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Mughal Dynasty (1526- 1748)

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  • The Mughal Empire was an early modern empire of South Asia. For almost two centuries this empire stretched from the Indus basin to Afghanistan and then in India. From Babur till Bahadur Shah this dynasty has its own peculiarities. Let’s read about their era and contribution to India.

List of Emperors-

Name of the EmperorsReign
Babur20 April 1526 – 26 December 1530
HumayunFrom 1530- 1540 and then 1555 – 1556
Akbar-i-AzamFrom 1556- 1605
JahangirFrom 1605- 1627
Shah-JahanFrom 1627- 1658
Alamgir IFrom 1658- 1707
Bahadur ShahFrom 1707- 1712
Jahandar ShahFrom 1712- 1713
Farrukh-siyarFrom 1713- 1719
Rafi ud-DarajatFrom 28 Febraury- 6 June 1719
Shah Jahan IIFrom 6 June- 19 September 1719
Muhammad ShahFrom 1719- 1748
Ahmad Shah BahadurFrom 1748- 1754
Alamgir IIFrom 1754 – 1759
Shah Jahan IIIFrom 1759- 1760
Shah Alam IIFrom 1760- 1806
Muhammad Shah Bahadur Jahan IVFrom 31 July 1788- 2 October 1788
Akbar Shah IIFrom 1806- 1837
Bahadur Shah IIFrom 1837- 1857

Babur & Humayun (1526-1556)-

  • The Mughal Empire was founded by Babur (1526-1530), a Central Asian ruler who was descended from the Turco-Mongol ConquerorTimur.
  • Ousted from his ancestral domains, Babur turned to India to satisfy his ambition.
  • He established himself in Kabul and then pushed steadily southward into India from Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass.
  • Babur occupied much of northern India after his victory at Panipat in 1526.
  • Humayun (1530-1556) showed an instable empire, which was quite evident.
  • Humayun was Babur’s son
  • Humayun was forced into exile in Persia by rebels.
  • The Sur Empire (1540- 1545), founded by Sher Shah Suri (1540-1545), briefly interrupted Mughal rule.
  • Humayun’s exile to Persia established ties between the Safavid and Mughal Courts, and led to increasing Perisan cultural influence in the Mughal Empire
  • Humayun’s triumphant return from Persia in 1555 restored Mughal rule, but he died in an accident the next year.

Akbar to Aurangzeb (1556-1707)-

  • Akbar (1556-1605) was born as Jalal-ud-din Muhammad in the rajput Umarkot Fort to Humayun and his wife Hamida Banu Begum.
  • Akbar succeeded to the throne under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped consolidate the Mughal Empire in India.
  • Akbar extended his empre in all directions and controlled almost the entire Indian subcontinent north to the Godavari River.
  • He created a new ruling elite loyal to him.
  • Implemented a modern administration and encouraged cultural developments.
  • He encouraged trade with European trading companies.
  • India developed a strong and stable economy.
  • Akbar allowed freedom of religion at his court and attempted to resolve socio-political and cultural differences in his empire by establishing a new religion, Din-i-Ilahi.
  • He left his son an internally stable state, which was in the midst of its golden age.
  • Jahangir (born as Salim, reigned 1605-1627) was born to Akbar and Mariam-uz-Zamani.
  • He was addicted to opium, neglected the affairs of the state, and came under the influence of rival court cliques.
  • In contrast to Akbar, Jahangir came into conflicts with religious leaders (Sikh guru Arjan), whose execution was the first of many conflicts between the Mughal empire and Sikh community. 
  • Shah Jahan (1628-1658) was born to Jahangir and his wife Jagat Gosaini.
  • During the reign of Shah Jahan, the splendor of the Mughal court reached its peak, as exemplified by the Taj Mahal.
  • Shah Jahan’s eldest son, the liberal Dara Shikoh, became regent in 1658, as a result of his father’s illness.
  •  Dara championed a syncretistic Hindu-Muslim culture.
  • With the support of the Islamic orthodoxy, however, a younger son of Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb (1658-1707), seized the throne.
  • Aurangzeb defeated Dara in 1659 and had him executed.
  • Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness but Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule and kept him imprisoned until his death in 1666.
  • During Aurangzeb’s reign, the empire gained political strength once more and became world’s most powerful economy.
  • Aurangzeb encouraged conversion to Islam.
  • He also executed the Sikh guru Tegh Bahadur, leading to the militarization of the Sikh community.
  • He 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 is considered India’s most controversial king.

Decline (1707-1857)-

  •  Aurangzeb’s son, Bahadur Shah I, 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 1719 alone, four emperors successively ascended the throne.
  • During the reign of Muhammad Shah (1719- 1748), the empire began to break up, and vast tracts of central Indian passed from Mughal to Maratha hands.
  • The far-off Indian campaign of Nadir Shah culminated with the Sack of Delhi and shattered the remnants of Mughal power and prestige.
  • Many of the empire’s elite now sought to control their own affairs and broke away to form independent kingdoms.
  • Some regional politics within the increasingly fragmented Mughal Empire, involved themselves and the state in global conflicts, leading only to defeat and loss of territory during the Carnatic Wars and the Bengal War.
  • The Mughal emperor Shah Alam II (1759- 1806) made futile attempts to reverse the Mughal decline but all in vain.
  • He took protection from the Emir of Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Abdali, which led to the Third battle of Panipat between the Maratha Empire and the Afghans in 1761.
  • In 1771, the Marathas recaptured Delhi from Afghan control.
  • After Second Anglo-Maratha War, the British East Indian Company became the protectors of the Mughal dynasty.
  •  The British East Indian Company took control of the former Mughal province of Bengal-Bihar in 1793.
  • By 1857 a considerable part of former Mughal India was under East India Company’s control.
  • After a crushing defeat in the war of 1857-1858, Bahadur Shah Zafar was deposed by the British East India company and exiled in 1858.
  • IN 1876, the British Queen Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India.

Causes of decline-

  • Historians have offered numerous explanations for the rapid collapse of the Mughal Empire between 1707 and 1720.
  • In fiscal terms, the throne lost the revenues needed to pay its chief officers, the nobles, and their entourages.
  • The emperor lost authority.
  • The imperial army bogged down in long, futile wars against the more aggressive Marathas, lost its fighting spirit.
  • Finally came a series of violent political feuds over control of the throne.
  • After the execution of Emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1719, local Mughal successor states took power in the region after region.
  • Excessive luxury and increasingly narrow views are few modern views of decline.
  • Then some theories claimed that the deindustrialization of the Indian economy is the reason for the collapse of the Mughal Empire.

Some noticable Emperors and their reigns-

1526 to 1530 - Babur


1530 to 1556- Humayun


1556 to 1605- Akbar


1605 to 1627- Jahangir


1627 to 1658- Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan

1837 to 1857- Bahadur Shah Zafar

Bahadur Shah Zafar


  • Mughal Empire made Bharat Hindustan. It gave a new religion to us. They have given us the finest pieces of art (Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, etc.). India grew and then again sank under their reign.

Questions to Answer-

Q.1. Babur entered in India via which route?

Q.2. How many years Humayun ruled?

Q.3. Which famous religion was given by Akbar?

Q.4. What was the reasons of decline of Mughal Empire?

Q.5. Describe the reign of Aurangzeb?  

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