The Gupta Empire crumbled in the late 400's. First a group called the Huns invaded India. Then beginning in the 700's warlike Muslims invaded and they carved India into much smaller kingdoms. The people who invaded were descendants from the Muslim Turks. The called themselves "Mughals" which means "Mongols."
The 8th century began with a long clash between Hindus and Muslims. Over 300 years went by and the Muslims were only able to move as far as the Indus River Valley. Starting around the year 1000 Turkish armies went into India and they devastated Indian cities and temples in 17 different campaigns. Delhi eventually became the capital of a loose empire of Turkish warlords called the Delhi Sultanate. At the Delhi Sultanates they treated Hindus as conquered people.
In 1494 an 11 year old kid named Babur inherited a kingdom. It was only a tiny kingdom but soon after his older brother took it away and drove him out. After this Babur built up an army because he was upset that they had taken away his kingdom. After a couple of years went by he swept down into India and laid the foundation for the vast Munghal Empire.
Babur had a grandson and his name was Akbar. Akbar ruled India from 1556 to 1605. Akbar realized his strength and it was, military power. In his opinion the ruler must always be aggressive so that other rulers don't try to conquer you.
Akbar thought military power was the root of his strength. In his opinion a ruler should show other rulers that he is aggressive so that the other rulers don't try to take him over or try to conquer his land. Like other rulers, Akbar equipped his army with a strong artillery. He also used cannons that enabled him to break into city walls and conquer the land.
Akbar later appointed rajputs as officers. By doing this he turned potential enemies into allies. This combination of military power and political wisdom enabled Akbar to unite a land of over 100 million people.
Akbar was a very liberal ruler. He was a genius at cultural blending. He allowed other people of different religions to practice their faith. He proved his tolerance of other religions by marrying Hindu princesses and not forcing them to convert. He allowed his princesses to practice their religion, even in the palace. He also proved his tolerance by abolishing the tax on Hindu pilgrims and the tax on non-muslims. He even appointed a Spanish tutor for his son.
Akbar governed through a system called, bureaucracy. This was a group of officials that were Natives, Foreigners, Muslims, or Hindus could all rise to office. After this, Akbar's chief finance minister, Todar Mal, a Hindu created a very clever and effective taxation policy. He levied a tax similar to the present day US graduated income tax. Because the tax was fair and affordable the number of peasants who paid it increased and this helped the Empire financially.
As Akbar extended his Empire he welcomed people of all cultures. This affected the art, education, politics and language. Persian was the language of Akbar's court and high culture, but the common people mostly spoke Hindu. But, later the backgrounds of all the military men came together created the language of, Urdu which means "from the soldiers camp."
The arts flourished in the Mughal Empire, especially in the form of book illustrations. The small, colorful, and highly detailed paintings were called miniatures. Hindu literature also flourished during this time. Some went from writing contemporary stories to love stories. Architecture was also influenced, the architecture during Akbar's time was known as Akbar period Architecture. The architecture was huge but also graceful with decorations that displayed Hindu culture.
Akbar had a successor who's name was, Jahangir Jahan which meant "Grasper of the World." This was Akbar's son. For most of his rain he left his affairs to his wife, Nur Jahan. She was a amazing politician and she also knew a lot about the use of power.
This is Shah Jahan, he was Jahangir's son and his successor. Shah Jahan could not tolerate competition so he secure his throne by assassinating all of his possible rivals. He only had a passion for 2 things; his wife and beautiful buildings.
At age 39 Shah Jahan's wife Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to her 14th child. To make sure his wife was remembered he built a beautiful marble tomb. This building was called the Taj Mahal.
While Shah Jahan was building gardens and monuments for his wife his country and his people were suffering. There was a famine all across the land. What the farmers needed was good land and roads but all they got was more and more taxes to help upkeep the monuments that Shah Jahan had built.
This is Aurangzeb, he was a military strategist and an aggressive ruler. He ruled from 1658-1707. He extended the Mughal holdings to the greatest they had ever been. During his reign the power of the empire weakened. This loss of power was mainly because of his oppression for the people. He enforced Islamic laws, outlawed drinking, gambling, and other activities. He also levied taxes to help pay for his wars against increasing number of enemies.
After Aurangzeb's reign he had drained the emigre of its sources. Over 2 million people died during the famine. Many other areas started moving into India. In 1661, Aurangzeb handed the European traders the port of Bombay. After that they conquered the Mughal Empire.