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1 - At Empire's End: The Nizam, Hyderabad and Eighteenth-century India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2014

Munis D. Faruqui
Affiliation:
University of California
Richard M. Eaton
Affiliation:
University of Arizona
Munis D. Faruqui
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
David Gilmartin
Affiliation:
North Carolina State University
Sunil Kumar
Affiliation:
University of Delhi
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

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.

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Expanding Frontiers in South Asian and World History
Essays in Honour of John F. Richards
, pp. 1 - 38
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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