The Mughal Empire Akbar of Medieval Indian History

The Mughal Empire Akbar of Medieval Indian History

The Mughal Empire – Akbar of Medieval Indian History. At the time of Humayun’s death, his son, Akbar was at Kalanaur in the Punjab, campaigning against Sikandar Sur. The young heir-apparent was proclaimed emperor at Delhi and Kalanaur on February 14, 1556 under the title of Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar.

The position of the Mughals was so precarious that some of the followers suggested retreat to Kabul, but Akbar’s Atalig Bairam Khan rejected the idea. Agra was in the hands of Afghans under Hemu who was defeated on November 5, 1556. Within a span of four years Akbar’s supremacy was established from Kabul to Jaunpur and from Northern Punjab to Ajmer. This was mainly due to the shrewd tactics of Bairam Khan.

Bairam Khan’s success made him ambitious and vain and he tried to perpetuate his dominance by removing from the field his rivals and suspected opponents. However, the restraints imposed upon Akbar irritated him and he issued a farmam ordering the dismissal of Bairam. The latter decided on armed resistance; but this was easily suppressed.

He was permitted to leave for Mecca but on the way at Patan, he was murdered by an Afghan fanatic (January 31, 1561). His son, Abdur Rahim and wife, Salima Begam, were received by the emperor with kindness.
With a careful assessment of events of his father’s time, Akbar made a firm decision to liquidate the old order which included the tribal groups like the Mirzas and the Uzbegs and some nobles like Adham Khan, Asaf Khan, Monim Khan and Pir Muhammad Khan.

The Mughal Empire - Akbar of Medieval Indian History

First to be punished was Adham Khan who was hurled down the terrace on the charge of murdering Shamsu’d-din Akat Khan and was killed. Asaf Khan, the governor of Kara-Manikpur, subdued Bundelkhand and conquered Gondwana, then ruled by the gallant Rani Durgavati. She died fighting, leaving behind a sacred memory. Asaf Khan marched against Chauragarh, conquered Garha Katanga and took an enormous booty.

He even thought of becoming independent. Akbar recalled him in 1567, and restored the kingdom of Garha Katanga to Chandra Shah, after taking ten forts to round off the province of Malwa.


The Uzbeg group was guilty of misappropriation of the spoils of war and its members like Abdullah Khan and Bahadur Khan were arrogant. They broke out in rebellion in 1564, but were suppressed with an iron hand. They were pardoned at the intercession of Monim Khan. When Mirza Hakim invaded the Punjab in 1565, they raised their head again and recited the Khutbah in his name. Akbar again marched against them and crushed them finally.

The Mirzas, who synchronized their insurrection in Sambhal with that of the Uzbegs in the East, met with asimilar fate. Driven out of Akbar’s dominion, they took protection in Gujarat, then a trouble torn province. They occupied Champaner, Surat, Baroda and Broach. Surat became their stronghold. Akbar overran Gujarat, and turned on the Mirzas who broke up and fled away.

In 1562 Akbar set out on a to Ajmer and came into personal contact with the Rajputs. Midway cordially rcccived and in pilgrimage between Agra and Ajmer, Raja Bhara Mal Kachwaha waited upon the emperor. He was gratitude the Raja married his eldest daughter to the emperor.

His son Bhagwana Das and grandson Man Singh were taken into imperial service. While on his way back from Ajmer, Akbar occupied the fort of Merta which commanded strategic position both with regard to Mewar and Marwar. According to Rajput traditions, Raja Maldeo of Marwar sent his son Chandra Sen to have an interview with Akbar at Ajmer, offer him presents and enter into some sort of a treaty. But Akbar insisted on the personal submission of Maldeo and negotiations proved fruitless.

Having freed himself from the entanglements of Malwa, Akbar set his heart on the extension of his control over the Rajput states. He left Agra in 1567, leading a campaign against Chittor. The fort was closely invested and the garrison put up a stubborn resistance. But their commander Jai Mal fell under a bullet aimed at him by the emperor.
This was followed by the gruesome spectacle of jauhar. Chittor was captured by the Mughals after a stubborn fight. Rana Udai Singh fled to the hills and subsequently founded the town of Udaipur.

Chittor had fallen but the Sisodias were not prepared to accept defeat. Although Rana Pratap, who succeeded Udai Singh in February 1572, accorded a friendly reception to Man Singh, his attitude began to harden when Akbar insisted on his personal attendance at the court, Akbar concluded that the root cause of the trouble was the Maharana.

He made up his mind to crush Pratap and with that end in view he arrived at Ajmer in March 1576. Haldighati was the scene of a grim battle in which bravery on either side rose to the highest pitch. The Mughals won the victory yet Rana Pratap remained un-subdued.

Between 1579-98 the pressure on Mewar declined because of the emperor’s preoccupation with the problems of the north-west frontier. Rana spent the last years of his life in recovering his territory, reorganising his administration and building a new capital, at Chavand. He died on January 19, 1597.

Of the other states of Rajputana, the ruler of Bikaner, Rai Kalyana Mal, paid his homage to the emperor in 1570. The same year Rawal Har Rai of Jaisalmer accepted Mughal suzerainty. So the entire Rajputana with the partial exception of certain tracts of Mewar passed under Mughal supremacy.

As far as the Rajput states were concerned Akbar scrupulously respected the sentiments of the nilers. He was agreeable to the maintenance of their local autonomy, but wanted to control their inter-state relations to stop the internecine strife among them.
He gave the Rajput chiefs every opportunity to raise their stature in the service of the crown and in the constructive process which the emperor had initiated with vigour and enthusiasm.

The death of Bahadur Shah was followed by a period of political anarchy in Gujarat when the nobles became king-makers. One of them Itimad Khan invited Akbar to restore peace and order there. Akbar responded with alacrity and arrived at Ahmadabad on November 20, 1572 and made adequate arrangements for its administration. The erstwhile state was constituted into a Subah of the empire and Aziz Kokah was appointed as Subahdar.

But soon after the departure of the emperor troubles flared up again. Muhammad Husain Mirza at once opened the siege of Surat and seized Broach and Cambay, while Ikhtiyar-ul- Mulk advanced towards Ahmadabad. The whole of Gujarat was on fire.

When Akbar received the report of this widespread rebellion, he left Agra and arrived at Ahmadabad on 23rd Augist 1573 The emperor delivered a concerted attack on the rebels and pacified the province Simultaneously with Gujarat, Bengal and Bihar also became a source of anxiety to the emperor.

Among the Afghan leaders, one Sulaiman Karrani emerged triumphant. He assumed the title of Hazrat Ali and established his capital at Tanda He was on friendly terms with the Uzbeg leaders who held jagirs in the eastern districts of the Mughal empire When the Uabeg rebellion failed, Sulaiman held out the hand of peace towards Munim Khan to whom the emperor had assigned the jagirs previously held by the insurgents.

Sulaiman died in 1572 and was succeeded by his elder son Bayazid who was killed a few months later. Then Daud was proclaimed Sultan. He repudiated the treaty made by Sulaiman. Upon this the emperor ordered Munim Khan to attack Patna.

Akbar himself left Agra on June 20, 1574. Hajipur Mughals. Appointing Daud Khan as the supreme commander, Akbar returned to Agra, leaving instructions for the conquest of Bengal. was captured on August 7.

Munim fled and Patna fell into the hands of the Soon Munim Khan occupied Tanda, the new Daud and his followers fled to Orissa where they continued their rebellious activities. Todar Mal marched to deal with them. He was capital, and drew plans for driving out the Afghans from Bengal. joined by Munim Khan. On March 3, 1575 a battle was fought at Turkra or Turkra Qasba (in the Balasore district) in which the Afghans were routed. They were pursued upto Cuttack.

Driven to despair Daud sued for peace which was concluded. Munim Khan returned to Tanda where he died a few months later. Soon Bengal lapsed into a state of confusion and Daud once more raised his head. Husain Quli, the new governor of Bengal, defeated the rebels and put them to flight.

Daud was capturcd and put to death. Although the Mughal supremacy was re-established, Bengal remained a problem province throughout the Mughal rule.

In 1580 new administrative and revenue reforms were promulgated in the empire. When an attempt was made to enforce them in Bengal and Bihar, a widespread rebellion flared up. Its root cause lay in the reluctance of the local officers to obey the royal regulations with regard to branding and to accept reduction in their army allowances.

But they were also misled by the pronouncements of the Qazi Yaqub of Bengal and Mulla Muhammad Yazdi of Jaunpur who severely castigated the emperor for promulgating heretical opinions. The storm which burst in Bengal spread quickly westward and covered the entire Mughal Empire in Northern India.

Such widespread conflagration was a source of much anxiety to the emperor, but he was firm in his decisions. He despatched Shaikh Farid and Todar Mal to deal with the eastern rebels. Patna was soonrecovered and Todar Mal advanced towards Bengal driving the malcontents before him Aziz Kokah and Shahbaz Khan were sent to help him.
The presence of the imperial army on the borders of Bengal completely broke the morale of the rebels there. They were dispersed and peace was restored throughout the region.

Akbar was now free to meet the threat from Mirza Hakim. He marched with a formidable army towards the Punjab. He sent Murad in advance and himself crossed the Indus on July 12, 1581. The emperor entered the fort of Kabul on August 10 and held there a splendid court and banquet Akbar’s entry into Kabul was indeed a red letter day of his life.

He had crushed a widespread rebellion and had the satisfaction of visiting the capital of his ancestors.
Even after he had occupied Kabul he did not annex it to the empire, giving his brother an opportunity to return to the path of loyalty and refrain from making a common cause with the Uzbeg ruler
Soon after the emperor embarked upon the plan of securing natural frontiers for his empire.

He first turned his attention towards Kashmir where settled govemment was unknown since the time of Zainul Abidin.  In 1584 the emperor asked Yusuf of Kashmir to come in person or send his son Yaqub to his court, but there was no response Akbar was much annoyed.

He appointed Shahrukh Mirza and Raja Bhagwana Das to conquer Kashmir (1585) Though Yusuf tendered his submission, the trouble did not subside in Kashmir. On October 7, 1586, the Mughal army entered Srinagar where Khutbah was recited in the name of the emperor.

In 1591 Ali Rai of Little Tibet sent presents and gave his daughter in marriage to Salim. Orissa was conquered in 1592 and Sind a year after. Baluchistan was conquered in 1595. In 1596 Raja Laksmi Narayana of Cooch Behar accepted the suzerainty of the Mughals.
From 1585 to 1598 Akbar remained at Lahore engaged in strengthening the north-western frontiers of his empire. He trimmed his foreign policy in relation to Persia and Transoxiana. Taking advantage of the civil war in Persia, he secured the surrender of Qandahar in 1595 at the hands of Muzaffar Hussain Mirza

The annexation of Malwa and Gujarat brought Akbar in clear contact with the Deccan where the various states were constantly on war with each other. In 1577 an exchange of envoys took place between the Mughal and Nizam Shahi courts, and two years later messengers were sent to Bijapur and Golkunda as well.

In 1585 troops were moved towards Khandesh and Ahmadnagar and there was a show of force against Berar. In 1589 Akbar supported the claim of Burhan to the kingdom of Ahmadnagar. Simultaneously envoys were Golkunda, Bijapur and Ahmadnagar to persuade the Sultans to accept the over lordship of the Mughal emperor.

The Mughal Empire – Akbar of Medieval Indian History

Also Read: The First Phase of Mughal Empire

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