The weakness of the Delhi Sultanate and political disunity thereafter led to the establishment of Mughal rule in India. The Mughal Dynasty was founded by Babur after he defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat in 1526.
The Mughal Dynasty
- Babur was a descendant of Timur from his father’s side and Chengiz Khan from his mother’s side.
- He was a ruler of Farghana who later captured Kabul. He was invited by Daulat Khan Lodi to oust Ibrahim Lodi from the throne of Delhi.
- The First Battle of Panipat was fought between Ibrahim Lodi and Babur in 1526. Babur defeated Lodi and occupied Delhi and Agra.
- Immediately after his victory, Babur had to fight a fierce battle with the Rajput ruler Rana Sanga of Mewar in 1527 at Khanwa. After defeating Rana Sanga, Babur secured and strengthened his position in Delhi and Agra.
- Babur also had to fight the Battle of Ghagra against the Afghan armies. He was however not able to register comprehensive victory against the Afghans.
- Babur died in 1530. Although he laid the foundation of the Mughal Dynasty in India, he was not able to consolidate the Mughal Dynasty and administration of the country.
- Humayun ascended the throne in 1530. He was defeated by Sher Shah Suri, an Afghan chief, at Kannauj in 1540. Humayun managed to escape and took shelter in Persia.
- Sher Shah Suri was an able administrator and built the Grand Trunk Road of India running from Peshawar to Bengal. Sher
- Shah Suri died while inspecting gunpowder in one of his forts. His successors were weak.
- Humayun conquered Kabul and Kandahar with the help of Shah of Persia and then again captured Delhi in 1555. However, he was able to rule only for one year and died in 1556 as a result of a fall from the stairs of his library at Purana Quila.
- Akbar was one of the greatest of Mughal rulers in India. He ascended the throne at the age of thirteen years. He was guided by his tutor, Bairam Khan.
- Akbar conquered several Indian states. He captured Malwa, Gondwana, Gujarat, Kashmir and Kabul. He then annexed various states in the Deccan.
- At the time of Akbar’s death, his empire extended from Kabul and Kandhar in the west to Assam in the east. His empire encompassed Ahmednagar, Khandesh and Berar in the Deccan. He also subdued many Rajput princes except Mewar.
- Battle of Haldighati was fought between Akbar and Maharana Pratap in 1576. The latter fled the battle field because he was inflicted with heavy wounds.
Rajput Policy of Akbar
- Akbar realised that the Rajputs were a powerful force in India, and that it was difficult to rule the empire without their help and cooperation. He thus valued their friendship. To further strengthen their friendship, he entered matrimonial alliances with the Rajputs.
- The Rajputs were given an important position in the imperial court, and many Rajput princes were made mansabdars.
- By taking these steps, he was able to reduce and end the centuries old animosities which existed between the Muslims and the Rajputs.
- Because the Rajputs were made equal partners in the Mughal government, it greatly helped in the growth of composite culture in India.
- Akbar was succeeded by Jahangir. Although he had inherited many qualities of Akbar, his military achievements were not as great as those of Akbar.
- Jahangir was married to Nur Jahan who became influential and powerful in the later years of his reign. Her relatives occupied dominant position in the court. She also struck coins in her name. All the royal farmans carried her name along with the imperial signature.
- Jahangir was famous for his ‘Chain of Justice’. He had installed a long golden chain on the walls of his palace and declared that any person who had been unjustly treated could pull the chain and seek justice from the king.
- Jahangir was able to conquer Mewar.
- Two ambassadors of King James I of England—Captain Hawkins and Sir Thomas Roe—visited the Mughal court during the time of Jahangir. They wanted to obtain favourable trade concessions for the East India Company from Jahangir.
- The Portuguese had also become powerful at this time.
- Shah Jahan ascended the throne after a brief struggle of power. Nur Jahan wanted to place her sonin-law on the throne. However, Shah Jahan after killing his contender and some royal princes occupied the throne.
- During the reign of Shah Jahan, the Portuguese strengthened their position in India. The Dutch East India Company formed in 1602, established its trading units at Surat, Ahmedabad, Cochin, Patna, Agra and Negapatnam. Later, the English East India Company became the supreme power in the country.
- His period is known for the construction of various monuments and structures. However, this drained the royal treasury. Thus, taxes during his period were increased to one-half of the produce. His long reign provided peace and stability to the Empire.
- The Mughals lost control of Kandhar during this period which could never be regained by them.
- Shah Jahan was succeeded by Aurangzeb in 1659. Aurangzeb occupied the throne after a fierce struggle for power with his brothers and father.
- His long reign of fifty years was marked by various wars and annexations. He spent the last 25 years of his reign in fighting battles to annex the states of the Deccan.
- He reversed the policy of religious tolerance followed by Akbar and re-imposed jaziya, a religious tax on non-Muslims.
- After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal Empire began to disintegrate.
- The successors of the Mughals are known as Later Mughals. Bahadur Shah succeeded Aurangzeb in 1707. The Later Mughals had to fight numerous battles against the Afghan rulers and the English East India Company.
- The Mughals under Shah Alam II were defeated by the English in the Battle of Buxar fought in 1764.
- Gradually, the East India Company became the strongest power in India, and the Mughal Empire declined in due course of time.
- Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last ruler of the Mughal Empire. After the revolt of 1857, his sons and grandsons were shot dead by the British and he was pensioned off to Rangoon (Yangon, Myanmar) by the British where he died in 1862. His death marked the end of the Mughal Empire.