About the Book
In this monograph, the two authors have set out to investigate a number of issues dealing with the pre-colonial period of the two ports -Masulipatnam and Cambay. Although these two ports have their distinct characteristics, yet they betray some common feature in their historical existence.
The two authors, using different nature of sources as well as different approaches in their treatment, have investigated their role of two ports in overseas trade and their integration with the regional state system. Cambay which was an important port in the Sultanate of Gujarat, was relegated to an inferior position with the conquest of the Mughas and the rise of Surat. Yet it has been shown that Cambay and its hinterland continued to play prominent role in the overseas trade. Golconda has fostered the birth of Masulipatnam and the Mughal conquest did not destroy it, although European private trade grew further. The end of the 18the century had limited the Mughal interest in Masulipatnam, which was bound up with the crisis of the Mughal Empire. Both the authors have drawn attention to the relation between the two ports with their hinterland as well as to the growth of textile production in the suburbs. The theme of European inputs into the development of both these ports shows that after the mid-18th century, the history of these two ports diverge and go their own ways. Finally, the involvement of the sup[er-power - Marathas, English, Dutch - create a situation in the late 18th century, which saw the submergence of trade to the political struggle. Along with these, the climatic and physical changes of the port may have an adverse impact. It has been shown here that the problem of silting and shifting sandbanks were not major factor at Cambay. In case of Masulipatnam, it seems that the Krishna river has become shallower in the 18th century. Both these authors, basing mostly on unpublished and little known published European evidences, have tried to understand the life of the traditional Indian port town and not merely outline its trade and commerce.
About the Author
Sinnappah Arasaratnam is Professor of History, University of New England, Australia. In addition to Merchants, Companies and Commerce of the Coromandel Coast, 1650-1740 (1986) and Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century (1994) he has worked on maritime history, European expansion in India, migration and settlement in Malaysia and Nationalism and Communalism in Sri Lanka.
Aniruddha Ray is Professor in Department of Islamic History and Culture, University of Calucutta. His published works include Some Aspects of Mughal Administration (1984); ed. with S. K. Bagchi, Technology in Ancient and Medieval India (1986); The Rebal Nawab: Revolt of Vizier Ali Khan of Oudh (1990); and ed. with Dr. R. Chatterjee, Society and Culture of Medieval Bengal (Bengali), 1992.
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