NCERT / CBSE NOTES : Chapter Summary
The Mughal Empire
The foundation of Mughal Empire in India was laid in the early 1500s when Babur gained control over parts of Sindh. In 1526, when Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the first battle of Panipat he laid the foundation for the Mughal Empire.
The Mughal rulers proved that they were good administrators as from the latter half of the 16th century, their kingdom extended from present-day Bangladesh in the east to Baluchistan in the west and Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south.
Babur‘s mother was a descendant of Genghis Khan, who invaded India during the rule of Illtutmish, and his father was a descendant of Timur, the ruler of Iran, Iraq and modern-day Turkey. The Mughals did not like the association with Genghis Khan but were very proud to have Timur as their ancestor.
Must Read: The Mughal Empire - Solved Question Answers
First is Emperor Babur who established the Mughal rule in India, then comes his son Humayun, then the most influential and successful emperor of all, 13 year old Emperor Akbar, then his son Jahangir followed by the Shah Jahan, patron of fine arts and last Emperor Aurangzeb.
Three major military campaigns were fought by Emperor Babur. These include:
- 1526 defeat of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat and establishment of Mughal empire in India.
- 1527 defeat of Mewar king Rana Sanga and his allies at Khanua
- 1528 defeat of Rajputs at Chanderi
In 1530, Humayun came to power but in 1540 lost his empire to Sher Shah Suri. In 1555, with the help of Safavid Shah, he recaptured Delhi. Akbar expanded the Mughal Empire during his reign from 1556-1605.
Mewar’s rulers surrendered during Jahangir’s, who ruled from 1605 to 1627. In 1605, Jehangir came to power. Shah Jahan came to power in 1627. However he lost Kandahar to the Persians in 1653. Shah Jahan reigned from 1627 to 1658. In 1658, Aurangzeb, the last of great Mughal kings came to power. Aurangzeb faced several rebellions during his reign from 1658 to 1707.
Administration of Mughal Empire
The Mughals followed the custom of co-parcenary inheritance, where parental property was divided equally among all the sons. As the Mughals became powerful, several rulers voluntarily submitted to their authority. Many Rajput rulers married their daughters into Mughal families to gain position in the Mughal courts.
To manage the vast empire and organize the army, Akbar introduced the Mansabdari system. Every officer was given a mansab or a rank, and was called a mansabdar. They were graded according to their rank, salary and military responsibilities which depended upon a numerical value, known as zat. The higher the zat, the higher was the rank and the salary of the mansabdar.
A mansabdar maintained a particular number of cavalrymen or sawars under him as a part of his military responsibilities. They received jagirs or land for their service, and the revenue collected from the jagirs was their salary.
The increase in the number of mansabdars led to an increase in the waiting period for jagirs, along with a shortage of jagirs. Tax from peasants was one of the main sources of income for the Mughals. Taxes were collected by intermediaries called zamindars. The revenue system in Akbar’s reign was called zabt.
Akbar also reformed Mughal currency, his aim to establish uniform coinage throughout his empire.
Abul Fazl,wrote a manuscript on the history of Akbar’s reign called as Akbar Nama. It consisted of three volumes which give detail information about Akbar’s ancestors, the important events during Akbar’s reign, and a record of his administrative system called Ain-i Akbari respectively.
Akbar’s empire was divided into provinces called subas each of which was governed by a subadar who took care of the political and military functions. He was supported by a diwan or financial officer, bakshi or military paymasters, sadr or religious leaders, faujdar or military commanders and kotwals or town police in its administration.
Ain-i-Akbari also tells us about Akbar’s views on religion which say, he believed that all religions preached the same message. He invited religious heads for discussions in his Ibadat Khana at Fatehpur Sikri during which the disloyalty by nobles affecting the smooth functioning of the empire.
Inspired by these discussions, in 1581, a new doctrine, called Din-i ilahi was introduced that preached peace, tolerance and unity. However, Din-i ilahi faded out after the demise of Akbar.
Mughal Empire after 16th Century
The 17th century saw extension of the Mughal Empire from Qandahar in the west to Bengal in the east and from Kashmir in the north to Mysore in the south. The efficient military and administration systems of the Mughals made their empire a great economic success. However, the unequal distribution of income and wealth made the mansabdasr rich and the artisans and peasants poor.
During Shah Jahan’s reign, among the mansabdars only 445 out of the 8,000 had the highest ranking, meaning 5.6% of mansabdars received 61.5% of the total revenue as salaries. However, the income of the other artisans and peasants was just enough for their daily expenditure.
After the demise of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal Empire came under the rule of weak successors. Taking advantage of this weakness many individual kings established their own independent kingdoms. All these factors finally led to the decline of the Mughal Empire in 1857, when the British took over.