The foundations of the Sikh Empire, during the Sikh Confederacy, could be defined as early as 1707, starting from the death of Aurangzeb and the downfall of the Mughal Empire. The fall of the Mughal Empire provided opportunities for the Sikh army, known as the Dal Khalsa, to lead expeditions against the Mughals and Afghans. This led to a growth of the army, which was split into different confederations and then independent kingdoms. Each of these component armies were known as a misl, each controlling different areas and cities. However, in the period from 1762-1799 Sikh rulers of their kingdoms appeared to be coming into their own. The formal start of the Sikh Empire began with the disbandment of the Sikh Confederacy by the Coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1801, creating the one unified political Empire.
After the Maharaja’s death the empire was severely weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. This opportunity was used by the British Empire to launch the first series of Anglo-Sikh Wars. The Sikh Empire was finally annexed by the British Empire at the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849, and so the take over of India was complete. Many argue that had the empire not fallen into political mis-management it would still exist today.