The Mughal Emperors, from the early 16th century to the mid 19th century, built and ruled the Mughal Empire on the Indian subcontinent, mainly corresponding to the modern countries of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The Mughals were a branch of the Timurid dynasty of Turco-Mongol origin from Central Asia. Their power rapidly dwindled during the 18th century and the last emperor was deposed in 1857, with the establishment of the British Raj. Mughal emperors were of direct descent from Timur (generally known in western nations as Tamerlane), and also affiliated with Genghis Khan, because of Tamerlane’s marriage with a Genghisid princess.
|Shahanshāh of Hindustan|
Emblem of the Great Mughals
Last Mughal Emperor
Bahadur Shah II
|Style||His Imperial Majesty|
|Last monarch||Bahadur Shah Zafar|
|Formation||30 April 1526|
|Abolition||14 September 1857|
|Residence||Agra Fort (1526–1639)|
Red Fort (1639–1857)
|Pretender(s)||Javaid Jah Bahadur|
The Mughals also had significant Indian Rajput and Persian ancestry through marriage alliances, as emperors were born to Rajput and Persian princesses. Only the first two Mughal emperors, Babur and Humayun, were fully Central Asian (Turkic people), whereas Akbar was half-Persian (his mother was of Persian origin), Jahangir was half-Rajput and quarter-Persian, and Shah Jahan was three-quarters Rajput.
During Aurangzeb's Islamic sharia based government, the empire, as the world's largest economy, worth over 25% of world GDP, controlled all of the Indian subcontinent, extending from Chittagong in the east to Kabul and Baluchistan in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri River basin in the south. Its population at the time has been estimated as between 110 and 150 million (a quarter of the world's population), over a territory of more than 4 million square kilometres (1.2 million square miles). It was the largest empire that existed and was centralized around India.
The Mughal Empire (also referred to as Baburid Empire, Baburid Dynasty) was founded by Zahiriddin Muhammad Babur, a Timurid prince and ruler from Central Asia. Babur was a direct descendant to the Timurid Emperor Tamerlane on his father's side and also had links to Chagatai, the second son of the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan, on his mother’s side. Ousted from his ancestral domains in Turkistan by Sheybani Khan, the 14-year old Prince Babur turned to India to satisfy his ambitions. He established himself in Kabul and then pushed steadily southward into India from Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass. Babur's forces occupied much of northern India after his victory at Panipat in 1526. The preoccupation with wars and military campaigns, however, did not allow the new emperor to consolidate the gains he had made in India. The instability of the empire became evident under his son, Humayun, who was driven out of India and into Persia by rebels. Humayun's exile in Persia established diplomatic ties between the Safavid and Mughal Courts, and led to increasing West Asian cultural influence in the Mughal court. The restoration of Mughal rule began after Humayun’s triumphant return from Persia in 1555, but he died from an accident shortly afterwards. Humayun's son, Akbar, succeeded to the throne under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped consolidate the Mughal Empire in India.
Through warfare and diplomacy, Akbar was able to extend the empire in all directions, and controlled almost the entire Indian subcontinent north of the Godavari river. He created a new class of nobility loyal to him from the military aristocracy of India's social groups, implemented a modern government and supported cultural developments. At the same time Akbar intensified trade with European trading companies. The Indian historian Abraham Eraly wrote that foreigners were often impressed by the fabulous wealth of the Mughal court, but the glittering court hid darker realities, namely that about a quarter of the empire's gross national product was owned by 655 families while the bulk of India's 120 million people lived in appalling poverty. After suffering what appears to have been an epileptic seizure in 1578 while hunting tigers, which he regarded as a religious experience, Akbar grew disenchanted with Islam, and came to embrace a syncretistic mixture of Hinduism and Islam. Akbar allowed free expression of religion and attempted to resolve socio-political and cultural differences in his empire by establishing a new religion, Din-i-Ilahi, with strong characteristics of a ruler cult. He left his successors an internally stable state, which was in the midst of its golden age, but before long signs of political weakness would emerge.
Akbar's son, Jahangir, ruled the empire at its peak, but he was addicted to opium, neglected the affairs of the state, and came under the influence of rival court cliques. During the reign of Jahangir's son, Shah Jahan, the culture and splendour of the luxurious Mughal court reached its zenith as exemplified by the Taj Mahal. The maintenance of the court, at this time, began to cost more than the revenue.
Shah Jahan's eldest son, the liberal Dara Shikoh, became regent in 1658, as a result of his father's illness. However, a younger son, Aurangzeb, allied with the Islamic orthodoxy against his brother, who championed a syncretistic Hindu-Muslim religion and culture, and ascended to the throne. Aurangzeb defeated Dara in 1659 and had him executed. Although Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness, Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule and had him imprisoned.
During Aurangzeb's reign, the empire gained political strength once more, and it became the world's largest economy, over a quarter of the world GDP, but his establishment of Sharia caused huge controversies. Aurangzeb expanded the empire to include almost the whole of South Asia, but at his death in 1707, many parts of the empire were in open revolt. Aurangzeb's attempts to reconquer his family's ancestral lands in Central Asia were not successful while his successful conquest of the Deccan region proved to be a Pyrrhic victory that cost the empire heavily in both blood and treasure. A further problem for Aurangzeb was the army had always been based upon the land-owning aristocracy of northern India who provided the cavalry for the campaigns, and the empire had nothing equivalent to the Janissary corps of the Ottoman Empire. The long and costly conquest of the Deccan had badly dented the "aura of success" that surrounded Aurangzeb, and from the late 17th century onwards, the aristocracy become increasing unwilling to provide forces for the empire's wars as the prospect of being rewarded with land as a result of a successful war was seen as less and less likely. Furthermore, the fact that at the conclusion of the conquest of the Deccan, Aurangzeb had very selectively rewarded some of the noble families with confiscated land in the Deccan had left those aristocrats who received no confiscated land as reward and for whom the conquest of the Deccan had cost dearly, feeling strongly disgruntled and unwilling to participate in further campaigns. Aurangzeb's son, Shah Alam, repealed the religious policies of his father, and attempted to reform the administration. However, after his death in 1712, the Mughal dynasty sank into chaos and violent feuds. In the year 1719 alone, four emperors successively ascended the throne.
During the reign of Muhammad Shah, the empire began to break up, and vast tracts of central India passed from Mughal to Maratha hands. Mughal warfare had always been based upon heavy artillery for sieges, heavy cavalry for offensive operations and light cavalry for skirmishing and raids. To control a region, the Mughals had always sought to occupy a strategic fortress in some region, which would serve as a nodal point from which the Mughal army would emerge to take on any enemy that challenged the empire. This system was not only expensive, but also made the army somewhat inflexible as the assumption was always the enemy would retreat into a fortress to be besieged or would engage in a set-piece decisive battle of annihilation on open ground. The militantly Hindu Marathas were expert horsemen who refused to engage in set-piece battles, but rather engaged in campaigns of guerrilla warfare, a war of raids, ambushes and attacks upon the Mughal supply lines. The Marathas were unable to take the Mughal fortresses via storm or formal siege as they lacked the artillery, but by constantly intercepting supply columns, they were able to starve Mughal fortresses into submission. Successive Mughal commanders refused to adjust their tactics and develop an appropriate counter-insurgency strategy, which led to the Mughals losing more and more ground to the Maratha. The Indian campaign of Nader Shah of Persia culminated with the Sack of Delhi and shattered the remnants of Mughal power and prestige, as well as drastically accelerating its decline and alarming other far-off invaders, including the later British. Many of the empire's elites now sought to control their own affairs, and broke away to form independent kingdoms. The Mughal Emperor, however, continued to be the highest manifestation of sovereignty. Not only the Muslim gentry, but the Maratha, Hindu, and Sikh leaders took part in ceremonial acknowledgements of the emperor as the sovereign of India.
In the next decades, the Afghans, Sikhs, and Marathas battled against each other and the Mughals, only to prove the fragmented state of the empire. The Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II made futile attempts to reverse the Mughal decline, and ultimately had to seek the protection of outside powers. In 1784, the Marathas under Mahadji Scindia won acknowledgement as the protectors of the emperor in Delhi, a state of affairs that continued until after the Second Anglo-Maratha War. Thereafter, the British East India Company became the protectors of the Mughal dynasty in Delhi. After a crushed rebellion which he nominally led in 1857-58, the last Mughal, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was deposed by the British government, who then assumed formal control of a large part of the former empire, marking the start of the British Raj.
List of Mughal EmperorsEdit
|Portrait||Titular Name||Birth Name||Birth||Reign||Death||Notes|
ظہیر الدین محمد
|23 February 1483, Andijan||1 April 1526 – 26 December 1530
4 years 8 months 25 days
|26 December 1530 (aged 47)|
|Nasir-ud-din Muhammad Humayun
نصیر الدین محمد ہمایوں
|17 March 1508||26 December 1530 – 17 May 1540
9 years 4 months 21 days
22 February 1555 - 27 January 1556
|27 January 1556 (aged 48)||Humayun was overthrown in 1540 by Sher Shah Suri of the Suri dynasty but returned to the throne in 1555 after the death of Islam Shah Suri (Sher Shah Suri's son and successor).|
جلال الدین محمد اکبر
|14 October 1542||27 January 1556 – 27 October 1605
49 years 9 months 0 days
|27 October 1605 (aged 63)||His mother was Persian princess Hamida Banu Begum.|
|Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim
نور الدین محمد سلیم
|20 September 1569||15 October 1605 – 8 October 1627
21 years 11 months 23 days
|28 October 1627 (aged 60)||His mother was Rajput princess Mariam-uz-Zamani.|
شاہ جہان اعظم
|Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram
شہاب الدین محمد خرم
|5 January 1592||8 November 1627 – 2 August 1658
30 years 8 months 25 days
|22 January 1666 (aged 74)||His mother was Rajput princess Jagat Gosaini. Built Taj Mahal.|
|Muhy-ud-din Muhammad Aurangzeb
محی الدین محمداورنگزیب
|4 November 1618||31 July 1658 – 3 March 1707
48 years 7 months 0 days
|3 March 1707 (aged 88)||His mother was Persian princess Mumtaz Mahal. He was married to Safavid Dynasty Princess Dilras Banu Begum. After his death, His younger Son Azam Shah became the King (for 1 year) .|
|Qutb ud-Din Muhammad Mu'azzam Shah Alam
قطب الدین محمد معزام
|14 October 1643||19 June 1708 – 27 February 1712
(3 years, 253 days)
|27 February 1712 (aged 68)||He made settlements with the Marathas, tranquilised the Rajputs, and became friendly with the Sikhs in the Punjab.|
|Ma'az-ud-Din Jahandar Shah Bahadur
معز الدین جہاندار شاہ بہادر
|9 May 1661||27 February 1712 – 11 February 1713
(0 years, 350 days)
|12 February 1713 (aged 51)||Highly influenced by his Grand Vizier Zulfikar Khan.|
|20 August 1685||11 January 1713 – 28 February 1719
(6 years, 48 days)
|29 April 1719 (aged 33)||Granted a firman to the East India Company in 1717 granting them duty-free trading rights for Bengal, strengthening their posts on the east coast. The firman or decree helped British East India company to import goods into Bengal without paying customs duty to the government.|
|30 November 1699||28 February – 6 June 1719
(0 years, 98 days)
|9 June 1719 (aged 19)||Rise of Syed Brothers as power brokers.|
|Shah Jahan II
شاہ جہان دوم
شاہ جہاں دوم
|June 1696||6 June 1719 – 19 September 1719
(0 years, 105 days)
|19 September 1719 (aged 23)||----|
|Roshan Akhtar Bahadur
روشن اختر بہادر
|17 August 1702||27 September 1719 – 26 April 1748
(28 years, 212 days)
|26 April 1748 (aged 45)||Got rid of the Syed Brothers. Fought a long war with the Marathas, losing Deccan and Malwa in the process. Suffered the invasion of Nader Shah of Persia in 1739. He was the last emperor to possess effective control over the empire.|
|Ahmad Shah Bahadur
احمد شاہ بہادر
|Ahmad Shah Bahadur
احمد شاہ بہادر
|23 December 1725||26 April 1748 – 2 June 1754||1 January 1775 (aged 49)||Mughal forces defeated by the Marathas at the Battle of Sikandarabad.|
|6 June 1699||2 June 1754 – 29 November 1759
(5 years, 180 days)
|29 November 1759 (aged 60)||Domination of Vizier Imad-ul-Mulk.|
|Shah Jahan III
شاہ جہان سوم
|1711||10 December 1759 – 10 October 1760||1772 (aged 60–61)||Consolidation of the Nizam of Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha, during the Battle of Buxar. Hyder Ali becomes Sultan of Mysore in 1761.|
|Shah Alam II
شاہ عالم دوم
|25 June 1728||24 December 1759 – 19 November 1806 (46 years, 330 days)||19 November 1806 (aged 78)||The death of Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1799.|
|Muhammad Shah Bahadur
شاہ جہان محمد شاه بهادر
|1749||31 July 1788 – by 2 October 1788 (63 days)||1790 (aged 40–41)||Enthroned as a pupper Emperor by the Rohilla Ghulam Qadir, following the temporary overthrow of Shah Alam II.|
|Akbar Shah II
اکبر شاہ دوم
|22 April 1760||19 November 1806 – 28 September 1837 (30 years, 321 days)||28 September 1837 (aged 77)||Titular figurehead under British protection.|
|Bahadur Shah II
بہادر شاہ دوم
|Abu Zafar Sirajuddin Muhammad Bahadur Shah Zafar
ابو ظفر سراج اُلدین محمد بہادر شاہ ظفر
|24 October 1775||28 September 1837 – 23 September 1857 (19 years, 360 days)||7 November 1862 (aged 87)||Last Mughal Emperor. Deposed by the British and was exiled to Burma after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.|
Note: The Mughal Emperors practised polygamy. Besides their wives, they also had a number of concubines in their harem, who produced children. This makes it difficult to identify all the offspring of each emperor.
Family tree of the first seven Mughal emperors:
|Humayun||Hamida Banu Begum|
|Akbar the Great||Mariam-uz-Zamani|
|Shah Jahan||Mumtaz Mahal|
|Aurangzeb||Dilras Banu Begum|
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