chapter  Chapter 6
14 Pages

Medieval India

ByRhoads Murphey, Kristin Stapleton

This chapter presents developments in India after the fall of the Gupta Empire and the death of Harsha in 648 c.e., the coming of Islam, the Delhi sultanate and its successors, and the separate kingdoms of south India. The stronger rulers of the Delhi sultanate continued to make raids and plundering expeditions into the mountain-protected Deccan, south of the Ganges Plain of Hindustan, but they never won a permanent position there or elsewhere in the south. The Delhi sultans defied Islamic law by charging more than the one-fifth land tax authorized to Muslim states and also allowed interest charges by moneylenders. The chief cities of medieval India, as of Europe, were mainly religious centers, grouped around a complex of temples supported by profits from trade, farming, and artisan production. Trade flourished, particularly with Southeast Asia; wealthy merchants patronized temple complexes and the arts in the rich urban culture of medieval India, and great literature continued to be produced.