The Mughal Period
The years 1498 and 1526 brought to the stage of South Asian history two events
of the most profound significance: the former year marked Vasco da Gama's
arrival in Calicut after a sea voyage round the southern tip of Africa, and the
latter witnessed the implantation of Mughal rule in Delhi.1 Together these events
may be thought of as precursors of the modern age. In their aftermath Indian
history increasingly became a part of world history, while in India itself Mughal
rule provided a sense of cohesiveness, if not unity, and of institutional and cul-
tural continuity greater than any the subcontinent had witnessed in the thousand
years that had elapsed since the decline of the Gupta Empire.
The Portuguese and later European arrivals to India were quick to recognize
the greatness of the Mughal Empire as it was fashioned during the reign of Akbar
(1556–1606), and they maintained their respect for the empire until well into
the 18th century. Although they vigorously sought to enter into economic rela-
tions with the Mughals and with other independent states of South Asia, they did
not, before the 18th century, strive to play a prominent role in the internal po-
litical affairs of the region. Hence, during the period 1526–1707, to which this
section of the atlas relates (although events in South India and Sri Lanka to 1605
are largely covered in section V), there is a virtual dichotomy between the his-
torical currents that swept across India from the Mughal power centers of Delhi
or Agra, on the one hand, and those that merely lapped at its shores, emanating
from the headquarters of distant trading companies in Europe. The two currents
met in places like Surat, Masulipatam, Dacca, and dozens of other ports, yet did
not really mingle to any significant degree. The Mughals were preoccupied with
their struggles for hegemony and other Indian powers with maintaining their in-
dependence or, in the case of the Marathas and a few other peoples, establishing
independent states. Each European power, by contrast, was largely concerned with
out stripping its fellow European commercial rivals or at least holding its own in
the face of a mercantile challenge from one or more of them. Outside of Ceylon
and the immediate hinterland of Goa, the 16th and 17th centuries witnessed no
noteworthy territorial acquisition by Europeans on or near the Indian subconti-
nent. These considerations explain the division of section VI into two subsections:
A, "Mughal Expansion and Consolidation," and B, "European Trade and Ex-
pansion on the Periphery of South Asia."
As might be expected, the sources for the history of the period reflect the di-
chotomy of interests of the indigenous Indian and alien European powers. The
perspectives of historians and other commentators from the two continents nat-
urally differed, and whom and what they saw fit to write about varied accordingly.
On the whole, the source material is rich in quantity and varied in kind, much
more so than in the preceding Sultanate Period. As patrons of arts and learning,
the Mughal sovereigns encouraged the compilation of historical works that be-
came available in plenty for the reigns of all the rulers of the dynasty. There are
also numerous independent contemporary or near-contemporary works that are
extremely useful for verifying the foregoing accounts as well as for getting addi-
tional information. Some of the Mughal sovereigns, like Bābur and Jahāngīr,
wrote their own memoirs, which shed abundant light on their personal lives be-
sides providing important details of the events of their reigns. The European
travelers who wrote on India—apart from their essentially commercial concerns—
were handicapped by difficulties of language, by lack of access to the best sources
of information, and by ignorance or prejudice about their subject; nevertheless,
their accounts are often useful for their corroborative value, for their descriptive
detail, and for their outsiders' viewpoints. Most of what they described because
it was strange to them no indigenous writer would have bothered to write about.
Many of the indigenous and foreign sources will be noted in the lists following
each map plate. It will suffice here to list some general modern works (including
translations) dealing with the whole period, including some devoted exclusively
to bibliography. Marshall's and Storey's bibliographies contain comprehensive
listings of Persian sources, with excellent descriptive notes, while Sharma's eval-
uates the sources and classifies them into official and nonofficial categories. Pear-
1 For a statement of orthographic conventions employed in this section of the text, see
the first footnote for section V.
son has listed periodical articles in European languages. In addition to specifically
bibliographical works, the bibliographies in the Cambridge History and S. R.
Sharma's Mughal Empire in India are very useful. For beginning students Sharma's
Crescent in India provides a partial abridgement of the previously cited work; sim-
ilarly, Ikram's Muslim Civilization in India is essentially an abridgment of his
Muslim Rule in India and Pakistan.
Burn, Richard, ed. The Mughal Period. Vol. 4 of Cambridge history of India.
Dodwell, Henry Herbert, ed. British India, 1497–1858. Vol. 5 of Cambridge his-
tory of India. Cambridge, 1929.
Edwardes, Stephen Meredyth, and Garrett, H. L. O. Mughal rule in India. Lon-
Elliot, Henry Miers, and Dowson, John, eds. The history of India, as told by its
own historians. 8 vols. London, 1867–77; reprinted in 1960–64.
Encyclopedia of Islam. 4 vols. London, 1913–36; new edition, in progress, Leiden,
Foster, William, ed. Early travels in India, 1583–1619. London, New York [etc.],
Hakluyt, Richard. The principal navigations, voyages, traffiques and discoveries of
the English nation. . . . 10 vols. New York, 1927–28; a reprint of original 1589
Hodivala, Shahpurshah Hormasji. Studies in Indo-Muslim history: A critical com-
mentary on Elliot and Dowson's "History of India as told by its own historians."
2 vols. Bombay, 1939, 1957.
Hunter, William Wilson. A History of British India. Vol. 1. To the overthrow of
the English in the Spice Archipelago. London, 1899.
Ikram, Sheikh Muhammad. Muslim civilization in India. Ed. Ainslie T. Embree.
New York and London, 1964.
——. Muslim rule in India and Pakistan. 2d ed. Lahore, 1966.
Lane-Poole, Stanley. Medieval India from contemporary sources: Extracts from
Arabic and Persian annals and European sources. Bombay, 1916.
Marshall, D. N. Mughals in India: A bibliographical survey. Bombay and New
Moreland, William Harrison, ed. The agrarian system of Moslem India: A histori-
cal essay with appendices. Cambridge, 1929; reprinted in 1968.
Oaten, Edward F. European travellers in India during the 15th, 16th, and 17th
Centuries. London, 1909.
Pandey, Awadh Bihari. Later Medieval India: A history of the Mughals. Allah-
Pearson, James Douglas. Index Islamicus. Cambridge, 1958; supplements; Cam-
bridge, 1962, 1967, and London, 1972.
Purchas, Samuel, comp. Hakluytus posthumus; or, Purchas his pilgrimes. . . . 20
vols. Glasgow, 1905–7; a reprint of the 1625 edition.
Qureshi, Ishtiaq Husain. The Muslim community of the Indo-Pakistan Subconti-
nent. The Hague, 1962.
Rashid, Sh. A. The Mughul Empire. Karachi, 1967.
Sarkar, Jadunath, ed. The history of Bengal. Vol. 2. The Muslim period (1200–
1757). Dacca, 1948.
Sharma, Shripad Rama. The crescent in India: A study in medieval history. Rev.
3d ed. Bombay, 1966.
——. Mughal Empire in India: A systematic study including source material.
Rev. ed. Agra, 1966.
Sharma, Sri Ram. A bibliography of Mughal India (1526–1707 A.D). Bombay,
Storey, C. A. Persian literature, a bio-bibliographical survey. 2 vols. London, 1927,
Tod, James. Annals and antiquities of Rajasthan. London, etc., 1920; reprinted in
Tripathi, Ram Prasad. Rise and fall of the Mughal Empire. 3d ed. Allahabad,