Land and Local Kingship in Eighteenth-Century Bengal

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Cambridge University Press, Jul 25, 2002 - History - 372 pages
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This book examines the politics and culture of landholding in eastern India. Professor McLane explores the dual and sometimes conflicting roles of the zamindars, the landed chiefs, in eighteenth-century western Bengal during the decline of the Mughal empire and the rise of the British hegemony. He focuses on zamindari rent extraction, techniques of coercion, and the meaning of gift-giving and gift-receiving. He shows how the zamindars kept alive the rituals, patronage, and other traditions of normative Hindu kingship for their subjects in the villages while they extracted revenue from the peasantry and intermediate gentry for the government of the Mughals and then the English East India Company. He argues that the increased commercialization and efforts to maximize land revenues imposed severe strains on the paternalistic and gift-oriented culture of Bengal's huge landlords. This analysis is illustrated with a case study of Bengal's most important and controversial zamindari, the Burdwan raj.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Nazims of Bengal and the large zamindars
27
Collecting rents and revenues
45
Coercion
69
Political gifts and patronage
96
Mughal Burdwan and the rise of the Burdwan raj
125
Burdwans expansion
139
The Maratha invasions 17421751
161
Revenue farming 17711777
208
Zamindari family politics the Burdwan raj 17701775
223
The politics of Burdwan family debt and marriages 17751778
235
Testing the limits 17781790
251
Burdwan under the Decennial and Permanent Settlements
267
Patnis and the elusive quest for independence and security
287
Conclusion
306
Bibliography
323

Zamindars and the transition to Company rule
172
The famine of 1770
194

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