Over the course of the eighteenth century, India's Mughal empire (1526–1858) fragmented into a number of regional polities that were, in turn, gradually subsumed under the paramount authority of the British East India Company. This essay describes concomitant developments in the empire's Persianate political language, particularly with regard to ideas of sovereignty, statehood, and dominion. It argues that by the mid-eighteenth century, the Mughal “empire of Hindustan” was increasingly framed as a territorialised governing institution comprising emerging provincial sovereignties rooted in local ruling households. This conceptual dispensation, however, remained ill-defined until the 1760s, when a treaty regime dominated by the Company built upon this language to concretise the empire as a confederacy of independent, sub-imperial states. The essay contends that in the short term, this redefinition bolstered the authority of incipient dynasties in provinces like Awadh, but in the longer term generated conflicts that abetted the expansion of colonial rule and laid conceptual foundations for British paramountcy in India.