The last great Mughal emperor: An appraisal

The last great Mughal emperor: An appraisal

There has been much debate recently and it is among those everlasting historical debates that become victims of twisted discourse and are then molded to fit into biased narratives. The debate now is the one about the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. The recent change of nomenclature of an important road hitherto named as “Aurangzeb Road” in India’s capital New Delhi, to “Kalam Road” has sparked furious arguments especially on social media and similar groups.

The irony here is that neither late President Kalam nor Aurangzeb has even the slightest clue about why such an outbreak of mordacious polemics has ensued on their identities. Before reading any authentic history on Aurangzeb, I used to be a person a little weary of this historical character. My readings of all the histories written by British historians confirmed my suspicions and soon I crafted an assignment on Aurangzeb solely based on the old books I had come across – histories written by Lane Poole, V.A. Smith, Pringle Kennedy as well as Indian historians such as Jadunath Sarkar and S.R. Sharma – condemning him.

Soon, however, after some interactions with knowledgeable persons, another aspect of Aurangzeb opened up in front of me that made me realize that Aurangzeb was not really as he has been portrayed by the British and some rightwing historians and that it takes a keen eye to discern real historians from political mouthpieces.  Soon I began to see for myself how I had emerged from being a victim of politics perpetrated via historical journalism.

Dr. Satish Chandra’s works and lectures of Dr. Firdos Anwar (who taught me at Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi) inspired me the most in this pursuit of understanding how history can twist and turn characters into what they are not. It is now clear to me that the fight is not between Emperor Aurangzeb and President Kalam, but is essentially about pushing a narrow political agenda.

Aurangzeb’s character was a great enigma even to his contemporaries. His reign was a riddle in contrasts. Aurangzeb as a prince had shown great promise both as an administrator and as a general (remarks S.R. Sharma). If the writer of his anecdotes Sir Jadunath Sarkar is true, Shah Jahan too appears to have foreseen that “the resolution and intelligence of Aurangzeb make it necessary that he (alone) would undertake this difficult task (of ruling India)”.

Despite this, V.A. Smith holds, “When he is judged as a sovereign he must be pronounced a failure.” He quotes Khafi Khan to emphasize “his merits as an ascetic and his demerits in the practical government of the empire.” Hence, “in spite of his devotion, austerity, and justice, courage, long-suffering and sound judgment,” every plan and project he formed came to little good, and every enterprise he undertook was long in execution and failed (Khafi Khan). Thus, often historians have regarded that it was Aurangzeb who signaled the collapse of the Great Mughal Empire in India.

S.R. Sharma in his book The Religious Policy of the Mughal Emperors, not only calls Aurangzeb a puritan, but postulates that “Muslim theology triumphed” with his accession. The author goes on to list the various acts of oppression or bigotry perpetrated by Aurangzeb during his long reign of almost 50 years. Sharma bases this on Sarkar’s contention that “Neither age nor experience of life softened Aurangzeb’s bigotry.”

This theory was quite widely accepted throughout the scholarly circles more because of the fact that the research on the topic was still rather insufficient and the historians primarily clung on to this dominant view until modern historians began to question the existing opinion.

A careful study of Sarkar’s writings suggests that his assessment of Aurangzeb’s religious policy was based on his analysis of the first half of Aurangzeb’s reign which, in his opinion, was climaxed by the reimposition of Jizyah (a tax) and his attempt to annex Marwar and subdue Mewar. Sarkar’s views regarding the nature of Islamic church-state relations and his belief that the “true objective” of Aurangzeb was to establish such an Islamic state in India have been questioned and are no longer subscribed to in scholarly circles.

It has been said by Sarkar that all the acts of Aurangzeb in the pursuance of his so-called religious policy were solely motivated by his strict adherence to Sharia. However, according to Dr. Firdos Anwar, the extent to which a Sultan in India could rule in accordance with Sharia was anxiously debated throughout the sultanate period right up to the decline of the Mughals in 1857.

Thus on the authority of Tarikh-i-Firozshahi and Fatwah-i-Jahandari of Ziauddin Barani, it was agreed that the state in India could not be Islamic in the true sense of the word, and that many un-Islamic features such as the appropriation of the Bait-ul-Mal by the Sultan for his personal use, the maintenance of great pomp and show by the Sultan, and the shedding of Muslim blood, must be tolerated.

Nevertheless, the ulama expected the sultans to act as the champions of Islam by suppressing bid’at and the open practices of things forbidden by Sharia. Also, the departure between the interests of the ulama and those exercising political authority must be regarded as a characteristic feature of Muslim society in medieval India. But as political realists the Sultans (i.e. the Mughals) and their leading nobles were not prepared to follow policies which might create unnecessary political difficulties for them.

Further, the breakup of the Delhi Sultanate and the setting up of a number of regional kingdoms resulted in the establishment of close relations between the Muslim rulers and indigenous Hindu nobility in these areas. In fact, the settlements of the Afghans in large numbers throughout the medieval history of India, in waves, in rural areas had the same effect. These developments implied the virtual breakdown of the theory of the Islamic state in India being governed in accordance to the Sharia. A further breach was made by Akbar’s decision to abolish the Jizyah in 1564.

Nevertheless, there seems little doubt about the existence of a fairly powerful trend of orthodox opinion, both among the nobility and the ulama. According to Satish Chandra, the fundamental political problem before the Mughal emperors was to allay the opposition of the orthodox elements without, however, abandoning Akbar’s basic policy of allying with the Rajputs and other elements of the indigenous ruling class. This, in turn, presupposed a policy of broad toleration.

Jahangir avoided giving open offense to the orthodox elements, but on the whole effected little change in the situation. Shah Jahan tried to assert the fundamentally Islamic character of the state by formally proclaiming himself a defender of the faith, ordering the destruction of the newly erected temples, and putting down heretical practices, such as mixed marriages of Hindus and Muslims in Bhimbar (see History of Shah Jahan of Dihli by B.P. Saksena). At the same time, Shah Jahan firmly denied the ulama a say in determining policies, and extended state patronage and support to all sections of the ulama.

Shah Jahan’s concept of state was a retrogression from that of Akbar’s as expounded by Abul Fazl. But taking into account the entrenched power of the Muslim orthodoxy, it was perhaps the only compromise possible in the 17th century. Satish Chandra suggests that once the fundamental character of the Islamic state was granted, even in theory, the arguments for basing it on the Sharia became overwhelmingly strong.

Even though Aurangzeb refrained from raising the slogan of Islam prior to the battle of Samugarh, and entered into a political alliance with the Rajputs – notably with Rana Raj Singh of Mewar and, to some extent, with Jai Singh Kachwaha of Amber – his accession to the throne raised the expectations of the orthodox ulama. This was because Aurangzeb had used religious propaganda and had promised the ulama class a higher status in the government to muster support in the war of succession against Dara and imprisonment of his father Shah Jahan.

However, it seems that at the outset he was not prepared to go beyond the framework of Shah Jahan’s policies. Thus, Aurangzeb refrained from reviving Jizyah, though there was little doubt about its obligatory nature according to orthodox opinion. He also firmly maintained the policy of allying with the Rajputs and other elements of the indigenous ruling class, granting to Jai Singh and Jaswant Singh a higher position in imperial affairs and in the imperial hierarchy than had been accorded to any Hindu since the days of Raja Man Singh.

Aurangzeb also inducted large numbers of Marathas into the service during the latter half of his reign. According to some historians Hindu nobles were not discriminated against. Athar Ali’s study has shown that the number of Hindus in the nobility during the second half of his reign almost doubled with the Hindus, including Marathas, forming 1/3rd of the nobility. The position of this Hindus during the period would be clear from Table 1.
Table 1: Athar Ali’s account: Hindus in Mughal nobility under Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb

SHAH JAHAN AURANGZEB
1628-58 1658-78 1679-1701
5000 and above 24.50% 19.60% 32.90%
3000 to 4500 25% 20% 27.10%
1000 to 2700 21.30% 22.30% 33.10%
TOTAL 22.40% 21.60% 33.10%

Also Khulasatu-s Siyaq (1703 A.D.) proves that although the question of the revival of Jizyah engaged the emperor’s attention at the commencement of his reign, he “postponed the matter due to certain political exigencies”. It has been claimed that “these political exigencies have not been described by the author, but we may assume that the need of maintaining the alliance with the Rajputs was one of them”.

It has also been said that “Aurangzeb may also have hoped to arrive at some accord with the Marathas. These hopes, however, faded, particularly after the failure of Bahadur Khan’s negotiations with Shivaji in 1676, Shivaji’s attempt to carve out a Maratha dominion in the south in alliance with Golconda…… It was under these circumstances, and in order to cope with the danger of dissolution of the Deccani states, that in 1676 Aurangzeb resolved upon a policy of all-out expansion of the Mughal Empire towards the Deccan. He thus abandoned the policy of limited encroachments which the Mughals had adopted since the days of Akbar. And which had been the policy of Shah Jahan in his settlement of 1636, and Aurangzeb’s own policy since his accession.”

Thus politically, Aurangzeb had reached the parting of ways with Shah Jahan’s policies by 1676. Accordingly, “a new era of extended warfare and strenuous effort was opening up” (Chandra). The period from 1676 to 1678 saw vigorous operations in the Deccan, directed towards enabling the Mughals to utilize their resources and territories of the Deccani countries against the Marathas. However, by 1678, the Mughals had failed to attain their objectives. It appears that in these circumstances, Aurangzeb felt the need to make some striking declaration, which might rouse some enthusiasm and rally Muslim opinion behind him.

In the past when faced with a critical situation, rulers had proclaimed a jihad. There are many instances when rulers had used religion as a subterfuge; whether it was Mahmud of Ghazni, the Delhi Sultans or Babur in his famous address to his army before the conquest of Hindustan; even Akbar at the time of condemning the Afghans as kafir(s) when they supported some of his Hindu opponents, had put religious zeal to good use.

Hence, it can be easily argued that Aurangzeb was merely following a tactic which had a history of its own in India and political need rather than orthodox religious zeal had motivated him to impose Jizyah. According to Satish Chandra, “Aurangzeb’s decision to reimpose  the Jizyah 22 years after his accession to the throne was not the outcome of his desire to strictly follow the injunction of the shari’a, but more the outcome of  a deepening political crisis which, in Aurangzeb’s mind, had been brought about by the ‘disloyalty’ of dominant sections of the Rajputs, and the growing power of the Marathas threatening to overwhelm the Deccani states, and thus endanger the stability of the empire…the imposition of Jizyah was an attempt on Aurangzeb’s part to rally Muslim public opinion behind him, for such action as he might take to meet this threat.”  The Rajput war too, should perhaps be seen in the context of this new aggressive mood caused by the deepening political crisis of the Empire.

Another reason for the reimposition of Jizyah was the growing unemployment among the clerical elements. The historian quotes Ma’asir-i Alamgiri to support this view: “By earmarking the proceeds of Jizyah for distribution in charity among the learned, the fakirs, the theologians etc. and further by providing that the new department of Jizyah, with its own treasury and set of amins, should be staffed predominantly by these sections, Aurangzeb offered a huge bribe to the orthodox clerical elements.”

It has also been suggested that it may not be wrong to draw the inference that Jizyah was a device for relieving the pressure on the general treasury, to the extent that the state found it possible to economize on the amount being disbursed out of the general treasury for paying the cash stipend holders. The proceeds were to be lodged in a separate treasury called Kazanah-i-Jizyah. Also it has been pointed out that exemption from Jizyah could be asked for in case of crop failure, and such exemptions seem to have been made fairly regularly.

However, the clerical elements took advantage of the situation for large scale exactions, oppression and humiliation, and the amassing of private fortunes, and thus the revival of Jizyah was a meaningless gesture. Also, it was opposed by a powerful section of the nobility including, it is said, Jahanara Begum (Manucci).

The attitude of the nobles is typified by the attitude of Firuz Jung, a favorite of Aurangzeb, who petitioned in 1701 that the grain market across the  Bhima River near the base camp, Islampuri, could not be populated and the continuous supply of provisions ensured till the Jizyah imposed on the Hindu population of the place was abolished (Ahkam-I-Alamgiri). Finally, the Jizya proved a convenient slogan to the political opponents of the empire for rallying Hindu sentiment against it. Nevertheless, Aurangzeb turned down all petitions with strict resolve.

Aurangzeb finally suspended Jizyah in the Deccan in 1704, “for the duration of the war … in view of the distress caused by famine and the Maratha war” (Akhbarat quoted by Irfan Habib). With no end of the Maratha war in sight, for all practical purposes “the suspension of the Jizyah was tantamount to its abandonment and a virtual admission on Aurangzeb’s part of the failure of the religious policy proclaimed by him with such fanfare in 1679.” (Chandra)

Many of the initiatives of this policy had hardly been successful. In any case it had become outdated with the downfall of the Deccani states (estrwhile sultanates of southern India), and the need to adopt a milder policy in order to win over the public, especially the landed elements in the Deccan, as well as the powerful trading communities, to the side of the Mughals. The suspension of Jizyah also coincides with the renewed efforts on Aurangzeb’s part to come to terms with the Marathas (Parties and Politics at the Mughal Court).

Although Aurangzeb considered it legitimate to encourage conversion to Islam, evidence of systematic or large scale attempts at forced conversion is lacking. Also, some historians have argued that even in the Sultanate period, the imposition of Jizyah had not affected the Hindu populace to the extent that they would convert to Islam. In the earlier phase of his rule, when in order to underline that Aurangzeb was the upholder of the true faith, that an incident took place in 1666 when the sons of Vindyachal, brother of Ram Rai (who was the munshi of Fazil Khan) embraced Islam at the instance of the emperor, they were placed on the back of elephants, and carried through the streets of Sholapur where the emperor was campaigning, with flags flying and music playing.

However, if Aurangzeb’s objective had been keen to effect the forcible conversion of Hindus, he might have attempted it in some of the newly conquered territory in the Deccan. But there is no evidence of any such attempt on his part. In fact many of the conversions took place voluntarily amongst the zamindars and other such landed elements in lieu of acquiring higher official posts in the government which were in scarcity.

Aurangzeb, however, soon found that his appeal to religion was of little avail. Sikandar Adil Shah refused to break his alliance with the Marathas; worse still, the theological elements in the emperor’s camp were not impressed by the religious propaganda, as evidenced by the refusal of Qazi Shaikh-ul-Islam, the sadr of the imperial army, to give a fatwa that war against Muslim kings, that is, the “heretical” Deccani rulers, was lawful.

In essence the policy of emphasizing the Islamic character of the state to muster support had failed and Aurangzeb was faced with the tough situation of bringing the various hostile sections throughout the huge dominion under imperial control. This new situation called for a modification of Aurangzeb’s earlier religion policy.

Dr. Firdos Anwar once quotes the incidence when Pam Nayak, the infamous ruler of the tribe of Dhidh, who had helped Golkonda with 6,000 troops and in whose dominions “since the far off foundations of the world none had been able to utter the cry of prayer (azan)” was pardoned by Aurangzeb. His family and property were safeguarded, he was given a mansab of 5000/5000, and his sons and relations were given proper mansabs. In the Deccan, even when Hindu rajas and zamindars such as Pam Nayak, the Rani of Bangalore, the Nayaks of Madura and Jinji, opposed the Mughals, temples in the area were not destroyed as a measure of reprisal.

However, Aurangzeb appointed hatchet men to dig up the foundations and destroy the stone temples in Maharashtra, including the temple at Pandharpur (Akhbarat). This was during the last phase of his life when he set out to capture each Maratha fort, and was infuriated by their determined resistance. Also the fort character of some temples in the south which sometimes became center for resistance to the Mughals should not be forgotten – a fact pointed out by historians and archaeologists alike. Hence, Bhimsen says, “Many of the forts were temples.”

Moreover, what can be argued here is that according to many eminent historians such as K.A. Nizami, Richard H. Davis, Eaton, in medieval times, royal temple complexes, patronized by ruling dynasties, were thoroughly and pre-eminently political institutions. The images of the ruling dynasty’s state deity, expressed the shared sovereignty of the king and the deity, and were a source of power. Hence, the purpose of desecration of temples was to display that the previous political authority had lost its legitimacy. Mosques, in this way, differed from the temples. The only way to signify political change there was to read the khutbah (sermon) in the name of the new political authority. Even then, there were cases earlier in the sultanate period, of the Mongols, who had largely converted to Islam by then, destroying mosques during their campaigns against the Turko-Persian states. In fact, attack on places of worship was accepted as a part of medieval warfare even by the Hindu rulers.

Sunil Kumar states that the practice of temple desecration in India predates the arrival of Muslim rule. In the early 10th century, the Rashtrakuta ruler Indra III destroyed the temple of Kalapriya, patronized by their enemies. Kalhana has mentioned that the kings of Kashmir took a lead in such matters. Harshadeva, a Kashmiri leader of note, went so far as to appoint a special officer to supervise the destruction of temples.

It has been noted that Rani Hadi of Jodhpur had secretly made an astounding offer to Aurangzeb, seeking to delay a decision in favor of Indra Singh. The offer was that the Rathors would themselves destroy all the temples in the Marwar if the tika was given to a grandson of Jaswant Singh. The offer was duly rejected by Aurangzeb and Satish Chandra remarks that “it shows the extent to which Aurangzeb’s motives were being misunderstood by the Rajputs as well as by his own officials, a general impression having been created that Aurangzeb would like to see even old Hindu temples destroyed on any excuse or opportunity.”

Just as Aurangzeb’s attitude toward temples varied according to time and circumstances, his attitude towards the Marathas also varied. In 1666, Aurangzeb had shown scanty courtesy to Shivaji when he had visited the court at Agra, treating him as “a petty bhumia” i.e. landlord. In 1686, however, Achalaji, son-in-law of Shivaji, received a rank of 5000/2000 along with kettledrums – an honor for which Jai Singh Sawai had later to pay a bribe of Rs. 50,000.

There is ample evidence to show that after the period following the downfall of the kingdom of Golkonda and Bijapur, the Marathas and Deccanis comprised half the number of Hindu officers and a sixth of the total of mansab holders (Athar Ali). In other words, the Marathas had begun to be treated as social equals to the Rajputs and other leading nobles of the empire.

Thus, Aurangzeb’s decision to execute Sambhaji was a political one, namely his confidence in the superior strength of the Mughal arms which would force the Marathas to accept his terms. This was a gross miscalculation which, Bhimsen says, “doomed Aurangzeb to spend the rest of his life in the work of repressing them and taking their fortresses”. However, Aurangzeb had merely tried to give a religious gloss to a political decision by referring the matter to the “masters of the Holy Law and Faith” and “the dignitaries of the church and state” who, in turn, decreed Sambhaji’s execution “in consideration of the harshness and insult that he had practiced by slaying and imprisoning the Muslims and plundered the cities of Islam…” (Ma’asir-i-Alamgiri).

Nevertheless, Aurangzeb made it plain that his enmity was towards Sambhaji as an individual and not towards the descendents of Shivaji. Thus, following the execution of Sambhaji, his son Shahu, was lodged in the gulalbar next to the emperor, and granted a mansab of 7000/7000.

A careful analysis of Aurangzeb’s view regarding the nature of the state is yet to be made. A preliminary study shows that apparently there were shifts in approach during the early and later parts of his reign. In his advice to his sons and grandsons in later years collected in the Kalmat-I-Taiyyabat, Aurangzeb’s sense of self-righteousness remains. But there is hardly any emphasis on religion. No special reference is placed on the task of defending the faith and punishing the irreligious or waging war against the infidels. In another letter, he warns against the Sharif-i-Mecca taking advantage of the riches of India by soliciting money for the needy at Mecca, and appropriating it for his own use! He concludes: “Why it (the money) should not be distributed among the poor of this country (India) because the manifestation of God is reflected in every place.”

It has been stated that Aurangzeb’s relations with the ulama, the learned divines and a wide variety of saints (faqir, yogi, etc.) belonging to various denominations and sects can be a subject of study by itself. According to S. Athar Abbas Rizvi, the efforts of the Mujaddid Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi and his successors could not erode the popularity of the sufi saints who believed in the doctrine of wahdat-ul-wajud which emphasized pantheism and in consequence the unity of all religions. In fact, it is asserted that Aurangzeb himself “appears to have been more inclined toward pantheism”. Rizvi points out that in his correspondence Aurangzeb constantly used the mansawi of the well-known pantheist, Maulana Rumi, and the works of the wajudi saint Shaikh Yahya Minari rather than the works of the shahudis or the Mujaddid and his disciples.

Though orthodox in his beliefs, Aurangzeb made it a point to meet visiting sufis and many of the saints he visited were wajudis. Thus Khafi Khan has cited the instance when Aurangzeb, before proceeding to the conquest of Golkonda, went to Gulbarga and stayed for a week at the mausoleum of the well-known Chisti saint, Gesu Daraz. Satish Chandra opines, “Obviously, his visits to the tombs of saints had many purposes other than religious, that is, to strengthen the resolve of his own forces, and to impress and appease public opinion.” In his efforts, Aurangzeb did not confine himself to the sufi saints. While campaigning at the fort of Mandsaur on his way to the Deccan, Aurangzeb held a discourse on truth and devotion with the leader of the Bairagi saints, Shiv Mangaldas Maharaja.

Regarding the patronage or lack of it by Aurangzeb to music, painting and literature, in defense to the orthodox opinion Mustaid Khan says that while answering a question from Mirza Mukarram Khan Safwi, who was an expert in musical art, Aurangzeb said that it (music) was “mubah, neither good nor bad”. He went on to say, “I cannot listen to music without flutes (be-mazahmar) especially pakhwaj, but that is unanimously prohibited (haram), so I have left off singing too.”

Baktawar Khan, author of Mirat-I-Alam, writes that “in commencement of his reign he sometimes used to hear them sing and play and though he understands music well, yet now for several years past, on account of his great restraint and self denial, … he entirely abstains from this amusement. If any of the singers and musicians becomes ashamed of his calling, he makes an allowance for him or grants him land for his maintenance.”

And it has also been underscored, “While Aurangzeb did not give personal patronage and support to the rich tradition of music fostered at the Golkonda court by its successive rulers, patronage to music continued to be provided by individual nobles. A large number of works on music were written in Persian during the period.” Thus, Aurangzeb’s stand on music and art was largely personal and had little impact on the prevailing cultural ethos.

S.R. Sharma who has generally been critical of Aurangzeb has also praised Aurangzeb: “Nevertheless, some of his measures were really good such as condemnation of intoxication, liquor, and gambling, forbidding of sati, and the compulsion of public women to choose between marriage and exile, etc.” He writes in his book Mughal Empire in India, “Despite the loss of revenue it involved, Aurangzeb, it is well known, soon after his accession, remitted no less than 80 different taxes and duties.”

Khafi Khan also describes his munificence when he says, “The movements of large armies through the country, especially in the eastern and northern parts, during the two years past, and scarcity of rain in some parts, had combined to make grain dear. To comfort the people and alleviate their distress, the emperor gave orders for the remission…”

Furthermore, Lane-Poole declares, “To completely deny Aurangzeb all title to greatness sounds fanatical. The dissipation of his last campaigns need not blind us to his earlier military achievements, both as prince and as the emperor… Aurangzeb’s great weakness was, indeed, his suspiciousness, the natural corollary to which was over-centralization in administration… but given his energy and intellectual power, this need not have proved fatal…”

There could also be a possibility that the towering extravagance of Shah Jahan’s court and the wars might have compelled him to increase revenue resources and decrease state expenditure as a matter sheer necessity. The possibility cannot be ignored that the crisis might have been actually triggered under the previous Mughal sovereigns, only its effects became apparent in Aurangzeb’s time. Aurangzeb’s misfortune was that the shortcomings of the Empire became apparent during his reign.

It is entirely possible that the repercussions of the carelessness of the previous emperors could have been so huge that it might have been beyond the capacity of management of any ruler whoever might have succeeded to the throne. Nevertheless, it should be appreciated that whatever Aurangzeb did in the situation was his intelligent political play and, though he might have made some miscalculations in the pursuit, he cannot be labeled as a failure or a fanatic in the art of policy making. Instead he can be regarded as a shrewd politician and a political realist.

Winston Churchill once said that “there is no such thing as public image, but only published image”. Such is the case with Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb becomes the tyrannical, devious character when put under the critical and unsparing observation of historians such as Sir Jadunath Sarkar and Prof. S.R. Sharma. On the other hand he (Aurangzeb) becomes the brilliant political realist manipulating here and there sections of Rajput, Marathas, the ulamas and other members of the nobility, when he is studied by other eminent historians such as Satish Chandra, Dr. Firdos Anwar and Prof Athar Ali.

His extraordinary understanding of the social mindset is displayed when he eliminates the problems in his own way and musters support by using religion as a subterfuge and the trick is not even recognized by the majority of his officials and the huge populace under his dominion. However, we are free to find agreement with any of the respective views about this historical character who now has no way to clarify his stand. Nevertheless, as rational historians, we must constantly endeavor to uncover the truth and as Bacon has suggested, to “not to contradict or confute, nor to believe or take for granted, but to weigh and consider”.

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