later Mughal emperor
The decline of the Mughal Empire started after the death (March 1707) of the last powerful Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. One by one the emperors were changed. The Mughal court became a den of conspiracies. The dominance of different factions was established in the court. After Aurangzeb, the story of the moral and character decline of the Mughal rulers is the history of the later Mughal emperors.
1- Bahadur Shah I (Shah-e-Bekhbar) — 1707-1712
With the death of Aurangzeb (1707), a war of succession broke out between his three sons, Muhammad Muazzam (Shah Alam), Muhammad Azam and Kambakhsh. Although Aurangzeb had divided the kingdom among the three sons in his will before his death. But in the struggle for succession between the three brothers, Muhammad Muazzam was successful and he ascended the throne of the Mughal Empire with the title of Bahadur Shah I. He killed Muhammad Azam on 18 June 1707 in place of the Jazas and on 13 January 1709 by defeating the Kambhaks.
Bahadur Shah I was 63 years old when he ascended the throne. So he was a passive person. He decided to adopt a peace loving policy.
He freed Shivaji’s grandson Shahu from captivity who had been in the captivity of the Mughals since 1689 AD. The Marathas were given the right to settle Sardeshmukhi but Shahu was not accepted as the official Maratha leader.
He restored Raja Jai Singh of Amer and Ajit Singh, the ruler of Marwar, to his kingdom.
Established friendship with Chudamal Jat and Chhatrasal Bundela.
Bahadur Shah failed to befriend the Sikhs as Banda Bahadur had revolted against the Muslims in Punjab after the death of Guru Gobind Singh. Banda Bahadur was defeated at the place of Lohagarh and Sirhind was again captured by the Mughals.
Bahadur Shah ascended to heaven on 27 February 1712. The famous historian Sidney Owen wrote on his death –
“This was the last Mughal emperor, about whom some respectful words can be used. After this, the decline of the Mughal Empire was very rapid. The period that followed is a sign of the political insignificance and powerlessness of the Mughal emperors.
Jahandar Shah (Lumpt Foolish) – from 1712 to 1713
With the death of Bahadur Shah, his four sons
- Rafi-us-Shan and
- jahan shah
These four showed so much shame about the succession which is never seen before in Mughal history. The dead body of Bahadur Shah was not buried for a month.
With the support of the leader of the Iranian party, Zulfiqar Khan, Jahandar-Shah succeeded and ascended the Mughal throne. Pleased with the service of Zulfikar Khan, Jahandar Shah appointed him as his prime minister.
Jahandar Shah also followed the policy of friendship and established peace and friendship with the Hindu chieftains. He gave Jai Singh the title of Mirza and the Subedar of Malwa. In this sequence, Ajit Singh was given the title of Maharaja and Subedar of Gujarat.
Chhatrasal also maintained the policy of friendship with Bundela and Chudamal Jat.
Jizya tax was abolished.
Introduced the Ijara system (in this method the land revenue was auctioned).
Jahandar Shah was very much attached to a prostitute (Lalkuwari).
After ten months of reign, Jahandar Shah was killed by his nephew Farrukhsiyar (son of Azim-us-Shan) with the help of Sayyid brothers.
At that time the Mughal court was dominated by various parties.
- Afghani and
Farrukhsiyar ascended the throne with the help of the leader of the Hindustani Party (Syed brothers).
The Sayyid brothers killed Jahandar Shah and Zulfikhar Khan in 1713.
Farrukhsiyar Syed brothers – Abdullah Khan and Hussain Ali were appointed as Bazirs and ‘Mir Bakshi’ respectively.
By giving Jai Singh the title of Sawai, Farrukhsiyar married Ajit Singh’s daughter.
Relations with the Chudamal Jats remained friendly.
It was during the reign of Farrukhsiyar that the Sikh leader Banda Bahadur was hanged in Delhi in 1716.
In 1717, Farrukhsiyar allowed the East India Company to allow free trade in Bengal. This permission (tax free trade) was given only in return of 3000 rupees per annum.
The relations between Farrukhsiyar and the Sayyid brothers gradually deteriorated. Farrukhsiyar tried to get rid of the Sayyid brothers. But the Sayyid brothers were much smarter than the emperor. He made a treaty with Maratha ruler Shahu in Delhi in 1719, according to which Shahu was given the right to settle the Chauth and Sardeshmukhi of 6 provinces of the Deccan. In return, Shahu along with 15,000 soldiers promised to help the Sayyid brothers.
The Sayyid brothers defeated and killed Farrukhsiyar with the help of Maratha forces (led by Balaji Vishwanath) in 1719.
After the death of Farrukhsiyar, the Sayyid brothers dominated the Mughal court. They made Mughal emperors one after the other (that is why the Sayyid brothers are called King Makers). ,
Rafi-ud-Darjat (who died of tuberculosis)
Rafi-ud-Daulah (died of dysentery)
Muhammad Shah (Rangeela) – 1719-1748
The reign of Muhammad Shah (Roshan Akhtar) was a period of ayasi in which the dominance of eunuchs and women was established.
During his reign, the Sayyid brothers were killed by Chinkilich (Nizam-ul-Mulk) Khan.
Muhammad Shah appointed Nizam-ul-Mulk as his Wazir but he was a very careless person due to which he was sent to the Deccan.
This Nizam-ul-Mulk took advantage of the weakness of the Mughal emperor and laid the foundation of the independent Hyderabad state in 1724.
At the same time, Saadat Khan established independent states in Awadh and Murshid Quli Khan established independent states in Bengal.
Nadir Shah, the Iranian ruler called Napoleon of Iran, attacked Delhi in 1739 during this time.
Nadir Shah took Shah Jahan’s Peacock Throne (Takhetaus) and the Kohinoor Diamond with him. Thus Muhammad Shah was the last Mughal emperor to sit on the Peacock Throne.
After the death of Muhammad Shah, his successor, his only son, Ahmad Shah ascended the throne. In 1748, Ahmad Shah Abdali, the ruler of Afghanistan, invaded India.
Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked India seven times from 1748-1767. Ahmad Shah Abdali appointed Ghazi Imadulmulk as the Bazir of Delhi. Imadulmulk imprisoned the Mughal emperor Ahmad Shah in the blind and placed Alamgir II on the throne.
6-Alamgir II 1754-49—
After the removal of Ahmad Shah from the throne, Azizuddin, the grandson of Jahandar Shah, was placed on the throne in the name of Alamgir II. The royal army and palace staff had not received 15 days’ salary in 3 years. Riots and riots of starving soldiers were the day-to-day events of Alamgir’s reign. The pathetic condition of the capital had a natural effect on the rural areas. In May 1755, Vazir Imad’s own soldiers attacked him and dragged him badly, leaving his clothes torn.
At the same time Ahmed Shah Abdali invaded India for the fourth time in 1755. He went back from Delhi in 1757. Soon after, Imad invited the Marathas to Delhi and Punjab. In November 1759, Alamgir II was assassinated by his vizier Imad and his naked body was thrown into the Yamuna river flowing behind the Red Fort. The vizier did not benefit from this murder. Anarchy prevailed everywhere in the country and for the traitor Imad “Delhi was no longer his refuge.”
Shah Alam II 1759-1806—
He was the son of Alamgir II and his real name was Ali Gauhar. He was in Bihar at the time of his father’s assassination where he assumed the title of Shah Alam II and proclaimed himself the emperor (22 December 1759). Meanwhile in Delhi the Imad and the Amirs together put Muhi-ul-Millar, the grandson of Kambakhs, on the throne in the name of Shah Jahan II. Thus, after the murder of Alamgir II, two emperors in the Mughal Empire in two separate places– Shah Alam II in Patna and Shah Jahan II ascended the throne. Due to these circumstances, Shah Alam II had to spend in exile till 1772 (the next 12 years) and he had to become a puppet of the British and the Marathas. Meanwhile, Ahmed Shah Abdali came to India for the fifth time, which resulted in the third battle of Panipat.
We will describe these events in the next blogs. Finally, in January 1772, the Marathas restored Shahalam to the throne of Delhi. Earlier the British were moving rapidly towards sovereignty and they defeated the Nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Plassey (1757) and Shah Alam II in the Battle of Buxar (1764) and his Baje and Shuja-ud-Daula and they defeated the Mughals.
The emperor was taken prisoner. The whole life of Shah Alam II was plagued by disasters. He was blinded in 1788.Delhi was captured by the British in 1803, and Shah Alam II and his two successors, the Mughal Emperor Akbar II (1806–37) and Bahadur Shah Dwitya (1837–1857), remained as pensioners of the East India Company.