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Pre-colonial India 1206-1707. Pre-colonial India. Key institutions in place Larger population, more wealth & power than Persian Safadivs or Ottoman Turks Long-term development in trade, finance, culture & society ready in place for the British. The Ram Bagh Garden, Agra. Pre-colonial India.

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Pre-colonial India

  • Key institutions in place

  • Larger population, more wealth & power than Persian Safadivs or Ottoman Turks

  • Long-term development in trade, finance, culture & society ready in place for the British

The Ram Bagh Garden, Agra

Pre-colonial India


  • Expansion of agricultural frontier, extensive commercial networks, gradual technological change & development of political & religious institutions

Pre-colonial India

  • Muslims & Hindus interacted and were influenced by each other in culture & politics= a vibrant society

  • Delhi Sultanate

  • Moghuls

Pre-colonial India: Delhi Sultanate late 13th -14th C

  • Turko-Afghan regimes, NW

  • Interested in agricultural surplus so sought milt. successes

  • Not able to achieve total control: rights to land given to subordinates as payment for loyalty

  • Possibility of individual achievement through milt. means

  • These invaders were called “Yavana”= Ionian ( 327-325 BCE invasion of Alexander the Great)

Mughal Emperor Akbar

Delhi Sultanate

  • Core milit. & Ec. institutions not religious(ie, non-Islamic)

  • Collaborated with Ulamas & Sufi shaikhs: focus of community life

  • Non- Muslim rulers patronised the Brahmans- learned caste, Sanskrit texts

  • Persian was the language of Muslim rulers & used for bringing new learning from other parts:

  • Government

  • Law

  • Political theory

  • Religion

  • Literature (poetry)

  • Technology- warfare, cropping patterns, irrigation techniques

Delhi Sultanate -Persian

  • Ethnic & Linguistic diversity

  • Afghanis

  • Persians

  • Others eg, Ibn Battuta (d.1368-9?)Moroccan traveller, chief judge of Delhi in 14th C

  • Persian also promoted urban growth & road networks= regional trade & beyond

  • Earlier- Muslims settled in the south- Malabar coast, Sind (north)

  • THUS: vibrant exchange of trade & ideas achieved by Muslim political expansion

Delhi Sultanate: Ethnic & Linguistic diversity- Afghanis, Persians & others

Ibn Battuta (1603-1639) Moroccan Traveller , Chief judge of Delhi in the 14th C

I approached the sultan, who took my hand and shook it, and continuing to hold it addressed me most affably, saying in Persian, “This is a blessing, your arrival is blessed, be at ease; I shall be compassionate to you and give you such favours that your fellow-countrymen will hear of it and come to join you.” Then he asked me where I came from and I said to him, “From the land of the Maghrib.” Every time he said any encouraging word to me I kissed his hand , until I had kissed it seven times, and after he had given me a robe of honour, I withdrew.

Pre-colonial India

  • People of these dynasties were mainly non-Muslims left to their own laws & customs

  • Paid tax

  • No conscription

  • Sultanates & Moghuls not interested in conversion of the people but in expansion of power

  • Intermarriage

  • Recap: Muslim and non-Muslims lived together and absorbed aspects of each other’s cultures

  • 15th - 16th C Regional Kingdoms: Jaipur, Gujarat, Delhi, Malwa

The Mughal Empire 1526-1707

  • Mongol Descendents

  • The Great Mughal Emperors were:

    • Babur (1526-1530) The First of the Mughals.

      He was a direct descendant of the Turkish Ghengis Khan

      &Timur from Tamerlane.

    • Humayun (1530-1556) The Luckless Leader

    • Akbar (1556-1605) The Great

    • Jehangir (1605-1627) The Paragon of Stability

    • Shah Jehan (1627-1658) The Master Builder

    • Aurangzeb (1658-1707) The Intolerant



Shah Jehan 1627-1658

Shah Jehan 1627 - 1658The Master Builder

  • Shah Jehan succeeded his father in 1627.

  • Better ruler than Jehangir.

    • Restored the efficiency of government.

    • Recovered territories.

    • Maintained peace

    • Foreign traders were allowed into India & trade grew

  • The empire expanded.

  • Shah Jehan was a patron of the arts

    • Built many great architecture buildings including the Taj Mahal & the Peacock Throne [a gold throne encased many precious gems]

Shah Jehan 1627-1658

  • TajMahal. Built in honourof his wife who died during childbirth. Took over a decade to build and it nearly bankrupted the empire.

  • 1657 - Shah Jehan became seriously ill & a dispute over the succession of the throne followed between his three sons.

  • Aurangzeb deposed Shah Jehan in a coup d’etat in 1658. Shah Jehan was imprisoned in the Octagonal Tower of the Agra Fort from which he could see the TajMahal. He died in 1666 and was buried next to his wife in the TajMahal.

Aurangzeb The Intolerant 1658-1707

  • Ascended the throne after disposing his father & beating out his two brothers.

  • Despot

    • severely persecuted Hindus of Northern India.

  • Empire declined under his reign

    • He removed the tax-free status for Hindus

    • Destroyed their temples

    • Crushed semi-autonomous Hindu states

  • Primary interest: Promote Islam vs tolerance

1857 Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor

Deposed in 1858.

India was brought under the direct rule of the British Crown.

This brought the end of the Mughal Empire.

Mughal Art

  • The Mughal Empire and the Great Mughals will always be remembered as a great influence on the artistic and cultural life of India. Their architectural style is still evident in many buildings.

  • The notable flowering of art & architecture under the Mughal Empire is due to several factors.

    • Provision of a secure framework within which artistic genius could flourish. Both Hindu and Muslim artists collaborated

    • The empire commanded wealth & resources that were unmatched in Indian history.

    • The Mughal emperors were themselves patrons of art whose intellectual ideas & cultural outlook were expressed in the architecture.

The Mughal period: flexibility & openness

Far-reaching political, economic, & social reconfigurations (rearrangements/adaptations):

  • Culture life flourished

  • Painting & architecture- Persian influenced but with Indian touches

  • Medicine from Arabic& Greek texts

  • Music

  • Trade routes & dispersal of knowledge & technology (eg, gunpowder)

  • Population growth

  • New food /plant sources: tobacco, maize, peppers, chillies, mangoes, tomatoes

    • How does this compare to the Renaissance in Europe?

The Success of the Mughals

  • It is agreed among many scholars that the Mughal empire was the greatest, richest & most long-lasting Muslim dynasty to rule India. This period of Mughal rule produced the finest & most elegant art & architecture in the history of Muslim dynasties.

  • The Mughal emperors, with few exceptions, were among the world’s most aesthetically minded rules. Although Turkish & Persian in background, the Mughals were not Muslim rulers of India but Indian rulers who happened to be Muslims. This idea is most evident in Akbar’s obsession of a utopian India for Hindus and Muslims.

  • The longevity & success of the Mughal empire: ambitious & mainly able rulers.

  • But Akbar (1556-1605) perhaps the Mughal emperor responsible for much of the prosperity & harmony achieved during the Mughal Empire.

Works Cited

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  • *

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  • “The Mughal Empire, 1526-1707.” The Cambridge Encyclopedia of India. Ed. Fancis Robinson. New York: Cambridge UP, 1989.

  • Moreland, W.H. and Atul Chandra Chatterjee. A Short History of India. 4th ed. New York: David McKay Co., 1957

  • Wallbank, T. Walter. India: a survey of the heritage and growth of Indian nationalism. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1948.

  • Welch, Stuart C. The Art of Mughal India. Japan: Book Craft Inc., 1963.

  • Wolpert, Stanley. India. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1965.

  • Wolpert, Stanley. India. Berkley: University of California Press, 1991.

  • Woodruff, Philip. The Men Who Ruled India. New York: Schocken Books, 1953.

    *denotes sources from which pictures were obtained with descriptions