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(524 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
Muḥammad Qāsim Hindū Shāh Astarābādī Date of Birth: About 1550 Place of Birth: Astarābād, Persia Date of Death: About 1623 Place of Death: Sultanate of Bijapur BiographyMuḥammad Qāsim Hindū Shāh Astarābādī, who took the pen name Firishta, was born in Astarābād in northern Persia on the south-eastern tip of the Caspian Sea around 1550, though estimates of the year of his birth vary. P. Hardy, following Storey, calculates his birth to be about 1570, but the estimate of S. Subrahmanyam, following Mohl, of 1550 seems more re…

 Muntakhab al-tawārīkh

(2,631 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
Tārīkh-i Badāʾūnī‘Selection of chronicles’ Mulla ʿAbd al-Qādir ibn Mulūk Shāh Badāʾūnī Date: 1615 Original Language: Persian DescriptionThe  Muntakhab al-tawārīkh consists of three sections: the first is a history of Muslim rulers in India from the Ghaznavid dynasty to the reign of Humāyūn, son of Bābur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty; the second recounts the history of the first 40 years of the reign of Akbar, son of Humāyūn, with related anecdotes from the author’s own life; and the third contains the biographies of Sufi shaykhs,  ʿulamāʾ (Muslim scholars), physicians and p…

 Mongolicae legationis commentarius

(1,617 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
Mongolicae legationis commentarius‘Account of the mission to the Mogul’'The first mission to Akbar' Antonio Monserrate Date: 7 January 1591 Original Language: Latin Description Monserrate had written a detailed account of the first visit of the Jesuit delegation to the court of Akbar. Upon his return to Goa, he resolved to re-write his notes, this time in Latin. The process took a number of years, and was finally completed while he was still being held as a captive by Muslims in Sana‛a, Yemen, in 1591. It is a work of 120 folios. Monserrate’s account begins with the invitation sent by…

The arrival of European Christians in India during the 16th century

(4,458 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
The arrival of European Christians in India in the 16th century was part of the Portuguese political and economic expansion. In competition with the Spanish kingdoms of Castile and Aragón and with the Italian city states such as Genoa and Venice, Portugal sought to establish itself as a maritime power in the latter half of the 15th century. The expansion of the Ottoman Empire into the Balkans and its capture of Constantinople in 1453 had resulted in the Ottoman dominance of trade routes east of the Mediterranean Sea. That expansion, coupled with the…

 Tārīkh-i Firishta

(2,173 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
Gulshān-i Ibrāhīmī, Tāʾrīkh-i Nawras-nāma‘History’ of Firishta‘History of the rise of the Mahomedan power in India’ Muḥammad Qāsim Hindū Shāh Astarābādī Date: 1606 Original Language: Persian DescriptionThe  Gulshān-i Ibrāhīmī, commonly referred to as the  Tārīkh-i Firishta, is a general history of Muslim rulers with a focus on the spread and rule of Islam in India. It consists of 12  maqālas (chapters), preceded by an introduction summarising the history of Hindu rule in India and the arrival of Muslim rule. Each  maqāla focuses on the history of Muslim rule in a particul…

 Letter from Cristóbal de la Vega to the Superior General Claudio Acquaviva, Chaul, 2 December 1593

(821 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
Letter from Cristóbal de la Vega to the Superior General Claudio Acquaviva- Christoval de Vega, Christopher di Vega Date: 1593 Original Language: Spanish Description The letter, consisting of two folios, and of six pages in the Documenta Indica, was written by Cristóbal de la Vega to his superior to explain the reasons why the leader of the mission, Duarte Leitão, had decided to withdraw from the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the same year it had arrived. He states that the principal reason was the haughtiness of the emperor, w…

François Pyrard de Laval

(826 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
BiographyFrançois Pyrard wrote a detailed account of his ten years sailing in the Indian Ocean and travelling in India and parts of South-East Asia, but information about his life prior to his voyages is limited. He was probably born between 1570 and 1580 in Laval, on the River Mayenne, in western France. His writings give no information regarding his education or other aspects of his life before his voyage, and contemporary biographical accounts are also absent (Gray, ‘Introduction’, pp. xvii-x…


(1,035 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
Mulla ʿAbd al-Qādir ibn Mulūk Shāh Badāʾūnī Date of Birth: 1540 Place of Birth: Todabhim, Rajastan, India Date of Death: Approximately 1615 Place of Death: Badaun, Rohilkhand, India BiographyʿAbd al-Qādir was born in Todabhim in eastern Rajastan, India, in 1540 and died in Badaun in 1615, though some scholars, such as Blochmann, have postulated an earlier date (Hardy, ‘Badāʾūnī’, following Storey,  Persian literature, p. 437; Blochmann, ‘Badáoní’, pp. 142-3). At the time of his birth, Rajastan and other parts of north India were under the control of the Af…

 Voyage de François Pyrard de Laval; contenant sa navigation aux Indes-Orientales, aux Maldives, Moluques, au Brésil

(2,241 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
‘The voyage of François Pyrard of Laval to the East Indies, the Maldives, the Moluccas, and Brazil’ François Pyrard de Laval Date: 1611 Original Language: French DescriptionThe  Voyage de François Pyrard de Laval was first published in Paris in 1611, the year François Pyrard returned to France. This first edition consists of one volume containing 12 chapters, running to 372 pages. The book was dedicated to Marie de Medici, who, after the death of her husband, King Henry IV, in 1610, was ruling France as regent for her son, King Louis XIII. Its full title is Voyage de François Pyrard de La…

Cristóbal de la Vega

(858 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
Christoval de Vega, Christopher di Vega Date of Birth: 1561 Place of Birth: Osuna, Seville, Spain Date of Death: 1599 Place of Death: Malacca, Malaysia Biography Born in Osuna near Seville in the mid-16th century, Cristóbal de la Vega completed three years of legal studies before he joined the Society of Jesus. He went on to study philosophy for three years, and he also began his theological studies before departing for India. He arrived in Goa in 1583, and completed his studies in theology. In Goa, he was engaged in preaching …

 The Hedàya

(1,592 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
- Charles Hamilton Date: 1791 Original Language: English Description The Hedàya (in full  The Hedàya, or guide. A commentary on the Mussulman laws, translated by order of the Governor-General and Council of Bengal) is an English translation of the  Hidāya, a commentary on Ḥanafī jurisprudence written by the 12th-century jurist ʿAlī ibn Abī Bakr al-Marghīnānī. The work consists of four large volumes containing 53 ‘books’, addressing most of the topics covered in standard books of Muslim law. Topics covered follow t…

 Relaçam do Equebar Rei dos Mogores

(506 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
‘Account of Akbar King of the Mogores’ Antonio Monserrate Date: 26 November 1582 Original Language: Portuguese Description Having been given the task of recording the history of the first Jesuit mission to the court of Akbar, Monserrate wrote a daily chronicle in Portuguese, setting down his observations in detail. Upon his return to Goa, he was encouraged by his fellow priests to write out his history in full. After some delay, this task was completed in Latin as  Mongolicae legationis commentarius. However, an excerpt from his diary relating to Akbar was written up in Por…

Charles Hamilton

(888 words)

Author(s): Guenther, Alan
Date of Birth: 1752 or 1753 Place of Birth: Belfast Date of Death: 1792 Place of Death: London Biography Charles Hamilton was born in Belfast in 1752 or 1753. His father died of typhus fever in 1759, and his mother died in 1767. After completing his academic education in Belfast, he spent two years in Dublin before deciding on a military career. He left for India early in 1772 and secured a cadetship with the East India Company. He fought in the Battle of St George’s Day in the First Rohilla War (1774) as one of the cadets in the Select Picket. He was promoted to ensign in 1776 and to lieutenant in 1778. Al…