Islamic Empires, 1400 - 1800
This information is for the 2022/23 session.
Dr Gagandeep S. Sood. SAR 2.07
This course is available on the BA in History, BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in History and Politics, BSc in International Relations and History, BSc in Politics and History and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.
Following the transformations wrought by the Mongols in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, there rose the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires in the Near East, Iran and India. These ‘Islamic’ empires would go on to rank among the wealthiest and most powerful regimes of the early modern world. Supported by an array of provincial and local elites, they were at the zenith of their power in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, spanning a region which extended from the Mediterranean to the Bay of Bengal, from Yemen to the Crimea. Their populations were producers, consumers, importers and exporters of goods critical for global trade; their location accorded them a vital role in the flow of ideas and information; there was a remarkable flowering of the arts in the period; and conversion to the region’s dominant religion, Islam, continued apace, breaching new frontiers. By the eighteenth century, however, the empires had been reduced to shadows of their former selves, with power monopolised by a kaleidoscope of smaller regimes vying with each other for supremacy. This struggle paved the way for the region’s later subordination to Europe’s global empires, and the emergence of today’s Middle East and South Asia.
This course will examine the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal regimes, and the larger world to which they belonged, from their formation in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries to the ‘unscripted possibilities’ of the eighteenth century. We will study the ways in which temporal power was institutionalised; the patterns of daily life in urban and rural settings, as well as on the frontier; Islam in theory and in practice, and its relationship to the region’s other major religious traditions; diplomacy within and without the region; the prevailing techniques and technologies of warfare; inherited and collective knowledge of other lands, near and far, and the everyday movement of people, goods and news; the signal achievements in the literary, visual and architectural realms; secular changes to the region’s societies and economies; early modern millenarianism, fundamentalism and reformism; the eighteenth-century demise of the Islamic empires; and the concomitant rise of successor regimes which shaped the paths to modernity embarked upon.
10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of classes in the ST.
There will be a reading week in week 6 of the Michaelmas and the Lent Terms.
Students are expected to submit two 2000-word essays (one in MT, one in LT), give an oral presentation in class, and sit a 1-hour mock exam in ST.
Christopher A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Oxford, 2004)
Stephen F. Dale, The Muslim Empires of the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals (Cambridge, UK, 2010)
Richard M. Eaton, India in the Persianate Age, 1000-1765 (Allen Lane, 2019)
Joseph F. Fletcher, ‘Integrative history: Parallels and interconnections in the early modern period, 1500-1800’, Journal of Turkish Studies 9 (1985), 37-57
Colin Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650: The Structure of Power (2nd edn, New York, 2009)
Ira M. Lapidus, ‘State and religion in Islamic societies’, Past & Present 151 (1996), 3-27
Rudi P. Matthee, Persia in Crisis: Safavid Decline and the Fall of Isfahan (London, 2012)
Donald Quataert, The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 (Cambridge, UK, 2005)
David Morgan, Medieval Persia, 1040-1797 (London, 1988)
John F. Richards, The Mughal Empire (Cambridge, UK, 1993)
Francis Robinson, ‘Ottomans-Safavids-Mughals: Shared knowledge and connective systems’, Journal of Islamic Studies 8:2 (1997), 151-184
Gagan D. S. Sood, India and the Islamic Heartlands: An Eighteenth-Century World of Circulation and Exchange (Cambridge, UK, 2016)
Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.
Department: International History
Total students 2021/22: 24
Average class size 2021/22: 12
Capped 2021/22: Yes (30)
Value: One Unit
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Specialist skills