Get Medieval India essential facts below. View Videos or join the Medieval India discussion. Add Medieval India to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Medieval India refers to a long period of the history of the Indian subcontinent between the "ancient period" and "modern period". It is usually regarded as running between the breakup of the Gupta Empire in the 6th century AD and the start of the Mughal Empire in 1526, although some historians regard it as both starting and finishing later than these points.
One definition includes the period from the 6th century, the "first half of the 7th century", or the 8th century up to the 16th century, essentially coinciding with the Middle Ages of Europe. It may be divided into two periods: The 'early medieval period' which lasted from the 6th to the 13th century and the 'late medieval period' which lasted from the 13th to the 16th century, ending with the start of the Mughal Empire in 1526. The Mughal era, from the 16th century to the 18th century, is often referred to as the early modern period, but is sometimes also included in the 'late medieval' period.
An alternative definition, often seen in those more recent authors who still use the term at all, brings the start of the medieval times forward, either to about 1000 CE, or to the 12th century. The end may be pushed back to the 18th century, Hence, this period can be effectively considered as the beginning of Muslim domination (North India) to British India. Or the "early medieval" period as beginning in the 8th century, and ending with the 11th century.
The use of "medieval" at all as a term for periods in Indian history has often been objected to, and is probably becoming more rare (there is a similar discussion in terms of the history of China). It is argued that neither the start nor the end of the period really mark fundamental changes in Indian history, comparable to the European equivalents.Burton Stein still used the concept in his A History of India (1998, referring to the period from the Guptas to the Mughals), but most recent authors using it are Indian. Understandably, they often specify the period they cover within their titles.
Early medieval period
The start of the period is typically taken to be the slow collapse of the Gupta Empire from about 480 to 550, ending the "classical" period, as well as "ancient India", although both these terms may be used for periods with widely different dates, especially in specialized fields such as the history of art or religion. Another alternative for the preceding period is "Early Historical" stretching "from the sixth century BC to the sixth century AD", according to Romila Thapar.
At least in northern India, there was no larger state until the Delhi Sultanate, or certainly the Mughal Empire, but there were several different dynasties ruling large areas for long periods, as well as many other dynasties ruling smaller areas, often paying some form of tribute to larger states. John Keay puts the typical number of dynasties within the subcontinent at any one time at between 20 and 40, not including local rajas.
Pratihara dynasty, was the last largest dynasty of northern India which rivaled the Gupta empire in extent and ruled most part of India from 6th century up-to 11th century. They were successful for stopping Muslim conquests of India for nearly 400 years and destroyed Muslim armies according to the Arab accounts. their capital was kannuaj and were the first Rajput empire. They can be differentiated from other kingdoms as they were called Imperial Pratiharas.
Chalukya dynasty ruled most of the western Deccan and some of South India, between the 6th to 12th centuries. Kannada-speaking, with capital at Badami.
Rashtrakuta dynasty, was a Kannada Dynasty ruling large parts of the Indian subcontinent between the 6th and the 10th centuries and one who built World Heritage center Ellora, Maharashtra.
Eastern Chalukyas, 7th and 12th centuries, a South Indian Kannada dynasty whose kingdom was located in the present-day Andhra Pradesh they were the descendants of Western Chalukyas.
Western Ganga dynasty, was an important ruling dynasty of ancient Karnataka, often under the overlordship of larger states, from about 350 to 1000 AD. The large monolithic Bahubali of Shravanabelagola was built during their rule.
The Sena dynasty, was a Hindu dynasty that ruled from Bengal through the 11th and 12th centuries. The empire at its peak covered much of the north-eastern region of the Indian subcontinent. The rulers of the Sena Dynasty traced their origin to the south Indian region of Karnataka.
Seuna (Yadava) dynasty, 1190-1315, an old Kannada-Maratha dynasty, which at its peak ruled a kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada rivers, including present-day Maharashtra, north Karnataka and parts of Madhya Pradesh, from its capital at Devagiri.
The start of the Mughal Empire in 1526 marked the beginning of the early modern period of Indian history, often referred to as the Mughal era. Sometimes, the Mughal era is also referred to as the 'late medieval' period.
Maratha Empire, was an imperial power based in modern-day Maharashtra in western India. Marathas replaced the Mughal rule over large parts of India in the 18th century, but lost the Anglo-Maratha Wars in the early 19th century, and became rulers of Princely States.
Kingdom of Mysore, was a Kannada kingdom have been founded in 1399 in the vicinity of the modern city of Mysore. Fully independent after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1646, reduced in size by the British, but ruled as a princely state until 1947.
Nayak dynasty of Kannada, Telugu, Tamil kings ruled parts of south India after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1646. Their contribution can be seen in Ikkeri, Sri Ranga, Madurai, and Chitradurga.
Kingdom of Bharatpur, was a Jat kingdom have been founded in 1722 in the vicinity of the modern city of Bharatpur. It was founded during the fall of the Mughal Empire, reduced in size by the invaders, but ruled as a princely state until 1947.
Modern historical works written on Medieval India have received some criticism from scholars studying the historiography of the period. E. Sreedharan argues that, after Indian independence up until the 1960s, Indian historians were often motivated by Indian nationalism.Peter Hardy notes that the majority of modern historical works on Medieval India up until then were written by British and Hindu historians, whereas the work of modern Muslim historians was under-represented. However, he argues that some of the modern Muslim historiography on Medieval India at the time was motivated by Islamic apologetics, attempting to justify "the life of medieval Muslims to the modern world."
Ram Sharan Sharma has criticised the simplistic manner in which Indian history is often divided into an ancient "Hindu" period, a medieval "Muslim" period, and a modern "British" period. He argues that there is no clear sharp distinction between when the ancient period ended and when the medieval period began, noting dates ranging from the 7th century to the 13th century.
^According to the article on "Architecture" in Banglapedia, "Unlike European periodisation, the medieval period in Indian history is generally regarded to have started with the coming of the Muslims, particularly the conquest of Delhi towards the end of the twelfth century by the Ghorids of Afghanistan." The "generally regarded" is dubious.
^Singh, Upinder (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. ISBN978-81-317-1120-0. Due to such reasons, most historians have discarded the Hindu-Muslim-British periodization of the Indian past in favour of a more neutral classification into the ancient, early medieval, and modern periods. The dividing lines may vary, but the ancient period can be considered as stretching roughly from the earliest times to the 6th century CE; the early medieval from the 6th to the 13th centuries; the medieval from the 13th to 18th centuries; and the modern from the 18th century to the present. The current use of these terms shifts the focus away from religious labels towards patterns of significant socio-economic changes.
^Examples: Farooqui; Radhey Shyam Chaurasia, History of Medieval India: From 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D., 2002, google books; Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals, 2004 (2 vols), google books; Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th century, 2008, google books