History



As the Moghul power declined and the emperors lost their paramountcy and they became first the puppets and then the prisoners of their feudatories, so Avadh grew stronger and more independent. Its capital city was Faizabad.
Of all the Muslim states and dependencies of the Moghul empire, Avadh had the newest royal family. They were descended from a Persian adventurer called Sadat Khan, originally from Khurasan in Persia. There were many Khurasanis in the service of the Moghuls, mostly soldiers, and if successful, they could hope for rich rewards. Sadat Khan proved to be amongst the most successful of this group. In 1732, he was made governor of the province of Avadh. His original title was Nazim, which means Governor, but soon he was made Nawab. In 1740, the Nawab was called Wazir or vizier, which means Chief Minister, and thereafter he was known as the Nawab Wazir. In practice, from Sadat Khan onwards, the titles had been hereditary, though in theory they were in the gift of the Moghul emperor, to whom allegiance was paid. A nazar, or token tribute, was sent each year to Delhi, and members of the imperial family were treated with great deference: two of them actually lived in Lucknow after 1819, and were treated with great courtesy.
Achieving a certain degree of independence from the Moghuls in Delhi did not, unfortunately, mean that the Nawabs could rule entirely as they pleased. They had merely exchanged one master for another. The British, in the form of the East India Company based in Calcutta, had long looked with predatory eyes at the wealth of Avadh. Excuses for interference in the province were not hard to find. The most catastrophic from the Avadh point of view came when Shuja-ud-Daula invaded Bengal, and actually briefly held Calcutta. But British military victories at Plassey in 1757 and Buxar in 1764 utterly routed the Nawab. When peace was made, Avadh had lost much land. But the enemies became friends, on the surface anyway, and the Nawab Wazir was extolled in the British Parliament as the Chief native allay of the East India Company in all India.
The Nawabs surrendered their independence little by little over many years. To pay for the protection of British forces and assistance in war, Avadh gave up first the fort of Chunar, then the districts of Benares and Ghazipur , then the fort at Allahabad; all the time the cash subsidy which the Nawab paid to the Company grew and grew.
In 1773, the fatal step was taken by the Nawab of accepting a British Resident at Lucknow, and surrendering to the Company all control over foreign policy. Soon the Resident, however much he might defer ceremonially to the Nawab, became the real ruler.

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