Abstract

In recent years, historians associated with the school of Indo-Muslim history at Aligarh Muslim University have developed a persuasive, now widely accepted, view of imperial decline. Satish Chandra and M. Athar Ali have argued that a primary cause of the collapse of the Mughal empire in the early eighteenth century was the rise of intense factionalism among the Mughal nobility. Conflict within this imperial elite (i.e., the body of amirs or mansabdars holding ranks of 1000 zat or above) resulted from a rapid rise to nearly double the number of nobles during the latter portion of the reign of the Emperor Aurangzeb (1658–1707). This growth in the number of nobles was not matched by a corresponding increase in the resources available to pay them and their followers. Consequently, the system of alienation of the land-tax proceeds for salary payments (the jagir system) broke down simply because not enough lands could be found to meet a sharply enhanced demand.

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