A profound and ground-breaking new history of one of the most important encounters in the history of colonialism: the British arrival in India in the early seventeenth century.
‘Beautifully written and masterfully researched, this has the makings of a classic’ Peter Frankopan
‘A modern masterpiece, delightful, enlightening and faultless’ John Keay
‘A marvelous piece of detective work, uncovering the secret machinations and courtly intrigues that shaped the early encounters between two powers’ Amanda Foreman
*A Financial Times Book to Read in 2023*
When Thomas Roe arrived in India in 1616 as James I’s first ambassador to the Mughal Empire, the English barely had a toehold in the subcontinent. Their understanding of South Asian trade and India was sketchy at best, and, to the Mughals, they were minor players on a very large stage. Roe was representing a kingdom that was beset by financial woes and deeply conflicted about its identity as a unified ‘Great Britain’ under the Stuart monarchy. Meanwhile, the court he entered in India was wealthy and cultured, its dominion widely considered to be one of the greatest and richest empires of the world.
In Nandini Das’s fascinating history of Roe’s four years in India, she offers an insider’s view of a Britain in the making, a country whose imperial seeds were just being sown. It is a story of palace intrigue and scandal, lotteries and wagers that unfolds as global trade begins to stretch from Russia to Virginia, from West Africa to the Spice Islands of Indonesia.
A major debut that explores the art, literature, sights and sounds of Jacobean London and Imperial India, Courting India reveals Thomas Roe’s time in the Mughal Empire to be a turning point in history – and offers a rich and radical challenge to our understanding of Britain and its early empire.