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By Michael H. Fisher

The Mughal Empire ruled India politically, culturally, socially, economically and environmentally, from its starting place through Babur, a primary Asian adventurer, in 1526 to the ultimate trial and exile of the final emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar by the hands of the British in 1858. during the empire’s 3 centuries of upward thrust, preeminence and decline, it remained a dynamic and intricate entity inside and opposed to which various peoples and pursuits conflicted. The empire’s importance remains to be debatable between students and politicians with clean and intriguing new insights, theories and interpretations being recommend in recent times. This publication engages scholars and common readers with a transparent, vigorous and proficient narrative of the middle political occasions, the struggles and interactions of key members, teams and cultures, and of the contending historiographical arguments surrounding the Mughal Empire.

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Some Safavid rulers proclaimed themselves millennial representatives of the twelfth Shi‘i Imam. Militant Safavi disciples, known as the qizilbash (‘redheads’ from the distinctive 12 red points of their symbolically folded turbans), formed vital parts of the Safavid state, as both courtiers and cavalry. Babur himself briefly joined the Safavi Sufi order to gain vital military support at a crucial time. He also recognized the prestige of Persianate high culture. Babur spent his youth alternating among predatory raids, brief conquests, and barely surviving on the run or as a poor relation in his wary, condescending, kinsmen’s courts.

While conquering and ruling by force, Timur also demonstrated his aesthetic taste and developed his court culture. Timur adorned his illustrious capital, Samarkand, with magnificent mosque architecture and also lush gardens in which the peripatetic conqueror pitched his tents. Timur attracted to his court (and sometimes seized) artists, entertainers, historians and poets of the Persian language as well as his native Turki. These courtiers celebrated martial triumphs, pleasurable arts and personal refinement as they vied for Timur’s lavish patronage while trying to avoid his wrath, often fatal.

Babur knew the names of his most prominent commanders but individual and groups of soldiers arrived (and departed) at their own volition and received no salaries. ’25 The reliable core of Babur’s force was his personal followers. Most prominent was his eldest son Humayun, who had been fighting for five years to control Badakhshan. ’26 Babur also innovated in military technology by personally employing specialists in gunpowder weaponry. This was a major financial drain since their salaries and equipment were notably expensive and they could not as easily live by foraging and plundering from the surrounding countryside as did his largely unsalaried cavalry and infantry.

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