Historical Introduction, Part Seven: Agra and the Later Mogul Emperors
*Agra and the Later Mogul Emperors* -- *Agra in the Mutiny*
Agra played a very small part in the history of the weak-minded and dissolute successors of Aurangzîb. Firokhshiyar [Farrukhsiyar], who reigned from 1713 to 1719, resided occasionally there. After his death disputes between various claimants to the throne led to Agra Fort being besieged and captured by Husein Ali Khan, a partisan of one of them, who looted the treasury of all the valuables deposited there during three centuries. "There were the effects of Nur Jahan Begum and Mumtaz Mahal, amounting in value, according to various reports, to two or three *crores* of rupees. There was in particular the sheet of pearls which Shah Jahan had caused to be made for the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, of the value of several lakhs of rupees, which was spread over it on the anniversary and on Friday nights. There was the ewer of Nur Jahan and her cushion of woven gold and rich pearls, with a border of valuable garnets and emeralds." (Elliott.)
In 1739 Nadir, Shah of Persia, sacked Delhi, carried off Shah Jahan's famous peacock throne, and laid Agra also under contribution. The Mahrattas next appeared on the scene. In 1764 the Jâts of Bharatpur, under Suraj Mal, captured Agra, looted the Taj, and played havoc with the palaces in the Fort. They were joined by Walter Reinhardt, an adventurer, half French and half German, who sold his services for any work of infamy, and had only recently assisted in the murder of the British Resident and other Europeans at Patna. He afterwards entered the Mogul service, and was rewarded by a grant of a tract of country near Meerut, which remained in the possession of his family until recent times. He died at Agra in 1778, and was buried in the Catholic cemetery.
For the next thirty-nine years Agra was occupied
by Mahrattas and by Mogul imperialists in turn. John Hessing, a Dutch officer
in the employ of the Mahrattas, was Governor of Agra in 1794, and died
there in 1802. The next year it was captured by the British under General,
afterwards Lord Lake, and from that time until 1857 its history was uneventful.
Agra did not take any prominent part in the events of the Mutiny. A mob plundered the city, burnt the public offices, and killed a number of Europeans; but the rioters left soon to join their comrades at Delhi. There was a small engagement outside the city. The British troops and the whole of the European population were afterwards shut up in the Fort until the capture of Delhi. The Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. John Russell Colvin, died there, and was buried in front of the Dîwan-i-âm.
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