Mughal history in India spans from 1526 CE to 1857 CE. The Mughal Period of India is, perhaps, its Golden Era. With a firm foundation for its administration, the Mughals were able to establish a solid economy and flourishing trade. The Mughal Empire in India was established by Babur. Babur, a descendant of two of history’s most famous figures – Timur and Genghis Khan, was the first Mughal ruler to acquire territory in India, his grandson, Akbar is considered to be the one to truly establish Mughal rule. Babur’s son, Humayun lost his empire for almost 15 years, but regained it with help from the Shah of Persia. Neither Babur nor Humayun were able to consolidate Mughal rule in the country. It was under Akbar that the Mughal Empire took shape and grew to be one of the greatest empires to rule India.
Akbar was a strong ruler and is known for his religious tolerance. He appointed officials based on their merit instead of their religion. Akbar was also known to have treated his defeated enemies with respect by appointing them to the Mughal court. He married Rajput princesses to form political alliances with Rajput kings and appointed his in-laws to various important posts in his court. Akbar is known to have invited scholars across all religions to his court for discussions on the matters on religion, God and Philosophy. He founded the religion, Din-i-Ilahi, which imbibed teachings from Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism and Zoroastrianism. His close confidant was a Hindu Brahmin, Mahesh Das, popularly known as Birbal.
Akbar’s son, Jehangir, ascended the throne after his death and is known for his love of art. Painting flourished under his rule and he patronized many artistes. His wife Nur Jahan is known to have ruled on his behalf when the emperor began to neglect his affairs in the court. Coins are known to have been issued in her name during his reign. Jehangir, like his father, was an open-minded emperor.
Shah Jahan, who succeeded Jehangir, was not as open-minded as Akbar or Jehangir, but he was not orthodox either. Shah Jahan patronized arts in all its forms. Under his rule, India became the richest centre for arts, crafts and architecture. Trade and economy was very stable. His son, Aurangzeb placed him under house arrest after proving victorious in a war of succession which took place when Shah Jahan was ill. It was during his house arrest that Shah Jahan commissioned building the Taj Mahal.
Aurangzeb was known to have an orthodox outlook. He reinstated the jiziya, a tax to be paid by non-Muslims in a Muslim state, which Akbar had previously abolished. Aurangzeb took up many expeditions to expand his territories. He frequently clashed with the Maratha warrior, Shivaji. With Aurangzeb’s death began the decline of the Great Mughal Empire.
Aurangzeb’s successors are referred to as the Later Mughals and are less-known in the history of the Mughal Empire in India compared to the Great Mughals.
'Mughal Empire History’ has been a topic of great interest among researchers, students and historians. Explore more through coinage of Mughals at Mintage World.