The dynasty was founded by Chandragupta I (reigned c.320–c.330), who married a princess of the Licchavi tribe and acquired the kingdom of Magadha . He expanded his domains to include all of Bihar and Jharkhand and some of Bengal. His brilliant son, Samudragupta (reigned c.330–c.380), conquered almost all of N India and much of the Deccan.
The third and greatest of the Guptas, Chandragupta II (reigned c.380–c.414), further expanded the kingdom to include Ujjain. His reign, vividly described in the writings of Fa Hsien, a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim, was marked by prosperity throughout the land. Embassies were sent to many foreign courts, among them Rome, and a single code of law was promulgated for India. In this period also, the splendid Iron Pillar was erected (c.400) near what is now New Delhi, and Kalidasa wrote his dramas.
Chandragupta II's successors were Kumaragupta (reigned c.414–455) and Skandagupta (reigned 455–c.467). The latter repelled the invasions of the White Huns , but after his death they overran much of N India. The dynasty lingered on in Bengal until c.550.
See J. F. Fleet, Inscriptions of the Early Gupta Kings and Their Successors (2d ed. 1963) S. K. Maity, The Imperial Guptas and their Times.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: South Asian History: Biographies
Browse by Subject
- Earth and the Environment +-
- History +-
- Literature and the Arts +-
- Medicine +-
- People +-
- Philosophy and Religion +-
- Places +-
- Australia and Oceania
- Britain, Ireland, France, and the Low Countries
- Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic Nations
- Germany, Scandinavia, and Central Europe
- Latin America and the Caribbean
- Oceans, Continents, and Polar Regions
- Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and the Balkans
- United States, Canada, and Greenland
- Plants and Animals +-
- Science and Technology +-
- Social Sciences and the Law +-
- Sports and Everyday Life +-