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Nawabs of Bengal

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Nawabs of Bengal

Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa (1717-1880)
and
Nawab Bahadur of Murshidabad (1882-1969)
Nawabs of Bengal and Murshidabad
1740–1969
Motto
Nil Desparandum
"There is no cause for despair, never despair"
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The Nawabs of Bengal ruled over the Provinces of Bengal, which included present day West Bengal, Tripura and Bangladesh and parts of Odisha, parts of present Bihar and also some parts of Jharkhand. Perhaps after the title of the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was abolished in 1880 the successors succeeded with the lesser title of Nawab Bahadur of Murshidabad and ruled only over the present day city of Murshidabad. Shown here is the 1776 map of Bengal when the Nawabs ruled as the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
Capital Murshidabad
Languages English

Persian
Bengali
Hindi
Urdu
Arabic

Religion Islam

Hinduism
Christianity

Government Monarchy
Historical era British Raj

Indian Independence movement
Indian Independence

 -  Emergence of the Mughal Empire 1526
 -  Established 29 April 1740
 -  Expeditions in Bengal 1741–1748
 -  Battle of Giria 1746 and 1763
 -  Battle of Plassey 23 June 1757
 -  Battle of Buxar 22 October 1764
 -  Disestablished 20 November 1969
Population
 -  1901 est. 75 millions[1] 
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Gupta Empire
Pala Empire
Sena Empire
Delhi Sultanate
Sultanate of Bengal
Mughal Empire
Company rule in India
British Raj
Government of India
Government of West Bengal
Government of Bangladesh
Today part of  India
 Bangladesh
The Nawabs of Bengal ruled under the Mughal Empire but after 1757 when the British became a political power in Bengal they were puppets to the British. So it was a monarchy which ruled on the behalf of others.[2]
Part of a series on the
History of Bengal
Ancient Bengal
 Vedic Period 
Ancient Bengali States
Gangaridai Kingdom, Vanga Kingdom,
Pundra Kingdom, Suhma Kingdom,
Anga Kingdom, Harikela Kingdom

Mauryan Period
Classical Bengal
The Classical Age
Shashanka
Age of Empires
Pala Empire
Sena Empire
Medieval Bengal
Arrival of Islam
Sultanate of Bengal
Deva Kingdom
Bakhtiyar Khilji, Raja Ganesha
Mughal Period
Pratap Aditya, Raja Sitaram Ray
Principality of Bengal
Baro-Bhuyans
Modern Bengal
Company Raj
Zamindari system, Bengal famine of 1770
British Indian Empire
Bengal Renaissance
Brahmo Samaj
Swami Vivekananda, Jagadish Chandra Bose,
Rabindranath Tagore, Subhas Chandra Bose

Post-Colonial
1947 Partition of Bengal, Bangladesh Liberation War
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Jyoti Basu

See Also
Bangladesh, West Bengal

The Nawab of Bengal (also known as the Prince of Bengal) was a title used by the independent rulers of the Principality of Bengal from 1717 to 1757, and later by the nominal heads of state of Bengal under Company rule. The title was abolished by the British Raj in 1880 and the princes were recognized as the Nawabs of Murshidabad (the former capital of Bengal).[3]

The principality was founded by Murshid Quli Khan in 1717 as an independent dominion of the Mughal Empire. For 50 years, the Nawabs presided over India's most fertile and wealthiest region.[3]

When the British East India Company rose as an aggressive trading power in Bengal, Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah planned to expel the British and attacked and captured the company's settlements in Calcutta. However at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, he was betrayed by his general Mir Jafar and killed by British forces. The defeat of the last independent Nawab of Bengal lead to a historic turn of events in South Asian history, marking the beginning of British colonial dominance in India. The East India Company subsequently gained administrative authority over Bengal, which eventually spread to the entire Indian subcontinent. The Bengal region would serve as a lifeline for the British Empire, with its raw materials, textiles and shipbuilding industries supplying the Industrial revolution and funding the expansion of the empire.[4][5][6]

In 1765 the system of Dual Government was established, in which the Nawabs ruled on behalf of the British and were mere puppets to the British. In 1772 the system was abolished and Bengal was brought under direct control of the British. In 1793, when the Nizamat (governorship) of the Nawab was also taken away from them, they remained as the mere pensioners of the British East India Company.[7][8] The last Nawab of Bengal, Mansur Ali Khan abdicated on 1 November 1880 in favour of his eldest son.[9]

Nawabs of Murshidabad succeeded the Nawabs of Bengal as Nawab Bahadur of Murshidabad, following Mansur Ali Khan's abdication[2][9][10] They got the title changed as the title of the Nawab of Bengal was abolished in 1880.[2] They had little or no say in the share of the revenue collected and were ceased to use any force. After Indian Independence in 1947 it was declared that the princely states must accede to either India or Pakistan (East/West Pakistan).[11] It is a fact that Murshidabad (the capital city) became a part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) for two days, as it had a Muslim majority. It became a part of India on 17 August 1947.[12] The Pakistani flag was brought down from the Hazarduari Palace and the Indian tricolour was hoisted atop the palace.[12] After merging with India, they had no power as the Government of India took over all the princely states in India.[11] The house of the Nawabs came to end in 1969 with Waris Ali Mirza being the last Nawab.[13] Although he left three sons and three daughters there has been no clear successor to the title since his death as he died without declaring one.[13]

Bengal

Main articles: Bengal and Bengal Presidency

Modern Bengal is mainly divided between the sovereign land of Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura. Some regions of the previous kingdoms of Bengal (during local monarchical regimes) are now part of the neighbouring Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Tripura and Odisha.

During the partition of Bengal (1905–1911) under British Raj, a new province, Eastern Bengal and Assam was created as a Lieutenant-Governorship. In 1911, East Bengal (now Bangladesh) was reunited with Bengal, and the new provinces in the east became: Assam, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.[14] The Nawab thus gained rule over Bihar and Orissa, which was earlier part of Bengal.[15][16][17] So sometimes That is why the Nawabs of Bengal were also mentioned as "Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa" or "Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa"[18] - where Nazim (or, Subahdar) means the provincial governor - as they ruled over three subahs while the Nawabs of Murshidabad were the local ruler of the city of Murshidabad.[19] The majority of modern Bengal is inhabited by Bengali people who speak the Bengali language.[20][21]

History before the Nawabs' rule

Early Bengali kingdoms

Some of the first references to Bengal comes from the writings around the time of Alexander the Great, referring to a kingdom known as Gangaridai that had allied itself with the Nanda Empire to resist his invasion.[22] References by ancient writers, such as Ptolemy, also exist of a city known as Tamralipta on the trade routes into India. Following the fall of Kalinga under Ashoka the Great in the mid 3rd century, Bengal came under the influence of the Mauryas. In the 4th century, it was absorbed into the Gupta Empire. Following the decline and fall of the Guptas, Bengal gained independence under the rule of King Shashanka.

Following the collapse of Shashanka's dynasty, the region once again descended into chaos. In 750 CE various independent chieftains converged to elect Gopala as the new king of Bengal. Under rulers of the Pala dynasty, such as Dharmapala and Devapala, the Palas would control an empire that spanned the Indian subcontinent heralding a golden age for Bengal. In the mid 10th century the Pala Empire began to decline, culminating in a campaign by the Chola Emperor Rajendra Chola I,[23] followed by a brief resurgence under Mahipala. The Buddhist Pala dynasty were supplanted by the Hindu Sena dynasty beginning in the 12th century, who were in turn driven out by the encroaching armies of the Delhi Sultanate.[24]

Sultans of Bengal

Main article: Sultanate of Bengal

Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah, founder of the Ilyas Shahi dynasty, gained control of Bengal establishing the independent Sultanate of Bengal,[25] and shifted the capital to Sonargaon (near present day Dhaka, Bangladesh).[26] His son, Sikandar Shah, who succeeded him, built the Adina Masjid at Pandua, near modern Gour. In the medieval era, the Adina Masjid was considered to be the largest in undivided Bengal, as well as one of the largest mosques in the Indian subcontinent.[27]

Mughal rule

The Mughal Empire emerged as a powerful Empire in northern India. Babur, who was related to two legendary warriors - Timur and Genghis Khan, invaded north India and defeated Ibrahim Lodi of the Lodi dynasty.[28] Babur thus became the first Mughal emperor. He was succeeded by his son, Humayun. At the same time, Sher Shah Suri (alias Farid Khan) of the Suri dynasty rose to prominence and established himself as the ruler of the present day Bihar by defeating Ghiyashuddin Shah. But he lost to capture the kingdom because of sudden expedition of Humayun. In 1539, Sher Khan faced Humayun in the battle of Chausa. He forced Humayun out of India. Assuming the title Sher Shah, he ascended the throne of Delhi. He also captured Agra and established control from Bengal in the east until the Indus river in the west.[29] After his death he was succeeded by his son, Islam Shah Suri. But in 1544 the Suris were torn apart by internal conflicts. Humayun took this advantage and captured Lahore and Delhi, but he died in 1556 AD.[30] He was succeeded by Akbar, who defeated Daud Khan Karrani of Bengal's Karrani Dynasty (or, Karnani Dynasty). After this, the administration of the entire region of Bengal passed into the hands of governors appointed by the Mughal emperors, who ruled Bengal till 1716 AD.[2][31][32]

There were several posts under the Mughal administrative system during Akbar's reign. Diwani was a system of provincial revenue administration under the Mughals. Nizamat (civil administration) and Diwani (revenue administration) were the two main branches of the provincial administration under the Mughals.[2] A Subahdar (provincial viceroy or governor), also called a Nazim was in-charge of the Nizamat. There was a chain of subordinate officials under the Nazims on the executive side and under Diwans on the revenue and judicial side.[2]

Emergence of the Nawabs of Bengal

Murshid Quli Khan arrived as the governor of Bengal in 1717 AD. Before his arrival there were four Diwans. And, after his arrival, Azim-ush-Shan held the Nazim's office. Azim got into conflict with Murshid Quli Khan over imperial financial control. Considering the complaint of Khan, emperor Aurangzeb ordered Azim to move to Bihar.[33] Upon his departure the two posts united in one and Murshid Quli Khan became the first Nazim cum Diwan of Bengal. Murshid Khan was appointed the "Nawab Nazim of Bengal" and he emerged as the ruler of Bengal under the Mughals.[2][34] Murshidabad remained the capital of the Nawabs of Bengal until their rule.[35]

History during the Nawabs' rule

Dynasties

From 1717 until 1880, three successive Islamic dynasties – Nasiri, Afshar and Najafi – ruled what was then known as Bengal.[2][36]

The first dynasty, the Nasiri, ruled from 1717 until 1740. The founder of the Nasiri, Murshid Quli Khan, was born a poor Deccani Oriya Brahmin before being sold into slavery and bought by one Haji Shafi Isfahani, a Persian merchant from Isfahan who converted him to Islam. He entered the service of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and rose through the ranks before becoming the Nawab Nazim of Bengal in 1717, a post he held until his death in 1727. He in turn was succeeded by his son-in law, Shuja-ud-Din Muhammad Khan.[37] After Shuja-ud-Din's death in 1739 he was succeeded by his son, Sarfaraz Khan, who hold the rank, until he was killed in the Battle of Giria in 1741, and was succeeded by Alivardi Khan, former ruler of Patna, of the Afshar Dynasty in 1740.[38]

The second dynasty, the Afshar, ruled from 1740 to 1757. Siraj ud-Daulah (Alivardi Khan's grandson), the last Afshar Nawab was killed in the Battle of Plassey in 1757.[39] They were succeeded by the third and final dynasty to rule the whole Bengal, the Najafi.[40]

Under the Mughals

Bengal (Bengal subah) was one of the wealthiest parts of the Mughal empire.[41] As the Mughal empire began to decline, the Nawabs grew in power, although nominally sub-ordinate to the Mughal emperor.[2][42] They wielded great power in their own right and ruled the subah as independent rulers for all practical purposes by the early 1700s.[42]

Maratha expeditions

Marathas undertook six expeditions in Bengal from 1741–1748. Maratha general, Raghunath Rao was able to annex Orissa to his kingdom permanently as he successfully exploited the chaotic conditions prevailing in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa after the death of Murshid Quli Khan in 1727.[43] Constantly harassed by the Bhonsles, Orissa, Bengal and parts of Bihar were economically ruined. Alivardi Khan made peace with Raghunathrao in 1751 ceding in perpetuity Orrisa up to the river Suvarnarekha, and agreeing to pay INR12 lacs annually in lieu of the Chauth of Bengal and Bihar.[44]

The treaty included INR20 lacs as Chauth for Bengal (includes both West Bengal and Bangladesh) and INR12 lacs for Bihar(including Jharkhand). In return Marathas promised not to carry out the attacks in Bengal, in future.[45]

Thus Baji Rao is hailed as the greatest Maratha chief after Shivaji because of his success in subjecting Muslim rulers of east India in states such as Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the Maratha rule.[46]

Under British Rule

After the Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah (the last independent ruler of Bengal) was defeated by the British forces of Sir Robert Clive in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the Nawabs became puppet rulers, being dependent on the British.[39] Siraj-ud-daula was replaced by Mir Jafar. He was personally led to the throne by Robert Clive, after triumph of the British in the battle.[39] He briefly tried to re-assert his power by allying with the Dutch, but this plan was ended by the Battle of Chinsurah. After the grant of the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa by the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, to the British East India Company in August 1765 and the appointment of Warren Hastings by the East India Company as their first Governor General of Bengal in 1771, the Nawabs were deprived of any real power. In 1765 the system of Dual Government was established, in which they rulecon the behalf of the British.[7][8] In 1772 the system of Dual Government was abolished and Bengal was brought under direct control of the British. In 1793, when the Nizamat (governorship) was also taken away from them, they remained as the mere pensioners of the British East India Company.[7][8]

During Nawab Mubarak ud-Daulah's administration all powers passed into the hands of the East India company. All the Diwan offices except the Diwan Ton were abolished.[47]

Bangal came to be known as Bengal Province and it became a province of the British after the arrival of the British Raj after the Indian rebellion of 1857. The power to rule was passed over to the British Crown. Administrative control of India came under the prestigious Indian Civil Service which had administrative control over all districts outside the princely states.[14]

Decline of the Nawab of Bengal

Mansur Ali Khan (alias: Feradun Jah) was the last Nawab of Bengal. During his reign the Nizamat at Murshidabad became involved in debts. The Government of India there involved it into an action of preventing further claims. The title of "Nawab of Bengal" was abolished in 1880.[48]

Feradun Jah left Murshidabad in February 1869 and started living in England. He returned at Bombay in October 1881. But he spent most of his time pleading his case against orders of the Government of India. After it was not resolved the Nawab renounced his styles and titles of Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and abdicated in favour of his eldest son at St. Ives, Maidenhead, on 1 November 1880.[48]

Emergence of the Nawab of Murshidabad

After Mansur Ali Khan's abdication, his son, Hassan Ali Mirza succeeded as the first Nawab of Murshidabad with the lesser title of Nawab Bahadur of Murshidabad after the title of Nawab of Bengal was abolished in 1880.[40][48] Nawabs of Murshidabad were the successors of the Nawabs of Bengal. After Lord Clive secured the Diwani of Bengal from Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II in 1765 for the East India Company they did not have any effective authority. So they lavishly enjoyed their title, privileges alongside with the honours they received. They had little or no say and ceased to control any significant force.[2][49]

After Indian Independence in 1947 the princely states either had to accede to India or Pakistan (East/West Pakistan).[11] As Murshidabad had a Muslim majority, it became a part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) for two days. However it became a part of and merged into India on 17 August 1947.[12] After merging with India, the Nawabs had no power as the Government of India took charge over all the princely states in India.[11]

The last Nawab of Murshidabad was Waris Ali Mirza. He left three sons and three daughters. According to the law, the eldest son of the Nawab succeeded him Waris Ali's eldest son, Wakif Ali Mirza Bahadur, was excluded from the succession by his father for contracting a non-Muslim marriage and for not professing the Muslim religion. He took no steps during his lifetime to establish his succession. Before declaring a successor Waris Ali died. Since then there has been no clear successor to the title of Nawab of Murshidabad.[50]

List of the Nawabs of Bengal

The following is a list of all the Nawabs of Bengal. Sarfaraz Khan and Mir Muhammed Jafar Ali Khan Bahadur (Mir Jafar) were the only Nawabs to become the Nawab twice.[51] The chronology started in 1717 with Murshid Quli Khan and ended in 1881 with Mansur Ali Khan's abdication.[2][9][51]

Portrait Titular Name Personal Name Birth Reign Death
Nasiri Dynasty
Jaafar Khan Bahadur Nasiri Murshid Quli Khan 1665 1717– 1727 30 June 1727
Ala-ud-Din Haidar Jang Sarfaraz Khan Bahadur ? 1727-1727 29 April 1740
Shuja ud-Daula Shuja-ud-Din Muhammad Khan Around 1670 (date not available) July, 1727 – 26 August 1739 26 August 1739
Ala-ud-Din Haidar Jang Sarfaraz Khan Bahadur ? 13 March 1739 – April 1740 29 April 1740
Afsar Dynasty
Hashim ud-Daula Muhammad Alivardi Khan Bahadur Before 10 May 1671 29 April 1740 – 9 April 1756 9 April 1756
90px Siraj ud-Daulah Muhammad Siraj-ud-Daulah 1733 April 1756 – 2 June 1757 2 July 1757
Najafi Dynasty
Ja'afar 'Ali Khan Bahadur Mir Muhammed Jafar Ali Khan Bahadur 1691 June 1757 – October 1760 17 January 1765
90px Itimad ud-Daulah Mir Qasim Ali Khan Bahadur ? 20 October 1760 – 1763 8 May 1777
Ja'afar 'Ali Khan Bahadur Mir Muhammed Jafar Ali Khan Bahadur 1691 25 July 1763 – 17 January 1765 17 January 1765
Nazam-ud-Daulah Najimuddin Ali Khan Bahadur 1750 5 February 1765 – 8 May 1766 8 May 1766
Saif ud-Daulah Najabut Ali Khan Bahadur 1749 22 May 1766 – 10 March 1770 10 March 1770
Mubarak ud-Daulah Ashraf Ali Khan Bahadur 1759 21 March 1770 – 6 September 1793 6 September 1793
Azud ud-Daulah Babar Ali Khan Bahadur ? 1793 – 28 April 1810 28 April 1810
Ali Jah Zain-ud-Din Ali Khan Bahadur ? 5 June 1810 – 6 August 1821 6 August 1821
Walla Jah Ahmad Ali Khan Bahadur ? 6 August 1821 – 30 October 1824 30 October 1824
Humayun Jah Mubarak Ali Khan Bahadur 29 September 1810 30 October 1824 – 3 October 1838 3 October 1838
Feradun Jah Mansur Ali Khan Bahadur 29 October 1830 29 October 1838 – 1 November 1880 (abdicated) 5 November 1884

List of the Nawabs of Murshidabad

The Nawabs of Murshidabd succeeded the Nawabs of Bengal after the abdication in 1881 and the abolition of the title of Nawab of Bengal in 1880.[2][9] There were only three Nawabs of Murshidabad as follows:

Picture Titular Name Personal Name Birth Reign Death
Najafi Dynasty
Ali Kadir Hassan Ali Mirza Khan Bahadur 25 August 1846 17 February 1882 – 25 December 1906 25 December 1906
Amir ul-Omrah Wasif Ali Mirza Khan Bahadur 7 January 1875 December 1906–23 October 1959 23 October 1959
Raes ud-Daulah Waris Ali Mirza Khan Bahadur 14 November 1901 1959 – 20 November 1969 ( no clear successor-post/title in dispute) 20 November 1969

Notes

External links

  • The arrival of the Nawabs of Bengal and their decline
  • Posts under the Nawabs
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