What If…? PART-1: The Mughal Empire

Hello and a warm welcome to my second history blog which is a part of the series, an interesting concept -“What If?”, in which I will be writing about if we could change the course of history in some of the most important moments of a particular empire. So this blog will be on the Mughal Empire…

  1. What If Ibrahim Lodhi won the first battle of Panipat
    If Ibrahim Lodhi had known beforehand about the artillery units of Babur’s army and smartly strategized his army formations and won the battle, the Lodhi Empire could have capitalized on their empire but at the same time, since Ibrahim Lodhi was generally a bad administrator, the brave Rajputs from the Malwa Plateau and Gujarat could have had a great chance for capturing Delhi and regain Hindu supremacy over the Northern Plains and they and the Vijaynagar Empire could also eliminate the Muslim Empires of the South to reestablish Hindu rule over the whole of India. But Babur, heavily outnumbered, smartly defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodhi and managed to consolidate over the Northern Plains by defeating even the Rajputs mainly due to his artillery.
  2. What If Humayun won the Battle of Kannauj
    The battle of Kannauj was an important battle between the Mughals under Humayun and the ruthless Sur Empire under Sher Shah Suri. This battle would decide the fate of the Mughals in India as they already lost the battle of Chausa against the same foe and were on the back foot. If Humayun mobilized his army’s confidence after their defeat at Chausa and somehow defeated the Sur army, he would have regained all the dominions of his father, Babur and he also could conquer the Malwa plateau because the Rajputs were already defeated a few times by Humayun. But Sher Shah Suri won the battle and won Delhi as well. Humayun, his family, and his loyal generals and nobles took a difficult route to the Safavid Empire, where they were greeted with open arms and Humayun was in refuge for 14 years in Persia while Sher Shah Suri consolidated his new domains.
  3. What If Hemu beat Akbar and Bairam Khan in the Second battle of Panipat
    After Humayun came back and regained his throne, he died soon after, falling from his library in a freak accident. Due to this his young son, Akbar, who was just 13 years old and was incapable of ruling, was proclaimed the emperor, and Bairam Khan, Humayun’s most trusted general was his regent. Seeing this, the Sur Empire, after losing Delhi and Agra, counter-attacked by Hemu, a general in the Sur Empire who swiftly won back Agra and Delhi. But to the surprise of everyone, he proclaimed himself king of Agra and Delhi with the full support of a massive army. Still, the Mughals mobilized themselves with the army they had and they faced Hemu again on the plains of Panipat exactly after 30 years. If Hemu won this battle, he could have easily conquered his former empire, the Sur Empire, and also conquer entire central India to cement his place in history as one of the great emperors of the world. But while he was closing in on the Mughal army, he was shot in the eye and fell unconscious. Seeing this, his army lost its cohesion, and the Mughals destroyed the remaining army of Hemu regained Delhi and Agra, and again became the masters of northern India.
  4. What If Jahangir didn’t allow Sir Thomas Roe to set up an English factory in Surat in 1618?
    Jahangir was the fourth Mughal emperor and succeeded his father, Akbar in 1605. He was a weak administrator and the empire was basically in the hands of his favorite wife, Nur Jahan, who perhaps is considered the greatest queen of all of Indian history because she was a shrewd administrator and witty. The East India Company, established in 1600, wanted to Establish a factory in Surat, which was under Mughal rule. So the British sent Sir Thomas Rue, the first English ambassador to the Mughal court in India, requested Jahangir to grant them rights to build a factory in Surat. If Jahangir denied the request, then there would be no EIC factory in India, and if the Portuguese armed themselves, they would lose eventually because of the powerful Mughal army and there would be no foreign influence in India. This would ensure India would still stay prosperous and be a powerful member of trade regulation across the globe. But Jahangir accepting this offer blindly would prove to be a heavy mistake as the EIC smartly consolidated their factories and slowly, smartly, and steadily, conquered the entire subcontinent by the 19th century.
  5. What If Dara Shikoh became the Mughal emperor after Shah Jahan
    Dara Shikoh was Shah Jahan’s favorite son and the proclaimed successor of the Mughal Empire after Shah Jahan. Dara Shikoh was mostly related to poetry, music, and other cultural activities but was incapable of war-related issues. On the other hand, Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan’s most cruel son was a military genius. In the war of succession, if Dara Shikoh, with his superior army, somehow defeated his other 3 brothers and became king, the Mughal Empire would be secular but would be a little bit weak in the military but still would be a formidable force in the long run. But Aurangzeb defeated his brothers, killed Dara, and also imprisoned his ill father until he died in 1666. He was proclaimed the Mughal emperor in 1658 and ruled till 1707. Under his rule, the Mughal Empire territorially was at its zenith.
  6. What If Guru Teg Bahadur wasn’t executed by Aurangzeb in 1775?
    Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th Guru of the Sikhs was killed by Aurangzeb because he didn’t convert to Islam and dissolve the Sikh religion. If Aurangzeb let Teg Bahadur continue his religion, Sikhism, then he and his followers would continue preaching their religion all over India peacefully. But since Aurangzeb was a staunch Muslim and didn’t like the promotion of Sikhism, he forced Teg Bahadur to give up Sikhism and convert to Islam but since he refused, he was executed in 1675 which angered the Sikhs, especially his son, Guru Gobind Singh, the last Guru of the Sikhs to form the Khalsa, an armed band of Sikhs who revolted against the Mughals.
  7. What If Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj wasn’t betrayed by Ganoji Shirke?Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, son of one of the greatest military strategists in India, the great Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, succeeded his father in 1680. He like his father was very successful in fending of the huge Mughal army under Aurangzeb. Sambhaji was a shrewd administrator and ensured his empire would hold on to all the Mughal advancements. But still many conspired against him. One of them, his brother-in-law, Ganoji Shirke, told the Mughals about the secret place where Sambhaji was residing. Sambhaji was eventually captured and was executed brutally by the Mughals in 1689. If Sambhaji Maharaj hadn’t betrayed, he could have potentially driven out the Mughals completely from the Deccan and perhaps been a greater emperor than his father.
  8. What If Jahandar Shah didn’t take the help of Zulfiqar Khan
    The Mughal Empire became a weak empire after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707. His son Bahadur Shah was not completely weak but things got worse after he died in 1712. In the war of succession, Jahandar Shah, one of Bahadur Shah’s sons was a weakling and won the war but with the support of a powerful noble, Zulfiqar Khan. If Jahandar Shah won by himself, then the empire would still be weak but it would have had much more stability and the king would have direct rule over his empire. But since Jahandar Shah was completely dependent on Zulfiqar, he was a puppet and all the powers were under Zulfiqar. This then followed a series of puppet rulers where the emperor had little to no power over his empire but the nobles effectively had all power till the end of the Mughals in 1857.
  9. What If Mir Jafar didn’t betray Siraj Ud Daulah?
    Siraj Ud Daulah was the last Nawab of Bengal, a state that gained independence from the Mughals along with states like Awadh and Hyderabad. During the 1750s the British influence in Bengal had gained drastically but still, the British army was vastly outnumbered by the army of the Nawab. But the British were smart and allied with the greedy Mir Jafar, Siraj’s commander who was promised the throne if the British beat the allied army of Siraj and a small contingent of the French army. If Mir Jafar had been loyal to his nawab, then the Nawab could have easily won the battle of Plassey in 1757 thereby capturing Calcutta. By this, they could easily eliminate the British from Bengal. But Mir Jafar ordered his army to not participate in the battle of Plassey and his army consisted of about 95% of the entire Nawab army. Eventually, the British won and Siraj was executed. Mir Jafar was made a puppet ruler and the real rulers of Bengal were the British. Mir Jafar tried to regain his power and realized his mistake but it was too late. The British capitalized on their new domains and shrewdly conquered the entire subcontinent. So this section is the most important turning point in Indian history and we would have wished that Mir Jafar was loyal to Siraj.
  10. What If Bahadur Shah Zafar successfully organized the revolt in 1857 and succeeded in eliminating the British?

During the 1850s, the EIC had almost complete control over the subcontinent due to major mistakes by Indian princely states. Speaking about the Mughals, they only had control over Delhi and were on the brink of collapsing. But after Awadh had been captured by the British in 1856, the Mughal emperor at that time, Bahadur Shah Zafar saw an opportunity and wrote letters to other strong Indian governors and rulers to unite together and fight the British. This was known as the revolt of 1857 or the first war of Indian independence. If the Indians successfully drew away the British, then a new empire would be formed under Bahadur Shah Zafar and this empire would accommodate all citizens, religions, etc. of the subcontinent. But the EIC brought reinforcements from the royal army of the British Empire and successfully brought down the revolt but it took them 2 years to completely suppress the revolt. After this, the British Empire thought that the EIC was irresponsible in administration so the British crown had direct rule over India and the company was disbanded formally by 1874. So there was the British Raj in India for about 90 years in India, till its independence in 1947.

So here we come to the end of this blog. Hope you guys enjoyed this long journey of the Mughal Empire. So the next blog will be a continuation of this series on another major empire and after this series, I will be continuing the series on the Ottoman Wars with the sieges of Szigetvar and Eger. Thank You and see you soon!