chapter  2
Formation of new states
Pages 26

Within decades of the death of Aurangzeb (1707), the Mughal Empire began to disintegrate. As Delhi witnessed the phenomenon that James Tod called ‘phantoms of royalty [flitting] across the scene’, major provincial rulers still loyal to Delhi, such as the Nizam-ul-mulk of Hyderabad (1671-1748, reign 1720-48), Murshid Quli Khan in Bengal (c. 1665-1727, reign in Bengal c. 1717-27), and Saadat Khan or Burhan-ul-Mulk (reign c. 1724-39) and his nephew Safdarjung (reign 1739-54) in Awadh consolidated their finances and armies, and in their capacity as advisers to the Emperor grew more powerful than the Emperor himself.1 While formally owing allegiance, some of them also profited from the troubles the Emperor faced trying to cope with rebellions and invasions. In the process, the territory from which Delhi drew its revenue rapidly shrank, and its vassals in the east, west and south, became independent states or colonies of the newly emerging powers.