The Mughal emperors were a branch of the Timurid dynasty who built and ruled the Mughal Empire in South Asia, mainly corresponding to the modern countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, from the early 16th century to the early 18th century. During the 18th century their power rapidly dwindled and, with the establishment of the British Raj, the last of the emperors was deposed in 1857. The dynasty was of central Asian Turco-Mongol origin from the area now part of modern-day Uzbekistan and the emperors claimed direct descent from both Genghis Khan (through his son Chagatai Khan) and Timur. At their empire's greatest extent in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, they controlled much of the Indian subcontinent, extending from Bengal in the east to Kabul and Sindh in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south. Its population at that time has been estimated as between 110 and 150 million (a quarter of the world's population), over a territory of more than 3.2 million square kilometres (1.2 million square miles).
The Mughal Empire was founded by Babur, a Central Asian ruler who was descended from the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur on his father's side and from Chagatai, the second son of the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan, on his mother’s side. Ousted from his ancestral domains in Central Asia, 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 out of India and into Persia by rebels. Humayun's exile in Persia established diplomatic ties between the Safavid and Mughal Courts, and led to closer cultural contacts between India and Iran. The restoration of Mughal rule began after Humayun’s triumphant return from Persia in 1555, but he died from a fatal 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 class of nobility loyal to him from the military aristocracy of India's social groups, implemented a modern government and supported cultural developments. At the same time Akbar intensified trade with European trading companies. India developed a strong and stable economy, leading to commercial expansion and economic development. Akbar allowed free expression of religion 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 successors 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, ruled the empire at its peak, but he 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 culture and splendour of the luxurious Mughal court reached its zenith as exemplified by the Taj Mahal. The maintenance of the court, at this time, began to cost more than the revenue.
Shah Jahan's eldest son, the liberal Dara Shikoh, became regent in 1658, as a result of his father's illness. However, a younger son, Aurangzeb, allied with the Islamic orthodoxy against his brother, who championed a syncretistic Hindu-Muslim culture, and ascended to the throne. Aurangzeb defeated Dara in 1659 and had him executed. Although Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness, Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule and had him imprisoned. During Aurangzeb reign, the empire gained political strength once more, but his religious conservatism and intolerance undermined the stability of Mughal society. Aurangzeb expanded the empire to include almost the whole of South Asia, but at his death in 1707, many parts of the empire were in open revolt. 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. The Indian campaign of Nadir Shah culminated with the Sack of Delhi and shattered the remnants of Mughal power and prestige, as well as drastically accelerating its decline and alarming other far-off invaders, including the later British. 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, only to prove the fragmented state of the empire. The Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II made futile attempts to reverse the Mughal decline, and ultimately had to seek the protection of outside powers. In 1784, the Maratha's under Mahadji Scindia 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 a crushed rebellion which he nominally led in 1857-58, the last Mughal, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was deposed by the British government, 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|
ظہیر الدین محمد
|23 February 1483||30 April 1526 – 26 December 1530||26 December 1530 (aged 47)|
|Nasir-ud-din Muhammad Humayun
نصیر الدین محمد ہمایوں
|17 March 1508||26 December 1530 – 17 May 1540 and 22 February 1555 - 27 January 1556||27 January 1556 (aged 47)||Hamayun was overthrown in 1540 by Sher Shah Suri of the Suri dynasty but returned to the throne in 1555 after the death of Islam Shah Suri (Sher Shah Suri's son and successor).|
جلال الدین محمد اکبر
|14 October 1542||27 January 1556 – 27 October 1605||27 October 1605 (aged 63)|
|Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim
نور الدین محمد سلیم
|20 September 1569||15 October 1605 – 8 November 1627||8 November 1627 (aged 58)|
|Shahryar||Salef-ud-din Mohammed Shahryar||16 January 1605||23 January 1628 (Aged 23)||Claimed the throne,but lost it within 3 hours|
شاہ جہان اعظم
|Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram
شہاب الدین محمد خرم
|5 January 1592||8 November 1627 – 2 August 1658||22 January 1666 (aged 74)||Built Taj Mahal|
|Muhy-ud-din Muhammad Aurangzeb
محی الدین محمداورنگزیب
|4 November 1618||31 July 1658 – 3 March 1707||3 March 1707 (aged 88)|
|Azam Shah||Abu'l Faaiz Qutb-ud-Din Muhammad Azam||28 June 1653||14 March 1707 – 8 June 1707||8 June 1707 (aged 53)|
|Bahadur Shah||Qutb ud-Din Muhammad Mu'azzam||14 October 1643||19 June 1707 – 27 February 1712
(4 years, 253 days)
|27 February 1712 (aged 68)||He made settlements with the Marathas, tranquilized the Rajputs, and became friendly with the Sikhs in the Punjab.|
|Jahandar Shah||Ma'az-ud-Din Jahandar Shah Bahadur||9 May 1661||27 February 1712 – 11 February 1713
(0 years, 350 days)
|12 February 1713 (aged 51)||Highly influenced by his Grand Vizier Zulfikar Khan.|
|Farrukhsiyar||Farrukhsiyar||20 August 1685||11 January 1713 – 28 February 1719
(6 years, 48 days)
|29 April 1719 (aged 33)||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.|
|Rafi ud-Darajat||Rafi ud-Darajat||30 November 1699||28 February – 6 June 1719
(0 years, 98 days)
|9 June 1719 (aged 19)||Rise of Syed Brothers as power brokers.|
|Shah Jahan II||Rafi ud-Daulah||June 1696||6 June 1719 – 19 September 1719
(0 years, 105 days)
|19 September 1719 (aged 23)||----|
|Muhammad Shah||Roshan Akhtar Bahadur||17 August 1702||27 September 1719 – 26 April 1748
(28 years, 212 days)
|26 April 1748 (aged 45)||Got rid of the Syed Brothers. Fought a long war with the Marathas, losing Deccan and Malwa in the process. Suffered the invasion of Nadir Shah of Persia in 1739. He was the last emperor to possess effective control over the empire.|
|Ahmad Shah Bahadur||Ahmad Shah Bahadur||23 December 1725||26 April 1748 – 2 June 17
||1 January 1775 (aged 49)||Mughal forces defeated by the Marathas at the Battle of Sikandarabad.|
|Alamgir II||Aziz-ud-din||6 June 1699||2 June 1754 – 29 November 1759
(5 years, 180 days)
|29 November 1759 (aged 60)||Domination of Vizier Imad-ul-Mulk.|
|Shah Jahan III||Muhi-ul-millat||1711||10 December 1759 – 10 October 1760||1772||Consolidation of the Nizam of Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha, during the Battle of Buxar. Hyder Ali becomes Sultan of Mysore in 1761.|
|Shah Alam II||Ali Gauhar||25 June 1728||24 December 1759 – 19 November 1806 (46 years, 330 days)||19 November 1806 (aged 78)||The execution of Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1799.|
|Akbar Shah II||Mirza Akbar||22 April 1760||19 November 1806 – 28 September 1837||28 September 1837 (aged 77)||Titular figurehead under British protection.|
|Bahadur Shah II||Abu Zafar Sirajuddin Muhammad Bahadur Shah Zafar||24 October 1775||28 September 1837 – 14 September 1857 (19 years, 351 days)||7 November 1862||Last Mughal Emperor. Deposed by the British and exiled to Burma after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.|
Note:The Mughal Emperors practiced polygamy. Besides their wives, they also had a number of concubines in their harem, who produced children. This makes it difficult to identify all the offspring of each emperor.
- British Raj (1858–1947) - who succeeded to the areas of India ruled by Mughals.
- Nader Shah (1738-1747) - who won the areas of Afghanistan ruled by Mughals
- Spear 1990, pp. 147–148
- Chandra, Satish. Medieval India: From Sultanate To The Mughals. p. 202.
- Richards, John F. (March 18, 1993). Johnson, Gordon; Bayly, C. A., eds. The Mughal Empire. The New Cambridge history of India: 1.5. I. The Mughals and their Contemporaries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1, 190. doi:10.2277/0521251192. ISBN 978-0521251198.
- Berndl, Klaus (2005). National Geographic visual history of the world. University of Michigan. pp. 318–320. ISBN 978-0521522915.
- Bose, Sugata Bose; Ayesha Jalal (2004). Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy. Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 978-0203712535.
- Dalrymple, William (2006). The Last Mughal. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-4088-0092-8.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies. - India Pakistan
- Majumdar, R. C. (ed.), The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume VI, The Delhi Sultanate, Bombay, 1960; Volume VII, The Mughal Empire, Bombay, 1973.