The Heirs of Vijayanagara: Court Politics in Early Modern South India by Lennart Bes is a comparative study investigating court politics in four kingdoms that succeeded the south Indian Vijayanagara empire during the 16th to 18th centuries: Ikkeri, Tanjavur, Madurai, and Ramnad. Building on a combination of unexplored Indian texts and Dutch archival records, this research offers a new analysis of political culture, power relations, and dynastic developments.
The monograph provides detailed facts and insights that contest existing scholarship. By highlighting their competitive, fluid, and dynamic nature, it undermines the historiography viewing these courts as harmonic, hierarchic, and static. Far from being remote, ritualised figures, we find kings and Brahmins contesting with other courtiers for power. At the same time, by stressing continuities with the past, this study questions recent scholarship that perceives a fundamentally new form of Nayaka kingship. Thus, this research has important repercussions for the way we perceive both these kingdoms and their ‘medieval’ precursors.
In this session Anirudh Kanisetti will be in conversation with the author Lennart Bes. The conversation will be followed by a Q&A session with the audience.