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Medieval History / Mughal Sultanate

Political History of Mughal Empire


    If we consider the political history of Mughal empire, their rule can be divided into two phases. The first phase is from 1526 to 1707. It was the glorious period of Mughal empire. It was 1707 in which Aurangzeb died. The second phase is from 1707 to 1857. In this phase, only namesake kings ruled the Mughal empire. Timur is an ancestor of Mughals.

    Babur (1526-1530)

    • Timur had Samarkand (Uzbekistan) as his capital. Over a period, Timurid Empire got divided into small Principalities, namely Samarkand, Herat, Kabul and Fergana (Babur belongs to this Principality).
    • In 1494, Babur became the king of Ferghana. He conquered Samarkand in his third attempt. During this time, his cousin occupied Fergana. But Babur left Fergana to him. The original king of Samarkand recaptured it again.
    • Babur then conquered Kabul and ruled from there for 20 years. But Kabul was economically very backward. By this time, two kings from India invited Babur to conquer India. The kings were Rana Sangram Singh of Mewar and Daulat Khan Lodi, who was the governor of Punjab.
    • The meaning of Babur is tiger. Babur was born in 1483 AD. His real name is Zahir-ud-din Muhammad and he is the son of Umar Sheikh Mirza. Babur's autobiography, Tuzuk-i-Baburi (or Baburnama) is believed to be one of the best autobiographies. Babur is known as prince among the autobiographers. Baburnama is written in 3 chapters, namely (i) Memories of Ferghana, (ii) Memories of Kabul and (iii) Exclusively on India.
    • He was in India for 4 years. In every year, he fought a battle.
      • In 1526, in the first Battle of Panipat, Ibrahim Lodi was killed and Babur hence established Mughal empire in India.
      • In 1527, in the Battle of Khanwa, Rana Sangram Singh was defeated. Babur declared jihad to fight against Rana.
      • In 1528, in the Battle of Chanderi (Madhya Pradesh), he defeated a Rajput king Medini Ray (friend of Rana Sangram).
      • In 1529, in the Battle of Gogra (Ghaghra), Nusrat Shah (son-in-law of Ibrahim Lodi and belonging to Ilyas Shahi dynasty) of Bengal was defeated.
    • On the way to Kabul, he died in 1930. Babur's tomb (mausoleum) can be found in Kabul.
    • Persian is official language of Mughals. But Babur's mother tongue is Turkish.

    Humayun (1530-1540) & (1555-1556)

    • Humayun's original name is Nasir-ud-din Muhammad. In 1540, he was dethroned by Sher Shah of Sur dynasty. For 15 years, he took asylum here and there. In 1556, he died in an accident. His sister Gulbadan Begum wrote a book Humayun-Nama.
    • Rana Sanga (Sangram Singh) was assassinated by Humayun. His widow wife Karnavati sent Rakhi to Humayun but it was rejected.
    • Humayun and Sher Shah Suri fought three battles.
      • In 1538, in the Battle of Chunar, Sher Shah was defeated. In this war, Humayun made a blunder by pardoning Sher Shah.
      • In 1539, in the Battle of Chausa (Bengal), Humayun was defeated and managed to escape and reached the capital Agra.
      • In 1540, in the Battle of Kannauj (or Bilgram), Humayun was defeated and was dethroned by Sher Shah. Sher Shah became the king of North and East India and ruled for 15 years.
    • Initially, Humayun was given shelter by the Rajput king of Amarkot named Rana Parshad. During this time, Akbar was born in 1542 in Amarkot to Hamida Banu Begum. By this time, Sher Shah came to know about Humayun and warned Rajputs. Then, Humayun reached Iran, where Safavid dynasty was ruling. King Shah Tahmasp gave shelter to Humayun. He stayed there for more than one decade. With the help of the military of that king, on the condition that Kandahar will be given to the Iranian king, Humayun attacked India. In the Battle of Sirhind, Sikandar Suri was defeated and Humayun got the kingdom again. In 1556, he fell down from the first floor of his library (Sher Mandal) and died.

    Akbar (1556-1605)

    • His original name is Jalal-ud-din Muhammad. Three historians were there in his court, namely (i) Abul Fazl, who wrote Akbarnama and Ain-i-Akbari, (ii) Abdul Qadir Badauni, who wrote Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh and a chapter in Tarikh-e-Alfi and (iii) Nizam-ud-din Ahmad, who wrote Tabaqat-e-Akbari.
    • In 1555, Akbar was appointed as governor of Punjab region under the regency of Bairam Khan. When Humayun died, Akbar and Bairam Khan were at Kalanaur (Punjab), where Akbar got coronated. Before, both of them reached Delhi and Agra, a king called Hemu captured Delhi and Agra. Hemu was the prime minister of sultan of Bihar, named Muhammad Adil Shah of Sur dynasty.
    • Hemu took the title of Vikramajit or Vikramaditya and ruled for 100 days. In 1556, second Battle of Panipat was fought between Akbar and Hemu. Hemu was defeated and Akbar came to power. During 1556-60, Bairam Khan was the de facto authority. He was called "Khan Baba" by Akbar.
    • Rajput Policy of Akbar - High positions were given to Rajputs in the administration. Kachwaha ruler Bharmal (F/O Harkha Bai) has acquired 5000 Mansabs and as usual king of Kachwaha. Mann Singh of Kachwaha has acquired 7000 Mansabs.

    Jahangir (1605-1627)

    • His original name is Salim. He wrote his autobiography, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri (Memories of Jahangir) in Persian.
    • During the reign of Jahangir, Khusrau(eldest son of Jahangir) rebelled against him. Guru Arjan Dev gave shelter to Khusrau. Jahangir captured both of them. Khusrau was blinded by Jahangir and he was put into the prison. Guru Arjan Dev was put to death.
    • He made 12 ordinances (laws) for the welfare of the people like Banning of intoxicating drinks (manufacturing & consumption), Abolition of various taxes (abwabs), Release of political prisoners, Banning of Animal killing for two days (Sunday and Thursday) in a week, Starting of hospitals for the poor and the animals, Installation of Zanjeer-e-Adal (Bell of justice, 30 meters long chain) at Agra Fort so that anyone can pull the chain to seek justice, etc.
    • The king of England James I sent two diplomats one after the other to the court of Jahangir, namely Captain Hawkins (between 1608 and 1611) and Sir Thomas Roe (between 1615 and 1619). They came for concessions for English East India Company.
    • Nur Jahan (Beauty of the World) -
      • She was the most powerful woman in Mughal Empire. Her original name was Mehrunissa (Iranian Lady). Jahangir married Nur Jahan in the year 1611. She had a daughter named Ladli Begum with her first husband Sher Afgan Khan (Mughal officer of Bengal).
      • She took the title of Padshah Begum. She even minted coins by her name and almost ruled the kingdom. Farmanas were also issued by Nur Jahan.
      • Jahangir gave higher positions to her kith and kin. Her father, Itmad-ud-Daula was given the PM post from a petty officer. She built a tomb for her father at Agra. Her brother, Asaf Khan, became Mir-i-Saman (incharge of Royal Karkhanas).
    • Military Achievements - There were wars with Mewar and Ahmadnagar kingdoms.
      • Mewar - Amar Singh son of Rana Pratap Singh was defeated. Amar Singh accepted the suzerainty of Mughals and Amar Singh's son was employed in Mughal administration.
      • Ahmadnagar - Malik Ambar, PM and de facto authority, recaptured the Ahmadnagar's territories, which were previously captured by Akbar. A war was fought and Ambar Malik was defeated at Balaghat. A treaty was concluded to give back the territories that were recaptured.

    Shah Jahan (1627-1658)

    • His original name is Khurram. Historian Abdul Hamid Lahori wrote a book Padshahnama that gives history about Shah Jahan.
    • Victories in Deccan -
      • In 1633, Ahmadnagar was conquered and became part of Mughal empire.
      • In 1636, both Bijapur and Golconda became subordinates (Kidmati) to Mughals without any war. Even on the coins of Golconda, the name of Shah Jahan was written.
    • Wars of Succession - In the last days of Shah Jahan, 4 sons fought with one another.
      • Dara Shikoh - He was the eldest and favourite son of Shah Jahan. He was a great scholar and an intellectual. 52 Upanishads (out of 108) were translated into Persian under his patronage. He, himself, translated Bhagavad Gita into Persian. He wrote number of books in Persian language like that of Majma-ul-Bahrain. He was working for Hindu-Muslim unity.
      • Aurangzeb - He was the most conservative among the four sons. He was functioning as governor of Deccan.
      • Murad - He was the governor of Gujarat and Malwa.
      • Shah Shuja - He was functioning as governor of Bengal.
      In 1658, there were two wars, namely Battle of Dharmat (Madhya Pradesh) and Battle of Samugarh. In both the battles, Dara Shikoh was defeated and later got killed. Even Murad and Shah Shuja were killed. In 1658, Aurangzeb came to power by imprisoning his father.
    • In the last days of Shah Jahan, the capital has been shifted from Agra to Delhi after building the Red Fort.

    Aurangzeb ((1658-1707)

    • His official name is Alamgir and Aurangzeb is his original name.
    • During his reign, all historians were removed and banned from his court. Yet, few historians wrote about Aurangzeb.
      • Ishwar Das Nagar wrote Futuhat-i-Alamgiri (Victories of Alamgir)
      • Muhammad Kazim wrote Alamgir Nama
      • Muhammad Saqi Mustaid Khan wrote Maasir-e-Alamgiri
      • Bhimsen (in Deccan) wrote Nuskha-i-Dilkusha. It deals with Aurangzeb in Deccan.
      • Khafi Khan (original name - Muhammad Hashim) wrote books in secrecy as Aurangzeb banned historical books. He wrote Muntakhab-ul-Lubab.
    • Aurangzeb's rule can be divided into two phases. During 1658-1680, he ruled with Delhi as capital and during 1681-1707 with Aurangabad as capital. Khirki was the old name of Aurangabad and it was built by Malik Ambar.
    • Aurangzeb's tomb is found in Khuldabad, 5km from Ellora.
Extra Information

    Military Achievements of Akbar

    • In 1562, Malwa (MP) was conquered. It is the first kingdom to be conquered and the king was Baz Bahadur.
    • In 1564, Garha Katanga/Gondwana (MP) was conquered and the queen was Rani Durgavati.
    • In 1572, Gujarat was conquered. After the conquest of Gujarat, he built a new capital city called Fatehpur Sikri in commemoration of the victory over Gujarat. Fatehpur Sikri was the capital from 1572 to 1586. In 1586, it was deserted because of water problem. The lake "Anoop Talab" got dried up, because of which, Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned.
    • Between 1574 and 1576, he conquered Bihar and Bengal.
    • In 1576, in the Battle of Haldighati, Sisodia king Rana Pratap Singh was defeated. It was fought between Man Singh (Akbar's agent) and Rana Pratap Singh, who is also called Maharana Pratap.
    • In 1586, he conquered Kabul, Balochistan and Kashmir.
    • In 1591, he conquered Sindh.
    • In 1592, he conquered Odisha.
    • In 1595, he conquered Kandahar.
    • Penisular India -
      • There were four kingdoms in peninsular India namely Ahmadnagar, Khandesh, Bijapur and Golconda. Khandesh was conquered by Akbar in 1601. To conquer the remaining three kingdoms, Mughals took 100 years.
      • Akbar's efforts to conquer Ahmednagar - During his time, Chand Bibi was the ruler of Ahmadnagar. Between 1595 and 1600, two wars were fought. Chand Bibi was killed in 1599. Akbar was given 3 regions by Nobles namely Ahmednagar, Berar and Balaghat.
    • In 1601, Salim revolted against his father at Allahabad. Akbar deputed Abul Fazl to suppress the Salim rebellion. Abul Fazal was assassinated by Bir Singh Bundela (who built Keshava Rai Temple in Mathura), an agent of Salim.

    Revolts against Aurangzeb

    • Jats Rebellion - Jats of Agra revolted against Aurangzeb for one decade. Its leaders Gokula, Raja Ram and Churaman led the movement one after the other.
    • Satnami Rebellion – The movement was suppressed.
    • Bundela Rebellion Bundela is a community between parts of UP and MP. The movement was led by Chhatrasal.
    • Sikh Rebellion – It was led by 9th Guru, Tegh Bahadur, who was put to death. It was later led by 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
    • Rajput Rebellion – It was revolted by Durgadas Rathore, a noble officer of Marwar.
    • In 1681, Aurangzeb left Delhi and came to Deccan. He never returned back to Delhi. During wars of succession, Bijapur and Golconda declared independence. In 1686, he conquered Bijapur and in 1687, he conquered Golconda. He continuously fought with Marathas for two decades. Maratha kingdom was responsible for bringing Aurangzeb to Deccan. Sambhaji, son of Shivaji was killed in the battle of Sangameshwar in 1689 by Aurangazeb. Aurangzeb died in 1707 in Deccan.