Medieval India Notes:

Aspirants find the Medieval India a tough topic to study because there is so much going on in this era so we have short it down to effective and fulfilling Notes for UPSC SSC and Bank .

India in Eighteenth Century contains very dynamic political environment. So the good way to study Medieval India is read chronologically with a story line picturing each character.

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Rulers of India in 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

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Jahandar Shah (1712-13)

  • With the death of Bhadur shah civil war broke
  • A noted feature of this time was the prominence of the nobles
  • Jahandar Shah, with the help of Zulfikar khan who was his Wazir get throne
  • ZK abolished jizyah
  • Peace with Rajputs: Jai Singh of Amber and Ajit singh of Marwar were made governor of Malwa and Gujrat respectively
  • Chauth and Sardeshmukh granted to Marathas. However, Mughals were  mere puppet to collect and then offer to Marathas.
  • Continued the policy of suppression towards Banda Bahadur and Sikhs
  • Ijarah: (revenue farming) contract with revenue farmer and middlemen by the government to give fixed amount to government and let both free to collect as much as mount they can get from Peasents
  • Jahandhar Shah in 1713 was defeated  by his own nephew (Farrukh Siyar)at Agra

Farrukh Siyar (1713-19)

  • Victory was with the help of 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
    • 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

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Muhammad Shah ‘Rangeela’ (1719-1748)

  • 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

Nadir Shah’s Invasion (1738)

  • Attracted to India by its fabulous wealth. Continual campaigns had made Persia bankrupt
  • Also, the Mughal empire was weak.
  • Didn’t meet any resistance as the defense of the north-west frontier had been neglected for years
  • The two armies met at Karnal on 13th Feb 1739. Mughal army was summarily defeated. MS taken prisoner
  • Plunder of about 70 crore rupees. Carried away the Peacock throne and Koh-i-noor
  • MS ceded to him all the provinces of the Empire west of the river Indus
  • Significance: Nadir Shah’s invasion exposed the hidden weakness of the empire to the Maratha sardars and the foreign trading companies

Ahmed Shah Abdali

  • One of the generals of Nadir Shah
  • Plundered India repeatedly ,Delhi and Mathura between 1748 and 1761. He invaded India five times.
  • 1761: Third battle of Panipat. Defeat of Marathas.
  • As a result of invasions of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah, the Mughal empire ceased to be an all-India empire. By 1761 mughal empire was shrinked to Delhi only

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Shah Alam II 

  • Ahmed Bahadur (1748-54) succeeded Muhammad Shah
  •  Next to Ahmed Bahadur was Alamgir II (1754-59)
    • 1756: Abdali plundered Mathura
  • Alamgir II was succeeded by Shah Jahan III
  •  Next to Shah Jahan III ,Shah Alam II in 1759 came
  • In 1764, he joined forces with Mir Qasim of Bengal and Shuja-ud-Daula of Awadh in declaring a war upon the British East India company. This resulted in the Battle of Buxar
  • Pensioned at Allahabad
  • Shah Alam II returned to Delhi BY 1772 by the help of Maratha Protection

The above notes are designed for quick study and revision not for detailed study.

In next article we will be talking about another aspects of 18th century India.

Thank You all the best

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