Dar-ul-Khilafat-i-Shahjahanabad: The Padshahi Shahar in Mughal India: 1556-1739

Blake, Stephen Paul

     This dissertation focuses on a special type of capital city -- the padshahi (sovereign) shahar (city), which characterized the urban landscape of the Mughal Empire during the period (1556-1739) of its greatest extent, power, and wealth. Two overarching, but intersecting lines of inquiry support this examination into the capital city in pre-modern Mughal India. One line begins, from the perspective of the Mughal scholar, with the political, economic, social, administrative, and military parameters of medieval Indian life. This line frames hypotheses and poses questions from the perspective of the organization of the Empire at large: What does the concentration of wealth in the hands of the Emperor and his great dependents imply about the organization of the capital city? What does the frequent movement of the Emperor and his great subordinates imply about the capital city as the administrative center of the Empire? The other line of inquiry begins, from the perspective of the urbanist, with certain aspects of the geography, architecture, population, administration, and provisioning of the capital city. This line poses questions about the Mughal Empire from the point of view of the organization of its capital city: What does the separation of the chief mosque and the Imperial palace in the capital city imply about the place of Islam in the Empire at large? What do the activities of the Emperor in the capital city suggest about his ability to rule the Empire successfully? . . . . This inquiry into the padshahi shahar in medieval India probes in two directions: it aims to highlight certain aspects of the organization of the Mughal Empire at large and it attempts to identify a certain type of capital city in pre-modern civilizations.

Bernard S. Cohn