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04 May 2012 @ 11:23 am
(A very little bit) About the Mughal Empire  
So, the Mughal Empire was founded by descendants of the Timurids, who ruled much of Central Asia.  It began in 1526 and went into decline after Aurangzeb died in 1707; it limped on, in name at least, till 1857, but for much of that time it was actually a British puppet state.

At its greatest (actual-historical) extent, around 1700, it covered most of what's now India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and some of what's now Afghanistan.  Map, from wikipedia:

Map of the Mughal Empire"s greatest extent

In my alternate world, the Mughal Empire never stretches quite this far west (or nearly this far south); it did so in Aurangzeb's time because, frankly, he overextended pretty catastrophically, which is why the empire collapsed after he died.

Here's the Empire under Akbar (wikipedia again):

Map of the Mughal Empire under Akbar

And here it is in 1650, which is the greatest extent it has in my alternate world. (In my world, Jahanara goes for stability over expansion.) From the WHKMLA historical atlas, which has a nice progression of the expansion & collapse of the empire:



Now, (some of) what we now call the Middle East was in fact considered a cultural center to the Mughals; obviously Mecca was the religious center, but Iran, especially, was the cultural center they both looked up to and chafed against (my interpretation). From Akbar's time onward, the official language of the Empire was Persian (though Urdu took over in actual usage), and there's a whole range of paintings whose rhetorical/political purpose is to demonstrate that the Mughals are JUST AS GOOD AS THOSE PERSIANS REALLY OR NO EVEN BETTER SO THEEEERE!

So, three things to take from this:

1) it's unsurprising that the setting might register as Middle Eastern, but really, no.
2) it's also not accurate to call it Indian, per se, except that - specifically - my story in the Mammoth book is set in a part of the Empire (near Agra) that's in India.
3) Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
 
 
Current Mood: tiredtired
 
 
Kari Sperringla_marquise_de_ on May 4th, 2012 11:02 am (UTC)
Thank you. One of the great world empires, shamefully ignored and elided in the west.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 11:11 am (UTC)
Something of a tangent, but, you know what's sort of horrifying? >_
Aliette de Bodardaliettedb on May 4th, 2012 11:23 am (UTC)
Wow.

you’ll have a connection to us, even if you don’t know us
How about "you screwed up half Asia" as a connection?
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 12:06 pm (UTC)
Only half?
Dr. Kvetchrose_lemberg on May 4th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
Well... without measuring, so I can be very off... the Asian territories under the influence of the Russian empire were not as directly affected, and that would include Central Asia and Siberia. I also am not sure about the influence of the East Indian Trading company in Mongolia.

Aliette de Bodard: dragonaliettedb on May 5th, 2012 02:01 pm (UTC)
Uh, no. "All of Asia" would definitely be a more accurate statement.
Kari Sperringla_marquise_de_ on May 4th, 2012 11:29 am (UTC)
Oh, cringe.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 12:08 pm (UTC)
Uh huh. My jaw, it hit the floor, both at their continued existence and at their rhetoric.
Dominik Parisiendomparisien on May 4th, 2012 02:50 pm (UTC)
Eeeeeeeeeehhhhh... O.o
Itinerant hacker adventuress: you failthewronghands on May 4th, 2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
Holy crap. Seriously! The mind boggles.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
...but I think they win at evil actually.
Itinerant hacker adventuress: grey hand-drawn crowthewronghands on May 4th, 2012 03:51 pm (UTC)
I guess it depends on what a winning condition is. Continued existence? I was surprised that they'd managed that. They certainly succeeded at *causing* horrifying and epic amounts of evil, and it substantially enriched them personally at the expense of everyone else for a long time. They're no longer the world-steering power that they once were, thankfully. So I don't know if that's the eventual slow sunset of this particular evil, or how it should best be characterized.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
Well, I'd say a win condition had to include "Cause much horror, with repercussions still destroying many lives today, and get to keep going la la aren't we lovely" without repercussions on self.
Saira Alisairaali on May 4th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
" Without The Company our world would not be as it is today. "

No shit!

They still exist! And are proud of their history! WHAT
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
But racism & colonialism & profiting from those are totes over youknow!!!1!

...Yeeeah, it's epic facepalm time again.
(Deleted comment)
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah seriously WTF!

and yay :) And yeah, though... Aurangzeb gets more than his due of both love and hate in India today, because religious extremists love using him to prove a point.

Which means of course that a Hindu writer positioning him as an antagonist is going to have... a tricky time not failsploding. I'm hoping to manage that by allowing him to be *complex*, and awesome and awful all together.

And heee, rock star Akbar :D
(Deleted comment)
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
Ohh I was wondering how come I couldn't find the post!

I'm not sure the story in the Mammoth book will really address your curiosity! It's... about Akbar, well, sort of, but it's my other one about him (Sultana Lena's Gift, which was in Realms of Fantasy) where I actually screw around with his story. Also got one featuring Alexander the Great (my mechanical people live a long time!) and one set in the early 1800s, in very-alternate India (no British power), featuring my version of Jahanara. Got another one doing the rounds and two more I need to write, and then there shall at some point be a novel. I hope. But most of my babbling here is about the larger world that all of these live in, as opposed to any one story...

& Health sucks though so things aren't getting written.
Sharon Mockkirizal on May 4th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's nauseating.
Dr. Kvetchrose_lemberg on May 4th, 2012 08:46 pm (UTC)
This is truly nauseating.

But I don't get it - Wikipedia says they were dissolved in 1874?
some guy named Larry: buh?lnhammer on May 4th, 2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
The way the standard narrative describes it, one gets the impression the Company was dissolved when the British government took over control and promoted Victoria to Empress -- a sort of nationalization. Apparently not.

Also, ew.

---L.
Erik Amundsen: DO NOT WANT Spockcucumberseed on May 9th, 2012 03:32 pm (UTC)
I have many icons to show my reaction to this knowledge.
This is one.
Erik Amundsen: Sam Niell Doesn't Like Bluecucumberseed on May 9th, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
Re: I have many icons to show my reaction to this knowledge.
This is another.
Erik Amundsen: Min Sik Choicucumberseed on May 9th, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
Re: I have many icons to show my reaction to this knowledge.
And here is a third.
Aliette de Bodardaliettedb on May 4th, 2012 11:21 am (UTC)
oh, nice, thank you! I love seeing the maps (it's not always easy to picture actual empire sizes from just books).

>Mughals are JUST AS GOOD AS THOSE PERSIANS REALLY OR NO EVEN BETTER SO THEEEERE
Lol, that's just so reminiscent of Vietnam vs China (especially in the first dynasties after China left, er, got pushed out)
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
Me toooo wrt maps! I need to have visuals, or it's all garble. And I think it's so helpful to see maps changing over time.

Lol, that's just so reminiscent of Vietnam vs China (especially in the first dynasties after China left, er, got pushed out)

:D
A. A. McNamaraaamcnamara on May 4th, 2012 12:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I had never heard of the Mughal Empire apart from in your story, so it's neat to learn a little bit about its history. (I really need to find excuses/time to learn more actual world history--speaking of, are there any books about the Mughal Empire you'd recommend?)
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 12:28 pm (UTC)
That's um. Sort of a huge topic! Any particular aspects of it you'd be interested in? I could probably recommend books on, say, the art, or... actually the art is the only aspect I feel at all qualified to recommend books on but I could brainstorm others. I need a reading list myself...
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 12:30 pm (UTC)
- But for first-pass reading, this is a topic where I think wikipedia's actually pretty good. Possibly not the page on Aurangzeb, depending on which political faction has been at it last, but all the rest.
A. A. McNamaraaamcnamara on May 4th, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
Books on the art would be neat!

Mostly I'm just curious and want to learn more--I can do various library searches and so on, I was just wondering if there was anything in particular that jumped out at you as "read this first". Per your other comment, though, perhaps I will try wikipedia first and see where I end up. (:
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 01:06 pm (UTC)
I shall poke elsmi & see if he can pull up the names of the two main books I was using for reference for the Jahanara picture. I found both of 'em extremely good. They may require university library access, of course (which is why he has the info).
Nathanielelsmi on May 4th, 2012 03:14 pm (UTC)
Looks like that was Susan Stronge's Painting for the Mughal Emperor and Som Prakash Verma's Painting the Mughal experience.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
ty those are the ones yes <3
Saira Alisairaali on May 4th, 2012 01:03 pm (UTC)
there's a whole range of paintings whose rhetorical/political purpose is to demonstrate that the Mughals are JUST AS GOOD AS THOSE PERSIANS REALLY OR NO EVEN BETTER SO THEEEERE!


LOL. Truth!

If I'm recalling the history correctly, Persia was also a military center, where occasionally dispossessed siblings of Mughal rulers would flee to regroup/recruit support.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
:D
Yeah, and they did keep trying to push west & conquer bits & pieces of Iran, for the same reason.
(Deleted comment)
Itinerant hacker adventuress: forest heart closethewronghands on May 4th, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
I have a soft spot for rulers/leaders who make good, stabilising decisions in fiction, instead of RAH RAH WAR EXPANSION WAR.

Yes, I love this too. Particularly when it's neither rah rah war expansion nor "those evil empire folks invaded us so Just War Theory now we are the winningest". Diplomacy and conflict resolution are brilliant.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 03:44 pm (UTC)
While I like those too, Jahanara is still going to be fighting. Because, well, there were these British, and Dutch, and Portuguese guys? They didn't agree.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
And oh yeah the French too how did I miss them there
Itinerant hacker adventuress: polite raventhewronghands on May 4th, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, sure! After the second comment in quick succession on this, I realized I should have been lengthier at first. Staving off colonialism in a historical setting where that was the problem, totally sympathetic and reasonable. I was intending to applaud a non-reductionist view of options in situations of conflict and a nuanced policy towards international relations. It can include fighting -- sometimes that's the right answer. But I'm happy to see settings where that's not Plan A all the time to every possible situation, and where rulers consider the long term strategic effects of that decision in depth as it's presented to them. Sorry for any confusion that came of my terseness!
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
Oh ya, I meant that as agreeing with you & adding. Terseness all around for the mass confusion.

Before Aurangzeb (and, er, after Akbar...), the Mughals really *did* expand relatively cautiously, and have methods in place for keeping the lands they took, relying a great deal on diplomacy (threat included). And I think the historical Jahanara, had she found herself ruling an empire, would have continued that trend. In fact, that's part of why I made her my pivot for alternatifying the history, cause there's no way the Mughals or Marathas could fight off the Brits while being quite that busy slaughtering each other :)

I was intending to applaud a non-reductionist view of options in situations of conflict and a nuanced policy towards international relations.
I'm hoping to get to this! Lots of research to go tho.
(Deleted comment)
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
As I read you, I agree with you both; but I think there's a huge difference between "Fight off/resist invaders" and "fight off invaders therefore Just War" - perhaps because I have NEVER seen "just war" argued in spec fic without the fighters being white or white-equivalent.

But yeah, I am looking forward to my guys kicking some invader ass. At some point in the hypothetical future when I have the energy, etc.

(And, thanks much for links! I do have much love for Fire Logic etc, but there's no question there's fail in 'em, and I'm interested to read what other folks have to say about that.)
Itinerant hacker adventuress: polite raventhewronghands on May 4th, 2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
Two similar comments suggest that I should have been lengthier and more clarifying, so I don't think it was just you. I didn't mean to say that pacifism was the only acceptable course for a leader to take. (I teach self-defense; I don't have a problem with the use of force in defense of life or to prevent serious harm being done. This scales past the personal, in my view.) Rather, I meant to criticize the genre convention of works that are not based in history which concoct convenient hordes of invaders as you describe. Often that's aired to give the heroes the clear moral high ground while still allowing them to engage in the kind of glorification of war that I find problematic. Sometimes there's the presumption that there must be a war in order for the leader to show that they're great. There are various ways of designating the invaders as shallow, other, and with monstrous motives -- sci-fi makes them buglike aliens a lot to make this point, as well as the patterns you describe.

So it's not that defense of one's land or existence is not legitimate -- I didn't mean to say that at all. When one is in a world of expansionist empires, this issue is going to come up as they attempt to expand upon/into one, and any leader of a country/empire/nation/what have you being so infringed upon is going to have to face that. I was (in too short a form, I suspect) attempting to applaud a richer view of leadership than the one-dimensional "whomever wins the most battles is the best ruler, eleventy!" that I too often encounter in my reading. I do like diplomatic plots rather a lot, but particularly so when they're well thought out rather than being presented as a brief lagniappe before we get to the part where war is awesome.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
This is pretty much what I read you as saying & was agreeing with, but yeah, I think context of knowing some of what you do led to that.

Did that add anything to the conversation? IDK. I am splat as a splatcake now.
Itinerant hacker adventuress: polite raventhewronghands on May 4th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
Love the post; maps help me out a lot too. Thanks for the information!
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on May 4th, 2012 03:44 pm (UTC)
yay!
C.S.E. Cooneycsecooney on May 6th, 2012 12:31 am (UTC)
This was great. I have your Jahanara up on my wall, where I can look at her while I write. It never fails to please my eyes spectacularly.
Samantha Hendersonsamhenderson on May 9th, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC)
The day you posted this I was at the Huntington Library and saw two small paintings by Mughal artists of scenes from India - I'm NOT sure of the period, but I'm guessing it's before the expansion into India, because according to the information it was generally European merchants who imported Indian goods to the Mughals. This resulted in the depiction of "Indian" scenes in which the people had distinctively European features.

It was also interesting how much it resembled your Mughal miniature.