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An unparalleled account of the Mughal Empire

Manucci, Niccolao Storia do Mogor, or Mogul India, 1653-1708. Translated with introduction and notes by William Irvine. Edited under the supervision of the Royal Asiatic Society and published for the Government of India. London John Murray, for the Government of India 1907-1908
First edition. Four volumes, 8vo (23.5 x 16.6 cm), pp.lxxxix, [1], 386, 13 plates; x, [2], 471, 14 plates; xiv, 509, [1, blank], 17 plates, 3 in colour; xiv, 605, [1, blank], [4, advertisements], 15 plates, 2 large folding tables, folding map in rear pocket. The Indian Texts Series - I. A very good set in original cloth, elaborately decorated in gilt and colour. Top and bottom of first volume's spine worn; rear hinge of fourth volume weakened.

The first full English translation of this remarkable eyewitness account of the Mughal Empire in the 17th century, compiled by Niccolo Manucci (1638-1717), a Venetian. Age fourteen, he stowed away on a ship at Venice. The English Viscount Bellomont, a passenger, took Manucci under his protection and engaged him as a servant, The viscount was on a forlorn diplomatic mission to solicit money for the Royalist cause from the Shah of Persia. Manucci accompanied Bellomont on his travels from Smyrna to Isfahan. Bellomont's mission was a catastrophic failure and he died in the east. Manucci reached Surat in 1656 and travelled to Delhi, where he met Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan. Manucci enlisted in Dara Shikoh's service as an artilleryman and fought for him against his brother Aurangzeb at Lahore, Multan, and Bhakkar. After Dara Shikoh's defeat and execution in 1659, Manucci refused to enter Aurangzeb's service. He travelled extensively and studied medicine at Agra. He practised medicine at Lahore from 1670 to 1676 when he returned to Delhi and took service with Shah Alam, Aurangzeb's son. In 1682, he fled to Goa and then to Madras. He moved to Pondicherry in 1686, where he remained until his death. The first part of Manucci's history gives an account of his journey from Venice to Delhi and a chronicle of Mughal rulers from Timur to Aurangzeb's accession. The second part covers Aurangzeb's reign from 1659 to 1707, interspersed with the author's own adventures. The third part describes the culture and habits of the Mughal court. Manucci lists the empire's provinces and their revenues and notes the major roads and distances; he also includes lengthy descriptions of both Islam and Hinduism. Whether writing of the death of the eunuch Basant, his first surgical procedure at Lahore, or a charge by Rajput cavalry, Manucci is an engaging historian. Manucci's history, written by a foreign adventurer who witnessed firsthand the dramatic intrigues of the Mughal empire over more than fifty years, is without equal. He wrote from the experience of a life spent travelling throughout the Mughal empire in numerous capacities, not as a diplomat who spent a few years at court. He compiled his history in Italian, French, and Portuguese, and sent manuscripts in all three languages to Europe. The French and Portuguese manuscripts were acquired by a Jesuit library at Paris, then dispersed, and are now in Berlin. The Italian manuscripts remained in Venice. The majority of this book's illustrations are reproductions of Mughal portrait miniatures from an album sent back by Manucci which is now in Paris.