Prince Khurram showed extraordinary military talent. The first occasion for Khurram to test his military prowess was during the Mughal campaign against the Rajput state of Mewar, which had been a hostile force to the Mughals since Akbar's reign. In 1614, commanding an army numbering around 200,000, Khurram began the offensive against the Rajput kingdom. After a year of a harsh war of attrition, Maharana Amar Singh II surrendered to the Mughal forces with the condition that the Ruler of Mewar was not required to attend Mughal Durbar and became a vassal state of the Mughal Empire.
In 1617, Khurram was directed to deal with the Lodi in the Deccan to secure the Empire's southern borders and to restore imperial control over the region. His successes in these conflicts led to Jahangir granting him the title of Shah Jahan (Persian: King of the World) and raised his military rank and allowed him a special throne in his Durbar, an unprecedented honour for a prince, thus further solidifying his status as crown prince.Edward S. Holden writes, "He was flattered by some, envied by others. loved by none."
While he was encamped in Baghdad, the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV is known to have met Shah Jahan's ambassadors: Mir Zarif and Mir Baraka, who presented 1000 pieces of finely embroidered cloth and even armour. Murad IV presented them with the finest weapons, saddles and Kaftans and ordered his forces to accompany the Mughals to the port of Basra, where they set sail to Thatta and finally Surat.
Shah Jahan had exchanged ambassadors and documents with the Murad IV, it was through these exchanges led by the Mughal ambassador Sayyid Muhiuddin and his counterpart the Ottoman ambassador Arsalan Agha, that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan received Mimar Yusuf, Isa Muhammad Effendi and Ismail Effendi, two Turkish architects and students of the famous Koca Mimar Sinan Agha. Both of them later comprised among the Mughal team that would design and build the Taj Mahal.
Merovingian themes were the painter's favourite subject up to the mid-1860s. It is perhaps in this series that we find the artist moved by the deepest feeling and the strongest spirit of romance. However Merovingian subjects did not have a wide international appeal, so he switched to themes of life in ancient Egypt that were more popular. On these scenes of Frankish and Egyptian life Alma-Tadema spent great energy and much research. In 1862 Alma-Tadema left Leys's studio and started his own career, establishing himself as a significant classical-subject European artist.
1863 was to alter the course of Alma-Tadema's personal and professional life: on 3 January his invalid mother died, and on 24 September he was married, in Antwerp City Hall, to Marie-Pauline Gressin Dumoulin, the daughter of Eugne Gressin Dumoulin, a French journalist living near Brussels. Nothing is known of their meeting and little of Pauline herself, as Alma-Tadema never spoke about her after her death in 1869. Her image appears in a number of oils, though he painted her portrait only three times, the most notable appearing in My studio (1867). The couple had three children. Their eldest and only son lived only a few months dying of smallpox. Their two daughters, Laurence (18641940) and Anna (18671943), both had artistic leanings: the former in literature, the latter in art. Neither would marry.
Alma-Tadema and his wife spent their honeymoon in Florence, Rome, Naples and Pompeii. This, his first visit to Italy, developed his interest in depicting the life of ancient Greece and Rome, especially the latter since he found new inspiration in the ruins of Pompeii, which fascinated him and would inspire much of his work in the coming decades.
During the summer of 1864, Tadema met Ernest Gambart, the most influential print publisher and art dealer of the period. Gambart was highly impressed with the work of Tadema, who was then painting Egyptian chess players (1865). The dealer, recognising at once the unusual gifts of the young painter, gave him an order for twenty-four pictures and arranged for three of Tadema's paintings to be shown in London. In 1865, Tadema relocated to Brussels where he was named a knight of the Order of Leopold.
On 28 May 1869, after years of ill health, Pauline died at Schaerbeek, in Belgium, at the age of thirty-two, of smallpox. Her death left Tadema disconsolate and depressed. He ceased painting for nearly four months. His sister Artje, who lived with the family, helped with the two daughters then aged five and two. Artje took over the role of housekeeper and remained with the family until 1873 when she married.
During the summer Tadema himself began to suffer from a medical problem which doctors in Brussels were frustratingly unable to diagnose. Gambart eventually advised him to go to England for another medical opinion. Soon after his arrival in London in December 1869, Alma-Tadema was invited to the home of the painter Ford Madox Brown. There he met Laura Theresa Epps, who was seventeen years old, and fell in love with her at first sight.