The seventh Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah I was the third son of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who seized the throne by killing his half-brother on 8 June 1707. He ruled from this day until his death in 1712.
Prince Muhammad Mu’azzam was the son of Aurangzeb from his Kashmiri Rajput wife Nawab Bai ji. He was the third son of Aurangzeb and younger to his predecessor Mughal Emperor Azam Shah.
At the age of 20, he was made the governor of Deccan where his prime job was to curb the revolting forces of the Maratha. When he attacked Pune, he was captured by the Marathas and imprisoned for seven years. During the same time, even Sambhaji was held captive under the Mughals.
Mu’azzam Protested Several Times Against His Father Aurangzeb
Mu’azzam organised an insurgency to overthrow Aurangzeb, a plan believed to be hatched at the instigation of the Marathas. However, Aurangzeb was informed about the plot through his sources. Next, he sent his wife Begum Nawab Bai and Mu’azzam’s mother to dissuade the revolt. He came back and didn’t protest further.
However, a decade later he revolted again on the but Aurangzeb once again followed his policy to dissuade Mu’azzam with gentleness. However, he didn’t stop. He showed his act of treason not once but thrice when Aurangzeb sent him to crush the revolt of his brother Muhammad Akbar. He failed deliberately on all occasions.
But when Mu’azzam exchanged messages with the ruler of Golconda, he was imprisoned by Aurangzeb on the act of treachery. Later, he was sent to the Punjab region to act against the rebel by the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. He didn’t war against them but imposed heavy taxation.
The War of Succession
When Aurangzeb died, his eldest son Azam Shah proclaimed himself as the next Mughal Emperor. Back then Mu’azzam was the governor of Kabul.
He couldn’t tolerate the disputed succession and defeated Azam Shah in the Battle of Jajau to become the seventh Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah I.
The Rule of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah I
During his reign, he annexed several areas in Rajputana including Amber, Jodhpur and Udaipur. However, not just Rajputs and Marathas, the Mughals now had to face the Sikhs too. The Sikh khalsa (army) was at their best under the leadership of Banda Singh Bahadur.
Their army defeated the Mughals in battle at Samana, Sirhind and Rahon. The Sikh army also captured the cities of Sirhind, Samana, Malerkotla, Ropar, Rahon, Saharanpur, Ambheta, Behat, and Jalandhar from 1709 to 1712. With an army of eighty thousand soldiers, he also besieged the city of Jalalabad in present-day Afghanistan.
Family Background of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah I
Bahadur Shah I have 5 wives and 9 children. His chief consort Nur-un-Nissa Begum was his first wife and mother of his son Rafi-ush-shan. She was the grandmother of three future emperors. She however couldn’t even see her husband as emperor as she died 6 years before he became Emperor.
His other wives were – Mihr Parwar Begum, Amat-ul, Habib Begum, Rani Chattar Bai and Nizam Bai. He had 8 sons – Jahandar Shah, Azz-ud-Din Mirza (died in infancy), Azim-ush-Shan Mirza, Daulat-Afza Mirza, Rafi-ush-Shan Mirza, Jahan Shah Mirza, Muhammad Humayun Mirza, one more son and 1 daughter Dahr Afruz Banu Begum.
Death and Legacy
According to the historian William Irvine, the emperor’s health deteriorated in January 1712. He was in Lahore that time. On 24 February, Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah I made his final public appearance and died during the night of 27–28 February. He was buried on 15 May in the courtyard of the Moti Masjid in Mehrauli.
Source and Reference:
The Later Mughals by Irvine William
A Comprehensive History of India: Comprehensive history of medieval India by BN Puri
The Sikhs : Their Journey Of Five Hundred Years by Raj Pal Singh