The Mughal Empire, 1526-1707

This seminar studies the Mughal empire, one of the most important pre-modern powers, responsible in surprising ways for the world we live in.Beginning with the unlikely victory of Babur in 1526 we will examine the political, economic, social, and cultural developments resulting from the establishment of this powerful Islamic empire in a region where Muslims were always a minority. Particular emphasis will be given to Akbar (1556-1605) whose extraordinary reign established the foundation on which his successors expanded the empire. Akbar’s son Jahangir gave permission to the English East India Company to set up a factory in India. Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan, had the Taj Mahal built as a mausoleum for his beloved wife. The seminar will end with the last of the ‘great’ emperors, Aurangzeb (1658-1707), whose long reign preceded the decline of the empire, at the very moment the East India Company was emerging as a regional power. The central themes study how the state, economy, culture, and society developed in the period when a specific, ‘Indian’ form of Islam evolved.