Akbar inherited the throne of the Mughal Empire at the age of 14 after the death
of Humayun. With an empire which was not yet
consolidated he had to face several obstacles before
establishing a powerful empire. He was advised by
Bairam Khan. Akbar was confronted by the still existing
Afghan threat, the threat of Hemu who possessed a large
army, the rising power of the Rajputs and the
independent territories. Besides this the condition of the
citizens was worse.
In 1556 Akbar met Hemu on the battle field of Panipat.
With the defeat of Hemu, the Mughals had established their sway over Delhi and
Agra. In 1557 under the leadership of Bairam Khan, Sikander Sur submitted to
Bairam Khan became an important
figure during the younger days of
Akbar. He was able to influence
Akbar, and became the ruler of the
country from 1556-60. In 1560 he
met with his downfall. The power
of the Mughal was taken over by
Akbar himself. Bairam Khan
retired to Mecca.
In 1561 Adam Khan posed a threat
to Akbar when he defied the
authority of Akbar and captured
Malwa. He met with his fate in
1562 as a result of his attitude
towards the captured people of
Malwa, and his greed for power. In
1564, Abdullah Khan Uzbeg
revolted against Akbar. He
associated with Ali Quli Khan posed a danger to Akbar. In 1567 Akbar was able
to subdue them. Akbar followed a policy of reconciliation with the Rajputs and
won their support by establishing matrimonial alliances.
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In 1562 he married the eldest daughter of Raja Bihal mal of Jaipur. He maintained
alliances with Bihar and Jaisalmer. In 1584 his son Salim was married to the daughter
of Raja Bhagwan Das. In 1567 he marched against Chittor. In 1568 Chittor was
captured by the Mughals. By 1569 Ranthambhor and Kalinjar was also captured.
He met the Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap in the battle of Haldighat in 1576. After a
fierce battle Akbar defeated Maharana Pratap. Gujarat was subdued and completely
annexed in 1684. This conquest brought the Mughals in touch with the Portuguese.
Under the leadership of Todal Mal, Akbar sent an army to defeat Daud Khan the ruler
of Bengal who annoyed him. In between 1576 and 1580 Bengal became a part of the
Mughal Empire. In 1592 Bengal was reconquered by Man Singh. In 1585 AD Akbar
annexed Kabul and appointed Man Singh as its governor. In an onslaught with the
Afghans Raja Birbal a close associate of Akbar was killed in 1586. By 1589 Akbar
conquered Kashmir with the help of Raja Bhagwan Das.
By 1591 Akbar completed the conquest of Sind and in 1595 he sent an expedition to
Qandhar and annexed it. Towards the Deccan Akbar attacked Ahmednagar. This was
bravely defended by Chand bibi but she could not hold on longer and Ahmednagar
fell in 1596. In 1600 with the help of Prince Daniyal and Abdur Rahim Khaj-i-
Khannan Ahmednagar was annexed to the Mughal Empire. In 1601 the fort of
Asigarh fell to the Mughals Akbar's failure to curb the Portuguese influence was
owing to the superiority of the Portuguese fleet.
Akbar was not only a conqueror by an able administrator who raised the Mughal
Empire to glory. On the other hand Akbar's policy towards the Afghans was of forced
submission and conquest. Unlike the early rulers who were fanatics and resorted to
brutal suppression of the Hindus. Akbar followed a tolerant policy. He abolished the
Jizya, a religious tax on the Hindus in 1564 and also the pilgrimage tax in 1563. In
1603 he issued a firman allowing conversion to Christianity. Akbar had his own views
about religion. This was by establishing a national religion called Din-i-illahi which
was to be pleasing both the Hindus and Muslims. Akbar's religious aspirations were
expressed in the administration of the empire. The system of land revenue initiated by
Sher Shah was continued making his matters of economy systematic. Akbar
introduced the Mansabdari system, that systematized the civil and military
administration. He started many social reforms against the Sati system, child
marriages, slavery etc. He was also a patron of art and literature besides firmly
pursuing the policy of aggression and conquest. He was indeed the greatest Mughal
who influenced the people who till then had only the view of a conqueror in every
Akbar was succeeded by his son Muhammad Salim also called Jahangir. His early
days before succession were spent in lavish living with wine and women. In 1600
Prince Salim declared himself the emperor of Delhi in the absence of Akbar. He
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surrendered himself before Akbar. In 1605 Akbar proclaimed him as the ruler. On
assuming power he introduced several reforms to bring an opinion of trust in his
subjects. In 1606 Prince Khusrau rose in revolt against him but was blinded after he
was successful in his attempt. Prince Salim was deeply influenced by the charms of
his queen Nur Jahan whom he married 1611 and left the task of administration
entirely on her at times. He was engaged in a war with Amar Singh of Mewar in 1614,
and subdued him. In 1610 he captured the fort of Kangra. In 1620 Kistwar was under
his rule.The period of 1610-1620 witnessed wars with Ahmednagar ruled by the
Nizam Shahi dynasty under Malik Ambar.
Jahangir died in 1627 and was succeed by Shah Jahan
was ruled from 1627 to 1658. He was one of the four
sons of Jahangir. He came into prominence after the
revolt in 1622. On coming to the throne he solved the
problems which led to rebellion by the Bundela Rajputs.
In 1628 Shah Jahan quelled the rebellion by Khan Jahan
Lodi and annexed his territory by 1630. His love for his
queen Mumtaz Mahal was immense. After her death in
1631, he built the Taj Mahal in memory of her.
In the years 1631-32 he was involved in wars with the Portuguese. He shared the
Kingdom of Ahmednagar with the Sultan of Bijapur in 1636. After settling the
problems he faced in the Deccan he retired to Agra in 1636. Aurangzeb was appointed
Governor of the Deccan and he ruled from 1633-44.
Khandhar which had evaded Mughal rule since 1623 was seiged by Aurangeb in
1649. In 1652 a second attempt was made in the wake of the failure of the first
attempt. In 1653 for the third time Kandhar was threatened but was not captured. In
1657 a war of succession started owing to the illness of Shah Jahan between Dara,
Shah Suja, Aurangzeb, and Murad.
Aurangzeb being the ablest of the three, succeed Shah Jahan He ruled from 1658-
1707. Aurangzeb was the last great Mughal ruler who took the Mughal Empire to its
greatest glory. Aurangzeb possessed an empire which extended from Ghazni to
Bengal and from Kashmir to the Deccan. Through his stern measures much of which
had a fanatical motive towards his religion, he could rule the empire all by himself.
Every power of authority was granted with his consent.
In 1667 Aurangzeb put down the revolt of the Yusufzais. In 1672 the revolt of the
Afridis against the Mughals brought losses to the emperor. In 1674 Auranzeb used a
diplomatic tactics supported by force to resolve the issue. Aurangzeb's diplomatic
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efforts resulted in relations with Mecca, Persia, Abyssinia, and the Turks between the
period of 1661 and 1667. He had established contacts with Constaninople in 1690.
Aurangzeb adopted various measures to promote Islam in its wholesome moral
standards. In many instances he even undertook demolition of Hindu temples in his
effort to subdue influence o f the Hindu religion. He issued regulations and imposed
religious taxes to prevent the progress of his rival religion. The imposition of Jizya on
the Hindus in 1679 which was an anti Hindu policy resulted in the rise of the Rajput
in a revolt in 1769. This struggle continued till 1681 when Aurangzeb made peace
with the Rajputs.The other sect affected by the Anti-hindu policy of Aurangzeb were
the Satnamis. Their revolt was crushed by Aurangzeb. Next was the revolt of the Jats
of Mathura which was an opposition to the policy and oppression under Aurangzeb.
Though they were suppressed in the early period they carried on the struggle till the
death of Aurangzeb. The revolt of the Bundela Rajputs and the Sikhs were other
significant effects of Aurangzeb's anti Hindu policy. The sikhs who temples were
destroyed were hurt. The death of Guru Teg Bahadur their 9th guru was more hurting.
They swore the destruction of the Mughals. Under the 10th Guru Govind Singh, and,
after his death in 1708 the struggle was carried on.
From the period 1682-1707 Aurangzeb turned towards the Deccan, conqeured Bijapur
in 1686 and Golconda in 1687. Aurangzeb faced stiff resistance from the Marathas
under Shivaji and remained unsuccessful in subduing the Marathas. It was in about
1600 that the Mughals established contacts witht the English ever since the visit of Sir
Thomas Roe. In 1616 the English were permitted to build a factory at Masulipattam .
And in 1639 they built the famous Fort St. George. It was from the time of Aurangzeb
that the English began defiance of the authority of the Mughal's. The action of James
II to send an expedition to Bengal infuriated Aurangzeb who ordered capture of the
English forts at Hugli, Surat and Masaulipatanam. Aurangzeb died in 1707. He was
succeeded by Bahadur Shah I who was the eldest of the three surviving sons of
Aurangzeb. The vast Mughal empire which was now the biggest of the empires
existing then, was divided among the three sons. Bahadurr Shah I who was known as
Prince Muazzam had to face the problems from the Marathas, Rajputs and the Sikhs.
Bahadur Shah I who died in 1712 left behind four sons who were engaged in a war of
succession. Ultimately Jahandar Shah the eldest of the four came out successful and
became the ruler of the Mughal Empire. He was a squanderer who emptied the offers
of the Mughal Empire. He was over powered by Farukh Siyar the second son of
Azim-us-Shan who was Jahandar Shah's brother. In 1713 Jahandar Shah was put to
death. Farukh Siyar ruled from 1713-1719. Having forgotten the favours of the Sayyid
brothers who helped Farukh Siyar to succeed to the Mughal throne, he was involved
in petty quarrels with the Sayyids. This resulted in conspiracies against him and, his
death in 1719. He was followed by Rafi-ud-Darajat in 1719 who was put on the
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throne by the Sayyid brothers. After a short rule of about four months he died of
ailment and was succeeded by Rafi-ud-Daula alias Shah Jahan II who also died owing
to physical ailment in a period of one month in 1719. After him Muhammad Shah
came to the throne as prefered by the Sayyid brothers. He ruled from 1719 to 1748.
During this period he disposed the authority of the Sayyid brothers in 1722.
Along with this ruling power in Delhi. There existed Bengal an independent province
under the governorship of Murshid Quli Khan in 1717. He was succeeded by Shujaud-
din Muhammad Khan the son-in-law of Murshid Quli Khan. After his death in
1739 he was succeeded by Sarfaraz Khan. Owing to his inexperienced administration
Alivardi Khan the deputy governor of Bihar captured the power from Sarfaraz Khan.
Alivardi Khan was succeeded by Siraj-ud-Daula. his grandson in 1756. As a result of
intrigues and conspiracies the Battle of Plassey resulted. This marked the foundation
of the British rule in India under the British East India Company in 1764.
The Mughal rule in Delhi while under Muhammad Shah witnessed the invasion of
Nadir Shah in 1739. This invasion sealed the fate of Muhammad Shah. This was
followed by the invasion of Ahmad Shah Abdali, the general of Nadir Shah.
After the death of Muhamad Shah in 1748 his son Ahmad Shah ruled from Delhi from
1748-1754. During his rule Delhi became a territory full of disputes and rivalry. It
ultimately resulted in the imprisonment of Ahmad Shah and the succession of
Alamgir II the second son of Jahandar Shah. Being inexperienced and weak he was a
puppet in the hands of his Wazir, who finally got Alamgir II assassinated in
Shah Alam II who was earlier called Ali Gauhar became the Mughal Emperor. At a
time when the East India Company had subdued the Mughal rule in Bengal ,and, the
onslaught of the Marathas there was the need for a competent military ruler who could
resist the advances of the diplomatic playoffs of the English . He was a religious man
fuelled by idleness, superstition and luxury. He was bridled by his subordinates. In
1803 when the English captured Delhi Shah Alam II was proclaimed as a pensioner.
He died in 1806 and was succeeded by Akbar II who was only a title head and was
considered another pensioner. He died in 1837. After him Bahadur Shah II retained
the imperial title of Emperor. He took part in the revolt of 1857 against the English.
After the failure of this revolt he was imprisoned and deported to Rangoon where he
died in 1862. This marked the end of the Mughal dynasty.
The hasty disintegration of the Mughal empire was owing to many factors besides the
incompetence of the rulers after Aurangzeb. One of the major causes was the role of
the Sayyid brothers, Rajputs, Jats, Sikhs and Marathas. Besides this the independent
provinces of Bengal, Avadh, Rohilkhand, Farrukhabad, Hyderabad, Carnatic and
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Mysore also longed to restore their days of glory.
The Sayyid brothers
Abdullah Khan and Hussain Khan were said to be descendants of a Mesopotamian
Advendurer Abdul Farh who settled in India. Earlier a subedar of Bijapur and Ajmer
Abdul Farh joined the services of Prince Muazzam. The Sayyid brothers helped in the
accession of Farukh Siyar after the defeat of Jahandar Shah. They overcome the
conspiracies of Farrukh Siyar and joined the jats bringing down Farrukh Siyar. They
followed a conciliatory policy towards the Rajputs. Difference between the two
brothers resulted in the collapse of their power
Avadh was an independent Muslim Kingdom founded by Burhan-ul-Mulk and ruled
from 1723-1739. He was succeeded by Safar jang who ruled from 1739-1754.He was
succeeded by Suja-ud-Daulah and in 1775 he was succeeded by Asaf-ud-Daulah who
ruled till 1797. In 1801 Nawab Saadat Ali accepted the subsidiary system and Avadh
was annexed in 1856.
Rohilkhand was the territory of the Rohillas which was earlier called Katehar.It was
the strong hold of the Afghans. The Rohillas became an independent kingdom under
Ali Muhammad Khan Rohilla in 1721. In 1761 the Rohillas became subjected to the
British under Warren Hastings and Rohilkhand was annexed to Avadh.
This territory was established by Muhammad Khan Bangash an Afghan adventurer.
He joined the court of Farukh Siyar and established the town of Farukhabad
The weakness of the Mughal Empire resulted in the Rajputs liberating themselves
from the control of the Mughals.
They lived in the areas of Delhi, Agra and Mathura. They revolted against the Mughals in
1669 and 1688 but were suppressed. Churaman ruled from 1600 to 1721. After him Badan
Singh ruled from 1685-1756. He was succeeded by Suraj Mal who ruled from 1756 to 1763.
After him the Jat Kingdom became insignificant.
After the execution of the 9th Guru Guru Teg Bahadur the Sikhs rose against the
Mughals. In 1699 Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa organised on the military
potential of the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh was followed by Banda Bahadur. The
invasion of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Adali gave the Sikhs an opportunity to rise
once again. Between 1765 and 1800 the Sikhs brought the Punjab and Jammu under
their control. Under Ranjit Singh the 12 confederacies or Misls were brought under an
independent Sikh state.
One of the immediate reasons for the disintegration of the Mughal empire was the
continuous onslaught of the Marathas. Under Balai Vishwanath the Marathas became
more powerful. He was the Peshwa from 1713 to 1720. He was succeeded by Baji
Rao I who ruled from 1740 to 1761.
The state of Hyderabad was founded by Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah in 1724. This state
was during the time of Lord Wellesely became a subordinate of the East India
Company as per the subsidiary Alliance.
This was a territory of the Mughals in the Deccan After 1740 the British interfered in
the affairs of the Carnatic.
After the decline of the Vijayanagar Empire the kingdom of Mysore became
independent. Under Hyder Ali who was a petty officer in the army he brought glories
to the kingdom of Mysore. After his death in 1782 he was succeeded by Tipu Sultan
who ruled till 1799.
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