In the years 1379 to 1405 Timur Lenk created after his model Genghis Khan a realm in the area of today's Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. After his death, the empire disintegrated as fast as it originated, but one of his descendants should play a crucial role in the conquest of India and the establishment of the Mogul dynasty on the subcontinent.
Timur Lenk's descendant Babur, like many others, was expelled from his native Samarkand in 1494 by the Uzbeks at the age of 12. Three years later, he returned with soldiers and besieged the city, but had to withdraw without success. He then led his forces to Afghanistan and captured Kabul, where he set up his headquarters for his further campaigns. These led him several times to Pandschab, southeast of Kabul. After the plea for help from the local nobles to liberate the Afghan regime under Ibrahim Lodhis, Babur equipped his army with modern firearms and cannons. In 1525 he led the long-awaited invasion to Hindustan, where his army met on April 12, 1526 with 10,000 men to that of Sultan Lodhis, whose size is estimated at about 100,000 men and about 1,000 war elephants. Despite this numerical inferiority Babur invented a brilliant tactic. He buried his 700 cars and set up a mound to protect his guns and soldiers. With further barriers through trenches and tree trunks with small gaps for his cavalry, he was able to carry out failure attacks. On April 21, the Sultan attacked with his force, but despite his numerical superiority, he could not reach the defensive wall. The cavalry of Babur, however, embraced the enemy from the sides and rear, so that the sultan's army was trapped and exposed to cannon and firearms. About 16,000 soldiers were killed, including Sultan Lodhis. Babur now took over the rule and moved with his army further south on the Indian subcontinent towards Delhi and Agra, which he later occupied.
After Babur's death in 1556, his grandson, Akbar the Great, came to the throne. Through skillful diplomacy, he allied himself with the Hindu rulers of the Rajputs in northwestern India and also took over parts of their military tactics, such as the inclusion of war elephants or Tiger claws as a melee weapon, which were attached to a gauntlet sharp blades and melee severe or fatal injuries could. During his reign from 1556 to 1598 Akbar led several campaigns. So he conquered in the east Orissa and Bengal, in the north stretched his area over almost the entire North Indian area. His successors Jahangir and Shah Jahan were more concerned with securing the conquered territories than carrying out further campaigns.
Only with the reign of Aurangseb from the year 1658 the territory expanded again. Aurangseb penetrated further south and conquered almost the entire southern part of India. In its time, the dominion of the Mughals reached the greatest extent. The coming generations of power, however, were weakened mainly by civil unrest and defeated by the attacks in the north by the Iranian ruler Nadir Shah 1739 military. In 1764, the English East India Company tried to gain a foothold and gave the Mogul dynasty another military defeat in the same year. The dynasty was thus in decline and was replaced by English claims until the Indian subcontinent was only an English colony.
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The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture
Long viewed as an exotic wonderland of unimaginable treasures, the Mughal Empire (1526–1857) was, in reality, the mightiest Islamic empire in the history of India. In The Empire of the Great Mughals, historian Annemarie Schimmel describes the political, military, and economic rise of the Mughals, the incredible unfolding of the empire’s power and splendor, and the empire’s gradual collapse at the hands of the British.
Beginning with a concise historical overview, Schimmel paints a detailed picture of daily life in the empire: the role of rank in this strictly hierarchical society, the life of women, and the various religions, languages, and styles of literature of the era. She pays particular attention to the remarkable accomplishments and techniques of artists at the Mughal court—including the Taj Mahal, the most impressive demonstration of the Mughal rulers’ refined sense of beauty.
The capstone to the career of Annemarie Schimmel, whom the New York Times called “one of the 20th century’s most influential scholars of Islam,” The Empire of the Great Mughals is a fascinating portrait of an exquisitely rich and refined civilization.
The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty
On a hazy November afternoon in Rangoon, 1862, a shrouded corpse was escorted by a small group of British soldiers to an anonymous grave in a prison enclosure. As the British Commissioner in charge insisted, “No vestige will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests.”
Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, an accomplished poet and a skilled calligrapher. But while his Mughal ancestors had controlled most of India, the aged Zafar was king in name only. Deprived of real political power by the East India Company, he nevertheless succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history.
Islamic Gunpowder Empires: Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals
Islamic Gunpowder Empires provides readers with a history of Islamic civilization in the early modern world through a comparative examination of Islam's three greatest empires: the Ottomans (centered in what is now Turkey), the Safavids (in modern Iran), and the Mughals (ruling the Indian subcontinent). Author Douglas Streusand explains the origins of the three empires; compares the ideological, institutional, military, and economic contributors to their success; and analyzes the causes of their rise, expansion, and ultimate transformation and decline. Streusand depicts the three empires as a part of an integrated international system extending from the Atlantic to the Straits of Malacca, emphasizing both the connections and the conflicts within that system. He presents the empires as complex polities in which Islam is one political and cultural component among many. The treatment of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires incorporates contemporary scholarship, dispels common misconceptions, and provides an excellent platform for further study.