India in the Eighteenth Century: Bahadur Shah 1, Jahandar Shah and Farrukh Siyar

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India in the Eighteenth Century

Bahadur Shah 1 (1707-12)

  • Muzam succeeded Aurungzeb after latter’s death in 1707

  • He acquired the title of Bahadur Shah.

  • Though he was quite old (65) and his rule quite short there are many significant achievements he made

  • He reversed the narrow minded and antagonistic policies of Aurungzeb

  • Made agreements with Rajput states

  • Granted sardeshmukhi to Marathas but not Chauth

  • Released Shahuji (son of Sambhaji) from prison (who later fought with Tarabai)

  • Tried to make peace with Guru Gobind Sahib by giving him a high Mansab. After Guru’s death, Sikhs again revolted under the leadership of Banda Bahadur. This led to a prolonged war with the Sikhs.

  • Made peace with Chhatarsal, the Bundela chief and Churaman, the Jat chief.

  • State finances deteriorated

Jahandar Shah (1712-13)

  • Death of Bahadur Shah plunged the empire into a civil war

  • A noted feature of this time was the prominence of the nobles

  • Jahandar Shah, son of Bahadur Shah, ascended the throne in 1712 with help from Zulfikar Khan

  • Was a weak ruler devoted only to pleasures?

  • Zulfikar Khan, his wazir, was virtually the head of the administration

  • ZK abolished jizyah

  • Peace with Rajputs: Jai Singh of Amber was made the Governor of Malwa. Ajit Singh of Marwar was made the Governor of Gujarat.

  • Chauth and Sardeshmukh granted to Marathas. However, Mughals were to collect it and then hand it over to the Marathas.

  • Continued the policy of suppression towards Banda Bahadur and Sikhs

  • Ijarah: (revenue farming) the government began to contract with revenue farmers and middlemen to pay the government a fixed amount of money while they were left free to collect whatever they could from the peasants

  • Jahandhar Shah defeated in January 1713 by his nephew Farrukh Siyar at Agra

Farrukh Siyar (1713-19)

  • Owed his victory to Saiyid Brothers: Hussain Ali Khan Barahow and Abdullah Khan

  • Abdullah Khan: Wazir, Hussain Ali: Mir Bakshi

  • FS was an incapable ruler. Saiyid brothers were the real rulers.

Saiyid Brothers

  • Known the Indian History as King Makers

  • adopted the policy of religious tolerance. Abolished jizyah (again?). Pilgrim tax was abolished from a number of places

  • Marathas: Granted Shahuji swarajya and the right to collect chauth and sardeshmukhi of the six provinces of the Deccan

  • They failed in their effort to contain rebellion because they were faced with constant political rivalry, quarrels and conspiracies at the court.

  • Nobles headed by Nizam-ul-Mulk and Muhammad Amin Khan began to conspire against them

  • In 1719, the Saiyid Brothers killed and overthrew FS.

  • This was followed by placing, in quick succession, of two young princes who died of consumption

  • Murder of the emperor created a wave of revulsion against the SB. They were looked down as ‘namak haram’

  • Now, they placed 18-year-old Muhammad Shah as the emperor of India

  • In 1720, the nobles assassinated Hussain Ali Khan, the younger of the SB. Abdullah Khan was also defeated at Agra

Muhammad Shah ‘Rangeela’ (1719-1748)

  • Weak-minded, frivolous and over-fond of a life of ease

  • Neglected the affairs of the state

  • Intrigued against his own ministers

  • Naizam ul Mulk Qin Qulich Khan, the wazir, relinquished his office and founded the state of Hyderabad in 1724

    • “His departure was symbolic of the flight of loyalty and virtue from the Empire”

  • Heriditary nawabs arose in Bengal, Hyderabad, Awadh and Punjab

  • Marathas conquered Malwa, Gujarat and Bundelkhand

  • 1738: Invasion of Nadir Shah

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