Short Essay on the Measures against Nobility followed by Ala-ud-Din Khilji?

Ala-ud-Din believed in the establishment of a strong government at the centre. That was not possible if certain elements in the country continued to revolt. It is true that Ala-ud-Din had successfully crushed the rebellions of Akat Khan, the revolt of the sons of the sister of the Sultan, Amir Umar and Mangu Khan, in Badaun and Avadh, the conspiracy of Haji Maula and the plots of the New Mussalmans, but all this made Ala-ud-Din analyse the causes of those rebellions.

His conclusion was that those rebellions were due to the inefficiency of the spy system, the general practice of using wine, social intercourse among nobles and intermarriages between them and the excess of wealth in the hands of a few persons “which engenders evil and strife and brings forth pride and disloyalty.”

In order to avoid the evils mentioned above, Ala-ud-Din issued four important Ordinances. The First Ordinance aimed at the confiscation of the religious endowments and free grants of land. Zia-ud-Din Barani tells us that “the Sultan ordered that wherever there was a village held by proprietary right (milk) in free gift (in’am), or as a religious endowment (wakf), it should by one stroke of the pen be brought under the exchequer. The people were pressed and amerced and money was exacted from them on every kind of pretext.

Many were left without any money, till at length it came to pass that excepting Maliks and Amirs, officials, Multanis, (i.e., large traders from Multan) and bankers, no one possessed even a trifle in cash.

So rigorous was the confiscation that, beyond a few thousand tankas, all the pensions, grants in land, and endowments in the country were appropriated. The people were all so absorbed in obtaining the means of living that tfie very name of rebellion was never mentioned.”

By the Second Ordinance, Ala-ud-Din re-orgainsed the spy system. An army of informers was created and their duty was to spy on all that happened in the Empire and submit reports to the Sultan. Spies were required to work in the army.

Spies were appointed in the markets. Spies were appointed in the Provinces. Spies were required not to delay the sending of any report for more than 24 hours. The spy system of Ala-ud-Din was so very efficient that they “often in their zeal to win royal favour carried the silly gossip of the bazar to the ears of the Emperor.”

The Third Ordinance prohibited the use of wine. In order to set an example. Ala-ud-Din himself brought all the jars and casks of wine from his palace and got them emptied at the Badaun Gate. So much of wine was emptied that mud and mire were produced as in the rainy season.

The prohibition scheme was not a success. People began to distil wine in private houses. Smuggling became common. The result was that certain concessions were made by the Sultan. The prohibition was restricted merely to its public use and convivial gatherings. Nobles were allowed to drink individually in their houses.

The Fourth Ordinance issued by Ala-ud-Din laid down that nobles should not have social gatherings and they should not intermarry without his permission. No dinners and parties could be given by the nobles without the prior sanction of the Sultan. Gambling even for recreation was prohibited. Dr. Ishwari Prasad rightly points out that “the amenities of social life disappeared and life became an intolerable burden.”