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Mughal Empire

The Mughal Empire (in red) was one of the great empires of India.

Back in the 1300s, when Mongol control over India weakened, India broke into many states. Two centuries later, Muslim invaders armed with firearms conquered northern India and established the Mughal Empire, the last of India’s golden ages. The great Mughal ruler Akbar the Great practiced religious tolerance towards India’s Hindu majority; he even married a Hindu princess. Trade and agriculture flourished; India exported millions of yards of inexpensive cotton cloth that clothed much of Europe.

Mughal Empire = a Muslim empire in northern India.

Akbar the Great = the third Mughal emperor and one of the most famous emperors of Indian history. Akbar, who was Muslim, is mostly known for his tolerant attitude towards other religions.

A much-admired art style emerged from the blending of Hindu and Islamic artistic traditions. Mughal architecture reached its zenith with the Taj Mahal, a tomb built by the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan to honor his beloved wife who died in childbirth. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful building in the world.

Taj Mahal = a white marble mausoleum built at Agra, India, by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

shah = a Persian word for king.

Shah Jahan = the Mughal ruler who built the Taj Mahal.

In the early 1700s, a Mughal ruler extended his empire over most of southern Asia, but the constant warfare so weakened the empire that India once again fragmented into regional states. The breakdown of Mughal authority gave Britain an opportunity to extend its commercial interests in India. In the mid-1700s, forces from the British East India Company defeated armies of the French and Dutch trading companies. Britain then fought Indian armies to take control of the Bengal region in northeastern India. The ancient and legendary land of India was fast becoming a colony of the British Empire.

Bengal = a region of the Indian Subcontinent,divided between Bangladesh and India.