Ghiyas ud din Balban

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Ghiyas-ud-din Balban was born in a well-to-do Turk family of the Ilbari tribe. The Mongols captured him when he was a child. They sold him to Khwajah Jamal-ud-din Basri in Baghdad. Later he was brought to Delhi where Iltutmush purchased him. From the beginning he was in the good books of his master and eventually became one of the Chalgan, a group of the forty most important nobles of the court. During the rule of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, he became the most powerful amongst the Chalgan. While Nasir-ud-din spent most of his time engrossed in religious affairs, Balban was the real ruler. Nasir-ud-din married Balban’s daughter, which made the latter even more powerful. After the death of Nasir-ud-din, Balban became the Sultan in early 1266.

Balban considered himself, the king, as the deputy of God on earth. He believed that the king should be very powerful so as to frighten everyone around him. He organized his court on the pattern of the courts of Irani kings. Nobody could even dare smile in his court. Smartly dressed well-built soldiers armed with unsheathed swords marched along beside him wherever he went. A number of rulers and princes who had taken refuge in his court were supposed to stand obediently in the court. Some ambassadors even used to faint when he entered his court. Balban established the department of intelligence. He spread his spies throughout the country and used them to gather information about all political developments and conspiracies. This helped him in taking action to stop trouble before it started.

As a Sultan, Balban adopted a blood and iron policy. He knew that during the twenty-year rule of Nasir-ud-din, the Chalgan had become very strong. Each one of them started to consider himself as a second to the Sultan. They did not like the growing power of Balban and were jealous of his ascent. After becoming Sultan, Balban decided to crush the power of the Chalgan. He had some murdered while others were banished to far off places.

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