THE DELHI SULTANATE (1206–
                                    1526)
GENERAL SURVEY
Medieval Transition The medieval transition that began at the end of the
first millennium separates early and late medieval history. In early medieval
times, internal developments inside core regions of dynastic authority played
the leading role in changing local societies. By 1200, this was no longer true.
Warriors from distant homelands became prominent in local histories
everywhere. The rise of the warriors had begun with Gurjara Pratiharas and
imperial Cholas. Warrior ascendancy over agrarian elites had spread far and
wide before Mahmud of Ghazni arrived on the scene. Ghaznavids and their
successors extended, integrated and institutionalised professional warrior
imperialism; and they also marked a shift in the regional origins and cultural
composition of military overlords.
Military Superiority of Central Asians The Central Asian warriors
rapidly established their supremacy during India’s medieval transition, by
deploying swift-horse cavalry skilled in firing arrows at full gallop; by
mobilising large armies dedicated to siege and open-field combat; and by
organising cavalry well-supplied with saddles, stirrups and the latest weapons
that ran rapidly over long distances, staying on the move to subsist on fruits
of conquest. Turkish and Afghan tribes provided the best men for this kind of
warfare, and ethnic solidarity for their discipline and motivation. Central
Asian steppe grasslands and herds supplied horses at low prices, while routes
across Mongol domains provided superior military technology. In contrast,
the contemporary dynasties east and south of the Hindu Kush, relied on
horses imported from Afghanistan by land and from Arabia by sea; they still
fought more commonly on elephants than on horses; they seldom fought to
the death; and they rarely built