15 of the World's Largest and Most Intense Empires
15 of the World’s Largest and Most Intense Empires

15 of the World’s Largest and Most Intense Empires

Larry Holzwarth - November 19, 2020

15 of the World’s Largest and Most Intense Empires
The advanced Mughal Empire created vast wealth on the Indian Subcontinent long before the arrival of the Europeans. Wikimedia

15. The Mughal Empire created living standards in India which exceeded those of Europe

Created via military conquest for the most part, the Mughal Empire on the Indian Subcontinent ruled over numerous cultures and religions with relative tolerance. It lasted over three centuries, though in the final century of its existence the British Raj curtailed it significantly. The Empire gained massive wealth through taxes, primarily on agriculture. It coined a stable and regulated currency, using bullion imported in exchange for agricultural products, raw materials, manufactures, and textiles. By the early 18th century, the standards of living in Mughal exceeded that of Great Britain, which exceeded that of the rest of Europe. Nor were most laborers looked down upon, as usually occurred in Britain and elsewhere.

Militarily the Mughal made advances in the use of gunpowder based weapons, including rockets. Shipbuilding became a major industry, Indian shipyards built vessels for their European trading partners. Cotton became an important cash crop, and finished cotton piece goods evolved into one of India’s largest exports under the Mughal. European demand for Mughal products created a trade imbalance, forcing the Europeans, particularly the Dutch, British, and Spanish, to make up the difference in gold bullion. Gradually, European occupation of and control of Mughal lands led to the decline of the empire, as the companies controlled production and prices based on their needs and profit lines.

The heyday of the Mughal Empire came to an end before the establishment of the British Raj, from internal pressures, warfare, and gradually declining administration. Though vestiges of it remained in British India, by the end of the 18th century the East India Company controlled most of what remained. Standards of living for the natives dropped as the British Empire absorbed the Mughal Empire, though India’s great wealth remained, transferred into British pockets. Today, the advances of India under the Mughal emperors can be seen throughout India in art and architecture. Among its many achievements is the Taj Mahal in Agra, numerous temples and mosques, and the veritable symbol of Indian music, the sitar.


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