Balban’s policy of Blood and Iron:
It is not without significance that out of about 84 year’s rule of the Slave Dynasty, Balban’s rule lasted for about 40 years i.e. 20 years as ‘Naib’ or Prime Minister but virtually the Sultan and 20 years as the Sultan of Delhi.
Other 10 Slave rulers ruled for 44 years i.e. just 4 years more than the rule of a single Sultan i.e. Balban.
It became possible to achieve this distinction by Balban on account of the successful execution of his policy of blood and iron.
Balban displayed great vigor and energy to follow this policy and saved the Delhi. Sultanate from the shocks of internal revolts and external invasions. He enhanced the prestige of the king. His rise from the low position of a water carrier to the rank of the Sultan speaks of his extraordinary qualities.
Meaning of the policy of blood and iron:
This policy implied being ruthless to the enemies, use of sword, harshness and strictness and shedding blood. It allowed use of all sorts of methods of terrorisms the enemies and inflicting violence upon them. Even before becoming the Sultan of Delhi, Balban had tried these measures to some extent to rise to high posts. He had betrayed Razia and engineered revolts against her. He was responsible for the dethronement of Bahram Shah and installment of Masud as a King.
Later he conspired and removed Masud and enthroned Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud and usurped all the powers of the Sultan by becoming his Prime Minister. By all means Nasir-ud-Din was a sort of captive of Balban. Thus even before assuming the reigns of administration, Balban had gained sufficient experience to make use of the power of the sword against his enemies.
A few example of Baiban’s policy of blood and iron:
1. Prof. S.R. Sharma states that when Amir Khan, one of his generals who was defeated by a rebel came back with this news, “the infuriated Sultan in his paroxysm of rage ordered the defeated generals to be hanged over the gates of Ayodhya.”
2. After killing a rebel Tughril Khan, the Sultan ordered the killing of all his friends and rebels. The situation has been described by Lane-poole as, “Even a beggar to whom the usurper had been kind was not spared.”
3. According to Barani, “Such punishment as was inflicted on Lakhnauti had never been heard of in Delhi nor could anyone remember such a thing in all Hindustan.”
4. Several members of the ‘Corps of Forty’ were poisoned to death secretly.
5. Dr.V.S. Smith states, “By royal command many of the rebels were cast under the feet of elephants… Skinned from head to feet… some of them were hung over every gate of Delhi… One never heard such a tale of terror.
Following were the backgrounders which necessitated the policy of blood and iron:
Theory of Kingship:
Balban realized that problems arose on account of the weak position of the king. He therefore put forward the concept of Divine Right of Kings i.e. the king was the representative of God on earth. None could challenge him. The king was there to rule and the nobles and others were there to obey him. The powers of the king were absolute and he was a despot.
The administration needed a strong ruler to bring about order out of chaos.
Corps of Forty:
Balban himself belonged to the ‘Corps of Forty’ an institution or the group created by Iltutmish for strengthening his position. Iltutmish used this group to get all sort of information about his nobles. Balban was fully aware of the destructive activities of these. In due course, these slaves became so powerful that the rulers became captives in their hands. Balban realized that they were responsible for the chaotic and unstable condition of the state. Balban considered them as trouble shooters and realized the necessity of getting rid of them through stern measures.
There was the danger of revolts of some sections of Muslim chiefs and Rajput rulers.
The Mongols posed a serious threat to the empire.