IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > D. South and Southeast Asia, 1500–1800 > 1. India, 1500–1800 > 1669
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
In an attempt to placate restive immigrants from other parts of the Islamicate world who served as his most important military and administrative elite, Aurangzib adopted policies that led to prohibition of the Hindu religion and destruction of Hindu temples, with great loss to Indian art and the jizya reimposed on non-Muslims (1679). These actions appeared to abrogate the cultural system integrating Mughal rule with local elites. The period was marked by Jat rebellions (1669, 1681, 1688–1707), Hindu uprisings, and troubles with Afghan tribes and with the now militant and theocratic Sikhs (1675–78).  1
Marwar was annexed in war against the Rajputs; hostilities continued nearly 30 years.  2
Prince Akbar revolted unsuccessfully against his father's misgovernment and died in exile.  3
Assuming personal command in the Deccan, Aurangzib subjugated Bijapur (1686) and Golconda (1687) but failed to check the Marathas.  4
Aurangzib seized Surat (1685), intending to expel the English, whose unwise attempt to seize Chittagong lost them all their claims in Bengal (1688); their naval superiority menaced Mughal trade, however, and they were encouraged to return to Bengal (Calcutta founded, 1690).  5
Following the decline of the Portuguese power in India, that of the English had been increased by the acquisition of Bombay (1661) and the absorption of Dutch ambitions chiefly in the Spice Islands. Foundation of the French Compagnie des Indes Orientales (1664) under strict government control, along with numerous settlements (Pondichéry, 1674), now opened the way for acute Anglo-French rivalry (See 1697, Sept. 20).  6
Capture of Sivaji's successor, Sambhaji, failed to crush the Marathas, and indecisive warfare continued until 1707.  7
The intellectual curiosity and luxurious tastes of the Mughal rulers, except Aurangzib, fostered brilliant cultural progress. Histories, annals, and memoirs, chiefly in Persian, a dictionary supported by Jahangir, and the unsurpassed poems of Tulsi Das (1532–1623) formed important literary contributions. Slavish imitation of Persian painting was modified by Hindu and even European influences; a height of keen observation and delicate rendering was attained under Shah Jahan. Under him also the building of palaces, mausoleums, and mosques in Indo-Persian style attained an exquisite elegance.  8
Following Aurangzib's death the empire rapidly disintegrated; various provincial governors became virtually independent (1772 ff.). As these regional rulers competed for control over territory, they sought alliances with Europeans to gain additional armies and military prowess. Political control devolved to the regional courts of successor states. In the cities, rule devolved to various self-regulating communities of merchants and to displaced Mughal courtiers, who took up cultural patronage and began to remake cultural systems in the interests of localities. This creative ferment was viewed as anarchy and decline by European observers.  9
c. 1708
The Sikhs, who had been founded in the 15th century as a strictly religious order, proclaiming Muslim and Hindu fellowship and monotheism and opposing caste restrictions and priestcraft (except for the secular and religious authority vested in the guru Hargovind, 1606), became a thoroughly militant order under the last guru, Govind Singh (1666–1708); they menaced Mughal rights in the Deccan but their strength was broken by Bahadur Shah (1707–12).  10
The English East India Company, through gifts and medical service, secured from the Mughal emperor exemption from customs duties and other concessions.  11
The reorganized Maratha government gradually became preeminent in India, exacting taxes from the whole Deccan except Hyderabad, which became essentially independent of Delhi (1724) under its governor, the Nizam-ul-Mulk (d. 1748). The governors of Avadh (Oudh) (1724) and Bengal (1740) also became independent but maintained the fiction of allegiance to the Mughal emperor.  12
A pillaging invasion of Persians under Nadir Shah checked the Maratha expansion northward, defeated imperial troops, and withdrew, retaining possession of Afghanistan and the wealth of Delhi.  13
Following the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession in Europe, the French, strengthened by their participation in Indian intrigue under the guidance of Joseph Dupleix, captured Madras (1746) and defeated the protesting nawab of the Carnatic. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) restored Madras to Britain.  14
Anglo-French rivalry continued, each side supporting candidates for the positions of nizam of the Deccan and nawab of the Carnatic. French domination, at its height in 1751 when Bussy virtually ruled the Deccan and Dupleix the Carnatic, was checked by Robert Clive's (1727–74) brilliant seizure of Arcot (Sept. 12, 1751). The recall of Dupleix (1754) left English prestige firmly established.  15
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.