Late Medieval India, c. 1400 – 1800

Explores structures and processes at work in the late medieval period, covering Mughal influence in the North, etc., and concludes with an examination of the 18th-century transition’ to colonial rule.

This course is designed to give students an understanding of the kinds of socio-political structures and processes that animated pre-colonial India, both in the North, where the Mughals held sway in the aftermath of Sultanate decline, and in the South, where Vijayanagara and its successor Nayaka kingdoms were predominant. The course ends with a focus on the many 18th-century successor states’ that characterised the Indian subcontinent on the eve of the direct involvement of English traders in the politics and economy of Bengal. Some of the key foci in this course will be the nature of political relationships between the so-called Hindu’ South and the Muslim’ North; the case made by some historians to consider this period as early modern’ rather than medieval; and the suitability of the term decline’ (as opposed to decentralisation’) to understand the regional polities that emerged in the wake of Mughal dynasty’s waning power. Students will also learn about the many unique sources used by historians to reconstruct this period, including paintings and architecture, the poetry of bhakti saints, sufi hagiographies and romances, and accounts of the private’ sphere of royal household, in addition to such royal chronicles likes the famous Ain‑i Akbari.