- Oct 23, 2010
Mughal Empire was about to start a massive collapse when the British first tried even "leveraging" them. Emperor Farrukhsiyar (who granted EIC tax and production rights in a few cities in Bengal delta in return for personal bribes) is widely regarded as a stupid monarch, who was only put there as a puppet of two powerful imperial court members (Sayyid brothers, the assassins of the previous emperor). Born as a low-ranking prince never expected to rule, he became the puppet emperor under their regency and proceeded to mismanage everything until most of India was in a series of rebellions, Mughal military was dysfunctional and divided, and the stage was set for their internal collapse.And it is not the coincidence that Europeans were able to leverage power over Mughals - it is an aspect of why the European organization was better
Even when a competent emperor (Rangila) finally ascended the throne, the imperial court and army had weakened to the point that governors and viceroys began to declare themselves autonomous, beginning in 1725.
On top of that, the entire plot was in the making since the death of Emperor Shah-Alam I in 1712, essentially the last powerful Indian emperor to rule over a unified India. Everything after that point was relentless plotting and assassinations in the Mughal court, corruption, decay and collapse of the imperial order.
That doesn't tell anyone much about how British/French order was "superior". It only points to the sudden internal disarray in Mughal imperial order that lasted too long to recover from.
But that's how Maratha Empire came into existence, and to an extent so did the later Durrani Empire. Before 1720 Marathas were essentially a bunch of rebels in the hills raiding Mughal army supply lines, and they immediately used Mughal collapse to overrun multiple provinces with cavalry (replacing their governors with their own), reached Delhi by 1737, had their own large empire by 1749, and by 1760 they were just three provinces away from reuniting India....before their massive loss in the third battle of Panipat in 1761 against Durrani invasion.They were able to abuse Mughals collapse because they were present around and could simply catch the chance - something that no other state had.
The Persian invasion of India in 1739 was also a gamble against the Mughal collapse.
The British (or for that matter the French, who were recently defeated by the British, or the Dutch who controlled only one province) didn't have any real power in India until they organized a coup in Bengal in 1757. Most of their "chances" were against the Maratha Empire which was almost continuously embroiled in civil war, or against smaller rulers who formed their own domains in Mughal provinces.