The rise and fall of the Mughal Empire - Stephanie Honchell Smith
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The empire established by Babur in Northern India and Afghanistan expanded under his descendants over the next two centuries to include most of the Indian subcontinent. During that time, the Mughals emerged as one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful empires. To learn more about role of the Mughals in the early modern world, see the works of Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam.
Culturally, the Mughals are celebrated for their contributions to literature, art, and architecture – most famously, the Taj Mahal . Mughal artists combined elements of Islamic, Turkic, Persian, Indian, and European styles, reflecting their own multicultural world. As discussed in this New York Times article, these works served as grandiose displays of Mughal power.
From within the walls of extensive harem complexes, royal Mughal women – including the rulers’ mothers, wives, and daughters – exerted substantial political and economic influence. To learn more about the lives and influence of Mughal women, see the works of Ruby Lal.
The main causes of the empire’s decline are the subject of ongoing debates, as John Green discusses in this Crash Course video. Today, most historians agree that throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries a series of complex social, economic, environmental, and political factors wove together to diminish Mughal authority. By the time the last Mughal emperor was deposed by the British, his domain barely extended beyond the walls of Delhi.
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