The rulers of the Vijayanagara empire maintained the well-functioning administrative methods developed by their predecessors, to govern their territories and made changes when necessary. The king was the ultimate authority, assisted by ministers headed by the prime minister. At lower administrative levels, wealthy feudal lords supervised accountants and guards. The palace also had 72 departments with several female attendants.
The empire was divided into five provinces, each under a commander and headed by a governor. Hereditary families ruled their respective territories and paid tribute to the empire while some areas, came under direct supervision of a commander.
On the battlefields, the king's commanders led the troops. The empire's strategy rarely involved massive invasions; more often it employed small scale methods such as attacking and destroying individual forts. King Krishnadevaraya's personal army consisted of 100,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalrymen and over 900 elephants. The army recruited from all classes of society and consisted of archers and musketeers.
The capital city was completely dependent on the water supply systems constructed to channel and store water, ensure a consistent supply throughout the year. Large tanks in the capital city were constructed with royal patronage while smaller tanks were funded by wealthy individuals to get social and religious credit.