|Padishah of Hindustan|
The Imperial Seal and the Mughal flag of 1857
Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor, who ruled from
(28 September 1837 – 21 September 1857)
|Style||His Imperial Majesty|
|Last monarch||Bahadur Shah II|
|Formation||20 April 1526|
|Abolition||21 September 1857|
The Mughal emperors (Persian: پادشاهان هندوستان, romanized: Pādishāhān) were the supreme heads of state of the Mughal Empire on the Indian subcontinent, mainly corresponding to the modern countries of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The Mughal rulers styled themselves as "padishah", a title usually translated as "emperor". They began to rule parts of India from 1526, and by 1707 ruled most of the sub-continent. After that they declined rapidly, but nominally ruled territories until the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
The Mughals were a branch of the Timurid dynasty of Turco-Mongol origin from Central Asia. Their founder Babur, a Timurid prince from the Fergana Valley (modern-day Uzbekistan), was a direct descendant of Timur (generally known in western nations as Tamerlane) and also affiliated with Genghis Khan through Timur's marriage to a Genghisid princess.
Many of the later Mughal emperors had significant Indian Rajput and Persian ancestry through marriage alliances as emperors were born to Rajput and Persian princesses. Akbar, for instance, was half-Persian (his mother was of Persian origin), Jahangir was half-Rajput and quarter-Persian, and Shah Jahan was three-quarters Rajput.
During the reign of Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707), the empire, as the world's largest economy, worth over 25% of global GDP, controlled nearly all of the Indian subcontinent, extending from Chittagong in the east to Kabul and Balochistan in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri River basin in the south.
Its population at the time has been estimated as between 110 and 150 million (a quarter of the world's population), over a territory of more than 4 million square kilometres (1.2 million square miles). Mughal power rapidly dwindled during the 18th century and the last emperor, Bahadur Shah II, was deposed in 1857, with the establishment of the British Raj.
The Mughal empire was founded by Babur, a Timurid prince and ruler from Central Asia. Babur was a direct descendant of the Timurid Emperor Tamerlane on his father's side, and the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan on his mother's side. Ousted from his ancestral domains in Turkistan by Sheybani Khan, the 40-year-old Prince Babur turned to India to satisfy his ambitions. He established himself in Kabul and then pushed steadily southward into India from Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass. Babur's forces occupied much of northern India after his victory at Panipat in 1526. The preoccupation with wars and military campaigns, however, did not allow the new emperor to consolidate the gains he had made in India. The instability of the empire became evident under his son, Humayun, who was driven into exile in Persia by rebels. Humayun's exile in Persia established diplomatic ties between the Safavid and Mughal Courts and led to increasing West Asian cultural influence in the Mughal court. The restoration of Mughal rule began after Humayun's triumphant return from Persia in 1555, but he died from an accident shortly afterwards. Humayun's son, Akbar, succeeded to the throne under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped consolidate the Mughal Empire in India.
Through warfare and diplomacy, Akbar was able to extend the empire in all directions and controlled almost the entire Indian subcontinent north of the Godavari river. He created a new ruling elite loyal to him, implemented a modern administration, and encouraged cultural developments. He increased trade with European trading companies. The Indian historian Abraham Eraly wrote that foreigners were often impressed by the fabulous wealth of the Mughal court, but the glittering court hid darker realities, namely that about a quarter of the empire's gross national product was owned by 655 families while the bulk of India's 120 million people lived in appalling poverty. After suffering what appears to have been an epileptic seizure in 1578 while hunting tigers, which he regarded as a religious experience, Akbar grew disenchanted with Islam, and came to embrace a syncretistic mixture of Hinduism and Islam. 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, with strong characteristics of a ruler cult. He left his son an internally stable state, which was in the midst of its golden age, but before long signs of political weakness would emerge.
Akbar's son, Jahangir, "was addicted to opium, neglected the affairs of the state, and came under the influence of rival court cliques. During the reign of Jahangir's son, Shah Jahan, the splendour of the Mughal court reached its peak, as exemplified by the Taj Mahal. The cost of maintaining the court, however, began to exceed the revenue coming in.
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 religion and culture. With the support of the Islamic orthodoxy, however, a younger son of Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb, seized the throne. Aurangzeb defeated Dara in 1659 and had him executed. Although Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness, there was a succession war for the throne between Dara and Aurangzeb. Finally, Aurangzeb succeeded the throne and kept Shah Jahan under house arrest.
During Aurangzeb's reign, the empire gained political strength once more, and it became the world's largest economy, over a quarter of the world GDP, but his establishment of Sharia caused huge controversies. Aurangzeb expanded the empire to include a huge part of South Asia. At its peak, the kingdom stretched to 3.2 million square kilometres, including parts of what are now India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. After his death in 1707, "many parts of the empire were in open revolt". Aurangzeb's attempts to reconquer his family's ancestral lands in Central Asia were not successful while his successful conquest of the Deccan region proved to be a Pyrrhic victory that cost the empire heavily in both blood and treasure. A further problem for Aurangzeb was the army had always been based upon the land-owning aristocracy of northern India who provided the cavalry for the campaigns, and the empire had nothing equivalent to the Janissary corps of the Ottoman Empire. The long and costly conquest of the Deccan had badly diminished the "aura of success" that surrounded Aurangzeb, and from the late 17th century onwards, the aristocracy became increasingly unwilling to provide forces for the empire's wars as the prospect of being rewarded with land as a result of a successful war was seen as less and less likely.
Furthermore, at the conclusion of the conquest of the Deccan, Aurangzeb had very selectively rewarded some of the noble families with confiscated land in the Deccan, leaving aristocrats unrewarded with confiscated land feeling strongly disgruntled and unwilling to participate in further campaigns. Aurangzeb's son, Shah Alam, 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 the year 1719 alone, four emperors successively ascended the throne".
During the reign of Muhammad Shah, the empire began to break up, and vast tracts of central India passed from Mughal to Maratha hands. Mughal warfare had always been based upon heavy artillery for sieges, heavy cavalry for offensive operations and light cavalry for skirmishing and raids. To control a region, the Mughals had always sought to occupy a strategic fortress in some region, which would serve as a nodal point from which the Mughal army would emerge to take on any enemy that challenged the empire. This system was not only expensive but also made the army somewhat inflexible as the assumption was always the enemy would retreat into a fortress to be besieged or would engage in a set-piece decisive battle of annihilation on open ground. The Hindu Marathas were expert horsemen who refused to engage in set-piece battles, but rather engaged in campaigns of guerrilla warfare upon the Mughal supply lines. The Marathas were unable to take the Mughal fortresses via a storm or formal siege as they lacked the artillery, but by constantly intercepting supply columns, they were able to starve Mughal fortresses into submission.
Successive Mughal commanders refused to adjust their tactics and develop an appropriate counter-insurgency strategy, which led to the Mughals losing more and more ground to the Maratha. The Indian campaign of Nader Shah of Persia culminated with the Sack of Delhi and shattered the remnants of Mughal power and prestige, as well as capturing the imperial treasury, thus drastically accelerating its decline. Many of the empire's elites now sought to control their own affairs and broke away to form independent kingdoms. The Mughal Emperor, however, continued to be the highest manifestation of sovereignty. Not only the Muslim gentry, but the Maratha, Hindu, and Sikh leaders took part in ceremonial acknowledgements of the emperor as the sovereign of India.
In the next decades, the Afghans, Sikhs, and Marathas battled against each other and the Mughals, revealing the fragmented state of the empire. The Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II made futile attempts to reverse the Mughal decline, but he ultimately had to seek the protection of outside powers. In 1784, the Marathas under Mahadaji Shinde won acknowledgement as the protectors of the emperor in Delhi, a state of affairs that continued until after the Second Anglo-Maratha War. Thereafter, the British East India Company became the protectors of the Mughal dynasty in Delhi. After 1835 the Company no longer recognised the authority of the emperor, accepting him only as 'King of Delhi' and removing all references to him from their coinage. After a crushed rebellion which he nominally led in 1857–58, the last Mughal, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was deposed by the British, who then assumed formal control of a large part of the former empire, marking the start of the British Raj.
List of Mughal emperors
|Portrait||Titular Name||Birth Name||Birth||Reign||Death||Notes|
|Zahir al-Din Muhammad |
ظہیر الدین محمد
|14 February 1483 Andijan, Uzbekistan||20 April 1526 – 26 December 1530||26 December 1530 (aged 47) Agra, India||Founded the Empire|
|Nasir al-Din Muhammad |
نصیر الدین محمد
|6 March 1508 Kabul, Afghanistan||26 December 1530 – 17 May 1540 |
9 years 4 months 21 days 22 February 1555 – 27 January 1556
|27 January 1556 (aged 47) Delhi, India||Humayun was overthrown in 1540 by Sher Shah Suri of the Afghan Sur Empire but returned to the throne in 1555 after the death of Islam Shah Suri (Sher Shah Suri's son and successor).|
|Jalal al-Din Muhammad |
جلال الدین محمد
|15 October 1542 Umerkot, Pakistan||11 February 1556 – 27 October 1605 |
(49 years 9 months 0 days)
|27 October 1605 (aged 63) Agra, India||Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar famously known as Akbar The Great. Under his reign, the Mughal Empire expanded substantially, gained much prestige, and stabilization. He is considered to be the most competent ruler of the Mughal Empire. He introduced various liberal policies and had conducted several inter-religion marriages for political advantage. His successor was born to his Rajput Queen consort Mariam-uz-Zamani. Himself on his spiritual behest, he renounced Islam in later life and founded a religion named Din-I-Illahi. His mother Hamida Banu Begum was Persian.|
|Nur al-Din Muhammad |
نور الدین محمد
|31 August 1569 Agra, India||3 November 1605 – 28 October 1627 |
(21 years 11 months 23 days)
|28 October 1627 (aged 58) Jammu and Kashmir, India||He was the eldest surviving son of Akbar and his chief consort Mariam-uz-Zamani, a Rajput princess. He is regarded as an incapable ruler who was under the heavy influence of alcohol and opium. Despite being incompetent he is considered to be the justest ruler of the Mughal empire genuinely interested in the welfare of his subjects. Under his reign, the growing control of the Deccan regions led by Akbar began to recede.|
|5||Shah Jahan |
|Shihab al-Din Muhammad |
شہاب الدین محمد
|5 January 1592 Lahore, Pakistan||19 January 1628 – 31 July 1658 |
(30 years 8 months 25 days)
|22 January 1666 (aged 74) Agra, India||Under his reign, the Mughal Empire reached the peak of its cultural glory. Shah Jahan is best remembered for his architectural achievements. His reign ushered in the golden age of Mughal architecture. Shah Jahan commissioned many monuments, the best known of which is the Taj Mahal in Agra, in which is entombed his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.|
|Muhi al-Din Muhammad |
محی الدین محمد
|3 November 1618 Gujarat, India||31 July 1658 – 3 March 1707 |
(48 years 7 months 0 days)
|3 March 1707 (aged 88) Ahmednagar, India||His mother was Persian Mumtaz Mahal. He was married to Safavid dynasty Princess Dilras Banu Begum. He established Islamic law throughout India. Under his reign, Mughals reached their greatest extent. After his death, His younger Son Azam Shah became the King (for 3 months) .|
|7||Azam Shah |
|Qutb al-Din Muhammad |
قطب الدين محمد
|28 June 1653 Burhanpur, India||14 March 1707 – 20 June 1707||20 June 1707 (aged 53) Agra, India||He was briefly Mughal emperor, who reigned for 3 months. He was the eldest son of Aurangzeb and his chief consort Dilras Banu Begum.|
|8||Bahadur Shah |
|Qutb al-Din Muhammad |
قطب الدین محمد
|14 October 1643 Burhanpur, India||19 June 1707 – 27 February 1712 |
(4 years, 253 days)
|27 February 1712 (aged 68) Lahore, Pakistan||He made settlements with the Marathas, tranquilized the Rajputs, and became friendly with the Sikhs in Punjab.|
|9||Jahandar Shah |
|Muiz al-Din Muhammad |
معز الدین محمد
|9 May 1661 Deccan, India||27 February 1712 – 11 February 1713 |
(0 years, 350 days)
|12 February 1713 (aged 51) Delhi, India||Highly influenced by his Grand Vizier Zulfikar Khan.|
|10||Farrukh Siyar |
|Muin al-Din Muhammad |
موئن الدین محمد
|20 August 1685 Aurangabad, India||11 January 1713 – 28 February 1719 |
(6 years, 48 days)
|19 April 1719 (aged 33) Delhi, India||Granted a firman to the East India Company in 1717 granting them duty-free trading rights for Bengal, strengthening their posts on the east coast. The firman or decree helped British East India Company to import goods into Bengal without paying customs duty to the government.|
|11||Rafi ud-Darajat |
|Shams al-Din Muhammad |
شمس الدین محمد
|1 December 1699||28 February – 6 June 1719 |
(0 years, 98 days)
|6 June 1719 (aged 19) Agra, India||Rise of Syed Brothers as power brokers.|
|12||Shah Jahan II |
شاہ جہان دوم
|Rafi al-Din Muhammad |
رفع الدين محمد
|5 January 1696||6 June 1719 – 17 September 1719 |
(0 years, 105 days)
|18 September 1719 (aged 23) Agra, India||Succeeded Rafi ud-Darajat after being chosen by the Sayyid brothers.|
|13||Muhammad Shah |
|Nasir al-Din Muhammad |
نصیر الدین محمد
|7 August 1702 Ghazni, Afghanistan||27 September 1719 – 26 April 1748 |
(28 years, 212 days)
|26 April 1748 (aged 45) Delhi, India||Got rid of the Sayyid Brothers. Fought a long war with the Marathas, losing Deccan and Malwa in the process. Suffered the invasion of Nader Shah of Persia in 1739. He was the last emperor to possess effective control over the empire.|
|14||Ahmad Shah Bahadur |
احمد شاہ بہادر
|Mujahid al-Din Muhammad |
مجاہد الدین محمد
|23 December 1725 Delhi, India||29 April 1748 – 2 June 1754 |
(6 years, 37 days)
|1 January 1775 (aged 49) Delhi, India||Mughal forces defeated by the Marathas at the Battle of Sikandarabad.|
|15||Alamgir II |
|Aziz al-Din Muhammad |
عزیز اُلدین محمد
|6 June 1699 Burhanpur, India||3 June 1754 – 29 November 1759 |
(5 years, 180 days)
|29 November 1759 (aged 60) Kotla Fateh Shah, India||Domination of Vizier Imad-ul-Mulk.|
|16||Shah Jahan III |
شاہ جہان سوم
|Muhi al-Millat |
|1711||10 December 1759 – 10 October 1760 |
|1772 (aged 60–61)||Consolidation of power by the Nawab of Bengal-Bihar-Odisha.|
|17||Shah Alam II |
شاہ عالم دوم
|Jalal al-Din Muhammad Ali Gauhar |
جلال الدین علی گوہر
|25 June 1728 Delhi, India||10 October 1760 – 31 July 1788 |
(27 years, 301 days)
|19 November 1806 (aged 78) Delhi, India||Defeat in the Battle of Buxar.|
|18||Shah Jahan IV |
جہان شاه چہارم
|Bidar Bakht Mahmud Shah Bahadur Jahan Shah |
بیدار بخت محمود شاه بهادر جہان شاہ
|1749 Delhi, India||31 July 1788 – 11 October 1788 |
|1790 (aged 40–41) Delhi, India||Enthroned as a puppet Emperor by the Rohilla Ghulam Kadir, following the temporary overthrow of Shah Alam II.|
|17||Shah Alam II |
شاہ عالم دوم
|Jalal al-Din Muhammad Ali Gauhar |
جلال الدین علی گوہر
|25 June 1728 Delhi, India||16 October 1788 – 19 November 1806 |
(45 years, 339 days)
|19 November 1806 (aged 78) Delhi, India||Second reign.|
|19||Akbar Shah II |
اکبر شاہ دوم
|Muin al-Din Muhammad |
|22 April 1760 Mukundpur, India||19 November 1806 – 28 September 1837 |
(30 years, 321 days)
|28 September 1837 (aged 77) Delhi, India||Titular figurehead under British protection.|
|20||Bahadur Shah II Zafar |
بہادر شاہ ظفر
|Abu Zafar Siraj al-Din Muhammad |
ابو ظفر سراج اُلدین محمد
|24 October 1775 Delhi, India||28 September 1837 – 21 September 1857 |
(19 years, 360 days)
|7 November 1862 (aged 87) Rangoon, Myanmar||Last Mughal Emperor. Deposed by the British and was exiled to Burma after the rebellion of 1857.|
Note: The Mughal Emperors practiced polygamy. Besides their wives, they also had several concubines in their harem, who produced children. This makes it difficult to identify all the offspring of each emperor.[need quotation to verify]
Family tree of Mughal Emperors
Mughal family tree
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- Aurangzeb, as he was according to Mughal Records
- British India