The use of gunpowder and firearms has been a key
concern for military history and for the history of warfare, science and
technology. It has also been crucial to the debate on the expansion of empires
across the world.
It has often been suggested that the exclusivity of the use
of firearms in fact created 'gunpowder empires', a centralization of power in
the hands of those who could afford this technology. Using material from a range
of contemporary sources and supplemented with rare visuals, this book examines
how the use of gunpowder technology showed different results in medieval India.
These results are not at variance with the idea that firearms often contribute
to concentration of power and the successful building of empires. The book
closely examines the impact of their use on regional states in the fifteenth
century and on the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In
the case of the Mughal Empire, it suggests that the use of the musket had
particular relevance tot he center's control of internal resources. Further, the
book also describes the dissemination of muskets among peasant communities. The
links between this development and the growing militancy among sections of the
rural population are also explored.
This book is an important contribution to
the history of war technology and changing perspectives on state formation in
pre-modern India. It reaffirms the catalytic influences of military technology,
while at the same time mapping the link between the diffusion of technology and
evolving social formations during that period. It will interest the historian of
medieval India and scholars and students interested in issues of state formation
and military history.
About the Author:
Iqtidar Alam Khan retired as
Professor of History. Aligarh Muslim University, India.
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