Akbar the Great (1556–1605) established a government system based on subahs, or provinces, further subdivided into sarkars. His taxation methodology was enlightened, calculated as a percentage of the previous decade’s harvests, with remissions for crop failures. His conquests of Gujarat (1572) and Bengal (1574), gave the Mughal Empire its first coastal access. A vigorous promoter of commerce, he maintained cordial relations with the Portuguese colonies in his new territories, and introduced highway police to safeguard domestic travellers. Under Akbar’s successors, relations with the Europeans were sometimes fraught. Daman was seized in 1613, when the Portuguese impounded a ship belonging to Shah Jahangir’s mother. The British in Bengal fought a war (1686–90) with the Mughals before submitting, only for the pirate Henry Every’s depredations to once more sour relations. Aurangzeb’s conquests raised the subah total to 22, but in doing so emptied the treasury and alienated many of his subjects.
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