This article seeks to reconstruct the prevailing concepts, images and principles that framed sovereign governance in the Mughal and Ottoman empires in the early seventeenth century. Little is known about the subject. To help fill the gap, two contemporaneous advice-to-kings treatises—one Mughal by ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq Dihlavī, one Ottoman by Koçi Bey—are analysed in juxtaposition. Such an analysis, never previously undertaken, is motivated and guided by a novel approach. In this approach, a model founded on near-universal conditions and problems is deployed within a regional perspective. The findings which result advance our understanding of the art of governance in the Mughal and Ottoman empires of the time. But they have a larger importance, too. They move us closer to achieving a break with the decline paradigm, whose logic still persists in mainstream interpretations. They also contribute to a more recent, and rapidly developing, interest in a region spanning much of South Asia and the Middle East that was formative for the global genesis of the modern world.
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