The Reasons Behind the Decline of the Mughal Empire Essay

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The Mughal Empire was the first large empire in India since the Gupta Empire (nearly a millennium years of difference); it was made up of many ethnicities, a variety of geographic localities, and hundreds of nobles and their principalities. At its largest extent, this empire contained over 140 million inhabitants, as well as encompassing 3.5 million square kilometers. However, as all empires do, the Mughal Empire faced many difficulties, and by the turn of the 19th century, had weakened significantly. The first leader of the Mughal Empire in India was Babur, who reigned from 1527-1530. His original territory was in Afghanistan, but had aspirations to move into the weakened Indian subcontinent. The clincher for this move was when a noble…show more content…
This makes sense when first looked at, but the “imperial overstretch” argument ignores the fact that as late as the 18th century, India was the second wealthiest society in the world. In 1526, Babur is said to have invaded India with 12,000 cavalrymen, but by the time of Shah Jahan, the imperial military reached 300,000 soldiers, of whom 200,000 were armed cavalrymen. The only way that the Mughals could support so massive a military was with an equally massive military budget. According to the economic historian Angus Maddison, India had been the largest economy in the world until it was surpassed in size by China, circa 1500, and between 1500 and 1700, the subcontinent still accounted for a full 25 percent of total world economic output. India was so wealthy during this period that in 1600, government revenues reached 100 million rupees, which was equivalent to 17.6 million pounds sterling; an amount that would not be matched by the British imperial treasury until the mid 19th century. By 1700, the imperial budget had doubled in size, to 200 million silver rupees, and so the Mughals could finance almost constant warfare. The administration of the Mughal economy was directly related to the war making capabilities of the Empire. The relationship between war making and economic management was at the heart of the patronage and ranking system that distributed economic and political

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