Here’s an excerpt of a book excerpt from the book The World: A Family History of Humanity (Goodreads) by Simon Sebag Montefiore.
This historical snapshot of Mughal emperor Shahjahan’s fall and Aurangzeb’s ascent shows how the most hardworking yet cunning and zealot leaders can lay havoc on a family and on a country.
This micromanaging puritan tried to limit sensuality, banning women from wearing tight trousers and, in Kashmir, ordering people to wear drawers instead of nothing. As his court became more rigorous and orderly, he lectured his son Azzam, ‘Fear the sighs of the oppressed,’ and warned his vizier, ‘Oppression will cause darkness on Judgement Day.’ Alamgir was probably the hardest-working ruler in Indian history, barely sleeping, poring over his paperwork: ‘I was sent into the world by providence to live and labour, not for myself but for others.’ Often reﬂecting on power, he was a Machiavellian – ‘One can’t rule without deception’ – and violent. ‘The greatest conquerors,’ he claimed, ‘aren’t the greatest kings,’ but this scion of Tamerlane lived for conquest: ‘When you have an enemy to destroy, spare nothing, anything is permissible . . . that can deliver success.’