Empire of the Moghul: Ruler of the World


Copyright © 2011 Alex Rutherford

The right of Alex Rutherford to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2011

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

eISBN : 9780755383276

An Hachette UK Company
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH



Title Page

Copyright Page


Main Characters


Part I From Behind the Veil

Chapter 1 Sudden Danger

Chapter 2 A Severed Head

Chapter 3 Manhood

Chapter 4 A Gift of Concubines

Chapter 5 Milk and Blood

Part II Children of Sun, Moon and Fire

Chapter 6 The Emperor Rides Out

Chapter 7 Saffron Warriors

Chapter 8 Hirabai

Chapter 9 Salim

Chapter 10 A Wonder of the World

Chapter 11 The Pewter Sea

Chapter 12 A Cauldron of Heads

Part III The Power and the Glory

Chapter 13 City of Victory

Chapter 14 Sun Among Women

Part IV Allah Akbar

Chapter 15 ‘You Will Be Emperor’

Chapter 16 Heaven and Hell

Chapter 17 Flaming Torches

Chapter 18 Warrior Prince

Chapter 19 Jewel of Chastity

Part V Great Expectations

Chapter 20 The Abyss

Chapter 21 ‘A Riband in the Cap of Royalty’

Chapter 22 The Battlements of Agra

Chapter 23 Pomegranate Blossom

Chapter 24 The Indus

Chapter 25 The Treasurer of Kabul

Chapter 26 Oblivion

Part VI Seizer of the World

Chapter 27 A Jute Sack

Chapter 28 Fathers and Sons

Chapter 29 Seizer of the World

Historical Note

Additional Notes

Main Characters

Akbar’s family

Humayun, Akbar’s father and the second Moghul emperor

Hamida, Akbar’s mother

Gulbadan, Akbar’s aunt and Humayun’s half-sister

Kamran, Akbar’s uncle and Humayun’s eldest half-brother

Askari, Akbar’s uncle and Humayun’s middle half-brother

Hindal, Akbar’s uncle and Humayun’s youngest half-brother

Hirabai, Akbar’s wife, princess of Amber and mother of Salim

Salim, Akbar’s eldest son

Murad, Akbar’s middle son

Daniyal, Akbar’s youngest son

Man Bai, Salim’s wife, mother of Khusrau and daughter of Bhagwan Das, Raja of Amber

Jodh Bai, Salim’s wife and mother of Khurram

Sahib Jamal, Salim’s wife and mother of Parvez

Khusrau, Salim’s eldest son

Parvez, Salim’s middle son

Khurram, Salim’s youngest son

Akbar’s inner circle

Bairam Khan, Akbar’s guardian and first
, commander-in-chief

Ahmed Khan, Akbar’s chief scout and later his

Maham Anga, Akbar’s wet-nurse (milk-mother)

Adham Khan, Akbar’s milk-brother

Jauhar, Humayun’s steward and later Akbar’s comptroller of the household

Abul Fazl, Akbar’s chief chronicler and confidant

Tardi Beg, Governor of Delhi

Muhammad Beg, a commander from Badakhshan

Ali Gul, a Tajik officer

Abdul Rahman, Akbar’s
after Ahmed Khan

Aziz Koka, one of Akbar’s youngest commanders

Others at the Moghul court

Atga Khan, Akbar’s chief quartermaster

Mayala, a favourite concubine of Akbar

Anarkali, ‘Pomegranate Blossom’, Akbar’s Venetian concubine

Shaikh Ahmad, an orthodox Sunni and leader of the
, Akbar’s senior Islamic spiritual advisers

Shaikh Mubarak, Islamic cleric and Abul Fazl’s father

Father Francisco Henriquez, Jesuit priest, Persian by birth

Father Antonio Monserrate, a Spanish Jesuit priest

John Newberry, English merchant

Suleiman Beg, Salim’s milk-brother and friend

Zahed Butt, captain of Salim’s bodyguard

Zubaida, Salim’s former nursemaid and attendant to Hamida


Hemu, Hindu general who seizes Delhi from the Moghuls

Fatehpur Sikri

Shaikh Salim Chishti, a Sufi mystic

Tuhin Das, Akbar’s architect


Ibrahim Hussain, a rival member of the Gujarati royal family

Mirza Muqim, a rival member of the Gujarati royal family

Itimad Khan, a rival member of the Gujarati royal family


Saif Khan, Governor of Kabul

Ghiyas Beg, a Persian émigré appointed Treasurer of Kabul

Mehrunissa, Ghiyas Beg’s daughter


Sher Shah, ruler from Bengal who ejected the Moghuls from Hindustan in Humayun’s reign

Islam Shah, Sher Shah’s son

Shah Daud, vassal ruler of Bengal in Akbar’s reign


Rana Udai Singh, ruler of Mewar and son of Babur’s enemy Rana Sanga

Raja Ravi Singh, a Rajasthani ruler and vassal of Akbar’s

Raja Bhagwan Das, ruler of Amber, brother of Hirabai and father of Man Bai

Man Singh, son of Raja Bhagwan Das and nephew of Hirabai

The Moghuls’ ancestors

Genghis Khan

Timur, known in the west as Tamburlaine from a corruption of Timur-i-Lang (Timur the Lame)

Ulugh Beg, Timur’s grandson and a famous astronomer



The rush of arrows and the clash of swords
Tore the marrow of elephants and the entrails of tigers

Akbarnama of Abul Fazl

Part I
From Behind the Veil
Chapter 1
Sudden Danger
Northwestern India, 1556

low rumbling growl rose from the dense acacia bushes thirty yards away. Even without it Akbar would have known the tiger was there. Its musky scent hung in the air. The beaters had done their work well. While moonlight still silvered the hills in which Akbar’s army was encamped, a hundred miles northeast of Delhi, they had started towards the small forest where a large male tiger had been sighted. The village headman who had brought word of it to the camp, saying he had heard that the young Moghul emperor was fond of hunting, claimed it was a maneater that in the last few days had killed an old man labouring in the fields and two small children as they went to fetch water.

The headman had left the camp well rewarded by Akbar, who could hardly contain his excitement. Bairam Khan, his guardian and
– commander-in-chief – had tried to dissuade him from the hunt, arguing that with the Moghuls’ enemies on the move this was no time to be thinking of sport. But a tiger hunt was too good to miss, Akbar had insisted, and Bairam Khan, a faint smile lightening his lean scarred face, had finally agreed.

The beaters had employed the age-old hunting practices of the Moghul clans brought from their homelands on the steppes of Central
Asia. Moving quietly and methodically through the darkness, eight hundred men had formed a
, a huge circle about a mile across, around the forest. Then, striking brass gongs and beating small, cylindrical drums suspended on thongs round their necks, they had begun closing in, forming a tighter and tighter human barrier and driving all kinds of game – black buck, nilgai, and squealing wild pigs – into the centre. Eventually, as the light grew stronger, some of them had spotted tiger tracks and sent word to Akbar, following the beaters on elephant-back.

The beast on which Akbar was sitting high in a jewelled canopied howdah also sensed that the tiger was close. It was swinging its great head from side to side and its trunk was coiling in alarm. Behind him Akbar could hear the elephants carrying his bodyguards and attendants also restlessly shifting their great feet. ‘
, quieten the beast. Hold it steady,’ he whispered to the skinny, red-turbaned man balanced on the elephant’s neck. The
at once tapped the animal behind its left ear with his iron
, the rod he used to control it. At the familiar signal, the well-drilled beast slowly relaxed to stand motionless again. Taking their cue from it, the other elephants also ceased their fidgeting and a profound silence fell.

Excellent, thought Akbar. This was the moment when he felt most alive. The blood seemed to sing in his veins and he could feel his heart thump, not with fear but with exhilaration. Though not yet fourteen, he had already killed several tigers, but the battle of wits and of wills, the danger and unpredictability, always excited him. He knew that if the tiger suddenly broke cover, it would take him only an instant to pluck an arrow from the quiver on his back and fit it to his taut-stringed, double-curved bow – the weapon most hunters would use against such quarry. But Akbar was curious to see what a musket could do, especially against such a monster as this was reputed to be. He prided himself on his skill with a musket, and despite his mother’s remonstrances had spent far more hours practising his marksmanship than at his studies. What did it really matter if he couldn’t read when he could outshoot any soldier in his army?

Other books

Chimera by Will Shetterly
10 Weeks by Jolene Perry
Mansfield Ranch by Jenni James
High and Dry by Sarah Skilton
He Loves Me Not by Caroline B. Cooney
A Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
Fight And The Fury (Book 8) by Craig Halloran
The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn