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The Moghul - A general review

Uploaded by jardiner on Dec 18, 2001

This tale is offered to the memory of one William Hawkins (1575-1613), a brandy-drinking, Turkish-speaking seaman and adventurer who was the first Englishman to reach the court of Jahangir, the Great Moghul of India. There he delivered gifts from the new East India Company and a letter from King James proposing direct trade, then a zealously protected monopoly of Portugal. As he gradually adopted Indian ways, Hawkins became a court favorite of the Moghul, who made him a knightly Khan and eventually tried to keep him in India. After several Portuguese-instigated attempts to murder him, Hawkins attached himself for safety to a certain willful Indian Woman. The end of their story eventually became a minor legend throughout the early East India Company.

How true the story is

Brian Hawksworth is largely a fictional composite, whose experiences recall in part those of William Hawkins (in India from 1608 to 1613) and in part those of other seventeenth-century European adventurers. His defeat of the four Portuguese galleons was only a slight dramatization of historic victories by severely outnumbered English frigates off Surat in 1612 and 1614 commanded by English captains Thomas Best and Nicholas Downton, both sailing for the early East India Company. Hawksworth’s mercurial relationship with the Moghuland his experiences at the Moghul’s court were recreated in part from the letters and diaries of William Hawkins and those of his successor, Sir Thomas Roe. As did Brian Hawkswarth, William Hawkins adopted the Indian style of life in dress and diet, much to astonishment of his European contemporaries. Brian Hawkswarth’s love affair with Shirin was suggested by William Hawkins’ marriage to an Indian woman of noble descent, possibly a member of the Moghul’s court, on the encouragement of Jahangir, who suspected the Jesuits of attempting to poison him and wanted his food monitored. Hawkins’ wife later journeyed to London, where she caused the East India Company considerable disruption over their responsibilities towards her, and eventually she returned to India.

Although most of the early Englishmen in India resembled our George Elkinton far more than they did Brian Haksworth, there was one early traveler, Thomas Coryat, whose cultural and human sensibilities would not have clashed greatly with those of Brian Hawksworth at the end of his story.

The sudden appearance of the bubonic plague in India was taken from the court history of the Moghul Jahangir. Similarly, the capture of the Moghul’s trading vessel by the Portuguese,...

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Uploaded by:   jardiner

Date:   12/18/2001

Category:   Book Reviews

Length:   6 pages (1,251 words)

Views:   2797

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