History Optional Paper- 1 Solution – 1995: Q.6 (b)
Q. 6 (b) Write a short essay on: “Balban’s theory of kingship”
Balban’s theory of kingship was based on Prestige, Power and Justice of king (sultan). Balban sought to increase the prestige and power of the monarchy, and to centralise all authority in the hands of the sultan because he was convinced that this was the only way to face the internal and external dangers facing him. At the same time, he also focused on justice to everyone.
Main principles of Balban’s theory of Kingship were the following:
1. Sultan as a representative of God on earth
Balban followed the Iranian theory of kingship, according which, the king was divine in character, and answerable only to God, not to any set of intermediaries, i.e. religious figures. Hence, Balban believed in divine right of Sultan as he was representative of God. He believed that those who revolt against him are sinner before God.
2. King as a despot
He believed that Sultan was fountainhead of power. His word was the law. He said to his son Bughra Khan that “Kingship is the embodiment of despotism”.
3. Nobility and Royal descent
Balban believed that persons born in low and ignoble families should not become nobles. He also believed that nobles are in no way equal to sultan but are dependent on the sultan’s favour.
Balban realized that people at that time believed that it was only the prerogative of the ancient royal families to rule and exercise power, he therefore claimed to be a descendent of the Iranian hero, Afraisyab.
4. Dignity of the Sultan
According to his theory of kingship, the sultan should maintain dignity of his position. In order to enhance the dignity of the throne, he maintained a splendid court in which all the nobles had to stand in serried ranks, strict order being maintained by the Mir Hajib. The Court was richly decorated. People came from far away places to see Balban’s public processions. Balban himself maintained the utmost dignity in the Court. He would neither laugh out aloud himself nor allow anyone else to do so. He gave up drinking in his assemblies.
Balban tempered his despotism by laying great emphasis on justice. According to historian Barani, his justice won the favour of his subjects and made them zealous supporters of his throne. In the administration of justice, he was inflexible, showing no favour to his brethren or children, or to his associates or attendants.