Rethinking Kingship and Authority in South Asia: Amber (Rajasthan), ca. 1560-1615

in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
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The literature on South Asian kingship has typically explored the idioms in which kingship—a king’s assertion of his right to rule—was articulated, while assuming ready consent to such assertions of royal authority among a king’s subjects, vassals, peers, and overlords. This paper re-examines the nature and limits of South Asian kingship by investigating the modes in which Man Singh Kachhwaha, a prominent regional chief in the Mughal Empire, claimed royal status. I examine how target audiences—consisting of literati, peers, rivals, and the Mughal overlord—may have received an ambitious chief’s claims to kingly status in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. This essay reinterprets the abundant evidence from Man Singh’s reign to reveal the character of kingship in South Asia as much more circumscribed and contingent than has often been assumed, and as continually open to challenge and contestation.

Rethinking Kingship and Authority in South Asia: Amber (Rajasthan), ca. 1560-1615

in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

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1

For a review and critique see Kulke 1978rpt. 2001. For a critique of Geertz’s analysis of the Balinese state in the nineteenth century see Howe 1991. I am grateful to Phillip Friedrich for this citation.

14

Ranachoda Bhatta 1973. For brief recent comments on this praśasti and its legitimating function see Joffee 2006: 11-23 and Talbot 2007: 16-20.

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