The Mughal queen who became a feminist icon

_103194633_empressbookcoverSource: BBC News

Empress Nur Jahan was the most powerful woman in 17th Century India. She played an unprecedented role in running the vast Mughal empire. Historian Ruby Lal explains why the history of her leadership is important to understand today.

She was named Mihr un-Nisa at birth and was later named Nur Jahan (light of the world) by her husband, the Mughal emperor, Jahangir. She was born only a few decades after Queen Elizabeth I, yet she ruled a territory far more diverse than that of her British counterpart.

The Mughals ruled much of the Indian subcontinent for more than 300 years after they came to power early in the 16th century. It was one of India’s biggest and most powerful dynasties. Many of its emperors and royal women, including Nur Jahan, were patrons of art, music and architecture – they built grand cities and majestic forts, mosques and tombs.

And as the dynast’s only woman ruler, Nur Jahan is omnipresent in the folklore of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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