About the Book:
A well-known traveller's account of Mughal India, Manucci the Venetian's work, which has been typically out of print for a long time ever since its appearance in 1907-9, is now offered in its full and unexpurgated form. It is a faithful and vivid picture of Mediaeval India from 1656-1680. Like Tavernier and Brucer, two equality famous travellers' works, Hedges' Diary of Mughal Provincial Administration, Gemeli Careri's visit to Aurangzeb's camp in the Deccan in 1695 and Catrou's Histoire Generale de I' Empire du Mogol (1715), founded on the memoirs printed in these pages, this voluminous four-volume work is of both subjective and objective value which can hardly be overestimated.
Written in a charming style, the book is truly a Magnum opus of the celebrated author who visited India in 1656 and was associated with the Mughal Court for over half a century.
He offers herein, besides other intimate details, an account of Hindu religion, manners, customs, and description of Muhammadan weddings and funerals.
The book is a veritable mine of otherwise inaccessible data about a period of Indian history which everyone should know. Comprehensive in its groundwork and masterly and lucid in its details, Manucci's book, as presented in its English garb by Irvine, ranks among the most authoritative sources at the disposal of the historian of the future.
A painstaking exploration of life as lived in an important period of Mughal history, the book is crowded with facts carefully and ably translated and edited with historical footnotes which help in understanding them and their relation to the administrative, political and social condition of the time.
Few MSS. Were more worth translating and few have had a better translator.
Niccolao Manucci's History of the Mughals about one-third of which was originally written in Italian and which was subsequently almost wholly re-written in Portuguese mixed with French, is organised into five parts: (i) Manucci's travel from Venice to Delhi together with a chronicle of the Mughal Emperors down to the accession of Aurangzeb, (ii) the reign of Aurangzeb with the author's personal history, (iii) the Mughal Court, its system of government and revenue with digressions on European companies the Hindu religion, Indian animals, the Catholics in India, etc., (iv) current events in the Mughal camp in the Deccan from 1701 with accounts of Jesuit and Catholic activities and (v) events in 1705 and 1706 interspersed with stories of earlier years.
Besides, Irvine's edition contains 56 portraits of contemporary Princes and other celebrities of the Mughal Empire drawn at Manucci's instance by Mir Muhammad, an artist in the employ of Shah Alam, before 1686. Another distinguishing feature of the work is Irvine's notes and appendices, incorporated in this work, which, according to Sir J. N. Sarkar, "are often of more value than Manucci's text, as they contain the most accurate information available in any European tongue, about the details of the reigns of Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb and Shah Alam, with exact dates and references to authorities."
Of the distinguished European travellers in India who sparkled in the firmament of seventeenth-century India, none was more meteoric than Manucci who had been a journalist, army captain, physician, plenipotentiary, traveller, adventurer and, above all, a front-row man of letters.
It was Manucci who helped to initiate the western world into the mysteries of India and undertook the laudable task of making this country better known to Europe. His narrative therefore, forms not only the most delightful and entertaining reading, but also is absolutely unique among the documentary sources for the history of India.
About the Author:
William Irvine, (1840-1911), the sun of a Scotch advocate, was born on 5th July, 1840. He joined the Indian Civil Services in 1862 and arrived in India on 12th December, 1863. He served for 25 years in various capacities in N. W. Province, Muzaffarnagar, Ghazipur, Shahranpur, etc., and retired from I.C.S. in 1888 at the age of 48. A man of exceptional literary talent and ability, his first article on Canal Rates versus Land Revenue appeared in the 'Calcutta Review' in 1869 and his first full-length book. The Rent Digest or the Law of Procedure relating to Landlord and Tenant, Bengal Presidency, saw the light of day in the same year. He was regarded as an authority on land revenue system. As an officer he brought out his first blue-book, The Settlement Report of Ghazipur District, which was published in 1886.
As a historian his Later Mughals, originally to cover the century from the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 to the capture of Delhi by the English in 1803, appeared serially in the 'Asiatic Quarterly Review' and the 'Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.' This work which was left unfinished has since been published under the editorship of Sir Jadunath Sarkar.
But what has immortalised Irvine is his monumental work Niccolao Manucci's Travels in the Mughal Empire, the Storia do Mogor on which he worked for seven long years. His monograph The Army of the Indian Moghuls (1903) is a valuable dictionary of persian. Turki and Hindi military technical terms.
Irvine died on 3rd November, 1911.
The Hindu religion
Prefatory Note1; bequest of Thomas, Dominican 1703 4; attempt to expel Capuchins from Madras and Cuddalore 6; the Dominican bequest again referred to 9; he is summoned to Pondicherry10; father Laurent recalled to Pondicherry 15; attempt to oust Father de Saa from Cuddalore 21; his excommunication, june 29 28; Madras Capuchin fail to soften the Bishop's heart 33
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