Jahangir and Shah Jahan -The Mughal Empire -Medieval India Part 12

Jahangir (1605–1627)

  • Akbar was succeeded by his son Salim with the title Nur-ud-din Jahangir.
  • He was Akbar’s son by a Rajput wife. His ascension was challenged by his eldest son Prince Khusrau who staged a revolt with the blessings of Sikh Guru Arjun Dev.
  • Prince Khusrau was defeated, captured and blinded, while Guru Arjun Dev was executed. Jahangir also tamed the rebel Afghan Usman Khan in Bengal.
  • Mewar, which had defied Akbar under Rana Udai Singh and his son Rana Pratap Singh, was brought to terms by Jahangir after a military campaign led by his son Prince Khurram (later to become Emperor Shah Jahan) against Rana Amar Singh, the grandson of Rana Udai Singh.
  • They concluded a treaty whereby Rana Amar Singh could rule his kingdom after accepting the suzerainty of Jahangir.
  • In 1608 Ahmad Nagar in the Deccan had declared independence under Malik Ambar. Several attempts by prince Khurram to conquer Ahmad Nagar ended in failure.
  • Prince Khurram had conquered the fort of Kangra after a siege of 14 months. Kandahar, conquered by Akbar from the Persians in 1595, was retaken by the Persian King Shah Abbas in 1622. Jahangir wanted to recapture it.
  • But he could not achieve it due to the rebellion of Prince Khurram. Jahangir’s reign witnessed the visit of two Englishmen – William Hawkins and Sir Thomas Roe.
  • While the former could not get the consent of the Emperor for establishing an English factory in India, the latter, sent as ambassador by King James I, succeeded in securing permission to establish a British factory at Surat.
  • Jahangir was more interested in art and painting and gardens and flowers, than in government.
  • His Persian wife Mehrunnisa, renamed as Nur-Jahan by Jahangir, became the real power behind the throne.
  • The political intrigues that prevailed because of Nur-Jahan, led Prince Khurram to rebel against his father but due to the efforts of Mahabat Khan, a loyal general of Jahangir, the rebellion could not be fruitful.
  • Prince Khurram had to retreat to the Deccan. The intrigues of Nur-Jahan also made Mahabat Khan to rise in revolt which was effectively handled by Nur-Jahan.
  • Mahabat Khan also retreated to Deccan to join Prince Khurram. Immediately after the death of Jahangir, Nur-Jahan wanted to crown her son-in-law Shahryar Khan but due to the efforts of Nur-Jahan’s brother and Prince Khurram’s father-in-law Asaf Khan, Prince Khurram succeeded as the next Mughal emperor with the title Shah- Jahan. Nur-Jahan, who ruled the empire for ten years, lost her power and influence after Jahangir’s death in December 1645.

Shah Jahan (1627-1658)

  • When Shah Jahan ascended the throne in Agra his position was secure and unchallenged.
  • Yet the affairs of the empire needed attention. The Afghan Pir Lodi, with the title Khanjahan, who had been governor of the southern provinces of the empire was hostile.
  • Despite Shah Jahan’s order transferring him from the government of the Deccan, he aligned with Murtaza Nizam Shah II, the Sultan of Ahmed-Nagar, and conspired against Shah Jahan. As the situation turned serious, Shah Jahan proceeded to the Deccan in person.
  • The newly appointed governor of the Deccan, Iradat Khan, who received the title Azam Khan led the imperial army and invaded the Balaghat.
  • Seeing the devastation caused by the imperial troops, Murtaza changed his attitude towards Khanjahan. Khanjahan thereupon fled from Daulatabad into Malwa, but was pursued and finally slain.
  • Peace thus having been restored in the Deccan, Shah Jahan left the Deccan after dividing it into four provinces: Ahmednagar with Daulatabad; Khandesh; Berar; and Telengana.
  • The viceroyalty of the four provinces was conferred by Shah Jahan on his son Aurangzeb, then eighteen years of age.
  • Thus the Deccan was brought under the effective control of the Mughal empire during the reign of Shah Jahan. Ahmad Nagar, which offered resistance to the Mughals, was annexed despite the efforts of Malik Ambar. Shah Jahan, with the help of Mahabat Khan, subdued the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmad Nagar in 1636.
  • When the Shi’ite Qutub Shahi ruler of Golkonda imprisoned his own minister Mir Jumla it was used as a pretext by Aurangzeb to invade Golkonda.
  • A treaty made the Qutub Shahi ruler a vassal of the Mughal empire.
  • In 1638 Shah Jahan made use of the political intrigues in the Persian empire and annexed Kandahar, conquered by Akbar and lost by Jahangir.
  • The Portuguese had authority over Goa under their viceroy. In Bengal they had their chief settlements in faraway Hugli.
  • Shah Jahan ordered the Mughal Governor of Bengal, to drive out the Portuguese from their settlement at Hugli.
  • About 200 Portuguese at Hugli owned nearly 600 Indian slaves. They had forced many of them to be baptised into the Christian faith.
  • Moreover Portuguese gunners from Goa had assisted the Bijapur forces against the Mughals.
  • Though the Portuguese defended themselves valiantly, they were easily defeated.
  • In 1641, Shah Jahan’s minister and father-in-law Asaf Khan died. Asaf Khan’s sister and Shah Jahan’s old enemy Nur Jahan, survived until December 1645, but lived in retirement and never caused him trouble again.
  • A contemporary of Louis XIV of France, Shah Jahan ruled for thirty years. In his reign the famous Peacock Throne was made for the King.
  • He built the Taj Mahal by the side of the Yamuna at Agra.
  • Europeans like Bernier (French physician and traveller), Tavernier (French gem merchant and traveller), Mandelslo (German adventurer and traveller), Peter Mundy (English Trader) and Manucci (Italian writer and traveller) visited India during the reign of Shah Jahan and left behind detailed accounts of India.
  • During the last days of Shah Jahan, there was a contest for the throne amongst his four sons.
  • Dara Shukoh, the eldest, was the favourite of his father. He had been nominated as heir apparent, a fact resented by his brothers.
  • Aurangzeb, the third son, was astute, determined and unscrupulous. Dara, professed the Sunni religion, but was deeply interested in Sufism. A war of succession broke out between the four sons of Shah Jahan in which Aurangzeb emerged victorious.
  • Aurangzeb imprisoned Shah Jahan and crowned himself as the Mughal emperor.
  • Shah Jahan died broken hearted as a royal prisoner in January 1666 and was buried in the Taj Mahal next to his wife.



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