Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan
/shah" jeuh hahn"/
1592?-1666, Mogul emperor in India 1628?-58: built the Taj Mahal.
Also, Shah Jehan.

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born Jan. 5, 1592, Lahore, India
died Jan. 22, 1666, Agra

Mughal emperor of India (1628–58).

During the reign of his father, Jahāngīr, he was part of the clique that dominated Mughal-dynasty politics. After Jāhangīr's death, he garnered enough support to proclaim himself emperor. His reign was notable for its successes against the Deccan states. Though attempts to reconquer lost territory almost bankrupted the empire, his reign marked the zenith of Mughal court splendour. Of his great architectural undertakings (including a fortress-palace built when he transferred the capital from Agra to Delhi), the most famous is the Taj Mahal. Though a more orthodox Muslim than his father, he was less orthodox than his son and successor, Aurangzeb, and he was relatively tolerant of his Hindu subjects.

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▪ Mughal emperor
also spelled  Shāhjahān , also called (until 1628)  Prince Khurram 
born Jan. 5, 1592, Lahore, India
died Jan. 22, 1666, Āgra
 Mughal emperor of India (1628–58) and builder of the Tāj Mahal (Taj Mahal).

      He was the third son of the Mughal emperor Jahāngīr and the Rājpūt princess Manmati. Marrying in 1612 Arjūmand Bānū Baygam, niece of Jahāngīr's wife Nūr Jahān, he became, as Prince Khurram, one of the influential Nūr Jahān clique of the middle period of Jahāngīr's reign. In 1622 Shāh Jahān, ambitious to win the succession, rebelled, ineffectually roaming the empire until reconciled to Jahāngīr in 1625. After Jahāngīr's death in 1627, the support of Āṣaf Khān, Nūr Jahān's brother, enabled Shāh Jahān to proclaim himself emperor at Āgra (February 1628).

      Shāh Jahān's reign was notable for successes against the Deccan states. By 1636 Ahmadnagar had been annexed and Golconda and Bijāpur forced to become tributaries. Mughal power was also temporarily extended in the northwest. In 1638 the Persian governor of Qandahār, ʿAlī Mardān Khān, surrendered that fortress to the Mughals. In 1646 Mughal forces occupied Badakhshān and Balkh, but in 1647 Balkh was relinquished, and attempts to reconquer it in 1649, 1652, and 1653 failed. The Persians reconquered Qandahār in 1649. Shāh Jahān transferred his capital from Āgra to Delhi in 1648, creating the new city of Shāhjahānābād there.

      In September 1657 Shāh Jahān fell ill, precipitating a struggle for succession among his four sons, Dārā Shikōh, Murād Bakhsh, Shāh Shujāʿ, and Aurangzeb. The victor, Aurangzeb, declared himself emperor in 1658 and strictly confined Shāh Jahān in the fort at Āgra until his death.

      Shāh Jahān had an almost insatiable passion for building. At his first capital, Āgra, he undertook the building of two great mosques, the Motī Masjid and Jāmiʿ Masjid (Great Mosque), as well as the superb mausoleum known as the Tāj Mahal (Taj Mahal) (q.v.). The Tāj Mahal is the masterpiece of his reign and was erected in memory of the favourite of his three queens, Mumtāz Maḥal (the mother of Aurangzeb). At Delhi, Shāh Jahān built a huge fortress-palace complex called the Red Fort as well as the Jāmiʿ Masjid, which is among the finest mosques in India. Shāh Jahān's reign was also a period of great literary activity, while the arts of painting and calligraphy were not neglected. His court was one of great pomp and splendour, and his collection of jewels was probably the most splendid in the world.

      Indian writers have generally characterized Shāh Jahān as the very ideal of a Muslim monarch. But though the splendour of the Mughal court reached its zenith under him, he also set in motion influences that finally led to the decline of the empire. His expeditions against Balkh and Badakhshān and his attempts to recover Qandahār brought the empire to the verge of bankruptcy. In religion, Shāh Jahān was a more orthodox Muslim than Jahāngīr or Akbar but a less orthodox one than Aurangzeb. He proved a relatively tolerant ruler toward his Hindu subjects.

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Universalium. 2010.

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