The medieval history is distinguished by a feudal system. In both Europe and Asia, a landed aristocracy came to dominate the government. The government officers were paid increasingly in terms of land revenue assignments. The beneficiary was responsible for cultivation, land revenue collection and supplying troops to the state in need. This de-centralized administrative structure is a hallmark of the entire medieval history worldwide. It was called serfdom in Europe, while various names given in India to describe it — Jagirdari, Samanatvadi, Zamindari system etc. All of them basically imply the existence of a landed aristocracy.
Many powerful empires arose in north India and the Deccan between 750-1000 AD. The Palas, the Pratiharas and the Rashtarkutas were the most prominent. The Rashtrakuta empire lasted the longest and was also the most powerful of its times.
The Pala empire was founded by Gopala in 750 AD and was succeeded by his son Dharampala in 770 AD who ruled till 810 AD. Dhrampala wa a powerful ruler and occupied Kannauj, where he held a grand durbar. Devpala, son of Dharmapal, who ascended the throne in 810 AD, extended his control over Prgayajyotishpur (Assam). Thus for about 100 years, the Palas dominated eastern India. The Palas were great patrons of Buddhism and Dhrampala had revived the defunct Nalanda University, which was world-famous as a centre of Mahayana learning. He also founded the Vikramshila University, considered next to Nalanda only. Many Buddhist ambassadors from Tibet were sent to the Pala court. The Palas maintained the biggest number of elephants in those days for military purposes.
The Pratihars gained prominence due to their resistance to Arab invasions. The real founder and the greatest ruler of the dynasty was Bhoja. Bhoja\'s efforts for expansion eastwards were checkmated by the Pala ruler, Devpala. The Pratihars had the best cavalry in India. Bhoja was a great devotee of Vishnu and had adopted the title of ‘Adivraha’. It was the same Bhoja whose name is immmortalized in many stories. Al-Masudi, an Iranian traveller, who visited them testifies to their great power and prestige. They were great patrons of art and learning. The great Sanskrit poet Rajashekhar, lived at their court. Between 915-918, Kannauj, the Pratihar capital was attacked by Indra III, the Rashtrakuta ruler. Another Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna III invaded north India in 963 AD and defeated the Pratihar ruler, thus leading to the rapid dissolution of the Pratihar empire.
The Rashratkutas were based in Deccan and produced remarkable warriors and rulers. The kingdom was founded by Dantidurga with capital at Manyakhet or Malkhed near modern Sholapur. They soon occupied the entire northern Maharashtra and came in conflict with the Pratihars for the dominance of Gujarat and Malwa. The Rashtrakutas also fought constantly with the eastern Chalukyas, the Pallavas of Kanchi and the Pandyas of Madurai.
Possibly, Gobinda III and Amoghvarsh were the greatest rulers of this house. Amoghvarsh, a great scholar, wrote the first Kannada book on poetics. However, the Rashtrakuta empire soon declined due to internal rebellions and was finally destroyed by their rivals in 972 AD.
The Rashtrskutas were very tolerant and allowed the Muslims to practice their faith despite the fact they were Hindus themselves.