Nandini Das – Courting India

Nandini Das – Courting India


Traditional interpretations of the British Empire’s emerging success and expansion have long overshadowed the deep uncertainty that marked its initial entanglement with India. In Courting India: Renaissance London, Mughal India, and the Origins of Empire, acclaimed historian Nandini Das examines the British arrival in India in the early 17th century with fresh eyes, resulting in a profound and groundbreaking account of one of the most important encounters in the history of colonialism.

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 represented 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 this fascinating history of Roe’s four years in India, Nandini Das offers an insider’s view of Britain in the making, a country whose imperial seeds were just being sown. It is a story of palace intrigue, scandal, lotteries, and wagers that unfold 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 Elizabethan 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.