Lodi when he replaced the Sayyid dynasty and ended after Ibrahim Lodi was defeated by Babur from Kabulistan in the 1526 Battle of Panipat. It was during the period of the Lodi's that the first Portuguese Armada under Vasco da Gama landed in India.

Bahlul Lodi

Bahlul Khan Lodi (r.1451–89) was the nephew and son-in-law of Islam Khan (Malik Sultan Shah Lodi), the governor of Sirhind in (Punjab), India and succeeded him as the governor of Sirhind during the reign of Sayyid dynasty ruler Muhammad Shah (Muhammad-bin-Farid). Muhammad Shah raised him to the status of an Emir. After the last Sayyid ruler of Delhi, Ala-ud-Din Alam Shah voluntarily abdicated in favour of him, Bahlul Khan Lodi ascended the throne of the Delhi sultanate on April 19, 1451.[2] Bahlul spent most of his time in fighting against the Sharqi dynasty and ultimately annexed it. He placed his eldest surviving son Barbak on the throne of Jaunpur in 1486.

Sikandar Lodi

Sikandar Lodi (r.1489–1517) (born Nizam Khan), the second son of Bahlul, succeeded him after his death on July 17, 1489 and took up the title Sikandar Shah. He was nominated by his father to succeed him and was crowned sultan on July 15, 1489. He refounded Agra in 1504 and constructed mosques.[3] He abolished corn duties and patronized trade and commerce. He was a poet of repute. He composed under the pen-name of Gulruk. He was also patron of learning and ordered Sanskrit work in medicine to be translated into Persian.[4]

Ibrahim Lodi

Main article: Ibrahim Lodi

Sultan Ibrahim Khan Lodi (1489–1526),[5] the youngest son of Sikandar, was the last Lodi Sultan of Delhi.[6] Sultan Ibrahim (r.1517–26) was a fearless military leader and kept out the opposition for almost a decade. He was engaged in warfare with the Afghans and the Mughals for most of his reign and died trying to keep the Lodi Dynasty from annihilation. Sultan Ibrahim was defeated in 1526 at the Battle of Panipat.[6] This marked the end of the Lodi Dynasty and the rise of the Mughal Empire in India led by Babur (r. 1526–1530).[7]

Fall of the empire

By the time Ibrahim ascended the throne, the political structure in the Lodi Dynasty had dissolved due to abandoned trade routes and the depleted treasury.[8] The Deccan was a coastal trade route, but in the late fifteenth century the supply lines had collapsed.[8] The decline and eventual failure of this specific trade route resulted in cutting off supplies from the coast to the interior, where the Lodi empire resided.[8] The Lodi Dynasty was not able to protect itself if warfare were to break out on the trade route roads; therefore, they didn’t use those trade routes, thus their trade declined and so did their treasury leaving them vulnerable to internal political problems.[8]

Afghan factionalism

Another problem Ibrahim Lodhi had when he ascended the throne in 1517 were the Afghan nobles. Some nobles backed Ibrahim’s older brother, Jalaluddin, to take up arms against his brother in the area in the east at Jaunpur. Ibrahim gathered military support and defeated his brother by the end of the year. After this incident, he arrested Afghan nobles who opposed him.[9] He then proceeded by appointing new administrators, who were his own men. Other Afghan nobles supporter the governor of Bihar, Dariya Khan against Sultan Ibrahim.[10]

Another factor that caused uprisings against Ibrahim Lodi, was his lack of an apparent successor. His own uncle, Alam Khan, betrayed Ibrahim by supporting the Mughal invader Babur.[6]

Babur claimed to be the true and rightful Monarch of the lands of the Lodi dynasty. He believed himself the rightful heir to the throne of Timur, and it was Timur who had originally left Khizr Khan in charge of his vassal in the Punjab, who became the leader, or Sultan, of the Delhi Sultanate, founding the Sayyid dynasty.[36] The Sayyid dynasty, however, had been ousted by Ibrahim Lodi, a Ghilzai Afghan, and Babur wanted it returned to the Timurids. Indeed, while actively building up the troop numbers for an invasion of the Punjab he sent a request to Ibrahim; "I sent him a goshawk and asked for the countries which from old had depended on the Turk," the 'countries' referred to were the lands of the Delhi Sultanate.

Following the unsurprising reluctance of Ibrahim to accept the terms of this "offer," and though in no hurry to launch an actual invasion, Babur made several preliminary incursions and also seized Kandahar — a strategic city if he was to fight off attacks on Kabul from the west while he was occupied in India - from the Arghunids. The siege of Kandahar, however, lasted far longer than anticipated, and it was only almost three years later that Kandahar and its Citadel (backed by enormous natural features) were taken, and that minor assaults in India recommenced. During this series of skirmishes and battles an opportunity for a more extended expedition presented itself.

Betrayal of the empire

Not only was Ibrahim threatened by his uncle, Alam Khan, who joined forces with Babur, but he was also threatened by the Rajput leader, Rana Sanga of Mewar (1509–1526).[11] Daulat Khan, the governor of Punjab also spoke with Babur about Sultan Ibrahim. Khan pledged his allegiance to Babur as well.[5] Sultan Ibrahim Khan Lodi was easily threatened because his region was surrounded by several other dynasties and territories. The Khalji Dynasty was positioned to the northeast.[12] The Rajputs were located to the northwest and the Sultanate of Gujarat blocked the sea to the east.[12] To the south, lied the Khandesh and Berar regions.[12] The Sultanate of Jaunpur located in modern day Uttar Pradesh also surrounded the Lodi Dynasty.[12]

Battle of Panipat, 1526

After being assured of the cooperation of Alam Khan (Ibrahim’s uncle) and Daulat Khan,Governor of the Punjab, Babur gathered his army. Upon entering the Punjab plains, Babur's chief allies, namely Langar Khan Niazi advised Babur to engage the powerful Janjua Rajputs to join his conquest. The tribe's rebellious stance to the throne of Delhi was well known. Upon meeting their chiefs, Malik Hast (Asad) and Raja Sanghar Khan, Babur made mention of the Janjua's popularity as traditional rulers of their kingdom and their ancestral support for his patriarch Emir Timur during his conquest of Hind. Babur aided them in defeating their enemies, the Gakhars in 1521, thus cementing their alliance. Babur employed them as Generals in his campaign for Delhi, the conquest of Rana Sanga and the conquest of India.

The section of Babur's memoirs covering the period between 1508 and 1519 is missing. During these years Shah Ismail I suffered a large defeat when his large cavalry-based army was obliterated at the Battle of Chaldiran by the Ottoman Empire's new weapon, the matchlock musket. Both Shah Ismail and Babur, it appears, were swift in acquiring this new technology for themselves. Somewhere during these years Babur introduced matchlocks into his army, and allowed an Ottoman, Ustad Ali, to train his troops, who were then known as Matchlockmen, in their use. Babur's memoirs give accounts of battles where the opposition forces mocked his troops, never having seen a gun before, because of the noise they made and the way no arrows, spears, etc. appeared to come from the weapon when fired.

These guns allowed small armies to make large gains on enemy territory. Small parties of skirmishers who had been dispatched simply to test enemy positions and tactics, were making inroads into India. Babur, however, had survived two revolts, one in Kandahar and another in Kabul, and was careful to pacify the local population after victories, following local traditions and aiding widows and orphans.

Babur wanted to fight Sultan Ibrahim because he wanted Sultan Ibrahim’s power and territory.[7] They did not fight against each other because of religious affairs.[7] Babur and Sultan Ibrahim were both Sunni Muslims.[7] Babur and his army of 24,000 men marched to the battlefield armed with muskets and artillery.[6] Sultan Ibrahim prepared to fight by gathering 100,000 men (well armed but with no guns) and 1,000 elephants.[6] This is known as the Battle of Panipat in 1526.[5]

Sultan Ibrahim was at a disadvantage, not only because of his out-moded infantry, but also the inter-necine rivalries. Even though he had more men, Sultan Ibrahim had never fought in a war against gunpowder weapons.[6] Strategically, Sultan Ibrahim didn’t know what to do militarily. Babur had the advantage right from the start. Sultan Ibrahim perished on the battlefield along with 20,000 of his men in April 1526.[6]

Accession of Babur and the Mughals

After Sultan Ibrahim's tragic death on the battle field, Babur named himself emperor over Sultan Ibrahim’s territory, instead of placing Alam Khan (Ibrahim’s uncle) on the throne.[13] Sultan Ibrahim’s death lead to the establishment of the Mughal Empire in India. He was the last emperor of the Lodi Dynasty. What was left of his empire was absorbed into the new Mughal Empire. Babur continued to engage in more military campaigns.[13]

Rajput opposition to the Mughals

Historically, after Sultan Ibrahim’s death, the Rajput, Rana Sanga and the Rajput states joined forces against Babur.[14] Babur managed to boost the morale of his troops, which enabled them to defeat the Rajputs.[13] Sultan Ibrahim’s brother, Sultan Mahmud in Bihar, also fought an important battle against Babur; the Battle of Khanua, which Babur won.[13] Thus, his continuous successful military battles resulted in his control of the Jumna and central Ganges region.[15]

See also



Beck, Sanderson. INDIA & Southeast Asia to 1800: Ethics of Civilization. California: World Peace Communications, 2006. .

Desoulieres, Alain. “Mughal Diplomacy in Gujarat (1533–1534) in Correia's 'Lendas da India'.” Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 22, No. 3. pp. 454..

Haider, Najaf. “Precious Metal Flows and Currency Circulation in the Mughal Empire.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 39, No. 3 (1996), pp. 298– 364. . India. Indian History: Medieval History. 2005. . 3/10/09.

Jacob, Lt. Gen. Jack Frederick Ralph. “History: The Battle of Panipat.” Chandigarh Tribune Online Edition, April 24, 2003. .

Richards, John F. “The Economic History of the Lodi Period: 1451-1526.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Aug. 1965). .

SarDesai, D.R. India The Definitive History. Colorado: Westview Press, 2008.

Subrahmanyam, Sanjay. “A Note on the Rise of Surat in the Sixteenth Century.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 43, No. 1 (2000), pp. 23–33. .

The World Book Encyclopedia, 1979 ed. “Mogul Empire.”

Ud-Din, Hameed. “Historians of Afghan Rule in India.” Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 82, No. 1 (Jan. – Mar., 1962), pp. 44–51.

External links

  • A History of Sind, Volume II, Translated from Persian Books by Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg, chpt. 68
  • The Sayyids and the Lodhis
  • WebIndia - History (Deli Sultanate)
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