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Humayun. Humayun, the eldest of his four sons, and
designated by Babur as his successor, was nominally master of
an empire extending from the Karamnasa on the frontier of
Bengal to the Oxus, and from the Himalayas to the Narbada.
But he was obliged immediately to relinquish the Kabul and
Panjab territories to his next brother, Kamran, in practical
independence, and had no firm hold of any part of his wide
dominions. The Mughal Padshah at this time was merely the
leader of a horde of foreign adventurers compelled continually
to battle for existence against the leaders of earlier settled
Muslim hordes and innumerable Hindu Rajas.

Expulsion of Humayun, 1540. Cut off from the north-
western territories by Kamran 's kingdom, Humayun was
placed between two strong powers Gujarat, under Bahadur,


on the west, and Bihar, under Sher Khan, on the east. Early
in his reign Humayun defeated Bahadur and marched across
his country to Cambay on the coast, but was recalled to meet
the eastern danger, and Bahadur quickly recovered his king-
dom. Sher Khan, the Afghan, who had made himself master
of Bihar and the strong fortress of Rohtas inflicted two crush-
ing defeats on Humayun, at Chausa on the Ganges near the
mouth of the Karamnasa (1539), and again in the following
year at Kanauj. The last battle cost Humayun his throne,
which was occupied by his opponent under the title of Sher
Shah (1540). As Sher Shah belonged to the Sur tribe of
Afghans or Pathans his dynasty is known by the name of
Sur. It is the fashion to regard him as an usurper, because
in the end his rival won, but, as a matter of fact, Sher Shah
had as good a right to the throne as Humayun had. Neither
had any right save that of the sword.

Exile of Humayun. Humayun now became a homeless
wanderer. He tried in vain to obtain help from his brother
Kamran, but that prince withdrew to Kabul, and left the
Pan jab to Sher Shah. The exile then sought aid from the
chiefs of Sind and the Hindu Raja, Maldeo of Marwar, without
success. In the course of painful wanderings with a few
followers through waterless desert Humayun reached Umarkot
in Sind, where, on November 23, 1542, his son Akbar (Muham-
mad Jalal-ud-dln) was born. 1 Thence the ex-king moved to
Kandahar, then held by his brother Askarl under Kamran, and
ultimately was obliged to throw himself on the mercy of Shah
Tahmasp of Persia. During these times the child Akbar under-
went many dangers and was long separated from his father.

Sher Shah's government. Sher Shah, the new ruler, con-
trolled Bihar and Bengal as well as North-western India, and

1 14th Shaban, 949 A. H. =Thura., Nov. 23, 1542, as recorded by Jauhar,
who was with Humayun at the time. The official date, Sunday, October 15
(Old Style), given by Abul Fazl and other historians, probably was adopted
in order to conceal the true time of the nativity, and so protect Akbar against
witchcraft, as well as for other reasons. (J.A.S. B., part i, 1886, p. 88.)


waged successful war with Malwa, but did not live long enough
to establish a settled form of government, being killed in
May, 1545, by an explosion while besieging the fortress of
Kalanjar in Bundelkhand. Sher Shah was something more
than the successful leader of a swarm of plundering Afghans,
and had some notion of civil government. He followed the
example of the old Hindu sovereigns by laying out high roads,
planting them with trees, and providing the stages with
accommodation for travellers. He repressed crime by enforc-
ing strictly the liability of the villagers for all offences com-
mitted within their borders. The punishments he inflicted
were savage and terrifying. No man could expect favour
by reason of his rank, and the king's rough justice was equal
to all. No injury to the lands of cultivators was permitted.
An elaborate system of revenue ' settlement ', based on the
measurement of lands, was devised, which served as the basis
for the better-known measures of Raja Todar Mall, Akbar's
finance minister. The coinage, which had been in much
disorder, was reformed, and silver rupees, excellent alike in
purity and execution, were abundantly issued. Sher Shah
erected many notable buildings. The tomb at Sahsaram,
where he lies, is one of the finest monuments in India.

Islam (Sallm) Shah Sur, 1545-54. Sher Shah was succeeded
by his second son, Islam or Sallm, who managed to retain the
throne for more than seven years, although not without con-
tinual dispute. He is reputed to have been an able man, but
the times were too unsettled to permit him to make his mark.
When he died his infant son, who was proclaimed king, was
promptly murdered by his maternal uncle, Mubariz Khan.

Muhammad Shah Adil and other Sur claimants. The
murderer ascended the throne under the title of Muhammad
Shah Adil, the last word meaning ' just ', being singularly
inapplicable to a man who was a good-for-nothing sensualist.
He can hardly be said to have reigned, because all power was
in the hands of his minister Hemu, a clever Hindu baniya of
Mewat, and Muhammad Adil's right to the royal seat was


contested by two relatives Ibrahim, at Agra and Delhi, and
Ahmad Khan, who took the title of Sikandar Shah, in the
Pan jab. 1 Muhammad Shah Adil withdrew -to Chunar in the
east. It is unnecessary to recount the details of the contests
between these claimants.

Return of Humayun. Early in 1555, Humayun, who had
secured Persian help by conforming to the Shiah creed, crossed
the Indus, his forces being commanded by Bairam Khan,
a competent officer. The exiled king reoccupied Delhi in
July, 1555, but enjoyed his recovered throne for a few months
only, losing his life in January, 1556, by a fall from the stairs
of his library.

Character of Humayun. As a private gentleman Humayun
deserved nothing but praise. Like most members of his
family, he was highly educated and deeply interested in litera-
ture and science, his special hobbies being mathematics and
astronomy. As a king in troublous times he was not a success,
and there is reason to believe that the weakness and instability
of character which he displayed in the conduct of public affairs
were largely due to his addiction to the vice of opium-taking,
which benumbed his will and energies. He was generous and
merciful in disposition, and seems to have been almost free
from the Mongol ferocity, flashes of which sometimes broke
out even in Akbar.


European voyages to India : discovery of the Cape route ; the Portuguese,
Dutch, Danish, French, and English Companies ; early settlements.

Survey of early European settlements. Before entering on
the story of the Mughal empire as established by Akbar it will
be convenient to take a brief survey of the early European
intercourse with and settlements in India, which began at the
close of the fifteenth century and steadily developed during

1 Hemu evidently is the short colloquial form of some name like Hemchand
or Hemraj. Such short forms of names are commonly used in Northern


the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the time of the glory
of the ' Great Moguls '. Reference has been made to the
victory gained by the Portuguese in 1509 over the combined
fleets of Egypt and Gujarat (ante, p. 133) ; and the frequent
mention of the foreign settlers on the coasts in the following
pages will be made more easily intelligible by the help of
a connected account of their proceedings.

Discovery of the Cape route. Although in the early centuries
of the Christian era the Roman merchants had been familiar
with the navigation between the Red Sea and the Malabar
coast, the Muhammadan occupation of Egypt in the seventh
century completely closed all intercourse between Europe and
the East through Egypt, and the trade by sea passed exclu-
sively into Muhammadan hands. In the fifteenth century the
European explorers, then very active, and having no hope of
reopening the old Egyptian route, busied themselves with
trying to discover a long sea route by sailing round Africa,
a process commonly called ' doubling the Cape ', that is to say,
sailing round the Cape of Good Hope. That process, now so
easy, was difficult in the fifteenth century for tiny sailing ships,
commonly of less than one hundred tons burden. But in 1487
a Portuguese captain, Bartholomeu Diaz de Novaes, showed
how the thing could be done.

Vasco da Gama at Calicut, 1498. Eleven years later, in
the summer of 1498, another Portuguese officer, Vasco da
Gama, following the track of Diaz, arrived at Calicut on the
Malabar coast with three little ships, and having done some
trade with friendly Hindu princes, made his way back to
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The king of Portugal, de-
lighted at the prospect of acquiring the riches of the Indies,
was arrogant enough to assume the title of ' Lord of the con-
quest, navigation, and commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia,
and India '.

Conquest of Goa, &c. ; Albuquerque. Many other Portu-
guese expeditions followed, and gradually the foreigners suc-
ceeded in establishing either factories that is to say, trading





stations or fortresses at Calicut, Cannanore, Goa, and other
places on the western coast. They also occupied Ceylon, the
island of Socotra near the entrance to the Red Sea, Ormuz
in the Persian Gulf, and Malacca in the Far East. The basis
of the Portuguese power was Goa, captured in 1510 by Albu-
querque, the greatest of the Portuguese governors. The
strangers assumed full sovereign powers within the limits
of the island of Goa, where they built a magnificent city, now
desolate and in ruins, but still under the Portuguese flag.
Albuquerque, who, like all his countrymen, hated Muham-
madans with a bitter hatred, begotten of the long struggle in
Europe between the Portuguese and the Musalman kingdom of
Southern Spain, disgraced his victory at Goa by the massacre
of the whole Muhammadan population, men, women, and

Albuquerque's administration of Goa. Albuquerque's cruelty
was reserved for the followers of Islam, for, as an old Mu-
hammadan writer puts it, ' he evinced no dislike towards
the Nairs and other Pagans of similar descriptions'. In the
administration of the Goa district he made free use of Hindu
officials and clerks, and established schools for the education
of the latter. He also employed a force of sepoys, or native
soldiers, and had the courage to prohibit absolutely the burning
of widows as satis, which continued to be lawful in British
India until 1829.

The Portuguese empire and its decline. Although during
almost the whole of the sixteenth century, up to 1595, the
Portuguese were masters of the Eastern seas, and held the
monopoly or sole control of the Indian sea-borne foreign
trade, their power declined as quickly as it had risen, and
before the date named had been much reduced. The destruc-
tion in 1565 of the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar, with which
Goa did much business, was a serious blow to the prosperity of
that city. The union of the crowns of Spain and Portugal
in the person of Philip II in 1580 dragged the lesser kingdom
into the Spanish wars with Holland and England, and the


strain of keeping up a maritime empire in the East proved
to be too great for the resources of so small a country as
Portugal. Grave mistakes in policy also were made, of which
the most fatal was the mad attempt to force all natives in
the Portuguese possessions to become Christians. Of course
the attempt failed, but while it lasted was attended by much
cruelty and oppression. This blunder was the work of Albu-
querque's successors, not of the ' Great Captain ' himself. The
small settlements at Goa, Daman, and Diu on the western
coast are now all that is left of the Portuguese dominions in

Dutch command of the Eastern seas. In the first half of
the seventeenth century the command of the Eastern seas
gradually passed to the Dutch, with whom it was disputed by
the English. In 1602 all the Dutch private trading companies
were combined under state patronage into ' The United East
India Company of the Netherlands ', which quickly became
a rich and powerful corporation. At various dates the Portu-
guese settlements on the coast of India were attacked or
occupied, and in 1658 the Dutch drove the Portuguese from
Ceylon. But the centre of the Dutch power in the East always
was in the Malay Archipelago rather than in India, and
Holland, in spite of many ups and downs of fortune, still retains
Java and other valuable possessions in the Far East.

Danish settlements. Denmark made an effort to share in
the profits of the Indian trade, and in 1620 founded a settle-
ment at Tranquebar in the Tanjore district, where a mint was
established. Later, Serampore near Calcutta was occupied.
The Danes never maclo any deep impression on India, and in
1845 were content to sell their small settlements to the British

Struggle between the Dutch and English. The struggle
during the seventeenth century between the Dutch and the
English for command of the Eastern seas and control of the
sea-borne trade was long and severe. The general result was
that the Dutch retained their leading position in the Malay


Archipelago and Ceylon, but failed to attain considerable
power in India. Their principal settlements on the mainland
were at Pulicat and Tuticorin on the Coromandel coast and at
Chinsurah near Calcutta. Clive forced Chinsurah to capitulate
in 1759, and now nothing remains of the Dutch settlements
except many tombs with quaint armorial bearings, and a few old
houses and small canals. During the Napoleonic wars Holland
lost Ceylon, and even Java, but that valuable possession was
restored to her in 1816. Ceylon was retained by England,
and ever since has been administered as a Crown colony.

The Company's first charter ; Portuguese opposition. The
first serious effort made by Englishmen to claim a share
in the Eastern trade was marked on the last day of the year
1600 by the incorporation under charter from Queen Elizabeth
of the East India Company in its first form as ' The Governor
and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East
Indies '. The Portuguese and Dutch did their best to hinder
the progress of their new rivals, but the Portuguese opposition
was crushed by naval defeats inflicted on them in 1612 and
1615 off Swally (Suvali) near Surat, and by the temporary
occupation in 1622 of Ormuz in the Persian Gulf. Cromwell,
in 1654, forced the Portuguese to acknowledge by treaty
England's right to trade in the Eastern seas.

Factory at Surat ; Sir Thomas Roe. The first English
factory or trading station was established at Surat in 1608 and
confirmed by Imperial grant after the naval victory over the
Portuguese in 1612. Three years later King James I of
England sent out Sir Thomas Roe as his ambassador to the
Padshah Jahangir. Sir Thomas spent more than three years
in India, and, although he failed to obtain the treaty which he
asked for, was able to do a good deal to help his countrymen.
He wrote a book giving a very interesting account of the
character, court, and administration of Jahangir as they
appeared to an intelligent foreigner. Sir Thomas Roe's
chaplain, the Rev. Edward Terry, also recorded his experience
and observations in a quaint book.


English stations on western coast ; Bombay. From time
to time during the seventeenth century English trading
stations, or factories, were established at various points on
the Indian coasts, including one set up in 1644 at a place
called Vizhingam in Travancore. The cession by the Portu-
guese in 1661 of the island of Bombay as part of the dowry
of Princess Catharine of Braganza, who married King Charles II
of England, was intended to check the Dutch power, and
marks an important stage in the development of the Anglo-
Indian Empire. But so little was the future grandeur of


Bombay foreseen that the king granted the island to the
East India Company for 10 a year, equivalent in purchasing
power to about a thousand rupees at the present time.

The English settlement at Bombay made little progress
during the eighteenth century. Most of the territory now
governed from Bombay was acquired as the result of the
Maratha wars waged under the direction of the Marquess
Wellesley and the Marquess of Hastings during the early years
of the nineteenth century. Aden was taken in 1839, and
Sind was added in 1843.

Growth of the Presidency of Madras. The purchase of the
site of Madras in 1640 has been already mentioned (ante,
p. 142). The area so bought comprised only six square miles
of ' a dreary waste of sand ' . The next considerable piece of
territory acquired by the Madras settlers was the Jaglr,
now the Chingleput District, granted in perpetuity by the

Nawab of the Carnatic in 1763. The northernmost districts
of the Madras Presidency, formerly known as the ' Northern
Circars ' (Sarkars). were taken over in 1765, 1766, and 1788.
Lord Wellesley annexed the dominions of the Nawab of the
Carnatic in 1801. The rest 'of the territory now controlled
by the Government of Madras was mostly acquired as the
result of the third and fourth Mysore wars, which ended
respectively in 1792 and 1799.

English stations on eastern coast ; Calcutta. The earliest
English trading stations on the eastern coast were established
about 1625 at Armagaon in the Nellore District and at
Masulipatam in the Kistna (Krishna) District. A few years
later, about 1633, factories were founded at Balasore and an
obscure place called Hariharpur in Orissa. In 1651 a settle-
ment was made at Hugli (Hooghly), official favour being won
through the professional services rendered by a surgeon
named Gabriel Boughton to the family of the Muhammadan
governor of Bengal. Job Charnock, the chief of the station
at Hugli, tried to set up a branch establishment on the site
of Calcutta in 1686, but was driven out by the hostility of
Nawab Shayista Khan, Aurangzeb's uncle, and obliged to
take refuge at Madras. 1 In 1690 he came back, under authority
given by Aurangzeb, and definitely founded the small settle-
ment which has grown into Calcutta, now the second largest
city in the British Empire.

Early history of Calcutta. The settlement founded by Job
Charnock, who died in 1692 and lies buried in the cemetery
of St. John's Church, was at the village of Sutanuti. Fortifi-
cations were erected by permission of the Nawab of Bengal
in 1696, and the fort built a few years later was named
Fort William, in honour of King William III, the reigning
sovereign of England. During the eighteenth century the
original fort was replaced by the present structure. About
1700 the Company purchased Sutanuti with two other

1 Shayista Khan was transferred in 1663 from the Deccan to Bengal. He
died in 1694, aged 91 or 93 lunar years, at Agra.


villages, Kalikata and Govindpur, from Azlm-ush-shan,
governor of Bengal, grandson of Aurangzeb, and father of the
Emperor Farrukhsiyar. The city which began to grow up
on the sites of the three villages became known as Calcutta.
Important privileges are said to have been again secured to
the settlers by means of services rendered by another surgeon,
named Hamilton, to Farrukhsiyar. In 1742 the Marathas
under Balaji Rao Peshwa were at the height of their power,
and their attitude was so threatening that the English obtained
permission from Nawab Allahvardi Khan to protect their
settlement by an outer line of imperfect fortification, which
remained for a long time famous as ' the Mahratta ditch '.
It corresponds with the line of the modern Circular Road.

After the tragedy of the Black Hole in 1756 and the battle
of Plassey in the following year, the history of Calcutta
merges in that of British India. Its rank as the capital of
the Indian Empire dates from 1774, when Warren Hastings
was appointed the first Governor-General, and lasted until
1912, when the seat of the Government of India was moved
to Delhi. In the seventeenth century the Bengal settlements
had been subordinate to Madras, which was itself supposed
to be dependent on Surat.

Early history of the East India Company. The Company,
notwithstanding Queen Elizabeth's charter, had serious rivals
in other associations of English merchants, and did not
become really prosperous until 1661, when it obtained a fresh
Charter from Charles II, and was granted the rights of coinage
and jurisdiction over English subjects in the East. But some
thirty years later the Company again became involved in
great difficulties, which lasted until 1702, when it was recon-
structed as ' The United Company of Merchants of England
trading to the East Indies '. The union of the rival Com-
panies was confirmed by Parliament in 1708.

The subsequent dealings of the Crown and Parliament with
the Company will be noticed from time to time in the course
of the historical narrative.


French settlements. The French were late in makin their
appearance on the Indian coasts, and never acquired lirect
control of any considerable territory. Various early dven-
tures having proved to be failures, a strong assoc.tion,
entitled La Compagnie des Indes, was formed in 1664mder
the patronage of King Louis XIV. But the French C.vern-
ment failed to keep up a lively interest in the Com^ny's
affairs, and French enterprise in India always sufferd for
want of adequate support from home. However, Pondioerry
on the Madras coast, founded in 1674, became a flourhing
settlement, and still is a fairly prosperous town. Aftx the
Napoleonic wars the French were permitted to retai or
recover Pondicherry and Karikal on the Madras coast, . ihe
on the west coast, Yanaon at the mouth of the Godavariand
Chandernagore near Calcutta, over all of which the fle of
the French Republic still waves. These settlements are t no
political importance. The events of the contest betweeithe
French and English for supremacy in Southern India wi be
dealt with as incidents in the general history.


The reign of Akbar : Todar Mall ; Abul Fazl.

Accession of Akbar. When Humayun died (ante, p. 19),
his eldest son Akbar, a boy of thirteen, was in the Parab
with his guardian Bairam Khan, an officer much trusted )y
Humayun, and then in command of an army engaged in ie
pursuit of Sikandar Sur, one of the claimants to the throe.
Humayun 's death was concealed for a few days in order o
allow of arrangements being made for Akbar 's accession. Te
proper moment having come, the young prince was enthrond,
with such ceremony as was possible, at Kalanaur, a town thn
of some importance, situated to the west of Gurdaspur. 1

1 The throne still exists. It is a plain brick structure, built on a mason,'
platform. At a later date it was surrounded by a garden and ornamenll


Atfche time of his enthronement Akbar had no kingdom.
News came in that Hemu had succeeded in taking both
Delhand Agra. Hemu renounced his allegiance to Muham-
madvdil Sur, the other claimant to the throne, then far away
to tb east at Chunar near Mirzapur, and set up as an inde-
pendnt king, under the title of Raja Bikramajit (Vikrama-
ditya, borne so often by famous Hindu monarchs of the
oldei time. Timid counsellors advised retreat to Kabul,
but iairam Khan resolved that the empire of Hindustan
was rorth fighting for, and prepared to meet the foe. We
may eel assured that Akbar agreed to the decision.

Seond battle of Panipat, November 5, 1556. The Hindu
claimnt, ' with 1,500 elephants of war, and treasure without
end r measure, and an immense army, came to offer battle
at Bmpat ', on the field where Ibrahim Lodi and so many
gallnt men had met their death thirty years before (ante,
p. 13). Hemu began badly by losing his artillery, but
relid chiefly, in the old Hindu fashion, on his elephants,
whia delivered a terrifying charge. They were received
witla shower of arrows, one of which struck Hemu in the eye,
rencring him unconscious. His army then fled, and Hemu,
whcetill breathed, was captured. The boy Akbar refusing to
fleslhis sword on a dying prisoner, Bairam Khan and some
of b officers dispatched him. ' Nearly 1,500 elephants, and

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Online LibraryVincent Arthur SmithThe Oxford student's history of India → online text (page 12 of 27)