Compare and Contrast Essay on Ottoman and the Mughal Empires

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1297 Words
Date:  2022-12-17


The Ottoman and Mughal are two of the greatest Islamic empires that ever existed in history. The two empires had both similarities and differences. They were similar in that they were all gunpowder empires; they both went through tough periods of time which was coupled with moments of growth and prosperity. The two empires also did not force the people in Islamic states to convert to Islam. Since they were being tolerant of the beliefs of other people, the inhabitants of the two empires lived in peace. Despite the striking similarities between the two empires, they also had some differences in their operation, the system of governance, growth and political operations. Some of these differences are that the development of Ottoman Empire heavily relied on the tough military force while at the same time the Mughal Empire was falling because of the policies of Aurangzeb that championed for religious persecution and high taxes. The examples presented above are just an overview of what the paper discusses. The purpose of this essay is to compare and contrast the two empires by providing a brief overview of each one of them, and discussing the similarities and differences between them.

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Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was the first and the longest-lived empire among the three early Islamic empires. The empire can be discussed in three faces; its origin, the period of great expansion, decline and collapse. It was established around 1299 by Osman I who set up a formal government and expanded the territory of the empire to infinity (Blake, n.d.). The empire was very different from the Mughal Empire in that it had no natural boundaries and it controlled no geographical entity. By the 16th century, Ottomans extended his rule to other regions like Anatolia, Syria, North Africa, the Balkans, Iraq to name but a few. Its climatic condition was different from the heavily watered plains of the regions within the Mughal Empire. In 1453, Mehmed II expanded the empire by leading the Ottoman Turks in seizing the ancient city of Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine Empire. He renamed the city Istanbul and made it the capital city of the Ottoman Empire. The period of expansion that occurred between 1520 and 1566 was characterized by power, stability, and growth. During this era, Suleiman formulated a uniform system of laws and embraced varying forms of arts and literature within the empire. During the reign of Suleiman, the boundaries of the empire were expanded to include regions such as Syria, Lebanon, Macedonia, Turkey, Greece, just to mention but a few. The Ottoman Empire began to fall because of the conception of the Russo-Turkish wars in the 18th Century that crippled its development. Following numerous treaties of capitalization that occurred between the 16th and 18th century, the empire gradually lost its economic power. It eventually falls during World War I when most of the nations that were under it gained their freedom.Mughal Empire

The Mughal Empire was created in 1526 and it progressively expanded its boundaries into numerous nations. At the peak of power in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the empire controlled the Indian subcontinents, which extended from Bengal in the east to Balochistan in the west and Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri in the South. The population of the empire was estimated to be between 110 and 150 million and it covered roughly 3.2 million square kilometers (Blake, n.d.). The first ruler of the empire was Jalaluddin Mohammad who enhanced cultural and economic progress alongside religious harmony. The expansion of the empire was achieved by different strategies such as forging of alliances with other Hindu Rajput Kingdoms and concurring kingdoms that were resistant to the expansion and dominance of the empire. The golden age of the empire was reached during the reign of Shah Jahan who was the fifth emperor. During his reign, he expanded the empire to more than 1.25 million kilometers and ruled over 150 million people which was roughly a quarter of the world's population ("Safavid, Mughal, and Ottoman Empires (Chapter 1) - Time in Early Modern Islam," n.d.).

Similarities Between the Ottoman Empire and the Mughal Empire

The two empires have some few similarities. Both empires were established by Muslim Turks and were pluralist at a certain point in the past. The inhabitants of the two kingdoms had diverse religions and ethnic backgrounds and they used the same method of dealing with religious differences. For instance, the non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire were incorporated as "millets" with the system maintaining their styles of leadership, education and legal systems. The same criterion was used by leaders of the Mughal Empire who used a hierarchy that was not religiously based. The people were allowed to maintain their religion but were expected to show their loyalty to the ruler by serving him. The palace women in both kingdoms were essentially placed in the same position. In the Ottoman Empire, sultans bore children with concubines who later on would be given a chance to have a huge influence in the decision-making process in the territory. The same concept applies to some extent to Mughal Empire in which there were influential women such as Pari Khan and Mahd-I Ulya who played similar roles as the concubines in the Ottoman Kingdom ("Safavid, Mughal, and Ottoman Empires (Chapter 1) - Time in Early Modern Islam," n.d.). The two kingdoms also had a harem that was created almost the same way and they contained women of the palace. The two kingdoms also had a similar court system, huge artistic advances and were all wealthy and militarily powerful. There were also similarities between the two empires in connection to the main sources of income. The Ottoman Empire, just like Mughal states, practiced agriculture. Most of their income came from rural taxes on crops, livestock and other means of productions. The two kingdoms also used grants as their main form of payment.

Differences Between the Ottoman Empire and the Mughal Empire

Despite the similarities that exist between the two states, there are also some striking differences between them. The Ottoman Empire was established by Osman Bey through a series of wars against the falling Byzantine Empire. Through successive caliphs, the empire gradually grew to become a strong state with a unique system of governance. In contrast, the Mughal Empire was established by Turks who descended from the Timurids. Through the integration of the Hinduism and Islam, the kingdom grew much stronger with little force being applied. Unlike the Mughals, the Ottomans were an ominous naval power. Despite the fact that the Mughal Empire was an early modern entity, the Ottoman Empire was not. It was founded in the late 13th Century, some years later after the formation of Mughal Kingdom. There were also some differences in their forms of governance. During their times, the Ottomans ruled through military dominance while the Mughals were predominantly economic powers.

The two Muslim empires had both similarities and differences. The similarities were mainly evident in the system of governance they used, how they treated their women, and people with different religious beliefs. They also used the same court system, had huge artistic advances and were all wealthy and militarily powerful. Besides, the striking similarities between the two states, there were also differences, especially in the time they were established, the way in which they were expanded and forms of governance. Each kingdom set based its authority or right to rule on the varying set of beliefs of legitimacy.


Blake, S. P. (n.d.). Safavid, Mughal, and Ottoman Empires. Time in Early Modern Islam, 21-47. doi:10.1017/cbo9781139343305.004

Safavid, Mughal, and Ottoman Empires (Chapter 1) - Time in Early Modern Islam. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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