Chapter 1: DECLINE OF THE MUGHAL EMPIRE
Mughal Empire which had ruled the north for two centuries
was declining and soon the emperor of Delhi became a
pensioner for the British. The process of disintegration
began with Aurangzeb and his policies yet at the time of his
death 1707 the Empire was still strong. After his death his
sons quarreled amongst themselves and Bahadur
Shah won. He had a more tolerant and secular
policy. Under him the Rana's of Mewar and Marathas were
appeased and earlier policy of aggression was withdrawn.
Sikhs too were conciliated by giving Guru Gobind Singh a
Mansab rank. However due to grant of Mansabs and posts the
royal treasury was exhausted. His death in 1712 plunged
Delhi into civil war.
followed him to the throne as he was supported by the most
powerful noble Zulfiqar khan. Zulfiqar khan controlled the
administration and adopted a policy of tolerance towards
chief of Mewar and Marathas. However against the Sikhs he
continued the old policy of aggression. Soon the other
nobles poisoned the emperor’s ears against Zulfiqar khan.
He began secretly plotting against Zulfiqar khan. Finally
Jahandar khan was killed by the next successor Farrukh
Farrukh Siyar was undependable and worthless successor.
The Sayyid brothers were instrumental in helping him win.
They got important posts in the administration. The
emperor wanted to rule personally but the Sayyid brothers
believed that the he should be a puppet and they should
handle administration to reverse the decay of the Empire.
This led to conflicts between the emperor and the Sayyid
brothers and finally the emperor was killed. In his place
three successor princes were nominated. Two died quickly
and the last Muhammad
shah took the throne.
Under the Sayyid brothers the Mughal ties with Rajputs,
Marathas and Jats were strengthened. But corruption had
increased. The Sayyid's couldn’t rule properly due to
continuous quarrels with other nobles. The death of the
emperor had created public revulsion against them. The
other nobles called the anti Islamic and anti Mughal due
to their tolerant policy. The emperor too wanted to rule
freely. Hence soon rebellion started against the Sayyid’s
and they were killed.
Muhammad shah reigned for 30 years. An emperor who had
sound knowledge of administration was needed to save the
Empire but Muhammad shah wasn’t that. He led a life of
luxury and pleasure. This disgusted his nobles and they
left to carve semi independent states. The corruption too
had increased under his reign. One such Wazir
Nizam ul Mulk founded the south state of Hyderabad.
It was in this period the afghan king nadir shah descended
in the north. He was attracted by the vast wealth. He
invaded the North West frontier but met with no
resistance. The nobles of Mughal court quarreled and
wouldn’t unite even when the enemy was insight. This led
to their heavy defeat. A bloodbath was seen in Delhi and Nadir Shah
captured the Mughal treasury, Kohinoor diamond and the
peacock throne. The Mughal emperor had been taken prisoner
and released after he gave up all provinces west of Indus.
After nadir shah the Mughals saw repeated attacks from Ahmed Shah Abdali.
Abdali was nadir shahs ablest general and became the ruler
of Afghanistan. He defeated the Marathas in 1761 at
Panipat. The Mughal Empire had shrunk to just kingdom of
Delhi but the Mughal never participated in the affairs of
the state. Shah Alam II who ascended throne in 1759 spent
the initial years wandering away from his kingdom as he
was in mortal fear from his Wazir. He joined Shuja
ud dawla and Mir Qasim in battle of Buxar against
the English East India Company but was defeated. He
remained as a pensioner in the Allahabad fort till 1772
and returned to Delhi under protective arm of the
Marathas. When Delhi was captured by Marathas in 1803 till
1857 the Mughals were only political front of the British.
In fact after 1759 Mughals remained only because they
symbolized political unity of the country in the minds of
of the decline of the Mughals:
policy of expansion put pressure on men and material.
intolerant policy on Hindu chief Shivaji in Deccan and
Sikhs put additional strain on the Empire. This drained
the resources of the Empire and ruined trade and
North West front was exposed as Aurangzeb concentrated
on Deccan for 25 years.
inability to subdue the Marathas undermined prestige of
the Empire and local chief too dreamed of independence.
Aurangzeb tried to re extend the imperial sway over
Rajputs and earned the ire of Rajputs it further led to
successors who focused on personal pleasure were
responsible for the decline. The absence of fixed rule
of succession led to civil war among the princes this
led to loss of life and weakened the administrative
fabric of the Empire.
policy of Aurangzeb too was harsh and affected the
peasant. The agriculture produce declined which couldn’t
sustain the mighty state. The jagirdars harassed the
peasants for revenue; this wasn’t passed on to the
treasury. The decline in trade and industry compared to
Europe led to India lagging behind it economically and
of political nationalism meant that people were loyal to
their respective kingdoms not the country.
invasions by nadir shah and Abdali. Also rise of the
of the army as the mansabdars couldn’t maintain their
full quota of the soldiers.
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