The Mughal Empire, (Mughal alternative spelling Mogul) was an empire that at its greatest territorial extent ruled parts of Afghanistan and most of the South Asia between 1526 and 1857. The empire was founded by the Turkish-Mongol leader Babar in 1526, when he defeated Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi, the last of the Delhi Sultans at the First Battle of Panipat. The word "Mughal" is the Persian version of "Mongol".

Reign of Aurangzeb and decline of empire

Abu Muzaffar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir (November 3, 1618 March 3, 1707) also known as Alamgir I, was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1658 until 1707.

Unlike his predecessors, Aurangzeb led a remarkably austere and pious life. Strict adherence to Islam and Sharia (Islamic law) as he interpreted them were the foundations of his reign. He backed up his faith with action, abandoning the religious tolerance of his predecessors.

Aurangzeb used vast military might to expand and consolidate the Mughal empire, at high cost. His rule inspired revolt which he constrained during his life, but which exploded and completely changed South Asia after his death.

Extent of Empire in the late 1600s: the Mughals ruled all but the southern tip of the South Asia.The last of the great Mughals was Emperor Aurangzeb (16581707), who seized the throne by killing all of his brothers and imprisoning his own father Shah Jahan. During his fifty-year reign, the empire reached its greatest physical size but also showed the unmistakable signs of decline. The bureaucracy had grown bloated and excessively corrupt, and the huge and unwieldy army demonstrated outdated weaponry and tactics. Aurangzeb was not the ruler to restore the dynasty's declining fortunes or glory. Awe-inspiring but lacking in the charisma needed to attract outstanding lieutenants, he was driven to extend Mughal rule over most of South Asia and to reestablish Islamic orthodoxy by adopting a reactionary attitude toward those Muslims whom he suspected of compromising their faith.

Aurangzeb was involved in a series of protracted wars: against the Pakhtuns in Afghanistan, the Sultans of Bijapur and Golkonda in the Deccan, the Marathas in Maharashtra and the Ahoms in Assam. Peasant uprisings and revolts by local leaders became all too common, as did the conniving of the nobles to preserve their own status at the expense of a steadily weakening empire. The increasing association of his government with Islam further drove a wedge between the ruler and his non-Muslim subjects. Aurangzeb forbade the building of new temples and reimposed the jizya. A fundamentalist and a censor of morals, he banned music at court, abolished ceremonies, and persecuted the Sikhs in Punjab. Contenders for the Mughal throne were many, and the reigns of Aurangzeb's successors were short-lived and filled with strife. The Mughal Empire experienced dramatic reverses as regional nawabs or governors broke away and founded independent kingdoms. The Mughals had to make peace with Maratha armies, and Persian and Afghan armies invaded Delhi, carrying away many treasures, including the Peacock Throne in 1739.


























Page Last Updated: Friday, March 28, 2008 17:22:23 -0400