The previous article ended with the Paramara Dynasty which was a part of Classical age. This article will continue focussing on the Medieval Military history of India.
Turks (Turkish Invasion)
The Turks invaded India from the time of Mahmud of Ghazni with the help of their better equipment, leaders and horses. The Turks were predominantly archers on horse or camel and spearmen. They had camels which were quick and did not require fodder and survived in extreme temperatures.
Image Source : Google (Turkoman Horse)
The Turkoman tribes had horses which were one of the best horses in central Asia. According to the Cambridge Medieval History Volume 1, the Turkoman horse was superior to other breeds in terms of speed, intelligence and endurance and suitable for invasions and travelling long distances.
The Turkish invaders had composite bows which were made out of wood, animal horns and sinew and tied using animal glue.
The Mongols carried the Central Asian traditions of fighting battles with cavalry and movable infantry. The Rajput army had elephants and a large number of infantry. The Rajputs fought and resisted the Turkish invasions till the mid 13th century. They were then defeated by the Turks and the Turks then began ruling India. The army later was reorganized by adding both Rajput traditions and the Central Asian traditions. The Diwan-i-Arz or the military department was assigned this task of organizing the army. The Delhi army consisted of soldiers from different social backgrounds and they were trained to be quick and as fit as possible. This helped them fight off Mongol invasions
Image Source : Google
There were war tactics and strategies in place to surprise enemies and target their weaknesses which will not be focussed on as the focus here is on the weapons. The older weapons like Indian bows and arrows were used to attack from a distance and close contact war weapons like Indian swords, lance, mace, daggers were used. Lance is made of wood and the weapon is placed at the end. It is a weapon used by cavalry. Mace is a weapon with a lighter handle to hold the weapon and a heavier end to hit the enemy on the head. The dagger is a knife used to stab enemies. They used a jacket covered with metal rings or plates, steel helmets as armours for protection. The Turks used armour which was made using iron and steel.
Apart from these weapons, a slingshot or sling was used to throw stones, iron disks with sharp edges were thrown at enemies. A spiked ball was also used and it was made out of iron and wood. A lasso or rope was also used to make enemies fall.
The Delhi Sultanate armies also had siege capabilities.They used Manjaniq which is a Turkish Trebuchet. The Trebuchet is basically a catapult with a long arm used to throw projectiles. It was a very powerful weapon and was used till gunpowder was introduced. The heavy manjaniq required several soldiers to operate it and smaller manjaniq required lesser soldiers. They also had a huge mechanical structure with pulleys which was similar to a crossbow known as Charkh to fire heavy arrows and javelins.
The Vijayanagara Empire controlled South India and they had a strong army and naval forces. Some of their foot soldiers had a weapon called matchlock which is basically a mechanical firearm that could be held by hand. This was one of the earliest versions of a gun using a trigger mechanism. Apart from this they used the older weapons like javelins, axes, Turkish bows and swords.
In this article we trace the history of the turkish and the mughal invasion across the country. Significant changes in the cultural and military tradition took place in this era. With both Rajput and central asian traditions in the armed forces, began a journey of indefinite conquests.