World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Ahmad Shah Bahadur


Ahmad Shah Bahadur

Ahmad Shah Bahadur
Mughal Emperor
The Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur, practices his equestrian skills, in a hunting field in the year 1750.
13th Mughal Emperor
Reign 26 April 1748 – 2 June 1754
Coronation 4 May 1748 at Red Fort, Delhi
Predecessor Muhammad Shah
Successor Alamgir II
Regent Nawab Bahadur
Born 23 December 1725
Delhi, Mughal Empire
Died 1 January 1775 (aged 49)
Delhi, Mughal Empire
Burial Mausoleum of Mariam Makani, Delhi
Spouse Gauhar Afruz Banu Begum and another wife
Issue Hamid Shah Bahadur
Bidar Bakht Mahmud Shah Bahadur
Tala Said Shah Bahadur
Muhammad Jamiyat Shah Bahadur
Muhammad Dilawar Shah Bahadur
Mirza Rujbi
Mirza Mughlu
Muhtaram-un-Nisa Begum
Dil Afruz Begum
Full name
Abu-Nasir Mujahid ud-din Muhammad Ahmad Shah Bahadur
Dynasty Timurid
Father Muhammad Shah
Mother Qudsia Begum
Religion Islam

Ahmad Shah Bahadur, Mirza Ahmad Shah, Mujahid-ud-Din Ahmad Shah Ghazi[1] (23 December 1725 – 1 January 1775) was born to Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah. He succeeded his father to the throne as the 15th Mughal Emperor in the year 1748 at the age of 22. When Ahmed Shah Bahadur came to power the rule of the Mughal Empire was collapsing, furthermore his administrative weaknesses eventually led to the rise of the usurping Feroze Jung III.

Ahmed Shah Bahadur inherited a much weakened Mughal state. He was emperor in title for six years, but left all affairs to state to rivalling factions. He was deposed by the Vizier Feroze Jung III and later blinded along with his mother. He spent the remaining years of his life in prison and died of natural causes in January 1775.


  • Early life 1
    • Personal life 1.1
  • Emergence of Ahmad Shah Bahadur 2
    • Foreign relations 2.1
    • Military innovations 2.2
  • Succession 3
    • Internal transgressions (1750–1754) 3.1
      • Safdarjung's opposition to favoritism 3.1.1
      • Salabat Khan's imprisonment and disarray in the Mughal Army 3.1.2
      • Safdarjung's advance against Javed Khan's allies in Rohilkhand 3.1.3
      • Rise of Feroz Jung III 3.1.4
      • Ahmad Shah Bahadur turns against Feroz Jung III 3.1.5
      • Feroze Jung III's alliance with the Maratha Confederacy 3.1.6
      • Ahmad Shah Bahadur's attempt to cut off the escape route of the Maratha Confederacy 3.1.7
      • First Battle of Sikandarabad (1754) 3.1.8
      • Fall of Ahmad Shah Bahadur 3.1.9
  • State the Mughal Empire 4
    • First Carnatic War (1746–1748) 4.1
    • Mughal Army expedition against Marwar 4.2
    • Mughal Viceroy cedes Punjab and Kashmir to Ahmad Shah Durrani 4.3
    • Loss of Gujarat and Orissa to the Maratha Confederacy 4.4
      • Mughal Army loses control of the Ahmedabad region 4.4.1
      • Alivardi Khan loses Orissa 4.4.2
    • Second Carnatic War (1749–1754) 4.5
    • French-Nizam Alliance 4.6
  • Death 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7

Early life

Prince Ahmad was born in 1725 to the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah and his consort Qudsia Begum.

The Deccan Wars of 1680 to 1707 had initiated the final decline of the Mughal Empire well before his birth, and it was only left to him to preside over the empire's final disintegration. After the Battle of Delhi (1737), the former empire had no territory left other than the region of Delhi itself.

Personal life

As a young Prince Ahmad developed a weakness for women, though this was restricted under his father's supervision. Prince Ahmad is also known to have been an illiterate and never took part in military training. he was strongly supported by his mother Qudsiyya Begum,[2] who began to manipulate the imperial court due to grief of Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah and his inability to consolidate the Mughal Empire and during the reign of her son who sought the harem more than his duties to the empire.

Emergence of Ahmad Shah Bahadur

Ahmad Shah Bahadur upon the throne; watercolour painting held by the Bodleian Library

After the death of the Mughal viceroy of Lahore, Zakariya Khan Bahadur his two sons Yahya Khan Bahadur and Mian Shah Nawaz Khan the Emir of Multan, fought each other during for succession. after defeating his elder brother Mian Shah Nawaz Khan, declared himself the Mughal viceroy of Punjab, this weakness was quickly exploited by Ahmad Shah Durrani who initiated another campaign with 30,000 cavalry to assist Shah Nawaz Khan, who was resented for tax-evasion in the Mughal imperial court and opposed by the Grand Vizier Qamaruddin Khan, who was the father-in-law of Yahya Khan.

In April 1748, Ahmad Shah Abdali joined by Shah Nawaz Khan invaded Indus River Valley prompting Muradyab Khan Kalhoro the Subedar of Sindh to dispatch reinforcements to assist the Mughal Army along the river banks. Prince Ahmad and the respected Grand Vizier Qamaruddin Khan, Hafiz Rahmat Khan, Safdarjung, Intizam-ud-Daula, Nasir Khan the former Subedar of Ghazni and Kabul, Yahya Khan and Ali Muhammad Khan Rohilla were dispatched by the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah to command a large Mughal Army of 75,000 to confront the 12,000 advancing Durrani's. During the Battle of Manipur (1748),[3] in Sirhind by the river Sutlej both forces fought a decisive battle and Prince Ahmad was nominally victorious, he was thereupon conferred with the title Bahadur, after a Durrani wagon filled with gunpowder exploded.[4] However, the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah seriously mourned the fall of the Grand Vizier Qamaruddin Khan, who was killed by a stray artillery shell during the battle.[3] After Ahmad Shah Durrani's retreat the Mughal aligned Khans of: Kalat, Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan plotted to murder Ahmad Shah Durrani, who eventually discovered the plot and had them deposed.

However, Qamaruddin Khan's son Muin ul-Mulk also a recognized war hero from the Battle of Manipur, was placed as the Mughal viceroy of Punjab, by the new Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur.

Foreign relations

In the year 1751, Ahmad Shah Bahadur permitted the resident Ottoman delegations and their ambassador Haji Yusuf Agha to return to Istanbul, he did not attempt to reestablish relations and contacts with the Ottoman Sultans from thenceforth.

Military innovations

The Battle of Manipur had a considerable impact on the tactical prowess of Ahmad Shah Bahadur, in fact when he became Durrani's and the rebellious Sikhs in the North-West regions of the Mughal Empire.[5]


Sunehri Masjid, outside the southwestern corner of Delhi Gate of Red Fort was constructed under the supervision of Qudsia Begum, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah, in 1751.[6]

The Mughal Grand Vizier Qamar-ud-Din Khan died during the ensuing conflict in Sirhind. When this news was brought to the concerned Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah he became gravely sick and died soon afterwards. Upon hearing this Prince Ahmad, rushed to Delhi where he spent a week in sorrow. Afterwards, on 18 April 1748 he ascended the throne. On 29 April 1748 his coronation was held at Red Fort and he assumed the title Abu Nasir Mujahid-ud-Din Ahmad Shah Ghazi. He posted Safdarjung, Nawab of Oudh as Mughal Grand Vizier, Feroze Jung III as Mir Bakshi and Muin ul-Mulk (Mir Mannu), the son of late Grand Vizier Qamaruddin Khan, as the governor of Punjab[7] The head eunuch of the Mughal court, Javed Khan, was given the official title of Nawab Bahadur and an army of 5000, he (together with the emperor's mother who was given a fore of 50,000) became effective regent in the emperor's place.[8] The Emperor now began to enjoy his life with women in his harem. It is said that for several months he never saw faces of men.

The enuch, Javed Khan's rise to power and his authority was seen as an affront to the nobility and the aristocracy of the empire; particularly to the emperor's worthy soldiers.

Internal transgressions (1750–1754)

Safdarjung's opposition to favoritism

The tomb of the Mughal Grand Vizier Safdarjung, whose response against favoritism led to the fall of the eunuch Javed Khan from power.

Qudsia Begum made every effort to protect the high authority that was granted to Javed Khan and authorized the eunuch to use force against those who opposed and resented the duo.

After the Mughal Grand Vizier Safdarjung survived an assassination attempt in the year 1749 (plotted by Javed Khan), due to his response tensions erupted in the Mughal imperial court when he tried to de-legitimize any relatives of his predeceasing Grand Viziers he also tried to drive out all the members of the imperial Afghan Faction from positions of authority due to the stipends they received from the eunuch.

These policies brought Safdarjung in conflict with the principal members of the Turani Faction and particularly Javed Khan.

Salabat Khan's imprisonment and disarray in the Mughal Army

In the year 1750, Javed Khan arrested the Mughal commander Salabat Khan after he demanded pay for his 18,000 troops who were recalled to Delhi after completing the assigned expedition against Marwar, while imprisoned in the dungeons the general Salabat Khan sold all his property to pay his troops in order to halt a possible revolt and thenceforth lived in poverty like a Dervish.

Safdarjung's advance against Javed Khan's allies in Rohilkhand

Safdarjung was a whistleblower against the cronyism of Qudsia Begum and thence fell from grace, due to his opposition the eunuch Javed Khan.

Angered by the policies of the Mughal Grand Vizier, Ahmad Khan Bangash attacked Safdarjung's possessions in Awadh killing the scribe Naval Rai and even wounding Safdarjung in the neck.

When Safdarjung responded by amassing his Mughal Army, Jat and Maratha mercenaries for an expedition that caused defeat upon Qudsia Begum's loyalists in Rohilkhand, the Mughal Emperor demanded an immediate cease of hostilities which was obeyed by Safdarjung.

But in response Safdarjung also ordered his Turkish units led by Muhammad Ali Jerchi[9] to assassinate Javed Khan for his involvement in malevolence in August 1752.

Safdarjung's action had cleared the path for the rise of Qudsia Begum's harsh opponents within Javed Khan's faction such as Intizam-ud-Daula (who was poisoned by his own troops for attempting to form an alliance with the Maratha Confederacy).

Rise of Feroz Jung III

Ahmad Shah Bahadur then chose the eighteen-year-old Feroze Jung III son of the deceased Intizam-ud-Daula to counter the growing influence of Safdarjung in May 1753. Feroze Jung III gathered the opposition to Safdarjung, and was joined by Hafiz Rahmat Khan Barech, Qudsia Begum and even the emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur.

Safdarjung was officially stripped of his estates and authority by the emperor and even defeated. But due to his supporters such as Suraj Mal, he forgiven and thus withdrew to Awadh.

Ahmad Shah Bahadur turns against Feroz Jung III

Feroze Jung III then emerged as the new regent of the Mughal Empire his prowess was feared by Ahmad Shah Bahadur, who soon became estranged from him after Feroze Jung III collected 1,500,000 dams and refused to pay salaries to the Mughal imperial army of 80,000 and Mughal imperial officials who demanded 32 months payment.

Ahmad Shah Bahadur would soon later declare Safdarjung his Grand Vizier.

Feroze Jung III's alliance with the Maratha Confederacy

After negotiating with Raghunathrao, Suraj Mal realized that the Maratha Confederacy intended to loot and plunder and were not intent on peace.[10]

When Ahmad Shah Bahadur tried to have young Feroze Jung III removed from the imperial court, the outcast sent Aqibat Mahmud to arrest the Emperor and then sought an alliance with the Maratha chieftain Sadashivrao Bhau.

Raghunathrao demanded that Suraj Mal pay Chauth and Sardeshmukhi (harsh forms of tribute), after his refusal; Khanderao Holkar was dispatched to overthrow Suraj Mal, with the support of Feroze Jung III.[11]

Ahmad Shah Bahadur's attempt to cut off the escape route of the Maratha Confederacy

Fearing the strength of Feroze Jung III after his alliance with the Maratha Confederacy, the emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur reconciled with Safdarjung and wrote letters to Madhao Singh of Amber and Marwar chiefs and also Suraj Mal (who had been besieged for four months at Siege of Kumher Fort).

Although besieged, Suraj Mal's planned that Ahmad Shah Bahadur was to advance to Sikandarabad on an excuse of a hunting trip and there would be joined by Safdarjung and the Jats (under the command of Suraj Mal). From thence the emperor would move towards Agra where Amber and Marwar chiefs were to join him. The siege at Siege of Kumher Fort would conclude when Khanderao Holkar was killed in a Zamburak shot by the forces of Suraj Mal.[12]

But Feroze Jung III and his Maratha allies had realized this plan and Malhar Rao Holkar was to defeat the emperor.

First Battle of Sikandarabad (1754)

Feroze Jung III, aided by the Marathas led by Malhar Rao Holkar, defeated Safdarjung. At this the Emperor collected a large army and camped at Sikandarabad. On the other hand, the Maratha chieftain Sadashivrao Bhau, Malhar Rao Holkar and 2,000 Maratha's and their ally Feroze Jung III routed Imperial Mughal Army of the Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur at the First Battle of Sikandarabad (1754).[13] The Emperor left his mother, wives and a retinue of 8,000 women behind and fled to Delhi.

Feroze Jung III (with the support of Raghunathrao) also reached Delhi and kept prisoner the Emperor and his mother.

Fall of Ahmad Shah Bahadur

After the First Battle of Sikandarabad (1754) the ailing Safdarjung fled to Awadh, while a Mughal general laid siege to Bhurtpore where Suraj Mal and his Jat rebels had controlled. After being reinstated as the Grand Vizier, Feroze Jung III moved out of Delhi to support his lieutenant with a fresh supply of ammunition.[7]

It was during this confrontation Feroze Jung III claimed that Ahmad Shah Bahadur sent secret dispatches to Suraj Mal, encouraging him to fight and promised to advance to the aid of the Jats. Feroze Jung III intercepted such letters and made peace with Suraj Mal, and returned to the emperor in Delhi and caused menaces by blinding Ahmad Shah Bahadur; after hearing of this action Safdarjung fell ill and died.[7]

State the Mughal Empire

The weak but influential Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur maintained correspondence from distant loyal vassals and Nawabs such as Chanda Shahib, Nawab of Tinnevelly (his southernmost subject) and Muzaffar Jung.

The Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah bestowed him with the title Nasir Jung and later the next Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur appointed him as the Subedar of the Deccan and bestowed him with the title Nasir-ud-Daula, he was killed by the renegade Himmat Khan in 1750.[14]

First Carnatic War (1746–1748)

In the year 1749 Joseph François Dupleix successfully gained an alliance with Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jung the two strong designated Mughal administrators in the Deccan and sought bring them into power in their respective regions, other famous leaders such as Hyder Ali also sided with the French. Soon the Chanda Sahib, Muzzafar Jung and the French led by Patissier and De Bussy had the capacity to defeat the alarmed Nawab of the Carnatic Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan during the Battle of Ambur.[15]

In response to this power struggle among the subjects of the Mughal Empire in the Deccan, Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah and Nasir Jung aligned themselves with the English in the year 1750. When Nasir Jung tried to recapture Gingee Fort, from De Bussy he was halted, defeated and killed by the forces of the troublesome Himmat Khan the Nawab of Kadapa. Joseph François Dupleix the real power behind the successors soon delegated a formidable governance to his allies: Muzaffar Jung was declared the Nizam of Mughal lands in eastern-Deccan and Chanda Sahib was declared the new Nawab of the Carnatic. The French were perceived as powerful aristocrats throughout the Mughal Empire, their English counterparts however had their reputations tarnished by the alleged acts of piracy since the days of Aurangzeb.

Mughal Army expedition against Marwar

Mir Bakshi and commander of the Mughal Army, Salabat Khan was joined by Bakht Singh against the forces of Ram Singh and Ishwari Singh. Both sides fought against each other during the Battle of Raona (1750).[16]

Immediately after the battle Ishwari Singh reconciled with Salabat Khan and the confrontation ended in ceasefire. Soon afterwards the Maratha Confederacy invaded Jaipur and Ishwari Singh committed suicide.

Mughal Viceroy cedes Punjab and Kashmir to Ahmad Shah Durrani

In the year 1750, Muin-ul-Mulk ceded territories to Ahmad Shah Durrani in order to seek an end to all hostilities. However, Ahmad Shah Durrani invaded again in the year 1751 and occupied Kashmir the opposing Mughals led by Muin-ul-Mulk were entirely defeated and captured in the year 1753. Ahmad Shah Durrani pardoned captured Mughal viceroy Muin-ul-Mulk due to his courageousness in battle and reappointed Muin-ul-Mulk as his representative with the permission of the Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur.

Loss of Gujarat and Orissa to the Maratha Confederacy

Various chieftains of the Maratha Confederacy had from two fronts defeated the subjects of the Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur in Gujarat and Orissa.

Mughal Army loses control of the Ahmedabad region

In 1750, the Marathas annexed Gujarat from the Mughals, and fierce battles continued between the two sides it was during that havoc that the Raj Bovri Mosque complex was destroyed during a massive fray in 1753.[17]

In response to the annexation of Gujarat, the Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur appointed and strengthened the Nawab of Junagarh Nawab Muhammad Bahadur Khanji and bestowed various titles and authority to various entities loyal to the Mughal Empire in the region.[18] Ahmad Shah Bahadur and Safdarjung also dispatched Salabat Khan and a Mughal Army of 18,000 to an expedition to quell all rebels in Rajput territories and to gather support for the regions garrisons.

Alivardi Khan loses Orissa

Alivardi Khan (Mughal Empire's viceroy of Bangal) captures two prisoners.

In the year 1751 after defending his territories from the Marathas for nearly 11 years, Alivardi Khan the famous Nawab of Bengal, and Faujdars from various regions such as Patna, Dacca and Orissa[19] were overrun by large force of Marathas under the command of Raghoji I Bhonsle, who eventually annexed Odisha for the Maratha Confederacy.

Second Carnatic War (1749–1754)

Siege of Arcot was a major battle fought between Robert Clive and the combined forces of the Mughal Empire's Nawab of the Carnatic, Chanda Sahib, assisted by a small number of troops from the French East India Company.

In the year 1751, Chanda Sahib and his lieutenants Reza Sahib and Muhammed Yusuf Khan were defeated by Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah and Clive during the Battle of Arcot. Later onward's Muzaffar Jung faced the averse uncooperative Nawabs of Kurnool, Cuddapah and Savanur after they jointly attacked Muzaffar Jung' encampments of 3000 troops, during the confrontation the Nawab of Savanur was killed, the Nawab of Kurnool was shot and wounded but apathetic Himmat Khan the Nawab of Kadapa challenged Muzaffar Jung to a duel both men charged their Howdah's at each other and eliminated each other in combat.[20]

French-Nizam Alliance

The news of Muzaffar Jung's death had created a great sense of shock and panic among the Mughals and the French were also affected by this unforeseeable event. De Bussy rose to the occasion and almost risked the wrath of the imperial court when he chose his brother Salabat Jung as the new Subedar of the Deccan, without the approval of Ahmad Shah Bahadur. Together they entered Hyderabad on 12 April and then marched against the Marathas to strengthen the Mughal garrison at Aurangabad on 18 June.[21] Unwilling to allow his brother to gain power Intizam-ud-Daula an influential general in the Mughal Army, abandoned his post and threatened to march into the Deccan with an army of 150,000 and overthrow Salabat Jung with the assistance of their Maratha adversary Balaji Bajirao.

Salabat Jung and his French allies had inflicted defeat upon the Maratha Confederacy and enforced the Peace Treaty of Ahmadnagar.

Instead of awaiting an eminent invasion Joseph François Dupleix decided to challenge the Marathas and inflicted a defeat upon their leader Balaji Bajirao by taking advantage of a lunar eclipse in December 1751. The coalition of De Bussy and Salabat Jung efficiently marched towards Poona delivering a series of crushing defeats upon the Marathas and their allies for the first time in decades. In the following year De Bussy enforced the Peace Treaty of Ahmadnagar upon the Marathas.

During a very interesting turn of events Intizam-ud-Daula was poisoned by his own troops for pursuing an alliance with Balaji Bajirao. The Nawab of the Carnatic Chanda Sahib was killed in a mutiny after he was defeated by Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah and Clive in the year 1752. Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah was then successfully recognized as the next Nawab of the Carnatic, mainly by arousing the sympathies of Ahmad Shah Bahadur.

In the year 1753, De Bussy led his coalition in order to capture the Northern Circars this move would also trigger another series of victories against the Maratha chieftain Raghoji I Bhonsle in 1754. This campaign continued until the year 1757 and Salabat Jung and De Bussy's inflicted a series of upon the Maratha around their own strongholds near Poona. This alliance with the French had greatly contributed to the advancement of Salabat Jung's forces, in the year 1756 Salabat Jung's forces utilized heavy muskets known as Catyocks, which were attached to the ground, it was known to have fired more rapidly than a cannon.[5] These new weapons would completely reverse fortunes of the Maratha rebels.


After his deposition, Ahmad Shah Bahadur was imprisoned at the Salimgarh Fort. He stayed there for the rest of his life and finally died in 1775 at the age of 50 during the reign of Emperor Shah Alam II. One of his sons, Bidar Bakhsh reigned briefly in 1788.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture, p. 59, at Google Books
  3. ^ a b Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: F–O, p. 631, at Google Books
  4. ^ History of Civilizations of Central Asia: Development in contrast, p. 287, at Google Books
  5. ^ a b War, Culture and Society in Early Modern South Asia, 1740–1849, p. 29, at Google Books
  6. ^ Sunheri Masjid
  7. ^ a b c   Digital Library of India Accessed 7 Jan 2012
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, p. 756, at Google Books
  16. ^
  17. ^ India, Lonely Planet Publications pg.697
  18. ^
  19. ^ Markovits, Claude (1 Feb 2004). A History of Modern India, 1480-1950. Anthem Press. 
  20. ^ Nizam-British Relations, 1724–1857, p. 51, at Google Books
  21. ^ A History of Modern India, 1480–1950, p. 220, at Google Books
Ahmad Shah Bahadur
Preceded by
Muhammad Shah
Mughal Emperor
Succeeded by
Alamgir II
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.