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A brief history of Mughals and British

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Krishna Kumar
Krishna Kumarhttp://krishnakrwrites.com
Writes about Indian History with context and analysis. Focus: British occupation period of India. Author: Rapid Reads-India and Investigating Indian History series. Available now : 1942-When the British Rule in India was Threatened Coming Next : Ten Months to freedom Also writes a newsletter.Free Subscription. krishnaKwrites.substack.com

There is a widespread claim that the British took over governing India from the Mughals. This is not correct. The British took over most of India by force, by trickery, vile and devious methods from Hindu Kingdoms, largely Marathas.

Contrary to popular belief that Mughal Rule continued till 1857, the reality is that it had got over for all real purposes in 1804. After that, the Mughal ruler, on a British pension and controlled by British residents, had jurisdiction only within the walls of Lal Quila in Delhi.

Even in 1804, the Mughal Ruler had authority only in Delhi to the Agra region, and he was under the protection of Scindia. He had no army of his own.

Let us do a quick recap on the major interactions between the East India Company and the Mughals.

1608 -1613: Thomas Roe visits Jehangir and asks for permission to trade a ‘firman’but is allowed limited approval to set up a factory (warehouse Cum office) in Surat.[i]

1664: The British fire at Mughal Ships near Bombay. An Enraged Aurangzeb cancels trade privileges, and restoration is done by apologizing and paying indemnity.[ii]

1690: The lease of three villages in Calcutta is obtained by the British from the local Mughal governor. This becomes Calcutta. A few armed skirmishes take place, but the matters get resolved.[iii]

1716: Farrukhsiyar grants the Company ‘firman’ and ‘Dustak’, which is the ability to transit goods duty-free within the Mughal rule and allied areas.[iv]

1764: Battle of Buxar takes place where Nawab of Avadh and Mughal ruler jointly fight on behalf of deposed Nawab Mir Jafer with British. In this battle held near the then Allahabad, the British won and get Diwani of Bengal in place of Nawab in exchange for payment of £272,000 [v] to the Mughals annually.

1803-1804: British general Lake attacks Mughals. He Starts from Kanpur, which the British had earlier wrested from Nawab of Avadh, and occupies Aligarh, Agra, and Delhi in quick Succession, defeating Scindia armies who were the protectors of Mughals.

The Mughal ruler is taken prisoner by the British.

In his treaty with Scindia, called the treaty of Sarji Anjangaon, the British under Governor-general Wellesley agree to give the Mughal Rs 10.8 Lakhs a year and leave him with jurisdiction inside Red Fort palace walls only with no territorial jurisdiction.[vi]

So this marked the official end of the Mughal rule In India. The Mughal ruler was called ‘ Tinsel King ‘ because he ruled primarily over women of his harem and household, had no influential role anywhere.

The British policy at this time was not to kill but to retire the native rulers with a pension till they faded from memory.

1806: When Shah Alam II died, Lord Hastings, the governor-general, requested his successor Akbar II to waive any ceremony that ‘might suggest that he exercised any authority over the Company’s empire.[vii]

In 1857, Bahadur Shah, the last Mughal, had his rule therefore limited within the walls of Lal quila, where he lived as a virtual prisoner with every aspect of his life monitored by the British Resident of Delhi, who was the effective ruler.

As is well known after the first war of Independence in 1857, Bahadur Shah, now a frail old man, was imprisoned in Burma, where he died. His sons had all been killed by the British officers. Lal Quila was taken over and converted to an army barrack.

Thus ended the Mughals in India.


[i] Keay,John , India a History P 375

[ii] Keay ,John, The Honorable East India Company PP 185-186

[iii] Ibid P 371

[iv] Barrow, Ian The East India Company P 49

[v] Today’s Value51,237,300 dollars

[vi] Sarkar, Sir Jadunath , The Fall of Mughal Empire P 282

[vii] Wilson, Jon The Chaos of the Empire P 292

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Krishna Kumar
Krishna Kumarhttp://krishnakrwrites.com
Writes about Indian History with context and analysis. Focus: British occupation period of India. Author: Rapid Reads-India and Investigating Indian History series. Available now : 1942-When the British Rule in India was Threatened Coming Next : Ten Months to freedom Also writes a newsletter.Free Subscription. krishnaKwrites.substack.com
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