like. Similarly, it is mentioned in the Harshacharita that the wives of the
samantas also had to attend the court on festive occasions. Thus, the vassals
were linked with the overlord not only financially and militarily but also
administratively and socially.
Impact of ‘Samantisation’
Samantisation gradually eroded the power base of the ruler even in the core
area of his realm as the assignment of revenue-bearing lands diminished the
area directly controlled by the central administration. This process of the
fragmentation of central power occurred in other countries too, but in India it
became a legitimate feature of kingship. The great emphasis placed on the
samantachakra made virtue out of necessity. The contemporary inscriptions
and works are full of enthusiastic descriptions of the glitter of the crowns and
jewels of the samantas who surrounded the king when he held court. The
court emerged in this way as a special feature of the display of royal glory.
The greater the number of samantas and mahasamantas who attended the
court, the greater the fame of the overlord. Such a samantachakra was, of
course, inherently unstable. As soon as the power of the central ruler
declined, a mahasamanta would strive for independence or would even
dream of stepping into the centre of the samantachakra.
New Agrarian Economy
Land Ownership
The subject of land-ownership in the post-Gupta period is a highly
controversial matter and the contemporary sources make it more confusing.
Medhatithi, a prominent law-giver of the ninth century, for instance, records
at one place that the king was the lord of the soil, and elsewhere states that
the field belonged to him who made it fit for cultivation by clearing it. But
land was commonly granted by the rulers, with rights of varying degrees, to
Brahmins and religious institutions for religious and ideological purposes, to
vassals and princes for military purposes, and to officials for administrative
purposes. Thus, there developed a great variety of interests and rights over
land, claimed by various degrees of intermediaries.
    With the increasing extent