Akbar the Great: Achievements & Biography

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  • 0:05 Akbar: Early Life &…
  • 1:20 Expansion & Leadership
  • 2:54 Tolerance, Acceptance…
  • 3:32 Death & Lasting Legacy
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Jessica Roberts

I have taught at the middle grades level for ten years and earned my MA in reading education in 2009.

In the 1500s, Akbar the Great was the third leader of the Mughal Empire, which he successfully governed and expanded over the course of his reign. He brought many great changes to his empire that positively affected the cultural, political and economic growth of his people.

Akbar: Early Life and Rise to Power

Abu'l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar was born in Sindh, India on October 15, 1542 to the Mughal emperor, Humayun, and Hamida. He became commonly known as Akbar -- which literally means 'the great' - and he would definitely rise to the high expectations of his name by the end of his rule later in life!

Because his father and mother lived in exile (or banishment) and were driven from the kingdom, Akbar was raised by his uncles and aunts in Kabul. As a child, Akbar, like other boys at his age, learned how to hunt, fight, and run. He became a daring, fearless young man, but he never learned how to read and write.

When he was just nine years old, Akbar married his first cousin, Ruqaiya, who became his first wife. And at the young age of 14 in 1556, Akbar succeeded his father and inherited the declining Mughal Empire, which was just a collection of small estates at the time. With the help and support of the regent who worked alongside the young emperor, Akbar made his empire more stable and expanded its land and territory through a series of military campaigns, the first of which won the young emperor Northern India. He was well on his way to a successful reign as the Mughal leader.

Expansion and Leadership

Once Akbar gained full power as the emperor, he went on to organize and lead various campaigns throughout India in an effort to expand his kingdom. Akbar the Great was an intelligent and effective military general, and he succeeded in conquering Central India, as well as vast lands in the East and West. He conquered this new territory in various ways, including negotiations and talks with the land rulers and successful, smartly planned military conquests.

Akbar was a highly respected ruler who many, including those whom he had conquered, believed was fair, tolerable, and just. Akbar created a centralized government, which he led, but he allowed the rulers of conquered lands to remain the leaders of their specific area. This, of course, was often not the case when lands were conquered by another kingdom. Oftentimes, the ruler would simply acquire those conquered lands and assume full and sole power of the entire territory, leaving no room for the original ruler. By earning the respect and loyalty of those whom he had conquered, Akbar was able to rule over a stable, flourishing empire.

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