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This book has brought together some of the foremost scholars of South Asian and global history, who were colleagues and associates of Professor John F. Richards, to discuss themes that marked his work as a historian in an academic career of almost forty years. It encapsulates discussions under the rubric of 'frontiers' in multiple contexts. Frontier has often been conceived as a space of transformation marking new forms of economic organization, commodity trade, land settlement and state authority. The essays here underline the range of interests and approaches that marked Professor Richards' illustrious career - frontiers and state building; frontiers and environmental change; cultural frontiers; frontiers, trade and drugs; and frontiers and world history. The volume discusses issues from medieval to early modern South Asian history. It also reflects a concern for large-scale global processes and for the detailed specificities of each historical case as evident in Professor Richards' work.
In May 1748, Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah arrived in the central Indian city of Burhanpur. He was seventy seven years old and exhausted after undertaking an extensive tour of his dominion. While in Burhanpur, the Nizam caught a cold that caused his health to swiftly deteriorate. Sensing death upon him, the Nizam called a gathering of close confidants and family. The atmosphere was intimate and sad. Among other matters, the Nizam dictated his last testament (wasiyyatnama). Spanning seventeen clauses, this testament was intended to provide insights into a lifetime of almost unparalleled success in statecraft and a template of how to govern Hyderabad, the nascent state founded by him in the early 1720s in south-central India. Although the tone and content of the will suggest the Nizam is worried about the future of Hyderabad, he also seems concerned to shape his own historical legacy. There is little doubt that the Nizam wished to be remembered as the most successful politician, general and administrator among the post-Mughal rulers. The will is occasionally pontificatory and self-aggrandizing, yet there can be no disagreeing with the Nizam's own conclusion that he had lived a blessed life. Here, after all, was a man who had not only survived, but also thrived amidst the uncertainty accompanying the collapse of the Mughal Empire during the first decades of the eighteenth century.
For more than 200 years, the Mughal emperors ruled supreme in northern India. How was it possible that a Muslim, ethnically Turkish, Persian-speaking dynasty established itself in the Indian subcontinent to become one of the largest and most dynamic empires on earth? In this rigorous new interpretation of the period, Munis D. Faruqui explores Mughal state formation through the pivotal role of the Mughal princes. In a challenge to previous scholarship, the book suggests that far from undermining the foundations of empire, the court intrigues and political backbiting that were features of Mughal political life - and that frequently resulted in rebellions and wars of succession - actually helped spread, deepen and mobilise Mughal power through an empire-wide network of friends and allies. This engaging book, which uses a vast archive of European and Persian sources, takes the reader from the founding of the empire under Babur to its decline in the 1700s.