Army of the Mughal Empire

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Mughal Army
Alam of the Mughal Empire.svg
Flag of the Mughal Empire
Great Mogul And His Court Returning From The Great Mosque At Delhi India - Oil Painting by American Artist Edwin Lord Weeks.jpg
Great Mogul And His Court Returning From The Great Mosque At Delhi India - Oil Painting by American Artist Edwin Lord Weeks
Founded Late 15th Century
Disbanded 1805
Commander-in-Chief Mughal emperor

The Army of the Mughal Empire was the force by which the Mughal emperors established their empire in the 15th century and expanded it to its greatest extent at the beginning of the 18th century. Although its origins, like the Mughals themselves, were in the cavalry-based armies of central Asia, its essential form and structure was established by the empire's third emperor, Akbar.

The army had no regimental structure and the soldiers were not directly recruited by the emperor. Instead, individuals, such as nobles or local leaders, would recruit their own troops, referred to as a mansab, and contribute them to the army.


The Mughals originated in Central Asia. Like many Central Asian armies, the mughal army was horse-oriented. The ranks and pay of the officers were based on the horses they retained. Babur's army was somewhat small and looked like an army of Afghan origin. Akbar restructured the army and introduced a new system called the mansabdari system. Later emperors followed this system.

Organisation and troop types

Mughal emperors mainted a small standing army. They numbered only in thousands. Instead the officers called as mansbadars provides much of the troops.

Standing Army

Sawar Khan, one of the Royal Guards of the Emperor Shah Jahan

The Mughal Emperors maintained small standing armies. The emperor own troopers called as Ahadis. They are directly recruited by mughal emperor himself. They have their own pay roll and pay master. They are mainly recruited from emperor own blood relatives and his own tribesmen. They are better paid than normal hormen sowars.

They are gentle men troopers.They are normally in administrative duties in palace. They also include palace guards, emperor's own body guards shahiwalas, gate keepers etc. They are better equipped and have own horses.

Emperor also maintain a division of foot soldiers and have his own artillery brigade.


Standing figure of an officer

Akbar introduced this system. It was a unique system in the world. Mughal army has no regimental structure. In this system each officer worked for government was an military officer. He must recruit and maintain his quota of horsemen. His rank is based on the horse men he maintain. Normally the highest rank 5000 to lowest 10. Prince has the rank of 25000. This called as zat and sowar system.

He must maintain 1:2 ratio of men to horses. Horses must be carefully verified and branded. The good horses Arabian breed. He must also maintain his quota of horses, elephants and cots for transportation. He also maintain foot soldiers and artillery. He had paid in cash or jagir, cash paid for month to maximum one year. but many choose jagir. Emperor allocated jagir for maintenance of mansabs.


Mughal army had no real branches. But virtually it has four branches cavalry, infantry, artillery and navy. Cavalry has main role others are auxiliary and neglegible.


Man in Armor )

It was superior branch in Mughal army. The horsemen normally recruited by masabdars are high class people. They are better paid than foot soldiers and artillery men. They must have own atlest two horses and good equipment. Normally they used swords, lances, shields, pistols rarely guns. Their armour are made up of steel or leather. They wear their traditional tribal dress which he belogs to. The normal horseman is called as sowar

A Mughal Infantryman

Mughal cavalry also consists of elephants. Normally the generals use elephants. They bore well ornamented and good armour. Mainly they use for traportation to carry heavy goods and heavy guns. Some of rajput mansabdar provides camel cavalry also. They are men from desert areas like Rajastan.


Emperors' Own infantry called as Ahsam. Mansabadars also provied infantrymen. They are noramally ill paid and ill equipped. They have no discipline. They include bandukchi or gun bearers, swordsmen.They also include sevants and artisans.

They use a large array of weapons like swords, shields, lances, clubs, pistols rifles muskets etc. They normally wear no armour.


Main article: Mughal artillery
Mughal Artillery in position

It was an important branch of mughal army. Earlier mughal rulers made good use of it. It is used by babur to achieve an empire Hindustan.

Mughal artillery consists of heavy cannons and light artillery. Heavy cannon are very expensive and very heavy for transportstion. Used in battle field is also some what risky. They were dragged by elephants to battlefields. They to slow to load. Some times ot explodes kill the crew members also.

1565-Battle Scene with Boats on the Ganges-Akbarnama

Light artillery was most useful in battle field. They were mainly made up of bronze and drwan with horses. This also include camel bear swivel guns. They are very effective in battlefield. But time to time the emperors show no interest in development of cannons. They became much out of date when used against European cannons built with iron.

Granadiers and raketies also came under this category


It was the weakest and poorest branch of the Mughal Military.The Empire did maintain warships, however they were relatively small. The fleet also consisted of transport ships. The Navy's main duty was controlling piracy, but they also were used in war.

See also


Further reading

  • Edwardes, Stephen Meredyth; Garrett, Herbert Leonard Offley. Mughal Rule In India. 
  • Sharma, S. R. Mughal Empire in India: A Systematic Study Including Source Material.