The year 1707 is a convenient date at which to start a history of the Indian princely states as it marks the death of the last great Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, whose dynasty had ruled India as a unified state for almost 150 years, and the beginning of the rapid decline of the Mughal raj. The following 150 years were times of political chaos until the sub-continent was once again functioning as a unified state, this time under another foreign rej, that of the British.
This book follows the formation and the fortunes of the 800 or so states that predated or emerged from the wreckage of the Mughal empire. It is presented in two parts. Part One starts with an all-India overview history of the princely states, both those which emerged from the demise of the Mughal empire and those which predated and survived the Mughal raj, up to the watershed 1857 uprising in north India. It then investigates the constitutional relationship between the states and the British crown, the new paramount power, as this lay at the core of the political relationship between the two polities on the sub-continent : princely India and British India. It then examines the constitutional, economic and populist forces at work during the ensuing nine decades and considers those actions and attitudes on the part of the princes in the period leading up to India's independence that virtually ensured their extinction after 1947. Part Two contains a history of each of the states.