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The late Imperial Guptas and the Hunas

Updated on September 28, 2015

skandagupta was the ruler of northern india


Huna people


Skandagupta, the last ruler


The successors of Skandagupta had to suffer repeated invasions of the Hunas

There was a struggle for succession after the death of Kumaragupta too, in which Skandagupta, one of his sons, emerged victorious. Skandagupta spent a lot of time and effort during his short fighting the invaders. He succeeded in repulsing them but that was not the end of the Huna menace.

The Huns or Huns were a nomadic tribe living on the borders of the Chinese empire. In the second century BC., they started moving westwards and settled in Central Asia for some time. By the middle of the fifth century, they had started attacking countries of western Asia and eastern Europe. One of their branches which moved to India came to be known as the Hunas in India literature.

The successors of Skandagupta had to suffer repeated invasions of the Hunas. By the end of the fifth century, they had succeeded in establishing an empire in the greater part of northern India. But, sometime after AD 530, Narasimha Gupta Baladitya defeated the Huna king Mihirakula and forced him to seek refuge in Kashmir.

However, the long lasting war against the Hunas has sapped the resources and strength of the Gupta dynasty. Provincial governors of the Guptas took advantage of their weakness and started rulings as independent kings in their territories. The feudal political structure of the Gupta empire was also a factor in the decline of their power. In a feudal political system the imperial sovereign instead of ruling the empire through his own officials, gives some of his powers to subordinate kings who are known as his feudatories or vassals. The vassals used to keep looking for opportunities to assert their independence whenever the imperial system showed sings of weakness. By the end of the fifth century AD., a large number of vassal kings too, like the provincial governors, had become independent rulers.

Post Gupta polities – Northern India

The rule of the imperial Guptas came to an end by about AD 550. it was followed by a struggle for supremacy among the numerous small states into which their empire had broken up. By the end of the sixth century, four kingdoms of northern India had emerged as more powerful than the others. These ete the kingdoms of – 1) The Vardhanas in the Haryana region with their capital at Thaneswar . 2) The Maukharis in the doab with thei capital at Kanauj. 3) The Later Guptas of Magadha or South Bihar who also ruled over parts of Madhya Pradesh and, 4. The kingdom of Gauda (north west Bengal) ruled by Shashanka. Apart from these four, there were smaller kingdoms in other parts of India.


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