Eighteenth-Century Political Formations

Mughal Empire in 17th century reached its height. Decline of the Mughals occurred due to Aurangzeb’s policies, Peasant and Zamindari Rebellions, Invasions and Plunder and Court Intrigues. Frequent change of rulers weakened central authority. Efficiency of the Mughal Empire broke down. Many independent states emerged. Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah established the state of Hyderabad. Hyderabad state fought against Marathas. Burhan-ul-Mulk Sa‘adat Khan founded, the independent state of Awadh. He reduced the number of Mughal Jagirdars. Bengal broke away from Mughal control under Murshid Quli Khan. He shifted the capital of Bengal to Murshidabad in 1705.

Rajput kings of Amber and Jodhpur served under Mughals. In 18th century, Rajputs attempted to extend their control. Ajit Singh, the ruler of Jodhpur, attempted to snatch the power from Mughals. He held the governorship of Gujarat. Sawai Raja Jai Singh of Amber, governor of Malwa became the subedar of Agra in 1722. Sikhs were organised into a political community in 17th century. Guru Gobind Singh inspired Khalsa. Banda Bahadur led Khalsa after Guru Gobind Singh's death. Sikhs organised themselves into many political units - Jathas or misls. Sikh territories in 18th century extended from the Indus to the Jamuna. Maharaja Ranjit Singh reunited all groups.

Shivaji carved out Maratha Kingdom in 1674 and challenged Mughals in the peninsula. After Shivaji’s death Peshwa became powerful. Under them, Maratha Empire expanded between 1720 and 1761. Expansion brought enormous resources, but other rulers became hostile towards the Marathas. Under Suraj Mal, Jats resisted an attack by Ahmad Shah Abdali. Bharatpur Fort became the centre of Jat Kingdom during the rule of Suraj Mal.

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