The Great Mughals
The seventeenth century was the great age of the Mughal Empire. Akbar had reintegrated northern and central India and given it a Persian form. His successors maintained his work until the empire extended nearly to Cape Comorin and the Persian dress seemed the natural garb of India. India presented an impressive picture to the world and created the modern legend of wealth and power which lasted well into the nineteenth century. India was the land of the "Great Mogul." For the first time since classical days India was open to detailed and skilled European observation. She ceased to be a legend about which tales could be spun with little relation to the facts, as Marlowe did with Timur in his Tamburlaine. The image of India in the European mind, though no doubt seriously distorted in many respects, had some similitude to truth. India had become real to Europe.
The first point of interest in the century is that of personalities. Jahangir was a very different man from his father, but he was a striking personality in his own right. A demonic temper, a callous disregard for human suffering was mingled with a genial temperament, an acute sensibility for nature and art, a love of sport and good cheer, and a singular devotion to his wife Nur Jahan, the daughter of his prime minister and the sister of his son's. He could carouse with the sea captain Hawkins, joke about copies of Italian miniatures with the solemn ambassador of James I, direct with sensitive care the work of his painters, and in a moment of passion order the execution of a beater who had spoiled a shot at a hunt. The highspirited Nur Jahan was the aunt of the lady of the Taj. In Shah Jahan we have a figure comparable to that of Louis XIV of France. Able, ambitious, and ruthless in his youth, he became a ruler noted for his magnificence and justice in middle years and for self-indulgence and affection in his age. He did for architecture what Jahangir did for painting, leaving to posterity the imperishable monuments of the Taj Mahal, the Jama Masjid of Delhi, and the Pearl Mosque of Agra. He spent his final years a prisoner