Meaning of nobility:
The nobles normally occupied the place next to the Sultan and played a key role in the administration of the state.
Nobles comprised the ruling class and belonged to different tribes and nationalities like the Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Egyptian and Indian Muslims.
During the Sultanate period the number of Hindu nobles was extremely negligible.
Important functions performed by the nobles:
1. They helped the Sultan in the expansion of the empire.
2. They helped the Sultan in suppressing rebellions of the Hindus.
3. They helped the Sultan in running the administration.
Nobles as kingmakers:
Sometimes nobles played a crucial role in the choice of the Sultan. In the absence of any law of succession, they sided with the one or the other claimants of the throne.
Intrigues of the nobles:
The nobles were very ambitious. They were usually divided into various factions and engaged themselves into conspiracies.
Nobility and the Slave Dynasty:
He was very skilful in maintaining a balance between the those Turkish nobles whom he had brought with him from outside India and the Non-Turkish nobles. He did not assign the important positions to one faction only.
Iltutmish organised a group or Corps of Forty selected Amirs (who were originally slaves) during his reign. They were appointed on key posts in the military and civil administration. They were his ‘ears and eyes’. They were his chief advisors. Iltutmish was able to obtain their un-flinched loyalty and proved a successful ruler.
After the death of Iltutmish, the Corps of Forty became very powerful. Disregarding the wish of Iltutmish, they raised Rakn-ud-Din Firoz to the throne instead of Razia. However after sometime, they seated Razia on the throne. Razia tried to free herself from the clutches of the Turkish nobles and organised a group of non-Turkish and Indian Muslim nobles under the leadership of Yakut, an Abyssinian. They Turkish nobles resented this and organised conspiracies against Razia and ultimately were successful in murdering Razia and Yakut. The Turkish nobles made and unmade Sultans.
Balban’s stern measures against the Nobles:
Balban proved very powerful and he almost liquidated the Corps of Forty. He introduced stern measures against Turkish nobles and appointed Non. Turkish nobles on important posts. He followed the policy of ‘blood and iron’ against all those who opposed him. He himself belonged to the Corps of Forty and knew their assets and weak points. He was convinced that this group was doing a lot of destructive work and was a great danger to the stability of the Sultan and the Sultanate of Delhi.
He adopted all sorts of fair and foul methods to eliminate them. He even poisoned to death some of the nobles. Balban put an end to the hereditary control of the nobles over the jagirs. He confiscated the jagirs of all those nobles who even slightly deviated from his instructions. He prescribed strict court etiquettes for the nobles.
He gave important posts to Khalji nobles to win over them as the Turkish nobles regarded him as the usurper of the throne.
Nobility and the Khalji Dynasty:
Ala-ud-Din Khalji and the Nobility:
Ala-ud-Din had realized from the very beginning that nobility was responsible for a good deal of unrest in the empire. He, therefore, took several measures to crush the power of the nobles.
Broadly his measures can be categorized as under:
(a) Administrative measures:
Ala-ud-Din organised an efficient spy system to keep a strict watch on the activities of the nobles. He prohibited the sale and use of wine and other intoxicating drinks as he felt that drinking parties among nobles provided them opportunities to intrigue.
(b) Economic measures:
Ala-ud-Din was of the opinion that excess of wealth with the nobles created rebellions tendencies among them. He confiscated the jagirs of several nobles. He introduced a system of market control to check hoarding and prices.
(c) Social measures:
The Sultan forebode his nobles to go to social gathering and enter into matrimonial alliance without his permission.
The nobles and the Lodis:
After the death of Sikandar Lodi, the Afghan Amirs placed their selfish interest above Lodi state and dynastic interests. To augment their vested influence and interest, they were successful for a while to divide the territory between two brothers namely Jalan Khan and Ibrahim. Not only this, they indulged in subversive activities.
Two important noble groups were formed. The activities of the groups endangered the very existence of the Lodi dynasty. Two powerful nobles i.e. Daulat Khan Lodi and Azam Khan Lodi extended invitation to Babur to invade the Lodi state. Thus the rivalry among the nobles led to the end of the Lodi rule and the beginning of the Mughal rule in India.