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Mughal rule in India

An overview of the first 6 Mughal emperors: Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] As we've talked about in other videos, by the time we get into the 15th century, Timur's Persia and central Asia has been fragmented. You have many of Timur's descendants with their own kingdoms, especially in central Asia. In 1483, in the central Asian city of Andijan, now part of eastern Uzbekistan, you have one of Timur's grandson's great-grandson's born Babur and at the age of 12, Babur takes the throne of Fergana after the death of his father. Now over the next few decades, he tries to consolidate control, he tries to take control of Samarkand, loses control and then of Fergana, keeps repeatedly losing control. Early in the 16th century, he is able to take Kabul and then decides to focus on India instead of central Asia. In 1526, famously with the use of cannons, which had not been used in a significant way in the Indian subcontinent until that time, Babur was able to defeat Ibraham Lodi of the Delhi sultanate and come to power in northern India and you can see in this blue gray color, this is the territory that Babur was able to rule over until his death in 1530. Moghul is the Persian word for Mongol. Remember, Babur is a descendant of Timur, who is a Turko-Mongolian conqueror. On his mother's side, he claims descendancy from Gengis Khan, but Persian is the language of his court and so it significantly increases the Persian influence in North Indian culture. After his death, his son Humayun comes to power. Humayun has difficult retaining power. He has various family rivalries to contend with and eventually he is dethroned by the Pashtun Suri dynasty. He goes to the Safavids and with their help, is able to retake control but then trips on stairs and dies and then his son Akbar comes to power. Now Akbar is perhaps most famous of all of the Moghul rulers. As you can see, he is able to rule over India for some time. As just mentioned, Humayan essentially had to reconquer, retake the throne and his hold on power was relatively weak. But now Akbar is able to expand the territory that you see in this light purple mauve color. He's able to increase the central authority and perhaps most importantly, he tries to unify India culturally. The Moghuls are Muslim and are relatively tolerant up through Akbar and to some degree, Jahangir, of other religions, but Akbar takes a very pluralistic approach. He's famous for holding court with religious scholars throughout the empire and even trying to merge the religions, creating what some would consider a religion of his own that would later be called Din-i-Illahi, the religion of god. Many Jain and Hindu principles appealed to him. He becomes a vegetarian, he bans the slaughtering of cows. At his death in 1605, his son Jahangir comes to power. Historians consider Jahangir to be relatively tolerant like Akbar and to continue the interest in the sciences and the arts that you saw in the Moghul court under Akbar but he's a little bit more controversial. As we talked about in the Sikhism video, he famously tortures and executes Guru Arjan. Some would say it was because Guru Arjan was siding with Jahangir's son, who was trying to rebel. Others would say that it was because Guru Arjan was getting a following in Punjab and that Jahangir was insecure of his own hold on power and decided to execute Guru Arjan. But he is succeeded by his son, Shah Jahan, who becomes decisively less tolerant. His reign, however, is known as the golden age of Moghul architecture, with the crowning achievement, arguably, the Taj Mahal, which is a mausoleum that he commissions in the 1630s to house the body of his dead wife. As you can see here, it's housed in Agra and Agra and Delhi at various points during the Moghul empire are the capital, there's a few moments when it is at Lahore. He is eventually imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb is considered a very strong and authoritarian ruler. You can see here that he is able to expand the territory of the Moghul empire well into South India. At its maximum extent, the Moghul empire is now rivaling the amount of territory that was controlled by the Moria empire, roughly 2000 years before this time. Despite being the last truly strong Moghul emperor, he's also known as the least tolerant of the emperors. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, he's succeeded by weaker and weaker Moghul rulers. The 18th century, you see a significant decline in the power of the Moghuls, the territory they have. Delhi is famously sacked by Nadir Shah, the Persian conqueror. As we get into the second half of the 18th century, the British are able to chip away more and more and more territory, not just from the Moghuls, but from other Indian rulers as well, which we will see in future videos.