The Nawab of Awadh or Nawab of Oudh was the title of rulers who governed the state of Oudh (Awadh) in India in the 18th and 19th century. The Nawabs of Oudh belonged to a dynasty of Persian origin from Nishapur. In 1724, Nawab Sa'adat Khan established Oudh State.
Establishment of the State of Oudh
As the Moghul power declined and the emperors lost their paramountcy and they became first the puppets and then the prisoners of their feudatories, so Awadh grew stronger and more independent. Its capital city was Faizabad.
Of all the Muslim states and dependencies of the Mughal empire, Awadh had the newest royal family. They were descended from a Persian adventurer called Sa'adat Khan, originally from the city of Nishapur. There were many Khurasanis in the service of the Mughals, mostly soldiers, and if successful, they could hope for rich rewards. Burhan ul Mulk Sa'adat Khan proved to be amongst the most successful of this group. In 1732, he was made governor of the province of Awadh. His original title was Nazim, which means Governor, but soon he was made Nawab. In 1740, the Nawab was called Wazir or vizier, which means Chief Minister, and thereafter he was known as the Nawab Wazir. In practice, from Sa'adat Khan onwards, the titles had been hereditary, though in theory they were in the gift of the Mughal emperor, to whom allegiance was paid. A nazar, or token tribute, was sent each year to Delhi, and members of the imperial family were treated with great deference; two of them actually lived in Lucknow after 1819, and were treated with great courtesy.
Inclination towards the British
Achieving a degree of independence from the Mughals in Delhi did not mean the Nawabs could rule entirely as they pleased. They had merely exchanged one master for another. The British, in the form of the East India Company based in Calcutta, had long looked with predatory eyes at the wealth of Awadh. Excuses for interference in the province were not hard to find. The most catastrophic from Awadh's point of view came when Shuja-ud-Daula invaded Bengal and briefly held Calcutta. The British military victories at Plassey in 1757 and Buxar in 1764 proved damaging for the Nawab. When peace was made, Awadh had lost much land. But the enemies became friends, on the surface anyway, and the Nawab Wazir was extolled in the British Parliament as the Chief native ally of the East India Company in all India.
The Nawabs surrendered their independence little by little over many years. To pay for the protection of British forces and assistance in war, Awadh gave up first the fort of Chunar, then the districts of Benares and Ghazipur, then the fort at Allahabad; as the cash subsidy which the Nawab paid to the Company kept growing over the years.
In 1773, the Nawab accepted a British Resident at Lucknow, and surrendered to the Company all control over foreign policy. Soon the Resident, however much he might defer ceremonially to the Nawab, became the real ruler.
Move of capital
Asaf-ud-Daula, son of Shuja-ud-Daula, moved the capital from Faizabad to Lucknow in 1775 and made it one of the most prosperous and glittering cities in all India. It is said, he moved because he wanted to get away from the control of a dominant mother. On such a thread did the fate of the great city of Lucknow depend!
Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula was a generous and sympathetic ruler, an inveterate builder of monuments and a discriminate patron of the arts. He built the Bara Imambara with its intricate bhul-bhulayya and adjoining mosque, primarily to create employment for his subjects during a time of drought. The Rumi Darwaza also testifies to his architectural zeal.
His son, Wazir Ali, was the one who most regretted his grandfather's acceptance of a British resident at Lucknow. In 1798, the Governor-General removed him from the throne, on the excuse that there was doubt as to whether he was a true son of Asaf-ud-Daula, but more probably because he was displaying tendencies to independence. They put Asaf's brother, Sadat Ali Khan, on the throne. Sadat Ali Khan, though economical in fiscal management, was nevertheless an enthusiastic builder and commissioned many grand palaces, including Dilkusha, Hayat Baksh and Farhat Baksh, as well as the famous Lal Baradari. Hereafter the dynasty had to look to Calcutta rather than to Delhi to settle the succession.
The assassination of a British Resident in 1798 in Benares by the deposed Wazir Ali gave further excuse for interference, and Lord Wellesley (brother of the Duke of Wellington) was just the man to exploit it. By the treaty of 1801, the Nawab had to give up his own army, and pay heavily for a British-led one in its place. The southern doab (Rohilkhand) was ceded, and the remainder of the district of Allahabad and other areas became part of British India. In thirty years, Awadh had lost half its territory to the British.
The Nawab demanded in return for these concessions that he should have a free hand in governing his remaining territory, unchecked by the advice or interference of the British. But in this, he was badly handicapped by the fact that he had to rely on British troops to enforce his orders. Wellesley had another trick up his sleeve: a clause of the treaty by which the Nawab under- took to establish a system of administration "by the advice of and acting in conformity to the counsel of the officers of the Honourable Company" which should be conducive to the prosperity of his subjects. It seemed a harmless clause, but was to be the means by which the British eventually annexed Awadh.
The Golden Age
Ghazi-ud-Din was a good monarch, responsible for much building and public works of all kinds, and he paid due attention to the administration of justice. He built the Mubarak Manzil and Shah Manzil as well as Hazari Bagh, in which he introduced Lucknow society to the sport of animal contests for the first time
However, his son Nasir-ud-Din who succeeded to the throne, had an attachment to the English, not founded upon those things the English would like to be admired for justice, liberty, democracy but upon their dress, their eating habits and, more unfortunately, the drinking habits of the more disreputable element of English adventurer with whom he surrounded himself.
Nasir-ud-Din, despite such a temperament, was a popular monarch, who was responsible for the construction of an astrological center, Tarunvali Kothi. Equipped with sophisticated instruments, it was entrusted to the care of a British astronomer. When he died there was another disputed succession and the British insisted on Muhammad Ali, another son of Sadat Ali, being enthroned. Muhammad Ali was a just and popular ruler and under him, Lucknow regained its splendour for a brief spell. He was however sorely troubled by rheumatism. He died in 1842 and his son Amjad Ali succeeded, a man more inclined towards matters religious and spiritual, leading to the neglect of governance.
Annexation of Oudh by the British
Amjad Ali was succeeded by Wajid Ali Shah, poet, singer, avid patron of the arts and lover of Lucknow. Of him it was written, "He is entirely taken up in the pursuit of his personal gratifications. He has no desire to be thought to take any interest whatever in public affairs and is altogether regardless of the duties and responsibilities of his high office. He lives exclusively in the society of fiddlers, eunuchs and women: he has done so since his childhood, and is likely to do so till his last."
This portrait of Wajid Ali Shah was used to justify British annexation of Awadh. If the charges of mismanagement levied against Wajid Ali Shah were true, the British were as much responsible for this as the Nawab. They were more in control of the administration and finances of Awadh since the 1780s than the Nawab. In addition, Awadh had been impoverished by the incessant cash demands of the British on the Nawab.
The excuse at last came for the British to invoke that clause of the 1801 Treaty. And the Governor General in 1856, Lord Dalhousie invoked the doctrine of lapse. Awadh was annexed, Wajid Ali Shah shipped off to virtual imprisonment in Matiyaburj in Calcutta and, though this was not on the British program, the stage set for the greatest rebellion to date against their power in India.
List of Rulers
All rulers used the title of Nawab'.
Nawabs of Awadh (1722–1856)
|Portrait||Titular Name||Personal Name||Birth||Reign||Death|
Burhan ul Mulk Sa'adat Khan
برہان الملک سعادت خان
|Mir Muhammad Amin Musawi||1680 Nishapur, Khurasan, Safavid dynasty, Persia||1722– 19 March 1739||1739|
Abul-Mansur Khan Safdar Jung
ابو المنصور خان صفدرجنگ
|Muhammad Muqim||1708||1737– 5 October 1754||1754|
|Jalal-ud-din Haider Abul-Mansur Khan||1732||1754– 26 January 1775||1775|
|Muhammad Yahya Mirza Amani||1748||26 January 1775– 21 September 1797||1797|
|Asif Jah Mirza||
Wazir Ali Khan
وزیر علی خان
|1780||21 September 1797– 21 January 1798||1817|
Saadat Ali Khan II
سعادت علی خان
|1752||21 January 1798– 11 July 1814||1814|
Abul-Muzaffar Ghazi-ud-din Haydar Khan
غازی الدیں حیدر
|1769||11 July 1814– 19 October 1827||1827|
Nasir-ud-din Haidar Shah Jahan
ناصر الدیں حیدر شاہ جہاں
|Abul-Mansur Qutb-ud-din Sulaiman Jah||1827||19 October 1827– 7 July 1837||1837|
|Abul Fateh Moin-ud-din||
Muhammad Ali Shah
محمّد علی شاہ
|1777||7 July 1837– 7 May 1842||1842|
|Najm-ud-Daula Abul-Muzaffar Musleh-ud-din||
Amjad Ali Shah
امجد علی شاہ
|1801||7 May 1842– 13 February 1847||1847|
Wajid Ali Shah
واجد علی شاہ
|1822||13 February 1847– 11 February 1856||21 September 1887|
Begum Hazrat Mahal
بیگم حضرت محل
Consort to Birjis Qadra
|7 April 1879|
|14 August 1893|
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