1. Roman empire broke into two by 6th century
    • West, with capital at Rome, overwhelmed by Slav and Germanic tribesmen. (Roman empire). It followed Catholic Church.
    • East, with capital at Constantinople, encompassed eastern Europe, Turkey, Syria and North Africa. (Byzantine Empire). The church of the east was called the Greek Orthodox Church which later spread to Russia.
  2. Byzantines acted as a bridge between Greco-Roman civilization and Arabs. Byzantine empire disappeared in the middle of 15th century when Constantinople fell to Turks.
  3. After the collapse of the western roman empire cities disappeared and trade declined (dark ages). A revival occurred around 10th century. 
  4. 12th to 14th century saw rapid progress and prosperity and a new outlook towards life. Universities were established and helped in the dissemination of knowledge and growth of new ideas. This eventually led to the Renaissance.
  1. Most powerful elements were the chiefs who dominated large tracts of land with military power and played an important part in government. King was in effect the most powerful feudal chief controlling chiefs by making them take oath of loyalty as vassals to the king. Tensions arose time and again between the king and vassals (fiefs). The government was thus dominated by landed aristocracy which was hereditary. Features of feudal system:
  • Landed aristocracy
  • Serfdom and Manor system
  • Military organization
  1. Serfs = peasants who had to compulsorily work on the land.

Manor = the house where the landlord lived. Serfs had to cultivate the lands surrounding the manor and give a part of the produce to the landlord. The landlord was tasked with dispensing justice and maintaining law and order. This system disappeared from Western Europe after 14th century.

  1. Cavalry gained popularity in warfare because of iron stirrup and a new harness which allowed the horse to pull twice the weight it pulled earlier. These inventions came to West from East Asia and were introduced in India from 10th century. As king was unable to manage the growing size, army was decentralized and the feudal lords got to the responsibility of the army. In most cases, fiefs collected taxes from the peasantry, gave a tribute to the king, maintained the army and used the rest for personal consumption.
  2. In India, local fiefs (Samantas) exercised similar powers, with the peasantry dependent upon them.
  3. Catholic Church took on political functions and moral authority shaping Cultural life in Europe. Many monastic orders and denominations were established from revenue obtained from tax free land grants by feudal chiefs and kings. Churches served the poor and needy, gave medical aid and shelter to travellers and served as centres for education and learning.


Islam united warring Arab tribes into a powerful empire. 

  • Prophet Muhammad (570-632 A.D)
  • He is the founder of Islam.
    • He grew up in the deserts of Arabia.
  • His first converts were the Arabs.
  • Sind and Multan were conquered by the Arabs by 712 A.D.
    • Abbasids came to power as Caliphs at Baghdad in middle of 8th century. Claimed to belong to same tribe as Prophet Muhammad. Most powerful empire for ~150 yrs. Controlled parts of North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Iran and Iraq and important trade routes connecting India and China with the Mediterranean. Region attained prosperity by levying taxes on trade and due to enterprising Arab merchants.
    • Arabs assimilated scientific knowledge and administrative skills of empires they had overrun. Many Chinese inventions like the compass, paper, printing, gun powder reached Europe from China through Arabs
    • Bait-ul-hikmat= house of wisdom – translating literature from various empires into Arabic. 
    • India did not enjoy close cultural contact with Arabs until Sindh was conquered in 8th century. Decimal system reached Arabs from India after this and was popularized by Al-Khwarizmi. Suryasiddhanta (Astronomy – Aryabhatta) and Charaksamhita, Sushrutsamhita were also translated.
  • Arab Invasion in India


Al-Hajjajj, the Governor of Iraq sent Muhammad-bin-Qasim to India

He conquered Sind with the permission of Caliph Walid

Battle of Reward

Fought between Muhammad-bin-Qasim and Dahir the ruler of Sind

Dahir was defeated. 

  • Sind and Multan was captured.

Muhammad-bin-Qasim called Multan as ‘The City of Gold’ 

Administrative System

Sind and Multan were divided into a number of Iqtas or districts by Muhammad-bin-Qasim and Arab military officers headed the Iqtas.

The sub-divisions of the districts were administered by the local Hindu Officers.

Jizya was imposed on non-Muslims. 

Muhammad bin Qasim’s Army

25,000 troops with 6000 Camels, 6000 Syrian horses, 3000 Bactrian Camels and an artillery force with 2000 men, advanced guards, and five catapults.

End of Muhammad-bin-Qasim

Caliph Walid was succeeded by Caliph Sulaiman.

He was an enemy of Al-Hajjaj, the Governor of Iraq.

Muhammad-bin Qasim was the son-in-law of Al-Hajjaj, so he dismissed him and sent to Mesopotamia as a prisoner where he was tortured to death. For more than 150 years, Sind and Multan continued to remain as the part of the Caliph’s Empire

Rani Bai’s heroic defense against Muhammad bin Qasim

The wife of Dahir and the other women of Sind put up a heroic defense within the Fort of Rewar.

  • Effects of Arab Conquest

The subjugation of Sind made way for Islam into India.

The art of administration, astronomy, music, painting, medicine and architecture were learnt by Arabs from our land and they spread astronomy, Indian Philosophy, and numerals to Europe.

  • Indian Impact
    • Brahma Siddhanta– a Sanskrit work of Brahma Gupta was translated into Arabic in which the names of Indian Scientists like Sindbad, Bhala, Manaka are mentioned.
    • In a hospital at Baghdad, Dhana was appointed as a chief Medical officer.
    • A serious disease of Caliph Harun-al-Rashid Manaka, a physician cured.

Europe stagnated due to rigid views of Catholic church. India also did not progress much. Arab science declined after 14th century due to growing orthodoxy and other political developments.

1. China: attained climax in 8th and 9th centuries under Tang dynasty. Exported countless goods to the West through Silk Route. Tangs were replaced by Sung dynasty in 10th century and then growing weakness led to the Mongol invasion in13th century. Mongols unified north and south china with help of highly disciplined and mobile cavalry. They also ruled over Vietnam and Korea for some time. Marco Polo spent some time at the court of famous Mongol ruler Kublai Khan. Visited Malabar on his way back to Italy by sea.

  1. Sailendra dynasty: Palembang (Sumatra), Java, Malay peninsula and parts of Thailand – Sanskrit and Buddhist centres of learning – Borobudur Temple (Buddha) = mountain carved into 9 terraces surmounted by a Stupa.
  2. Kambuja dynasty: Cambodia and Annam (South Vietnam) – group of temples near Angkor Thom = ~200 temples in 3.2 sq km area; largest = Angkor Vat – Temples contain statues of gods, goddesses& nymphs.

Temples in the above-mentioned locations had panels containing scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharat. These were also the inspiration for literature, folk dances, songs, puppets and statues. Temple building here coincided with temple building in India. Buddhism declined in India and flourished here. Buddha was brought into Hinduism later in India whereas Hindu Gods were brought under Buddhist fold in SE Asia. 

  1. Traders of various parts of the world visited SE Asia and led to mingling of different cultures. Religious tolerance existed and Indonesia and Malaya were converted to Islam only after its consolidation in India. Elsewhere, Buddhism continued to flourish. Commercial and cultural contacts were snapped only after the Britishers and Dutch came in the 17th century




The Medieval Indian History period lies between the 8th and the 18th century A.D. Ancient Indian history came to an end with the rule of Harsha and Pulakesin II. The medieval period can be divided into two stages:

  • Early medieval period: 8th – 12th century A.D.
  • Later Medieval period: 12th-18th century.
    • The Tripartite Struggle for Kanauj was between the Pratiharas of Central India, the Palas of Bengal and the Rashtrakutas of Deccan.
  • As all these three dynasties wanted to establish their supremacy over Kanauj and the fertile Gangetic Valley.
  • The Tripartite Struggle lasted for 200 years and weakened all of them which enabled the Turks to overthrow them.
  • Gopala (765-769 A.D.)
      • Founder of Pala Dynasty and he also restored order.
      • Ruled over Northern and Eastern India.
      • He expanded the Pala dynasty and extended his power over Magadha.
  • Dharmapala (769-815 A.D.)
      • He is the son of Gopala and succeeded his father.
      • He brought Bengal, Bihar, and Kanauj under his control.
      • He defeated the Pratiharas and became the master of Northern India.
      • He was a steadfast Buddhist and founded the famous Vikramasila University atop a hill near Ganga in Magadh and several monasteries.
      • He also restored the Nalanda University and set aside 200 villages for its expenses.
      • had close cultural relations with Tibet and with the Sailendra dynasty.
  • Devapala (815-855 A.D.)
      • Devapala is the son of Dharmapala who succeeded his father.
      • He kept the Pala territories intact.
      • He captured Assam 
  • Orissa.
  • Mahipala (998-1038 A.D.)
    • The Palas became powerful during his reign.
    • The Pala dynasty declined after the death of Mahipala.
  • Govinda Pala: He is the last Pala King.
PRATIHARAS (MEDIEVAL INDIAN HISTORY) The Pratiharas were also called as Gurjara. They ruled between 8th and 11th century A.D. over northern and western India

Pratiharas: A fortification- The Pratiharas stood as a fortification of India’s defense against the hostility of the Muslims from the days of Junaid of Sind (725.A.D.) to Mahmud of Ghazni.


  • Nagabhatta I (725-740 A.D.)

Founder of the Pratihara dynasty with Kanauj as it’s capital.

  • Vatsaraja and Nagabhatta II

Played a vital role in merging the empire.

  • Mihirabhoja
      • The most powerful Pratihara king.
  • During his period, the empire expanded from Kashmir to Narmada and from Kathiawar to Bihar.
      • Was a devotee of Vishnu and took the title “Adivaraha”.
  • Mahendrapala (885-908 A.D.)
      • Son of Mihirabhoja was also a powerful ruler.
      • He extended his control over Magadha and North Bengal.
  • The decline of the Pratiharas
      • Rajyapala was the last Pratihara king.
      • Vast empire was reduced to Kanauj.
      • The Pratihara power began to decline after Mahmud of Ghazni attacked the kingdom in 1018 A.D.
  • After the decline of the Prathiharas their feudatories Palas, Tomars, Chauhans, Rathors, Chandellas.
    • Guhilas and Paramaras became independent rulers.
    • There was complete anarchism in Bengal between 750-760 A.D.
  • Pratiharas were patrons of learning – Great poet Rajashekhar lived at court of Mahipala, Bhoja’s grandson. Al-Masudi visited Gujarat from Baghdad in 915 and tells about Pratihara kingdom.
    • Dantidurga: Founded the kingdom with capital at Malkhed (near Solapur). Dominated northern Maharashtra.
    • Govinda III annexed Kanauj, Malwa and turned South and defeated Lankan rulers. 
    • Amoghvarsha: the preferred pursuit of literature and religion than that of war. Wrote first Kannada book on poetics. Faced many rebellions in far-flung areas of the empire. Empire weakened hereafter.
    • Indra III: amoghvarsha’s grandson (915-927) re-established it. He was the most powerful ruler after the death of Mahipala and sacking of Kanauj.
    • Balhara or Vallabhraja: Al-Masudi says he was the greatest king of India and most Indian rulers accepted his suzerainty.
  • Krishna III (934-963) was the last ruler.
  • Rashtrakutas patronized Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Jainism. Rock-cut Shiva temple at Ellora = Rashtrakuta king Krishna I. They were great patrons of arts and literature. Great apabhramsha poet Svayambhu resided at Rashtrakuta court.
    • Palas warred with Pratiharas for control over Banaras to South Bihar. Dharampal was defeated by Rashtrakuta Dhruva and failed to consolidate power over Kanauj. 
    • Pratiharas was revived under Nagabhatta II. Dharampal fell back and was killed. 
    • Devapala diverted energies towards east and conquered parts of Assam, Orissa and Nepal. Palas were restricted to east India more often than not.
    • Earlier pratihara rulers failed to control upper ganga valley and Malwa due to Rashtrakutas, who defeated Pratiharas twice and later retreated to Deccan.
  • Bhoja revived the pratiharas empire, recovered Kanauj in 836 and made it the capital for a century. Went east but stopped by Devapala, went South for Malwa and Gujarat but stopped by Rashtrakutas. Finally turned west and conquered till east bank of Sutlej. Had the best cavalry with horses imported from central asia. Spread empire to east after death of Devapala. 
  • Rashtrakuta king Indra III attacked Kanauj between 915 and 918 and weakened Pratiharas. Gujarat also passed in Rashtrakuta hands. Loss of coast led to decline in revenues from sea trade and led to dissolution of the pratiharas empire. Later rashtrakutas Fought constantly with eastern Chalukyas of Vengi, Pallavas of Kanchi and Pandyas of Madurai.
  • Krishna III(last rashtrakuta) Fought eastern chalukyas of Vengi and annexed northern part of Chola empire, built a temple at Rameswaram. All opponents united after his death and Malkhed was sacked and burnt in 972.

The administrative system was based on Gupta empire, Harsha’s kingdom in the north and Chalukyas in the Deccan.

  • King = head administrator and commander-in-chief of armed forces. Usually the eldest son succeeded, younger sons were made provincial governors, brothers fought to gain throne. Princesses were rarely appointed, but Chandrobalabbe, Amoghvarsha I’s daughter, administered Raichur doab for some time.
  • Kings were aided by ministers, who were also hereditary. There were ministers for foreign affairs, revenue, treasurer, armed forces chief, chief justice and purohit. More than one post could be combined. There were also officials of the household (antahpur).
  • Court was a centre of dispensing justice, policy making and cultural events. King’s position was hereditary. Wars were frequent.
  • Bearing arms for self-protection was the right of an individual, according to writer Medhatithi.
  • Territories were: 1. Directly administered and 2. Ruled by vassals.
  • Bhukti (province) under Uparika (governor)
  • Mandala / Visaya (district) under Visayapati (head)
  • Pattala (unit for the realization of land revenue and law and order)

Bhukti > Visaya > Pattala

  • Rashtra (province) under Rashtrapati
  • Visaya (dist) under Visayapati
  • Bhukti (unit for realization of land revenue and law and order) 

      Rashtra > Visaya > Bhukti.

VILLAGE was placed below these administrative units. Its administration was carried out by village headman whose posts were hereditary. They were paid by rent-free land grants.

Headman was helped by village elders = gram-mahajan OR gram-Mahattara. 

Law and order responsibility = koshta-pala = kotwal

Hereditary revenue officers in Deccan = nad-gavundas or desa-gramakutas. 

State was essentially secular. Kings were worshippers of Shiva, Vishnu, Jainism and Buddhism but they never persecuted non-followers and patronized all religions equally. 


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