Mughals in India are praised by historians for many things however the one thing which even the common people despise about them is the bloody and violent process of succession among them. Brothers killing brothers for throne is certainly not a pleasant sight. To become a Mughal emperor their was no clear criteria laid by their ancestors nor their was a custom of eldest son becoming the imediate successor of reigning monarch.

The Mughals believed in a very famous Persian saying
" The Kingship knows no Kinship"
From Babur to Aurangazeb every Mughal emperor's succession happened to be never so peaceful. But even then their succession was justified as it was based on Darwin's theory of natural selection the one who was most fit for the job among the Mughal princes would become the king. When we look at their early life we come across many such incidents where they had shown traits of a great emperor quite early in their life.

Here we will relate some incidents from the early lives of mughal emperors right from Babur to Aurangazeb where each of them proved his mettle in his younger days and always stood apart from the rest of the competitors of Mughal throne .

Babur King of Ferghana at 11 

Babur became the king of Farghana at an early age of 11 after the sudden death of his father.The day he sat on throne his Kingdom was invaded from three sides. His accession was challanged by his two uncles who were ruling neighbouring kingdoms and wanted his half brother Jahangir instead of him.

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Emperor Babur (image credit- Royal album of mughal dynasty)

Undettered he chose the diplomacy and wrote a letter to his uncle Sultan Ahmed to appeal to his good senses. The offer he made to his uncle was planely rejected. To check his uncle's advance he moved towards the border city Adijan where he installed himself at a hill to See the progress of enemy.

It was shear luck that the advancing army of Sultan Ahmed while crossing the river met with a sudden stampede and considering it as a bad sign they retreated. After this Babar moved towards Akhsi another city to check his maternal uncle's advance who on hearing the retreat of Sultan Ahmed at Adijan also pulled back his army. In this manner a 11 year old boy's temperament and a lot of good luck saved the day for him.

Babur's life as a Mughal Prince was no luxary throughout in his early days he kept wondering in Central Asia with his men fighting against his enemies, sometimes winning sometimes loosing . By the time he reached 20 he was already a battle hardened veteran who had fought several tough battles for his Kingdom . The only respite in his life he got was when he conquered kabul and later Delhi . If we compare him with the other contenders of throne of Delhi , He certainly deserved to be the emperor, with his phenomenal victories over them and all the hard experince that he had earned in his life.


Babur had four sons Humayun was the eldest among them. Though Humayun was chosen by his father as his succesor he already had all the traits of a noble as well as brave emperor.

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Emperor Humayun (image credit- Royal album of mughal dynasty)

At the age of 18 when most young princes  of his age were busy in worldly pursuits he was standing in the most important battle of  his father's life i.e Battle of Panipat as a commander leading an the right wing of Mughal army. Offcourse he was assisted by experienced general like Khwaja milan, Sultan buddhi and Hindu Beg but he showed no sign of hesitation while performing his duty.

He fought gallantly did his job well and lived up to the expectations of his dad by encircling lodis army bringing their all flanks in the centre and making them an easy target of mughal artillery. He also later finished the victory over lodis by conquering their stronghold in Agra .
He also played an active role in the battle of Khanwa and Chanderi at that time he was not even 20 years old.

Babur didn't divided his kingdom among his sons but advised Humayun to be generous with his brothers and let them rule the territories which were under their governorship. Humayun's as an obedient sin followed the orders of his father and never tried to invade the territories of his brothers. On the other hand his brother's Kamran and Askari always remained hostile towards him. They had a major hand behind his loss to Afghans in India.
But if we compare him with the other sons of Babur He was anyday a better choice for Mughal throne than.


Similar to his grandfather's fate Akbar also lost his father at Sn early age of 13. Still a teenager when he was crowned Mughal emperor at Kalanaur by his father's trusted generals and faced a dreaded enemy, Hemu Vikramaditya at second Battle of Panipat in 1556 CE.

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Young Emperor Akbar(image credit- Royal album of mughal dynasty)

Eventhough the battle was a chance Victory for Mughals and Akbar was participated as a mere spectatator his temperament was king like. At 20 he broke away the shackles of Bairam Khan and Maham anga's regentship to lead the life of an independent emperor. He carried out massive military campaign in all the directions and by the time he reached the age of 30, he had already annexed Lahore,Multan, Rajputana, Gujarat, Bihar and Bengal .
Thus raising an empire in medieval India which lasted for more than 250 years. He was indeed the real founder of Mughal Empire in India.


Every Mughal emperor had shown in his childhood that he was the chosen one. However the only exception to this was Emperor Jahangir or Prince Salim who became emperor without much resistance ,the one who resisted his accession was his own father Akbar, whose death in 1605 CE. paved way for his accession to Mughal throne.

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Jahangir tackling an elephant (image credit- Royal album of mughal dynasty)

Akbar had personally arranged for the military training of all his sons but he wanted to groom Salim as a future emperor. But most of his time in his early life was spent inside the royal harem where he received a great amount of love and care from all the wives of Akbar and this influenced his personality a great deal. He too like his rest of the brothers turned towards worldly pursuit and kept pursuing them till his death.
In his autobiography Tujuk-i-jahangiri he proudly boasts about the amount of liquor he would consume in a single day . He was indeed lucky that he had a cspable son Shahjahan at his disposal otherwise his reign could have brought a final curtain over Mughal dynasty's glorious rule. We don't come across any major feat that Jahangir achieved in youth as Prince Salim except some unsuccessful military campaigns where he largely remained inside the royal camp leaving everything under the command of his father's trusted generals.


He was yet another powerful monarch of Mughal dynasty. Born to a Rajput mother prince Khurram was a courageous and determined prince since his childhood. His major accomplishment as a prince was the subjugation of Mewar royalty. Since from the times of Babur the sidodiyas of Mewar remained arch-enemies of mughals resisting their every advance and rejecting their sovereignty in Rajputana.
Despite the severe losses at Khanwa , Chittorgarh and haldighati the princes of Mewar never bowed their head in front of the Mughals.

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Emperor Shahjahan (image credit- Royal album of mughal dynasty)

Even after exhausting all their resources they continued their guerrilla tactics against Mughal army and successfully recovered many of their forts .
Akbar sent many missions under various generals but most of them resulted in either failure or achieved minor successes. Jahangir when became emperor was determined to subjugate Mewar by any means. After his initial campaigns failed he sent his son Khurram(future Shahjahan) for an all out war on Mewar.

Khurram took this task very seriously he studied the terrain well and deployed his forces on all the major entry and exit points.To accomplish this mission he was took the help of neighbouring kings, kachwahas of Amber and his maternal uncle Rathore king of Jodhpur. After blocking every possible help to Maharana he surrounded mewar's king Rana Amar Singh from all side and demanded his submission.

Severely exhausted Rana Amar Singh could fight more but when he saw the depleted condition of his kingdom ,gloomy faces of his trusted generals and poverty spreading in mewari households he half-heartedly agreed for a truce but made it very clear to Prince Khurram that unlike other kings he won't attend Jahangir's court at Agra instead he would send his son as his representative.

Khurram when sent a messanger to break this news to his father his father became so happy that he immediately agreed on most of the conditions that were proposed by Maharana for the truce .

Subjugation of Mewar was an important accomplishment of Jahangir's reign and that too became possible only because of Prince Khurram who brought this bitter rivalry between mughals and sidodiyas to an end and by achieving this significant victory he made his mark in the Mughal polity at a very early age.


Aurangzeb was born as Prince Alamgir to emperor Shahjahan and Mumtaj Mahal as their third son. Since his childhood he had shown remarkable traits of a brave warrior.

There is a famous story about his childhood. Prince Alamgir was 14 year old when he was along with his other brothers and many Mughal nobles was watching fighting of Elephants. When suddenly an elephant became aggressive, lost control and threw away his rider.

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Aurangzeb attacking an elephant (image credit- Royal album of mughal dynasty)

The elephant started creating ruckus in the arena throwing pavellions of mughal nobles here and there. Almost everyone got terrified when elephant ran towards royal pavillion. Aurangzeb who was watching this immediately ran towards the royal guards ordered him to dismount took the horse and with a spear in his hand charged towards the rogue elephant this immediate rush confused the beast . He attacked the horse which made Aurangzeb fell on ground but he quickly recovered took the spear in hand and attacked the elephant.

By now Mughal guards had joined him and situation was brought under control. Emperor Shahjahan who was in the attendance praised Aurangzeb and offered him  Rs 1 Lakh . This incident made Aurangzeb popular among nobles , he had this ruthless attitude in him since from his childhood which helped him in winning the war of succession against his brother and reigning successfully for around 50 long years.

While Mughal princes had all the luxury at their convenience they had not the luxury of living peacefully and remain neutral during the war of succession. Even when they showed no inclination for kingship they were always perceived as a existential threat by their own ambitious brothers. The inheritance of Mughal throne was never been a cakewalk many princes made their claims and perished in the process but only those who had shown king like traits since their childhood survived the ordeal and enjoyed the fruits of kingship for their lifetime.

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