Historiography of medieval India i.e. the writing of history falls into the three phases as listed below:
1. Medieval Chroniclers—mostly contemporary
2. Colonial trend in historiography
3. Modern trend in historiography.
1. Medieval Chroniclers:
These comprised court historians and the rulers themselves. Since by and large, histories were written by courtiers or rulers, it is very difficult to determine the extent of objectivity of the records. Histories were written in Persian and Turkish languages.
2. Colonial trends:
In general it is observed that the “British historical writing on the period was intimately linked with the expansion of their rule in India.” The perspectives of historians in general did not encompass developments in the economic and social fields.
Following are the important publications of the colonial trends:
1. History of India as told by its own Historians. This eight-volume history was published between 1867-1877. It was a compilation of extracts of over 160 medieval accounts. It formed the basis of early reconstruction of the medieval India.
2. Medieval India under Muhammadan Rule, by Lane Poole. (1903)
3. Oxford History of India by Vincent Smith, 1919.
3. Modern Trends:
In the 20th century, historians broadened the scope of history to encompass administrative developments, economic policies and religious and social movements.
Regarding historiography following points may be kept in view:
1. Absolute historical truth is exclusive.
2. Absolute impartial historiography is rather impossible.
3. Every kind of prejudice—caste, faith, personal, political, racial, regional, religious, etc. of the historiographer exercises some influence in recording of events and facts.
4. Since quite a large number of history works during the medieval period were written either by rulers or their relatives and the scholars patronized by them, their contents must be sifted carefully and scientifically and collaborated with other works.
Significance of the Medieval Period of Indian History:
The medieval period has certain distinct characteristics which lend importance to this period. First, the medieval period is closer to us than the ancient period. Second, we have several sources which provide almost correct and objective information about this period. Third, it was during this period that Indian beliefs and social customs were greatly influenced by the Turks, Afghans and the Mughals who came as invaders but made India their home.
Fourth, many items of our food and dress can be traced back to this period. Fifth, a composite culture of India developed with the fusion of the Hindu and the Muslim cultural traits. This is reflected particularly in the field of art, architecture, literature, painting and music.