Timeline Description: The Mughal Empire (1526-1857) was a Persianate empire that controlled large parts of the Indian subcontinent. It is known for developments in military technology and growing the Indian economy.
|April 21, 1526||The Battle of Panipat launches the Mughal Empire.
The Battle of Panipat marks the beginning of the Mughal Empire. The forces of Babur, a Central Asian ruler who was descended from the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, defeat the Lodi Empire of Northern India. This is one of the earliest battles to involve gunpowder, firearms, and field artillery. Babur's rule is marked by ongoing wars of aggression, which prevent him from stabilizing his empire.
|January 5, 1531||Humayun succeeds with difficulty.
Due to instability within the empire, Babur's death leads to difficulties with his son Humayun's succession. Some of the nobles instead try to install Humayun's uncle, Mahdi Khwaja, and, though they are defeated, it signals Humayun's weakness.
|1540||Sher Shah Suri takes power.
Sher Shah Suri, leader of the rival Sur dynasty, drives Humayan out of India and seizes power. Humayun takes refuge with the Safavid rulers in Persia, which serves to create a strong bond with the two dynasties.
|July 23, 1555||Humayun reclaims the Empire.
Humayun takes advantage of the deaths of both Sher Shah Suri and his son and successor, Islam Shah, to march an army provided by his Persian allies back to India. He puts the army under the leadership of Bairam Khan, who proves himself a much more skilled tactician. He retakes Delhi for Humayun and restores the Mughals to power.
|January 27, 1556||Akbar the Great comes to power.
Shortly after retaking power, Humayun stops for daily prayer in the middle of carrying books down a flight of stairs and trips. He is fatally injured and dies three days later. Humayun's son, Akbar, succeeds him under a regent, Bairam Khan, the general who had won victory for his father. The rival Sur Dynasty once again attempts to seize power.
|November 5, 1556||The Second Battle of Panipat solidifies Akbar's control.
Under Bairam Khan, the Mughal army defeats the Surs and solidifies Akbar's control.
|January 31, 1561||Bairam Khan is assassinated.
Under the guidance of his mother and other supporters, Akbar strips Bairam Khan of the regency, and Khan is assassinated on a journey to Mecca. Akbar is now in full control of the empire. He is known for developing trade with Europe, developing a strong system of administration, and growing the economy. He is able to acquire flintlock guns from Europe, which give him a huge military advantage.
|1599||Jahangir revolts against Akbar.
Though Jahangir, Akbar's oldest son, is the declared successor, he impatiently leads a revolt against his father while Akbar is occupied in a foreign military campaign. While he is defeated, he still has enough political support from the women in Akbar's harem, including Akbar's mother, to retain his role as successor.
|1605||Jahangir succeeds as emperor.
Jahangir succeeds as emperor, thanks to the immense support of the harem women. His eldest son, Khusrau Mirza, unsuccessfully rebels against him. Jahangir kills all his son's supporters and blinds his son. During his rule, Jahangir is addicted to opium and alcohol and so neglects his role as ruler, allowing him to be manipulated by rival factions.
|1628||Shah Jahan succeeds as emperor.
Jahangir dies on his way back from a visit to Kashmir and is succeeded by his third son, Shah Jahan. It is during this period that the court's opulence becomes more expensive than its value.
|1632||Construction on the Taj Mahal begins.
Shah Jahan begins construction on the Taj Mahal in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The white marble mausoleum is recognized by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture.
|1658||Dara Shikoh becomes regent.
Shah Jahan falls ill, and his eldest son, Dara Shikoh, becomes regent for him. However, due to his liberal politics, his younger brother, Aurangzeb, allies with conservative Islamic factions to oppose him.
|1659||Aurangzeb succeeds as emperor.
Aurangzeb defeats Dara Shikoh and has him executed. Though Shah Jahan has recovered by this point, Aurangzeb declares him unfit for rule and has him imprisoned. Aurangzeb goes on to expand the empire, but his harsh religious conservatism undermines the stability of the empire. This marks the beginning of the decline of the Mughal's power.
|1707||Shah Alam succeeds as emperor.
Aurangzeb's son, Shah Alam, succeeds him and tries to undue the disastrous policies of his father, but it is too little, too late. The empire descends into chaos and violent feuds after his death and starts to break up.
|1858||Bahadur Shah Zafar is deposed.
By this point, the British East India Company has become the protector of the Mughal Empire, using it to solidify their claim on trade with India. Bahadur Shah Zafar, the final Mughal ruler, leads a revolt against them, although he is in reality little more than a figurehead. The revolt is defeated and the Mughals deposed by the East India Company, which assumes formal control over the country and ends the Mughal Empire.