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The Mughal empire: layered sovereignty

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Ritu Birla

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October 5 th Continue with the idea that the emperor in the east is a despot, head of a household. The political sphere isn’t distinct from this authority. Bernier is a French minister who travels to India during one of the last Mughal emperors in order to report to Louis 14 and especially the finance ministers. What’s funny is that Louis14 is also an absolute monarch. Why the finance minister- because one of the greatest contribution of the Mughals is advance in finance in terms of a system that incorporates a wide variety of societies. In this system they also support the practices of the traditional hindu castes, those who event pillars of exchange that allow for the circulation of value without physical gold present, so bankers. That extremely useful when you need to send salaries over vast distances. The idea of the despot: Law is the arbitrary will of the sovereign that imposes poverty and misery on the mass of people and the state is the proprietor of all land, it sucks in and extracts all monetary and financial value for the luxury of the high class. The picture presented by Bernier is one of a terror state. One great anxiety for western thinkers is that India is the source in the global economy not only of luxury but also a lot of silver. Its in the same period that the Spanish empire in Latin America is based on silver. The anxiety of the rulers is that it gets sucked up in India, it takes it out of circulation and hordes. There are no economic ethics, no wealth building rather just hording. Timur- descended from Genghis Khan andTurkish Babur, his son Humayan and after that Akbar, who is one of the most important Mughal rulers because he is the multicultural emperor. In 1572 he launches a campaign against Gujarat and then in 1574 goes to the opposite end and conquers Benghal. Two very strategic conquers of very strong, independent kingdoms in good positions. Then Kabul, Kashmir, 1595 Baluchistan so a really strategic and expansive growth. Even amidst the Mughal empire there are still strong regional bases, for example thee Maratha estate under the military leadership of Shivaji. The Mughal administrative system is a continuity under revision of the iktabari land grant system. The nobility is organized in the mansab rank system, referring to the number of cavalry that one has under their control. A small mansabdar might hold just 10, whereas a large one might have 5000 men, who would be offered to the emperor in case of war. In practice he also had many civilian administrative duties, most importantly making sure that revenues are collected. Jagirs were like the iktas, the size of land suggesting the amount that must be collected. It is not a private property right but only to collect the revenue and so to keep a certain amount of it as a salary. Its holder would be responsible for paying a fixed sum every year to the Mughal treasury. If they collect more that’s what they keep. There were people to estimate how much should come from the land. It was a multilayered farming system. In the later Mughal empire Jagirs become to be held in some ways hereditary, but early on the strength of the system is that they are transferable. A change in rank and Jagir could come at any time. The one big difference from the Ikta of the Delhi sultanate is that in Delhi the person who holds the land would be the one who administers it, with the help of a bunch of officials. In the Mughal period the person who holds the jagir doesn’t actually administer, he’s not living in the
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