Later Mughals

Bahadur Shah-I (1707-12)

  • After the death of Aurangzeb(1707), there was a succession war between his three sons. Prince Muazzam emerged as the winner of this succession war by defeating his brothers.
  • Muazzam assumed the title of Bahadur Shah I and became the Mughal emperor at the age of 63.
  • He tried to appease all parties by profuse grants of titles and rewards and was nicknamed Shah-i-bekhabar (Heedless King) by Khafi Khan.
  • He died in 1712 without naming a successor.

Policies of Bahadur Shah I

  • Due to his age, he was not very active and pursued a pacific policy.
  • Maratha Prince, Shahu who was in captivity since 1689 was released and allowed to return to Maharashtra.
  • Peace was made with Rajput chiefs.
  • He made peace with Guru Govind Singh
  • However, the Sikh rebellion led by Banda Bahadur continued to challenge his regime in Punjab. Banda was defeated in the Battle of Lohgarh and Mughal forces reoccupied Sir hind in 1711. However, Sikhs were neither conciliated nor crushed.

Jahandar Shah (1712-13)

  • There was a war of succession among the four sons of Bahadur Shah, among which Jahandar Shah came out successful.
  • Zulfikar Khan, a prominent Irani noble supported Jahandar in this war of succession and was appointed as the Prime Minister by the Emperor.
  • He was the first puppet ruler in Mughal India.
  • However, Farrukhsiyar, grandson of Bahadur Shah challenged Jahandar Shah’s regime with the help of the Sayyid Brothers (Abdulla Khan and Hussain Ali). They defeated and killed Jahandar Shah in 1713.

Zulfiqar Khan

  • He reversed policies of Aurangzeb and tried to establish friendly relations with Rajputs, Marathas, and different Hindu chieftains.
  • He abolished the jizya
  • Accorded the title of Mirza Raj Sawai on Jai Singh of Ambar and gave the title of Maharaja to Ajit Singh.
  • He also granted the chauth and sardeshmukhi of Deccan to Shahu
  • He is infamous in history for introducing the evil practice of Ijarah (revenue farming)

Farrukhsiyar (1713-19)

  • Farrukhsiyar appointed Abdulla Khan as his Wazir (Prime Minister) and Hussain Ali as Mir Bakshi (Head of the military administration)
  • However, differences emerged between the Farrukhsiyar and Sayyid brothers.
  • Sayyid brothers with the help of Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath (Maratha troops) killed the emperor in 1719.
  • Mughal Army defeated the Sikh army again and Banda Bahadur was taken as a prisoner and executed at Delhi.
  • Grant of many trading privileges to East India Company including exemption from customs duties for its trade through Bengal.

Muhammad Shah (1719-48)

  • After the death of Farrukhsiyar, the Sayyid Brothers raised two emperors Rafi-ud-Darajat and Rafi-ud-Daula who died within months. At last, the Sayyid brothers made Muhammad Shah the emperor.
  • Turani nobles revolted against the Sayyid brothers and Hussain Ali was murdered and Abdulla Khan was imprisoned.
  • His regime saw the perpetual decline of the Mughal Empire which eventually led to its disintegration.
  • Rise of Regional Kingdoms: Nizam-ul-Mulk established an autonomous state in Deccan. Saadat Khan established an autonomous state in Awadh. Murshid Quli Khan established an autonomous state in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Marathas under Baji Rao I raised Delhi in 1737 and terrorised the Empire. Nadir Shah invaded India in 1739 nearly incapacitating the Mughal empire. English Company discovered the weakness of Mughals and decided to transform from a trading company to a territorial empire.
  • Cultural Contribution: He was a great patron of arts, including musical and cultural developments. His penname was Sada Rangila. He loved dancing and was himself an Kathak dancer. Urdu was popularized and was declared the court language, replacing Persian. Quran was translated for the first time into Persian and Urdu. Religious institutions for education such as Maktabs were introduced. Mughal nobility replaced their Turkish dressing style with Sherwanis.
  • Painting: Nidha Mal and Chitarman were famous painters in his court. Their paintings depict scenes of court life, Holi celebrations, hunting scenes etc.
  • Musical contribution: Qawwali was introduced in the Mughal Imperial Court and was popularized. Patronised Sadarang and Adarang were famous court musicians and popularized the Khayal style of Hindustani Classical Music.

Ahmad Shah (1748-54) & Alamgir II (1754-59)

  • They were too weak.
  • Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded northwest India several times in 1748, 1749, 1752, 1757, and 1759.
  • Punjab was lost to Afghans and Marathas captured Malwa and Bundelkhand and carried attacks in all parts of India.
  • Battle of Plassey (1757) was fought during the reign of Alamgir II.

Shah Alam II (1759-1806) & Later Mughals

  • Mughal Empire’s rule was limited to small areas around Delhi.
  • They were puppets in the hands of Marathas or English.
  • The 3rd Battle of Panipat (1761) was fought during his reign (between the Marathas and Ahmad Shah Abdali)
  • He also participated in the Battle of Buxar (1764).
  • He was forced to sign the Treaty of Allahabad (1765), under which the Diwani (right to collect revenue) of Bengal (which included Bihar and Odisha) was granted to the British East India Company.

Akbar II (1806-1837)

  • Remained only under British protection as in 1803, the British had captured Delhi.
  • He conferred the title of ‘Raja’ on Ram Mohan Roy.
  • He was a great poet and is credited with the introduction of the Hindu-Muslim unity festival Phool Walon Ki Sair.

Bahadur Shah II / Zafar (1837-57)

  • He was the last Mughal Emperor who was a more nominal head.
  • He wrote many Urdu ghazals and poet using ‘Zafar’ (meaning victory) as his penname
  • East India Company captured Delhi in 1803. However, the fiction of Mughal Empire was kept up by the English till 1858, when the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Rangoon after the end of the 1857 Revolt.
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