Mughal dynasty

The Mughal dynasty (Persian: دودمان مغل; Dudmân-e Mughal) comprised the members of the imperial House of Babur (Persian: خاندانِ آلِ بابُر; Khāndān-e-Āl-e-Bābur), also known as the Gurkanis (Persian: گورکانیان; Gūrkāniyān),[1] who ruled the Mughal Empire from c. 1526 to 1857.

House of Babur
خاندانِ آلِ بابُر
Imperial Seal of the Mughal Empire.svg
Imperial seal of the Mughal dynasty
Parent houseTimurid dynasty
CountryMughal India
Place of originTimurid Empire
Founded21 April 1526
Final rulerBahadur Shah II
Final headKhurshid Jah Bahadur
Connected familiesSafavid dynasty
Durrani dynasty
House of Hazrat Ishaan
(Family In "Laws")
TraditionsSunni Islam
Din-i Ilahi
Dissolution3 August 1975
Deposition21 September 1857

The Mughals originated as a Central Asian branch of the Timurid dynasty, supplemented with extra Borjigin (the clan which ruled the Mongol Empire and its successor states) bloodlines. The dynasty's founder, Babur (born 1483), was a direct descendant of the Asian conqueror Timur (1336–1405) on his father's side and of Mongol emperor Genghis Khan (died 1227) on his mother's side, and Babur's ancestors had other affiliations with Genghisids through marriage and common ancestry.[2] The term "Mughal" is itself a derivative form of "Mongol" in the Arabic and Persian languages: it emphasised the Mongol origins of the Mughal dynasty.[3]

During much of the Empire's history, the emperor functioned as the absolute head of state, head of government and head of the military, while during its declining era much of the power shifted to the office of the Grand Vizier and the empire became divided into many regional kingdoms and princely states.[4] However, even in the declining era, the Mughal Emperor continued to be the highest manifestation of sovereignty on the Indian subcontinent. Not only the Muslim gentry, but the Maratha, Rajput, and Sikh leaders took part in ceremonial acknowledgements of the Emperor as the sovereign of South Asia.[5] The British East India Company deposed the imperial family and abolished the empire on 21 September 1857 during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The UK declared the establishment of the British Raj the following year.

The British tried and convicted the last emperor, Bahadur Shah II (r. 1837–1857), and exiled him (1858) to Rangoon in British-controlled Burma (present-day Myanmar).[6]


The Mughal empire is conventionally said to have been founded in 1526 by Babur, a Timurid prince from Ferghana which today is in Uzbekistan. After losing his ancestral domains in Central Asia, Babur first established himself in Kabul and ultimately moved towards the Indian subcontinent.[7] Mughal rule was interrupted for 16 years by the Sur Emperors during Humayun's reign.[8] The Mughal imperial structure was founded by Akbar the Great around the 1580s which lasted until the 1740s, until shortly after the Battle of Karnal. During the reigns of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, the dynasty reached its zenith in terms of geographical extent, economy, military and cultural influence.[9]

Around 1700, the dynasty was ruling the wealthiest empire in the world, with also the largest military on earth.[10] Mughals had approximately 24 percent share of world's economy and a military of one million soldiers.[11][12] At that time the Mughals ruled almost the whole of the South Asia with 160 million subjects, 23 percent of world's population.[13] The Dynasty's power rapidly dwindled during the 18th century with internal dynastic conflicts, incompatible monarchs, foreign invasions from Persians and Afghans, as well as revolts from Marathas, Sikh, Rajputs and regional Nawabs.[14][15] The power of the last emperor was limited only to the Walled city of Delhi.

Many of the Mughals had significant Indian Rajput and Persian ancestry through marriage alliances as they were born to Rajput and Persian princesses.[16][17] Mughals played a great role in the flourishing of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (Indo-Islamic civilization).[18] Mughals were also great patrons of art, culture, literature and architecture. Mughal painting, architecture, culture, clothing, cuisine and Urdu language; all were flourished during Mughal era. Mughals were not only guardians of art and culture but they also took interest in these fields personally. Emperor Babur, Aurangzeb and Shah Alam II were great calligraphers,[19] Jahangir was a great painter,[20] Shah Jahan was a great architect[21] while Bahadur Shah II was a great poet of Urdu.[22]

Succession to the ThroneEdit

Group portrait of Mughal rulers, from Babur to Aurangzeb, with the Mughal ancestor Timur seated in the middle. On the right: Shah Jahan, Akbar and Babur, with Abu Sa'id of Samarkand and Timur's son, Miran Shah. On the left: Aurangzeb, Jahangir and Humayun, and two of Timur's other offspring Umar Shaykh and Muhammad Sultan. Created c. 1707–12

The Mughal dynasty operated under several basic premises: that the Emperor governed the empire's entire territory with complete sovereignty, that only one person at a time could be the Emperor, and that every male member of the dynasty was hypothetically eligible to become Emperor, even though an heir-apparent was appointed several times in dynastic history. The certain processes through which imperial princes rose to the Peacock Throne, however, were very specific to the Mughal Empire. To go into greater detail about these processes, the history of succession between Emperors can be divided into two eras: Era of Imperial successions (1526–1713) and Era of Regent successions (1713–1857).

Disputed Headship of Dynasty (incomplete)Edit

The Mughal Emperors practiced polygamy. Besides their wives, they also had several concubines in their harem, who produced children. This makes it difficult to identify all the offspring of each emperor.[23]

A man in India named Habeebuddin Tucy claims to be a descendant of Bahadur Shah II, but his claim is not universally believed.[24]

Another woman named Sultana Begum who lives in the slums of Kolkata has claimed that her late husband, Mirza Mohammad Bedar Bakht was the great-grandson of Bahadur Shah II.[25]

Ziauddin Tucy is a sixth generation descendant of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and today struggles to make ends meet. Living in a rented house, he still believes that the government will release properties of the erstwhile Mughals to the legal heirs. He also demands restoration of a Rs. 100 scholarship for Mughal descendants, that was discontinued by the government a while back. He wants that amount be raised to Rs 8,000. and that the government should grant the economically depressed Mughal descendants the money for their upliftment. Tucy has two unemployed sons and is currently living on pension.[26]

A man named Mirza Muhammad Khair ud-din Mirza, Khurshid Jah Bahadur was recognised as head of the Timurid dynasty, in 1931 by the Government of India. He emigrated to Lahore in Pakistan following the partition of India in 1947.


  1. ^ Zahir ud-Din Mohammad (10 September 2002). Thackston, Wheeler M. (ed.). The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor. New York: Modern Library. p. xlvi. ISBN 978-0-375-76137-9. In India the dynasty always called itself Gurkani, after Temür's title Gurkân, the Persianized form of the Mongolian kürägän, 'son-in-law,' a title Temür assumed after his marriage to a Genghisid princess.
  2. ^ Berndl, Klaus (2005). National Geographic Visual History of the World. National Geographic Society. pp. 318–320. ISBN 978-0-7922-3695-5.
  3. ^ Dodgson, Marshall G.S. (2009). The Venture of Islam. Vol. 3: The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times. University of Chicago Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-226-34688-5.
  4. ^ Sharma, S. R. (1999). Mughal Empire in India: A Systematic Study Including Source Material. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. ISBN 978-81-7156-817-8.
  5. ^ Bose, Sugata; Jalal, Ayesha (2004). Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-203-71253-5.
  6. ^ Bhatia, H.S. Justice System and Mutinies in British India. p. 204.
  7. ^ Eraly, Abraham (2007), Emperors of the Peacock Throne: The Saga of the Great Moghuls, Penguin Books Limited, ISBN 978-93-5118-093-7
  8. ^ Kissling, H. J.; N. Barbour; Bertold Spuler; J. S. Trimingham; F. R. C. Bagley; H. Braun; H. Hartel (1997). The Last Great Muslim Empires. BRILL. pp. 262–263. ISBN 90-04-02104-3. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  9. ^ "BBC - Religions - Islam: Mughal Empire (1500s, 1600s)". Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  10. ^ Lawrence E. Harrison, Peter L. Berger (2006). Developing cultures: case studies. Routledge. p. 158. ISBN 9780415952798.
  11. ^ Maddison, Angus (25 September 2003). Development Centre Studies The World Economy Historical Statistics: Historical Statistics. OECD Publishing. pp. 256–. ISBN 978-92-64-10414-3.
  12. ^ Art of Mughal Warfare." Art of Mughal Warfare. Indiannetzone, 25 August 2005.
  13. ^ József Böröcz (10 September 2009). The European Union and Global Social Change. Routledge. p. 21. ISBN 9781135255800. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  14. ^ Hallissey, Robert C. (1977). The Rajput Rebellion Against Aurangzeb. University of Missouri Press. pp. ix, x, 84. ISBN 978-0-8262-0222-2.
  15. ^ Claude Markovits (2004) [First published 1994 as Histoire de l'Inde Moderne]. A History of Modern India, 1480–1950. Anthem Press. pp. 172–173. ISBN 978-1-84331-004-4.
  16. ^ Duindam, Jeroen (2016). Dynasties: A Global History of Power, 1300–1800. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-06068-5.
  17. ^ Mohammada, Malika (2007). The Foundations of the Composite Culture in India. Aakar Books. ISBN 978-81-89833-18-3.
  18. ^ Alvi, Sajida Sultana (2 August 2012). Perspectives on Indo-Islamic Civilization in Mughal India: Historiography, Religion and Politics, Sufism and Islamic Renewal. OUP Pakistan. ISBN 978-0-19-547643-9.
  19. ^ Taher, Mohamed (1994). Librarianship and Library Science in India: An Outline of Historical Perspectives. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 978-81-7022-524-9.
  20. ^ Dimand, Maurice S. (1944). "The Emperor Jahangir, Connoisseur of Paintings". The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. 2 (6): 196–200. doi:10.2307/3257119. ISSN 0026-1521. JSTOR 3257119.
  21. ^ Asher 2003, p. 169
  22. ^ Bilal, Maaz Bin (9 November 2018). "Not just the last Mughal: Three ghazals by Bahadur Shah Zafar, the poet king". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  23. ^ Dalrymple, William (2006). The Last Mughal. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-4088-0092-8.
  24. ^ Rao, Ch Sushil (18 August 2019). "Who is Prince Habeebuddin Tucy?". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  25. ^ "Destitute Mughal empire 'heir' demands India 'return' Red Fort". Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  26. ^ Baseerat, Bushra (27 April 2010). "Royal descendant struggles for survival". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 September 2022.

Further readingEdit