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Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I and Akbar the Great


History is always written by the winners. It is a well-known phrase that perfectly demonstrates the nature of our world and the way it evolves. However, there is one more fact that should also be mentioned. The thing which makes a person the winner is his/her outstanding character and individuality which differentiate him/her from contemporaries. The ability to use the unconventional approach or to demonstrate the improved understanding of different processes preconditions a persons becoming a significant historical figure that impacts the world and changes it. Numerous examples prove this statement. For instance, Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I, and Akbar the Great were rulers of their time who managed to unite countries and contributed to their blistering rise. They all lived in different conditions and performed various actions to attain success. However, the improved comprehension of the necessity of change, adherence to unusual perspectives instead of traditional approaches, innovativeness along with determination contributed to Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I, and Akbar the Greats becoming the greatest rulers of Muslim Empires.

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Peculiarities of the Epoch

Analyzing their activity, it is essential to understand the peculiarities of the epoch in which they lived. Suleiman the Magnificent was the longest-reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 (Streusand 111). Shah Abbas I ruled in Iran till 1629; finally, Akbar the Great was the Mughal Emperor who reigned to 1605 (Streusand 225, 345). The given epoch was characterized by the feudal fragmentation, lack of centralized power, sectarian wars, etc. These regions still had an outstanding political importance and numerous resources; however, the need for the strong ruler was obvious. In such a way, Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I, and Akbar the Great turned the second half of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries into the period of the significant empowerment of the Moslem Empires. They managed to reorganize armies, introduce administrative reforms, and support developing cultures to guarantee their states expansion and becoming powerful empires that would be able to impact the global policy.

First Steps

In fact, the first steps of all these rulers were similar. Suleiman the Magnificent correctly realized the necessity of change and the further states empowerment. Being the ruler of a powerful country with numerous territories, Suleiman tried to introduce reforms that would help him to preserve his power, eliminate feudal fragmentation, and unite the state to achieve a particular goal. As an outstanding man he also perfectly realized the need for new and innovative approaches that should replace old ones which were not able to meet new requirements. For this reason, he instituted major changes related to legislation, religion, education, society, and army (Streusand 123). These promoted the outstanding rise of the Ottoman Empire and its becoming one of the superstates of that epoch.

Akbar the Greats first steps were similar to Salesman’s ones. Having become a new ruler, he faced numerous problems which his empire experienced at that period. The weak centralized power, poor administrative organization, fragmentation, and other issues demonstrated the countrys gradual decline (Andrea and Overfield 123). Crushing numerous mutinies triggered by his accession, Akbar understood the necessity of change and states reorganization to preserve its status and guarantee its further rise. For this reason, like Suleiman the Great, he initiated a significant reconsideration of all approaches that had been used for centuries. His innovative thinking cultivated the appearance of a new potent and multicultural state that evolved and territorialized during next several decades.

As for Shah Abbas I, he inherited his country in a desperate state (Judge and Langdon 223). The Ottomans and the Uzbeks captured vast territories and posed a significant threat to the further existence of the Safavid Empire (Streusand 234). Additionally, Abbas position was weak because of different parties within the state which wanted to obtain more power and deprive the shah of the real opportunity to govern. For this reason, Abbas had to overcome all these difficulties to preserve his leading position and save his state. His first actions were focused on reducing the power of other factions and introducing new patterns which would later help him to develop the land.

In such a way, Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I, and Akbar the Great inherited their states in complex conditions. However, their reform policies and the focus on the essential aspects of nationhood along with the attempts to promote states expansion contributed to excellent results. In general, there are three main spheres which were given the greatest attention during these sovereigns rule: administrative, cultural, and military ones.

Administrative Reforms

The functioning of any state machine is impossible without the administrative system that would be able to meet all requirements and foster particular relations between all parts of a country. The given system becomes fundamental for huge empires that are governed by one person. For this reason, Suleiman the Great created a single legal code that was accepted on the whole territory of the state. It regulated almost all spheres of human activity and became later known as the Ottoman laws which remained topical for more than three hundred years (Streusand 145). Additionally, he introduced significant changes into the taxation policy for it to become more efficient and less pressing. Finally, he contributed to the creation of the new police and criminal legislation to protect citizens of the state from the abuse of power and increase the level of satisfaction with his rule. These actions resulted in the consolidation of the nation and states rise.

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Shah Abbas I faced similar problems. Persia of that period was characterized by the weak concentration of power. Numerous provincial rulers had governed their lands disregarding recommendations that came from the capital. For this reason, Abbas had to depose all disobedient power brokers replacing them with individuals who supported the suggested course (Streusand 267). Additionally, he moved the capital to another city and aligned the efficient connection between all regions of his large state. Finally, Shah Abbas I reconsidered outdated laws and created new ones that were able to cultivate the new culture and support his power. All these administrative reforms restored the tattered state and provided new opportunities for the further rise.

Therefore, Akbars administrative reforms were innovative for that age. He introduced the system of central government responsible for financing and management of all lands of the state (Streusand 343). The given body provided the ruler with an opportunity to control the most distant corners of the territory and remain informed about their development. Additionally, the head of this government, wazir, became a person who supported Akbar in his attempts to reorganize the land (Andrea and Overfield 345). The ruler also devoted attention to the existed taxation and replaced it with the new approach which rested on local prices. It improved the state of the population and guaranteed stable incomes for the government. All these actions preconditioned the states becoming one of the most influential actors in the region.

Military Reforms

Therefore, the military sphere was another issue impacted by these rulers reforms significantly. For instance, Suleiman the Magnificent became the great conqueror due to the increased power of his troops. He was among the first who realized the outstanding importance of the regular army. For this reason, the Ottoman Empire had one of the most well-equipped military forces of that period of time (Streusand 167). Suleiman insisted on using innovations and new approaches to destroy enemies and acquire new lands. His reformist perspective on the way army should fight resulted in numerous successes and victories. The Ottoman Empire reached the peak of its strength during Suleimans rule.

The same could be said about Shah Abbas who had to reconquer his empire and fight in numerous battles. That is why he altered the way troops were formed radically. Abbas put in place military reforms which were aimed at the elimination of separatist sentiments among feudal lords and created the regular army. He reduced the cavalry which consisted of noble people; instead, Abbas formed new comprised of shooters with muskets, artillerists, guns, and regular horse troops (Streusand 368). The efficiency of the new approach to the army was proven in numerous battles. In fact, Abbas managed to defeat the Ottomans, one of the most powerful warriors of that epoch, and return important territories.

Akbar the Greats activity in this sphere was also innovative. Like two previous rulers, he correctly realized the power of new weapons and technologies. Moreover, his unusual perspective on strategy and tactics made him one of the most outstanding commanders of his time. Akbar created the system of ranks which guaranteed better control and cooperation between different units. Additionally, he was a great admirer of the firearm and insisted on its mass usage in the army (Streusand 235). The number of muskets and guns was significant and continued to grow during the Akbars reign (Documents in World History 411). All these alterations resulted in the substantial empowerment of troops and their ability to protect the state from invaders.

In such a manner, Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I, and Akbar the Greats perspectives on the army, its equipment, and central functions resulted in radical changes in military forces and their role in the region. Their empires managed to conquer vast territories and brought fame to the commanders.


Finally, rulers mentioned above tried to cultivate the unique culture that was peculiar to their lands. Perfectly realizing the outstanding importance of the national identity and its role in the formation of the state, they tried to educate people, foster cultural and religious beliefs and promote values needed for the creation of the nationhood. These actions helped to weld a nation and find its unique course.

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Altogether, Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I, and Akbar the Great are the most prominent rulers of their age. Their actions preconditioned the appearance and further evolution of powerful states that impacted the global policy and altered the course of the history. They all were different and had both positive and negative traits of the character. However, the improved comprehension of the necessity of change, use of unusual perspectives instead of traditional approaches, innovativeness along with determination peculiar to all these rulers inscribed their names among the immortals.

Works Cited

Andrea, Alfred and James Overfield. The Human Record. Volume 1: To 1500. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Documents in World History. Prentice Hall, 2006.

Judge, Edward and John Langdon. Connections: A World History, Combined Volume. Pearson, 2015.

Streusand, Douglas. Islamic Gunpowder Empires: Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals. Westview Press, 2010.

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"Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I and Akbar the Great." StudyCorgi, 31 May 2021,

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StudyCorgi. "Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I and Akbar the Great." May 31, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I and Akbar the Great." May 31, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Suleiman the Magnificent, Shah Abbas I and Akbar the Great'. 31 May.

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