By expanding the geographical scope of the history of violence and war, this
volume challenges both Western and state-centric narratives of the decline of
violence and its relationship to modernity. It highlights instead similarities
across early modernity in terms of representations, legitimations, applications
of, and motivations for violence. It seeks to integrate methodologies of the
study of violence into the history of war, thereby extending the historical
significance of both fields of research. Thirteen case studies outline the
myriad ways in which large-scale violence was understood and used by states and
non-state actors throughout the early modern period across Africa, Asia, the
Americas, the Atlantic, and Europe, demonstrating that it was far more complex
than would be suggested by simple narratives of conquest and resistance.
Moreover, key features of imperial violence apply equally to large-scale
violence within societies. As the authors argue, violence was a continuum,
ranging from small-scale, local actions to full-blown war. The latter was
privileged legally and increasingly associated with states during early
modernity, but its legitimacy was frequently contested and many of its violent
forms, such as raiding and destruction of buildings and crops, could be found in
activities not officially classed as war.
Legitimization and limits of Mughal military violence in early modern
. Ahmad, T..abaqāt Akbarī, ed. B. De (3 vols, Calcutta, 1927–40), II,
pp. 214–19; B. De (trans.), The T.ạbaqāt-i Akbarī of Khwājah Niz.āmuddīn Ah.mad (3 vols,
Delhi, 1992), II, pp. 341–8; M. A. Qandahari, Ta’rıkh-i Akbarī, ed. H. S. Muinuddin
Nadwi, S. A. Ali, and I. A. Arshi (Rampur, 1962), pp. 109–15; T. Ahmad (trans.), Ta’rıkh-i
Akbarī (Delhi, 1993), pp. 148–53.
2 Akbar-nāma, ed. Rahim, II, p. 323; Akbarnama, trans. Beveridge, II, p. 475.
3 M. Alam, The Languages of PoliticalIslam in India, c.1200–1800 (Delhi, 2004), p. 61.
4 Ibid., pp. 81–114, 141–89.