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Travellers in the Golden Realm

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529371321

Price: £20

ON SALE: 18th July 2024

Genre: Humanities / History / Regional & National History / Asian History

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‘A compelling, highly readable account of the earliest phase of English presence in India’ NANDINI DAS, author of Courting India

When the first English travellers in India encountered an unimaginable superpower, their meetings would change the world.

Before the East India Company and before the British Empire, England was a pariah state. Seeking better fortunes, 16th and 17th century merchants, pilgrims and outcasts ventured to the kingdom of the mighty Mughals, attempting to sell coarse woollen broadcloth along the silk roads; playing courtiers in the Mughal palaces in pursuit of love; or simply touring the sub-continent in search of an elephant to ride.

Into this golden realm went Father Thomas Stephens, a Catholic fleeing his home; the merchant Ralph Fitch looking for jewels in the markets of Delhi; and John Mildenhall, an adventurer revelling in the highwire politics of the Mughal elite. It was a land ruled from the palatial towers by women – the formidable Empress Nur Jahan Begim, the enterprising Queen Mother Maryam al-Zamani, and the intrepid Princess Jahanara Begim. Their collision of worlds helped connect East and West, launching a tempestuous period of globalisation spanning from the Chinese opium trade to the slave trade in the Americas.

Drawing on rich, original sources, Lubaaba Al-Azami traces the origins of a relationship between two nations – one outsider and one superpower – whose cultures remain inextricably linked to this day.


A compelling, highly readable account of the earliest phase of English presence in India - Al-Azami deftly combines familiar stories with significantly less familiar figures to vividly bring to life a period of immense change for both nations involved
Nandini Das, author of Courting India
Brings the Mughal world of the seventeenth century to life in all its colourful, vivid complexity. Al-Azami betrays a masterful eye for detail, telling the story of how the English tried to navigate the dazzling wealth, power, and cultural dynamism of the Indian subcontinent, though rarely with success. This book is a must read.
David Veevers, author The Great Defiance