Causes for Mughal Military Success The secret of Mughal success was
that each emperor deployed many armies under his own supreme authority.
Mughal commanders had to be individually strong, mobile, well equipped
and decisive, but they also had to remain loyal for empire to survive.
Centralising power over commanders might keep them loyal for a time, but it
would also weaken their ability to respond quickly and decisively to local
challenges and opportunities, because transportation and communication
were slow and expensive.
Too much central control would spark disloyalty among the most ambitious
and powerful commanders. Mughal emperors succeeded as long as they
sustained the personal loyalty of nobles who controlled decisive military
To maintain the precarious balance of noble autonomy and loyalty, imperial
wealth had to increase. In other words, the empire needed to expand to
survive. Expansion provided opportunities for individually powerful military
commanders who entered imperial service to enrich themselves and their
heirs and followers.
An expanding empire produced new opportunities for ambitious sons who
would not need to rely for their fortune on their inherited patrimony. A
commander’s imperial assets would not need to be hereditary, allowing
emperors to re-allocate appointments and resources among warrior nobles.
Expanding imperial resources provided incentives for loyalty in each
generation. Penalties for disloyalty were effective when loyalty paid sure
Imperial Standardisation In the wake of military expansion, Akbar built a
centralised Mughal system of rules and regulations such that his empire
became more bureaucratic than any before.
Using the methods of Sher Shah, Akbar organised his empire into
administrative units independently of existing local usage. Groups of villages
formed parganas, then sarkars, and finally subahs; which correspond
roughly in size to taluqs, districts, and provinces. The subah of Bengal, for
instance, was divided into 19 sarkars containing over 600 parganas.
This naming of territories in standard imperial terms had important symbolic
as well as practical effects. Standardising territorial nomenclature identified
all people, however important