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 Page 1


THIRTEEN
Consolidation of the Mughal Empire
Age of Akbar
When Humayun was retreating from Bikaner, he was gallantly offered shelter
and help by the rana of Amarkot. It was at Amarkot, in 1542, that Akbar, the
greatest of the Mughal rulers, was born. When Humayun fled to Iran, young
Akbar was captured by his uncle, Kamran. He treated the child well on the
whole. Akbar was re-united with his parents after the capture of Qandhar.
When Humayun died, Akbar was at Kalanaur in the Punjab, commanding
operations against the Afghan rebels there. He was crowned at Kalanaur in
1556 at the young age of thirteen years and four months.
Akbar succeeded to a difficult position. The Afghans were still strong
beyond Agra, and were regrouping their forces under the leadership of Hemu
for a final showdown. Kabul had been attacked and besieged. Sikandar Sur,
the defeated Afghan ruler, was loitering in the Siwalik Hills. However, Bairam
Khan, the tutor of the prince and a loyal and favourite officer of Humayun,
rose to the occasion. He became the wakil of the kingdom, with the title of
Khan-i- Khanan, and rallied the Mughal forces. The threat from the side of
Hemu was considered the most serious. The area from Chunar to the border
of Bengal was under the domination of Adil Shah, a nephew of Sher Shah.
Hemu, who had started life as a superintendent of the markets under Islam
Shah, had rapidly risen under Adil Shah. He had not lost a single one of the
twenty-two battles in which he had fought. Adil Shah had appointed him the
wazir with the title of Vikramajit, and entrusted him with the task of expelling
the Mughals. Hemu captured Agra, and with an army of 50,000 cavalry, 500
elephants and a strong artillery, he marched upon Delhi.
In a well-contested battle, Hemu defeated the Mughals near Delhi and
occupied the city. However, Bairam Khan took energetic steps to meet the
situation. His bold stand put heart into his army, and it marched on Delhi
Page 2


THIRTEEN
Consolidation of the Mughal Empire
Age of Akbar
When Humayun was retreating from Bikaner, he was gallantly offered shelter
and help by the rana of Amarkot. It was at Amarkot, in 1542, that Akbar, the
greatest of the Mughal rulers, was born. When Humayun fled to Iran, young
Akbar was captured by his uncle, Kamran. He treated the child well on the
whole. Akbar was re-united with his parents after the capture of Qandhar.
When Humayun died, Akbar was at Kalanaur in the Punjab, commanding
operations against the Afghan rebels there. He was crowned at Kalanaur in
1556 at the young age of thirteen years and four months.
Akbar succeeded to a difficult position. The Afghans were still strong
beyond Agra, and were regrouping their forces under the leadership of Hemu
for a final showdown. Kabul had been attacked and besieged. Sikandar Sur,
the defeated Afghan ruler, was loitering in the Siwalik Hills. However, Bairam
Khan, the tutor of the prince and a loyal and favourite officer of Humayun,
rose to the occasion. He became the wakil of the kingdom, with the title of
Khan-i- Khanan, and rallied the Mughal forces. The threat from the side of
Hemu was considered the most serious. The area from Chunar to the border
of Bengal was under the domination of Adil Shah, a nephew of Sher Shah.
Hemu, who had started life as a superintendent of the markets under Islam
Shah, had rapidly risen under Adil Shah. He had not lost a single one of the
twenty-two battles in which he had fought. Adil Shah had appointed him the
wazir with the title of Vikramajit, and entrusted him with the task of expelling
the Mughals. Hemu captured Agra, and with an army of 50,000 cavalry, 500
elephants and a strong artillery, he marched upon Delhi.
In a well-contested battle, Hemu defeated the Mughals near Delhi and
occupied the city. However, Bairam Khan took energetic steps to meet the
situation. His bold stand put heart into his army, and it marched on Delhi
before Hemu could have time to consolidate his position. The battle between
the Mughals and the Afghan forces led by Hemu, took place once again at
Panipat (5 November 1556). Although Hemu’s artillery had been captured
earlier by a Mughal detachment, the tide of battle was in favour of Hemu
when an arrow hit him in the eye and he fainted. The leaderless Afghan army
was defeated, Hemu was captured and executed. Thus, Akbar had virtually to
reconquer his empire.
EARLY PHASE—CONTEST WITH THE NOBILITY (1556–67)
Bairam Khan remained at the helm of affairs of the empire for almost four
years. During the period, he kept the nobility fully under control. The danger
to Kabul was averted, and the territories of the empire were extended from
Kabul up to Jaunpur in the east, and Ajmer in the west. Gwaliyar was
captured, and forces were sent to conquer Ranthambhor and Malwa.
Meanwhile, Akbar was approaching the age of maturity. Bairam Khan had
offended many powerful persons while he held supreme power. They
complained that Bairam Khan was a Shia, and that he was appointing his own
supporters and Shias to high offices while neglecting the old nobles. These
charges were not very serious in themselves because Bairam was known for
his liberal religious views. But Bairam Khan had become arrogant, and failed
to realise that Akbar was growing up. There was friction on small points
which made Akbar realise that he could not leave the affairs of the state in
someone else’s hands for any length of time.
Akbar played his cards deftly. He left Agra on the pretext of hunting, and
reached Delhi. From Delhi he issued a farman dismissing Bairam Khan from
his office, and calling upon all the nobles to come and submit to him
personally. Once Bairam Khan realised that Akbar wanted to take power in
his own hands, he was prepared to submit, but his opponents were keen to
ruin him. They heaped humiliation upon him till he was goaded to rebel. The
rebellion distracted the empire for almost six months. Finally, Bairam Khan
was forced to submit. Akbar received him cordially, and gave him the option
of serving at the court or anywhere outside it, or retiring to Mecca. Bairam
Khan chose to go to Mecca. However, on his way, he was assassinated at
Page 3


THIRTEEN
Consolidation of the Mughal Empire
Age of Akbar
When Humayun was retreating from Bikaner, he was gallantly offered shelter
and help by the rana of Amarkot. It was at Amarkot, in 1542, that Akbar, the
greatest of the Mughal rulers, was born. When Humayun fled to Iran, young
Akbar was captured by his uncle, Kamran. He treated the child well on the
whole. Akbar was re-united with his parents after the capture of Qandhar.
When Humayun died, Akbar was at Kalanaur in the Punjab, commanding
operations against the Afghan rebels there. He was crowned at Kalanaur in
1556 at the young age of thirteen years and four months.
Akbar succeeded to a difficult position. The Afghans were still strong
beyond Agra, and were regrouping their forces under the leadership of Hemu
for a final showdown. Kabul had been attacked and besieged. Sikandar Sur,
the defeated Afghan ruler, was loitering in the Siwalik Hills. However, Bairam
Khan, the tutor of the prince and a loyal and favourite officer of Humayun,
rose to the occasion. He became the wakil of the kingdom, with the title of
Khan-i- Khanan, and rallied the Mughal forces. The threat from the side of
Hemu was considered the most serious. The area from Chunar to the border
of Bengal was under the domination of Adil Shah, a nephew of Sher Shah.
Hemu, who had started life as a superintendent of the markets under Islam
Shah, had rapidly risen under Adil Shah. He had not lost a single one of the
twenty-two battles in which he had fought. Adil Shah had appointed him the
wazir with the title of Vikramajit, and entrusted him with the task of expelling
the Mughals. Hemu captured Agra, and with an army of 50,000 cavalry, 500
elephants and a strong artillery, he marched upon Delhi.
In a well-contested battle, Hemu defeated the Mughals near Delhi and
occupied the city. However, Bairam Khan took energetic steps to meet the
situation. His bold stand put heart into his army, and it marched on Delhi
before Hemu could have time to consolidate his position. The battle between
the Mughals and the Afghan forces led by Hemu, took place once again at
Panipat (5 November 1556). Although Hemu’s artillery had been captured
earlier by a Mughal detachment, the tide of battle was in favour of Hemu
when an arrow hit him in the eye and he fainted. The leaderless Afghan army
was defeated, Hemu was captured and executed. Thus, Akbar had virtually to
reconquer his empire.
EARLY PHASE—CONTEST WITH THE NOBILITY (1556–67)
Bairam Khan remained at the helm of affairs of the empire for almost four
years. During the period, he kept the nobility fully under control. The danger
to Kabul was averted, and the territories of the empire were extended from
Kabul up to Jaunpur in the east, and Ajmer in the west. Gwaliyar was
captured, and forces were sent to conquer Ranthambhor and Malwa.
Meanwhile, Akbar was approaching the age of maturity. Bairam Khan had
offended many powerful persons while he held supreme power. They
complained that Bairam Khan was a Shia, and that he was appointing his own
supporters and Shias to high offices while neglecting the old nobles. These
charges were not very serious in themselves because Bairam was known for
his liberal religious views. But Bairam Khan had become arrogant, and failed
to realise that Akbar was growing up. There was friction on small points
which made Akbar realise that he could not leave the affairs of the state in
someone else’s hands for any length of time.
Akbar played his cards deftly. He left Agra on the pretext of hunting, and
reached Delhi. From Delhi he issued a farman dismissing Bairam Khan from
his office, and calling upon all the nobles to come and submit to him
personally. Once Bairam Khan realised that Akbar wanted to take power in
his own hands, he was prepared to submit, but his opponents were keen to
ruin him. They heaped humiliation upon him till he was goaded to rebel. The
rebellion distracted the empire for almost six months. Finally, Bairam Khan
was forced to submit. Akbar received him cordially, and gave him the option
of serving at the court or anywhere outside it, or retiring to Mecca. Bairam
Khan chose to go to Mecca. However, on his way, he was assassinated at
Patan near Ahmedabad by an Afghan who bore him a personal grudge.
Bairam’s wife and a young child were brought to Akbar at Agra. Akbar
married Bairam Khan’s young wife who was his cousin. He brought up
Bairam’s child as his own son. This child later became famous as Abdur
Rahim Khan-i-Khanan and held some of the most important offices and
commands in the empire.
1
Akbar’s confrontation with Bairam Khan and the kind of treatment
accorded to his family subsequently show some typical traits of Akbar’s
character. He was unrelenting once he had made up his mind about a course
of action, but was prepared to go out of his way in being generous to an
opponent who had submitted to him.
During Bairam Khan’s rebellion, groups and individuals in the nobility had
become politically active. They included Akbar’s foster- mother, Maham
Anaga, and her relations. Though Maham Anaga soon withdrew from
politics, her son, Adham Khan was an impetuous young man who assumed
independent airs when sent to command an expedition against Malwa.
Removed from the command, he laid claim to the post of the wazir, and when
this was not conceded, he stabbed the acting wazir in his office. Akbar was
enraged and had him thrown down to his death from the parapet of the fort
(1561). However, it was many years before Akbar was to establish his
authority fully. The Uzbeks formed a powerful group in the nobility. They
held important positions in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Malwa.
Although they had served the empire well by subduing the powerful Afghan
groups in those areas, they had become arrogant and were defying the young
ruler. Between 1561 and 1567 they broke out in rebellion several times,
forcing Akbar to take the field against them. Each time Akbar was induced to
pardon them. When they again rebelled in 1565, Akbar was so exasperated
that he vowed to make jaunpur his capital till he had rooted them out.
Meanwhile, a rebellion by the Mirzas, who were Timurids and were related to
Akbar by marriage, threw the areas west of modern Uttar Pradesh into
confusion. Encouraged by these rebellions, Akbar’s half-brother, Mirza
Hakim, who had seized control of Kabul, advanced into the Punjab, and
besieged Lahore. The Uzbek rebel nobles formally proclaimed him their ruler.
This was the most serious crisis Akbar had to face since Hemu’s capture of
Page 4


THIRTEEN
Consolidation of the Mughal Empire
Age of Akbar
When Humayun was retreating from Bikaner, he was gallantly offered shelter
and help by the rana of Amarkot. It was at Amarkot, in 1542, that Akbar, the
greatest of the Mughal rulers, was born. When Humayun fled to Iran, young
Akbar was captured by his uncle, Kamran. He treated the child well on the
whole. Akbar was re-united with his parents after the capture of Qandhar.
When Humayun died, Akbar was at Kalanaur in the Punjab, commanding
operations against the Afghan rebels there. He was crowned at Kalanaur in
1556 at the young age of thirteen years and four months.
Akbar succeeded to a difficult position. The Afghans were still strong
beyond Agra, and were regrouping their forces under the leadership of Hemu
for a final showdown. Kabul had been attacked and besieged. Sikandar Sur,
the defeated Afghan ruler, was loitering in the Siwalik Hills. However, Bairam
Khan, the tutor of the prince and a loyal and favourite officer of Humayun,
rose to the occasion. He became the wakil of the kingdom, with the title of
Khan-i- Khanan, and rallied the Mughal forces. The threat from the side of
Hemu was considered the most serious. The area from Chunar to the border
of Bengal was under the domination of Adil Shah, a nephew of Sher Shah.
Hemu, who had started life as a superintendent of the markets under Islam
Shah, had rapidly risen under Adil Shah. He had not lost a single one of the
twenty-two battles in which he had fought. Adil Shah had appointed him the
wazir with the title of Vikramajit, and entrusted him with the task of expelling
the Mughals. Hemu captured Agra, and with an army of 50,000 cavalry, 500
elephants and a strong artillery, he marched upon Delhi.
In a well-contested battle, Hemu defeated the Mughals near Delhi and
occupied the city. However, Bairam Khan took energetic steps to meet the
situation. His bold stand put heart into his army, and it marched on Delhi
before Hemu could have time to consolidate his position. The battle between
the Mughals and the Afghan forces led by Hemu, took place once again at
Panipat (5 November 1556). Although Hemu’s artillery had been captured
earlier by a Mughal detachment, the tide of battle was in favour of Hemu
when an arrow hit him in the eye and he fainted. The leaderless Afghan army
was defeated, Hemu was captured and executed. Thus, Akbar had virtually to
reconquer his empire.
EARLY PHASE—CONTEST WITH THE NOBILITY (1556–67)
Bairam Khan remained at the helm of affairs of the empire for almost four
years. During the period, he kept the nobility fully under control. The danger
to Kabul was averted, and the territories of the empire were extended from
Kabul up to Jaunpur in the east, and Ajmer in the west. Gwaliyar was
captured, and forces were sent to conquer Ranthambhor and Malwa.
Meanwhile, Akbar was approaching the age of maturity. Bairam Khan had
offended many powerful persons while he held supreme power. They
complained that Bairam Khan was a Shia, and that he was appointing his own
supporters and Shias to high offices while neglecting the old nobles. These
charges were not very serious in themselves because Bairam was known for
his liberal religious views. But Bairam Khan had become arrogant, and failed
to realise that Akbar was growing up. There was friction on small points
which made Akbar realise that he could not leave the affairs of the state in
someone else’s hands for any length of time.
Akbar played his cards deftly. He left Agra on the pretext of hunting, and
reached Delhi. From Delhi he issued a farman dismissing Bairam Khan from
his office, and calling upon all the nobles to come and submit to him
personally. Once Bairam Khan realised that Akbar wanted to take power in
his own hands, he was prepared to submit, but his opponents were keen to
ruin him. They heaped humiliation upon him till he was goaded to rebel. The
rebellion distracted the empire for almost six months. Finally, Bairam Khan
was forced to submit. Akbar received him cordially, and gave him the option
of serving at the court or anywhere outside it, or retiring to Mecca. Bairam
Khan chose to go to Mecca. However, on his way, he was assassinated at
Patan near Ahmedabad by an Afghan who bore him a personal grudge.
Bairam’s wife and a young child were brought to Akbar at Agra. Akbar
married Bairam Khan’s young wife who was his cousin. He brought up
Bairam’s child as his own son. This child later became famous as Abdur
Rahim Khan-i-Khanan and held some of the most important offices and
commands in the empire.
1
Akbar’s confrontation with Bairam Khan and the kind of treatment
accorded to his family subsequently show some typical traits of Akbar’s
character. He was unrelenting once he had made up his mind about a course
of action, but was prepared to go out of his way in being generous to an
opponent who had submitted to him.
During Bairam Khan’s rebellion, groups and individuals in the nobility had
become politically active. They included Akbar’s foster- mother, Maham
Anaga, and her relations. Though Maham Anaga soon withdrew from
politics, her son, Adham Khan was an impetuous young man who assumed
independent airs when sent to command an expedition against Malwa.
Removed from the command, he laid claim to the post of the wazir, and when
this was not conceded, he stabbed the acting wazir in his office. Akbar was
enraged and had him thrown down to his death from the parapet of the fort
(1561). However, it was many years before Akbar was to establish his
authority fully. The Uzbeks formed a powerful group in the nobility. They
held important positions in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Malwa.
Although they had served the empire well by subduing the powerful Afghan
groups in those areas, they had become arrogant and were defying the young
ruler. Between 1561 and 1567 they broke out in rebellion several times,
forcing Akbar to take the field against them. Each time Akbar was induced to
pardon them. When they again rebelled in 1565, Akbar was so exasperated
that he vowed to make jaunpur his capital till he had rooted them out.
Meanwhile, a rebellion by the Mirzas, who were Timurids and were related to
Akbar by marriage, threw the areas west of modern Uttar Pradesh into
confusion. Encouraged by these rebellions, Akbar’s half-brother, Mirza
Hakim, who had seized control of Kabul, advanced into the Punjab, and
besieged Lahore. The Uzbek rebel nobles formally proclaimed him their ruler.
This was the most serious crisis Akbar had to face since Hemu’s capture of
This was the most serious crisis Akbar had to face since Hemu’s capture of
Delhi. However, Akbar’s grit and a certain amount of luck enabled him to
triumph. From Jaunpur he marched to Lahore, forcing Mirza Hakim to retire.
Meanwhile, the rebellion of the Mirzas was crushed, with the Mirzas fleeing
to Malwa and thence to Gujarat. Akbar marched back from Lahore to
Jaunpur. Crossing the river Yamuna near Allahabad at the height of the rainy
season, he surprised the rebels led by the Uzbek nobles and completely routed
them (1567). The Uzbek leaders were killed in the battle, thus bringing their
protracted rebellion to an end. All the rebellious nobles, including those
among them who had been dreaming of independence, were cowed down.
Akbar was now free to concentrate on the expansion of the empire.
EARLY EXPANSION OF THE EMPIRE (1560—76)
During Bairam Khan’s regency, the territories of the Mughal empire had been
expanded rapidly. Apart from Ajmer, an important conquest during this
period was that of Malwa. Malwa was being ruled, at that time, by a young
prince, Baz Bahadur. His accomplishments included a mastery of music and
poetry. Stories about the romance of Baz Bahadur and Rupmati, who was
famous for her beauty as well as for music and poetry are well known. During
his time, Mandu had become a celebrated centre for music. The army,
however, had been neglected by Baz Bahadur. The expedition against Malwa
was led by Adham Khan, son of Akbar’s foster-mother, Maham Anaga. Baz
Bahadur was badly defeated (1561) and the Mughals took valuable spoils,
including Rupmati. However, she preferred to commit suicide to being
dragged to Adham Khan’s haram. Due to the senseless cruelties of Adham
Khan and his successor, there was a reaction against the Mughals which
enabled Baz Bahadur to recover Malwa.
After dealing with Bairam Khan’s rebellion Akbar sent another expedition
to Malwa. Baz Bahadur had to flee, and for some time he took shelter with the
rana of Mewar. After wandering about from one area to another, he finally
repaired to Akbar’s court and was enrolled as a Mughal mansabdar
1
 The
extensive country of Malwa thus came under Mughal rule.
At about the same time, Mughal arms overran the kingdom of Garh-
Page 5


THIRTEEN
Consolidation of the Mughal Empire
Age of Akbar
When Humayun was retreating from Bikaner, he was gallantly offered shelter
and help by the rana of Amarkot. It was at Amarkot, in 1542, that Akbar, the
greatest of the Mughal rulers, was born. When Humayun fled to Iran, young
Akbar was captured by his uncle, Kamran. He treated the child well on the
whole. Akbar was re-united with his parents after the capture of Qandhar.
When Humayun died, Akbar was at Kalanaur in the Punjab, commanding
operations against the Afghan rebels there. He was crowned at Kalanaur in
1556 at the young age of thirteen years and four months.
Akbar succeeded to a difficult position. The Afghans were still strong
beyond Agra, and were regrouping their forces under the leadership of Hemu
for a final showdown. Kabul had been attacked and besieged. Sikandar Sur,
the defeated Afghan ruler, was loitering in the Siwalik Hills. However, Bairam
Khan, the tutor of the prince and a loyal and favourite officer of Humayun,
rose to the occasion. He became the wakil of the kingdom, with the title of
Khan-i- Khanan, and rallied the Mughal forces. The threat from the side of
Hemu was considered the most serious. The area from Chunar to the border
of Bengal was under the domination of Adil Shah, a nephew of Sher Shah.
Hemu, who had started life as a superintendent of the markets under Islam
Shah, had rapidly risen under Adil Shah. He had not lost a single one of the
twenty-two battles in which he had fought. Adil Shah had appointed him the
wazir with the title of Vikramajit, and entrusted him with the task of expelling
the Mughals. Hemu captured Agra, and with an army of 50,000 cavalry, 500
elephants and a strong artillery, he marched upon Delhi.
In a well-contested battle, Hemu defeated the Mughals near Delhi and
occupied the city. However, Bairam Khan took energetic steps to meet the
situation. His bold stand put heart into his army, and it marched on Delhi
before Hemu could have time to consolidate his position. The battle between
the Mughals and the Afghan forces led by Hemu, took place once again at
Panipat (5 November 1556). Although Hemu’s artillery had been captured
earlier by a Mughal detachment, the tide of battle was in favour of Hemu
when an arrow hit him in the eye and he fainted. The leaderless Afghan army
was defeated, Hemu was captured and executed. Thus, Akbar had virtually to
reconquer his empire.
EARLY PHASE—CONTEST WITH THE NOBILITY (1556–67)
Bairam Khan remained at the helm of affairs of the empire for almost four
years. During the period, he kept the nobility fully under control. The danger
to Kabul was averted, and the territories of the empire were extended from
Kabul up to Jaunpur in the east, and Ajmer in the west. Gwaliyar was
captured, and forces were sent to conquer Ranthambhor and Malwa.
Meanwhile, Akbar was approaching the age of maturity. Bairam Khan had
offended many powerful persons while he held supreme power. They
complained that Bairam Khan was a Shia, and that he was appointing his own
supporters and Shias to high offices while neglecting the old nobles. These
charges were not very serious in themselves because Bairam was known for
his liberal religious views. But Bairam Khan had become arrogant, and failed
to realise that Akbar was growing up. There was friction on small points
which made Akbar realise that he could not leave the affairs of the state in
someone else’s hands for any length of time.
Akbar played his cards deftly. He left Agra on the pretext of hunting, and
reached Delhi. From Delhi he issued a farman dismissing Bairam Khan from
his office, and calling upon all the nobles to come and submit to him
personally. Once Bairam Khan realised that Akbar wanted to take power in
his own hands, he was prepared to submit, but his opponents were keen to
ruin him. They heaped humiliation upon him till he was goaded to rebel. The
rebellion distracted the empire for almost six months. Finally, Bairam Khan
was forced to submit. Akbar received him cordially, and gave him the option
of serving at the court or anywhere outside it, or retiring to Mecca. Bairam
Khan chose to go to Mecca. However, on his way, he was assassinated at
Patan near Ahmedabad by an Afghan who bore him a personal grudge.
Bairam’s wife and a young child were brought to Akbar at Agra. Akbar
married Bairam Khan’s young wife who was his cousin. He brought up
Bairam’s child as his own son. This child later became famous as Abdur
Rahim Khan-i-Khanan and held some of the most important offices and
commands in the empire.
1
Akbar’s confrontation with Bairam Khan and the kind of treatment
accorded to his family subsequently show some typical traits of Akbar’s
character. He was unrelenting once he had made up his mind about a course
of action, but was prepared to go out of his way in being generous to an
opponent who had submitted to him.
During Bairam Khan’s rebellion, groups and individuals in the nobility had
become politically active. They included Akbar’s foster- mother, Maham
Anaga, and her relations. Though Maham Anaga soon withdrew from
politics, her son, Adham Khan was an impetuous young man who assumed
independent airs when sent to command an expedition against Malwa.
Removed from the command, he laid claim to the post of the wazir, and when
this was not conceded, he stabbed the acting wazir in his office. Akbar was
enraged and had him thrown down to his death from the parapet of the fort
(1561). However, it was many years before Akbar was to establish his
authority fully. The Uzbeks formed a powerful group in the nobility. They
held important positions in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Malwa.
Although they had served the empire well by subduing the powerful Afghan
groups in those areas, they had become arrogant and were defying the young
ruler. Between 1561 and 1567 they broke out in rebellion several times,
forcing Akbar to take the field against them. Each time Akbar was induced to
pardon them. When they again rebelled in 1565, Akbar was so exasperated
that he vowed to make jaunpur his capital till he had rooted them out.
Meanwhile, a rebellion by the Mirzas, who were Timurids and were related to
Akbar by marriage, threw the areas west of modern Uttar Pradesh into
confusion. Encouraged by these rebellions, Akbar’s half-brother, Mirza
Hakim, who had seized control of Kabul, advanced into the Punjab, and
besieged Lahore. The Uzbek rebel nobles formally proclaimed him their ruler.
This was the most serious crisis Akbar had to face since Hemu’s capture of
This was the most serious crisis Akbar had to face since Hemu’s capture of
Delhi. However, Akbar’s grit and a certain amount of luck enabled him to
triumph. From Jaunpur he marched to Lahore, forcing Mirza Hakim to retire.
Meanwhile, the rebellion of the Mirzas was crushed, with the Mirzas fleeing
to Malwa and thence to Gujarat. Akbar marched back from Lahore to
Jaunpur. Crossing the river Yamuna near Allahabad at the height of the rainy
season, he surprised the rebels led by the Uzbek nobles and completely routed
them (1567). The Uzbek leaders were killed in the battle, thus bringing their
protracted rebellion to an end. All the rebellious nobles, including those
among them who had been dreaming of independence, were cowed down.
Akbar was now free to concentrate on the expansion of the empire.
EARLY EXPANSION OF THE EMPIRE (1560—76)
During Bairam Khan’s regency, the territories of the Mughal empire had been
expanded rapidly. Apart from Ajmer, an important conquest during this
period was that of Malwa. Malwa was being ruled, at that time, by a young
prince, Baz Bahadur. His accomplishments included a mastery of music and
poetry. Stories about the romance of Baz Bahadur and Rupmati, who was
famous for her beauty as well as for music and poetry are well known. During
his time, Mandu had become a celebrated centre for music. The army,
however, had been neglected by Baz Bahadur. The expedition against Malwa
was led by Adham Khan, son of Akbar’s foster-mother, Maham Anaga. Baz
Bahadur was badly defeated (1561) and the Mughals took valuable spoils,
including Rupmati. However, she preferred to commit suicide to being
dragged to Adham Khan’s haram. Due to the senseless cruelties of Adham
Khan and his successor, there was a reaction against the Mughals which
enabled Baz Bahadur to recover Malwa.
After dealing with Bairam Khan’s rebellion Akbar sent another expedition
to Malwa. Baz Bahadur had to flee, and for some time he took shelter with the
rana of Mewar. After wandering about from one area to another, he finally
repaired to Akbar’s court and was enrolled as a Mughal mansabdar
1
 The
extensive country of Malwa thus came under Mughal rule.
At about the same time, Mughal arms overran the kingdom of Garh-
At about the same time, Mughal arms overran the kingdom of Garh-
Katanga. The kingdom of Garh-Katanga included the Narmada valley and the
northern portions of present Madhya Pradesh. It had been welded together by
Aman Das who flourished in the second half of the fifteenth century. Aman
Das had helped Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in the conquest of Raisen and had
received from him the title of Sangram Shah.
The kingdom of Garh-Katanga included a number of Gond and Rajput
principalities. It was the most powerful kingdom set up by the Gonds. It is
said that the ruler commanded 20,000 cavalry, a large infantry and 1000
elephants. We do not know, however, to what extent these figures are
dependable. Sangram Shah had further strengthened his position by marrying
his son to a princess of the famous Chandel rulers of Mahoba. This princess,
who is famous as Durgavati, became a widow soon afterwards. But she
installed her minor son on the throne and ruled the country with great vigour
and courage. She was a good marksman, both with guns and bow and arrow.
She was fond of hunting and, according to a contemporary, ‘it was her
custom that whenever she heard that a tiger had appeared she did not drink
water till she had shot it.’ She fought many successful battles against her
neighbours, including Baz Bahadur of Malwa. These border conflicts
apparently continued even after Malwa had been conquered by the Mughals.
Meanwhile, the cupidity of Asaf Khan, the Mughal governor of Allahabad,
was roused by the stories of the fabulous wealth and the beauty of the rani.
Asaf Khan advanced with 10,000 cavalry from the side of Bundelkhand. Some
of the semi-independent rulers of Garha found it a convenient moment to
throw off the Gond yoke. The rani was thus left with a small force. Though
wounded, she fought on gallantly. Finding that the battle was lost and that she
was in danger of being captured, she stabbed herself to death. Asaf Khan then
stormed the capital, Chauragarh, near modern Jabalpur. ‘So much plunder in
jewels, gold, silver and other things were taken that it is impossible to
compute even a fraction of it,’ says Abul Fazl. ‘Out of all the plunder Asaf
Khan sent only two hundred elephants to the court, and retained all the rest
for himself,’ Kamaladevi, the younger sister of the rani, was sent to the court.
When Akbar had dealt with the rebellion of the Uzbek nobles he forced
Asaf Khan to disgorge his illegal gains. He restored the kingdom of Garh-
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