Unlike Mughal Emperor Rafi ud-Darajath and Rafi ud-Daulah, Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah ruled for a brief time. Here we share everything about the Emperor who faced several oppositions including Marathas, Sikh and foreign invaders like the British.
Born in 1702 in Ghazna (now Afghanistan) to Prince Khujista Akhtar, Muhammad Shah was the grandson of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah I. His father was killed in a war of succession, and he along with his mother at the age of 12 was imprisoned by Jahandar Shah, his uncle.
Post the death of Mughal Emperor Rafi ud-Daulah, the Sayyed Brothers chose Muhammad Shah to become the next Mughal Emperor instead of Rafi ud-Daulah’s younger brother Muhammad Ibrahim. He was only 17 when he sat on the throne as emperor.
The Reign and The Trouble
Although none of the Mughal rulers who became Emperors with the help of Sayyed brothers could control them, Muhammad Shah got rid of them with the help of Asaf Jah I. While, Syed Hussain Ali Khan was murdered at Fatehpur Sikri in 1720, two years later, Syed Hassan Ali Khan Barha was fatally poisoned.
Post this, Asaf Jah I was made the Grand Vazir of the Mughal empire. However, with the end of Sayyed brothers, the Mughal’s direct dominance over the Deccan also started declining. During this time, the Marathas staryed warring against the Mughals.
In the year 1728, Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah -ecountered several raids by the Marathas in Malwa region. In the year 1737, the Marathas under Baji Rao I annexed Gujarat, Malwa and Bundelkhand, and raided the Mughal capital Delhi. By the year 1742, Muhammad Shah nearly began to loose half of his territories.
Besides, the Marathas, the Mughals faced constant blow from the Sikh warriors in Punjab. The hit and run tactics and strategies used by the Sikh bands of warriors further caused devastation to the Mughal dominance in Punjab region. In addition, Ahmad Shah Durrani of the Durrani Empire created problem for the Mughals.
In the year 1721, a 19 year old Muhammad Shah married Badshah Begum, the daughter of the deposed Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar. She was his chief consort. Her son Shahriyar Shah Bahadur died in childhood and after that she remained childless. However, that didn’t stop her to maje efforts to make her step-son Ahmad Shah Bahadur to sit on the Mughal throne.
Ahmad Shah Bahadur was the son of Qudsiya Begum, a dancer/entertainer who became Muhammad Shah’s third wife. Her earlier name was Udham Bai and she served as a regent of Mughal empire from 1748-54.
His other wives were Sahib Mahal Begum, Safiya Sultan Begum, Fathepuri Mahal and Roshanabadi Mahal. He had one more son Taj Muhammad and three daughters – name unknown, Jahan Afruz Banu Begum and Hazrat Begum Sahiba-uz-Zamani. Ahmad Shah Durrani, the founder of the Durrani Empiremarried Hazrat Begum in 1757.
The Death of Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah
Although the Mughals defeated the Manipuris in the Battle of Manipur (1748), the victory came with a heavy price. Well, the Grand Vizier Qamaruddin Khan was struck by a stray artillery shell on the battlefield afterwhich he fell on the ground.
Though it was kept as a secret, the news reached Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah. Post knowing about Qamaruddin, he was griefstruck, he could neither speak nor came out of his apartment for three days. He suddenly became sick and he fasted. His guards could hear him crying out loud: “How could I bring about anyone as faithful as he Qamaruddin”. He died due to grief on 26 April 1748. He was buried in the Mausoleum of Muhammad Shah, Nizamuddin Awliya, Delhi.