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THE DECLINE OF THE MUGHAL EMPIRE

Bahadur Shah

Son of Aurangzeb - succeeded him - was learned, dignified and able

Followed a policy of compromise and conciliation reversed some


faulty laws and narrow minded policies more friendly to Hindu
chiefs and Rajas - no destruction of temples in his reign

At first he did make attempts to expand his control over other states
such as Rajput states which in fact was met with firm resistance.

Tried to conciliate the Sikhs and had made peace with Guru Gobind
Singh and accepted them as person of high mansab(rank) but his
death made the rebels rise again and this time under the leadership
of Banda Bahadur.

Unfortunately in 2012, his death lead to civil war.

In the civil war, one of Shahs less able sons, Jahandar Shah won
because he was supported by Zulfikar Khan, one of the strongest
noble of the time.

Jahandar Shah

Weak ruler devoted to pleasure lacked manners and decency.

Zulfikar Khan, his wazir during Jahandar Shahs reign was the
head of administration and exercised great powers was able
believed in friendly relations for better administration.

Zulfikar Khan tried to improve the finances of the Empire by


checking the reckless growth of jagirs and offices tried to compel
nobles to maintain their official quota of troops. An evil tendency
encouraged by him was ijarah or revenue-farming. Instead to
collecting land revenue at a fixed rate, the Govt. began to contract
with revenue farmers and middlemen to pay the Govt. a fixed
amount of money and then they were left free to collect whatever they
wished from the peasant. This lead to increased oppression of the
peasant.

Many jealous nobles secretly worked against Zulfikar Khan, and


poisoned the Emperors ears.
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His reign came to an end in 1713 when his nephew Farrukh Siyar
defeated him.

Farrukh Siyar

Owed his victory to Sayyid Brothers, Abdullah Khan and Husain Ali
Khan Barha who were therefore given offices of wazir and mir
bakshi respectively. The brothers soon acquired dominant control
over affairs of the state.

Farrukh Siyar was a weak ruler and the Sayyid Brothers in 1719
deposed him and killed him.

Muhammad Shah

The Sayyid Brothers now made Muhammad Shah the emperor of


India.

They adopted the policy of religious tolerance.

Abolished Jizyah immediately after Farrukh Siyars accession to the


throne.

Pilgrim tax too was abolished.

Won many rulers to their side by giving the more powers in


administration.

In the later years of their reign they reached an agreement with King
Shahu by granting him the Swarajya and the right to collect
sardeshmukhi and chauth. In return Shahu agreed to support them
with this 15000 soldiers.

Although Sayyid Brothers tried their best to contain rebellions and


save the empire from disintegration, they failed because they faced
constant political rivalry, quarrels and conspiracies at the court.

The murder of Farrukh Siyar by them had frightened the nobles and
there was a wave of fear among the public. Also many disliked the
Sayyid brothers religious tolerance and believed they were antiIslamic and anti-Mughal.

In 1720, they succeeded in killing Husain Ali Khan, the younger of


the two brothers. Abdullah Khan tried to defend but was finally
defeated in Agra. Thus ended the domination of Mughal Empire by
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Saiyed Brothers known in Indian History as king makers.

Muhammad Shahs long reign (1719-1748) was still the last hope
that could save the Mughal Empire yet it failed miserably.

Disgusted by the fickle mindedness of the Emperor, Nizam-ul-Mulk,


the most powerful noble of that time left the Empire in 1724 to found
the state of Hyderabad in the deccan. This marked the beginning of
physical break up of the Mughal Empire.

Other important and powerful nobles too now started founding their
semi independent states. Then in 1738-1739, Nadir Shah descended
upon the Northern plains of India and the Mughal Empire lay
prostrate.

Nadir Shah -

Had risen from a shephard boy to a king by saving persia from sure
decline and disintegration. In the beginning of the 18th century
Persia, hitherto a powerful and far flung empire, was under the
weak rule of Safavi dynasty.

There were numerous problems all around the province with rulers
attacking and conquering its territories part by part.

At this time, Nadir Shah, emerged as the supporter of Tahsamap


and his most brilliant commander. Reconquered all what he had lost
by 1736.

He was attracted to India's wealth and as Persia had become


bankrupt following continual campaigns.

Attacked India in 1738 and plundered recklessly with a total


plunder approximated to be about 70 crores exempting his nation
from taxation for three years.

Also carried the famous Koh-i-noor diamond and the jewel studded
Peacock Throne of Shahjahan.

Ahmed Shah Abdali -

After Muhammad Shah's death in 1748, bitter struggles and civil


war broke out among power hungry nobles.
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As a result of weakening of Northern forces, the empire was devasted


by repeated attacks by Ahmed Shah Abdali, one of the ablest
generals of Nadir Shah

In 1761, he defeated Marathas in the third battle of Panipat but


didn't build an Afghan Kingdom in India.

As a result of all of this by 1761, the Mughal Empire had ceased to


exist as an all-India Empire. It remained merely a kingdom of Delhi.

Shah Alam II -

Ascended the throne in 1759, spent the initial years as an Emperor


wandering from place to place far away from his capital because he
lived in mortal fear of his own wazir. He was a man of some ability
and courage.

In 1764, he joined Mir Qasim of Bengal and Shuja-ud-daula of


Avadh in declaring war against English East India Company.
Defeated by the British in the Battle of Buxar, he lived in Allahabad
for several years as a pensioner of EIC.

In 1803, the British occupied Delhi and in 1857, the Mughal


Dynasty was finally extinguished.