Jahangir’s reign opened with the promulgation of Twelve ‘Edicts’ or ‘Ordinances’ for the general welfare and better government of the country. Although these ordinances confirmed Jahangir’s desire to continue Akbar’s liberalism, in practice they remained ineffective.
The reign which opened with such promise was marred by the rebellion of Jahangir’s son Khusrau at Lahore (1606). Jahangir personally suppressed the rebellion. The rebellious prince was captured, blinded, confined, and subsequently killed by Khurram in 1622.
The fifth Sikh Guru Arjan, with whom the rebel prince had stayed at Tarn Taran and also received his blessings, was at first fined by the government, but as he refused to pay the fine he was sentenced to death. The execution of Guru Arjan sowed the seeds of bitter discord between the Sikhs and the Mughals. His execution, though not religious persecution, was politically very unwise.
The first military expedition undertaken by Jahangir was against Rana Amar Singh, son of Rana Pratap of Mewar. The Mughal expeditions sent against Mewar in 1606 and 1608-09 proved indecisive, but in 1613-14 the campaign led by prince Khurram proved decisive and Rana Amar Singh came to terms with the Mughals in 1615.
Jahangir offered most liberal terms to Mewar and thus ended a long drawn out struggle between Mewar and the Mughals.
Jahangir pursued his father’s plan of territorial expansion beyond the Narmada. The first target was a half-conquered Sultanate of Ahmadnagar. During the reign of Jahangir, however, the situation in Ahmadnagar had greatly improved as a result of the untiring efforts and ability of the Nizamshahi Prime Minister Malik Akbar.
From 1608 onwards a number of campaigns were sent by Jahangir against Ahmadnagar but in spite of the expenditure of millions of rupees and loss of thousands of lives, the Mughal frontier in the Dec- can did not advance a single mile beyond the limits achieved in 1601.
The greatest failure of Jahangir’s reign was the loss of Kandahar to Persia. Shah Abbas of Persia (1587-1629), outwardly professing friendship towards the Mughals, captured Kandahar in 1622.
The loss of Kandahar greatly affected the Mughal prestige in Central Asia. But an account of the prevailing atmosphere of distrust at the court, mainly as a result of the politics of the Nur Jahan junta, no attempts were made to recover Kandahar.
The marriage of Jahangir with a young widow Mihrunnisa, daughter of a Persian Mirza Ghivas Beg, was one of the most important happenings of the reign of Jahangir, which profoundly affected the contemporary course of events.
Four years after the murder of her first husband Sher Afghan, Jahangir married her and conferred on her the title of Nur Mahal (Light of the Palace) which was later changed to Nur Jahan.
Her social and political influence at the capital steadily increased after her marriage. In 1613 she was promoted to the status of Padshah Begum, coins were struck in her name and on all farmans her name was attached to the imperial signature.
Nur Jahan’s influence secured high positions for her father who got the title of Itimadu ddaulah and her brother, Asaf Khan. A year after her own marriage, Asaf Khan’s daughter ArjumanUo Bano Begum, better known as Mumtaz Mahal, w is married to Khurram, the ablest of Jahangir’s sons.
This cemented an alliance between Nur Jahan, Itmaduddaulah, Asaf Khan and Khurrarr. For ten years “this clique or Junta of four persons practically ruled the empire”. After 1620, there was a rupture in this cliqe when in 1620 Nur Jahan married Ladli Begum, her daughter by Sher Afghan, to Jahangir’s youngest son Shahryar.
Now Nur Jahan supported the cause of her son-in-law Shah-ryar as heir-apparent to the throne, while her brother Asaf Khan supported his son-in-law Khurram (who had already been conferred the title of Shah Jahan).
The Mughal court was already divided into ‘pro-junta’ and ‘anti-junta’ factions; but as a result of division in the former a third group was also created. Many of the events of the period, such as Khusrau’s murder, Mahabat Khan’s coup and Salim’s rebellion, were all result of this factional politics.
These events hampered the military operations for the recovery of Kandahar. The events of the last year of the reign of Jahangir (1627) and a year later were all result of the machinations of the junta.
Jahangir’s reign has been vividly portrayed by two representatives of King James 1 of England, namely, Captain Hawkins (1608-11) and Sir Thomas Roe (1615-19) who visited his court to gain favourable concessions for English trade with India. As a result of the efforts of Thomas Roe English factories were established at Surat, Agra Ahmadabad and Broach.