Akbar Research Paper

This sample Akbar Research Paper is published for educational and informational purposes only. Free research papers are not written by our writers, they are contributed by users, so we are not responsible for the content of this free sample paper. If you want to buy a high quality research paper on history topics at affordable price please use custom research paper writing services.

Reigning for nearly fifty years, Akbar was one of the most important emperors of the Mughal Empire (1526–1857). Though his final years were spent trying to reconcile with a rebellious son, Akbar’s intelligence and good judgment during his rule established the Mughal form of governance that would exist for the next three hundred years.

Abu-ul-Fath Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar was the greatest emperor of the South Asia–based Mughal Empire (1526–1857). Over the course of a forty-nine-year reign (1556–1605), Akbar proved himself a brilliant general, shrewd politician, able administrator, and generous patron of the arts. Akbar’s energy and acumen placed the Mughal Empire on firm foundations and created a template for Mughal imperial governance that survived almost unchanged until the early eighteenth century.

Born in 1542 in Umarkot in Sind (in present-day southeastern Pakistan), Akbar was thirteen years old when he succeeded to the imperial throne following the premature death of his father, Humayun (1508–1556). Over the next four years, Akbar slowly extended his political control across Hindustan—the geographical and agrarian heartland of northern India. In the 1560s Akbar asserted his authority over the regions of Malwa (1561), Gondwana (1564), Rajasthan (1568–69), and Bundelkhand (1569) in central and northern India. In the following decades, his military campaigns extended imperial rule to Gujarat (1572–1573) in the west, Bihar and Bengal (1574–1576) in the east, Kabul (1585, in present-day Afghanistan), Kashmir (1586), Sind (1591), and Orissa (1592) in the southeast, Makran and Baluchistan (1594, in present-day Pakistan), Kandahar (1595, in present-day Afghanistan), and Berar, Khandesh, and parts of Ahmadnagar (1595–1601) in the Deccan.

Akbar’s expansionist military goals found a complement in equally vigorous attempts to co-opt or destroy alternative loci of power. Thus, between the early 1560s and 1581, Akbar succeeded in crushing a host of rivals within his own extended Mughal clan. Among them were the distantly related Mirzas (early 1560s) and his half-brother, Mirza Hakim (1581). Akbar also asserted his power over the fractious Mughal nobility in a multipronged process that unfolded between the 1560s and the 1590s. He broke the power of entrenched Turkish and Uzbek clans that served under his father; diversified the ranks of the Mughal nobility by recruiting from alternate groups such as Indian Muslims, (Hindu) Rajputs, Afghans, and Persians; fashioned elaborate rules of conduct emphasizing discipline and loyalty to the Mughal Empire; and emphasized both his divinely ordained right to rule and (more controversially) his own semidivine status. The most important tool in Akbar’s attempts to control the nobility, however, was the mansabdari system implemented after 1574–1575. Within the mansabdari system every nobleman was assigned a mansab (rank) that comprised two separate grades: the first denoted a nobleman’s personal status and the second indicated his obligation to recruit and command a certain number of cavalry for imperial service. A mansab holder’s financial needs were satisfied by the state through assignments of nonhereditary and nontransferable land grants that were rarely retained for more than three years.

Akbar targeted the powerful Islamic religious establishment after the 1570s. He did this in several moves. He reformed the system of state-issued land grants that provided the religious community with financial support; he asserted his own power of judgment over doctrinal decisions and diminished the importance of the head of the judiciary—who usually also served as chief spokesperson for the religious establishment—within the Mughal administrative framework. He exiled—and occasionally murdered—religious opponents and promoted the Sufiorders as a counterpoint to the orthodox religious establishment. He also evolved a theory of universal kingship that obligated the emperor to favor all his subjects equally, regardless of their religious affiliation. Accordingly, Akbar ended the practice of forcibly converting non-Muslim prisoners of war to Islam and lifted various discriminatory taxes on Hindus; his most significant gesture came in 1579 when he abolished the poll tax, or jizya, on non-Muslims. Although the Islamic establishment generally opposed Akbar’s religious initiatives, it was forced to accept the new dispensation after a massive religiopolitical revolt against Akbar was crushed in 1581. Akbar’s reformist agenda largely survived until its reversal during the reign of his great-grandson, Aurangzeb (reigned 1658–1707).

After the 1560s Akbar moved to transform the zamindars (superior landholders) into a quasi-official service class. Control over the zamindars was important to Akbar as they gave him access to the agrarian wealth that paid for the Mughal imperial enterprise. The zamindars were notoriously refractory, and gaining their monies invariably involved time-consuming political negotiations, but Akbar crafted a new arrangement. He had the zamindars collect from the peasants the required revenue —which the state determined through a highly sophisticated system of measuring cultivated lands and calculating average prices and yields over the previous ten years—in return for which service the zamindars retained their claim over the land and between 10 and 25 percent of the revenue they collected. The presence of imperial revenue officials, accountants, and Mughal military contingents in the countryside provided a crucial check on the ability of zamindars to obstruct the will of the Mughal state.

Besides remarkable military and political achievements, Akbar’s reign witnessed tremendous cultural and artistic accomplishments. Massive imperial patronage for Persian poetry, historical writing, and translations of Hindu scriptures into Persian were accompanied by the creation of new schools of art and architecture that successfully blended Persian and Indic styles, techniques, and themes. Some of the finest examples of Mughal miniature painting (like the illustrations for the Akbarnama) and architecture (seen in Akbar’s short-lived imperial capital at Fatehpur Sikri) date to this period. The long-lasting influence of Mughal art and architecture is best attested by the continuing attempts in South Asia to emulate their fine sense of balance and proportion long after the Mughal Empire had collapsed in the early 1700s.

Akbar’s last years were clouded by the rebellion of his eldest and formerly favorite son, Salim, between 1599 and 1604. Ultimately, their partial reconciliation paved the way for the succession of Salim—as Emperor Jahangir—following Akbar’s death in October 1605.


  1. Habib, I. (Ed.). (1997). Akbar and his India. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.
  2. Habib, I. (1999). The agrarian system of Mughal India. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.
  3. Khan, I. A. (1973). The political biography of a Mughal noble: Mun’im Khan Khan-i Khanan. Delhi, India: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers.
  4. Khan, I. A. (Ed.). (1999). Akbar and his age. New Delhi, India: Northern Book Centre.
  5. Nizami, K. A. (1989). Akbar and religion. Delhi, India: Idarahi- Adabiyat-i-Delli.
  6. Richards, J. F. (1993). The Mughal empire. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
  7. Rizvi, S., & Abbas, A. (1975). The religious and intellectual history of the Muslims in Akbar’s reign. New Delhi, India: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers.
  8. Streusand, D. E. (1989). The formation of the Mughal Empire. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.

See also:

Free research papers are not written to satisfy your specific instructions. You can use our professional writing services to buy a custom research paper on any topic and get your high quality paper at affordable price.


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality
Special offer! Get discount 10% for the first order. Promo code: cd1a428655