The Mughal Empire or Mogul Empire, self-designated as Gurkani, was an empire in the Indian subcontinent, established and ruled by a Muslim dynasty of Chagatai Turco-Mongol origin from Central Asia. The dynasty though ethnically Turco-Mongol, was Persianate in terms of culture.
The Mughal empire extended over large parts of the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan. The empire was the second largest to have existed in the Indian subcontinent, spanning 4 million square kilometres at its zenith, after the Maurya Empire, which spanned 5 million square kilometres.
The beginning of the empire is conventionally dated to the victory by its founder Babur over Ibrahim Lodi, the last ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, in the First Battle of Panipat (1526). The Mughal emperors were Central Asian Turko-Mongols belonging to the Timurid dynasty, who claimed direct descent from both Genghis Khan (founder of the Mongol Empire, through his son Chagatai Khan) and Timur (Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire). During the reign of Humayun, the successor of Babur, the empire was briefly interrupted by the Sur Empire. The “classic period” of the Mughal Empire started in 1556 with the ascension of Akbar the Great to the throne. Under the rule of Akbar and his son Jahangir, the region enjoyed economic progress as well as religious harmony, and the monarchs were interested in local religious and cultural traditions. Akbar was a successful warrior who also forged alliances with several Hindu Rajput kingdoms. Some Rajput kingdoms continued to pose a significant threat to the Mughal dominance of northwestern India, but most of them were subdued by Akbar. All Mughal emperors were Muslims; while Akbar was Muslim most of his life, he propounded a syncretic religion in the latter part of his life called Deen-i-Ilahi, as recorded in historical books like Ain-e-Akbari and Dabestan-e Mazaheb.
The Mughal Empire did not try to intervene in the local societies during most of its existence, but rather balanced and pacified them through new administrative practices and diverse and inclusive ruling elites, leading to more systematic, centralised, and uniform rule. Traditional and newly coherent social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, the Rajputs, the Pashtuns, the Hindu Jats and the Sikhs, gained military and governing ambitions during Mughal rule, which, through collaboration or adversity, gave them both recognition and military experience.
The reign of Shah Jahan, the fifth emperor, between 1628–58 was the golden age of Mughal architecture. He erected several large monuments, the best known of which is the Taj Mahal at Agra, as well as the Moti Masjid, Agra, the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, Delhi, and the Lahore Fort. The Mughal Empire reached the zenith of its territorial expanse during the reign of Aurangzeb and also started its terminal decline in his reign due to Maratha military resurgence under Shivaji Bhosale. During his lifetime, victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to more than 3.2 million square kilometres (1.2 million square miles), ruling over more than 150 million subjects, nearly one quarter of the world’s population at the time, with a combined GDP of over $90 billion.
By the mid-18th century, the Marathas had routed Mughal armies and won over several Mughal provinces from the Punjab to Bengal. Internal dissatisfaction arose due to the weakness of the empire’s administrative and economic systems, leading to its break-up and declarations of independence of its former provinces by the Nawab of Bengal, the Nawab of Awadh, the Nizam of Hyderabad and other small states. In 1739, the Mughals were crushingly defeated in the Battle of Karnal by the forces of Nader Shah, the founder of the Afsharid dynasty in Persia, and Delhi was sacked and looted, drastically accelerating their decline. During the following century Mughal power had become severely limited, and the last emperor, Bahadur Shah II, had authority over only the city of Shahjahanabad. He issued a firman supporting the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and following the defeat was therefore tried by the British East India Company for treason, imprisoned and exiled to Rangoon. The last remnants of the empire were formally taken over by the British, and the Government of India Act 1858 let the British Crown formally assume direct control of India in the form of the new British Raj.
List of Mughal emperors
|Babur||23 February 1483||1526–1530||30 December 1530||Was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan through his mother and was descendant of Timur through his father. Founded the Mughal Empire after his victories at the First Battle of Panipat (1526), the Battle of Khanwa (1527), and the Battle of Ghagra (1529).|
|Humayun||6 March 1508||1530–1540||Jan 1556||Reign interrupted by Sur Empire after the Battle of Kanauj (1540). Youth and inexperience at ascension led to his being regarded as a less effective ruler than usurper, Sher Shah Suri.|
|Sher Shah Suri||1472||1540–1545||May 1545||Deposed Humayun and led the Sur Empire.|
|Islam Shah Suri||c. 1500||1545–1554||1554||2nd and last ruler of the Sur Empire, claims of sons Sikandar and Adil Shah were eliminated by Humayun’s restoration.|
|Humayun||6 March 1508||1555–1556||Jan 1556||Restored rule was more unified and effective than initial reign of 1530–1540; left unified empire for his son, Akbar.|
|Akbar||14 November 1542||1556–1605||27 October 1605||He and Bairam Khan defeated Hemu during the Second Battle of Panipat and later won famous victories during the Siege of Chittorgarh and the Siege of Ranthambore; He greatly expanded the Empire and is regarded as the most illustrious ruler of the Mughal Empire as he set up the empire’s various institutions; he married Mariam-uz-Zamani, a Rajput princess. One of his most famous construction marvels was the Lahore Fort.|
|Jahangir||Oct 1569||1605–1627||1627||Jahangir set the precedent for sons rebelling against their emperor fathers. Opened first relations with the British East India Company. Reportedly was an alcoholic, and his wife Empress Noor Jahan became the real power behind the throne and competently ruled in his place.|
|Shah Jahan||5 January 1592||1627–1658||1666||Under him, Mughal art and architecture reached their zenith; constructed the Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid, Red Fort,Jahangir mausoleum, and Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. Deposed by his son Aurangzeb.|
|Aurangzeb||21 October 1618||1658–1707||3 March 1707||He reinterpreted Islamic law and presented the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri; he captured the diamond mines of the Sultanate of Golconda; he spent the major part of his last 27 years in the war with the Maratha rebels; at its zenith, his conquests expanded the empire to its greatest extent; the overstretched empire was controlled by Mansabdars, and faced challenges after his death. He is known to have transcribed copies of the Qur’an using his own styles of calligraphy. He died during a campaign against the ravaging Marathas in the Deccan.|
|Bahadur Shah I||14 October 1643||1707–1712||Feb 1712||First of the Mughal emperors to preside over an empire ravaged by uncontrollable revolts. After his reign, the empire went into steady decline due to the lack of leadership qualities among his immediate successors.|
|Jahandar Shah||1664||1712–1713||Feb 1713||Was an unpopular incompetent titular figurehead;|
|Furrukhsiyar||1683||1713–1719||1719||His reign marked the ascendancy of the manipulative Syed Brothers, execution of the rebellious Banda. In 1717 he granted a Firman to the English East India Company granting them duty-free trading rights in Bengal. The Firman was repudiated by the notable Murshid Quli Khan the Mughal appointed ruler of Bengal.|
|Muhammad Shah||1702||1719–1720, 1720–1748||1748||Got rid of the Syed Brothers. Tried to counter the emergence of the Marathas but his empire disintegrated. Suffered the invasion of Nadir-Shah of Persia in 1739.|
|Ahmad Shah Bahadur||1725||1748–54||1775|
|Alamgir II||1699||1754–1759||1759||He was murdered by the Vizier Imad-ul-Mulk and Maratha associate Sadashivrao Bhau.|
|Shah Jahan III||Unknown||In 1759||1772||Was ordained to the imperial throne as a result of the intricacies in Delhi with the help of Imad-ul-Mulk. He was later deposed by Maratha Sardars.|
|Shah Alam II||1728||1759–1806||1806||He was proclaimed as Mughal Emperor by the Marathas. Later, he was again recognised as the Mughal Emperor byAhmad Shah Durrani after the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. 1764 saw the defeat of the combined forces of Mughal Emperor, Nawab of Oudh & Nawab of Bengal and Bihar at the hand of East India Company at the Battle of Buxar. Following this defeat, Shah Alam II left Delhi for Allahabad, ending hostilities with the Treaty of Allahabad (1765). Shah Alam II was reinstated to the throne of Delhi in 1772 by Mahadji Shinde under the protection of the Marathas. He was a de jure emperor. During his reign in 1793 British East India company abolished Nizamat (Mughal suzerainty) and took control of the former Mughal province of Bengal marking the beginning of British reign in parts of Eastern India officially.|
|Akbar Shah II||1760||1806–1837||1837||He became a British pensioner after the defeat of the Marathas, who were the protector of the Mughal throne, in the Anglo-Maratha wars . Under East India company’s protection, his imperial name was removed from the official coinage after a brief dispute with the British East India Company;|
|Bahadur Shah II||1775||1837–1857||1862||The last Mughal emperor was deposed in 1858 by the British East India company and exiled to Burma following the War of 1857 after the fall of Delhi to the company troops. His death marks the end of the Mughal dynasty.|