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Shah Jahan

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Marriage

In 1607, Prince Khurram was engaged to Arjumand Banu Begum when they were 15 and 14 years old, respectively. The young girl belonged to an illustrious Persian noble family which had been serving Mughal Emperors since the reign of Akbar, the familys patriarch was Itimad ud Daulah, who had been Emperor Jahangirs finance minister and his son, Asaf Khan Arjumand Banus father played an important role in the Mughal court, eventually going serving as Chief Minister. Her aunt was the Empress Nur Jehan and is thought to have played the matchmaker in arranging the marriage.But for some reason, the Prince was not married to Arjumand Banu Begum for five years, which was an unusually long engagement for the time. However, Shah Jahan married a Hindu princess during this time, whose name has not been recorded by contemporary chroniclers, with whom he had his first child a daughter who died in infancy.Politically speaking, the betrothal allowed Prince Khurram to be considered officially as having entered manhood and was granted several jagirs, including Hissar Feroze and was ennobled to a military rank of 8,000, allowing him to take on official functions of state, an important step in establishing his own claim to the throne.In 1612, aged 20, Prince Khurram married Arjumand Banu Begum on an auspicious date chosen by court astrologers. The marriage was a happy one and Prince Khurram, while married to her, remained devoted to her and she bore all his children, fourteen in all out of whom seven survived into adulthood.

Though there was genuine love between the two, Arjumand Banu Begum was a politically astute woman and served as a crucial advisor and confidante to her husband, she even is said to have implored Prince Khurram not to have children with his other wives, a call he listened.[9] Later on, as Empress, Mumtaz Mahal (Persian: the chosen one of the Palace) wielded immense power, such as being consulted by her husband in state matters and being responsible for the imperial seal, which allowed her to review official documents in their final draft.

Mumtaz Mahal died, aged 40, while giving birth to Gauhara Begum in Burhanpur, the cause of death being post partum haemorrhaging, which caused considerable blood loss and after a painful labour of thirty hours. Contemporary historians note that Princess Jahanara, aged 17, was so distressed by her mothers pain that she started distributing gems to the poor, hoping for divine intervention and Shah Jahan, himself, was noted as being paralysed by grief and weeping fits.Her body was temporarily buried in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad, originally constructed by Shah Jahans uncle Prince Daniyal along the Tapti River. Her death had a profound impact on Shah Jahans personality and inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal, where she was later reburied.The intervening years had seen Khurrum take two other wives known as Akbarabadi Mahal (d.1677), and Kandahari Mahal (b. c1594), (m.1609). But according to court chroniclers, his relationship with his other wives was more out of political consideration and they enjoyed only the status of being royal wives.


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