Kings and Chronicles

Mughals referred to themselves as Timurids – successors of Timur. Babur was the founder of the empire in India. Although his successor – Humayun – lost Mughal kingdom to Sher Shah Suri. He defeated Surs in 1555. His successor, Akbar consolidated and expanded his empire to Hindukush. The decline of Mughal Empire followed the death of Aurangzeb in 1707. Mughal court chronicles were written in Persian, which soon became language of administration at all levels. Mughal kitabkhana were centres of manuscript production. People involved in writing of manuscripts received recognition, especially calligraphers and painters. Paintings communicated ideas about kingdom and power of kings. Later, Asiatic Society edited, translated and printed Indian manuscripts like Akbarnama and Badshahnama. Mughal chroniclers stated that Mughal power came from God, represented by Divine Light. Seventeenth century Mughal painters painted halo on emperor’s head to symbolise this. Sovereignty, described as a social contract, demanded obedience and share of resources. Idea of Justice was highest virtue of Mughal monarchy.

Mughal capital cities shifted frequently from 1526 till 1648. Mughal nobility were recruited from diverse ethnic and religious groups: Turrani, Iranian, Rajput and Indian Shaikhzadas. They participated in military campaigns with their armies. Mughal administration at province (subas) level was headed by a governor (subadar) – head of provinces. In Mughal Empire, marriage alliances were a way of cementing political relationships. Mughal household consisted of emperor’s wives, concubines, female relatives, female servants and slaves. Mughal women comprised begums, who came from royal household, Aghas – not of noble birth, and concubines or Agachas. Mughal slaves performed tasks from mundane to those requiring skill, tact and intelligence.

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