Aurangzeb cont. Military Policy




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Aurangzeb cont.

Military Policy—Much of Aurangzebs resources and time went into articulating a strong military policy.

From 1678, Aurangzeb personally moved to the Deccan to supervise a campaign of pacification against Bijapur and Golconda. Although these kingdoms were ultimately pacified, an ongoing campaign against the Marathas occupied much of Auruangzeb’s later reign.



In fact, while Aurangzeb’s reign appeared to be a time of great centralization and control, there were small rebellions breaking out all over India. (see map) and while Aurangzeb was able to win individual battles, these movements were not really subdued, and upon his death in 1707 would engulf the empire.
Mansabdari/Jagir System—While the Emperor was engaged in military campaigns in the Deccan, news reports and memoirs of nobles in the north suggest that the Jagir system suffered a number of problems.

  • As the Empire expanded more and more mansabdars were granted Jagirs.

  • Jagirdars were not keeping up the expected numbers or qualities of horses and soldiers. Their Jagirs were often assessed at an inflated value, and the actual revenue yielded by the Jagir was far less.

  • In areas were there was unrest and rebellion, (in the north and the Deccan) Jagirdars were actually unable to collect the revenue allotted to them. Some historians have called this a crisis of morale. Others, like Richards, contest this argument calling this an artificial crisis. (See Friday’s reading)

  • At a time when agriculture was becoming more market-oriented, and greater profits could be made, the zamindars of the time were reluctant to share this upsurge with the empire. Many had the money and ability to defend themselves from local forces when the bulk of the imperial army was in the Deccan.

  • The actual dismantling of the Jagir system took a long time, but by the mid-eighteenth century, the Mughals could only claim the core areas around Delhi, and the Gangetic plain as their own. By the time Aurangzeb died in 1707, the “decline” had already begun.



The Eighteenth Century in South Asia: Dark Age or New Beginings?
Mughal territories limited to Delhi and its immediate areas, Mughal ruler a figurehead with little real power but an important cultural importance. Why—succession struggles and other factors

  • Local states replace imperial rule

  • Peasant communities such as Marathas, Sikhs, Jats occupy other areas

  • Persian invasion under Nadir Shah (1739) and successive invasion by Afghans under Ahmad Shah Abdali (1748-1767) devastate North India

  • Cliques of nobles dominate Mughal politics using the Emperor as a figurehead, but most new powers continue to pay respect to the Mughal Emperor at least superficially


Four new types of political formations emerge:

  • Successor states—Nawabs of Bengal, Awadh, Hyderabad, and Carnatic

  • Conquest states dominated by former peasant groups: Sikhs, Marathas, Jats

  • Pre-existing regimes reassert old boundaries: Rajputs in Rajasthan, Kingdoms in the hills

  • New regimes: expansion of European powers, particularly the English and the French (will discuss these more on Thursday).


Some Examples of these types:

Successor States

Bengal—Position of province during Mughal struggles of 1708, loyalty of administrators. Assumption of autonomy by Alivardi Khan

Awadh—Creation of a Shia-oriented state under Saadat Khan, consolidation of land through tax farming (ijara), protection offered to Mughal Emperor by 3rd Nawab Shuja-ud-daula
The Marathas—1674-1818--The Marathas were originally a peasant group from western India, who became re-defined as a warrior caste in the eighteenth century after the collapse of Mughal rule.

The Peshwas—The chief minister of the Bhonsle kingdom (the one founded by Shivaji), soon became the head of the confederacy of the five Maratha clans, each headed by a different chief: The Bhonsle (at Nagpur), Gaekawad (Baroda), Sindhia (Gwalior), Holkar (Indore), and the Peshwas (Pune).



  • The Peshwa title became hereditary, and from 1714-1761 until the Maratha forces were defeated at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 by the Afghan raider Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Marathas moved into the vaccum left by the collapse of Mughal power in the Deccan and Central India.

  • Even the defeat at Panipat only held the Marathas back for a few years, and once again through a clever set of internal alliances with the British the Marathas maintained their power until 1818 where they finally lost to the British after three wars.


Sikhs—Revolt starts again soon after Aurangzeb’s death, under a mysterious figure called “Banda Bahadur” will continue despite Banda’s execution in 1715.

Small kingdoms by individual chiefs (Sikh, Rajput, Afghan) established in Punjab after Ahmad Shah Abdali’s raids devastate the Mughal structure of the province



United under a single ruler, Ranjit Singh starting in 1799 when uniting several Sikh clans he occupied the capital city of Lahore, and would successfully resist British expansion until after Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839, even then it would take three wars and Punjab would not be annexed by the EIC until 1849.
Pre-existing regimes—new Rajput identity in 18th and 19th century, erasure of Mughal connections


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