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The Mughal Empire: The History of the Modern Dynasty that Ruled Much of India Before the British
Charles River Editors
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2 hours 8 minutes
In the late 15th century, Western Europe entered the Renaissance, which is often credited with the origins of modern, scientific thought. The Age of Exploration also began around that time, and 1517 is when the Reformation began. Meanwhile, the Islamic world was also quickly evolving around the same time, with the Ottoman Empire expanding into Eastern Europe and wiping the Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire off the face of the map. And while the Ottomans were establishing themselves as the premier Islamic power with the help of early gunpowder weapons, hundreds of miles away in Central Asia, another “gunpowder empire” was forming.
The Mughals, a group with Turkish and Mongolian roots, also used gunpowder weapons to sweep into northern India, topple the existing Islamic dynasty in Delhi, and eventually subject most of India to their rule. The term “gunpowder empire” was originally coined by Russian scholar V. V. Bartold and popularized by American historians William McNeil and Marshall Hodgson in the mid-20th century to describe the Islamic Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires, which they claimed came to power through gunpowder. Although that core thesis has been challenged by historians in recent years, who argue that gunpowder weapons were a feature or result of the rise of these empires, not the cause for them, the term is still used (Streusand 2011, 3).
To be fair, the Mughals rose through a combination of political acumen and battlefield brutality, and they held onto their empire for hundreds of years in much the same way. In the process, the Mughals developed a state that was unique in many ways, adopting elements of Islamic culture and meshing them with native Indian culture and even Western European culture. When the British conquered India in the mid-19th century, they had the benefit of inheriting the Mughal system, which, despite many problems, proved to be a suitable template for rule over a land as vast and diverse as India.
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The Mughal Empire: The History of...
Charles River Editors
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