CONTENTS * List of Illustrations * Maps * Dramatis Personae * Acknowledgements
Introduction 1. A Chessboard King 2. Believers and Infidels 3. An Uneasy Equilibrium 4. The Near Approach of the Storm 5. The Sword of the Lord of Fury 6. This Day of Ruin and Riot 7. A Precarious Position 8. Blood for Blood 9. The Turn of the Tide 10. To Shoot Every Soul 11. The City of the Dead 12. The Last of the Great Mughals * Glossary * Notes * Bibliography * Index
INTRODUCTION At 4 p.m. on a hazy, humid winter's afternoon in Rangoon in November 1862, soon after the end of the monsoon, a shrouded corpse was escorted by a small group of British soldiers to an anonymous grave at the back of a walled prison enclosure. This enclosure lay overlooking the muddy brown waters of the Rangoon river, a little downhill from the great gilt spire of the Shwe Dagon pagoda. Around the enclosure lay the newly constructed cantonment area of the port - an anchorage and pilgrimage town that had been seized, burned and occupied by the British only ten years earlier. The bier of the State Prisoner - as the deceased was referred to - was accompanied by two of his sons and an elderly, bearded mullah. No women were allowed to attend, and a small crowd from the bazaar who had somehow heard about the prisoner's death were kept away by armed guards. Nevertheless, one or two managed to break through the cordon to touch the shroud before it was lowered into the grave. The ceremony was brief. The British authorities had made sure not only that the grave was already dug, but that quantities of lime were on hand to guarantee the rapid decay of both bier and body. When the shortened funeral prayers had been recited - no lamentations or panegyrics were allowed - the earth was thrown in over the lime, and the turf carefully replaced so that within a month or so no mark would remain to indicate the place of burial. A week later the British Commissioner, Captain H. N. Davies, wrote to London to report what had passed, adding: Have since visited the remaining State Prisoners - the very scum of the reduced Asiatic harem; found all correct. None of the family appear much affected by the death of the bed-ridden old man. His death was evidently due to pure decrepitude and paralysis in the region of the throat. He expired at 5 o'clock on the morning of the funeral. The death of the ex-King may be said to have had no effect on the Mahomedan part of the populace of Rangoon, except perhaps for a few fanatics who watch and pray for the final triumph of Islam. A bamboo fence surrounds the grave for some considerable distance, and by the time the fence is worn out, the grass will again have properly covered the spot, and no vestige will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests." The State Prisoner Davies referred to was more properly known as Bahadur Shah II, known from his pen-name as Zafar, meaning Victory. Zafar was the last Mughal Emperor, and the direct descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. He was born in 1775, when the British were still a relatively modest and mainly coastal power in India, looking inwards from three enclaves on the Indian shore. In his lifetime he had seen his own dynasty reduced to humiliating insignificance, while the British transformed themselves from vulnerable traders into an aggressively expansionist military force. Zafar came late to the throne, succeeding his father only in his mid-sixties, when it was already impossible to reverse the political decline of the Mughals. But despite this he succeeded in creating around him in Delhi a court of great brilliance. Personally, he was one of the most talented, tolerant and likeable of his dynasty: a skilled calligrapher, a profound writer on Sufism, a discriminating patron of painters of miniatures, an inspired creator of gardens and an amateur architect. Most importantly he was a very serious mystical poet, who wrote not only in Urdu and Persian but Braj Bhasha and Punjabi, and partly through his patronage there took place arguably the greatest literary renaissance in modern Indian history. Himself a ghazal writer of great charm and accomplishment, Zafar's provided a showcase for the talents of India's greatest lyric poet, Ghalib, and his rival Zauq - the Mughal Poet Laureate, and the Salieri to Ghalib’s Mozart. While the British progressively took over more and more of the Mughal Emperor's power, removing his name from the coins, seizing complete control even of the city of Delhi itself, and finally laying...
The last Mughal : The Fall of a dynasty delhi 1857
William Dalrymple FRSL FRGS FRSE (born William Hamilton-Dalrymple on 20 March 1965) is a Scottish historian and writer, art historian and curator, as well as an award-winning broadcaster and critic. His books have won numerous awards and prizes, including the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award, the Hemingway, the Kapuściński and the Wolfson Prizes. He has been four times longlisted and once shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. He is also one of the co-founders and co-directors of the annual Jaipur Literature Festival. The television series Stones of the Raj and Indian Journeys, which Dalrymple wrote and presented, won him the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Series at BAFTA in 2002. In 2012 Dalrymple was appointed a Whitney J. Oates Visiting Fellow in the Humanities by Princeton University. In the Spring of 2015 he was appointed the OP Jindal Distinguished Lecturer at Brown University. In 2018 he was awarded the President's Medal of the British Academy.