From the latter half of the sixteenth century the Mughals expanded their kingdom from Agra and Delhi until in the seventeenth century they controlled nearly all over the subcontinent.
They imposed structures of administration and ideas of governance that outlasted their rule, leaving a political legacy that succeeding rulers of the subcontinent could not ignore.
Their official residence was at Red Fort in Delhi.
From their mother’s side they were descendants of Genghis Khan (died 1227), ruler of the Mongol tribes, China and Central Asia. Because of Genghis Khan’s massacre, Mughals didn’t like to be related to him.
From their father’s side they were the successors of Timur (died 1404), the ruler of Iran, Iraq and modern-day Turkey.
They followed the coparcenary inheritance instead of primogeniture.
Many Rajputs married their daughters to Mughal and kept their positions.
Mughals always tried not to humiliate their defeated opponents. This balance helped them to maintain their power.
Those who joined Mughal service were enrolled as mansabdars.
The term mansabdar refers to an individual who holds a mansab, meaning a position or rank. It was a grading system used by the Mughals to fix (1) rank, (2) salary and (3) military responsibilities.
Mansabdar was responsible for maintaining specified number of cavalrymen by registering them and getting their horses branded.
Rank and salary were determined by a numerical value called zat.
The higher the zat, the more prestigious was the noble’s position in court and the larger his salary.
The mansabdars received their salary in the form of revenue assignments called jagirs.
The main income of Mughal emperors was the tax on the produce of the peasantry.
Babur ( 1526-30 )
He was the first Mughal emperor.
He succeeded the throne of Ferghana on 1494 at the age of 12 years old.
In 1526 he defeated the Sultan of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodi, at Panipat and captured Delhi and Agra.
Babur used cannons in the First Battle of Panipat.
In 1527, he defeated Rana Sanga, Rajput rulers and allies at Khanua.
In 1528, he defeated the Rajputs at Chanderi.
Humayun ( 1530-1540 ), ( 1555-1556 )
Sher Khan defeated Humayun at Chausa (1539) and Kanauj (1540), forcing him to flee to Iran.
In Iran Humayun received help from the Safavid Shah.
He recaptured Delhi in 1555 but died in an accident the following year.
Akbar ( 1556 – 1605 )
Akbar was 13 years old when he became emperor. Bairam Khan was his regent.
Military campaigns were launched against the Suris and other Afghans, against the neighbouring kingdoms of Malwa and Gondwana, and to suppress the revolt of his half-brother Mirza Hakim and the Uzbegs.
In 1568 the Sisodiya capital of Chittor was seized and in 1569 Ranthambhor.
During the period of 1570 – 1585, he launched military campaigns in Gujarat, East Bihar, Bengal and Orissa.
During the period of 1585 – 1605, he captured Qandahar from Safavids, Kashmir and Kabul.
He also started his campaigns in the south, where he captured Berar, Khandesh and Ahmadnagar.
Todar Mal was Akbar’s revenue minister. He carried out a survey of crop yields, prices and areas cultivated and then fixed tax on each crop.He divided each province into revenue circles with its own schedule of revenue rates for individual crops. This revenue system was known as zabt.
Abul Fazl wrote a three volume history of Akbar’s reign titled, Akbar Nama.
The last volume of this book was known as Ain-i-Akbari, which dealt about Akbar’s administration, revenue systems, household matters, etc.
The empire was divided into provinces called subas, governed by a subadar who carried out both political and military functions.
Each province also had a financial officer or diwan.
For the maintenance of peace and order in his province, the subadar was supported by other officers such as the military paymaster (bakhshi), the minister in charge of religious and charitable patronage (sadr), military commanders (faujdars) and the town police commander (kotwal).
Akbar formed the idea of sulh-i-kul which means universal peace.
Jahangir ( 1605 – 1627 )
Once he ascended the throne, he continued with the campaigns of Akbar.
The Sisodiya ruler of Mewar, Amar Singh, accepted Mughal service.
Less successful campaigns against the Sikhs, the Ahoms and Ahmadnagar followed.
Shah Jahan ( 1627 – 1658 )
He continued campaigns in Deccan.
Campaigns were launched against Ahmadnagar; the Bundelas were defeated and Orchha seized.
In the north-west, the campaign to seize Balkh from the Uzbegs was unsuccessful and Qandahar was lost to the Safavids.
In 1632 Ahmadnagar was finally annexed and the Bijapur forces sued for peace.
In 1611, Mehrunnisa married emperor and changed her name into Nur Jahan.
In 1657-1658, there was conflict over succession amongst Shah Jahan’s sons. Aurangzeb was victorious and his three brothers were killed.
Shah Jahan was imprisoned for the rest of his life in Agra.
Aurangzeb ( 1658 – 1707 )
He defeated Ahoms in 1663.
His campaigns in the north-west against the Yusufzai and the Sikhs were temporarily successful.
Mughal intervention in the succession and internal politics of the Rathore Rajputs of Marwar led to their rebellion.
Campaigns against the Maratha chieftain Shivaji were initially successful.
Prince Akbar, youngest son of Aurangzeb, rebelled against his father and later fled to Safavid Iran.
Aurangzeb annexed Bijapur in 1685 and Golconda in 1687.
From 1698 Aurangzeb personally managed campaigns in the Deccan against the Marathas who started guerrilla warfare.
Aurangzeb also had to face the rebellion in north India of the Sikhs, Jats and Satnamis, in the north-east of the Ahoms and in the Deccan of the Marathas.