Mogul Dynasty (1526-1707)

Figure 1.-- Babur during his second Hindustan campaign is deicted here riding a raft from Kunar back to Atar during his second Hindustani (Indian) campaign. This minature comes from a portfolio of 30 mostly fullpage minatures dating to the 16th century,presunablt after Babur's death. They were done by at least two unnamed artists and are an example of the hughly Persianized Mogul style. Given the time it was executed, we believe that the the depictions of the clothing are highly accurate. The two unbearded figures in the upper right are probably royal princes, but unidentified.

Babur founded India's famedMugal/Mogul dynasty (1526-1707). The name of the Empire comes from Mogul/Mughal which is simply the Persian word for Mongol. This reflects the Persian cultural orientation. While Barber was of Mongol ancestry, many of his followers were Persian and Turkic peoples. Babur and his successors would inject Islam and Persian culture into the siuthern Asian Subcontinent. Babur in a stunning military campaign greatly expanded the dominions that had been held by the Muslim Sultan of Delhi/Dwlhi. The Mouguls eventually dominated the sub-continent, except the extreme south and Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka).The Moguls were an Islamic dynasty which governed India for more than 200 years. The Moguls reformed government and promoted the arts. One of their major accomplishments was uniting India. The Dynasty included some remarably skilled rulers over the course of seven generations. The dynasty was especially notable for its efforts not to simply impose Islam on a culturally diverse Subcontinent, but tolerantly integrate Hindus and Muslims into a united Indian state. Some of the most prominent Mogul rulers were the founder, Babur (1526–30); his grandson Akbar (1556–1605), and Shah Jahan. Under Aurangzeb (1658–1707) the empire reached its greatest extent. Aurangzeb divergence from the toleration of earlier Mogul emperors would be a xmajor factor in rhe Empire's subsequent decline.

Babur (1526-1530)

Babur, Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur, also written Baber (1483-1530) know as 'The Lion' is a fascinating historical figure. He not only defeated the Sultan of Delhi and founded a powerful dynasty, but he wrote his memoirs, leaving us a fascinating, if of course self-serving, account of his life and times. Babur, sixth in descent from the great Mongol leader Timur/Timour (Tamerlane) through his father. And he was a descendant of Genghis Khan through Chagatai, the second son of the greatest Mongol leader through his mother. While of Mongol disent, he was culturally more Persian and Turkic than Mongol. Babur himself identified his lineage as Timurid and Chaghatay-Turkic. He was greatly influenced by Persian culture and this affected both his own policies actions and those of his successors. The result was a significant injection of Petrsian culture into the Sun-continent. Many of his followers were Persian and Turkic peoples. This can be seen in the Mingul minature paintings that depict his life and times. Like Geghis, Babur experienced many early defeats. As a boy of only 12 years of age, Babur succeeded his father as ruler of Farghana (located in modern Uzbekistan) (1495). His first of many challenges was over coming his uncles who attempted to seize his territory. Another major challenge was from the powerful Ottoman Sultan Selim I who eventually decided it was wiser to ally himself with Babur. He gradually developed a devoted band of tribal follwers who were reinfoirced with advanced Ottoman military technology. This formed a powerful military machine that the Indian monarchies were unprepared to resist. From his base in Kabul he began raiding into India acquiring fambulous booty. This helped him was able to gainn control of the Punjab, He conquered almost all of northern India in a stunning military campaign (1525-26). He defeated the the forces of the Delhi sultan Ibrāhīm Lodī at the First Battle of Panipat (1526). He then smashed the forces od the Rajput confederacy under Rana Sanga of Mewar (1527). Funally he defeated the Afghans in f eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (1529). It wasan amazing string of victories giving Abbur command over an emense territory. It was a realm from the Indus River in the west to Bihar on the east and from the Himalayas south to Gwalior River. Babur consolidated the coquered states under a central government. This would be the foundation for the great Mughal Empire. Hedied, however,only a few years after his coquests. He was not only a warrior, but an extremely cultured man. He was a respected poet. His autobiography is his greatest literary contribution. Subsequent Mougul rulers extended the Empire into the south. Barbur's son and heir, Humayon, fell ill of fever. His doctors believed he would die. His grieving father went to the nearest temple and offeredhis own soul as a substitute for his son. Either the gods accepted the sacrifice or more likely Barbur contracted the illmness at his son's bedside. Thus Barbur at aelatively young age died and thgecgravely ill prince recovered. Barbur was buried at Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan from which he launched the early raids on India.

Humāyūn (1530-40 and 1555-56)

Babur was suceeded by his son Humāyūn for whom he sacrificed his life. He inheruted his father's Indian territories. His half-brother Kamran Mirza, who would oriove to be a dangerous rival, received Kabul and Lahore, the northern non-Indian areas of their father's vast empire. He was 22 years old and relstively inexperienced. Even so, Humāyūn drove Sikandar, the last of the Afghan dynasty, from India (1517). At the time Martin Luther un Germany nailed his 95 Thesis on the church door lunching the Protestant Reformtion. Around Sikandar's body wee reportedly found 5,000-6,00 of his warriors trying to defend him. Humāyūn behaved generously toward his wives and slaves, but seized thrir jewels and baggage. Among the jewels were one of the vmot famulous diamonds known to man. At the time,India was the primary source of diamonds--the Kohinoor.It would eventually become the chief ornament in the English crown. (Queen Victoria never wore it. She had it taken from the crown and replaced by a paste substitute fore safety.) Humāyūn ruled for a decade, but then was defeated by Afghan rebels. Humayun lost Mogul Indian territory to the Pashtun noble, Sher Shah Suri. He had to seek refugevin Persia. With Persian aid he would regain those territories 15 years later. Humayun's returned from Persia, accompanied by a large retinue of Persian noblemen that had attached themselves to him during his exile. Barbur was influenced by Persian culture, but Humāyūn even more so and Mogul court culture was findamentally changed. Humayun in a short time was able to expand the Empire further, leaving a substantial legacy for his son, Akbar. He was noted for moderation in his personal conduct. Despite his chievements as a warrior, he was a mild mannered man,patient with y=those ariund him and non-confrontarionl. He became known as ’Insān-i-Kamil (‘Perfect Man’). Humayon only recently reinstalled in his palce was descending a stairway. His foot slipped and he fell down headlong (1555). He was carried to his pbed, but died shortly after. Akbar his son and heir who had grown up in Persian exile at the time was only 13-years old.

Akbar (1556-1605)

The greatest Mogul ruler would prive to be Baber's grandson Akbar. Akbar defeated the Hindu usurper Hemu at the Second Battle of Panipat (1556). He thus both reestablished and consolidated the Mughal Empire early in his reign. His early reign was marked by incessant warfare. Through the military campaigns he gained control over all of northern and considerable areas in central India. And liked his grandfather, he lived a long life in which to rule his empire. India was a great challenge for the Islamic Moguls. Akbar is known as Akabar the Great. He is one of the most notable of the great rulers of history. He was a conquering warrior, an effective ruler, a fair and learned jurist, broad-minded, generous, benevolent, and tolerant. Few rulers are described with such acolades. And Akabar was faced with a staggering challenge. The subcontinent was populated by a largely Hindu people. Not only did the Mogul's encounter a largely alien religion, but dizzing variety of languages and traditions. Akbar's genius was not only his military conquests but his his toleration toward Hindus and the other religions in India. His conciliatory policies toward Hindu enabled him to gain their loyalty and enlist them in his armies and government service. Babur died at such a young age shirtly after conquering the Empire that vhe had little opportunity to establish imperial institutioins. Akbar in contrast had several decades to establish important political, administrative, and military structures he created. These institutiins would be a major factor in the strenth of the Empire durung the next century and a half. Akbar also promoted the arts and learning. Akbar at his death (1605) left a prosperous Empire streaching from Afghanistan in the notyh to the Bay of Bengal and southward to Gujarat and the northern Deccan.

Jahāngīr (1605–27)

Akbar was seceeded by his on Jahāngīr. He continued his father's policies and enlightened rule. He left Akbar's administrative system in place. And he continued his father's tolerant policies toward Hindu subjects. The Mgul Empire continued to prosper.

Shah Jahān (1628–58)

Jahāngīr was replaced by his son Shah Jahān. He was noted for his love of architecture. It was during his reign that the Taj Mahal and the Great Mosque of Delhi were built as well as many important, but lesser known buildings. Historians generally mark his reign as the cultural high point of the Mughal Empire. The building amnd military spending,however,nearly bankrupted the Empire. Shah Jahān continued the enlightened rule of his notable ancestors.

Aurangzeb (1658-1707)

The last of the great Mogul rulers was Aurangzeb ( -1707). Unlike Akbar and the other great Mogul rulers, Aurangzeb was intolerant of other religions. He began to impose his orthodox Islamic views on his subjects. Aurangzeb achieved military sucesses and added the Muslim Deccan kingdoms of Bijapur and Golconda to the Empire. This expanded the Empire to its greatest territorial extent. Aurangzeb was a devout Muslim and he sought to force all his subjects to convert to Islam. He destroyed many great works of art because he saw them as idolutrous. These policies laid the seeds religious strife which would greatly weaken the Empire. He dimissed non-Mulims from public office and burned their schools and temples. His attacks on Sikhs in the Punjab turned that sect irevocably against Muslim rule. The Rajputsbegan to rebelm joined by the Sikhs and Marathas. The result was Hindu uprisings which weakened the Empire by draining the royal treasury as well as turning lotal subjects into enemy aliens. The heavy taxes he levied to pay for his armies impoverished the rural peasantry. The Empire's once efficent administration declined as did the once prosperous economy. When Aurangzeb died (1707), the Emire wa still vast, but greatly weakened. The Marathas of the Deccan were still in revolt and other smaller rebelious forces opposed imperial firces in other areas. In addition, thewell arned Europeans were poised to take advantage of a declining Empire.

The Later Moguls (1707-1848)

After Aurangzeb died, the Mughal Empire rapidly declined, weakened by breakaway Hindu provinces and rebellious Sikhs. While the individual Leter Moguls are little know and their territory steadily declined, collectively they ruled almost as long as the Great Mogul rulers. The subsequent emperors are thus called 'the Later Moguls'. The "Later Mughals", lacked the power and wealth of the early emperors. The Mogul Empire began to decline in the 18th century with the rise of the Sikhs and Mahrattas groups which had been driven to rebellion by Aurangzeb. This was the India that the British and French encountered. It was a deeply divided country with a large number of independent principalities. There was no strong central authority capable of effectively resising the Europeans. The Mogul rulers till existed in the north, but only effectively controlled the area around Deli--scsreky an Empire. The British prevailed in a series of land engagements and by the late-18th century and were in a dominant position. The last Mogul was Bahadur (Muḥammad) Shah II, who began his reign during 1837. the Empire had already broken up, a process that was hastened by dynastic warfare, factional rivalries, and the Iranian conqueror Nādir Shah’s brief but disruptive invasion of northern India (1739). After the death of Muḥammad Shah in 1748, the Marathas overran almost all of northern India. Mughal rule was reduced to only a small area around Delhi, which passed under Maratha (1785) and then British (1803) control. The last Mughal, Bahādur Shah II (reigned 1837–57). He was drawn into the Sepoy Mutiny (1857). The British deposed him and exiled him to Rangoon (now Yangon) in Burma.


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Created: 12:40 AM 6/21/2012
Last updated: 5:33 AM 1/25/2013