By C. A. Bayly
During this amazing and bold survey Dr Bayly reviews the increase, apogee and decline of what has turn out to be referred to as `the moment British Empire' -- the good growth of British dominion out of the country (particularly in Asia and the center East) through the French progressive and Napoleonic period that, coming among the lack of the US and the following partition of Africa, constitutes the crucial section of British imperial history.
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Additional resources for Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World 1780-1830
There were severe Islamic scholars to echo this view. As a Persian historian of the last days of the Safavids noted: 'The subjects all at once became rich and possessed of luxuries. The glorious sultan and the pillars of the state turned aside from the canons and traditions which past sultans ... had followed'. (Lambton in Naff and Owen 1977: 115). Over the last few decades, however, scholars have found this stark transition inadequate to explain the complexities of historical change which deeper archival research has brought to light.
The similarities between the empires at their height were striking. Imperial rule was patrimonial rather than despotic (Blake 1987). The great royal households acted as patrons of peasants and merchants, tying together town and country, cultivator and herdsman. Taxation was owed predominantly in silver cash and 19 Imperial Meridian may have accounted for as much as 30 per cent of the gross produce of the land. This in turn required the integration of markets and the spread of petty commodity production.
But the long era of invasion and counter-invasion tended to increase the pool of free cavalry seeking service and wealth throughout the region. Afghan soldiers, who had long been filling the lower ranks of the Mughal military, now came into India in even greater numbers. They ranged wide over the whole sub-continent, altering the balance of power even in the far south. Marquis Maistre de La l;'our, a French soldier working in Mysore later in the century, noted of the Mughal magnate who dominated the Deccan: Nizam ul-Mulk, [ruler of what was to become the state of Hyderabad] being desirous of possessing an army, which though composed of different nations become effeminate by a long peace, should nevertheless be fit for the purposes of war, had with that intention invited into his domains a great number of Pathans or inhabitants of Kandahar, the remains of those Afghans who had conquered Persia and whom Nadir Shah after having chased them out of that fertile kingdom had pursued them even to their own mountains .