India and South Asia 1648 CE

The Mughal empire now rules much of the sub-continent, marking a high point in the history of Indian civilization.

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What is happening in India and South Asia in 1648CE

A new power has by now conquered much of the Indian sub-continent. This is the Mughal empire (also spelt Moghul or Mogul empire). It was founded by a prince from Afghanistan called Babur (reigned 1526-30).

It has not yet reached its full extent in terms of territorial coverage, but for internal cohesion and cultural and economic achievement, it has been at the height of its power since the days of Akbar the Great (reigned 1556-1605). This Indian state is one of the great empires of world history, with a stability that rests on a tolerance between Muslims and Hindus. This allows members of both faiths to belong to a unified ruling class.

Further south, both the Bahmani sultanate and the Vijayanagar kingdom have fragmented into numerous states.

In north-west India, a new faith has appeared, Sikhism. The Sikhs are led by a succession of gurus, starting with Guru Nanak (1469-1539). He preached tolerance and peace between members of different faiths, and the Sikhs embrace different elements of both Islam and Hinduism. They reject religious hierarchies and the caste system. With such beliefs it is unsurprising that they meet hostility from both Muslims and Hindus.

By the mid-17th centuries, the coasts of the subcontinent are dotted with small European trading bases, especially those belonging to the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the English. The last three are controlled, not by their governments, but by their respective East India companies.

Next map: India and South Asia in 1789

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