Padshah Begum (Empress) was a superlative imperial title conferred in the Mughal Harem to the first lady of the Court of Empire. This individual as taking precedence over all other women, as the emperor did over all other men.
The title could be bestowed upon the chief or principal wife, a sister, the mother or even a favored daughter of the Mughal Emperor. The title could not be held by more than one lady simultaneously. The title was first bestowed upon Maham Begum, wife of Emperor Babur and mother of the next Emperor Humayun. Emperor Jahangir bestowed the title upon Nur Jahan Begum. Emperor Shah Jahan bestowed the title upon his wife Mumtaz Mahal Begum. Emperor Muhammad Shah bestowed upon the title upon his wife Badshah Begum.
The title was also bestowed upon the daughter of the emperor, such as Emperor Shah Jahan's daughter, Princess Jahanara Begum and Emperor Aurangzeb's daughter, Princess Zinat-un-Nissa, both of whom bore the title throughout their lives.
In some cases the title was also bestowed upon the sister of the emperor. Such as in the case of Emperor Babur's older sister, Khanzada Begum. When the princesses held the title it literally meant "Empress amongst princesses".
- Aftab, Tahera (2008). Inscribing South Asian Muslim Women : an Annotated Bibliography & Research Guide ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Brill. p. 66. ISBN 9789004158498.
- The Journal of the Numismatic Society of India, Volumes 20-21. Numismatic Society of India. 1958. p. 223.
- Schimmel, Annemarie (2004). The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture. Reaktion Books. p. 152. ISBN 1861891857.
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- Butenschön, Andrea (1931). The Life of a Mogul Princess: Jahānarā Begam, Daughter of Shāhjahān. Taylor & Francis. p. 221.