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Muhammad Shah – Modern Indian History

Muhammad Shah - Modern Indian History

Muhammad Shah’s Weak Rule and the Unraveling of the Mughal Empire


Muhammad Shah’s extended reign from 1719 to 1748, spanning nearly 30 years, represented the last opportunity to salvage the declining Mughal Empire.Unfortunately, he exhibited an ill-suited disposition for the challenges of the time, characterized by a weak-minded and frivolous demeanor, coupled with an excessive fondness for a life of comfort and luxury.

Neglect of State Affairs

Muhammad Shah’s reign witnessed a stark neglect of state affairs, with the emperor failing to provide crucial support to knowledgeable ministers like Nizam-ul-Mulk. Instead, he succumbed to the influence of corrupt and worthless flatterers, engaging in intrigue against his own ministers and sharing in the illicit gains of his favorite courtiers.

Read Also: Jahandar Shah

Nizam-ul-Mulk’s Attempt at Reform

Despite the emperor’s shortcomings, Nizam-ul-Mulk, the most powerful noble of the time, took charge as wazir in 1722 and embarked on a vigorous attempt to reform the administration. However, discontented with Muhammad Shah’s fickle-mindedness and constant court quarrels, Nizam-ul-Mulk decided to pursue his own ambitions.

Symbolic Departure and the Flight of Loyalty

In a symbolic act that would resonate with the trajectory of the empire, Nizam-ul-Mulk relinquished his office in October 1724. Marching south, he founded the state of Hyderabad in the Deccan. This departure was seen as a symbolic representation of loyalty and virtue fleeing from the crumbling Mughal Empire.

Read Also: Farrukh Siyar

Wave of Rebellion and Independence

The withdrawal of Nizam-ul-Mulk served as a catalyst for numerous zamindars, rajas, and nawabs in various states to raise the banner of rebellion and seek independence. Regions like Bengal, Hyderabad, Avadh, Punjab, and the Maratha territories were among those that asserted their autonomy, contributing to the unraveling of the once-mighty Mughal Empire.

Muhammad Shah’s inability to provide effective leadership and the departure of key reformist figures marked a turning point, accelerating the decline and fragmentation of the empire as various regions sought self-determination in the face of a weakened central authority.

Read Also: Bahadur Shah I: The Legacy of a Great Mughal Emperor

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