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Razia Sultana

Razia the daughter of Iltutmish, succeeded her half brother Rukhnuddin Firoz Shah as the Sultan of Delhi. As her brother was lazy and engaged in sensual pleasures and failed to rule properly. Razia was a highly educated lady of courage and foresight. She was brought up by Iltutmish like a son. She received training in horse riding, shooting and swordsmanship. Free from all social prejudices of the day, razia used to attend the court of her father like other princes and acquired sufficient experience in statecraft in her youth. She possessed all the qualities befitting a ruler. Her father was unmindful of the Islamic traditions and ridicule of the Ulema, nominated her to succeed him to the throne. The Turkish nobility however thought it below their dignity to be governed by a woman. After the death of Iltutmish, Razia’s claim to the throne was brushed aside and Rukhnuddin was put on the throne. The unpopularity and incompetence of Rukhnuddin afforded her an opportunity to emerge from behind the veil. Razia’s reign lasted about three years and a half. She proved to be the first and last Sultan of Delhi.


Razia strengthened her position as an independent ruler. She refused to fall under the dominating influence of the Shamsi nobles. She rewarded those who had stood by her, and gave rapid promotions to her favorites. Khwaja Muhazzabuddin, previously the naib wazir under Rukhnuddin, was promoted to be the wazir. In order to break the monopoly of power of the Turkish nobles, she began to offer high offices to capable non- Turks as well. She reshuffled many provincial governors and sent new officers to take charge of the important Iqtas. The selfish Turkish nobles, wanted to disgrace Razia in the eyes of people. For this they used a tactic and tried to make a scandal of her with the Abyssinian slave, Jalaluddin Yakut whom she had promoted amir akhur (master of the royal stable). She was accused of having illicit relations with Yakut. This issue declined the popularity of Razia to some extent, but it could not serve the interests of nobility. During the reign of Razia, many revolts took place time to time, but were gallantly suppressed by Razia Sultana. Kabir Khan Ayaz, the governor of Multan and Lahore raised a standard of revolt merely on the issue of the alleged intimacy between Razia and Yakut which was derogatory to the pride of Turks. Razia as having a loyal and strong army at her command gave a crushing defeat to the rebel. However, the rebel later apologized and was given back the governorship of Multan and the province of Lahore was taken out of his control. Within a fortnight of this incident, Razia received the news of revolt, raised by Altunia, the governor of Bathinda. She straight away moved towards Bathinda, but was defeated and was taken prisoner by Altunia. Yakut fell into the hands of conspirators in Delhi and was put to death. The conspirators put Razia’s brother, Behram to the throne and appointed themselves to all the high offices of the state. The people of Delhi, in spite of their love for Razia, could do nothing against the Turkish nobles because there was none to lead the public movement. Altunia was antagonized towards the nobility of Delhi, as he was not given any desired authority. So Razia exploited the situation and befriended him and later married him. Both of them made a last bid to recover Delhi from the hands of the rebels. They fought bravely but were defeated and taken prisoners on October 13, 1240; both of them were beheaded the next day.

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