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How did the Mughal Empire's relationship with its subjects change over time?

The Mughal Empire's relationship with its subjects evolved from religious tolerance and cultural synthesis to increasing religious intolerance and centralisation.

In the early years of the Mughal Empire, under the rule of Akbar the Great (1556-1605), the relationship with subjects was marked by a policy of religious tolerance and cultural synthesis. Akbar abolished the jizya tax on non-Muslims, encouraged interfaith dialogue, and even attempted to create a syncretic religion, Din-i-Ilahi, which combined elements of Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. This policy of tolerance helped to legitimise Mughal rule among the empire's diverse religious and ethnic groups, and fostered a period of cultural and intellectual flourishing known as the Mughal Renaissance.

However, this policy of tolerance and synthesis began to change under Akbar's successors. Jahangir (1605-1627) and Shah Jahan (1628-1658) maintained a degree of religious tolerance, but began to centralise power and promote a more orthodox version of Islam. This was reflected in their architectural projects, such as the Taj Mahal, which combined Islamic and Indian styles but also emphasised the power and piety of the emperor.

The most dramatic shift came under the rule of Aurangzeb (1658-1707), who reversed many of Akbar's policies and sought to impose a stricter version of Islamic law. He reinstated the jizya tax, destroyed Hindu temples, and imposed restrictions on non-Muslims. This led to widespread resistance and rebellion, and is often seen as a key factor in the decline of the Mughal Empire.

In conclusion, the Mughal Empire's relationship with its subjects changed significantly over time, from a policy of religious tolerance and cultural synthesis under Akbar, to increasing religious intolerance and centralisation under his successors. This shift had profound implications for the stability and longevity of the empire.

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