Reign of Empress Razia: First and Last Woman Ruler of Medieval India

Reign of Empress Razia: First and Last Woman Ruler of Medieval India


Brief History:

  • Razia Sultan was the Sultanate of Delhi from 1236-40. She succeeded her father Iltutmish to become the Sultanate. Iltutmish was the first sultan to appoint a woman as his successor.
  • According to one source her brother Rukn ud din Firuz was appointed as the Sultan but he died prematurely. Another source however says Firoz was appointed as the Sultan as the Turkish nobility did not agree to the appointment of Raziya as the Sultan. Shortly after attaining throne her brother abandoned the kingdom thus making Raziya the Sultan.
  • Historian Minhaj-i-Siraj despite knowing that she was more able and qualified than all her brothers was still uncomfortable in her being the Sultan mainly due to the gender. Even all the nobles shared the same thought. According to Minhaj-i-Siraj Queen’s rule went against the social order of God in which women were supposed to be subordinate to men. Contrary to this there has been a record of a woman ruler Didda who ruled in Kashmir during 1000 and was affectionately called Didi by her subjects.


Key points during her rule:

  • According to her spirit of religion was more important and spoke against burdening of non muslims.
  • She remained devoted to the cause of empire and her subjects.
  • Razia established schools, academies, centers for research, and public libraries. Works in the sciences, philosophy, astronomy, and literature were reportedly studied in schools and colleges



  • Gender discrimination made her rule a huge challenge as people were constantly planning her removal from throne.
  • Her brother Bahram Shah usurped the throne. When Raziya and her husband Altunia tried to take it back through a war, they lost.Thus they left Delhi and reached Khaithal. They fell in the hands of Jats and were robbed and later killed.


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