Mughal Empire

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The Mughal Empire during the reign of Aurangzeb c.1700
The Mughal Empire during the reign of Aurangzeb c.1700.

Mughal Empire

The Mughal Empire (Persian: شاهان مغول‎, Shāhān-e Moġul; Urdu: مغلیہ سلطنت‎, Mug̱ẖliyah Salṭanat), self-designated as Gurkani (Persian: گُورکانِیان‎, Gūrkāniyān), was an empire extending over large parts of the Indian subcontinent and ruled by a dynasty of Chagatai-Turkic origin.
In the early 16th century North India, which was then predominantly Muslim rulers, fell on the superior mobility and fire power of the Mughals. The resulting Mughal empire did not trigger the local societies that brought it to power, but was balanced and satisfied by new administrative practices and various and integrative governmental organizations that led to a more systematic, centralized and more uniform rule. The Mogulschen, especially under Akbar the tribal band and the Islamic identity, especially under Akbar, united their widespread empires by fidelity expressed by a Persian culture to an emperor who had almost divine status.The economic policy of the Mogul state, which gave the most income from agriculture and paid taxes in the well-regulated silver currency, allowed farmers and artisans to open up larger markets. The relative peace sustained by the empire during much of the seventeenth century was a factor in the economic expansion of India, which led to a greater patronage of painting, literary forms, textiles, and architecture. New coherent social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, the Rajputs, and the Sikhs, gained military and ambitious goals during the Mughal rule, which gave them recognition and military experience through co-operation or restlessness. The spread of trade during the Mughal rule led to new Indian trade and political elites on the coasts of South and East India. When the empire dissolved, many of these elites were able to seek and control their own affairs.

A portrait of Babur from an early  illustrated manuscript of the Baburnama

A portrait of Babur from an early 

illustrated manuscript of the Baburnama

The beginning of the empire is usually dated in the first battle of Panipat (1526) to the founder Babur victory over Ibrahim Lodi. It reached its peak level under Aurangzeb and sank quickly after his death (1707) under a series of ineffective rulers. The collapse of the empire followed heavily through the smaller army of the Maratha Empire added losses in the Deccan wars which encouraged the Nawabs of Bengal, Bhopal, Oudh, Carnatic, Rampur, Nizam of Hyderabad and the Shah of Afghanistan to declare their independence from that Moguln. After the third Anglo-Maratha war in 1818, the Emperor became a retiree of the Raj, and the empire, now confining his power to Delhi, remained until 1857 when it was effectively dissolved after the fall of Delhi during the Indian rebellion, That same year.
The Mogulkais were Central Asian Turko-Mongols from today's Uzbekistan who demanded direct descent from both Genghis Khan (through his son Chagatai Khan) and Timur. At the height of their power in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, they controlled a large part of the Indian subcontinent, extending from Bengal in the east to Kabul & Sindh in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri Basin in the south. Its population at this time was estimated to be between 110 and 150 million, over an area of more than 3.2 million square kilometers (1.2 million square miles).
The "classical period" of the empire began in 1556 with the rise from Akbar the Great to the throne. Under the rule of Akbar and his son Jahangir, India enjoyed both economic progress and religious harmony, and the monarchs were interested in local religious and cultural traditions. Akbar was a successful warrior; His reign also brought Persian cultural influence to its zenith in India, and the resulting Indian-Persian synthesis surpassed the Mughals. He also created alliances with several Hindu-Rajput kingdoms. Some Rajput kings continued to make a major threat to the Mughal predominance of Northwest India, but they were subjected by Akbar. Most Mogulkais were Muslims. However, Akbar in the latter part of his life, and Jahangir, were followers of a new religion called Deen-i-Ilahi, as recorded in historical books such as Ain-e-Akbari & Dabestan-e Mazaheb.
The reign of Shah Jahan, the fifth emperor, was the golden age of Mughal architecture. He built several great monuments, the most famous of which is the Taj Mahal in Agra as well as the Moti Masjid, Agra, Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Delhi and Fort Lahore. The Mughal reached the zenith of its territorial expansion during the reign of Aurangzeb and also began its final decline in its reign by Maratha's military resurrection under Shivaji Bhosale. During his life, victories in the South expanded the Mughal empire to more than 1.25 million square miles, which ruled over 150 million people, nearly one-fourth of the world's population with a combined GDP of over 90 billion dollars.
Around the middle of the 18th century, the Marathas had moved Moghul armies and won several Mogul provinces from the Dean to Bengal, and the inner dissatisfaction arose due to the weakness of the administrative and economic systems of the Mughal empire, which led to the declaration of independence from The Nawabs of Bengal, Bhopal, Oudh, Carnatic, Rampur, the Nizam of Hyderabad and Shah of Afghanistan. In 1739 the Mughals were defeated in the Battle of Karnal by the forces of Nader Shah. The Mogulmacht was strictly limited and the last Emperor Bahadur Shah II had only the city of Shahjahanabad. He gave a firman, which supported the Indian rebellion of 1857 and was therefore taken over by the British for betrayal, arrest, exile to Rangoon and the last remnants of the Empire by the British Raj.

Shahjahan on globe mid-17th century
Shahjahan on globe mid-17th century

Early history
The name Mughal comes from the original homelands of the Timurids, the Central Asian steppes, which were once conquered by Genghis Khan and are therefore known as Moghulistan, "land of the Mongols". Although early Mughals spoke the Chagatai language and maintained some Turko-Mongol practices, they were essentially Persianized and surrendered Persian literature and high culture to India, forming the basis for Indo-Persian culture and the spread of Islam in South Asia .
Zahir ud-din Muhammad Babur purchased Kabulistan in 1504 and decided to recapture the areas in Hindustan, which were once held by Turks. He began his exploratory raids in September 1519, when he visited the Indo-Afghan borders to suppress the uprising of the Yusufzai tribes. He undertook similar similar raids until 1524 and had established his base camp in Peshawar. Finally, in 1526, in his fifth attempt, Babur defeated the last of the Delhi Sultans, Ibrahim Shah Lodi, at the first battle of Panipat. To secure his newly established kingdom, Babur had to face the mighty Indian King Rana Sanga of Chittor in the Battle of Khanwa. Rana Sanga offered stiff resistance, but was defeated.
Babur son Humayun followed him in 1530, but suffered reversals in the hands of Pashtun Sher Shah Suri and lost most of the young kingdom before it could grow beyond a small regional state. Humayun crossed the rough terrain of the Makran with his wife until her son Akbar was born in the fortress Umarkot in Sind. From 1540, Humayun became ruler in exile and reached the court of Safavid rule in 1554, while his power still controlled some fortresses and small regions. During the 1553-1556, the Hindu King, Hemu Vikramaditya came to the throne of Delhi, defeating forces of the Mughal emperor Akbar in Agra and Delhi. After the battle of Sirhind, where Sikandar Sur was beaten, Humayun was able to regain his throne, but could not rule him long, as in January 1556, he died by hatching from the famous building Din Panah. However, the Mughals regain their rule after Akbar's army defeated Hemu during the Second Battle of Panipat.
Akbar followed his father on February 14, 1556. He was known as Akbar, because he was a wise ruler and established high but fair taxes. He was more comprehensive in his approach to the non-Muslim themes of the empire. He examined production in a given area and taxed one fifth of its agricultural products. He also set up an efficient bureaucracy and was tolerant of religious differences that soften the resistance of the locals. He made alliances with Rajputs and appointed native generals and administrators. Later he developed his own, tolerance-based, syncretistic philosophy.
Jahangir, son of the Emperor Akbar, ruled the kingdom from 1605-1627. In October 1627 Shah Jahan, son of the Emperor Jahangir, succeeded to the throne, where he inherited a large and rich empire. In the middle of the century this was perhaps the largest empire in the world. Shah Jahan commissioned the famous Taj Mahal (1630-1653) in Agra, which was born by the Persian architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri as a tomb for the wife of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal, who died the birth of her 14th child. At the end of the 17th century, the empire, led by Aurangzeb Alamgir, reached its climax when most of today's India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and most of Afghanistan included parts of today's Tajikistan and Nepal.

Mir Sayyid Ali writing a commentary on

Mir Sayyid Ali writing a commentary on

the Quran during the reign of the Mughal

Emperor Shah Jahan

Mughal dynasty
The Mughal empire was the dominant force on the Indian subcontinent between the middle of the 16th century and the beginning of the 18th century. Founded in 1526, it officially survived until 1857, when it was ousted by the British Raj. The dynasty is sometimes referred to as the Timurid dynasty, as Babur descended from Timur.
The Mogul Dynasty was founded when Babur, hailing from Fergana (Modern Uzbekistan), attacked parts of North India and defeated Ibrahim Shah Lodhi, the ruler of Delhi, in the first battle of Panipat in 1526. The Mughal empire replaced the Sultanate of Delhi as ruler From North India. Over the course of time, the state thus crossed by the Babur established far beyond the borders of the Sultanate of Delhi, eventually encompassing a large portion of India and deserving the designation of the Empire. A brief interregnum (1540-1555) during the reign of Babur's son Humayun, saw the rise of the Afghan Suri Dynasty under Sher Shah Suri, a competent and efficient ruler in his own right. Sher Shah's early death, however, and the military inability of his successor Humayun to activate his throne, however, in 1555 again regained, Humayun died a few months later, and was by his son, the 13-year-old Akbar the Great.
Most of the Mogul expansion was achieved during the rule of Akbar (1556-1605). The empire, as the dominant force of the present Indian subcontinent, was maintained for a hundred years by its successors Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb. The first six emperors, who enjoyed power both de jure and de facto, were usually designated by a name, a title accepted by each emperor after his accession. The corresponding title is printed in bold in the following list.
Akbar the Great initiated certain important politics, such as religious liberalism (abolition of the jizya tax), inclusion of the natives in the affairs of the empire, and political alliance / marriage with the Indian rulers of North India, who were innovative to his milieu; He also took some policies of Sher Shah Suri, like the division of the empire in sarkar raj, in his administration of the empire. This policy, which undoubtedly served to maintain the power and stability of the empire, was preserved by its two immediate successors, but rejected by Emperor Aurangzeb, who spread almost his entire career, which extended his empire beyond the Urdu belt into the Deccan and South India, and in Assam in the east; This venture provoked opposition from the Marathas, Sikhs, Jats, and Ahoms.

The most important external force that contributed to the destruction of the Moghul empire was the Hindu-Maratha empire. Chatrapati Shivaji declared "Hindu Swarajya" (independence for Hindus) and raised an army that could trigger the larger Mogul armies. Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav, one by one, eliminated most Mughal generals. Mountstart Elphinstone call this time a demolition period for "Mussalmans" with many of them losing spirit fighting against the Maratha army. Aurangzeb lead Mughals in the war of 27 years with Marathas, in which Mughal defeat suffered with heavy losses. In 1706, just a few months before Aurangzeb's death, his son Prince Bakht was transferred from Maratha General Dhanaji to Gujarat. Defeats of the imperial army brought shame to the throne, and his helplessness was evident after Aurangzeb's death. Maratha Prime Minister Peshwa made deep cuts that ravaged Mughal outposts in much of the Indian subcontinent in the following years. After the death of Aurangzeb, Shivaji's grandson Shahu was released from the Mughals who brought peace between the Marathas and the Mughals. But the Marathas continued to expand their empire. Peshwa Vishwanath Balaji Rao devastated Mughal Deccan territory and forced the Mughal emperor to make "Chatrapati Shahu" the Viceroy of Deccan. It was, however, Vishwanath's son Baji Rao I credited with the overthrowing Mughal control of Deccan to Punjab and Bengal to Sindh; Sir Jadunath Sarka calls him the "Second Shivaji".Taking Peshwa's post at the age of 19, he began to penetrate northern Mughal fortresses. In 1728, he defeated Nizam in the Battle of Palkhed, and in 1729, defeated Muhammad Khan Bangash at Bundelakhand. None of the Muslim generals could stop him, and in 1735 he had annexed Rajasthan and Bundelkhand. In 1737, he invaded and plundered Delhi himself. Under Amir Khan Umrao Al Udat he sent 8,000 soldiers to expel the 5,000 Maratha cavalry soldiers. Baji Rao, however slightly routed the beginner Mughal General and the rest of the Imperial Mogul army fled. In 1737, in the final defeat of the Mughal empire, the chief commander of the Moghul army, Nizam-ul-mulk, was headed by the Maratha army in Bhopal. This has put an end to the Mughal empire. The last blow came from Nadir Shah in 1739.

Red Fort Agra-India Mughal Art
Red Fort Agra-India Mughal Art

For the next century the Mogulkaiser had authority only over Delhi. In 1857 Emperor Bahadur Shah-II a mystic who led a Renaissance poetry-supported the Indian rebellion of 1857. He was overthrown by the British, his sons were killed, and the last rest of the Mughal empire was absorbed in the British Raj.

Historians have offered numerous explanations for the rapid collapse of the Mughal empire between 1690 and 1720 after a century of growth and prosperity. From a fiscal point of view, the throne lost the revenue it needed to pay its main officers, the emirates, and their entourage. The Emperor lost his authority, as the widely dispersed imperial officers had lost confidence in the central authorities, and had made their own business with the natives. The warlike army, sank in long, futile wars against the more aggressive Marathas, lost its fighting spirit. Finally, a series of violent political feuds came about the control of the throne. After the completion of the Emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1719 local Mughal successor states gained power in the region after the region.
Contemporary chroniclers bewailed the decay they witnessed, a theme picked up by the first British historians who wanted to underscore the need for a British-led rejuvenation.
Since the 1970s, historians have taken several approaches to the decline, with little consensus on what factor prevailed. The psychological interpretations emphasize corruption in high places, excessive luxury, and increasingly narrow views that left the rulers unprepared for an external challenge. A Marxist school (led by Irfan Habib and Aligarh Muslim University) underscores the over-exploitation of the peasantry by the rich who are stripping away the will and means of supporting the regime. Karen Leonard focused on the failure of the regime to work with Hindu bankers, whose financial support was increasingly needed; The bankers then helped the Maratha and the British. In a religious interpretation, some scholars argue that the Hindu Rajputs rebelled against Muslim rule. Finally, other scholars argue that the prosperity of the empire inspired the provinces to achieve a high degree of independence, thus weakening the imperial court.

List of Mughal emperors



Reign Period




Feb 23, 1483


Dec 26, 1530

Was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan through Timur and was the founder of the Mughal Empire after his victories at the Battle of Panipat (1526) ad the Battle of Khanwa.


Mar 6, 1508


Jan 1556

Reign interrupted by Suri Dynasty. Youth and inexperience at ascension led to his being regarded as a less effective ruler than usurper, Sher Shah Suri.

Sher Shah Suri



May 1545

Deposed Humayun and led the Suri Dynasty.

Islam Shah Suri




2nd and last ruler of the Suri Dynasty, claims of sons Sikandar and Adil Shah were eliminated by Humayun's restoration.


Mar 6, 1508


Jan 1556

Restored rule was more unified and effective than initial reign of 1530–1540; left unified empire for his son, Akbar.


Nov 14, 1542


Oct 27, 1605

He and Bairam Khan defeated Hemu during the Second Battle of Panipat and later won famous victories during the Siege of Chittorgarh and the Siege of Ranthambore; He greatly expanded the Empire and is regarded as the most illustrious ruler of the Mughal Empire as he set up the empire's various institutions; he married Mariam-uz-Zamani, a Rajput princess. One of his most famous construction marvels was the Lahore Fort.


Oct 1569



Jahangir set the precedent for sons rebelling against their emperor fathers. Opened first relations with the British East India Company. Reportedly was an alcoholic, and his wife Empress Noor Jahan became the real power behind the throne and competently ruled in his place.

Shah Jahan

Jan 5, 1592



Under him, Mughal art and architecture reached their zenith; constructed the Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Jahangir mausoleum, and Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. Deposed by his son Aurangzeb.


Oct 21, 1618


Mar 3, 1707

He reinterpreted Islamic law and presented the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri; he captured the diamond mines of the Sultanate of Golconda; he spent the major part of his last 27 years in the war with the Maratha rebels; at its zenith, his conquests expanded the empire to its greatest extent; the over-stretched empire was controlled by Mansabdars, and faced challenges after his death. He is known to have transcribed copies of the Qur'an using his own styles of calligraphy. he died during a campaign against the ravaging Marathas in the Deccan.

Bahadur Shah I

Oct 14, 1643


Feb 1712

First of the Mughal emperors to preside over an empire ravaged by uncontrollable revolts. After his reign, the empire went into steady decline due to the lack of leadership qualities among his immediate successors.

Jahandar Shah



Feb 1713

Was an unpopular incompetent titular figurehead;





His reign marked the ascendancy of the manipulative Syed Brothers, execution of the rebellious Banda In 1717 he granted a Firman to the English East India Company granting them duty free trading rights for Bengal, the Firman was repudiated by the notable Murshid Quli Khan.

Rafi Ul-Darjat





Rafi Ud-Daulat










Muhammad Ibrahim





Muhammad Shah


1719–1720, 1720–1748


Got rid of the Syed Brothers. Countered the emergence of the renegade Marathas and lost large tracts of Deccan and Malwa in the process. Suffered the invasion of Nadir-Shah of Persia in 1739.[52]

Ahmad Shah Bahadur




His Grand Vizier Safdarjung was responsible for the Mughal Civil War, during which Mughal forces massacred by the Maratha during the Battle of Sikandarabad;

Alamgir II




The Mughal Empire had impulsively began to re-centralize after subjects anxiously sought his gratification, he was murdered according to the conspiracy of the unscrupulous Vizier Imad-ul-Mulk and his schismatic Maratha associate Sadashivrao Bhau;

Shah Jahan III


In 1759


Was ordained to the imperial throne by Sadashivrao Bhau who went on to loot the Mughal heartlands, he was generally regarded as an usurper and was overthrown after the Third Battle of Panipat by Prince Mirza Jawan Bakht.

Shah Alam II




Was nominated as the Mughal Emperor by Ahmad Shah Durrani after the Third Battle of Panipat. Defeat of the combined forces of Mughal, Nawab of Oudh & Nawab of Bengal,Bihar at the hand of East India Company at the Battle of Buxar. Treaty of Allahabad. Hyder Ali becomes Nawab of Mysore in 1761. Ahmed-Shah-Abdali in 1761 defeated the Marathas during the Third Battle of Panipat; The fall of Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1799; He was the last Mughal Emperor to preside effective control over the empire.

Akbar Shah II




He designated Mir Fateh Ali Khan Talpur as the new Nawab of Sindh, Although he was under British protection his imperial name was removed from the official coinage after a brief dispute with the British East India Company;

Bahadur Shah II




The last Mughal emperor was deposed by the British and exiled to Burma following the Indian Rebellion of 1857. End of Mughal dynasty.


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