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Curating Lived Islam in the Muslim World: British Scholars, Sojourners and Sleuths
 9780367770730, 9781032002958, 9781003173571

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
Introduction: Travel narratives and the imperial imperatives: Investigating gender and Islam
Chapter 1: Adelard and Muslim scholarship: Connecting the medieval worlds during the Crusades and Reconquista
Chapter 2: Pioneer traveller–observer: Thomas Coryate’s Eastern journeys and discourses
Chapter 3: Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World: A formidable non-orientalist
Chapter 4: Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews, and inoculation in Ottoman Turkey
Chapter 5: Bridging the gaps: Fanny Parkes among the Indian Muslims
Chapter 6: Mapping Muslim communities: Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali in India
Chapter 7: Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite: Gertrude Bell among Muslims
Chapter 8: Lone scholar and invisible sleuth: Freya Stark and Muslims
Epilogue: Sojourners and academes
Books and Journals

Citation preview

Curating Lived Islam in the Muslim World

Beginning with the medieval period, this book collates and reviews first-hand scholarship on Muslims in the Middle East and South Asia, as noted down by eminent British travellers, sleuths, and observers of lived Islam. The book foregrounds the pre-colonial and pre-Orientalist phase and locates the multi-disciplinarity of Britain’s relationship with Muslims over the last millennium to demonstrate a multi-layered interface. Fully sensitive to a gender balance, the book focuses on specially selected individuals and their transformative experiences while living and working among Muslims. Examining the writings of male and female authors including Adelard, Thomas Coryate, Mary Montagu, and Fanny Parkes, the book analyses their understanding of Islam. Moreover, the author explores the works of a salient number of representative colonial British women to move away from the imperious wives stereotype and sheds light on gender and Islam in the Near East and South Asia by illustrating the status of women, tribal hierarchies, historic and architectural sites, and regional politics. Going beyond familiar views about colonialism, travel writings, and memsahibs without losing sight of the complex relations between Britain and Asian Muslims, this book will be of interest to academics working on British history, Imperial history, the study of religions, Shi’i Islam, Islamic studies, Gender and the Empire, and South Asian Studies. Iftikhar H. Malik is Professor of History in the School of Humanities at Bath Spa University, UK. He is also a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an MCR at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, UK.

Routledge Islamic Studies Series

This broad ranging series includes books on Islamic issues from all parts of the globe and is not simply confined to the Middle East.

25. Islam, Context, Pluralism and Democracy Classical and Modern Interpretations Yaser Ellethy 26. Young Muslim Change-Makers Grassroots Charities Rethinking Modern Societies William Barylo 27. Da‘wa and Other Religions Indian Muslims and the Modern Resurgence of Global Islamic Activism Matthew J. Kuiper 28. A Genealogy of Islamic Feminism Pattern and Change in Indonesia Etin Anwar 29. The Idea of European Islam Religion, Ethics, Politics and Perpetual Modernity Mohammed Hashas 30. Dispute Resolution in Islamic Finance Alternatives to Litigation? Adnan Trakic, John Benson and Pervaiz K Ahmed 31. Muslim Women and Gender Justice Concepts, Sources, and Histories Edited by Dina El Omari, Juliane Hammer and Mouhanad Khorchide 32. Islamic Conversation Sohbet and Ethics in Contemporary Turkey Smita Tewari Jassal 33. Curating Lived Islam in the Muslim World British Scholars, Sojourners and Sleuths Iftikhar H. Malik For more information about this series, please visit: middleeaststudies/series/SE0516

Curating Lived Islam in the Muslim World

British Scholars, Sojourners and Sleuths Iftikhar H. Malik

First published 2021 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 Iftikhar H. Malik The right of Iftikhar H. Malik to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-0-367-77073-0 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-032-00295-8 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-17357-1 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by SPi Global, India


Acknowledgementsvi Introduction: Travel narratives and the imperial imperatives: Investigating gender and Islam


1 Adelard and Muslim scholarship: Connecting the medieval worlds during the Crusades and Reconquista


2 Pioneer traveller–observer: Thomas Coryate’s Eastern journeys and discourses


3 Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World: A formidable non-orientalist


4 Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews, and inoculation in Ottoman Turkey


5 Bridging the gaps: Fanny Parkes among the Indian Muslims


6 Mapping Muslim communities: Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali in India


7 Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite: Gertrude Bell among Muslims


8 Lone scholar and invisible sleuth: Freya Stark and Muslims


Epilogue: Sojourners and academes


Glossary Bibliography Index

190 192 198


A study of this nature covering several centuries and regions owes itself to camaraderie and helpful nudges from numerous friends and associates, who over the years might have heard these whispers from an instinctively restless soul. My own travels for teaching and research helped me appreciate these writers whose own literary nurturing happened in a cross-cultural milieu. Some of them were from the West Country, where I have been teaching for over 25 years. Foremost, among the instigators are generations of my students in Bath, Oxford and elsewhere whose prodding steadily kept me on the course, as has been the support from colleagues and friends at Newton Park, Wolfson and St. Antony’s. Though research and ideas evolved over the years, yet Covid-19, by an uneasy default, offered a solid regime to concentrate and complete the text. Nighat, as usual, ensured needed walks and fresh air while Sidra kept probing about cycle routes in an unusually sunny summer of 2020 in Oxfordshire. Farooq, Kiran, and Shan stood by during longer spells at the desk while Imaan and Azaan tried their best to distract me for a quick visit to the University Parks feeding ducks, or counting purple buses in Summertown. Dorothea Schaefter and Alexandra de Brauw, with their resolute candidness, roped me in with Routledge whereas the anonymous referee helped straighten some ambivalent insertions. Appreciation is due for the copy editor, and certainly, the team whose efforts and spirit, despite the uncertain lockdowns, ensured quality output within a rather short time span. Iftikhar Malik, Oxford 21 June 2021

Introduction Travel narratives and the imperial imperatives: Investigating gender and Islam

Our study fuses together distinct strands such as travel writing, the British Empire, philosophy, gender, study of religions, and ethnography by investigating select-few British authors through their copious narratives of Muslims over the past millennium. We begin with the Bathonian philosopher, Adelard (1080–1152)—the medieval English translator of Muslim works into Latin from Arabic—, and Thomas Coryate (1577–1617), the famed walker, who visited the Ottoman Empire, Levant, Persia, and India long before the inception of the British colonial primacy. These authors preceded British colonialism, and thus predating Saidian Orientalism their works could fall within the purview of Pre-Colonial studies where curiosity, adventure, pleasure, and search for knowledge underpinned their travels leaving lasting imprints on their own societies.1 Mary Montagu (1689–1762), a keen observer of the Ottoman norms in the early modern era and frequent visitor into the Turkish households and advocate for inoculation, finds company among precolonial observers whose writings and cultural encounters avoid being pejorative or haughty. Subsequently, we focus on Fanny Parkes (1794–1875), and Mrs. Syed Meer Hassan Ali—who lived in India during 1816–28—with their keen observations on Indian Muslims gleaned from extended residence amidst the expansive colonial milieu. Subsequent chapters dwell on scholars and chroniclers from a burgeoning list including Gertrude Bell (1868–1926), Ellen Tanner (1874–1937), Freya Stark (1893–1993), and Robert Byron (1905–41), who certainly represent recent dynamics and incongruities of Muslim-British interface. During this period, especially with tumultuous developments preceding and succeeding the First World War, some of these observers provided their knowledge capital to the imperial authorities but the fact remains that almost all of them shared keen and no less curious associations with the communities and cultural heritage of the Middle East and South Asia. Other than comprehensive archives, memoirs, and scholarly commentaries, individuals like Gottlieb Leitner (1840–99) operated as trans-cultural mediators besides building up institutions devoted to learning. Some writings, dating from the colonial era may smack of a conscious objectification or even exceptionalisation; yet in several cases, especially in works by women writers, we notice pronounced cultural sensitivity without totally succumbing to an unbridled White Man’s burden. Empire building is mainly perceived as a male domain with vigorous emphasis on innate masculinity, chivalrous adventurism and an unbound frontier spirit,

2  Introduction placing the colonised perpetually on a receiving end, if not totally infantilised.2 Within this uneven and certainly imperious context anchored on power, segregation, and frequent coercion, the early studies of the Western empires often kept European women on the margins. Usually, beholden to their men and unquestionably loyal to imperial projects or Christianising missions, Western women in the colonies appeared more or less like mute spectators whose domain never went beyond managing an army of obliging household servants and ayas. Some solitary cases like Mary Montagu and Emily Eden (1797–1869) appeared as exceptions, and not the norm.3 Eden’s favourite writer, Jane Austen (1775–1816), whose own aunt, Philadelphia Hancock had married and lived in India for quite some time, inspired a writer in the former. Hancock would correspond with the English novelist occasionally sending her Indian handicrafts though Austen would not dwell on India in her fiction.4 However, as highlighted by historians such as Margaret MacMillan and Linda Colley, gender roles were not so clearly compartmentalised or fixated, and that is what our inquiry, to some extent, appears to affirm.5 Largely, the issues of racism, discrimination, class, and gender-based hierarchies are rooted in the imperial legacies, though contemporary generations may not be fully sensitive to their continuity.6 In the same vein, these interfaces did not perpetually embody a clash of cultures though religion, language, class, gender, age, and profession remained significant determinants on all sides, often applied to justify segregation. Adelard’s residence in Antioch for 7 years and pioneering efforts to engage with the Muslim scholarship of the stature of Muhammad Musa Al-Khwarizmi (780–850) predated the British Empire though happened during the testing times of the Crusades but without stigmatising Muslim interlocutors. Thomas Coryate, a royalist and the first modern travel writer in English, adored Muslim imperial and cultural edifices but the personal convictions of this son of a vicar from Somerset, often spawned judgemental statements, though not always rancorous. However, Islam, for Western observers and authors was a major area of theological preoccupation as it is today, and more than their men, Western women often enjoyed unique access to female Muslim quarters. No wonder, their culturelogues appear more wholesome than those by their male counterparts, though segregation between the Europeans and non-Europeans increased manifold during the high noon of the Empire and not all Western women were curious in undertaking inquiry of indigenous cultures on their own. Certainly, Christian evangelism, patriarchy, commerce, and a pronounced sense of cultural and racial superiority were vital portents of the British Empire, and these recent observers like other Victorian compatriots, never questioned the imperial intents and strategies. Even long before the induction of modernisation theory in the twentieth century by Lipset and Huntington and its revival as neo-liberalism of the 1990s, the British colonials and their other European counterparts, believed in and promoted modernisation of the colonised societies whose presumed primitivism {albeit traditionalism!} was viewed anachronistic hampering their development and common good.7 Like the current centrality of democracy and market economy within neoliberal ethos, our authors would never dispute the credentials and trajectories of Westernisation and subscribed to benevolent imperialism, also called Empire Lite.8 Themselves beneficiaries of the imperial networks and,

Introduction  3 both out of patriotism and a greater sense of self-righteousness, they internalised rationale for imperial control including the division of the Middle East through a raft of secret treaties, the Balfour Declaration (1917) and multiple and often mutually contradictory liaisons with the local stake holders and warlords. The secret negotiations with Hejaz’s Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashmi (1854–1931) and his sons, paralleled with the noxious policy of “divide-and-rule” as envisaged under the Sykes-Picot Agreement, protocols with Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud (1875–1953) and a host of tribal chieftains in the Arabian Peninsula, Oman, Yemen, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria, Kurdistan, Persia, and the Gulf. Travelogues and culturelogues consulted here are not dull narratives; instead they reveal wholesome efforts by their authors gaining more complexity and professionalisation as one moves into more recent times. Motivated by sheer human curiosity, worldly gains, scholarship, trade, faith, espionage, or simply geared to break the monotony in life, the past travellers left their enduring imprints on successive generations and civilisations. Stories about the founders of faith traditions such as Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Muhammad, and Nanak and of their disciples inclusive of priests, sadhus, and Sufis abound with mobility and personal energisation. For instance, followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam offer their own specific interpretations of Sri Pada, or Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka, first recorded by a Muslim merchant-traveller, Sulaiman Tajir in 850 CE. Another Sufi-saint, Abdul Qadir Gailani (1078–1166), reputedly prohibited his famished disciples from killing baby elephants when the latter desperately hankered for food.9 In the early era, Herodotus (484–425 BCE), known as the pioneering doyen of history seemingly following in the footsteps of Homer, reconstructed historical narratives based on his own travels along with what he imbibed through folk traditions about India and China. Thucydides (460–400 BCE) and Josephus (37–100 CE) found synergy between their personal observations and contemporary scholarship to weave their respective analytical accounts, pioneering critical traditions in Humanities. The emergence of Hellenistic philosophy in Alexandria, especially Neoplatonism as articulated by Plotinus (205–270 CE), subsequently revived itself in Damascus, Antioch, Harran, and Baghdad, owing to Christian scholars whose translations helped pioneering Muslim philosophers debate and reinterpret classical Greek thoughts.10 The outward journeys by St. Paul, St. Thomas and St. James helped preach Christianity beyond Palestine, a tradition continued by subsequent divines including St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Francis of Assisi.11 Islam’s expansion outside Arabia, more than a conquering ethos, owed itself to Hijra—migration—where publicists often functioning as holy men or traders carried the message to China, India, Central Asia, and Africa. Muhammad’s own cousin, Kusam bin Abbas travelled to Central Asia during the seventh century and settled in Samarqand, the historic city on the Silk Road, where he rests in the well-known cemetery called Shah-e-Zinda, visited by millions of Muslim pilgrims every year.12 In the same early era, Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari (574–676), the Prophet’s companion from Medina, migrated to Constantinople as a missionary, and for the past fifteen centuries, his grave, known at the Eyup Mosque, has sanctified Sufis and the Sultans.13 The erstwhile Muslim conquest of Sicily and

4  Introduction Iberian Peninsula during the eighth and ninth centuries integrated the diverse Mediterranean regions from the three continents into a vibrant cultural zone as had happened under the Romans just a few centuries earlier.14 Intellectuals such as Maimonides (1138–1204), born in Cordoba, moved to Fez and then to the Middle East at a time when King Richard the Lionheart and Sultan Saladin conflicted over Jerusalem. 15 Like his friend, Averroes/Ibn Rushd, (1126–1198) the Cordovan jurist and founder of rationalism in philosophy, Maimonides, for a time, had taught at Karaouine University in Fez.16 Living through the height of Reconquista and the Crusades, the polymath died in Egypt and buried in Fustat though some reports suggest his later burial in Palestine. Mohy-ud-Din Ibn ‘Arabi (1165–1240), a native Murcian and esteemed Sufi mentor known as Shaikh al-Akbar (the Great Shaikh), took to travel to North Africa and the Middle East, and following an illustrious career as a theologian and author of 800 works died in Syria to be buried in Damascus.17 Of course, it was Ahmed Ibn Fadlan (877–960), a Mesopotamian traveller into upper Volga, who authored the earliest account of the Vikings, Bulgers, Oghuz Turks, and Khazars, though not enough biographical information remains of this Abbasid envoy.18 During the same era, we see some leading Central Asian scholars such as Al-Farabi (872–950), Al-Beruni (973–1048) and Avicenna (980–1037), departing respectively for Baghdad, India, and Hamadan to continue their scholarly pursuits, learning local languages and contributing enduring research in disciplines such as philosophy, medicine, anthropology, astronomy, and theology. They proved to be architects of a “forgotten” Renaissance.19 Al-Farabi from present-day Kazakhstan learnt Arabic and following his work in Egypt and Syria, proved a foundational scholar of Neoplatonism in the early Islamic era whereas Al-Beruni learnt Sanskrit and while based in the Salt Range lived among the Brahmins to complete his classic, Kitabul Hind (Indica). His contemporary and friend, Avicenna, the Bukharan polymath and an Aristotelian interpreter remains the most familiar Muslim philosopher and physician. Several of his 450 books remained the core texts in these disciplines until recently. 20 The Crusades, other than their intra-Christian escapades and anti-Jewish dimensions, provided Europe’s generations of warriors, travellers, and chroniclers an enduring interface with their Muslim counterparts in the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean. Knowledge gained from these confrontations and contestations on all sides reached every echelons of life reenergising Europe in several ways varying from an intellectual reassessment to identitarian redefinition. Hearing of this warfare and aware of Saladin’s entry into Jerusalem, Fariduddin Ganjshakar (1173–266), the founder of Chishtiya Sufi order in Punjab, undertook a special journey all the way to the Holy Land to complete his 40-day meditation.21 Over the past seven centuries, Baba Farid’s monastery has been a focal point for Muslim pilgrims from South Asia in a city that houses three Abrahamic traditions.22 However, it is the more familiar names such as Marco Polo (1254–1324) the Venetian, whose travel stories became synonymous with larger-than-life realities such as the Silk Road, China, Mongols, medieval India, and certainly the Assassins of the Alamut.23 His travels, after the Bible, kept generations of Europeans engaged with a “mythical” East, as had been the case with ancient India, reached

Introduction  5 by some of the earliest Chinese pilgrims seeking Buddhist relics and scriptures on this side of the Himalayas. Faxian and Xuanzang have left us detailed information about the stupas, Buddhist monasteries, and libraries along with chronicles on the contemporary kingdoms of Central Asia and India. Faxian (337–422) was a Buddhist scholar who, after visiting Kabul entered India through the Khyber Pass, and studied at the eminent centres of learning such as Peshawar, Taxila, Kannauj, and Lambini before visiting Sri Lanka and finally returning to Nanjing. Contemporary India was experiencing a Hindu revival under Chandragupta, though Faxian does not talk about the ruling dynasty in his works.24 Xuanzang (602–62) followed Faxian a couple of centuries later into India and visited places like Purushapura (Peshawar), Takhkhasilā (Taxila), and went further east to Patliputra (Patna) and Nalanda.25 Not well known in the West but a household name across the Muslim communities is Ibn Battuta (1304–77), a generation younger than Polo’s but with more miles and countries in his itinerary. He left us exhaustive accounts of Maghreb, the Arab lands, Persia, the Silk Road, Balkans, China, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and East Africa along with a visit to Mali, all of which he penned from a sharp memory while back in his native Tangier.26 In recent times, discussions about the British Empire have witnessed increased academic contestation wherein White Man’s burden is interpreted as a hegemonic legacy of multiple desolations, contrasted with seeing it as the power engine of modernity and development. One of the largest of its kind and with enduring legacies, civilisational pillar posts such as the induction of Westphalian state system in the former colonies and evolution of new class formation figure quite prominently in such deliberations along with the internalisation of the paradigm of a traditional East.27 More like its French, Russian, and Dutch counterparts, the British Empire, for some historians, was a reenergising and institution building system that helped steer these societies presumably out of some kind of cultural and intellectual morass.28 Opposed to this paternalistic view of a benevolent imperialism, Marxist and anti-colonial scholars and commentators like Edward Said, John Newsinger, and other contemporary writers find it interest-based, oppressive, and outright discretionary.29 According to this critique, areas like slavery, scientific racism, Orientalism, and exploitation of human and natural resources within the context of uneven and violent colonial control were gruesomely exploitative. Certainly helped by the intermediaries {collaborators!) and facilitated through efficient systems of defence technology and communications, the construction of knowledge capital about the colonised societies—varying between exoticisation and denigration—helped imperial hegemony in diverse ways. It is no wonder that Lord Curzon, a diehard imperialist with no special soft corner for Muslims as such, called the British Empire the largest Mohammedan polity in the world. The British imperial enterprise, like other European counterparts, not only benefitted the travellers in their forays and scholarly investigations of the non-West, it equally instrumentalised the multiple increase in such a genre with people like John Smith, James Hawkins, Thomas Roe and Thomas Coryate laying down the foundations of travel narratives in a more personalised way. Despite a conventional male primacy in empire building and travelogues, one occasionally reads about the known empresses and eminent women in their own

6  Introduction right as is the case with Queen Sabaa/Sheba of Yemen/Ethiopia (tenth century BCE!) and Queen Cleopatra (69 BCE–30 BCE) of ancient Egypt. In addition, we read about the Sufi mentor, Rabia Basri (731–801), Fatima al-Fihri (800–880) the Arab scholar and founder of the first university in the Muslim world, and Queen Gwahar Shad (1378–1457), the Timurid Queen who established several educational and charity institutions in Herat. In India, Queen Razia Sultan (1205–1240) and Princess Chand Bibi of Bijapur-Ahmednagar (1550–99) were certainly the role models for the Mughal royalty including Empress Nur Jahan (1577–1645) who virtually ruled the expansive Mughal Empire for two decades. Subsequently, during the British period, four female nawabs of the princely state of Bhopal in central India ran their principality quite efficiently without their gender ever posing any hurdle. The heroic resistance during 1857–8 by the Queen Zeenat Mahal (1823–86), the wife of the last Mughal Emperor—Bahadur Shah Zafar (1775–1862)—and by Begum Hazrat Mahal (1820–79), once the queen of Awadh, and the Rani Luxmibai of Jhansi (1828–58), reverberates in the nationalist narratives. In the Ottoman Empire, there were certainly powerful women such as Hurem Sultan (1502–58) who engaged in high politics yet one is never sure about their own scholarly contributions though royal women would often patronise mosques, monasteries and water facilities besides charity work for displaced refugees from the Balkans.30 Atiya Fyzee (1877–1967) was one of the earliest Muslim students in Britain during the Edwardian period who mingled with upper class society besides engaging in discussions with contemporary Indian Muslim students at Cambridge and London. A multi-lingual writer due to her Indian and Turkish roots, Fyzee wrote periodic columns in Urdu magazines devoted to women called Tahzib un-Niswan (Lahore) and Khatun (Aligarh). Following her studies at London and Cambridge, Fyzee, more like Noor Inayat Khan (1914–44) and an accomplished critic and reformer, penned books on music, travel, art, and the poet-philosopher, Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938).31 However, it is the Europeanisation of the world in post-Columbian centuries that has offered us stupendous literature bequeathed by numerous travellers and missionaries with a growing number of women. Irrespective of the time span or community, imperial enterprises, piracy, pilgrimages, displacements, and immigration processes have been predominantly male domains, and it is only in recent past that the accounts by and of women in these realms started to evolve. Still, like modernity being a civilisational project within the complex processes of Westernisation, normative historical accounts often end up highlighting the European origins of women writers and travellers with their non-European women either altogether absent form such reconstructions, or passively huddled up on a perpetually receiving end. Going beyond the periscope of Eurocentric historiography and duly helped by regional and hitherto unexplored archival material and folk narratives of the indigenous societies, historians are gradually redressing this visceral gap. In the modern era, we see more Europeans—with a fair number of women—visiting and writing about the non-European communities and, in the case of the Ottomans, Safawids, Mughals, East Asia, and Africa these literary, religious, and biographical writings offer comprehensive historical evidence on cultural ethics and interaction on all sides.32 India was perhaps the first

Introduction  7 region visited by the earliest British women travellers at a time when East India Company (EIC) was still negotiating with the Mughal Empire to establish its trade missions and facilities in the Subcontinent. Certainly, the exploratory visits by John Mildenhall (1560–1614), William Hawkins (1560–1613), and Thomas Roe (1581–1644) had led the earliest trade missions, which partially facilitated the visit in 1617 by Frances Steele and Mrs. Hudson.33 In fact, Frances was married to Richard Steele and pregnant while on board the EIC’s ship heading towards Surat, which also had Mariam Begum coming back to India from England. Emperor Jahangir himself facilitated marriage between William Hawkins and Mariam Begum, who was, in fact, an Armenian Christian and most probably a member of the royal household. Following her husband’s death during his homeward voyage in 1613, she married Gabriel Towerbridge (d. 1623) and thus became the first Indian woman ever to visit the British islands. Here, her 2-year stay was apparently not too publicised and she returned on the same ship as the Steeles.34 Given the strict EIC’s laws against women travelling abroad, the pregnant Frances Steele posed as the personal attendant for Mariam Begum. On their arrival in India, Thomas Roe, the EIC’s envoy and himself by now the father of the first India-born child from Lady Powell, attempted to enforce EIC’s gender-segregation rules but to no avail. Within the emerging historiography, the erstwhile imagery of indifferent and imperious “Ma’am Sahib/Memsahib” may be currently under serious review as one notices diversity of views and reviews on the part of European women though the imperial and missionary baggage besides limited contacts with the local strata hindered immersion in native realities.35 In the case of Africa and elsewhere, the feared threat of {non-White} male sexuality, pervasive racial prejudices, and fewer shared platforms in a highly structured social set-up disallowed any free, trans-boundary interaction.36 Of course, women like Mary Montagu, Gertrude Bell, Ellen Tanner, and Freya Stark interacted with the Muslims in their own ways playing vital roles in political developments; still their socio-political ventures do not qualify as some kind of multi-layered bonhomie.37 William Dalrymple may challenge the entire premise of clash of cultures by quoting the examples of cross-ethnic marriages such as between James Kirkpatrick and Khair-un-Nissa in Hyderabad but that still does not hide the fact that it was mostly European men who would liaise with native women, often even without usually entering into any formal marital alliances.38 Some Western women not directly related to colonial empires, still found justification for defending imperial control by accrediting it for reformative and developmental enterprises due to a presumed lack of indigenous initiatives of such nature and thus were seen cheerleaders for colonial control.39 Other than Bell, Stark, and several missionaries, Katherine Mayo (1867–1940), an American visitor to India, offers an interesting case study whose impressionist work on India caused quite a retort including critique from Mahatma Gandhi. Mayo, a supporter of White Anglo–Saxon Protestant Nativism—known for her denunciation of African-American empowerment and a critic of Roman Catholics—defended the Raj earning disapproval from the Indian nationalist circles. In her travelogue, she had zeroed in on dirt and poverty in India along with highlighting the mistreatment of Indian women and Dalits

8  Introduction though reposed all the commendation for the Raj. Besides causing 50 books and monographs as a powerful rebuke, mobs torched Mayo’s effigies and her volume in Delhi and New York, whereas Mahatma Gandhi called her book “a report by a drain inspector.”40 Women in the ancient pastoral societies had more mobility since they had to forage supplies along with tending to other duties when men were away hunting, and this went on for quite some time in the past until with agricultural revolution, settled communities evolved and gender roles changed drastically. Women, on their own, could not go on pilgrimages under all the faith traditions; however, it is curious that the earliest travel account in Britain was by a woman, as is noted by Milbry Polk: The trek to visit holy sites offered women one of the few opportunities to see new places, hear new languages, and meet different people. In fact, the first autobiography in the English language was written by a pilgrim, Margery Kempe (1373–1440), about her journeys throughout Europe and to the Holy Land.41 However, it is during the Elizabethan era that we see England beginning to operate as the power engine for international mobility when pirates, explorers, and trade commissioners spread out to distant lands laying down the foundations of the Empire. Concurrent with the decentralisation of the church and evolution of ambitious monarchies, countries like England sought prestige, power, and prosperity in these overseas campaigns besides attempting to neutralise Continental rivals. Knowledge capital harnessed at the universities like Oxford underpinning better navigational expertise helped England in its early globalisation where distant lands offered prospects as well as prestige. Like the erstwhile Venetians, now the English ensued their quest and conquests in North America, the Indian Ocean and Southern Pacific. Ambitious traders and politicians in London worked in close tandem with the crown germinating the evolution of capitalism that eventually led to industrial revolution inducting generations of entrepreneurs, administrators, bankers, clerks, evangelists, warriors, and prospectors whose documented careers abroad spawn a voluminous historiography, as do their art collections and other artefacts. The first known publication on India by a woman is captioned Letters from the East Indies, authored by Jemima Kindersley and published in 1777, 8 years after her husband's death.42 Britain was certainly “forged” by its internationalisation, as was the impact of its encounters and presence at all those places through multiple trajectories. The Victorian era proved to the high mark for Britain and its empire with the country being able to afford wars in Europe, India, Afghanistan, China, and elsewhere concurrently without losing any of them and feeling ever more confident of its own “manifest destiny.” Campaigns and missions to the interiors of Central Asia, Africa, and Australia for imperial purposes received sponsorship by well-established societies in London and the Royal Navy protected sea lanes even before gaining the foothold in Egypt. Colonial officials like Francis Richard Burton (1821–90) operated as new Captain Smiths, Walter Raleighs, and Thomas Cooks, and other than gaining efficiency

Introduction  9 in numerous languages and creeds, could venture into even the most sanctified places like Kaaba in Mecca. Burton was a soldier, linguist, adventurer, anthropologist, geographer, and a spy, who reportedly knew 29 languages, and after a career in India, participated in the Crimean War. Subsequently, we find him in Africa as an explorer through a sponsorship by the Royal Geographical Society.43 Author of several travel accounts, he was the first translator of the Arabic classic, One Thousand and One Night, with a similar rendition of Kama Shutra, the Hindu classic. More like T. E. Lawrence a generation after him, Burton—a drop out from Oxford—was an uneasy soul with a roving disposition and keenness for curious subjects including sexual habits of people from different cultures. After immersing himself in Islamic beliefs and practices in Sindh and even undergoing a circumcision, Burton, disguised as a Muslim went to Mecca in 1853 to become the first non-Muslim Englishman to perform Hajj.44 Lesser known in Britain and South Asia is a Hungarian–British linguist, author, and institution builder, who through his multifarious contributions tried to follow a more balanced and even “bi-partisan” course while mediating between Britain and Islam.45 Gottlieb Wilhelm Sapier (1840–99) was a Hungarian Jew, whose mother remarried Dr. Johann Moritz Leitner (1800–61), a Jewish convert to Christianity and a medical missionary, after the death of his real father, Leopold Sapier. The Sapiers were Yiddish speaking Orthodox Jews engaged in trade and education with one uncle becoming a Lutheran in Vienna. Following the stormy events of 1848 in Hungary and the death of his father, both mother and son moved to Constantinople where they became the household of another Hungarian Jewish convert to Christianity. Johann Moritz Leitner had converted to Christianity in 1840 and then worked as a medical missionary on behalf of the London Society in Turkey mainly to convert Sephardic Jews to Christianity. Among his progeny would be the future British Conservative parliamentarian, Leopold Amery (1873–1955), who was the Secretary of State for India during the 1940s. Amery was Gottlieb Leitner’s nephew whose mother, Elisabeth, was his sister and herself a linguist. Gottlieb Leitner partly financed Amery’s education and both Elisabeth and young Amery retained close family ties by often staying with him in Woking. Assuming the family name of his stepfather now working as an evangelist among the Ottoman Jews, young Gottlieb Leitner experienced living among Muslims first hand besides learning Arabic, English, Yiddish, Greek, Ladino, and Turkish along with immersing himself in the study of Maimonides. Following his education at a German school and then at the Islamic Theological Seminary in Constantinople where he memorised portions of Quran and even assumed a Muslim name—Abdur Rashid Sayyah—Leitner as per his stepfather’s exhortations, prepared himself as a missionary-scholar. In-between, he attended a missionary school in Malta where youthful graduates received rigorous training for their future evangelical pursuits among Jews and Muslims. Already well versed in several languages and faith traditions, Leitner moved to London in 1859 holding a teaching position at King’s College lecturing on Islamic Law besides tutoring Greek, Arabic, and Turkish. Equipping himself with a doctorate from the University of Freiburg, Leitner applied for the principalship of Government College, Lahore, founded in 1864

10  Introduction mainly to train Indians in modern disciplines to provide the work force for the government. Despite his occasional abrasive behaviour, Leitner attempted to promote education for girls in Punjab and the Frontier besides advocating the case for native languages, often called Vernacular languages. Owing to the efforts under the auspice of his Oriental Movement, and in collaboration with some other Indian academics, the University of Punjab evolved in 1869 with the Oriental College as its first constituent. Leitner’s interest in the languages of Dardistan—northern regions of present-day Pakistan—, Badakhshan, Kashmir, and Ladakh, and his promotion of ancient arts and artefacts of the upper Indus Valley called Gandhara proved to be pioneering efforts besides his powerful advocacy of instruction in local languages in the famous notes of 1882. His forays into Swat, Chitral, Gilgit, Ladakh, and Kashmir during the 1870s and then in 1886 were aimed at familiarising himself with the languages and cultures of the mountainous region with most of it falling under the brutal control of the Maharaja of Kashmir, a close British ally. The Maharaja did not encourage Western travellers and scholars traversing through his regions to keep his atrocities hidden from his British allies and Leitner’s exposure of such brutalities only elicited cold responses from both the governments. Leitner enjoyed official privileges as a European but without being dismissive towards indigenous people and cultures, as is observed by his two biographers in their piece for Oxford University Jewish Country House Project: It was clear that while Leitner was serving the British, he was no lackey of the British either and his empathy and engagement with local people and the promotion of their aspirations meant that he cut against the grain of the colonial agenda.46 At one stage, Rudyard Kipling worked as an assistant with Leitner on his magazine, The Lahore Public Opinion, yet personal issues between Lockwood Kipling and Leitner over the management of the Lahore Museum and Mayo School of Arts, vitiated the relationship. On his return to Britain in 1882, accompanied with his Gandhara collection of arts and two retainers from Chitral and Yarqand, Leitner tried to build a multi-purpose complex in Working, Surrey. Over the next 2 years, he was able to construct the purposeful Oriental Institute with the offices and store facilities for his planned Oriental College, which could never mature. In 1889, thanks to Leitner’s efforts and financial support from Nawab Shah Jahan Begum of Bhopal and the Nizam of Hyderabad, Britain’s first Muslim mosque in an Indo-Saracenic style reached its completion adding a new and enduring chapter in Britain–­Muslim interface. His efforts for the recognition of Gandhara Art in its own right ironically registered lukewarm responses from the museums in London, Austria, and Germany though he was able to put Gandhara Art on the discursive map.47 At his Oriental Institute, he published six scholarly journals with a stated aim of introducing Eastern scholarship and heritage to the rest and thus brought East right into the heart of the West—totally reversing the processes of modernity. In the same year, Leitner established the first-ever Muslim cemetery within the Brookwood Cemetery on Pine Avenue that houses notable Muslims such as Syed

Introduction  11 Ameer Ali (1849–1928), Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1872–1953), Abdullah Quilliam (1856–1932), “Britain's first Sheikh-ul-Islam,” and the grave of Muhammad Marmaduke William Pickthall (1875–1936) who converted in 1927 and authored the first English translation of the Qur'an. An untiring Leitner, inflicted with several issues, breathed his last in Bonn in 1899 and received a Christian burial at the Anglican Cemetery in Woking—not from the Mosque and the complex that housed his institute, publishing house, and Gandhara art collection. Following his death, his institute closed down whereas the art collections were auctioned off to private individuals and museums in London, Berlin, and Hamburg. The Mosque’s trusteeship passed on to Khawaja Kamal-ud-Din, a Muslim of Ahmadiyya sect who continued with propagation activities in both English and Urdu. While in Lahore, Leitner had worked with Kamal-ud-Din especially when they published a two-volume History of Islam in Urdu under the former’s name. Thus, Leitner facilitated the arrival of the first Muslim publicist in Britain besides ensuring the induction of Urdu publications that, among his several philological works, is an innovation of historical significance. His own Jewish background and exposure to Muslim life in Ottoman Turkey fashioned Leitner’s ideas, and despite his stepfather’s desire and efforts to become a full-fledged evangelist, he empathised with the colonised people. His research, publications, advocacy for “Oriental” languages, institution building, and exposure of the oppression in Kashmir speak of a man of diverse personalities whose role as an intermediary defies typical colonial altruism towards the colonised, and makes Leitner simply atypical.

Notes 1 Focusing on 20 European travellers to Asia during the late medieval period, this study focuses on works by John of Plano Carpini, William of Rubruck, Marco Polo, Ricold of Monte Croce, John of Monte Corvino, Hetoum of Armenia, Jordan Catala of Sévérac, Odoric of Pordenone, John of Marignolli, “Sir John Mandeville,” and Niccolò dei Conti, as well as The Letter of Prester John, and remains most useful. The work, intentionally, excludes the contemporary Middle East and the four Crusaders principalities of Edessa, Antioch, Tripoli, and Jerusalem, whose control could also pass as the early European colonialism. See, Kim M. Phillips, Before Orientalism: Asian Peoples and Cultures in European Travel Writings, 1245–1510 (Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 7. 2 Such studies were more familiar in the early narratives where individuals like the Lawrence Brothers, Charles Metcalf, Arthur Wellesley, Lords Dalhousie, Roberts, Kitchener, and Curzon found nearness with Alexander Burnes, Henry Cayley, William Moorcraft, Arthur Connolly, Charles Stoddart, Richard Burton, John Nicholson, Malcolm Lyall, Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, William Muir, Mortimer Durand, Francis Younghusband, David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley, John Henning Speke, Cecil Rhodes, Baden-Powell, and several more. The campaigns on the Frontier featuring as “the Great Game,” missions into Tibet and into Central Asia and incursions into the interiors of Africa, Australia, and North America recur favourably even in more recent works. For instance, Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia (London: John Murray, 2006); Tim Jeal, Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventure (London: Faber & Faber, 2012); John Keay, When Men and Mountains Meet: The Exploration of the Western Himalayas (London: Archon Books, 1983); Charles Allen, Soldier Sahibs: The Men Who Made the North-West Frontier (London: John Murray, 2012); Patrick French,

12  Introduction

Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer (London: Penguin, 2011). This is not to deny the fact that the contributions by individuals such as William Jones, Henry Rawlinson, Gottlieb Leitner, Charles Andrews, Aurel Stein, and other colonialscholars and missionary-academes have been formative, yet it is true that they all were beneficiaries or even functionaries of the imperial state itself. 3 Belonging to an aristocratic family, Emily and Fanny Eden visited India when their brother, Lord Auckland was the Governor-General of India (1835–42) during the stormy time of the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42), preceded by tough negotiations with Ranjit Singh, the Maharaja of Punjab. Emily, other than her letters and diary, made hundreds of sketches in watercolour of princes and peasants across India while she travelled with her brother from Calcutta to Lahore and Simla. Fond of Jane Austen (1775–1815) with the latter’s own aunt living in India, Eden landed in India in 1836 and stayed there for the next 6 years often working as Vicereine for her bachelor brother. Her travels to the up country took her two years and she recorded those in her letters, diary, and sketches, offering first-hand account of India during the heyday of the East India Company. Her Up The Country: Letters Written to Her Sister from the Upper Provinces of India (1867) underwent several editions and turned out to be a trendsetter for other such works. See, Emily Eden, Up the Country: Letters from India with an introduction by Elizabeth Claridge (London: Virago, 1983). 4 Philadelphia was 21 when she went to India in 1752 apparently to wed someone from the East India Company, as was the norm at that time for brides seeking expatriate husbands. Aboard the Bombay Castle was Margaret Maskelyne, the future Mrs. Clive, with whom Philadelphia, known as Phily, was to establish a life-long friendship. After marrying Doctor Tyso Hancock in Madras, the couple moved to Calcutta where, following a stay at the Clives, they became quite close to the contemporary Governor-General, Warren Hastings (1732–1818), a scholarly man, later to face parliamentary trial over allegations of corruption. Hastings was the godfather for Elizabeth Hancock, Jane Austen’s cousin and heir to a handsome inheritance from Hastings. Thus, India and the Empire were a major topic at the Austen homes in Winchester and Bath besides a life-long friendship with Hastings, who duly received support during his much-published trial in the 1790s. See, William Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters: A Family Record (London: Echo Library, 2009); also, Paula Byrne, The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things (London: John Collins, 2014). 5 Margaret MacMillan, Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives and Daughters of the British Empire in India (London: Thames and Hudson, 2018); and Linda Colley, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History (London: Anchor Books, 2008). 6 Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy, and David Olusoga have forcefully raised these points in their studies. For a recent perspective by an African-European, see Afua Hirsch, Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging (London: Vintage, 2018). 7 Semour Martin Lipset, “Some Social Requisites of Democracy” American Political Science Review, 53, no. 1 (1959): 69–105; and, Samuel Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968). Recently, some American academes have been critical of the slow pace of modernisation in Eastern Europe, which like Africa and the Middle East is seen failing to follow West Europe and the United States. For a critical appraisal of such premise called “imitation,” see Arjun Appadurai, “The Nine Lives of Modernization Theory” Los Angeles Review of Books, 26 June 2020 (The article is a review of The Light That Failed: Why the West is Losing the Fight for Democracy (2020) by Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes.) 8 The term came into vogue during the 1990s with the fall of Yugoslavia, ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and worries about “failing states.” See, Michael Ignatieff, Empire Lite: Nation-Building in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan (London: Vintage, 2003).

Introduction  13 9 Mahinda Degalle, “Śrī Pāda Sacred to Many: Sufi Mystics on Pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak,” Multiculturalism in Asia: Peace and Harmony, ed. Imtiyaz Yusuf (Bangkok: Mahidol University and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2018), 40–69. 10 For a useful overview, see Peter Adamson, Philosophy in the Islamic World: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press/OUP, 2015). 11 For an interesting searchlight on debate between St. Francis and the Egyptian Mamluk Sultan El-Kamil (1180–1238), during the Fifth Crusade (1213–1221), see Scott W. Thomas, “St. Francis and Islam: A Critical Appraisal for Contemporary Muslim– Christian Relations, Middle East Politics and International Relations” The Downside Review, 136, 1, (2018), 3–28. 12 For a more recent report on this historic monument, see Iftikhar H. Malik, The Silk Road and Beyond: Narratives of a Muslim Historian (Karachi: OUP, 2020). 13 Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs (London: Macmillan, 2002), 201–2. 14 For the history of Muslim Spain, often called Al-Andalus see Iftikhar H. Malik, Islam and Modernity: Muslims in Western Europe and the United States (London: Pluto, 2004). 15 Maimonides’s classical book on Jewish law, Mishneh Torah, along with his works on philosophy and medicine influenced generations of scholars in all the three Abrahamic traditions. See, Joel Kraemer, Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds (New York: Doubleday, 2010). 16 The eminent Muslim philosopher and the author of several works including Tahafut al Tahafut (The Incoherence of Incoherence) left his native Cordova to live and teach in Fes. For a biographical work and commentary on his intellectual pursuits, see Domonique Urvoy, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (London: Routledge, 1991). 17 Ibn-e-Arabi grew up in Seville and was greatly influenced by Ibn Rushd, whose funeral he attended though most of his life he had been traveling, teaching, and writing in North Africa and the Middle East. Author of 800 books including poetry collections and his famous commentary, Alfutūḥāt al-Makkiyya (Meccan Illuminations/ Revelations), Ibn-e-Arabi remains one of the most famous Sufi mentors. See, William Chittik, Ibn ‘Arabi: The Heir to the Prophets (Oxford: Oneworld, 2012). 18 Paul Lunde, Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North (London: Penguin, 2011). 19 Frederick Starr, Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015). 20 Both Avicenna and Alberuni studied in Bukhara especially the collections at the royal palace and were mutual friends. Al-Farabi and Neoplatonism deeply influenced both of them. For more on them and other such scholars, see Majid Fakhry, A History of Islamic Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005). 21 Baba Farid Ganjshakar, known as one of the earliest Punjabi poets, has been immortalised in the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, while earlier he mentored some of the most preeminent founders of Sufi silsilahs (orders) in India. 22 For further details, see Daniel Silas Adamson, “Jerusalem’s 800-year old Indian Hospice”, BBC, 23 November 2014: 23 Quite close to the Mongol emperor of China, Kublai Khan, Marco Polo undertook several trade and diplomatic mission across Asia before returning to Italy. On the way, he visited the hideout of a Muslim cult called Assassins at their fortress of Alamut. 24 Also spelt as Fa-Hien and Fa-hsien, his travel itinerary included Central Asia, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia though on his way some shipwreck pushed him to several other places in Southeast Asia. Laden with Buddhist Shastras and knowledge of people, places, and languages, Faxian engaged in teaching and translating Buddhist classics. He also wrote a book titled, A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms, based on his travels across Central, Southern, and Southeast Asia during 399–414 CE. 25 Born in Hennan, Xuanzang, the Buddhist monk traversed the Silk Road to enter into Gandhara (Peshawar Valley) after visiting Bactria (Balkh) and spent 17 years in India visiting holy places all the way until Sylhet. He returned to his native place and spent

14  Introduction his time teaching and practising Buddhism while refusing to accept any honour from the ruling Tang dynasty. He visited India at the time when Buddhism was in decline and great stupa built by the Kushan Emperor, Kanishka at Peshawar was already in ruins following the Sassanid conquest of the Indus Valley along with the civil wars in Gandhara and further up in eastern Turkestan (Sinjiang). 26 Timothy Mackintosh-Smith, transl. The Travels of Ibn Battuta (London: Picador, 2003). For Mackintosh-Smith’s interview on the Moroccan traveller, held in Bath in June 2020, see the link: 27 For an interesting study on West being an architect of modernisation in Egypt, Turkey, and Persia, see Christopher de Bellaigue, The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle between Faith and Reason (London: Vintage, 2018). 28 Other than the Victorian and Edwardian defenders of the empire including those who felt that either Britain sleep-walked into empire building or was given “a helping hand,” Niall Ferguson does not justify any apologia for the British Empire, instead finds Britain as the architect of a modern world. Niall Ferguson, How Britain Made the Modern World? (London: Penguin, 2004). The book accompanied a widely reviewed television series. Collaboration being a vital factor in establishing the British Empire, the emergence of Indian nationalism, as per Cambridge school of historiography often focused on “high politics” of the Raj. See, Anil Seal, The Emergence of Indian Nationalism: Competition and Collaboration in the Latter Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971); and, Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). Colley, among others, ascribes definition of Britain itself to the Empire as a significant determinant: Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1787–1837 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005). 29 Edward Said certainly focused on language, literature, and arts in discussing power centricity and the othering of a non-West while for John Newsinger, true to a Marxist view, Empire was a sheer interest based and inherently violent trajectory. Similar lines of criticism feature in works by Pankaj Mishra, Shashi Tharoor, David Olusoga, and William Dalrymple in more recent times: Edward Said, Orientalism: Western Conception of the Orient (London: Penguin,1978); John Newsinger, The Blood Never Dried (London: Bookmarks, 2013); Pankaj Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt against the West and the Remaking of Asia (London: Penguin, 2013); David Olusoga, Black and British: A Forgotten History (London: Pan, 2017); Shashi Tharoor, Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India (London: Penguin, 2018); and, William Dalrymple, The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (London: Bloomsbury, 2019). 30 The Old Testament, Bible, and the Quran mention Queen Sheba, and in Islamic literature, known as Queen Bilqees, she undertook a visit to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon, laden with stupendous presents. Historians differ on her origins, varying from Ethiopia to Yemen. Cleopatra was certainly quite a well-known Egyptian queen whereas Rabia Basri from present-day Iraq was a pioneering Muslim mystic and poet. Fatima al-Fihri, a refugee from Kairouan (Tunisia), settled in Fez and established one of the oldest and still flourishing universities in the world. Al-Karaouine Mosque and the University were founded in 859 whereas her sister established a similar seminary in another locality of Fez. Gulbadan Begum, the daughter of Mughal Emperor Babur, spent most of her life in Kabul and then in Agra. Here, her nephew, Emperor Akbar, asked her to write down her memoirs about her father and Humayun, her brother and Akbar’s father. Widely respected for her scholarship, she undertook a pilgrimage to Hejaz in the company of Hamida Banu Begum, Akbar’s mother. She spent 4 years in Mecca and returned to India in 1582 after being abroad for 7 years. Her book, Humayun Nama, remains one of the earliest memoirs by a Muslim princess though it does not talk about her 3,000-mile testing journey from Agra to Mecca and return to India via Aden. Translated during the British period, this biographical work remains a primary source on the early Mughals—starting with their arrival from Central Asia

Introduction  15 to the 1570s. For more on this subject, see, Gulbadan Begum, Humayun Nama translated by A. S. Beveridge as The History of Humayun (London: The Royal Asiatic Society, 1902); Ruby Lal, Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (New York: Norton, 2018); William Dalrymple, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 (London: Bloomsbury, 2006). Princess Zebunissa, a literary genius, patronised poets and jurists though towards the end of her life, she was imprisoned by her father for defying his authority. Her ghazals, published a few years after her death in Delhi, put her among some of the leading contemporary Persian poets. For more on her, see, Annie Krieger-Krynicki, Captive Princess: Zebunissa, Daughter of Emperor Aurangzeb (Karachi: OUP, 2005). Nawab Sikandar Jahan Begum (1817–68) was one of the rulers of princely state of Bhopal, more often ruled by female nabobs until India annexed it after independence. She wrote the first-ever Urdu book by a woman pilgrim about her 1863 visit to the Hejaz, encounters with the Arabs, Turks, and the British and recounts her own experiences during the Hajj in the company of her 1,000 strong entourage, mostly of women. In 1870, her Urdu reportage was translated into English. Her daughter and successor, Nawab Shah Jahan Begum (1838–1901), an author of several Urdu books, was an institution builder and moderniser in her state besides contributing towards the welfare of the Indian Muslim women. Following her demise, Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum (1858–1930), her eldest daughter, succeeded her and continued her mother’s civic and reformist activities along with writing books on women’s education and health. On Bhopal Nawabs, one may consult: Begum Nawab Sikander, and Siobhan Lambert-Hurley (ed.) A Princess's Pilgrimage: A Pilgrimage to Mecca (1863–1864), (London: Kube, 2007); and, Shahryar M. Khan, The Begums of Bhopal: A History of Princely State of Bhopal (Karachi: OUP, 2000). 31 While studying at a teachers training college in London during 1906–7, Fyzee also maintained a travel diary serialised in a monthly journal, and later published in 1921 as Zamana-i-Tahsil (“A Time of Knowledge Acquisition”). Along with her sisters, Zehra (1866–1940) and Nazli Begum of Janjira (1874–1968), she interacted with celebrated Muslim intellectuals such as Shibli Naumani and Muhammad Iqbal. Their published correspondence, Khutut-i Shibli ba-nam-i muhtarma Zahra Begum sahiba Faizi va ‘Atiya Begum sahiba Faizi (ed. Muhammad Amin Zuberi, 1930) and Iqbal (1947) affirms close friendship with these luminaries. For a biography of this Indian Muslim intellectual, see Siobhan Lambert-Hurley with Sunil Sharma (eds.) Atiya's Journeys: A Muslim Woman from Colonial Bombay to Edwardian Britain (Delhi: OUP, 2010). 32 Mary Montagu, Biddy Timms, Emily Eden, Freya Stark, Gertrude Bell, and Elspeth Apsley are some of the well-known names though there are several missionaries, visitors and homemakers who, as seen in subsequent chapters, have left us detailed archival material. See, Rosemary Raza, “The Role of Early British Women Writers in Shaping Perspectives on India”, South Asian Review, Vol. 30, 2009, 196–216; and, In Their Own Words: British Women Writers and India, 1740–1857 (New Delhi: OUP, 2006); and, Amy Marie Christiansen, “The Discomforts of Empire: Emily Eden’s Life in India, 1836–1842” a PhD thesis submitted at Auburn University, Alabama, 2012. 33 Mariam Begum was an Armenian who married William Hawkins in India and after his demise came to England whereas Frances married Richard Steele though earlier she posed to be Mariam Begum’s maidservant, while we do not seem to have biographical information on Mrs Hudson. As will be seen later, Richard Steele and John Crowther were deputed by the EIC on the heels of John Mildenhall. For further details, see Margaret Makepeace, “Early Women Traveller and the East India Company”, a blog, 22 October 2015,The British Library:, As mentioned above, Samuel Purchas used contemporary writings for his volume making his work into a primary collection of early travel writings. Writers like Robert Kerr in the nineteenth century, and R. E. Pritchard and M. Makepeace in our times, have used Purchas for their works on these early travellers. For the work of Crowther

16  Introduction and Steele, see Robert Kerr, (ed.), A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels…., Vol. IX (Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1824). 34 Michael H. Fisher, Counterflows to Colonialism: Indian Travellers and Settlers in Britain 1600–1857 (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004). 35 For recent critical research on the attitudes and views of some of these early British women in India, see John C. Leffel, “Empire, Race, and the Debate over the Indian Marriage Market in Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800)”, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 26, No. 3 (Spring 2014), 427–57; Onni Gust, “Mobility, Gender and Empire in Maria Graham’s Journal of a Residence in India (1812)”, Gender & History, Vol. 29, No. 2, August 2017, 273–291, and, Nurjahan Begum, “Exoticization of Everyday Life in Travel Writing: A Study of Maria Graham and Susan Ward”, Labyrinth, Volume 6, No. 2, April 2015. 36 Other than research by Rosemary Raza, as cited above, there is a growing historical scholarship in this area. See, MacMillan, Women of the Raj, and, Geraldine Forbes, Women in India: The New Cambridge Study of India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 37 A linguist and archaeologist of the Middle East, Bell belonged to an upper class English family and held close connection with Mark Sykes, Winston Churchill, and several other notables in the British government. See, Gertrude Bell, A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert (London: Penguin, 2015); also the documentary movie, Letters from Baghdad, based on her letters to her Father, and accompanied by contemporary archival footage, (Los Angeles: Directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum, 2017). The movie was shown on BBC TV in March 2019: 38 William Dalrymple, White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India (London: Penguin, 2003). 39 The European women, in many cases, felt strongly for being on the margins of the Empire and might have used their views on Indian clothes, comportment, and environment to establish their own sense of security or even primacy. Sara Suleri, The Rhetoric of English India, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989). 40 Katherine Mayo, Mother India (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1927). For Gandhi’s comments, see Young India, 15 September 1927. Interestingly, a writer in the British populist daily viewed Mayo’s book superior to The Divine Comedy by Dante. See, The Daily Mail, 7 June 2013. 41 Milbry Polk, “Introduction” in Heather Lehr Wagner, Gertrude Bell: Explorer of the Middle East (Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004), viii. 42 “The first known publication on India by a woman is Jane Smart's short Letter from a lady at Madrass to her friends in London (London 1743).” Raza, South Asian Review, 193 & 210. 43 For an overview of his career, see Marcel Theroux, “Richard Francis Burton … dashing explorer of the exotic and erotic”, The Observer, 3 May 2020. 44 For his own travel account to Arabia, see Francis Richard Burton, A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Almadinah and Makkah (London: Tyleston and Edwards, 1855). 45 Another Hungarian Jewish linguist and Ottomanist with similar credentials and travel experience and often posing as a Muslim—Rashid Effendi--undertook travels into Khiva, Bukhara, Samarqand, Herat, and Tehran before publishing his pioneering account on Muslim Central Asia in London. Arminius Vambrey (1832–1913), surreptitiously, accompanied a group of Muslim pilgrims coming back from the Hejaz and travelling through Trans-Oxus regions back to Eastern Turkestan. See, Arminius Vambrey, Travels through Central Asia (London: John Murray, 1864). The author, later an academic in Budapest, dedicated this first-ever book in English mainly on Turkmens to Sir Henry Rawlinson, a colonial-scholar working in India, Afghanistan, and Persia. 46 Marcus Young and Silvia Dovoli, “The International Dr G. W. Leitner Trails” vide:

Introduction  17 47 “When he displayed the collection in the 1873 Vienna International Exhibition, it included 1,000 coins, 184 Greco-Buddhist sculptures, 3,200 Himalayan Beetles and butterflies, 25 rare manuscripts from across the region, 177 ethnological articles from Dardistan, Kafiristan, and Central Asia, 197 industrial and other articles from Central Asia and Northern India and a collection of Himalayan plants and minerals from Kulu and Gilgit.” Ibid. “'Al-'ilmu khayrum min al-maal' (knowledge is better than wealth), Arabic script on GW Leitner’s grave in Woking, Surrey.

1 Adelard and Muslim scholarship Connecting the medieval worlds during the Crusades and Reconquista

Bath’s Adelard (c. 1080–c. 1151), Athelard, Adelardus Bathoniensis, or Adelardus Bata (Latin), was surely one of the earliest and most significant bridgehead between “East” and the “West” at a time when both these civilisational regions, despite their pluralities, either lay indifferent to each other, or were at daggers drawn given the advent of the Crusades and an emerging Reconquista. His exposure to education on the Continent steered him towards a sustained foray in the Middle East in an era when Spain and Sicily were still the western-most focal points of the Islamic civilisation, itself a hybrid trajectory of several preceding intellectual and cultural traditions. As one of the earliest travellers to the Muslim regions while making Antioch as his base for reportedly 7 years, Adelard was the pioneer Arabist, chronicler, commentator, and an interlocutor between Britain and the Muslim world through his works, tutoring of the royalty and induction of Arab numerals besides translating classics such as Khwarizmi’s Zij and Euclid’s Elements from Arabic into Latin.1 He was a witness and even possibly the beneficiary of the Catholic occupation of Antioch, Jerusalem, Tripoli, and Edessa following the First Crusade within the background of the Norman conquest of his native country, Italy and Near Eastern principalities. His birthplace—a world heritage city—seems to prefer focusing on its Georgian personalities like Beau Nash and the eminent novelist, Jane Austen, leaving its medieval past almost to obscurity. Named after its steaming water springs attributed with several remedies, Bath did not rediscover the Roman structures over those geysers until the 1870s, allowing city’s appropriation of antiquity. Ironically, not enough was written about this West Country mathematician, philosopher, traveller, scientist, translator, and ornithologist though people seem to know more about his contemporary French philosopher, Peter Abelard to the extent that even the former often gets confused with the latter.2 Adelard’s personal career, travels, and scholarly works reveal a dynamic, tolerant, and inquisitive seeker of knowledge who went beyond the contemporary othering of the “Orient”; and took upon himself the introduction of Eastern learning into religious and mundane citadels of his native England and beyond.3 To his American–British biographer, Louise Cochran (d. 2012), this “first English scientist,” like other contemporary polymaths, began his profession as a budding ecclesiast before venturing into philosophy, astrology, astronomy, and mathematics, benefitting from a sustained immersion in Arabo–Islamic

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  19 heritage—all gained while living and travelling among Muslims. Cochran’s study evolved from her interest in this Bathonian while she lived near the city and found Adelard absent from the philosophical and scientific treatises except for a footnote and some early German papers. Her paper for the first-ever conference on Adelard at Warburg Institute in 1984 and collaboration with Charles Burnett resulted in an edited volume 3 years later underpinning a desire to publish a full-fledged book on this rather obscure scholar.4 Her 1994 biography remained a unique study of its type that along with other notes and papers she, in 2010, bequeathed to Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI), which reissued it in 2013 with some additional text by Burnett. Despite our limited knowledge about his times and works, Adelard is not only the intellectual face of Medieval Bath, he is also one of the fountainheads in introducing Classical Greek and Near Eastern intellectual heritage back into Europe where a superimposed religious conformity resisted critical or contrarian thinking. According to Bertrand Russell, he was the pioneer translator of Elements, authored by Euclid—the Alexandrian classicist—since the work had been extinct in Europe and it was only from its Arabic translation and commentaries that Adelard was able to render it into Latin.5 By introducing classical Greek philosophy, Arabian sciences such as geometry, algebra, astrology, and astronomy, and the Indian research on numerology, Adelard left a lasting imprint, when either that “Orient” was an unknown, obscure landmass of non-White, “uncouth” people of a competitive faith, or was plainly a place of exotic rivals. Adelard’s exposure to Eastern scholarship and then its transference to Western Europe put him in his own league, long before the travellers, explorers, colonials, fortune seekers, and other curious individuals from these shores began visiting Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Despite his religious upbringing and disciplinary training in scholastics in France, Adelard did not harbour any anti-Muslim rancour that characterised sizeable sections of contemporary West European societies. Situating himself well beyond fanaticism and demonisation, or pejoratively seeing Muslims as bogeymen especially following Pope Urban II’s declaration of the Crusades in 1095 CE, he, instead, opted to construct mutualities with Muslims and thus steered clear of those tormenting channels which wrought havoc on all the three Abrahamic communities during the medieval era. Other than the Crusades as a backdrop of Adelardian quest, the contemporary Muslim+Christian+Jewish interface through Muslim Spain and Sicily featuring both conflictive and communitarian aspects, not only operated as a major incentive, it equally prepared him to undertake an extended journey to the Levant. Thus, while investigating Adelard’s scholastic and theological pursuits, it is imperative to undertake an academic inquiry of the Crusades, Arabo–Norman Sicily and, certainly of Muslim Spain often called Al-Andalus, as the mainsprings of this cross-cultural dialogue. As we see in our own times, not only Muslim Spain and Sicily continue to reverberate in Muslim consciousness as major losses and traumatic mishaps, even the Crusades themselves have also refused to wither away from the memory on all sides.6 The remit of our chapter encapsulates the nature of geo-politics of the time when intra-Christian and intra-Muslim schisms were order of the day and amidst this political chaos, daring groups such as the Normans and Turks

20  Adelard and Muslim scholarship were able to establish their polities. Despite the factionalist politics at its apex with its attendant communal violence, philosophical and scientific accomplishments especially by Muslims and their outreach certainly allow us to banish longheld epithets such as the Dark Ages for a significant period in human history. A follower of Adelard, like several others in Bath laments the lack of general information about this greatest medieval scholar in England, who undertook studies on the Muslim world long before anyone else. Thus begins the brief biographical note by Michael Davis: “It could be a valid opinion that Adelard is our greatest Bathonian, by a long way. He was world-famous in his day and, for several centuries, Bath was known primarily as the birthplace of Adelard. However, today, in his native city, he is entirely forgotten in a strange case of civic amnesia. The few people who think they have heard of him get him mixed up with the Frenchman Peter Abelard of the ill-fated love affair with Heloise (they were contemporary and almost certainly met).”7 Even an otherwise modern classic on relationship between Islam and the Christian West mentions him only once and that too in an endnote though one may state that Norman Daniel was rather keen on theological issues in this interchange and less on realms such as philosophy and natural sciences.8 Various biographical entries do not share a consensual year of Adelard’s birth, and often vacillate between 1079 and 1080 CE, though, in general, 1151 CE remains the year of his demise. This was just a few years after 1066 when 10,000 Normans, led by William the Conqueror (d. 1087) ventured in from across the Channel and captured England, then inhabited by about two million people of predominantly Anglo–Saxon extraction. Interestingly, this was the last time that England capitulated before the invaders from the Continent controlling its landmass and resources besides relegating the natives to a lower hierarchical order. Himself of French extraction but born in Bath, Adelard was just eight when Bath’s Anglo–Saxon church, where Edgar had been enthroned in 973, suffered destruction and a similar fate fell upon the town itself whose mythical founder in prehistory was held to be Bladud. Following the Conqueror’s death there had been a dispute over the royal succession and despite Robert, the Duke of Normandy, being a major contender he did not turn up and instead opted to go on the Crusades to fight Muslims. Consequently, the revolt did not succeed and King William Rufus sold a bruised, war-torn Bath to John de Villual of Tours, who had been the Conqueror’s physician. Reportedly having acquired Bath for 500 silver pounds, John became the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and subsequently moved the Diocese to Bath from the latter and built a new Cathedral possibly aware of the general reputation of Bath as a spa town due to its mineral water springs. Cathedral’s new structure preceded the Abbey and remained one of the grandest of its type in entire Europe. Adelard’s parentage is not that known though one comes across a certain Fastred—possibly his father— who was a tenant of Bishop John de Villual. Adelard is certainly an Anglo–Saxon name, which could have meant a rather subordinate position for his family under the Norman primacy. Adelard’s father must be heading an affluent household since he could afford his son’s education in northern France at Tours and Laon, and like Paris and Chartres, these seminaries offered the best kind of scholastic learning in contemporary Europe.

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  21 At a time when colleges in Oxford and Cambridge were still non-existent unlike the famous seminaries in Fes, Bukhara, Cairo, Nishapur, Cordova, Baghdad, and Damascus, the young Englishmen, like their Muslim contemporaries seeking eminent scholars and known madrassas, would attend French seminaries and special schools run by ecclesiasts. Here, the emphasis would be on biblical instruction imparted in Latin through faith-dominated and conformist syllabi whereas the knowledge of other creeds as well as languages and mundane philosophy remained almost non-existent.9 Given the understandable logistical and other technical restraints, clergy meticulously controlled and even monopolised academic domains and disciplinary realms with very limited receptivity shown for Greek, Roman, or non-Christian pedagogies. An element of self-sufficiency was in common currency though in reality it was the fear of secular and “alien” influences that deterred these monks and priests from encouraging mundane scholarship. Philosophy, sciences, philology and certainly the study of other Abrahamic traditions, or curiosity about “distant” lands were not prioritised causing a serious disconnect with some vital strands. Following his early education in Bath’s Cathedral school, we find Adelard—like Bishop John— on his way to Tours in 1098 to gain higher instruction in theology. At Tours, Adelard spent 4 years studying Trivium and Quadrivium, inclusive of contemporary sciences and liberal arts, though remained in the lower echelons of the Benedictines. In 1102, he returned to Bath, and 2 years later took a group of younger pupils including his nephew to study in France at Laon. While in France both as a student and then as a teacher, Adelard informed his nephew of having been inspired through a nocturnal experience with a “wise man of Tours” to immerse himself in astronomy and philosophy, which became his lifelong pursuits. In his dialogues with his nephew as incorporated in his On the Same and the Different (De Eodem et Divers), he talks about this experience by the River Loire in Tours, which germinated some kind of affinity with Platonic philosophy and Ptolemy’s school of geocentric universe. At Laon, Adelard developed closer familiarity with a dustboard abacus and wrote his Regule abaci affirming his interest in mathematics and numerology fully persuaded by the Arab arithmetic that had possibly originated in India but developed in Muslim Spain. As per his biographer, “Regule abaci is a practical book, but Adelard was interested in more than numerical notation. He had shown that he felt that mathematics provided the key to explaining relationships in the universe and would clearly wish to follow up his interest in geometry, astronomy and natural science. He would not wish to spend the rest of his life teaching basic arithmetic.”10 Nor did he confine himself and his scholasticism to theology and instead ignored it to a considerable extent by focusing more on sciences and philosophy. It is possible that like his contemporary French academe, Peter Abelard (b. 1079)—also at Laon at the same time but not mentioned in Adelardian musings—the Bathonian scholar in 1109 decided to travel further east “to study among the Arabs” though he does not make any concrete reference to the effect. In his Natural Questions (Quaestiones Naturales), Adelard, after a short teaching sojourn at Laon, talks of spending next 7 years further east, which could possibly mean Sicily and Anatolia via Greece with a longer stay at Antioch. It is possible that he travelled to

22  Adelard and Muslim scholarship Sicily, Greece, Anatolia, and Syria in the company of Italian merchants since they pursued trade across the Eastern Mediterranean and some of the Silk Road cities. In his De eodem, dedicated to Bishop Williams of Syracuse in Sicily, he mentions visiting Greece and Salerno and on 29 November 1114 finds himself right above the bridge at Mamistra—presently known as Misis in Turkey—short of Antioch by a 100 miles. That was the fateful day when a devastating earthquake struck Anatolia and the Levant. Antioch (Antakya) had already been captured in 1098 by Bohemond, the son of Robert Guiscard (1015–1085), both leading their bands of Norman Crusaders in pursuance of the papal edict. Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders in 1099 following the defeat of Egypt’s Fatimids and earlier, Tripoli and Edessa had come under their control allowing greater mobility for Christian travellers and pilgrims in the Levant. Bohemond (1054–1111) was a towering figure of Scandinavian features like other Normans, and had stormed into Constantinople engaging the Byzantine troops led by Emperor Alexius I, whose own defeat and capture by the Seljuk Turks in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert had itself hastened Pope Urban II’s appeal for a holy war against the “Persians.” However, ethno-sectarian antagonism between the Catholics and Greek Orthodox became even more acute resulting in warfare in Constantinople and further afield in Anatolia. In fact, after their conquest of southern Italy, Normans, in 1082, had attacked Albania, a part of the Byzantine Empire, and now the presence of Catholic Crusaders such as Bohemond in his realm worried Emperor Alexius 1, whose sister has left detailed account of these conflicts. Many Crusaders perished in fighting the Turks at the Battle of Nicaea (Iznik) but the bands of these hardy peasants led by knights kept pushing further south towards the Levant. Antioch, a historic town with Biblical significance and pronounced business profile, was a secure place, perched on higher hills and surrounded by a formidable and well-defended wall. The Turks had recently captured it in 1084 and put up strong resistance against Bohemond whose soldiers, despite suffering grave hardships, persisted with the siege until they maneuvered a secret entry into Antioch through Firauz, an Armenian Christian convert to Islam. When compared with England and Sicily, Antioch proved to be the longest Norman possession. Here, the local Christian populace also welcomed their European counterparts and the city changed hands at a time, when Adelard was planning to travel east. Given the paucity of information on his exact travel routes and locations, one may never be sure of his presence and timings in Italy, Greece, and Antioch.11 The earthquake had drastically damaged Edessa, Tripoli, and Antioch, but it did not deter Adelard from his travel to Antioch, which had recently been able to acquire some more Arabic collections owing to volatility in Tripoli. Following the death of Raymond, Tripoli in present day Lebanon had become a battleground between his French and Genoese successors who fell upon the local population committing large-scale massacres besides burning books kept in some reputable seminaries. A few volumes such as Euclid’s Elements and Khwarizmi’s Zij and the translation works by Thabit b. Qurra (d. 910), which had been brought into Tripoli from Caliph Mammun’s House of Wisdom in Baghdad now reached Adelard in Antioch. It is possible that while in the Levant, Adelard was able to have access to the calendar prepared by Omar Khayyam (1048–1131) for King

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  23 Malik Shah Seljuk (1055–92).12 Khayyam enjoys unique fame for his Persian quatrains though his preeminence as a mathematician and astrologer was already established in his native Nishapur and other metropolitan centres including Merv, Bukhara, Ray, Shiraz, Antioch, and Baghdad. Khayyam had later moved to Merv, one of the grandest medieval cities, which, more like Baghdad, once attracted a wide variety of scholars, visitors, and merchants from Africa, Spain, Persia, and across the Silk Road.13 Equipped with the knowledge of Arabic and several Greek and Arabic manuscripts at his disposal, Adelard returned to his native Bath though was not happy with the contemporary socio-political scene and determinedly dedicated his works to bishops from the Continent. Adelard must have faced numerous challenges in reintroducing fellow ecclesiasts to the Greek scholarship besides some altogether new disciplines such as algebra, astrology, geometry, and more importantly, the Arab numerals including zero that itself was a Middle Eastern import from India. Based on scholarship at France, his earliest philosophical work was De Eodem et Diverso, which affirms Adelard’s stature as an original teacher steeped in pedagogical issues and was dedicated to William, the Bishop of Syracuse in Sicily that partly builds up the case for his presence and immersion in Sicily. Another monumental work was titled as Quaestiones Naturales that he completed on his return to assume the stature of a standard treatise for the next several centuries. In this book, Adelard mentions that 7 years have passed since his lecturing in schools at Laon, which may mean that his stay in Antioch and beyond in the Arab Middle East might have happened during those 7 years though reference to his presence at Mamistra in 1114 raises several questions about his itinerary. In the same vein, one cannot affirm his visit to Spain, which is still largely conjectural due to lack of documentary evidence to the effect. He styled his Quaestiones Naturales as a compendium on Arabic learning, based on research and interaction in Antioch while raising 76 questions in the form of a classical dialogue about meteorology and natural sciences. The book, despite its incarnation several centuries before the printing press and with the contemporary literacy rates being dismally low, soon turned into a prized text both in England and France until Renaissance augured more openness towards Plato and Aristotle. Here, Adelard has built up the case for the primacy of reason in understanding philosophy and natural phenomenon—over and above faith besides vouchsafing for Arab literary style of reasoning complex mundane and theological issues. Both these new strands must have posed challenge to orthodox conformity yet Adelard’s caution as well as personal status obviated the possibility of any vetoing clerical backlash. In addition, his close interface with the contemporary English royalty ensured personal safety and authenticity. Adelard consolidated his scholarly preeminence by translating Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, which dates from 300 BCE, and had been lost in the West due to lack of general interest in such classics. The Arabs had earlier translated Elements by this Alexandrian founder of Geometry into Arabic and Muslim architecture, among other areas, had been a beneficiary of this seminal work. It could be possible that Adelard was able to transfer back home Muslim application of arch design that earlier did not feature in British buildings. There are

24  Adelard and Muslim scholarship suppositions—not without substance—that Adelard’s observations of the repair work of the Mamistra Bridge anchored on arches and the study of Euclidean geometry in particular afforded him the role of an intermediary between England and the Middle East, eventually leading to the evolution of medieval Gothic architecture. The induction of pointed arches was followed by rib vaulting as seen in many medieval cathedrals such as at Durham and Salisbury, though these architectural skills might have been imported via Spain, where Muslim mosques at Toledo, Seville, and Cordova foreran the Mudejar tradition. According to extensive research by Diana Darke, the early Islamic architectural monuments such as the Dome of Rock, Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and Aleppo’s Minaret significantly influenced the design and dynamics of the future buildings in Venice, Paris, London, and elsewhere in Europe. Called “an explosive new book” by her reviewer, Darke claims that the pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and onion domes were imported from the Middle East and Spain to help construct some of the classical Gothic monuments in Europe, a fact that was acknowledged, among others, by Christopher Wren but forgotten in subsequent centuries.14 Adelard could surely be one of the early transmitters of these architectural skills that he observed in Sicily and the Middle East. Another of Adelard’s no less significant contribution was his translation of Al-Khwarizmi’s Zij, or the Star Tables, which played a transformative role in changing prevalent attitudes towards heavens, place of humanity in this universe and the overall location of earth in a rather complex system of stars and planets with their varying sizes, locations, and circular movements.15 Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (770–850), Latinised as Algorithmi, was a native Khivan whose contributions in algebra, philosophy and astronomy laid the foundations of Islam’s golden age. Known as the father of Algebra, he headed Caliph Mammun’s House of Wisdom in Baghdad and translated several reputable works from Greek and Sanskrit. His most well-known study was Al-kitāb al-mukhta ar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa’l-muqābala (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing), also called Kitab al-Jabr, originally written in Arabic and a text book in mathematics for successive centuries. There is a strong possibility that it was Adelard, who translated Khwarizmi’s Kitab al-Jabar, which inducted the Arab tables, numerals, and zero into English usage by gradually replacing Roman numerals though Robert of Chester too is accredited for translating this work in 1145, while being based in Spain. As an Arabist, Robert also translated another famous Perso–Arab scholar, Abu Musa Jabir bin Hayyan, often called the father of Chemistry. This was not a minor achievement given the fact that both the ancient Greeks and Romans were not familiar with zero and had their own formulas of arithmetical measurements. Future researches by Galileo and Copernicus, among others, were to benefit from this landmark work in astronomy translated into Latin along with its accompanying diagrams. Moreover, Adelard pioneered the introduction of abacus and astrolabe—two major, multi-purpose Muslim inventions that greatly systemised cartography as well as time keeping in Europe.16 He wrote operational manuals for these astrological tools and devoted them to the young prince, soon to be crowned as Henry II, reputedly a scholarly and enlightened monarch in his own right. During this period, otherwise rather anarchic in its own way, the young

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  25 prince resided in Bristol with his mother, Empress Matilda, whereas Adelard’s native Bath was under King Stephen’s control yet the philosopher maintained amiable relations with both the rival camps. Royalty and aristocracy in contemporary England were familiar with falconry but Adelard’s experiences in Anatolia and Syria allowed him to learn local skills in keeping hawks and hunting. 17 Now with his access to the royal household as a tutor for princes, he put his knowledge about hawks and their upkeep as practiced in the Muslim regions into a manual. Possibly, he found these skills enhancive or even superior to what his own compatriots were used to and offers comprehensive details on their feed, upkeep, and training to make them more effective and reliable for their owners. Adelard’s book was “the earliest western European treatise on falconry of its kind and is unique by virtue of its information about Anglo-Saxon practices, particularly those described in King Harold’s books…”18 As is obvious from the copies of the booklet in Clare College, Cambridge, the style of the text is typical Adelardian in the form of dialogues with his nephew where the uncle exhorts the falconer to be sober, clean of breath and patient in handling the preying bird. The advice is quite minute covering areas such as caging, hooding, feeding the infant bird in the dark, assessing and treating its health issues, caring for feathers and gradually inducting preying skills into its routine besides ensuring that the bird develops closer affinity with the keeper. Adelard might have written the work either out of personal interest or as an instructional material for Henry I, yet it affirms his exposure to extensive practices of hawk keeping in the Muslim Middle East since the minute details on their types, veterinary imperatives, herbal medicines, training on targets, and dietary requirements reveal immersion into ornithology and agronomy. Other than his scholarly work as a teacher, translator, and an influential medium for Arabo–Islamic sciences, knowledge, and inventions in England, Adelard held various public offices under King Henry and thus lived a busy life, possibly obviating the likelihood of a marriage. In his teaching methodology, he followed the Aristotelian and Platonic precepts of dialogue where students participated in the discourse by raising issues or attempting their own responses to various scholarly questions. In A Little Key to Drawing, there are several recipes attributed to Adelard including the preparation of sweets by using sugarcane, only known to the Arabs for a long time. Originally, they had imported it from West Africa and the earliest sugar cane plantation took place on the Iberian Peninsula until with the introduction of coffee and tea, the demand for sugar caught up subsequently allowing the development of sugar plantations under the British and French tutelage. In line with his role as a chemist, Adelard, reportedly introduced new methods for brewing alcohol—an Arabic word itself. Although he was not a physician, yet like other medieval men of learning, he carried some expertise on minor surgeries that he had picked up during his sojourn in the Middle East.19 His immersion in Arabo–Islamic culture at testing and even polarised times such as the Crusades and Reconquista is certainly not a minor achievement, which affirms his stature beyond and above the contemporary proclivities and biases. In post-9/11 atmosphere of mutual suspicions and derisions, it is all the more important to relocate his contributions as a pioneering intellectual intermediary, who set up a high standard of

26  Adelard and Muslim scholarship objective learning without falling into the trap of what Edward Said, later on, defined as Orientalism.20 However, the fact remains that his two landmark accomplishments were the translations of Elements and Zij that he completed on his return to England. In his subsequent work on astrolabe, he accredits himself for translating fifteen books of Euclid, though two extra have been an exaggeration. Written in Alexandria in Greek in 300 BCE, the original work had disappeared though its Arabic translations by early Muslim scholars such as Thabit b. Qurra (d. 901) and his Christian cotemporary Ishaq b. Hunayn (d. 910) survived. The son of Hunayn b. Ishaq (809–873)—the Nestorian Arab translator—Ishaq had also translated Ptolemy’s Almagest and coming from Syria with their subsequent work in Baghdad, Adelard followed into their native region two centuries later. These Syrian Christians, other than Arabic, commanded mastery in Syriac, Greek, and Latin making them the mentors of translators at the House of Wisdom whose polymathic specialisations covered philosophy, medicine, ophthalmology, and astronomy. Adelard’s translation of Elements resulted in its introduction as a textbook at Chartres, already distinguished for its teaching of mathematics in Western Europe. Adelard’s translation of Khwarizmi’s eminent work, Zij equally promoted the study of algebra and astronomy in Western Europe. The Khivan philosopher and the head of the House of Wisdom had consulted ancient Sanskrit works such as Sindhind, and Ptolemy’s Almagest to develop his tables. Given the unavailability of original Zij, Adelard’s translation remains crucial in making Khwarizmi’s trigonometric tables available in Europe though in Toledo, Abu Ma’shar (787–886), the Balkhi scholar and the greatest astrologer of his era in Baghdad, had already exposed students to such works. Some of Abu Ma’shar’s writings had undergone translation in Seville and Carinthia promoting study of celestial bodies, which helped Adelard in dilating on algorithm and especially the ten horoscopes and their attributes.21 Adelard’s De opera astrolapsus is about the skills of using astrolabe and is dedicated to his tutee, Henry Plantagenet, Queen Matilda’s son and the future Henry II who, for a time, lived in Bristol as a young prince. The manual acknowledges the spherical nature of the universe and can be measured through circular measurements—a method that Al-Beruni had applied in measuring the earth’s circumference while based at Nandna in the Salt Range of Pakistan. Adelard’s information on planetary system derives from Euclid and Khwarizmi, and is determined by a professional usage of both sides of the instrument to identify exact locations of the sun and other planets. Starting as a student of theology, Adelard dwelt deeper in philosophy with penchant for Neo-Platonism, until he moved to Sicily, Anatolia and Syria where Euclid and Khwarizmi led him more into the realms of algebra, geometry, astronomy, astrology, and ornithology making him a polymath under the great influence of Arabo–Islamic scholars and transmitters. Cochrane, while ending her biography, aptly sums it up: “It is Adelard as author to whom we must be grateful as well as to Adelard the scholar.”22 However, Adelard remains an exceptional intellectual of his time especially when we contextualise his laudatory immersion into Islamic sciences at a time, when Christian West, more like recent phase, fervently stigmatised Muslims through propaganda and active warfare, especially

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  27 in Western Mediterranean regions. The next section in our inquiry may allow us a more judicious estimation of Adelardian contributions given the prevalent violence and misattribution directed against the followers of Islam and their systematic expulsions from southern Europe. Exceptionalising Muslims by virtue of their creedal and cultural specificities has happened in the past—averse to Adelardian appreciation of their scholarship and intellectual contributions—and was revived in early modern era. This accent on differentiation of non-Western peoples in general and Muslims in particular by using partisan touchstones has often found currency, especially during the times of increased global tensions of geopolitical types. Sadly, as seen during the Crusades and subsequently in such other polarities, violence was often predicated on, or even justified owing to specific attitudes where “lesser lives” could be easily disposed off in lieu of larger goals. More recently, following 9/11 and especially during the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya such misimages and derisory attitudes received a fillip, much to the discomfort of Muslims and pacifists across the West.23 Historically, even before the dramatic geo-political developments of the new millennium, many analysts felt discomfited by increased East–West tensions where political and partisan drivers had begun to revive damaging stereotypes harking back to an earlier past. In the wake of furore over Salman Rushdie’s novel and a feared spill-over in the form of exclusionary and divisive attitudes, Normal Daniel’s landmark study on Muslim-Christian relations—largely anchoring East–West paradigm per se—became a solid reference point to seek a fresher, positive and long-time overview of this interface and ushered an entire spectrum of similar other works. A former student of Montgomery Watt and a long-time observer of the Middle East with a close exposure to Arab societies by virtue of his work with the British Council in Cairo, he went back to early “formative” times and observed rather realistically: “The earliest Christian reactions to Islam were much the same as they have been until quite recently. The tradition has been continuous and it is still alive. Naturally, there has been variety within the wider unity of the tradition, and the European (American) West for long had its own characteristic view, which was formed in the two centuries or so after 1100, and which has been modified only slowly since…. The points in which Christianity and Islam differ have not changed, so that Christians have always tended to make the same criticisms, and even when, in relatively modern times, some authors have self-consciously tried to emancipate themselves from Christian attitudes, they have not generally been as successful as they thought.” 24 According to Daniel, religious attitudes underlay the complex and often testing relationship and evolved in Syria before the Latin West appropriated them slightly later. Here, St. John of Damascus, who was born just 50 years after Prophet Muhammad’s migration (Hijra) of 612 CE, pioneered a derogatory view of Islam identifying it with some Arab paganism with Muhammad epitomising unbound sexuality, who presumably made up his own doctrines while borrowing teachings from the Old and New Testaments on the advice of an Arian monk. Islam’s expansion in the Christian heartlands only further beefed up such discretionary views of the faith, the Prophet and Quran with Jihad perceived as a brand ideology for enforcing creed with sword.

28  Adelard and Muslim scholarship Retrospectively, Adelard’s pioneering work must have been a bit out of sync with the contemporary cynical view of Islam within the Latin world, due to two Medieval texts—Risalah and Contrarietas—polemical Latin works authored by some pseudo converts from Islam. They influenced the early Christian thinking in Europe including the works by Peter the Venerable, St. Thomas Aquinas, Matthew Paris, and Sir John Mandeville. Peter the Venerable, in fact, commissioned the Cluniac translation of the Quran by Robert of Ketton, and like Mark of Toledo’s translation of the Muslim holy book, it too suffered from its own lacunae. The Quranic respect for Biblical prophets as divine messengers of Islam, and shared resemblance with the other two Abrahamic creeds certainly confounded early theologians especially in Spain, which was under Muslim suzerainty since its conquest by the Ummayyids in 712 CE. The suspicion and hostility towards Muslims due to their conquests and a high rate of conversions began to be challenged by the martyrdom movement in Cordova, soon to be followed by the papal decree for the holy war. Spanish San Pedro, while impressed by Quranic teachings and beliefs, still could not bring himself around to accept Islam’s divine origins. Early Christians like him and their disciples elsewhere were baffled by Muslim belief in Quran being a revealed and not a created text. To San Pedro, despite all its merits, Quran was written down 20 years after Muhammad began to preach and thus merited questions about its authenticity. However, these theologians, with a lasting imprint on future generations across the Christian world could not see what Daniel summed up several centuries later, when he commented: “The Qur’an in Islam is very nearly what Christ is in Christianity: the word of God, the whole expression of revelation. For the most Bible-loving, Protestant or Catholic, the Bible derives its significance from Christ; but Muhammad derives his from the Quran. In their failure to realise this, Latins persistently contrasted Christ and Muhammad, and nothing marks more clearly the distance between Islamic and European thought.”25 Here, in this dominant Latin discourse on theology, other than Quran and its relationship with the Prophet, Muhammad’s own integrity came under serious review with personages like William of Tyre openly calling him a liar, epileptic, and imposter, something that reverberated in Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Sensationalised stories about his wives especially Zaynab and Ayesha were exaggerated to deny him even a normal humanity with San Pedro being astonished for earth not having devoured Muhammad for stimulating epileptic fits to obtain other men’s spouses.26 Through a distorted view and its mainsprings during the medieval period, Islam was held to have justified violence through conquests and conversions, whereas the same was legitimated against it through the Crusades and here leading theologians such as Thomas Aquinas, Hubert of Romans, St. Bernard, and Pope Urban II often ended up as propagandists for the holy wars. Strong social reservations against Muslims and Jews featured in some of the contemporary polemics suggesting a type of ordained ostracisation. For instance, soon after Adelard’s death, an edict emanating during the thirteenth century from San Ramon de Peniaforte to the Friars Preachers and Friars Minors in Morocco prohibited even a friendly social intercourse with Muslims. Earlier, under a canon law, Muslims and Jews living under the Christian kings were to be “tolerated” as neighbours in

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  29 an evangelical sense. In 1179, the authorities forbade Christians from rendering any services in the Jewish and Muslim households under any circumstance and were destined for excommunication for living among the latter. In 1215, Jews and Muslims in the conquered territories received orders to wear distinctive clothings to differentiate them from Christians, and a century later, the Clementine of 1312 forbade Muslim calls for daily prayers or undertaking pilgrimage to the Hejaz from within the territories of Christian princes. Following Reconquista and other serious exclusionary policies as seen in Spain and Sicily, the Medieval Muslim communities initially turned into smaller isolated islands and a few generations down the line were either assimilated, or simply expelled.27 While highlighting such historic prejudices and partisan policies, Daniel’s summation does not seem to be out of place, when he observed: “The Muslim communities of mediaeval Europe ceased to exist, converted under pressure, if not by force, or expelled, all of which now is contrary to Western practice.” 28 This early “clash of faiths” assumed annihilative proportions during the Crusades and left bitter memories on all sides and despite initiating a multiple interaction between Europe and the Middle East in various innovative areas; they seem to reverberate even in today’s conflictive lexicons.29 While the Latin views of Islam, Quran, the Prophet, and Muslims in general were selective and, as seen above, often hostile largely out of theological and political considerations of the clerical and political elite during the medieval era, there was still a strong sense of Muslim achievements in areas other than the statecraft. In 1112 CE, locust attacks had laid a waste in Antioch whereas 2 years later, on 29 November, an earthquake struck the town that housed a sizeable community of Crusaders, and was now the home to Adelard. While Walter the Chancellor, a long-time cleric and “Frankish” administrator of Antioch attributed it to Divine retribution for the moral extremities committed by fellow Christians, Adelard kept himself busy learning Arabic and gathering Eastern knowledge. A few years earlier, the combined Norman and Genoese forces had captured the nearby city of Tripoli laying waste to its vast library with thousands of its works being acquired by merchants in Antioch, which due to its strategic location and cross-cultural influences was a natural choice for Adelard to pursue his intellectual ambitions. Saint Peter had once served in the city and now locusts and a decimating earthquake still did not deter the Bathonian to make it his home for the next several years mindful of the fact that the word “Christians” was used for the first time in that city. He was certainly aware of the atrocities committed against the Jews and Muslims by some of his coreligionists, “who had seen only evil in the Muslim infidel, {whereas} Adelard sought the light of the Arab wisdom.”30 Even before reaching the Holy Land or adjoining Muslim regions in the Near East, Crusaders had been eliminating Jewish communities from across the Continent and, as noted earlier, occasionally did not spare their fellow Christians belonging to non-Catholic denominations.31 However, their main hostility was reserved for Muslims, and given the frenzy created by senior Church leaders such as Peter the Hermit, Gregory, Urban II, and their successors who never relented in their anti-Muslim animus, destruction and bloodshed in the Arab lands by Frankish forces knew no bounds. The Arabs were themselves shocked with this degree

30  Adelard and Muslim scholarship of violence, which did not spare even the holy places in the Old City where the Dome of Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque were full of human and equine corpses since the population had been ordered to gather there. Other than their cruelty, the Crusaders shocked local people by their cannibalism during the food shortages in 1098 especially in the Syrian town of Mara. Radulph of Caen, a contemporary witness, while defining Muslims as infidels, recorded: “Our troops boiled pagan adults whole in cooking pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.” Another witness, Albert of Aix, wrote unabashedly: “Not only did our troops not shrink from eating dead Turks and Saracens, they also ate dogs.”32 The characterisation of Muslims as heathens, idol worshippers, and lesser humans had facilitated the papal propaganda to justify these invasions, which went on for centuries and proved to be the most far-reaching historical development during the medieval times. The Norman conquest of Sicily in the mid-eleventh century coinciding with the Reconquista had certainly unleashed this “problematique” of relations with Muslims. Curiously, on the one hand, Muslims were viewed as outsiders and barbarians while concurrently their statecraft, monotheistic devotion, and receptivity towards mundane disciplines and arts generated envy. Thus, even though by default, the Crusades proved to be a formidable channel between the Muslim intellectual and scientific achievements and their diffusion in Europe. This interchange also resulted in the transfer of knowledge and specialised skills in natural sciences, architecture, nutrition, and vital inventions such as the astrolabe and abacus. Possibly, Adelard’s earlier visits to Salerno, Palermo, and Syracuse had enthused him to visit the Islamic heartland where cities like Damascus, Aleppo, and Antioch and surely, Baghdad had become the focal points of scholarly and scientific pursuits. The Abbasids, following their victory over the Ummayyids in 750 CE, had decided to build their capital, Baghdad, in central Mesopotamia as a planned metropolis of knowledge and inquiry, and caliphs like Al-Mansur, Haroon al-Rashid, and Abu Jaafar Mammun (786–833) had ensured its global stature as the centre of wisdom and knowledge. The libraries, observatories, seminaries, and private intellectual platforms had turned Baghdad into a global Baitul Hikmah or the House of Wisdom, until the Mongols destroyed it in 1258. Baghdad’s completion happened in 762—just 14 years before Caliph Abu Jaafar Mammun al-Rashid’s birth—and given the attention and patronage from Caliphs Mansur and Rashid, the city assumed a preeminent status as a world leader in intellectual, cultural, artistic, and religious pursuits. Some of the ablest men of letters moved to Baghdad on invitations from these early Abbasid caliphs, and its library became the largest of its type—exactly like Alexandria’s in the preceding millennium. Caliph Al-Mammun, a great scholar in his own right, encouraged scholarly investigations of secular and sacred subjects besides sponsoring a very ambitious translation programme. For instance, he commissioned Hunayn bin Ishaq, the Christian Arab scholar, to translate works of Greek classicists including Galen whereas Banu Musa Brothers specialised in translating works in Physics and Astronomy. However, the greatest philosopher of the time was an Iraqi named Al-Kindi or Al-Kundus (801–873) who tried to bridge Philosophy with Theology. In the same vein, the most reputable geographer and mathematician in

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  31 the contemporary Abbasid caliphate was Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who along with Al-Kindi tried to introduce Indian decimal system in their works. Another known contemporary philosopher and a pioneer articulator of Neo-­ Platonism was Al-Farabi (872–950), who was of Turkic origin from present-day Kazakhstan, whereas Abu Rehan Al-Beruni (978–1048) could be safely called a noted geographer and perhaps the first anthropologist. Born near Bukhara, Al-Beruni completed his research in northwestern India—present-day Pakistan—and came out with his tome, Kitabul Hind (Indica), in 1000 CE. Like these and some other creative geniuses, the Abbasid period in the Middle East, the Ummayyid caliphate in Spain and the Fatimids of North Africa came to form the golden age of Islamic arts and letters. Other than Spaniard scholars such as Mohy-ud-Din al-Arabi (1165–1240)—commonly known as Ibn ‘Arabi—the most familiar name in philosophy and medicines remained that of Ibn-e-Sina, or Avicenna (980–1037) who could be called the Erasmus of Islam during this golden age. Other than philosophical commentaries on ancient works, his Canon of Medicine (Al-Kimiya) became a universal text on medicines and surgeries. By virtue of his philosophical contributions, Avicenna proved one of the most notable links between Greek philosophy and Muslim theology, whereas in the realm of rationalism, Ibn-e-Rushd or Averroes (1126–98), a native Cordovan, has been acknowledged as the greatest philosopher in northern Mediterranean. Thus, it may not be surprising that Adelard decided to undertake writing and translation work while based at the crossroads of several cultural and intellectual traditions. Baghdad attracted Muslim, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Hindu, and Christian thinkers and scientists from across the world including some from Spain and Sicily. Inter-denominational tolerance and the diversification of Sufi orders equally flourished owing to a more tolerant attitude across the caliphate and thus philosophers, poets, architects, Sufis, and publicists moved from one end to the other. In the same vein, Cordova, Toledo, Zaragoza, Seville, and Granada evolved as the centres of intellectual and artistic achievements under the Ummayyid caliphate that had come into existence in Spain and rivalled the Abbasids further east. Between Muslim Spain and the Abbasid Middle East, the Fatimids had established their political centre in North Africa and had founded the Al-Azhar University in their newly established capital of Cairo. Originally, a Shia dynasty—as denoted by their dynastic name attributed to the daughter of the Prophet—the Fatimids patronised knowledge and inquiry and for a time ruled Sicily but avoided converting their subjects to Islam. Following the destruction of the Abbasid caliphate and the prized city of Baghdad in 1258, cities such as Cairo, Granada, Fes, Lahore, Delhi, Timbuktu, and Konya emerged as the focal points of philosophical and literary activities. The induction of erstwhile nomadic Central Asian Turkic tribes into Islam had brought fresh blood and energies into the erstwhile Perso–Arab civilisation of Islam and despite the acute adversities suffered during the Crusades and Mongol invasions along with the loss of Sicily and northern Spain, Muslim civilisation escaped a feared eclipse. Thus, on the eve of the Crusades, the Muslim world featured several parallel centres of power and learning though numerous regional kingdoms also dotted various regions and their interaction with the Crusaders and other non-Muslim

32  Adelard and Muslim scholarship clusters still awaits documentation. In this intra-Muslim pluralism during the medieval times, individuals such as Adelard and Stephens of Pisa much like other seekers of knowledge—both Muslim and non-Muslim—became fellow travellers. In a powerful way, this period, despite the hurt and tribulation of the Crusades and Reconquista, saw the evolution of medieval Jewish renaissance in Spain and North Africa. It is not surprising to see Maimonides (1135–1204), the preeminent Spanish Jewish philosopher, writing most of his works in Arabic and then moving from his native Cordova to Cairo to serve as a personal physician to Sultan Salah-ud-Din (1137–93).33 The presence of many Muslims in Southern Italy, especially in Sicily, and the Italian interaction with North Africa and larger Middle East afforded greater opportunity for Adelard to gain orientation into Eastern learning. In addition, Sicily’s Christianity itself had a strong Greek persona, which allowed a diverse perspective that a growingly dominant Catholic factor deeply resented. The Norman monarchy under Roger II attempted a delicate balancing act among these testing and often polarised trajectories until the Greek, Muslim, and Jewish influences underwent rigorous purges. It was soon after Adelard’s return to his native Bath that King Roger II, in 1138, invited Al-Sharif al-Idrisi to move to Sicily to supervise research on geography and head the royal project of cartography. A well-travelled poet, botanist, scientist and scholar of Latin, Arabic, Persian, Greek, Berber, and Sanskrit, the Muslim academe decided to work under the patronage of the Norman king, who himself reflected contrasting attitudes towards Muslims varying from suspicion to adulation. Roger had refused to join the popes on Crusades yet had made every effort to assimilate Muslims into a reenergised Christian Sicily. According to some contemporary reports, several “rumours swirled among the people that their king was really a secret Muslim, a reputation no doubt enhanced by Roger’s frequent clashes with the popes…”34 In addition, there was a pronounced Muslim interaction between Sicily and Spain and several Muslim families, in fact, migrated to Spain following the Norman conquest and a few centuries down, their descendants like other Spanish Muslims were confronted with the powerful forces of Inquisition and Expulsion with history repeating itself in Northern Mediterranean regions. As mentioned earlier, Italy’s Muslim experience remains largely uninvestigated, and merits only a few solitary references here and there in volumes on Medieval era, or while recounting the history of Islam in Europe. Whereas the Fall of Granada in 1492 is seen as the tragic turning point followed by Inquisitions, Expulsions and sheer elimination of Muslims, Jews and Moriscos—until as late as the seventeenth century—the drop scene on Muslim communities in Italy happened long before that. While Sicilian cities such as Palermo, Messina, Cafalo, Trapani, and Agrigento were ethnically cleansed following the Norman conquests in the late eleventh century, it was the Muslim population of Lucera up in Bari that two centuries later became the precursor of what was to happen in Granada subsequently. It was in 1266 here that the remaining Muslim communities met their “final solution” and, as per Alex Metcalfe, Lucera Saracenorum was brutally transformed into Lucera Christanorum though some of the remaining Muslims like their subsequent Andalusian counterparts, fled north to the hills of Abruzzi to escape wrath let loose by the successors of King

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  33 ­ rederick. Elimination of Muslims and a smaller community of Jews in southF ern regions especially Sicily was overshadowed by larger and lasting conflicts. Even the enormity of Arabic sources including the highly respectable works by Ibn al-Athir (1097–1146), contemporary correspondence, and most importantly the account left by the Andalusian intellectual, Ibn Jubayr (1145–1217) have not invoked scholarly attention to the extent that a more cogent history of the Muslim past of this territory could evolve.35 Other than the writings by Ibn al-Athir, Ibn Jubayr, Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406), and hundreds of Muslim Sicilian poets, scholars, and traders, Islam in Italy became a distant memory and, in the same way, Malta and other regions underwent several political transformations. The German, Spanish, and the French reigns further affected life in Sicily though the Popes ensured the perpetuation of Catholicism much at the expense of the Orthodox, Muslims and Jews—the latter two in many cases having paid special taxes to build the cathedrals across the islands. Muslim lands and money, like the special taxes imposed on Jews following the Norman Conquest, financed the institutionalisation of Catholicism in every aspect though kings such as Roger I and Roger II often tried to protect their newly acquired principalities by ensuring some neutrality amidst waging intra-European warfare. When Andalusian Ibn Jubayr travelled to Sicily during the early thirteenth century, he saw it almost totally changed since the Norman Conquest: “Roger controlled the entire island and colonized it with Greeks and Franks alongside the Muslims; they left not a bath-house, shop, mill or oven to any of its inhabitants.”36 After the conquest of Messina (1061), San Marco (1061), Petralia (1062), and Calascibetta 1074) followed by that of Palermo (1072), Trapani (1077), Syracuse (1085), Agrigento (1087), and Noto (1090), the totalistic changes occurred. Malta’s conquest by Roger in 1127 obviated the possibility of any major new Muslim reinforcements from North Africa. After the death of Roger I in 1101, his third wife, Countess Adelaide (d. 1118) earnestly led the campaign towards re-Christianisation of the island and being a supporter of both Greek and Latin churches she was especially close to the church at Patti as “the helper of the Christians.” By that time, Sicilian Muslim elite had begun to leave for North Africa and Spain including the most famous contemporary poet, Ibn Hamdis (d. 1132–3) who joined the Abbadi court at Seville. Grammarians such as Ibn al-Birr, Ibn al-Qatta, and Ibn Barri also left their native Sicily, and according to Ibn al-Qatta (d. 1122), there were 170 Arab–Sicilian poets during the Muslim period in southern Italy while there were just a handful in the Norman times: The kingdom of Sicily, with its Muslim majority population on the island, played a central role in the formation of medieval Europe during the twelfth and thirteen centuries. The rich, mainly Latin, sources which describe the interlaced histories of north and south Italy, and the German and Byzantine empires, also outline relations with the papacy, the Crusader states and the Norman, Mediterranean and Islamic “world.”37 To Metcalfe, Muslims accounted for a clear majority until the 1220s when diminution began due to aforementioned processes. Lucera, up on the mainland,

34  Adelard and Muslim scholarship maintained some Muslim semblance for another century or so with Muslim émigrés settling in this town from across Italy including the Sicilians until King Frederick and his successors ensured the forced assimilation of this last Muslim presence on the Peninsula. The gradual dispossession of their lands, houses and institutional bases led to desertions and dislocations and in the same manner Jews suffered from forced and inquisitional conversions. In 1147, Jews were rounded up and brought back to Sicily from across the regions with “no obvious motive other than perhaps their conversion.”38 When the Andalusian Muslim visitor, Ibn Jubayr visited Sicily in 1184–5, he was able to witness multiple forms of physical and cultural dispossession, which, occasionally, as also affirmed by Ibn Khaldun, involved surrogates. The Sicilian Muslims, who could not leave, stayed on by adopting a low-key profile and reverted to taqiayya, or enforced concealment. They held on to the traditions of Islam in a hidden (batin) way until a few generations further down they got assimilated and almost disappeared from the pages of history. It is due to the pioneering efforts by Michele Amari, the nineteenth century Italian scholar and the translator of the primary Arabic sources, that a renewed interest in the forgotten history of Islam in Italy came to academic purview. Even though Muslims had been “marginalised as a politico-religious underclass” in Sicily and areas further north and the west, the Christian rulers and elite still found urge and envy in emulating their lifestyles: Between the eighth and tenth centuries, many works of ancient Greek and Hellenistic thinkers reached new and appreciative audiences via their eventual translation into Arabic in Abbasid Iraq. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the kingdom of Sicily was second only to centres in Iberian Peninsula, particularly Toledo, as a site for return wave of transitions when Latin versions of Greek and Arabic literary and scientific texts came to be made and diffused in Europe. Sicily did not rival Spain in the quantity of its outputs, but it had an important advantage with its pool of educated, bilingual Arabic-Greek and Greek-Latin translators, as well as a greater access to texts in Greek and/or classical Greek authors whose works existed in Arabic.39 Adelard certainly augured serious scholarly and scientific interest in Eastern intellectual heritage after gaining first-hand experience and despite the volatility as exhibited during the Crusades and Reconquista, visible interest in Islam continued at monasteries and universities across Britain. Adelard’s defiance of clerical indifference towards parallel intellectual and scientific traditions might not have transformed the contemporary mindset towards Muslims, but it certainly opened up new vistas, which eventually helped spawn Renaissance, and comparative and even critical thinking in successive centuries. The emergence of the Ottoman, Safawid, and Mughal empires, long after the caliphal era and dissolution of Muslim societies in Spain and Italy, continued to elicit interest across Britain. The British destruction of the Armada with the crucial Ottoman assistance in 1588, and the formation of the Levant Company followed by that of

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  35 the East India Company soon after, a new paradigm in relationship began to take shape, which certainly anchored itself on a different set of imbalances.40

Notes 1 “It is not fanciful to call Adelard ‘the first English scientist’; he was the key contributor to the conceptual revolution which initiated modern scientific methods.” Louise Cochran, Adelard of Bath: The First English Scientist (Bath: Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 2013), 22. 2 In addition to sharing his name with some modern-day IT experts and financial wizards, Adelard has a few shorter biographical insertions on the Internet. Along with a Wikipedia entry, which surely acknowledges some useful references, there are a few shorter entries on Adelard, which fall short of scholarly rigour. His two oft-quoted works translated from Latin are On the Same and the Different, and Natural Questions. Adelard’s style of answering philosophical questions in these works is through active conversations with his nephew, who raises numerous questions about his travels, philosophy, and the universe. Some scholars in recent times have commented on his ideas in their publications allowing a lateral recognition. For instance, Charles Burnett, Adelard of Bath, Conversations with His Nephew (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); and, Jill Kraye and W. F. Ryan, (eds.) Adelard of Bath (London: Warburg Institute, 1987). 3 The biographical essay by BRLSI’s Michael Davis is a brief outline of Adelard’s life and works. Davis happened to be the convener of the Adelard Society aimed at creating greater awareness on this prominent medieval philosopher and runs “Adelard returns to Bath” programme. Michael Davis, “Adelard of Bath: A Synopsis,” BRLISI, October 2009. This author—a Bath-based academe—received this short sketch in reference to a possible lecture on Adelard and Islamic Scholarship, which eventually took place in Bath in 2010. Louise Cochran (d. 2012), an American author based in Britain published the only detailed biography in English of Adelard under the auspices of the British Museum in 1994 affirming his stay in Sicily, Antioch, and possibly beyond that, though she wondered about his long absence from biographical and philosophical treatises. Given the unavailability of the volume to public and motivated by desire to introduce Adelard as the greatest Bathonian of his times, BRLISI put works by Burnett and Cochran together in their 2013 volume whereas, Simon Webb published his laudatory, slim biography of Adelard in 2019. Both these biographies may go a long way in positioning Adelard on an intellectual pedestal after almost an absence of a millennium. Louise Cochran, Adelard of Bath (London: The British Museum Press, 1994); and, Simon Webb, The Life and Times of Adelard of Bath: Twelfth Century Renaissance Man (Durham: The Langley Press, 2019). 4 Charles Burnett (ed.) Adelard of Bath: An English Scientist and Arabist of the Early Twelfth Century (London: Warburg Institute, 1987). 5 Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy (London, Routledge, 2004), 212. 6 Spain, for instance, is viewed both a centre of convivencia as well as a place of an early clash of cultures, though for quite some time, Muslim and Jewish heritage in Spain remained invisible from historical accounts. Needless to say that the externalisation of Muslims even after centuries of their presence in Spain is ahistorical given the indigenisation, acculturation, and growth of a full-fledged civilisational epoch in the region. For both these views, see Thomas F. Glick, Convivencia: Jews, Muslims and Christians in Spain (New York: George Braziller, 1992); and, Dario Fernandez Morera, The Myth of Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Jews and Christian under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain (Wilmington, DE: ISI, 2014). 7 Davis, “Adelard of Bath,” 1. Davis, the vicechair at BRLSI, added a useful chronology towards the end of recent edition of Cochran’s book, which includes a short foreword by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili and an overview contributed by Edith and Peter Wallis.

36  Adelard and Muslim scholarship 8 Norman Daniel, Islam and the West. The Making of an Image (Oxford: Oneworld, 1993), 401. (Chapter IX, endnote 4). 9 In a rather exclusive way, even some otherwise knowledgeable writers, keep defining European civilisation solely created by Christianity and Greek philosophy as if the long centuries of the Muslim past did not have any bearing on such processes. For instance, Tom Holland, Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind (London: Abacus, 2020). 10 Cochrane, 52. 11 Webb, 7 & 29. “Adelard’s encounter with seismic forces on the bridge at Mamistra in 1114 is one of a series of striking incidents in his life that he himself relates in his writings. The problem for the biographer of Adelard is that, because of the conventions of twelfth century literature, Adelard may have invested some of these incidents merely to make a point and to add interest to his pages: they may not actually have happened in any real sense, and worse, the Bathonian may never have been to some of the places he claims to have visited.” (P. 20). 12 Khayyam was quite close to Malik Shah and after his rather early death moved to Merv. Malik Shah had established an observatory in Isfahan where Jalali calendar was developed. Shah’s empire included vast regions in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Persia, Khorasan, Syria, and Anatolia, which he had inherited from his father, Alp Arsalan, who was the victor of Manzikert against the Byzantine emperor. Shah had spent time in Aleppo and Damascus, the areas also visited by Khayyam, may be slightly earlier than Adelard. 13 Destroyed by the Mongols in 1222, only the grave of Sultan Sanjar remains of this magnificent city, now in Turkmenistan. Iftikhar H. Malik, The Silk Road and Beyond: Narratives of a Muslim Historian (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2020), 354–6. 14 Diana Darke, Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe? (London: Hurst, 2020). For a review, see Oliver Wainright, “Looted landmarks: how Notre-Dame, Big Ben and St Mark’s were stolen from the east”, The Guardian, 13 August 2020. 15 In 820, due to his contributions in algebra, geography, science and philosophy, the Abbasid Caliph, Mammun, made him the head of Baitul Hikmat (The House of Wisdom). 16 It appears that Astrolabe predated Muslims, though in Muslim Spain, it underwent a major transformation with the contributions by astronomers such as Al-Zarkali. The French philosopher Abelard’s daughter was named Astrolabe. 17 Davis, 3. 18 Cochrane, 77. 19 “He was also a musician, having studied Music in the Quadrivium at Tours, and played the Cithara. On his return from the Middle East he played it for Queen Matilda (Henry 1’s wife) at Easter 1116 (at Bath?).” Davis, 4. 20 Edward Said’s seminal work and postulation has caused an entire flurry of academic and ideological debate, no less claimed and challenged by a wide variety of opinion groups varying from critical academics to Neo-Conservative cheerleaders and Islamist radicals. See, Edward Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin, 1978 & 2003). For critics such as Talal Asad and Hamid Dabashi, the reawakening of biases and serious fissures within an exclusive cultural prism could themselves be a form of “NeoOrientalism,” often appropriated by post-colonial elite, both from the Western and non-Western regions. See, Talal Asad, (ed.), Anthropology & the Colonial Encounters (Amherst: Humanity Books, 1998); and Hamid Dabashi, Dark Skins: White Masks (London: Pluto, 2011). 21 Abu Ma’shar was reprimanded by the Abbasid caliph and philosophers such as Al-Kindi when, based on his study of zodiac signs, he offered specific predictions about future. 22 Cochrane, 140. 23 I have commented on such heightened tensions in my Crescent between Cross and Star: Muslims and the West after 9/11 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2006).

Adelard and Muslim scholarship  37 24 25 26 27



30 31

32 33

Daniel, 11. Daniel, 53. Quoted in Daniel, 51–2. Amidst a growing historiography, one finds more works on Islam in Sicily and Spain underlining an enduring though no less tragic tradition that once existed in Medieval Europe. On Spain, one finds several new books, papers and visual documentaries though more and more primary sources are steadily being unearthed. For instance: Francisco Nune Muley, A Memorandum for the President of the Royal Audiencia and Chancery Court of the City and Kingdom of Granada, edited and translated by Vincent Barletta, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007); Iftikhar H. Malik, Islam and Modernity: Muslims in Europe and the United States (London: Pluto, 2004); Matthew Carr, Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain (London: Hurst & Company, 2009): also, Alex Metcalfe, The Muslims of Medieval Italy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009). Daniel, 316. He, however, did acknowledge a visible tradition of awareness of Islam during that period, which transmitted its lasting impact all the way until recent times: “Summing up the Western view of Islam, we can say that it was based in the crucial period on a good deal of sound knowledge, but it is also accepted a great deal that is now seen, and was seen by many then too, to be nonsense. Nonsense was accepted, and sound sense was distorted, because whatever seemed useful to faith was thought likely to be true, a failure of logic, and indeed of faith as well, which is not peculiar to this subject or these people.” (Daniel, 302). Soon after 9/11, George W. Bush and several other Western leaders and policy makers fell back upon the typologies associated with the Crusades and holy warfare, which in the same vein, were responded by the Islamist radicals such as Osama bin Laden. The Afghan Taliban, essentially a Pushtun-based movement fighting the NATO troops since 2001, have often labelled these countries and troops as “Saleebi”—cross-carrying Crusaders. It is interesting to note that groups like the Taliban or even Al-Qaeda consciously avoid labelling Western forces as ‘infidels’ rather invoke the Medieval imagery of enduring confrontations. Commenting on a Taliban video documenting a suicide attack on NATO’s Camp Salerno in eastern Afghanistan on 1 June 2012, a Western report noted: “Grinning for the camera, the suicide bomber fondly patted his truckload of explosives. ‘We will defeat these crusader pigs as they have invaded our land’, he declared as he revved the engine.” Declan Walsh and Eric Schmitt, “New Boldness From Militants Poses Risk to U.S.–Pakistan Ties”, The International Herald Tribune, 30 July 2012. Often-quoted autobiography of one of the founders of the Taliban and a former Guantanamo internee has also tried to differentiate between the erstwhile pre-1989 Soviet troops and the post-2001 NATO forces in Afghanistan. See, Abdus Salam Zaeef, My Life with the Taliban (London: Hurst & Co., 2010). Jonathan Lyons, The House of Wisdom. How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilisation (London: Bloomsbury, 2010), 2. The most serious pogroms were carried out on the French and German territories though places like London and York had their own less savoury records in anti-Jewish campaigns. At Worms in 1096, forces led by Count Emicho, the German aristocrat, killed five hundred Jews though they had sought the protection from the local Catholic leadership. More than one thousand Jews were killed in Mainz while others began to commit mass suicides and mothers were reportedly slaughtering their own children before killing themselves. Anonymous of Mainz in Shlomo Eidelberg, (ed. and trans.) The Jews and the Crusaders. The Hebrew Chronicles of the First and Second Crusades (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977), 110, quoted in Lyons, 13–4. Quoted in Lyons, 20. It is quite curious to note that several Jewish scholars opted for Arabic to express their literary and philosophical ideas and some of their students and followers elsewhere complained about Hebrew being sidelined by its own speakers. For a very interesting

38  Adelard and Muslim scholarship

34 35

36 37 38 39 40

perspective on leading Jewish voices from Spain and their works, see Esperanza Alfonso, Islamic Culture through Jewish Eyes: Al-Andalus from the Tenth to Twelfth Century (London: Routledge, 2008). Lyons, 93. South Asian Muslims often remember nostalgic poems by Muhammad Iqbal (1877– 1938), the eminent philosopher-poet, who visited Andalusia as well as Sicily and while sharing a greater sense of loss, admonished Muslims over their indolence and drift. Quoted in Metcalfe, 112. Metcalfe, 141. Metcalfe, 167. Metcalfe, 254. For those early intellectual and literary contacts, see Nabil Matar, Islam in Britain, 1558–1685 (Cambridge: University Press, 1999); and, Humayun Ansari, The Infidel Within: The History of Muslims in Britain, 1800 to the Present (London: Hurst, 2004).

2 Pioneer traveller–observer Thomas Coryate’s Eastern journeys and discourses

At the time of a rather hyped-up globalisation, any sparse reservations for travel had gone out of fashion until Covid-19 caused severe reversals and exclusive introversions all over the world. Travels even within one’s own country or abroad for educational, recreational, and business purposes is both an achievement and a step in the right direction. Most developed countries with external geopolitical interests spend immense amounts on sponsoring short and extended visits by foreign students, academics, artistes, politicians, businessmen, and military or civil personnel so as to cultivate favourable lobbies through these select groups. The American foundations, official departments, charity organisations, and even universities and think tanks lead the way for their British and European counterparts in conducting this influence-based relationship, a significant component of their public diplomacy.1 The Ford Foundation, the Fulbright Programme, and the USAID operate variably like the British Council, DFID, Rhodes Fellowship, OXFAM, the Goethe Institute, DAAD, and Maison Francaise spearheading the case for their respective country and its soft image. The erstwhile Soviet Union, Israel, Japan, the People’s Republic of China, and India spend billions on such exchange and training programmes where sponsored travel between the host country and that of the grantee along with residential allowance remain the modus operandi. The earliest contacts between Muslims and the Europeans owe to the pioneer travellers, even long before the Crusades and colonialism set in, and several accounts by pilgrims, adventurers, and scholars testify to valour as well as to their sense of history.2 It may be possible that such people—mostly men as they were—were viewed by their friends and families eccentric or untiring souls apt to risk taking, yet retrospectively looking at their efforts and written word, a reader, especially with a historical bent of mind, has reasons to hold them in great esteem. Certainly, European colonial writings often reflected strong elements of othering while attributing self-sufficiency and sheer primacy to their own cultures and creeds, but travellers of the pre-colonial era mostly avoided such baggage though some kind of judgmentalism existed on all sides. Perhaps, Columbian voyages and the conquest of vast lands by otherwise smaller countries and constellations from Western Europe—often defined as the beginning of modernist phase in world history—underpinned such uneven attitudes decisively leaving long-term imprints on all sides. Travel, knowledge, primacy of Western pedagogies, and

40  Pioneer traveller–observer power politics became mutually interdependent anchoring both the commercial and evangelical ethos of a new and assertive Europe. With increased mobility in more recent decades and diversification of historical scholarship including the impact from Critical Theory and Post-Colonial Studies, travel accounts by Western authors and visitors have assumed a renewed significance. India was perhaps the first region visited by the earliest British travellers at a time when the East India Company (EIC) was still negotiating with the Mughal Empire to establish trade missions and facilities in the Subcontinent. The EIC was following the example of the Levant Company, which ran Anglo–Ottoman trade, as agreed upon between the two governments in 1580. Like the Levant Company, the EIC paid the salary and related expenses of the English envoys, who often faced competition, among others by their Venetian and Portuguese counterparts. Certainly, the exploratory visits by John Mildenhall (1560–1614), William Hawkins (1560–1613), and Thomas Roe (1581–1644) led the earliest trade parleys with the Mughal monarchy, which partially facilitated the visit in 1617 by women like Frances Steele.3 In addition, the Ottoman Empire, a large and powerful polity stretching across the three continents and operating as a preeminent power by the Black Sea, Mediterranean, and the Aegean Sea attracted many European observers during the early modern era. Largely seen as a Muslim rival—true to the traditions of the Crusades and Inquisition—the Turks received ever-increasing interest from Europe’s royals, ecclesiasts, and academes. Even Muslims came to be called Turks, the way Muslim societies defined Europeans as ferengis, a substitute for Franks, etymologically birthing foreign. Works by early authors such as Marco Polo and John Mandeville besides chronicles left by the Crusaders added to this interest in the Turks, often viewed as a threat.4 However, The Generall Historie of the Turkes by Richard Knolles, published in London in 1603, underpinned increased interest in the Ottomans and Islam, though the English expeditions by navigators such as Walter Raleigh and Thomas Cook and the establishment of colonies in Virginia and Massachusetts diverted some of this attention to North America.5 Still individuals such as Captain John Smith straddled regions to the East and West. The book by Knolles (1540–1608), himself a teacher in Sandwich, Kent, was a popular volume in contemporary era that underwent several editions inviting wider comments, with some impact on travellers such as Thomas Coryate. Relations between the Ottomans and France and England witnessed several fluctuations as they did in case of the Habsburgs and the Czars, where religion remained a persistent definer yet occasionally overruled by geopolitical imperatives. For instance, France, for a while, was an ally with the Ottoman Sultan but to ward off wrath from the European Christians it encouraged its nobles to join the Order of Malta in their anti-Muslim campaigns. Likewise, Portugal, Austria, Spain, Poland, and Russia confessedly portrayed themselves as Christian powers fighting against the infidels at a time when terms like Muslim/Mohammedan and Saracen/Turk were interchangeable. The Turk, in the contemporary European parlance, was still an infidel though the imperial powers would paper over their own territorial ambitions by using creed as a justifier.6 In fact, “both early modern European states and the Ottoman Empire were organized for war as their principal raison d’être.”7 Hostility towards Turks had

Pioneer traveller–observer  41 been pervasive over several centuries owing to political and religious reasons, and Orientalist epithets like “the Sick Man of Europe” facetiously overlooked what the European colonials had been doing to the natives and indigenous communities across the Oceans.8 Thomas Coryate (1577–1617), a native of Somerset in England’s West Country and the son of a vicar in Odcombe, was a keen observer of human traits with a commanding sense of his own Christian identity.9 A student of history and eager for socialisation among the literary circles with an instinctive fondness for travel and oratory, Coryate would never miss noting down even minor details though his observations could be unabashedly opinionated. Like Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406),10 the pioneer Muslim sociologist and historian and also quite in league with ibn Battuta (1304–69), Coryate used to walk between his native village and Oxford where he studied Latin, Philosophy, and History at Gloucester Hall, now known as Worcester College. Called as “The English Marco Polo,” Coryate was well familiar with some contemporary literary notables displaying his penchant for history and oratory, though economic adversity hindered his education at Oxford, yet it did not stop him from pursuing two of his favourite pastimes: travelling and writing.11 As we shall see, his travel accounts across Asia and especially of India did not follow up with a regular book, unlike his exhaustive work on his early travels in Europe.12 Based on his travel notes and translations of several Latin works, Coryate’s Crudities—with an unusually long title and published in 1611—was a massive volume even from our contemporary standards and covered near about a thousand pages. Its 200,000-word long contents, other than diary entries and travelogue usually relying on long-winded composition, included his own verses and correspondence, beside the laudatory poetry and comments from English nobility, clergy, and literati. Crudities was perhaps the first-ever detailed travel book and culturelogue by an Englishman focusing on France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands that underwent several printings. After presenting a copy to Prince Henry in London, Coryate visited his sister, Princess Elizabeth on 7 April 1611, at Harington’s House in Kew with a donkey carrying the tome. His second book of under 50 pages, titled Coryats Crambe, Or His Colwort Twise Sodden appeared a year later establishing his reputation as a well-travelled literary figure with a unique experience. A few months later, he was on his way to Constantinople on a ship, followed by journey to the Levant, Palestine, Persia, and India and it was near Surat in India that he passed away in 1617. His five letters from Asia appeared in several subsequent volumes, and along with his Notes, provided bulk of material for Samuel Purchas (1577–1626),13 whose own exhaustive Pilgrimes appeared within a decade of Coryate’s death.14 Interestingly, Purchas saw himself continuing the pursuit of Richard Hakluyt (1552–1616), the earliest English publisher of travel accounts in the late sixteenth century, who used inspiring tales of foreign enterprise as a stimulus to English overseas expansion. However, Purchas took textual liberties with Coryate’s letters and notes in his custody and through their unilateral editing and personal additions, has made a researcher’s work even more challenging. Coryate, a meticulous diarist on people and places, kept extensive notes in Constantinople, Damascus, and Jerusalem, which he completed in Aleppo for onward

42  Pioneer traveller–observer dispatch to Britain through the English merchants. As we shall see, there are references to him among some other contemporary works, authored by visitors to India often associated with the EIC including Sir Thomas Roe, Revd. Edward Terry, and William Foster.15 In more recent decades, Michael Strachan published the first-ever and detailed biographical work on Coryate including his family history, incomplete studies at Oxford, and then travels abroad besides comprehensive chapters on his socio-literary circles and the various editions of Crudities. The author admits being unaware of this great but less known English traveller, until the Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, alerted him during a walk in Shrewsbury, followed by Strachan’s extensive research and a befitting volume that came out in 1962.16 A few other shorter works consulted in this chapter were authored in recent years consciously attempting to map Coryate’s walks on the Continent and then from Aleppo to Surat. Biographical works by Moraes, Allen, Whittaker, and Pritchard appeared only recently amidst increased mobility and keener interest in travel writings. Not far from Bath and Glastonbury,17 the hilltop village of Odcombe in Somerset has witnessed many visitors—a few aware of its connection with the East— whereas some people in the Southwest have opted to undertake Coryate’s travel routes walking, or cycling.18 It was in 2002 that a well-established Indian writer, accompanied by a colleague, undertook a special journey to Odcombe. Dom Moraes and Sarayu Srivatsa, after renting some accommodation in the neighbourhood, visited the village and vicarage on the hilltop, where once Coryate’s father led sermons until his death. Two authors who, like Coryate four centuries earlier, harboured their own curiosity for this lone strider penned their visit to the town and the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul besides some archival work. This West Country pre-colonial visitor to their land, who is buried near Surat though not without a controversy about his actual resting place, had intrigued our Indian authors.19 Undoubtedly, Coryate was the first-ever English writer to pen extensively on the historic landmarks in Venice with every minute detail about their histories, artistic features, and urban significance. Churches like St. Marks, Dodge’s Palace, city’s prison, Jewish Ghetto, markets, residence of the senators and bridges all are exhaustively portrayed by a keen observer, who spent weeks studying them. Almost 400 years later, Oxford’s David Whittaker, an author and bookseller, brought out an illustrated monograph on Venice, based on Coryate’s original text about the city. Most Glorious & Peerless Venice: Observations of Thomas Coryate (1608) was launched in Venice at a special ceremony sponsored by the city’s government.20 As witnessed personally, the thirteenth century church in Odcombe was rebuilt in the Eighteenth yet retains the memorabilia of this exceptional walker including his replica shoes, which have been kept here subsequent upon the decay of an actual pair worn by Coryate during his travels of 2,000 miles across the Continent.21 His biographer is right in commending the fellow Englishman for his unique sense of humour, penchant for travel, and socialisation with some notable contemporaries, while being almost penniless: He went on to become the first Englishman to visit India out of sheer curiosity, the first European (since Alexander the Great, who went with an army) to

Pioneer traveller–observer  43 walk all the way from the Eastern Mediterranean through Persia and Afghanistan to India. His book, Coryats Crudities {1611}, some 800 quarto pages long (including some 150 pages of his father’s writings) and the size of a small brick, provides glimpses of European life in the brief period of relative peace after cessation of hostilities between England, France, Spain and the Netherlands, and before the outbreak of the terrible Thirty Years War.22 Born between 1577 and 79, Coryate was not a stranger to frugality as his father, a pastor of a small church in a small hamlet, had limited means though was no less an enthusiastic evangelist. George Coryate (d. 1607), a former student at Oxford’s New College, preferred to be a pastor and it was here in Odcombe that his second wife delivered Thomas, who, after his schooling in Winchester took to Oxford for higher education. While at Oxford, George Coryate had welcomed Queen Elizabeth to his college despite the fact that slightly earlier, he had written a poem exhorting 30-year old Queen to wed.23 The Somerset squire and owner of the Montacute House, Sir Thomas Phelips (1548–1618), offered occasional help to the Coryates including introductions to Henry, the Prince of Wales, who, subsequently, granted Thomas Coryate an annual pension of 10 pounds, which more than money enhanced his status. Economic stringency could have been the reason for delaying the funeral of his father by six weeks, when the latter passed away in 1607 at 62. In the meantime, Thomas Coryate pursued his studies at Oxford’s Gloucester Hall without completion largely owing to his economic situation and a roving disposition though he certainly gained a good level of efficiency in Latin. Earlier, English seafaring had begun earnestly under the Tudors when Henry VII patronised John Cabot (1450–1500), a Venetian sailor, to undertake his pioneering journey to North America. The Matthew, on its trans-Atlantic voyage commandeered by the Italian sailor from the Bristol Harbour reached Newfoundland in 1497, 5 years after Columbus’s first journey to Western Hemisphere.24 This is not to deny the fact that there were some influential voices in contemporary England that forcefully resounded against undertaking foreign travels to the extent of maligning societies on the Continent, attributing criminality to men and lax behaviour to their women.25 Curiosity as well as imagery went hand in hand for this generation, which boasted of seafaring Englishmen such as Sir Francis Drake (1540–95), Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618), Sir William Hawkins (1560–1613), and Captain John Smith (1580–1631).26 Despite Jamestown not proving to be a successful enterprise, Virginia—often defined the entire East Coast in present-day United States—continued to attract voyagers and religious exiles and it was in September 1620 that the earliest group of 102 people left Plymouth on Mayflower to reach Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in November of the same year. Outside London, England’s West Country had been forerunning British globalism in the varying forms of slave trade, piracy, commerce, explorations, and colonisation. Like Spain’s Andalusia, it was here that cities like Bristol, Bath, Salisbury, and Plymouth and the various towns in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, and Gloucestershire provided a steady stream of navigators, soldiers, clerics, and fortune seekers. Nearness to sea, encounters with Barbary corsairs and transformative socio-economic changes operated as push factors for these navigators, and

44  Pioneer traveller–observer opening up of North America, and then the Eastern Mediterranean and Indian Ocean offered significant mobility, adventure, and economic wellbeing.27 It was at the Court of King James I that Coryate, variably, mingled with Philip Sidney, Robert Sidney (brothers), Thomas Roe, and John Harrington, who faithfully followed Francis Bacon’s exhortation on undertaking foreign travels. On 10 May 1608, Coryate boarded a ferry from Dover for France and headed towards Paris where he noticed the scars of anti-Protestant pogroms committed in the 1570s, and besides visiting Notre Dame and royal palaces moved towards Lyon. On the way, he caricatured gypsies—perhaps encountering them for the first time ever— bewildered by their dark complexion, curly hair, and general appearances. A hitherto provincial Coryate was witnessing diverse locales and people and would compare them with the people and places back home. At an inn in Lyon, he met the former French ambassador to Constantinople with his two Turkish companions—Coryate’s first-ever encounter with Muslims. One of these “Turkes” was a “blacke Moore, who was his jester; a mad conceited (witty, imaginative) fellow and, very merry.” Egged on by Christian zeal, Coryate soon engaged the scholarly Turk in a religious debate highlighting the primacy of his own religion. His observations in Crudities are quite revealing, as he noted: Amongst other questions I asked him whether he were ever baptized, he tolde me, no, and said he never would be. After that we fell into speeches of Christ, whom he acknowledged for a great Prophet, but not for the sonne of God, affirming that neither he nor any of his countrey men would worship Him, but the onely true God, creator of heaven and earth: and called us Christians idolaters, because we worshipped images; a most memorable speech if it be properly applied to those kind of Christians which deserve that imputation of Idolatry. At last I fell into some vehement argumentations with him in defence of Christ, whereupon being unwilling to answer me, he suddenly flung out of my company.28 And this is not the only time that Coryate would engage in such a debate! The conversation with the Turk in Lyon took place in Latin and the former, a scholar of six languages other than Latin, encouraged Coryate to visit Constantinople and interact with Muslims at large. It was near Milan in Italy that Coryate witnessed the usage of umbrella and fork expressing his appreciation for these two very useful devices that eventually found their way into British vocabulary and social norms. He had seen Italians using “little fork” since “all mens fingers are not alike cleane.” While in Cremona, he noted: Also many of them doe carry other fine things of a far greater price, that will cost at least a duckat, which they commonly call in the Italian tongue umbrellaes, that is, things that minister shadow unto them for shelter against the scorching heate of the Sunne.29 In Padua, he could not visit the university but acknowledged its scientific contributions especially the training of William Harvey here in 1598 under the

Pioneer traveller–observer  45 tutorship of Fabricius, a known biologist and discoverer of blood circulation in human body. Earlier, another Englishman, Sir Francis Walsingham had been a pupil here in 1555–6, before becoming Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster. During the 1630s, John Donne’s son, despite being a Protestant, got admission at Padua where a few decades earlier, Galileo had developed his telescope. The Pisan had shared his research with William Willoughby, a former Cambridge academic and now a Paduan resident, who had left England in 1579 after converting to Catholicism. Willoughby lived here until his death in 1617 and was known to Sir Henry Wotton, the English Ambassador in Venice, and both of them hosted Coryate at their residences for extended times. Coryate was critical of “sodomy” which he found prevalent among several Paduan adolescents, the way he felt aghast at the large number of prostitutes in Venice—his next destination for over 2 months. Sarcastically, he called it “the Virgin City” and “the most glorious and heavenly show upon the water,” taking a rather lofty moral position though nevertheless enjoyed the company of courtesans in theatres and at private parties.30 He found Venice plural where one could see many Poles, Slavs, Persians, Grecians, Turks, Jews, Christians of all the famousest regions of Christendom, and each nation distinguished from another by their proper and peculiar habits. A singular show, and by many degrees, the worthiest of all the European countries.31 He admired the paintings and sculptures in Venice, which, especially in St. Marks and inside the various opulent rooms in Duke’s Palace often reminded him of Venetian connections with “the Moors” and the Jews.32 The Jews, like Muslims, had been absent from England since their expulsions by Edward I in 1290 and lived in a designated Venetian “ghetto,” practising strict dress code, unilaterally imposed by the Italian authorities, as he recorded: I was at a place where the whole fraternity of the Jews dwelleth together, which is called the Ghetto, being an island, for it is enclosed round about with water. It is thought there are of them in all betwixt five and six thousand. The European Jews in Venice would wear red hats to distinguish them from the Levantine Jews, who were supposed to don yellow turbans, distinguishable from white turbans wore by the Turks. They operated seven synagogues in Venice though Coryate, characteristically, found their Sabbath practices characterised by “exceeding (ly) loud yawling, undecent roaring … (in] a confused and huddling manner …” He thought that by covering their heads while entering the worship place these Jews were being “irreverent and profane.” However, Jewish women deeply impressed him since they were as beautiful as ever I saw, and so gorgeous in their apparel, jewels, chains of gold, and rings adorned with precious stones, that some of our English Countesses do scarce exceed them … an argument to prove that many of the Jews are very rich.

46  Pioneer traveller–observer Coryate, owing to fiery temperament, soon engaged himself in a heated debate with a rabbi, which gathered quite a few Jews around him. His insinuations attracted a crowd of 40 “because I durst reprehend their religion” and was only saved by Wotton’s secretary who, to Coryate’s good fortune, happened to pass by.33 As mentioned earlier, Coryate’s puritanical Christianity kept him on guard whenever it came to comparing moral values in his own country with those in Italy, or elsewhere. Forgetting prostitutes in London, he found Venice home to 20,000 working women, and being critical of topless women, he tended to forget that until a few decades before his time, similar practices also occurred in urban England. Coryate feared for some divine wrath for Venice and other towns, akin to Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah, due to sexual laxity among male and female Italians, including the priests and nuns. After spending six weeks in Venice as a guest at the embassy,34 he resumed his travel towards Switzerland and Germany, and when enjoying the fertile landscape, did miss sheep, so familiar in his rural England.35 While seeing Swiss men and women bathing together, his judgementalism was recharged to the extent that he found himself comparing European women in general “with our English women, whome I justly preferre, and that without any partialitie of affection, before any women that I saw in my travels, for an elegant and most attractive natural beautie.”36 After covering 1,975 miles—most of them on foot—Coryate returned to London on 1 October 1608 after traversing through the Rhine Valley and Holland. With his widowed mother already remarried and no major financial assets at his disposal, Coryate busied himself writing his travel account of 5 months spent on the Continent. After a hiatus of 6 months and 2,00,000 words Coryats Crudities, thanks to needed support from John Donne and Ben Johnson, was finally published in 1611 with the proud author ensuring its personal distribution to the Prince of Wales and other members of the royal family. His travels and this multi-volume travelogue, ironically failed to elicit any major financial support though they established his stature as a seasoned person of worldly knowledge and certainly the author of “the first modern travel narrative.”37 Crudities, consulted and pirated several times after its publication, had benefitted from author’s personal connections with the influential individuals including John Donne, Ben Johnson, Inigo Jones, Laurence Whitaker, Lionel Cranfield, Edward and Robert Phelips, and several more who in many cases were the members of London’s Mermaid Club. In 1612, the club provided him with “a passport”—a merit certificate, in fact—before he left for Constantinople to the lands of Grand Signor, whose possessions included the Levant, Balkans, and the Holy Land. His friends such as Lionel Cranfield and Richard Martin ensured royal permission for his global ventures and both of them being influential members of the Levant Company booked him a passage on Company’s ship. The vessel left England on 20 October 1612 and despite some early maritime challenges, reached Zante after refuelling at Lisbon and Cadiz. Coryate was all praise for Greek women of the island for their aesthetics and preference of riding donkeys astride, a style “which I never read or heard of amongst any other women.”38 After Chios, Coryate’s sense of history was rewarded by a visit to the coast of Troad to visit the supposed ruins of Homer’s Troy as he recorded all the

Pioneer traveller–observer  47 minute details in a long letter that like four others, remains missing yet has been quoted extensively by Purchas. Coryate felt fascinated by carved marble columns and walls of the palace and confessed breaking a few pieces to carry the exquisite stone back home. In a state of exuberance and in the presence of two Turkish peasants, Coryate delivered an oration to his 14 fellow English companions to the complete astonishment of his Turkish audience. Then, he asked an older farmer to let him hold his plough for a short while so “that if wee live to be Old men we may say in our old age, we had once holden the Plough in Trojane Territorie.”39 His stay of 10 months—March 1613–January 1614—in Constantinople was with the British ambassador, Paul Pinder, affording him opportunities to witness parades, royal processions, slave markets, and the public flagellations of the criminals in the city. He had arrived here in the spring of 1613, 43 years after the Battle of Lepanto (1571) in which Spaniards had been able to defeat and diminish the Ottoman naval primacy in the Mediterranean though in 1588, both the Ottomans and the Royal Navy commandeered a crushing defeat on the Spanish Armada. However, Lepanto, which included Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616) among its participants, had dealt a major blow to scores of Ottoman ships and their sailors, and the empire was still recovering from these large-scale losses. The Ottomans, following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and having reached the pinnacle of their military strength and administrative consolidation under Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520–66) and featuring some of the most impressive architectural monuments built by Memar Senan (1489–1588), appeared heading towards a stalemate. Coryate’s observations about their grand city, its inhabitants, Seraglio, Muslim ethos, Janissaries, and the recurrence of plague reverberate in other judgemental works on the same by future English writers.40 Coryate’s statements, gleamed from his notes and letters, found their way in the volume by Samuel Purchas leaving their imprints on evolving images of Muslim practices such as polygamy and manumission. Coryate offered details on the trance and dance sessions by whirling dervishes whose recitations and hymns were uttered through “the most unpleasant and harsh notes that ever I have heard, exceedingly different from our Christian singing.” Since he could not understand Arabic and Persian, he only seemed to focus on the volume and vocalist renditions by the dervishes. He found them falling on their knees whenever the Prophet’s name came up, which is not true as it is only to God, Muslims kneel during their prayers and not to anyone else. Perhaps, he did not have any guide or facilitator who could have offered him some context and text of these renditions. He, however, admired the agility in their whirling dances, which usually went on for an hour ending with the Quranic prayers: This exercise now driving to an end, one of the Dervises beginneth some prayer in Arabicke, and continually turning about with the rest of the Company, pronounceth it with a very audible voyce, and his Prayer being ended, there is an upshot of this ridiculous and Ethnicke devotion for this time.41 He was unimpressed by the Jewish religious ceremonies and criticised them for not kneeling in their prayers, though wrote about an infant’s circumcision with

48  Pioneer traveller–observer the foreskin left with the mother as a special safekeeping while the barber sucked up the blood drops.42 He also witnessed similar ceremonies of Muslim circumcision when the little boys were paraded around with pride before the barbers would operate on them. Coryate commented on a royal procession in Constantinople with the Sultan returning from one of his extended journeys, preceded and followed by colourful retinue, which included women as well. Often dressed in the local clothes and a connoisseur of (770!) mosques and churches, his observations included comments on large-size butterflies and street dogs in the city, besides his visit to a Turkish fortune teller who predicted even more extensive travels to remote regions with the possibility of dying within 4 years. While in Constantinople, Coryate received tutoring in Italian from Rev. William Ford, the Levant Company’s chaplain in Constantinople. Soon he was on the Great Defence, a new and faster English ship that took only 40 hours to reach Chios from Constantinople, compared to the Samaritan that had earlier Coryate on board from the Greek island and had taken six weeks to get to the Ottoman capital. His new leg of journey via Gallipoli and Lesbos took him to Iskenderun, a major port in Eastern Mediterranean, which he did not seem to like and soon found himself in Aleppo, a historic terminal on the Silk Road. Here, he was hosted by the English consul, also a native of Somerset, who took him to a bay where locals extracted salt from the sea—a major source of revenue for the Porte. Coryate’s caravan for Jerusalem left on 15 March in the company of Henry Allard, an Englishman and several other pilgrims. On the way, he noticed the Bedouins though his views of Arabs reflected suspicion and denigration. However, Damascus deeply impressed him, as its roses, natural landscape, and the unique architecture of the churches and mosques charmed him whereas good food costing very little was a pleasant surprise. This ancient city, in his humorous but no less appreciative tone, was “an earthly paradise: for which cause it is said the Grand Signior may not reside there, least he should forfeit his hopes of a future Paradise.” While journeying south towards Palestine, it took his caravan another 6 days, and on 12 April 1614, Coryate entered the holy city: “Jerusalem is but meanly peopled, there being scarce 10,000. So few walking in the streets as except in Padua he hath not seen in any Citie.” He paid his dues to visit the Church of Holy Sepulchre and witnessed processions by the local Christians with the Armenians being his favourite group. Later, he visited the Jordan River, some 15 miles away from Jerusalem, to join communal baths in the nude in the shared perception of being cleansed of sins to begin afresh in life, followed by visits to Jericho, the Dead Sea, and Bethlehem.43 Coryate spent 3 months in Aleppo before joining a caravan that would take him to Isfahan while passing through Anatolia, Kurdish regions, and central Persia—an area ruled by two rival Muslim dynasties, the Ottomans and Safawids. His ultimate destination was India, purported by his desire to see South Asia, ruled by the Mughal Emperor, Noorud Din Jahangir (1569–1627). In fact, by the time, Coryate reached India to cherish a brief encounter with the Emperor; it was the Empress, Noor Jahan (1577–1645), who was the de facto monarch of this affluent and stable empire.44 As mentioned above, Coryate had been keeping his notes and diary, reportedly in three distinct parts, each dealing with his visit to

Pioneer traveller–observer  49 the Fertile Crescent, Persia and India and they all are missing. The first two were sent from the Levant and Isfahan back to England while there is a possibility that the third one was either lost in India, or somewhere in England and only the five letters remain. Samuel Purchas had access to the first two collections and used them for his narrative selectively yet they remain inaccessible in their entirety. Just a few years before Coryate’s arrival in the Subcontinent, John Mildenhall, EIC’s fist emissary (factor), had reached Lahore in 1603 along with John Cartwright seeking trading rights from the Mughal Emperor. He had travelled through the Balkans, Constantinople, Aleppo, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Isfahan, Kandahar, and Lahore—exactly the route that Coryate was to pursue a decade after him. Mildenhall, originally from Wiltshire, was the first Englishman to travel on land to India with the Company’s goods worth 1,500 pounds, originally meant for sale in the Levant but ended up in India in some suspicious circumstances. The Company deputed Richard Steele to relieve Mildenhall of the goods, which led to some fracas until Mildenhall returned to England 3 years later but then undertook his second journey to the East in 1611. However, Mildenhall died in Ajmer in April 1614 and laid to rest in a Catholic cemetery in Agra, making him the first Englishman to be buried in India. William Hawkins and Thomas Roe (1581–1644) were the next two EIC emissaries to pursue negotiations with the Mughals seeking royal permission for trade via Surat. Mildenhall’s widow, Frances, married Steele becoming the first English woman to reside in India before returning to England. In Kurdistan, Coryate’s entourage encountered another caravan on the way to India with munificent gifts and presents for the Mughal Emperor laden on elephants, worth thousands of pound stirling.45 The details, provided by Cartwright the Preacher about these goods and elephants are a bit dubious given the fact that elephants not being native to Anatolia would rather be exported from India instead of being sent there from Asia Minor. Somewhere before reaching Tabriz, Coryate, otherwise quite worldly wise, was cheated out of some of his money by a few Armenian ruffians though he did not offer any details on the episode. Coryate had to wait for 2 months in Isfahan before resuming his journey to India, which allowed him to discover the splendid Safawid city of 200,000 residents quite extensively. Like the Shirley Brothers, Cartwright, and Thomas Herbert before him,46 Coryate was charmed by the main square—the Maidan—featuring expansive gardens, King Abbas’s multi-storey palace and the two ornate mosques, all in the close proximity of the big covered bazaar and Mahal-i-Chahil Sutoon (The Palace of the Forty Pillars). The city was quite international with traders, fortune seekers, and diplomats from across Europe and Asia visiting the court of Abbas the Great (1571–1629). There is no doubt that the three largest and powerful Muslim Empires with their Timurid connections were at the pinnacle of their power when English travellers and traders like Coryate, undertook sojourns across these lands. Tamerlane was already a familiar name in contemporary England due to Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great published in 1590 and certainly the news and views about the newly established EIC further underpinned this interest among the merchants and literati. After seeing Constantinople and Aleppo, both recently devastated by plague, Cartwright had found in Isfahan “another Paradise.”47 Following his stay in Isfahan for 2 months, Coryate

50  Pioneer traveller–observer joined a major caravan enroute to India, and like other travellers was impressed by its size given the large number of diverse people, animals, and goods going further east via Kerman, Yazd, and Farah. Farah, now in Afghanistan, was then a part of Safawid Empire whereas Kandahar was under the Mughal suzerainty. In May 1615, in this border region of Helmand valley, Coryate encountered a big caravan from India on its way to Isfahan, led by traveller–diplomat, Robert Sherley/Shirley (1581–1628), an Englishman with a prominent appointment in the Persian court. Second among the three well-known Shirley Brothers,48 Robert had accompanied his brother, Anthony Shirley (1565–1635) to Persia, where the former, after being elevated to the status of Mirza (prince) engaged in training the Safawid cavalry and artillery during 1599–1600.49 Following his brother’s departure, Robert, along with 14 other Englishmen, stayed on in Persia enjoying royal favour, and in 1607 married Teresia Sampsonia, a Circassian who in 1608 accompanied him on his well-publicised visit to England as the Safawid ambassador seeking alliance against the Ottomans. While in London in 1611, Robert tried to persuade King James I to forge closer economic and military ties with Shah Abbas, and achieved some partial success at a time when Coryate’s recently published Crudities was a talking point among London’s literary circles. Often dressed in luxurious silk apparel in the Persian style, Robert, on his second visit to Persia, was leading this caravan with presents and goods meant for Shah Abbas and had taken the voyage via the Cape of Good Hope before landing at Surat and moving across India to reach Persia via Kandahar.50 Much to the pleasure of Coryate, the Shirleys affirmed his literary profile back in London, when all the three met near Kandahar. To his pleasant surprise, Teresia and Robert Shirley had brought Coryate’s volumes all the way from England, and promised him to show Crudities and Crambe to Shah Abbas. Seeing Coryate in a shambolic condition, Teresia Shirley gave him some paltry sum in Persian currency worth 40 shillings, but being a life-long optimist, Coryate expected a generous fortune in Mughal India. It is ironical that Coryate was never destined to leave India though Shah Abbas lived on until 1626 and thus any recommendations conveyed by the Shirleys to Safawid king, did not materialise into any tangible benefit for the English traveller. Coryate’s journey took him through the Pashtun territory, which in fact, began in Kandahar going east into the Subcontinent accounting for a major population on the western bank of the Indus. The Pashtuns, often called Pathans by the British, were variably called Pakhtuns or Afghans. These Indo–Aryan people occasionally posited as the Twelfth tribe of Israel, define their ethnicity based on a common language—Pashto/Pakhto—and shared history, though divided into several khels or tribes.51Babur, the founder of Mughal Empire, had mentioned using brutal force against the Pashtuns whereas the early English writers seem to exceptionalise them by attributing some kind of penchant for violence and robbery to Pashtun tribals.52 Coryate found the Indus more like the Thames back home though made a mistake in describing its origins from the Caucuses, yet duly acknowledged the river’s ennoblement by ancient Greek and Latin writers. His caravan’s first stopover was at Multan, an ancient city and gateway to India, also known for white linen, though in Muslim history, it has been a city of saints

Pioneer traveller–observer  51 and scholars besides of course its plural past all the way from the Aryan to Zoroastrian, and Persian to Greek and Arab phases. Alexander had to fight his way through the city not without incurring a fatal injury by a poisoned arrow, which might have eventually led to his death.53 Here in Multan, while waiting for official permission to enter Hindustan, Coryate ran into an Italian-speaking Muslim and, as a Christian polemicist, found his equal in the former, who had been enslaved by Florentine pirates in the Eastern Mediterranean. After having encountered a Latin speaking Turkish Muslim in Lyon, Coryate poised himself flagging the superiority of his own faith over Islam though was no less baffled by Muslim belief in the prophethood of Jesus Christ. As noted in his detailed letter to Sir Edward Phelips, Coryate denounced the Prophet and Quran calling them false highlighting the pervasive views of Islam in contemporary Western Europe. In his letter, he claimed to know more about Muhammad than millions of Muslims, including his early years, parentage, travels, and “marriage of his mistris by whose death he raised himselfe from a very base and contemtible estate to great honor and riches…” Reverberating a derogatory view of Muhammad’s prophecies, he called him a sorcerer who through a tame pigeon picking meat from his ear would impress gullible Arab onlookers into believing in his divine mission. In addition, he referred to a tame bull that the Prophet allegedly fed by hand to impress his audience, and claimed to know {him} as well as if I had lived in his time, or had been one of his neighbours in Mecca… I am perswaded though wouldest spit in the face of thy Alcoran and trample it under thy feete, and bury it under a jaxe {jakes}, a booke of that strange and weake matter that I my selfe have already written two better books (God be thanked)… He told his Muslim interlocutor that Islamic prayers did not matter with God and were no more forceful than the cries of a camel being loaded or unloaded. To a very fervent Christian with strong Evangelical disposition, Christian prayers, on the contrary, were “sweete smelling…{and} acceptable to God” to the extent that they would effect a needed rain, or stop an epidemic. He claimed to have made these denunciatory comments in front of a hundred people who were conveyed the gist by his opponent yet they still did not harm Coryate: If I had spoken thus much in Turky or Persia against Mahomet, they would have rosted me upon a spitt; but in the Mogols dominions a Christian may speake much more freely than hee can in any other Mahometan country in the world.54 Other than tolerance in South Asia, Coryate was impressed by the urbanity of Lahore, which he found bigger than Constantinople and one of the largest cities in the world. His views were upheld by other English writers such as Edward Terry (1590–1660), who had accompanied EIC’s Thomas Roe as a chaplain and found Lahore in Punjab to be “one of the most principal cities of trade in all India.”55 Terry, a former Oxford graduate like Roe, joined the latter in Surat after the EIC’s

52  Pioneer traveller–observer Ambassador had lost several of his companions including the former chaplain to illnesses. His close association with the English envoy and Coryate until the latter’s last days in Mundo has left us extensive information about the Mughal court, India, and its socio-cultural landscape through the volume, A Voyage to East-India. Terry mentioned Coryate’s fracas with the Indian Muslims in Agra over call for prayers, when once he himself went up the roof and started shouting in Arabic: “La Alla illa Alla, Hasaret Eesa Benalla” (there is no God but one God and the Lord Christ, the Son of God) and further added that Mahomet was an impostor.’56 William Finch (d. 1613), another English traveller to India with Hawkins, and a visitor to Lahore in 1609–10, was appreciative of Lahore’s urban sprawl, commercial significance, and its gardens, all surrounded by a city wall featuring 12 gates. Finch had used “Baneans” (baniyas) for the Hindus though it is a caste of traders and financiers, while Muslims were described as “white men” who mostly lived in suburbs.57 There is no doubt that the Hindus, in general, handled businesses and commerce in the city whereas Muslims—the latter often being land based and thus mostly tending to agriculture—operated administration and defence. Given the volume of traffic between Lahore and Delhi, and owing to the nature of the terrain while located within the expanse of the Great Indian Plains, journey time between Punjab’s metropolis and cities in Sindh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and northern India was comparatively shorter. Finch appears to be the earliest European writer to have narrated the romance between a youthful Prince Saleem (later Emperor Jahangir, 1569–1627) and a courtesan, Anarkali (d. 1599), which, due to hostility from Emperor Akbar (1542–1605), turned into a tragedy. Reportedly, Akbar, Jahangir’s father, did not approve of this liaison and ordered live entombment of the courtesan. As per narrative, Jahangir, after assuming monarchy in 1605, ordered the construction of a beautiful mausoleum on Anarkali’s grave, surrounded by charming Mughal-style gardens.58 Finch was in Lahore 5 years after Jahangir’s ascension to the throne and claims to have visited the premises though, in reality, the tomb belonged to Sahib Jamal, Jahangir’s first wife. Stories about this romance resurfaced in Urdu plays and fiction during the nineteenth century, followed by some Bollywood biopics, which have only underlined Finch’s narrative of this romance and Akbar’s highhandedness. The EIC used the tomb for official purposes, though since 1947, the site has been restored as a tomb with some rooms designated as an archival repository. However, the location of Lahore’s well-known Anarkali Bazaar in the proximity of this Mughal monument and other Indo–Saracenic buildings of the colonial era have only guaranteed popular subscription to Finch’s narrative. There is certainly no doubt that Jahangir, by disposition, was romantic and his autobiography and paintings amply testify to that. He is also famous for being a just king where ordinary plaintiffs could approach him rather easily, and he would dispense justice without any fear or favour. Like Finch, Coryate would also be gullible to blemish stories, and given his inability to understand Persian, he often failed to verify them. For instance, halfway to Ajmer, he reported on some tribe whose “one woman sometimes doth serve 6 or 7 men.”59 Given the strict code of ethics among Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, such practices did not exist in India, unless someone had narrated ethnic jokes to our English traveller which he took in for a fact.

Pioneer traveller–observer  53 Coryate met fellow compatriots here in Ajmer engaged in trade negotiations with the Mughal monarchy, which helped him find free food and lodging beside further contacts in India. It was in Ajmer where John Mildenhall breathed his last in April 1614—10 months before Coryate’s arrival in the city—and received burial in Agra. Coryate found free lodging with William Edwardes “not spending one little peece of money, either for diet, washing or any other thing.” Here he completed another set of his notes and wrote several letters back to England. His first letter, addressed to Sir Phelips emphasised his own achievements whereas the second one was for Laurence Whitaker dwelling mostly on travel details from Syria to India. In addition to a letter to his mother and his erstwhile-estranged uncle, he wrote to his literary friends in London including John Donne, Christopher Brooke, Indigo Jones and William Stansby—the last being the printer of Crudities. In his letter to Whitaker, he mentioned meeting up with Sir Thomas Roe—sometimes spelt as Rowe—who had been pursuing EIC’s negotiations with the Mughals and was in India after having been knighted by King James I. Roe’s cousin had earlier housed Coryate in Frankfurt and they both had common friends in London including Ben Johnson. Roe’s predecessors in India included William Hawkins who had moored the first English ship at Surat in 1608, followed by a visit to Jahangir’s court in Agra, a year later. Initially, he had developed closer association with Jahangir who even arranged his marriage with an Armenian woman but lost favour with the royal court in 1611. The EIC, confronted with competition from the Portuguese and Dutch rivals, persisted with its efforts to curry favour at Agra, and encouraged Richard Middleton in establishing first factory at Surat. After him, the EIC deputed Thomas Best (1570– 1638), who persisted with the negotiations and it was under his command that the English defeated a Portuguese fleet in the Bay of Cambay, right in front of the Indian spectators on shore earning him needed Mughal laurels. In 1613, Best was able to send back to England a ship carrying Indian muslin, cotton, cashmere, and spices. Encouraged by such trade mission, the EIC lobbied King James I to depute an ambassador to the Mughal court and that is how Roe landed in India in September 1615. His travel to Ajmer in December happened amidst a stomach ailment, partly leading to some negative impressions about the people and places in India. He thought as if in the entire country, people only lived in mud houses surrounded by barren lands, and was unimpressed by the royal camp, which, to him, mostly consisted of tents. Instead, he decided to build his own dwelling in Ajmer and allowed Coryate to reside with him. In a letter to Lord Pembroke, Roe acknowledged Coryate’s extensive visits of historic places besides his pilgrimage to Jerusalem and common acquaintances back in England. Roe’s chaplain and writer, Edward Terry, has left copious details on Coryate’s 14-month long stay in Ajmer, gathering his energies and seeking an audience with the Emperor expecting some financial reward and permission to visit Samarqand. Coryate, Terry, and Roe have left details about the appearances of Emperor Jahangir while impressed by monarchy’s riches, especially after witnessing the annual birthday ritual when the latter, fully attired in his costumes and regalia, was weighed in gold, silver, and silk. They also commented on royal harem and as single men dwelt on exotic details such as the number and average age of women in the royal

54  Pioneer traveller–observer palaces along with the punishment meted out to those who tried to violate royal sanctuary, looked after by eunuchs. Terry has recounted Coryate’s evangelical performances in Ajmer, where he would often engage with Muslim clerics trying to prove Jesus’s superiority over Muhammad, whom he would often decry as an imposter. Terry, as a religious man, commended Coryate’s fanaticism, along with appreciating the level of tolerance among the locals who took English traveller “for a mad-man, and so let {him} alone.”60 Jahangir, like his father, was a tolerant ruler but he also knew that despite the best efforts including financial inducements by the Jesuit missionaries, Indians would not convert to Christianity.61 Jahangir might have been lax in certain ways but his respect for Sufis and dervishes was acknowledged by Coryate who mentioned his late night parleys with such persons and certainly the fact that he had camped in Ajmer itself for such a long period.62 Coryate highlights Emperor’s fondness for animals though keeps coming back to his penchant for women even when he was married to a very independent-minded Noor Jahan: “The King keepth a thousand women for his own body, whereof the chiefest (which is his Queene) is called Normal {Noor Mahal}.” Certainly, polygamy was common among the royals in premodern times yet many women in the palaces were maidservants serving on the royal households though, according to Coryate, Jahangir, had 18 wives.63 Emperor Jahangir made himself available to his court and visitors thrice a day while ensconced in a higher balcony called jharoka. Coryate, like Hawkins, guessed about the total Mughal revenue yields, which he estimated to be around £12 million, much lower than other estimates.64 According to Coryate, Jahangir personified serious contrasts since he was just and alms giving enjoying the company of mystics and holy men, yet could be quite cruel in meting out punishment to the convicts including minor thieves. Jahangir was a very tolerant monarch whose own fondness for poetry, painting, hunting, and liquor tempered down any residue of orthodoxy. Confiding in Terry but keeping it confidential from Roe, Coryate waited on the Emperor on an August day in 1616 in a court session while wearing native consume. He knew that Roe, in his capacity as the envoy, would not allow him to approach the Mughal Emperor, especially when the purpose was to seek some financial assistance. In addition, Roe and his colleagues had been firm on wearing their English costumes avoiding to look “native,” which for a Bohemian Coryate was an obligation, yet being a resident-guest of the EIC’s negotiator, also put him in a predicament. However, given his temperament for sociability and oration, he spoke to the Emperor in Persian while addressing him as “Lord Protector of the World” and introducing himself as “a poore traveller and World-seer” who had come from “a farre countrie, namely England.” In his speech, he defined England as “the Queene of all the Ilands in the World” and that he had come all the way to personally see the Emperor, watch the elephants with his own eyes, visit the Ganges—“the captaine of all the rivers of the world,” and to seek royal permission to visit the land of his ancestors. Here, he was referring to Samarqand, which housed “blessed sepulchre of the Lord of the Corners” {Tamerlane}. The Emperor, viewing him as a wandering dervish, gave Coryate a hundred silver rupees but dissuaded him from visiting Central Asia since given the prevailing situation in the region the Christian Englishman would be unsafe in Transoxiana.65

Pioneer traveller–observer  55 Coryate soon undertook his travel to Hardwar, focal point for Hindu pilgrims, to personally observe the sanctified status of the Ganges by “Banians” and saw them throwing their valuables in the holy river. Initially, he called them gentle people in his letter to his mother, but evangelical zeal soon overtook his early appreciation, as he noted: “Superstition and Impietie most abominable in the highest degree of these brutish Ethnicks, that are aliens from Christ and the Common-wealth of Israel.”66 Coryate stayed in Agra for a short while and noticed the capital’s wealth displayed in the fort, palaces, royal thrones, and in the aristocratic homes by the Jumna River. However, Lahore more than Delhi, Ajmer, and Agra remained his favourite city in India. Soon, Coryate was on his way to Mundo, the next royal camp, where he, once again, lodged himself with Roe and his entourage though not being in good health. Roe’s negotiations with the Mughals were not progressing to his satisfaction and the envoy thought of returning home, or seek ambassadorial position in Isfahan, and appreciative of Coryate’s lingual proficiency and first-hand travel experience, planned to take the Odcombian with him. Coryate’s health posed some issues whereby he decided to head towards Surat to embark on his voyage back home, and as confided in Terry, he planned to write a magnum opus on his international travels. In November 1617, after a reunion with Steele, Coryate began his journey towards Surat, which turned out to be his last as he passed away in December, and as per his will, was laid to rest at an anonymous spot in Suvali, just outside the port city.67 By that time, Surat had assumed the status of a pioneer English factory in India though Coryate’s grave did not receive sufficient care, and left to the vagaries of the weather remained rather obscure for his latter-day fans. “Even despite the lack of recognition the tomb was still beautiful, even a poignant place,” thus wrote Daniel Allen, whose own cycle journey in the footsteps of Coryate had ended in Surat.68

Notes 1 For more on this, see Iftikhar H. Malik, Islam, Nationalism and the West: Issues of Identity in Pakistan, (Oxford: St. Antony’s Series, 1999), 220–49. 2 Amidst a vast historiography on the Crusades, one could include the following titles: T. S. Asbridge, The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land, (London: Simon & Schuster, 2012); Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010); P. M. Holt, The Age of the Crusades: The Near East from the Eleventh Century to 1517, (London: Longman, 1986); J. RileySmith, What Were the Crusades? (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1977); C. Tyerman, The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), and Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, 3 volumes (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2016). 3 Mariam Begum was an Armenian who married William Hawkins in India and after his demise came to England whereas Frances married Richard Steele though earlier she posed to be Mariam Begum’s maidservant, while we do not seem to have biographical information on Mrs. Hudson. For further details, see Margaret Makepeace, “Early Women Traveller and the East India Company,” a blog, 22 October 2015,The British Library: As mentioned above, Samuel Purchas used contemporary writings for his volumes making them into a primary collection of early travel writings. Writers like Robert

56  Pioneer traveller–observer Kerr in the nineteenth century, and R. E. Pritchard and M. Makepeace in our times, have used Purchas for their studies on these early travellers. For the work of Crowther and Steele, see Robert Kerr, (ed.), A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels…., Vol. IX (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood, 1824). On Richard Steele’s parleys with the Mughal and Persian officials, see “Consultation with Richard Steele at Surat about trade to Persia, 28 Nov 1614,” IOR/G/40/25(1) p.61, The British Library. Also, Daniel C. Waugh, “Steel and Crowther’s Journey of 1615–16 from Moghul India through Persia” vide: crowther.html For a detailed history of the EIC, see John Keay, The Honourable Company: A History of English East India Company (London: HarperCollins, 1993); and William Dalrymple, The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (London: Bloomsbury, 2019). 4 Marco Polo’s travel account was a best seller and most popular after the Bible in Europe though there are all kinds of hypotheses about the identity of John Mandeville. See, The British Library, “The Travels of Sir John Mandeville”: collection-items/manuscript-of-mandevilles-travels-showing-headless-men-1430 5 Richard Knolles, The Generall Historie of the Turkes (London: Adam Islip, 1603). For a more recent commentary and edited presentation of the same, see V. J. Parry, Richard Knolles’ History of the Turks, ed. by Salih Ozbaran (Istanbul: The Economic and Social History Foundation, 2003). 6 “O Almighty and Everlasting God, our Heavenly Father, we thy disobedient and rebellious children, now by thy just judgement sore afflicted, and in great danger to be oppressed, by thine and our sworn and most deadly enemies the Turks…” A prayer introduced into the English liturgy in 1565, quoted in Michael Strachan, The Life and Adventures of Thomas Coryate (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), 158. 7 Suraiya Faroghi, The Ottoman Empire and the World around It (London: I. B. Tauris, 2004), 24. 8 This is not to suggest that the Western scholarship is irredeemably anti-Turk, since occasionally one comes across alternative discourses. For instance, see Alan Mikhail, God’s Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World (New York: Faber & Faber, 2020). For its review, see Ian Morris, “When the Ottoman Empire Threatened Europe—and the World,” The New York Times, 20 August 2020. 9 “Coryate was, up to a point, extraordinary in his time in taking alien cultures more or less seriously. But he was firmly and intolerantly Christian, and aggressively Protestant – as befitted the son of an Oxford-educated Somerset parson. He was no run-of-the-mill hippy, nor yet an early anthropologist: more a kind of itinerant Ian Paisley.” Letter by Martin Rose on Charles Nicholl, “Field of Bones,” London Review of Books (LRB), Vol. 21 No. 17, 2 September 1999. 10 For a recent study of Ibn Khaldun and his searchlight on civilisational history, see Robert Irwin, Ibn Khaldun: An Intellectual Biography (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018). 11 R. E. Pritchard, Odd Tom Coryate: The English Marco Polo (Stroud: Sutton, 2004). For a fuller biographical work, see Michael Strachan, op. cit.; also, Rahul Sapra, “The Limits of Orientalism: Seventeenth-Century Representations of India,” PhD thesis submitted at Queen’s University, Kingston, 2004. Quotations from Coryate’s book and fragments from his letters are excerpted from the volumes by Strachan, Whittaker, and Pritchard, though these writers do not specify page numbers of their source material. 12 Tom Coryate, Coryats Crudities {1611}; reprinted in two volumes (Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1905); also, Katharine A. Craik, “Reading Coryats Crudities (1611),” Studies in English Literature 1500–1900, 44, 1 (2004) 77–96. 13 Samuel Purchas, like Thomas Coryate, was the son of an Essex vicar and studied at Cambridge before moving to Oxford. Motivated by his Anglican upbringing, Purchas would occasionally be irreverent to original texts and was careless in preserving them

Pioneer traveller–observer  57 properly for posterity. Reportedly, he died in a prison while having been sentenced for solvency. His volumes underwent publication only in the early twentieth century— almost three centuries after he began his pursuit. 14 Authors such as Sir Michael Hicks and John Taylor consulted some of those letters but Notes were exhaustively used by Purchas and then lost to posterity. See, Tom Coryate, “Notes Made in India” in Samuel Purchas (ed.) Purchas His Pilgrimes, Part I, Book IV (1625), reprinted in 20 volumes {Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1905–7}. Also, Cambridge Library Collection, Purchas His Pilgrimes, Volume 4, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). 15 For instance, William Foster (ed.) The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the Great Mogul, 1615–1619, 2 volumes (London: Hakluyt Society, 1899). 16 Strachan, ix. 17 Bath has had its own colonial connections with some of the sugar planters, bankers, and former colonials settled here. Robert Clive, the victor of Plassey (1757) and viewed as the founder of the British Empire lived in No. 14 in The Circus as did many other known and unknown families such as the Beckfords. Bristol was a major port in the triangular slave trade on the Atlantic with a number of families owning plantations and slave ships. After the abolition, quite a few families benefitted from large-scale official compensations and invested their finances in other businesses such as railways, concert halls, shopping arcades, zoo, and the galleries. See, Mike Chambers, The Remains of Slavery: Civilisation Stories, BBC TV, May 2018: 18 Daniel Allen, The Sky Above, the Kingdom Below. In the Footsteps of Thomas Coryate (London: Haus Publishing, 2008). 19 Dom Moraes and Sarayu Srivatsa, The Long Strider: How Thomas Coryate Walked from England to India in the Year 1613 (New Delhi: Penguin, 2003). A headstone from Rajasthan features in the forecourt of the church in memory of Dom Moraes (1938–2004), the poet and once a visitor to Odcombe. 20 David Whittaker, Most Glorious & Peerless Venice: Observations of Thomas Coryate (1608); (Charlbury, Oxon: Wavestone Press, 2013). In an interview in Oxford on 18 August 2020, Whittaker shared some details of the ceremony, sponsored by Venetian mayoralty. 21 The caretaker thankfully opened the door during the early afternoon in 2013 and took great pride in mentioning the exploits of his hero. The forested village has little winding lanes with the main street further down featuring some graceful older houses until one skirts around the palatial Montacute House to join the main road connecting Odcombe with Glastonbury, Wells, and Bath. 22 Pritchard, 2. 23 Strachan, 3. 24 In 1997, commemorating the fifth centenary of this earliest English venture, a replica of the Matthew was unveiled, which remains moored in Bristol. 25 See, Thomas Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller (London: T. Scarlet for C. Burby, 1592), edited by J. B. Steane (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972). For its on-line PDF, see: 26 Certainly, the pirate–sailors, like their Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Italian counterparts, turned out to be the founders of the British colonies to the West as well as in the East. Hawkins’ visit to the East followed his erstwhile travels whereas Francis Drake, derided by Spaniards for his role in defeating Armada in 1588 and Spanish vessels in North America, had navigated across the Atlantic and Pacific and claimed California for the English. Following his soldiering on behalf of the Austrians and Hungarians, Captain John Smith was imprisoned by the Ottomans and was saved by a Turco–Greek woman in Constantinople (Charatza Trabigzanda) before he undertook his visit to Virginia to found Jamestown in 1607. Smith had reportedly killed three Ottoman soldiers in the Balkans before being apprehended in Crimea and sold in slavery. In a similar situation of having been caught by the Natives in Virginia, a royal

58  Pioneer traveller–observer Pocahontas ensured his rescue. Raleigh, Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s half-brother, enjoyed close relationship with Queen Elizabeth and was deeply involved in English colonisation in America. He, reputedly, introduced tobacco in Britain though lost his life to a publicized hanging in the Tower of London. 27 The Barbary pirates were able to mount campaigns across the Atlantic reaching Ireland, Cornish coast, and Bristol Harbour posing serious security threat for the English Crown, which partly led to the growth of the Royal Navy On corsairs, see Adrian Tinniswood, Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th Century Mediterranean (London: Vintage, 2011); and, Linda Colley, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: How a Remarkable Woman Crossed Seas and Empires to Become Part of the World History (London: Harper Perennial, 2008). Quite a few pirates were Europeans who held personal grudges, turned to piracy, and retained homage to the kings in Maghreb. 28 Strachan, 27–8; Pritchard, 28. 29 Pritchard, 36 & 41. According to this biographer, this was the first time that umbrella entered the English vocabulary and dictionaries. 30 Strachan, 39. 31 Whittaker, Observations of Thomas Coryate (1608), 29. 32 He was unimpressed by the Greek Church though was quite taken in by the fluent conversation that the priest held with him about the Orthodox Church. Coryate would mostly walk and explore the city and its numerous neighbourhoods often reached by gondolas plying through what he called the “liquid streets.” Whittaker, 70. 33 Whittaker, 76–81. The debate took place in Latin. During his conversation with the Venetian Jew, Coryate tried to persuade him “to abandon and renounce his Jewish religion and to undertake the Christian faith without which he should be eternally damned.” Strachan, 53. Talking about dietary habits among Jews and Muslims, he observed: “From swine flesh they abstain as their ancient forefathers were wont to do, in which the Turks do imitate them at this day.” Whittaker, 78. 34 For Coryate’s stay in Venice and the impact of his pioneering work on future travellers to the city, along with Whittaker’s Observations of Thomas Coryate, also see his, Mindful of Venice: Reflections and Meanderings (Charlbury: Wavestone Press, 2020). 35 For his own text on these travels, see Thomas Coryate and George Coryate, Coryat’s Crudities [Volume 2]; Hastily gobbled up in Five Months Travells in France, Savoy, Italy, Rhetia commonly called the Grisons Country, Helvetia (Memphis: General Books, 2010, reprint of 1905 Macmillan edition). 36 Pritchard, 105. He found Germans drinking excessively without turning into hooligans. Coryate enjoyed his visit to Heidelberg where he compared the number of Latin manuscripts in the possession of the keeper, Jan Gunther, in the library above the Church of the Holy Ghost. The two-floor repository had one hundred more manuscripts than the Bodleian in Oxford. In Frankfurt, he enjoyed the hospitality of John Row (read as Roe), the eldest son of the former London Mayor, Sir Henry Row, and now the Ambassador in Frankfurt. John Row’s cousin, Sir Thomas Roe, was East India Company’s emissary and during Coryate’s stay in Ajmer, would facilitate lodging for him at his official residence. 37 Daniel Allen, The Sky Above, the Kingdom Below, 3. 38 Strachan, 163. The Company brought cloth, iron and such other products from England and took silk, spices, olive oil, and wine back on its ships and maintained consulates in Eastern Mediterranean at places like Aleppo, chartered by the Crown. 39 Strachan, 171. 40 For instance: Fynes Moryson, An Itinerary (1617), reprinted in four volumes (Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1907); William Lithgow, The Totall Discourse of the Rare Adventures (1614, 1623); and Peter Mundy, The Travels of Peter Mundy, 1608–1667 (1668), edited by Richard Carnac Temple, 5 volumes (Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1907–36): For on-line versions: and travelsofpetermu02mund/page/n23

Pioneer traveller–observer  59 41 Pritchard, 198–9. 42 Strachan, 190. 43 Pritchard, 212–14. 44 Herself a scion of a Persian migrant family, the Queen took over the reins when the Emperor busied himself in painting, writing, drinking and hunting. She has been one of the most powerful and equally effective rulers in Muslim history. Buried in Lahore, not too far from her husband’s grand tomb, Noor Jahan has attracted enormous historical and literary attention. For a recent biography, see Ruby Lal, Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (New York: Norton, 2018). 45 In fact, John Cartwright, an employee of the Levant Company, who had travelled with John Mildenhall to India, offers these details. He left on his voyages around 1600 and from Aleppo moved on to Persia and India. Otherwise known as the Preacher, Cartwright, in his account, does not mention his evangelical activities. John Cartwright, The Preachers Travels (1611) in Pritchard, 217–9. For an on-line version of the original text, see: 46 Thomas Herbert, A Relation of Some Yeares Travaile in Persia (1628), edited by William Foster (London: Routledge, 1971). For more details on early British travellers and their accounts including John Cartwright, Thomas Herbert, Jon Fryer, William Lithgow, Fynes Moryson, William Biddulph, and Anthony Sherley, see Kenneth Parker (ed.) Early Modern Tales of Orient: A Critical Anthology (London: Routledge, 1999). 47 Cartwright, 742–50, quoted in Pritchard, 220. 48 The Sherley/Shirley Brothers (with six sisters) came from an aristocratic Sussex family, who following their education acquired prestigious positions in the English court, but driven by adventurous spirits and always short of money, they took to privateering on high seas or volunteering to work for merchants and other fortune seekers. All the three brothers developed very close relations with the Muslim rulers such at the Ottomans and the Safawids besides gaining senior military positions across the Continent though would have turbulent relations with the English monarchy. Sir Thomas Shirley (1564–1634) studied at Oxford before becoming a lawyer and MP, and decided to pursue life as an adventurer, which landed him into privateering. Working on behalf of the Levant Company and concurrently financed by the Tuscan traders, he pursued his warring activities in eastern Mediterranean until the Ottomans imprisoned him. A personal intervention by King James I resulted in his release and he returned to London a year later. His litigation over financial dealings with the Levant Company left him penniless yet he was still able to re-enter the parliament from Sussex. Thomas Shirley’s financial worries never left him even during his retirement on the Isle of Wight until he passed away. 49 Anthony Shirley, a former student at Oxford, like many of his generation, was a seafarer, mercenary, and adventurer, who, after several military pursuits on the Continent, engaged in piracy in the West Indies and Western coast of Africa before moving to Venice as a volunteer. He ended up annoying Queen Elizabeth for accepting knighthood from France without her prior permission and then by marrying a Catholic woman. Always short on money and mostly indebted, Anthony Shirley decided to offer his services to the Shah of Persia, following some escapades in Venice. Thus, in 1597, we find him, along with Robert and William Parry in Constantinople and Aleppo where he was able to gather some funds to undertake an assignment in Persia. He was expected to open commercial relations for England on behalf of some English traders including Lord Essex besides assisting Shah Abbas against the Ottomans. Reportedly, even without the proper credentials, he tried to present himself as an envoy from the English court though was still well received by the Safawids. Shah Abbas would soon depute him to Europe as his envoy in 1600 though he could not visit London itself due to royal displeasure and thus decided to offer his services to the Holy Roman Empire as a special envoy to Morocco. Anthony Shirley, subsequently, lived in Madrid as a count, and following a foiled military campaign lost his emoluments to live in penury.

60  Pioneer traveller–observer It was in Madrid that he passed away and his younger brother, Robert, took up his ventures in Persia. Anthony Shirley’s companions in his travel to Persia and back to Europe, William Parry was able to make it to London while the former could not. William Parry, unfamiliar with Turkish, Persian, and Arabic, published his volume in London about Shirley’s travels besides reflecting on Muslim societies and their religious practices. Many of his comments are not factual and based on hearsay and serious personal reservations yet they make any interesting reading about this earlier English encounter with two large Muslim empires. See William Parry, A New and Large Discourse on the Travels of Sir Anthony Sherley (London: Valentine Simmes for Felix Norton, 1601). For a comment on Parry’s account, see Ema Vyroubalova, “A New and Large Discourse on the Travels of Sir Anthony Sherley,” Reading East vide: 50 Robert Shirley’s travels during 1609–15 took him to Italy and Germany, Austria, and Spain where he was treated as a royalty while the Pope honoured him as a Knight. His final visit to Persia took place in 1627 when he accompanied the first English envoy, Sir Dodmore Cotton, and lived in the country for the next 2 years, until his death in Qazwin in 1629. Initially buried there, his remains were subsequently taken to Rome by his Circassian wife where she herself lived until her death in 1668. 51 See, Iftikhar H. Malik, Pashtun Identity and Southwest Asian Geopolitics: Issues of Security in Afghanistan and Pakistan (London: Anthem, 2016). 52 Quoting from Crowther and Steele, he mistakenly called these people “Agwans or Potans… slightly whiter than the Indians, great Robbers, accustomed to cut off whole Caravans.” Even many present-day authors may accuse them for “notorious nuisances.” Pritchard, 223. 53 Multan and Dipaulpur in Punjab were the cities of commercial and military significance even before the arrival of Islam or the emergence of Lahore as the converging point for Sindh and Hind. For an early British history of this region in Punjab, see Mountstuart Elphinstone, History of India (London: John Murray, 1841); also, Hussain Ahmad Khan, Artisan, Sufis, Shrines: Architecture in Colonial Multan (London: I. B. Tauris, 2015); Rajmohan Gandhi, Punjab: A History from Aurengzeb to Mountbatten (Delhi: Aleph, 2013), and Mohammad Gharipour, The City in the Muslim World: Depictions by Western Travel Writers (London: Routledge, 2015). 54 Quoted in Pritchard, 224–5, and Strachan, 223–4. Also, excerpted in Daniel C. Waugh, “Steel and Crowther's Journey of 1615–16 from Moghul India through Persia,” Silk Road Seattle, 1999: 55 Edward Terry, A Voyage to East India (London: J. Wilkie, 1655), 76. For an on-line version, see: 56 Quoted in a letter by Peter Coghill, “The First Mr Paisley,” The London Review of Books, vol. 21, No. 19, 2 September 1999; also, Strachan, 258. 57 Finch gives details on the royal palace and its luxurious ornamentation where “walles and seelings all over-laid with pure gold” and Venetian glass affording privacy to Emperor Jahangir’s royal quarters where the portraits of Babur, Humayun, and Akbar—his ancestors—were displayed. Pritchard, 226. 58 Pritchard, 227. Finch seemed to enjoy writing about love and tragedies in his narrative by apportioning all kinds of injustices to Akbar though most historical accounts found in him a just and all-tolerant emperor. 59 Pritchard, 228. Coryate was on his way to Agra, the Mughal capital, when halfway through his “Mahometan Travelles” between Lahore and Agra he found out that the Emperor was camped at Ajmer, the city in Rajasthan being the abode of the famous Sufi, Khawaja Moeenud Din Chishti (1141–1236). As per his letter to his friend, Laurence Whitaker, he reached here in July 1615 after covering nearly 3,000 miles, which, including his longer stays in Aleppo, Isfahan, and elsewhere, had taken him 15 months. His entire cost for this travel was only 3 pounds since local people or his fellow compatriots had mostly hosted him all through his travels. 60 Quoted in Pritchard, 243.

Pioneer traveller–observer  61 61 Coryate reported on Emperor Akbar’s rejection of humiliating the Bible in a tit-for-tat following the alleged Portuguese sanctimonious attitude towards the Quran by tying it around a dog’s neck in Hormuz. Coryate also wrote about Jahangir’s attendance at Chishti’s tomb without any royal formalities to kindle fire in the kitchen for the poor at the Sufi shrine. It is a different thing that the Sufi is erroneously identified as “Prophet Hod.” Purchas, 244–5. 62 Coryate might have gathered information about Emperor’s reverence for Sufis and ascetics from Roe, as both narrate the story of a ragged holy man sitting one evening in Jahangir’s feet, while princes were made to stand in his presence. Strachan, 248. 63 According to his narrative, these wives were in addition to several concubines and young boys. Thomas Roe also reported on seeing Noor Jahan and some other women sitting behind the screen, and he did not fail to notice their white complexion and dark black hair “smoothed up.” Pritchard, 245–46. Coryate found Jahangir to be of olive complexion with a corpulent body. Strachan, 232. He estimated that the daily upkeep of the thousands of royal elephants cost £10,000 to the royal exchequer. 64 Strachan, 237–8. 65 Coryate, who had learnt Persian while in Persia and now in India, transcribed his oration in one of his subsequent letters. Quoted in Pritchard, 247. On hearing about his attendance and performance at the royal court, Roe admonished him yet Coryate defended himself because of his material needs and penchant for further travels. 66 Pritchard, 249-50. 67 Controversy about Coryate’s final days and the exact location of his grave remains quite alive. See, Charles Nicholl, “Field of Bones,” LRB, 2 September 1999. 68 “Sad indeed that a man like Coryate who craved recognition should have suffered such an end. But then that too was a pioneering death. The first modern traveller dying the first traveller’s death abroad.” Allen, 253 & 256. His early biographer, in his concluding paragraph, summed up Coryate’s final abode in these words: “Coryate’s fascination for tombs and epitaphs, which had earlier earned him the nickname of “a tombstone traveller,” was a manifestation of his own yearning for recognition, both in his lifetime and thereafter. This obsession with earthly fame made him prey to a haunting dread that he might lie in an unmarked grave. In a sense, his dread became fact, but by this quirk of fortune, the supposed site of his interment has been both durably commemorated and widely advertised. How pleased his ghost must be!” Strachan, 268. Strachan’s inquiries through a vicar in Surat affirmed the presence of a Mughal-style tomb of the late English strider, slightly to the north of Suvali.

3 Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World A formidable non-orientalist

Irrespective of the era or community, imperial enterprises, pilgrimages, conflagrations, displacements, and immigration processes have been predominantly male domains, and it is only in recent past that the accounts by and of women in these realms began to evolve, especially during the European colonial empires. Like modernity being a civilisational project within the complex processes of Europeanisation, normative historical accounts often end up highlighting the European origins of such women writers and travellers with their non-European counterparts either totally absent form such reconstructions, or passively huddled up on the receiving end. Perhaps, going beyond the periscope of Eurocentric historiography while helped by regional and hitherto unexplored archival material from indigenous societies, historians may eventually help redress this visceral gap. This chapter, following a short preview of gender visibility within the historiographical context, focuses on British women in reference to their experiences and observation of Muslim societies by investigating the career and writings of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, one of the earliest to record lived Muslim culture. It is quite vital to assess her first-hand experiences of life in a Muslim sultanate at a time when a more assertive and self-righteous (Western) Europe had already begun to impose its writ on non-Western world. The Ottoman Turks being the next-door neighbours and very much straddling the three continents had already become the poster boys of an Orient with the Turk substituting erstwhile renegado.1 Other than Ottoman–English alliance against Spain during the Elizabethan era, the Barbary corsairs and pirates provided a constant encounter between the Europeans and North African Muslims. The Ottoman campaigns in the Balkans, primacy in the Mediterranean regions and control over places such as Greece and wars with the Hapsburgs, Venetians, Poles, and the Czars only added to their stigmatisation as savages whose brutality underlay through some kind of religiously ordained sexism. The Ottoman Empire, despite millions of Christians and Jews living under its panoply, was reductively perceived as an Islamist trajectory instinctively aimed at converting or marginalising non-Muslims.2 The co-optation of non-Muslim subjects in the higher imperial echelons besides protecting Iberian Jews and their pivotal role as imperial administrators, traders, and archivists was totally unacknowledged.3 Our present chapter and the next, after some introductory observations, are devoted to the study of the career of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, an upper class

Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World  63 English ambassadress, and derive from her correspondence besides some commentaries on her searchlight on the Ottomans. It is quite relevant to revisit biographical details of Mary Pierrepont or Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762—hereafter Montagu) and her travels across the two continents, encounters with the Turks in the Balkans, Adrianople, Constantinople, and further south so as to seek the context for her positive views of a Muslim society. Not only, as the wife of the British ambassador she had the rare experience of working with the highest echelons of the Ottoman sultanate, she might have been the only Westerner to have a close relationship with the royal family besides interacting with other Ottoman women—an inaccessible area for Western men. It is largely owing to these direct encounters and their benefits during an era of recurrent pestilences such as smallpox that she tried to espouse the case for inoculation back in Britain. Before that, she herself sought inoculation of her own son in Constantinople and was subsequently able to convince the British royal family on the advantages of this Ottoman practice. In the words of one of her biographers, Montagu was no stranger to fame or to ill fame. She has been celebrated since her own day as a letter-writer, as a traveller to the east, and as the introducer to the west of inoculation against smallpox. She has been notorious as an enemy or victim of the poet Pope. Now, belatedly, she is coming into her reputation as a writer.4 Mary Montagu was the earliest woman writer—challenging the long held taboos on domesticity and conformity—and has left us five volumes of extensive writings with her letters in particular covering a wide range of topics other than her first-hand reportage on the Ottoman culture. Quite an independent minded person, Montagu herself survived smallpox, which, for a while left its scars on her face, yet refused to circumvent her public profile and creative pursuits. Instead, she took up contemporary scientific norms of treating such diseases and got her son and daughter inoculated in the traditional Ottoman way, followed by a similar exercise by the royal family. Her sharp intelligence, exceptional beauty, exemplary courage, higher status, and knack for adventures transformed her into a role model for future women writers and feminists. Her independent mindedness, as evidenced from her relationship with Alexander Pope, Lord Hervey, and Abbe Conti, would not let her make compromises, expected of contemporary women. Her wedding with Edward Wortley Montagu (1678–1761)—a scion of a moneyed family—was not a love marriage; instead was partly meant to escape an arranged matrimony, otherwise a norm among contemporary English upper classes. Not enamoured of such arrangements, she noted: “People in my way are sold like slaves: and I cannot tell what price my master will put on me.”5 Here, considerations such as pedigree, land, money, and dowry often determined match making where women, in particular, did not enjoy much choice with the decisions often left to fathers. In that sense, Mary Montagu found Ottoman women, unlike the usual stereotypes, more independent, and despite the veil or a homebound role, they often retained their own autonomy in domestic matters.

64  Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World Montagu maintained correspondence with her male friends during her marriage without hiding her relationship or glossing over it; instead, she chose to live in France and Italy pursuing an independent life, not much in vogue during that period. Some admiring men, including Alexander Pope, felt unreciprocated by Montagu and turned quite hostile, though she would not allow false expectations unless she herself felt a modicum of intimacy. She was appreciative of his mentoring and it was on his persuasion that her familiar portrait in an Ottoman dress was commissioned but then she knew eminent intellectuals such as Voltaire, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, and William Congrave who, in their own ways, acknowledged her credentials as an independent and equally creative soul. Pope’s hateful outbursts only betrayed his own misogynistic tendencies without affecting her profile with the contemporary print media often providing a helping hand. Her status as a celebrity owed to her own self-confidence, physical charm, a stable personality, and independent thinking further augmented by her literary accomplishments positing her into a multi-faceted personality. Montagu had her due share of idiosyncrasies, and often bluntly blurted out her opinions, which might have bordered on sheer arrogance, or even racism. For instance, during her visit to Carthage, she wrote disparaging remarks about African women and while talking about her own granddaughter—Lady Bute’s child__ she did not restrain herself from calling her ugly. Her observations about Austrian women were equally stereotypic as were the remarks about profligacy among their German counterparts.6 In addition, at one stage, she had espoused for the abolition of parliament with all the powers returning to a sovereign king.7 We must not forget the fact that Mary Montagu was born soon after the English Civil War, the Great Fire of London and the widespread fatalities owing to plague, especially in London. The eldest child of Evelyn Pierrepont, the Duke of Hull-Upon-Kingston, (d. 1726) and soon to be Lord Dorchester and Mary Fielding (d. 1692), Mary Montagu was the eldest among her three siblings who was raised by her paternal grandmother until she was 9. Following her mother’s death when she was just four, next few years spent in Wiltshire with grandmother were not happy though she tried to compensate by reading avariciously. Taken into her father’s care and not enamoured of her governess Lady Mary turned to learning Latin and writing poetry—largely the male domains—and by 1695 had already written down a short novel and two poetry collections. Moving between Wiltshire and Nottinghamshire, Montagu refused to marry Clotworthy Skeffington, her father’s choice for a suitor, and instead opted for eloping with Edward Wortley Montagu and married this aristocrat-entrepreneur in 1712 in Salisbury. She had met him through his sister and despite exchanging letters, this marriage was not anchored on devotion, allowing both partners their own discretion. In 1713, Montagu gave birth to a son, moved to London, and soon became a socialite known for her beauty, sense of independence, literary genius, and sociability. Her circles included King George I—the Hanoverian king of England—, Lady Walpole, Lord and Lady Hervey, Sarah Churchill—the Duchess of Marlborough—, Mary Astell, John Gay, Abbe Antonio Conti, and Alexander Pope. In 1715, Mary Montagu contracted smallpox but survived though the epidemic left its scars without diminishing her physical charms, self-confidence, and social

Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World  65 mobility. Next year, her husband was appointed as the British Ambassador8 to Constantinople and she accompanied him to the Near East passing through the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Serbia before reaching Adrianople and then the Ottoman metropolis. The new ambassador was expected to keep Austria on the side of the Ottomans and British disallowing any alliance with the Venetians, whose mutualities with Spain consistently worried London. Ironically, Wortley was recalled a year later from his ambassadorial assignment partly owing to his failure in cementing a peace treaty between Vienna and Constantinople and because some influential diplomats such as Abraham Stanyan, the English Ambassador to Vienna, were intent upon his return.9 The Montagus delayed their departure for a few more months owing to Mary Montagu’s pregnancy and boarded The Preston for their homeward journey while stopping at Troy and Carthage where she was able to relive her fondness for classical literature. While still in Constantinople, she gave birth to a daughter in January 1718 and returned to London later in the year, following her son’s inoculation. Her roots within the English nobility opened up social avenues but certainly, she is the first Englishwoman with an experience of living in a Muslim society and writing about it while applying her literary skills. One of her commentators considers these few months of her life to be quite special or even more satisfying than what preceded or followed 1717–8: It is highly ironic that out of her long and colourful life, the years best known are the ones she recorded in the Embassy Letters, written over a brief period that was lived in foreign parts, far removed from the society and milieu of which she was such a brilliant and celebrated representative.10 Her love affair with Francesco Algarotti (1712–64) and settling down in Italy followed by buying up property while valorously dealing with some criminals in northern Italy, witness her independent frame of mind.11 In the same vein, setbacks in her personal life such as the loss of her mother at an early age, lack of proper paternal care, erratic life styles of her own son and the mental issues of her sister did not deter her from living a fuller life along with interacting with some contemporary leading intellectuals. Her son became a criminal whereas her son-in-law proved to be an unpopular prime minister. Lady Mar, Montagu’s sister, was torn between polarised forces of England and Scotland and Whig– Jacobin antagonism whereas her high society friends often found it difficult to steer clear of tribulations. For instance, Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough, was reputed to be quarrelsome whereas Lady Stafford, Maria Skerrett, and John Hervey earned infamy for all kinds of sexual escapades causing some public reproach. Other than her literary pursuits, Montagu tried to engage in understanding and even resolving international disputes; dabbled in experimenting with different costumes and cuisines and grew tea while espousing the case for inoculation. Therefore, in a sense, she challenged the limited roles adduced to upper and middle class English women and instead proved an unconventional but no less pioneering figure. Such kind of diverse background and openness allowed Montagu to write about the Ottomans with a greater sense of freshness

66  Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World and objectivity, often missing from similar other contemporary and even subsequent culturelogues. No wonder, she might have edited her letters subsequently but they elicited platitude from Voltaire and several other scholars and in a way, she became a trendsetter for future travelogues. In fact, Lady Astell had advised her to publish those letters, which Montagu had vested with the Reverend Benjamin Sowden in Holland, out of a genuine apprehension that her daughter, Lady Bute, might destroy them. She bequeathed the collection of her embassy letters with a will observing: “These two volumes are given to the Rev. Benjamin Sowden, minister at Rotterdam, to be disposed of as he thinks proper. This is the will and design of M Wortley Montagu.”12 This handover took place on the eve of her final return to London in January 1762, having been away from England for 23 years.13 Moving among London’s high society had allowed her to hone in her literary potentials with access to some of the known contemporary writers besides publishing pieces in The Spectator. Here, in 1715, while inflicted by smallpox, she struggled for survival when her sister, Lady Mar, faced her own financial predicament.14 In the meantime, in April 1716, Edward Wortley Montagu was offered an ambassadorial position in Constantinople by the Crown that was to be funded by the Levant Company—a prestigious designation which, in the past had been held by Mary Montagu’s great-great uncle. Edward Montagu’s predecessor, Sir Robert Sutton, had served in the Ottoman capital for 15 years and the former was to take charge from him. In the background of Ottoman–Hapsburg hostilities since the siege of 1683, and with England trying to build closer relationship with both Constantinople and Vienna mainly to isolate Spain, proved a challenging assignment for the new envoy. Following the provisions of 20 liveries, a chaplain and all the detailed paraphernalia, the new envoy and Mary Montagu took off for the Continent in August 1716 preferring to take a land route to firm up relations with the Austrian monarchy. In Vienna, a triumphalist ambience prevailed following Prince Eugene’s decisive victory over the Ottomans at Peterwardein (Novi Sad) in July 1716. The Ottoman troops led by the Grand Vizier, Damat(d) Ali, had been defeated by a combination of Austrian, Serb, Hungarian, Croat, and Venetian soldiers who fought under the banner of the Holy Roman Empire. Only 50,000 of Janissaries, Sepoys, and Tartars from 120,000-strong army escaped the battlefield by the Danube while Damat Ali was killed in action, thus making this battle a turning point for Osmanlis led by Sultan Ahmed III (1673–1730). The late Grand Vizier was an important member of the royal family since he had married Fatima, one of the several daughters of the Ottoman Sultan. Lady Montagu was to meet Fatima subsequently in Adrianople and quite taken in by her beauty, wisdom, and resolution. The Montagus witnessed extensive celebrations and partying in the capital given their two-month stay before they took off for Belgrade via Prague, Dresden, and Leipzig. In Budapest, she witnessed the scars from the recent battles besides the ongoing civil war between the Catholics and Protestants until they travelled through Serbia, where, unlike Austria and Hungary, she noticed widespread poverty. She personally witnessed the battleground of Peterwardein where from among the Turkish dead 30,000 had been Janissaries while many other sepoys

Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World  67 taken prisoners. In her letter to Alexander Pope from Belgrade on 12 February 1717, she noted: No attempt was made to bury the dead….The marks of that Glorious bloody day are yet recent, the field being stew’d with the Skulls and Carcases of unbury’d Men, Horses and Camels. I could not look without horror on such numbers of mangled humane bodys, and reflect on the Injustice of War, that makes murther not only necessary but meritorious.15 In her letters to Pope and Lady Mar, she further laid out the details of the legacies of the decisive battle fought between the Ottomans and Charles VI (1685– 1740)—the Archduke of the Holy Roman Empire and the son of King Leopold I, who was a claimant to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire inclusive of Spain. While heading towards Budapest, Montagu witnessed the horrors of war and poverty and blamed the Emperor and his late father for persecuting Protestants. Montagu wrote: We continued two days travelling between this place and Buda, through the finest plains in the world, as even as if they were paved, and extreme fruitful, but the long war between the Turk and the Emperor, and the more cruel civil war occasioned by the barbarous persecution of the Protestant religion by the Emperor Leopold. That prince has left him the character of an extraordinary piety, and was naturally of a mild merciful temper; but, putting his conscience into the hands of a Jesuit, he was more cruel and treacherous to his poor Hungarian subjects than ever the Turk has been to the Christians, breaking without scruple his coronation oath and his faith, solemnly given in many public treaties. In the same letter, she revealed her very good grasp of historical facts regarding the conquest of Budapest by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1526 and the future squabbles until it was taken over by the Austrians in 1686: “The loss of this town was so important, and so much resented by the Turks, that it occasioned the deposing of their Emperor Mehmed IV, the year following.” She mentioned their visit and stay at Essek, a strategic town that once was quite prosperous featuring a historic bridge: This was a town of great trade, very rich and populous when in the hand of the Turks. It is situated on the Drave, which runs into the Danube. The bridge was esteemed one of the most extraordinary in the world, being 8000 paces long, and all built of oak, which was burnt, and the city laid in ashes by Count Leslie, 1685, but was again repaired and fortified by the Turks, who, however, abandoned it, 1687, and General Dunnewalt took possession of it for the Emperor, in whose hands it has remained ever since, and is esteemed one of the bulwarks of Hungary. She was all praise for Hungarian ladies for their physical attributes—compared to their Austrian counterparts—and also noticed quite a few “Rascians,” who

68  Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World were predominantly Serbs.16 Other than socio-political themes, her comments duly challenge the negative view of “exploitative” Turks, who, on the contrary, appear promoting commerce and mobility. Montagu’s observations precede her meeting with the Turks, making them all the more pertinent. It was in a detailed letter to Alexander Pope that Montagu wrote about the military affairs in this Hungarian-Serbian borderland where the two empires had often been fighting each other. She is not pleased with the armies under the Holy Roman Empire, largely led by Austrians and which contained a considerable convoy of Germans and Rascians. The Emperor had several regiments of these people, but to say truth, they are rather plunderers than soldiers, having no pay and being obliged to furnish their own arms and horses. They rather look like vagabond gypsies or stout beggars than regular troops. I can’t forbear speaking a word of this race of creatures who are very numerous all over Hungary. New to Greek Orthodox Church in the Balkans, she opined: They have a patriarch of their own at Grand Cairo (Sic.), and are really of the Greek church, but their extreme ignorance gives their priests occasion to impose several new notions upon them. These fellows letting their hair and beards grow inviolate, make exactly the figure of the Indian Brahmins. Her letter further details fatalities and casualties in the fields of Karlowitz, where Prince Eugene had scored a victory over the Turks. She is horrified to see mangled bodies amidst stories of a carnage that had happened only recently and wondered not only about the war but also about human nature: Nothing seems to me a plainer proof of the irrationality of mankind, whatever fine claims we pretend to reason, than the rage which they contest for a small spot of ground, when such vast parts of fruitful earth lie uninhabited…. I am a good deal inclined to believe Mr Hobbes that the state of nature is a state of war, but thence I conclude human nature not rational, if the word reason means common sense, as I suppose it does. Here, our traveller–chronicler is quite reflective and equally concerned about human fallibility. Further down, in the same correspondence, Montagu tells the poet about Belgrade’s conquest by Sultan Suleiman before it came under the Austrian control in the recent past to be reclaimed by the Grand Vizier. She found it “fortified with the utmost care and skill the Turks are capable of, and strengthened by a very numerous garrison of their bravest janissaries, commanded by a pasha seraskier (i.e. general).” She certainly explained the obstinacy of the janissaries who not being happy with the previous general and suspicious of his dealings with the Bavarians had killed him to induct a more pliant pasha. In fact, hostilities between the Austrians and the Ottomans continued during 1716–7, with the former receiving assistance from the Russian, Polish and Bavarian troops. Following

Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World  69 the victory over the Ottomans at Peterwardein, Prince Eugene of Savoy decided to attack Belgrade to wrest its control from the Turks. In July 1717, Belgrade was besieged by the Austrians and their allies numbering 100,000, and despite its efficient fortification, remained in a precarious position until the fresh troops arrived from Adrianople. However, the Ottoman ammunition held in the city caught fire on 14 August 1717 that not only killed many Turkish troops but the resultant chaos facilitated Prince Eugene’s entry into the citadel with the city finally falling to his troops. Consequently, Belgrade became a part of the Austrian empire for the next 21 years when in 1739 a fresh Ottoman army led by Ivaz Mehmet Pasha defeated Field Marshall George Oliver Wallis near Belgrade with the city changing hands once again.17 Mary Montagu’s memorable encounter of civilisational nature with a Muslim Turk happened in Belgrade where the English couple stayed in the private residence of Achmed {Ahmed) Bey who also housed their large ambassadorial guard for several weeks. More like a count, Bey’s father had been a senior official who ensured for his son the most polite eastern learning, being perfectly skilled in Arabic and ­Persian languages, and is an extraordinary scribe, which they call effendi. This accomplishment makes way to the greatest preferments, but he has had the good sense to prefer an easy, quiet, secure life to all the dangerous honour of the Porte. He sups with us every night, and drinks wine very freely. You cannot imagine how much he is delighted with the liberty of conversing with me. He has explained to me many pieces of the Arabian poetry which, I observed, are in numbers not unlike ours, generally alternate verse, and of a very musical sound. Their expressions of love are very passionate and lively. It appears that Achmed Bey had been discussing ghazal, the genre of romantic poetry where each couplet is rhymed with the preceding one and self-sufficient in its contents very unlike a poem. Ghazal is the popular romantic form of poem unique to Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, and Hindi and, in a way, an important component of what Shahab Ahmed called “Bosnia to Bengal paradigm,” or what Marshall Hodgson defined as “Persianate.”18 Continuing in her letter to the English poet, Montagu further noted: I am so much pleased with them, I really believe I should learn to read Arabic, if I was to stay here a few months. He has a very good library of their books of all kinds and, as he tells me, spends the greatest part of his life there. I pass for a great scholar with him, by relating to him some of the Persian tales, which I find are genuine. At first he believed I understood Persian. I have frequent disputes with him concerning the differences of our customs, particularly the confinements of women. He assures me, there is nothing at all in it; only, says he, we have the advantage when our wives cheat us nobody knows it. He has wit, and is more polite than many Christian men of quality.19

70  Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World This first and equally holistic meeting between the envoy’s wife and an Ottoman official with her due literary and personal candour was quite a rebuke of the contemporary views of the Moors and Turks in England, as it left an enduring impact on Montagu herself. The literary and congenial profile of her host with a great sense of reciprocity, modesty, and humour, contrasted with the views of Turks as barbarians, remained with her all through her life, since she kept fighting provincialism in her own society. Like Thomas Coryate’s encounter with a similar literary Turk during his travels in the Alps, for Montagu this was a real awakening though in the case of Coryate, his own Christian zealotry would not allow him fully appreciate the intellectual and cultural attributes of his Turkish acquaintance. As we saw in our previous chapter, Coryate, when encountered with such spontaneity and modesty, would often rush back to his own defensive shell by reiterating an internalised Christian superiority over Islam to the extent of being offensive to his Muslim interlocutors. On the contrary, Montagu here is being genuinely appreciative and not just ritualistically magnanimous which puts this early woman traveller leagues ahead of her male counterparts except for Adelard.20 In a similar letter to the Princess of Wales, Montagu dwelt on the logistics of her journey, number of janissaries in their escort and poverty in Serbia due to lack of proper usage of an otherwise fertile soil though the land “from hence to Adrianople is the finest in the world.”21 On the same day, in an elaborate letter to Lady H__, Montagu described her unique experience of joining two hundred Ottoman women of different age groups in a communal hammam in Sofia. Perhaps the first ever Westerner to experience this encounter, Montagu was well received and able to mingle among these women without anybody passing any negative or even curious remark. Their level of sociability, informality, and relaxation allowed Montagu to form a positive and even celebratory view of the Ottoman society where women seemed to enjoy their own space and autonomy in a non-sexualised way. Instead of the usual travel details, she pens down her decision to visit bathhouse in a wagon totally unescorted and was ushered in a domed facility joining the assembly of bathers along with their servants, all in the nude and with no distinction. Those women did not show any extraordinary expressions on her venturing in, nor did they focus their eyes on her when she was trying to remove her stays. In her own words: I was in my travelling habit, which is a riding dress, and certainly appeared very extraordinary to them, yet there was not one of them that showed the least surprise or impertinent curiosity, but received me with all the obliging civility possible. I know no European court where ladies would have behaved themselves in so polite a manner to a stranger… Yet there was not the least wanton smile or immodest gesture among them. They walked and moved with the same majestic grace which Milton describes of our general mother. There were many among them as exactly proportioned as ever any goddess was drawn by the pencil of Guido or Titian … perfectly representing the figures of the Graces.

Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World  71 While continuing to talk about these Ottoman women, she recalled the painter, Charles Jervas (1675–1739),22 who could have enhanced his art by portraying these women, as she noted: I fancy it would have very much improved his art to see so many fine women naked, in different postures, some in conversation, some working, others drinking coffee or sherbet, and many negligently lying on their cushions while their slaves (generally pretty girls of seventeen or eighteen) were employed in braiding their hair in several pretty manners. In short, ‘tis the women’s coffee house, where all the news of the town is told, scandal invented etc.23 All through her letters and future writings, Montagu appeared to be, among others, an ardent admirer of two areas: male libraries and women’s coffee houses.24 The first of April 1717 must have been a busy day for Mary Montagu given the number and volume of correspondence she sent back home. Continuing with her discussion of gender in Ottoman society, she wrote a detailed letter to Lady Mar wherein she offered details of her own Turkish habit inclusive of a pair of drawers, the waistcoat, caftan, and a cap (kalpak), with the added ornamentation of jewellery, flowers, and feather. It made her movement within the Ottoman women circle more convenient and even intimate, as she comments on them quite appreciatively: I never saw in my life so many fine heads of hair. I have counted a hundred and ten of these tresses of one lady, all natural. But, it must be owned that every beauty is more common here than with us. ‘Tis surprising to see a young woman that is not very handsome. They have naturally the most beautiful complexions in the world and generally large black eyes. I can assure you with great truth that the court of England, though I believe it the fairest in Christendom, cannot show so many beauties as are under our protection here. However, in her own sense of humour, she is aware of affairs and romantic liaisons that went on in a rather tight-lipped way with female partners often taking the bold initiative, and takes Western male writers to the task for not knowing such strands: Now that I am a little acquainted with their ways I cannot forbear admiring either the exemplary discretion or extreme stupidity of all the writers that have given accounts of them. ‘Tis very easy to see they have more liberty than we have, no woman, of what rank so ever being permitted to go in the streets without two muslins, one that covers her face all but her eyes and another that hides the whole dress of her head, and hangs half way down her back and their shapes are also wholly concealed by a thing they call a ferace which no woman of any sort appears without … You may guess then how effectually this disguises them, that there is no distinguishing the great lady

72  Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World from her slave and ‘tis impossible for the most jealous husband to know his wife when he meets her, and no man dare either touch or follow a woman in the street. This fuller attire allowed these women a kind of freedom in mobility without being recognised and Montagu, through a slight gossip mode, dwells on venues for such liaisons: The most usual method of intrigue is to send an appointment to the lover to meet the lady at a Jew’s shop, which are as notoriously convenient as our Indian houses, and yet, even those that don’t use of them do not scruple to go to buy pennyworths and tumble over rich goods, which are chiefly to be found amongst that sort of people. However, the most curious feature of such meetings is the element of obscurity, as she notes: The great ladies seldom let their gallants know who they are, and ‘tis so difficult to find it out that they can very seldom guess at her name they have corresponded with above half a year together. You may easily imagine the number of faithful wives very small in a country where they have nothing to fear from their lovers’ indiscretion, since we see so many that have the courage to expose themselves to that in this world, and all the threatened punishment of the next, which is never preached to the Turkish damsels. Neither have they much to apprehend from the resentment of their husbands, those ladies that are rich having all their money in their own hands, which they take with them upon a divorce with an addition which he is obliged to give them. Upon the whole, I look upon the Turkish women as the only free people in the empire. She is conversant with polygamy but found it almost absent in the higher circles that she came across: ’Tis true, their law permits them four wives, but there is no instance of a man of quality that makes use of this liberty, or of a woman of rank that would suffer it. When a husband happens to be inconstant, as those things will happen, he keeps his mistress in a house apart and visits her as privately as he can, just ‘tis with you. In a way, she finds out that “the manners of mankind do not differ so widely as our voyage writers would make us believe.”25 Lady Montagu’s proverbial big moment arrived when she went to visit the household of the Grand Vizier, accompanied by two ladies—a guide and a Greek translator—followed by a spontaneous visit to another household where her host, Fatima, made a lasting mark on her.26 In her letter to her sister, Montagu takes a great pride in being perhaps the first Christian ever to be invited to dinner at the house of the Grand Vizier since women’s quarters were certainly out of bounds

Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World  73 for guests except for women who happened to be fewer among the foreign diplomats. The Ottoman Empire had a huge population of Christians, especially in the Balkans, Greece, Georgia, and Armenia besides many civil and military elite inducted through Diversheme holding significant positions in the hierarchy. Several Sultans had Christian mothers, so claim by Montagu being the first Christian woman to visit the Ottoman zenana could be challenged though there is no doubt in her being the first British woman to enjoy this access and privilege. She was ushered into the house by male and female slaves though was surprised by “so little magnificence” in the dwelling with furniture being quite modest. Her 50-year old host claimed to prefer a frugal life and so did her spouse while they gave away most of their money in charity. She also confided in Montagu on her husband being monogamous to the extent that he never looks upon any other woman and, what is much more extraordinary, touches no bribes, notwithstanding the example of all his predecessors. He is so scrupulous on this point, he would not accept Mr Wortley’s present till he had been assured over and over that ‘twas a settled prerequisite of his place, at the entrance of every ambassador. After giving details on furnishing and gardens, Montagu, in the same letter, dwells on the multi-course dinner offered to her, which reminded her of meals at Achmed Effendi’s place during their three-week stay as his guests in Belgrade. She found sauces to be “high” with a great deal of rich spice though the soup was served towards the end. She felt sorry for not eating enough despite persistence from her host. The feast ended with coffee and perfumes administered by slaves on her hair, clothes, and handkerchiefs. Slaves also sang and danced with guitars in their hands until it was time to leave. Her departure from the Grand Vizier’s household happened in the same style, as was the case with her arrival, though on the way back her Greek interlocutor was able to persuade Montagu for a stopover at another household of a pasha, who happened to be the most powerful person in the empire. She decided to visit this lady who was younger and whose paragonic beauty effaced everything I have seen all that has been called lovely either in England or Germany and must own that I never saw anything so gloriously beautiful, nor can I recollect a face that would have been taken notice of near hers. Without mentioning her royal genealogy, Montagu waxes lyrical of Fatima’s beauty as it further underlines her views about the Ottoman women and their health—away from the usual misimages of oppressed weaklings. She continues talking about her physical attributes in her letter to Lady Mar: I confess, though, the Greek lady had before given me a great opinion of her beauty I was so struck with admiration that I could not for some time speak to her, being wholly taken up in gazing. That surprising harmony of features! That charming result of the whole! That exact proportion of body. That

74  Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World lovely bloom of complexion, unsullied by art! The unutterable enchantment of her smile! But her eyes! Large and black, with all the soft languishment of the blue! Every turn of her face discovering some new charm! After my first surprise was over I endeavoured by nicely examining her face, to find out some imperfection, without any fruit of my search, but my being clearly convinced of the error of that vulgar notion, that a face perfectly regular would not be agreeable, nature having done for her, with more success, what Apelles is said to have essayed, by a collection of the most exact features, to form a perfect face…To say all in a word, our most celebrated English beauties would vanish near her.27 Montagu, certainly, is at her poetic best and feels unrestrained in describing the Turkish woman and her deeper appreciation for her unparalleled beauty and immense sociability that she imagined her to be ruling the entire Europe. She specially makes it a point to challenge the commonly held low opinion about the Ottomans as barbarous people lacking in physical charm and civic attributes. She goes into the epistemological details of how beauty is defined in words and paint and finds no qualms in her appreciation of Fatima, finding her a heavenly creature worthy of all this praise: “For my part I am not ashamed to own I took more pleasure in looking on the beauteous Fatima than the finest piece of sculpture could have given me.” Fatima was equally cognisant of the attributes of her English guest and kept calling her guzel Sultanum, or the beautiful Sultana. While leaving Fatima’s home, she “could not help fancying I {she} had been some time in Mohammed’s paradise, so much I was charmed with what I had seen.”28 After meeting Fatima in Adrianople and overwhelmed by her beauty and wherewithal, Montagu met several other Ottoman women including Sultana Hafise, the widow of a late Sultan, which we shall discuss in our next chapter.

Notes 1 For an exhaustive discussion on this, see Nabil Matar, Islam in Britain, 1585–1685 (Cambridge: University Press, 1999). Also, Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000). 2 The Ottoman regions, even before the conquest of Constantinople, received several visitors from around the three continents and certainly, the Crusades had played a pivotal role in a unique imagining of the Turks. The impact of the Crusades in Spain, Sicily, and then in the Near East was felt in a metropolis like Constantinople, where a Spanish Muslim traveller, Abd Allah bin al-Sabbah experienced it first hand and left us his account. This fourteenth century Mudejar Muslim from Northern Spain was not welcome in the Byzantine capital where he wanted to visit Aya Sofia. The officials working for the monarchy and the church were quite insistent on expelling him though he had ventured into Aya Sofia as a Syrian visitor by mingling with the Syrian Christians, yet somehow was found out causing great ire. See, ‘Abd Allāh b. al-Sabbāḥ, Nisbah al-Akhbār wa Taẓkirat al-Akhyār (Tunis, 2012), pp. 218–223. For a comment, see “An Andalusi Mudéjar in 14th-c. Constantinople: The Travels of Ibn al-Sabbah” on, 16 July 2016 vide: https://

Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World  75 3 Even at present, many people are unaware of the fact that Salonika (Thessaloniki) was a Jewish majority Ottoman city whereas Sarajevo is home to the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe besides hosting Spanish Hagadah. On Thessaloniki’s multi-cultural history and society, see Mark Mazower, Salonika, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews (London: Harper Perennial, 2005). 4 Isobel Grundy, Lady Mary Montagu: Comet of the Enlightenment (Oxford: OUP, 1999), xvii. 5 Quoted in Robert Halsband, The Life of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (Oxford: OUP, 1956), 16. Her brother, William, was married in the same way while quite young to a teenage Rachel Baynton. Following his death at 20 of smallpox, his 18-year old widow was left with two children. A blunt Montagu, even before this marriage had prophesied its mismatch and determined not to undergo a similar fate. 6 In Vienna, Montagu found Spaniards more joyful compared to native Austrians, as she wrote in a letter to Lady Mar, her sister: “ ‘Tis true, the Austrians are not commonly the most polite people in the world nor the most agreeable but Vienna is inhabited by all nations, and I had to myself a little society of such as were perfectily to my taste. And though the number was not very great, I could never pick up in any other place such a number of reasonable, agreeable people…Here are some Spaniards of both sexes that have all the vivacity and generosity of sentiments anciently ascribed to their nation, and could I believe that the whole kingdom were like them. I should wish nothing more than to end my days there.” To Lady Mar, 16 January 1717 in Mary Wortley Montagu, Life on the Golden Horn (London: Great Journeys, 2007), 16–7. (The extracts from letters in our subsequent references are from this Penguin collection). At a royal audience, she was able to wait on the Empress and wrote about her to Lady Mar in a blunt style: “I had a private audience, according to ceremony, of half an hour, and then all the other ladies were permitted to come make their court. I was perfectly charmed with the Empress; I cannot however tell you that her features are regular. Her eyes are not large but have a lively look full of sweetness, her complexion the finest I ever saw, her nose and forehead well made but her mouth has ten thousand charms that touch the soul.” To Lady Mar, 14 September 1716. Moved by her own Protestant upbringing, she was quite critical of nunneries in Austria where, according to her, many women suffered a lifetime of dullness: “…and I never my life had so little charity for the Roman catholic religion as since I see the misery it occasions so many unhappy women!” Letter to Lady X, 1 October 1716. 7 On the one hand, she role-modelled as a self-taught author but simultaneously while advising education for her granddaughters she asked them to shun mathematics by prioritising Humanities besides hiding their education in the society that did not value educated women. Anita Desai, “Introduction” in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The Turkish Embassy Letters, edited and annotated by Malcolm Jack, hereafter The Turkish Embassy Letters (London: Virago, 2009), xxxiv. 8 Ambassador Edward Wortley Montagu had his first audience with the Grand Vizier, Halil (Khalil} Pasha on 1 April 1717. Pasha was “an elderly, upright character who had to be pressured to accept the customary presents. He had replaced an able but paranoid and xenophobic predecessor: Ali Pasha, slain at Peterwardein, who had weakened his country by executing too many rivals.” Grundy, 141. 9 Desai, xvii. 10 Ibid., xxv. Desai further notes: “Curiously, it was Turkey and her first experience of a non-European, non-Christian civilisation that provoked her most open and heart-felt admiration.” (P. xxvii) 11 Algarotti was a graduate of the University of Bologna who came to England and was soon socialising with the literati in London. Voltaire introduced him to Lord Hervey and Mary Montagu with both writing passionate letters to this Italian who was “fickle” and caused Montagu’s move to Italy. He stayed with her only for a short while before moving on to Prussia, apparently sought by the crown prince, Prince Frederick. Lord Byron discovered Montagu’s letters to Algarotti during his stay in Italy and that is

76  Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World how their affair, otherwise not known to many people except for her husband and Lord Hervey, became a public knowledge. By virtue of their location in Italy, these letters escaped Lady Bute, who had been incinerating many such papers belonging to her late mother. Ibid., xx–xxi. 12 Quoted in ibid., xxiv. 13 Lady Bute worried about the fall-out from personal and diplomatic details and thus thought it more prudent to destroy or expunge many of her mother’s writings: “It was not malice, however, but censure that led her daughter to throw the diaries and journals her mother had kept since her marriage onto a fire, consigning to the flames what was surely the most important, intimate and interesting of her mother’s writing.” (Ibid., xxiv–xxv.) 14 Grundy, 99–112. 15 Quoted in ibid., pp. 132–3. Also, The Turkish Embassy Letters, 51. Grundy has often used unedited version of Montagu’s letters whereas The Turkish Embassy Letters and Life on the Golden Horn offers edited texts. (In our references, we use the latter two sources.) 16 Letter to Lady Mar from Belgrade, 30 January 1717. 17 The long series of warfare between the Ottomans and the Austrians “had begun in 1683/1094–5{AH} with the failed siege of Vienna by Kara Mustafa Paşa, the Ottomans had lost Hungary for good. In addition, by the treaty of Passarowitz/ Pasarofça (1718/1130–1), the Ottomans no longer controlled parts of Walachia and Serbia, including the important fortress of Belgrade. But other provinces and towns conquered by Habsburgs or Venetians between 1684/1095–6 and 1699/1110–11 ultimately were regained by the sultans’ armies; this included the Peloponnese in 1715/1126–8 and Belgrade in 1739/1151.” Suraiya Faroghi, The Ottoman Empire and the World around It (London: I. B. Tauris, 2004), 47. 18 Some scholars have even called it Islamicate while religious Muslims may define it as Ummah. See, Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015); Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, 3 volumes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977). 19 “He has had the curiosity to make one of our servants set him an alphabet of our letters, and can already write a good Roman hand.” To Alexander Pope, 12 February 1717. 20 Her reference to Achmad’s fondness for wine is quite akin to the query a British academic had put to a Muslim colleague of Prof. Shahab Ahmad at Princeton, which also partially made Ahmad write his magna opus. The don wanted to know if despite drinking wine, his respondent was still a Muslim as such. 21 Letter to the Princess of Wales from Adrianople, 1 April 1717. 22 Jervas, an Irish painter, known for his portraits, was based in Paris and then in London. Appointed as an official painter to the King, he was also a close friend of Alexander Pope and painted Montagu on the latter’s counsel. 23 Letter to Lady ___ (Lady Rich!) from Adrianople, 1 April 1717. 24 Grundy, 138. Also, Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, “An early Ethnographer of Middle Eastern Women: Lady May Wortley Montagu (1689–1762)”, The Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 40, No. 4, 1981, 329–38. 25 She talked about the treasurer (tefterdar) having several “she-slaves for his own use” in a separate section of the house “and his wife won’t see him, though she continues to live in his house.” In the same letter, she opined: “Upon the whole, I look upon the Turkish women as the only free people in the empire.” Letter to Lady Mar, 1 April 1717. 26 It appears that Montagu confused these two women since Fatima was the wife of the Grand Vizier and herself a royal princess. Fatima was the daughter of Sultan Ahmed III, married to the Grand Vizier, Nevserili Damat Ibrahim Pasha (1666–1730) and the couple wielded enormous political influence during 1718–30, known as the Tulip Era in Ottoman history. During Montagu’s visit to Grand Vizier’s house in 1718, Fatima

Mary Wortley Montagu in the Ottoman World  77 could not be fifty since her father, Ahmed III, himself was born in 1673. Therefore, we may not be sure about the identity of the first host. 27 She adds: “And to that a behaviour so full of grace and sweetness, such easy motions, with an air so majestic, yet free from stiffness or affectation that I am persuaded, could she be suddenly transported upon the most polite throne of Europe nobody would think her other than born and bred to be a queen, though educated in a country we call barbarous.” To Lady Mar, 18 April 1718. 28 Ibid.

4 Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews, and inoculation in Ottoman Turkey

Mary Montagu was able to visit Sultana Hafise Kadinfendi, the favourite wife of the late Sultan Mustafa II (1664–1703),1 who had abdicated in favour of his own brother, Ahmed III, and eventually died of poison. The widow was compelled to leave the seraglio and marry Bekir Effendi, the Secretary of State who was reportedly in his eighties while she barely in her mid-30s had already given birth to five princes and a princess. As per Ottoman tradition of fratricide, all her sons had been killed to ward off any claim to the throne while only the daughter was spared. Hafise had begged her brother-in-law and now Sultan, not to push her into second marriage but to no avail. Her second husband respected her like a queen avoiding any physical contact while she spent all her time in mourning. Montagu felt exceptionally privileged to visit a former queen though, compared to Fatima in Adrianople, Hafise was “half so beautiful,” largely owing to personal sufferings. Montagu wrote to her sister in details about the dress and the jewellery worn by her hostess. A vest called dolaman covered her habit with pearls on its band arms: Round her neck she wore three chains which reached to her knees, one of large pearl at the bottom of which hung a fine coloured emerald as big as a turkey egg, another consisting of two hundred emeralds close joined together, of the most lively green, perfectly matched, every one as large as a half crown piece and as thick as three crown pieces, and another of emeralds perfectly round. But her earrings eclipsed all the rest.2 Montagu’s feast included 50 dishes especially prepared in her honour and even the tablecloths and napkins had golden thread strung in them. The former queen told her English guest how the Sultan would approach women in the harem, where following a general assembly, some gesturing and speculation would happen before the final decision. The companion selected for cohabitation from among his wives would first receive gifts before being approached subtly, which, to our narrator, was quite different from what the exotic accounts of Turkish harems by male authors would narrate. Hafise told Montagu of her whole year of mourning for the departed Sultan without coming out in the light and even now she had special days of mourning in his memory. She had 30 slaves to serve on her along with ten younger trainees with whom the Sultana was closely attached. To sum,

Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews  79 The Sultana Hafise is what one would naturally expect to find a Turkish lady; willing to oblige, but not knowing how to go about it, and ‘tis easy to see in her manner that she has lived excluded from the world. But Fatima has all the politeness and good breeding of a court, with an air that inspires at once respect and tenderness; and now I understand her language I find her wit as engaging as her beauty. As discovered by Montagu, Hafise was interested in knowing about other cultures and despite a limited public exposure to the outside world did not suffer from parochialism. Montagu was a critical observer and with special access to zenana and Ottoman women, in general she offers some interesting remarks, which are worth considering. For example, after settling down in Pera, in a letter to Abbe Conti, she talked about hallala, enabling two former partners to remarry, though she was not aware of the term itself. She found it odd, and thus observed: Yet ‘tis certainly true that when a man has divorced his wife in the most solemn manner he can take her again upon no other terms than permitting another man to pass a night with her, and there are some examples of those that have submitted to this law rather than not have back their beloved. In fact, it is not so simple since remarriage can happen only after the woman was married to some other person and then divorce happened. Marriage and divorce both have to happen without any pressure and not calibrated conveniently to get former partners together. She was right in noting the centrality of marriage in Ottoman life as single women would face social pressure due to presumed taboos. A woman was to multiply family through reproduction3 besides imparting “all the virtues that God expects from her…Our vulgar notion that they do not own women to have any souls is a mistake.” Thus, while on the one hand, she was quizzical on second marriage between two former partners, simultaneously, was appreciative of the fact that a mother was the focal person in transferring moral values to the next generation: “This is a piece of theology very different from that which teaches nothing to be more acceptable to God than a vow of perpetual virginity. Which divinity is most rational I leave you to determine.”4 Surely, this was an innovative comparison between two theo-cultural worldviews. All her female acquaintances married for 10 years had several children and on her query about providing provisions for them, the typical answer would be “that the plague would kill half of them.” She certainly found fire and plague as two major killers where a typical fatalism would come in handy for her Ottoman respondents.5 Houses built of wood and then a casual attitude towards oven (tandur), otherwise meant for heating in winter caused fires, which in one case had engulfed 500 homes.6 Lady Rich had inquired of Montagu about some skin ointment called the Balm of Mecca that Ottoman women reputedly used. Montagu had herself tried it on her face that, for 3 days, stayed swollen even inviting a rebuke from her husband, though posthumously her skin looked smoother. Still, she would not advise Lady Rich to use it without being aware of its side effects but it was

80  Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews certainly in wider application among Ottoman women “to attain the loveliest bloom in the world.” Montagu was not enamoured of use of charms by women eager to draw their husband’s unencumbered attention and would debate with those who overwhelmingly seemed to believe in magical devices and potions including charms, as she humorously quipped: “I fancy it would be a very quick way of raising an estate. What would not some ladies of our acquaintance give for such merchandise?”7 In one of her last letters back home, Montagu talked about honour killings happening surreptitiously, as most victims were women often accused of elopement, or marriage without parental accord. Such incidents were either rare, or were simply hushed up. She reported of a woman’s body found in March 1718, not far from their residence and the corpse with knife still in it was warm as if someone had committed the murder only recently during the night. A young woman with two wounds “was not yet quite cold, and so surprisingly beautiful that there were very few men in Pera that did not go to look upon her…” Apparently, it was only the prerogative of her relatives in case they wanted to take revenge otherwise the authorities would not be pursuing it. In other words, without finding the system totally pristine, she still felt Turkish women freer than any other ladies in the universe, and are the only women in the world that lead a life of uninterrupted pleasure, exempt from cares, their whole time being spent in visiting, bathing or the agreeable amusement of spending money and inventing new fashions.8 Montagu expressed these views based on her intimate knowledge of the society, language and especially its upper class crust. In addition, wearing her ferace and yasmak, she often ventured to places unhindered where men could not. Her retorts for stereotypical images of the Ottomans and their harshness towards women were quite vocal and unheard of, and coming from an independent woman of substantial means and literary gifts, her readers could not take issues with her. In other words, she goes beyond the temporary ebullience of an impressionable tourist and speaks with alacrity. She is certainly appreciative of Turkish women’s physical appearance as she finds their skin “perfectly smooth and polished by the frequent use of bathing.” Following her participation in a marriage ceremony she tends to believe “that the Turkish ladies have at least as much wit and civility, nay, liberty, as ladies amongst us.”9 It is quite revealing to note her exposure to non-Muslim sections of the Ottoman society in Constantinople where despite a stronger sense of religious identities, such boundaries often proved fluid when it came to individual choices. In her letter to the Countess of Bristol,10 she devotes a major section to the story of a love affair between a Spanish woman and a Turkish admiral, the latter having wrested her following a naval skirmish. The admiral11 allowed her brother and other “attendants” to return to Spain to raise £4,000 for ransom while keeping the woman in his detention. Enchanted by her exceptional beauty, he, on receiving the ransom, gave it to her besides allowing her freedom to return to her native land. Partly apprehended by a possible honour-related stigma in her own family

Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews  81 resulting into her lifetime confinement in a nunnery, and partly touched by the personality of her captor, she decided to stay with him, only if he would marry her: Her infidel lover was very handsome, very tender, fond of her and lavished at her feet all the Turkish magnificence. She answered him very resolutely that her liberty was not as precious to her as her honour, that he could no way restore that but by marrying her. She desired him to accept the ransom as her portion and give her the satisfaction of knowing no man could boast of her favours without being her husband. He married her and sent the money back to her relatives in Spain. Despite their mutual proximity, they finally went their own ways selecting different partners—admiral marrying a rich widow while she married another Ottoman pasha. Montagu was quite careful in suggesting that such gallant behaviour was often the hallmark of the gentry and thus could not vouchsafe for “the lowest sort.” Certainly, such observations smack of class biases but one may equally appreciate her forthrightness. She felt disturbed by the custom of adoption of children from the poor clusters by the affluent, issueless families who worried about their wealth and property being taken over by the regime after their demise. Here, she finds the Turks, Greeks, and Armenians all partaking of such a tradition, whereby they would appear before a kadhi (judge) to affirm their adoption, though many poor parents would resist such temptations, however great the prospects might be for their offspring.12 Montagu’s account of her journey from Adrianople to Constantinople as described to Conti witnesses a grand party on the move comprising of numerous guards and attendants while the Sultan lent them 30 carriages for luggage and specifically five coaches for her female attendants. She visited a Greek church on the way along with one of her Greek attendants but did not find its mosaics to a high taste. She was, however, intrigued by a monastery of several monks whose teacher and his family resided up a tall cypress. I was so much diverted with the fancy I resolved to examine his nest nearer but after going up fifty steps I found I had still fifty to go and then I must climb from branch to branch with some hazard of my neck. I thought it the best way to come down again.13 The Montagus were lodged in Pera in an area reserved for foreign envoys and Mary Montagu soon began exploring the city itself that she found twice the size of Paris and even bigger than London. She did not find it too populous but due to cemeteries it looked rather expansive, which, to her was a waste of space as some graves featured magnificent mausoleums with male gravestones topped by sculpted turbans. She was weary of people who travelled through Pera or other areas in Turkey without “having seen them” but would still write about the place and people. Abu Ayyub Ansari’s tomb has held special spiritual status for Muslim royalty as well as laity. Every new Sultan would begin his term following

82  Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews a pilgrimage to the resting place of the Prophet’s companion from Medina who came here as a Muslim missionary. Areas adjacent to the mosques and some open spaces were used as graveyards, which given the history of Constantinople, would claim quite an extensive urban space. She was critical of many residents of Pera, Tophana, and Galata—most of them Christian Europeans including diplomats— who lacked first-hand exposure to the society and cultures around them. Once settled in Pera, other than her own personal initiative, the Turkish yasmak (veil) helped English ambassadress in her visits to bazaars, mosques, shrines, and other places of cultural interest. While wearing Ottoman costume, she even ventured to see Aya/St. Sofia though she had to seek prior permission to visit the premises given its history as well as sensitivity. Basically a church, it was then being used as a mosque and the Ottomans were divided over her proposed visit but they relented and she was happy to see the murals of the saints and other Christian images which had been reportedly defaced by the Ottomans following their conquest of the Byzantine city in 1453. She noted that it was “absolutely false what is so universally asserted, that the Turks defaced all the images that they found in the city.” She was quite impressed by its dome of 113-foot diameter, raised on arches and supported by gigantic marble pillars, whereas the inner space featured two galleries along with the resting place of the Emperor Constantine. Being a trendsetter itself, the future Turkish mosques were inspired by St. Sofia and understandably she found Suleiman’s Mosque as a perfect symbol of architectural synthesis and aesthetics. She thought Valide Mosque to be the largest among all in the city, which made her proud for its commissioning by a woman—the mother of Sultan Mohammed IV. In her letter to Lady Bristol on this preeminent mosque, Montagu chided her friend: “Between friends, St Paul’s Church would make a pitiful figure near it, as any of our squares would be near the Atmeydan, or Place of Horses…” She was all praise for Sultan Achmed’s Mosque but accused some Greeks for sharing negative views with other Westerners. Some hans and monasteries did not impress her given their ordinariness, but she seems to have visited several of them. In one case, she visited a monastery (tekke) to see the whirling dervishes. In the same letter to Lady Bristol, she narrated various rituals followed by these dervishes—all the way from their plain clothes, conical hats to body movements that began with the Quranic recitation by their leader to shift into rhythmic dance: The whole is performed with the most solemn gravity. Nothing can be more austere than the form of these people. They never raise their eyes and seem devoted to contemplation, and as ridiculous as this is in description there is something touching in the air of submission and mortification they assume.14 In an early letter to Lady Bristol, Montagu shared glimpses of a royal marriage, a Friday procession, Ottoman system of on-spot punishments and the role of janissaries within the power structure. This was the second marriage of Sultan’s daughter whose first husband, the Grand Vizier had been killed fighting the Archduke in Novi Sad. On the one hand, the bride was fortunate to acquire great wealth but concurrently her spouse happened to be quite senior to her in age. With her

Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews  83 French counterpart, Montagu stood in balcony watching the royal procession heading towards the mosque in Adrianople, preceded by janissaries, slaves, and the elite whereas Sultan’s own ride paused underneath their post acknowledging their presence at the occasion. The Sultan appeared to us a handsome man of about forty, with a very graceful air but with something severe in his countenance, his eyes very full and black. He happened to stop under the window where we stood, and, I suppose being told who we were, looked upon us very attentively, that we had a full leisure to consider him and the French Ambassadress agreed with me as to his good mien. In her account of dispensing justice, she appears quizzical over public executions of high profile persons, which could also explain why Sultan was held in awe even at distant places: But when a minister here displeases the people in three hours time he is dragged even from his master’s arms. They cut off his hands, head and feet, and throw them before the palace gate with all the respect in the world, while the Sultan (to whom they all profess an unlimited adoration) sits trembling in his apartment, and dare neither defend nor revenge his favourite. This is the blessed condition of the most absolute monarch upon earth, who owns no law but his will. However, in the same letter, Montagu underlined the absolutist kind of power the military—janissaries—held, to which even the Sultan would tactfully acquiesce: “The government here is entirely in the hands of the army and Grand Signor with all his absolute power as much a slave as any of his subjects, and trembles at a janissary’s frown.” This is a correct observation as until the early nineteenth century Janissaries held de facto power in the state structure and reforms took time as well as significant toll to prove effective. Montagu felt secure as she went all around the town with her French friend in an open chariot and seeing these two high-profile European ladies evoked public interest “but all silent as death” largely out of respect and certainly out of the fear of janissaries. Despite these critical observations, she is careful enough not to denigrate them, as she writes: “Yet these people have some good qualities; they are very zealous and faithful where they serve, and look upon it as their business to fight for you on all occasions…” In fact, she seems to have developed some kind of appreciation for authoritarianism as in the same correspondence, she lightly quips as if the British “parliament would send hither a ship load of your passive obedient men that they might see arbitrary government in its clearest, strongest light…”15 In her letter from Constantinople to Anne Thistlethwayte, Montagu seemed to appreciate the Ottoman legal system which she found better designed and better executed than ours, particularly the punishment of convicted liars (triumphant criminals in our country, God knows). They

84  Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews are burnt in the forehead with a hot iron, being proved the authors of any notorious falsehood. How many white foreheads should we see disfigured? How many fine gentlemen would be forced to wear their wigs as low as their eyebrows were this law in practice with us?16 She was also able to report a stronger sense of religiosity among the Armenians who were quite particular about fasting and permitted pre-eminence to their priests while maintaining puritanical approach to marital ceremonies. Characterising them as “the devoutest Christians in the whole world,” according to Montagu, a groom would not see the unveiled face of his bride for 3 days even after the religious rituals had been sermonised by the priest.17 Montagu’s observations about the Ottoman Jews make an interesting and equally revealing reading. She does not mention the Ottoman rescue of the Spanish Jews during Inquisitions but found the community enjoying wealth and an “incredible power.” In terms of privileges, she saw them better placed than the Turks and while enjoying freedom to pursue their own civic and religious laws, they were able to establish a kind of “commonwealth” having “drawn the whole trade of the empire into their hands.” To her, this owed to their own communal solidarity and because of “the idle temper and want of industry {on the part} of the Turks.” To her, every pasha had a Jew to run his financial and administrative matters and the latter would have access to his secrets and knowledge of business affairs: “No bargain is made, no bribe received, no merchandise disposed of but what passes through their hands. They are the physicians, the stewards and the interpreters of all the great men.” Salience of Jews within the Ottoman Empire is certainly acknowledged but it is out of their own diligence and professionalisation as it is today in North Atlantic regions. One wonders, whether Montagu was appreciative of this privileged status, or she was being critical in a rather opaque way: You may judge how advantageous this is to a people who never fail to make use of the smallest advantages. They have found the secret of making themselves so necessary they are certain of the protection of the court whatever ministry is in power. Even the English, French and Italian merchants, who are sensible in their artifices are however forced to trust their affairs to their negotiation, nothing of trade being managed without them and the meanest among them is too important to be disobliged since the whole body take care of his interests with as much vigour as they would those of the most considerable of their members. They are many of them vastly rich but take care to make little public show of it, though they live in their houses in the utmost luxury and magnificence.18 Montagu received inquiry about slaves in the Ottoman Empire as was the general impression at the time, and one of her friends, Lady—(Rich, most possibly!) even asked her to bring her a Greek slave on return to England. Montagu wrote back a letter while confessing to have suppressed her laughter over this request from her

Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews  85 friend since Greeks, like many other ethnic and religious groups, were subjects in the Empire and not slaves as such: The Greeks are subjects not slaves. Those who are to be bought in that manner are either such as are taken in war or stole by the Tartars from Russia, Circassia or Georgia, and are such miserable, awkward, poor wretches you would not think any of them worthy to be your housemaid. Additionally, the slaves serving on the Ottoman elite were bought at the age of eight or nine year old and educated with great care to accomplish them in singing, dancing, embroidery, etc. They are commonly Circassians and their patron never sells them except it is as a punishment for some very great fault. In their old age, they would gain freedom but in case of committing a crime, slaves were sold off to some other master. Montagu felt that these observations would not go down well in England as there were pre-existing views about the Turks, largely due to authors such as Jean Dumont, whose travel accounts of the Near East underwent translation into English in 1696 and whose influence across Western Europe endured.19 Montagu continued in her letter to Lady Rich: I see you have taken your ideas of Turkey from that worthy author Dumont, who has writ{ten} with equal ignorance and confidence. ‘Tis a particular pleasure to me here to read the voyages to the Levant, which are generally so far removed from truth and so full of absurdities I am very well diverted with them. They never fail to give you an account of the women, which ‘tis certain they never saw, and talking very wisely of the genius of men, into whose company they are never admitted, and very often describe mosques which they dare not peep into.20 Mary Montagu was quite prolific in her correspondence as she covered a variety of subjects in her observations of the Ottoman Sultanate and communities though the most notable section centres on women, cultural depth, and high society. In a very interesting letter to Anne Thistlethwayte, she recorded elaborate details on animals, houses, serais, and mosques, which reveal her diverse interests. She had no qualms in moving around in the busy city enabling herself to see many animals for the first time. In her account to her friend back home, she tells her about the camels that her generation had seen only in sketches but here she found them in their hundreds. She categorises them in the family of stag due to their body structure and the colour of a woolly skin. Despite their large size, compared to horses, they could be swift and thus brought the news of defeat at Peterwardein to Belgrade quicker than the equestrians. She witnessed them moving in long rows, fifty in a string, led by an ass on which the driver rides. I have seen three hundred in one caravan. They carry the third part more than any horse ‘tis a

86  Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews particular art to load them because of the bunch on their backs. They seem to me very ugly creatures, their head being ill-formed and disproportioned to their bodies. They carry all the burdens, and the beasts destined to the plough are buffaloes, an animal you are also unacquainted with. They are larger and more clumsy than an ox. They have short black horns close to their heads, which grow turning backwards. They say this horn looks very beautiful when ‘tis well polished. They are all black, with very short hair on their hides, and have extreme little white eyes that make them look like devils. The country people dye their tails and the hair of their foreheads red by way of ornament. Her verdict of the ugliness of camels and buffaloes owed to her own bluntness and even naiveté yet her observations about the caravans with camels walking in a single row and carrying more burden than horses is quite correct. She would have appreciated camels even more if she had undertaken a longer journey across the desert, so her impressions are based on observations though loading a camel is a dexterous job as the hump stands in the middle storing water and fat for the beast. On buffaloes, she is also correct since these animals are native to Sub Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, especially South Asia. Here, Montagu’s observations are not superficial at all though she is not enamoured of the Ottoman horses. Perhaps, she compared them with the stocky Suffolk dray horses used in England for ploughing and pulling wagons though Montagu needed to see pedigreed Arabian horses nurtured by the Bedouins in Syria, Iraq, and the Hejaz. Montagu found numerous storks in Turkey where they were venerated supposedly for their annual visits to Mecca: “To say truth they are the happiest subjects under the Turkish government, and are so sensible of their privileges they walk the streets without fear and generally build in the low parts of the houses.” The Turks, according to our traveller, believed that these birds would never fall victims to fire or pestilence. One comes across similar stories about other birds such as bulbul, dove, and hoopoe and interestingly, storks build their nest atop minarets and other such high places including telephone polls in Central Asia. Montagu found a nest of storks right underneath the window of her accommodation, which made her dilate on their dwellings and residential areas in Turkey. As per Montagu’s judgement, most if not all properties belonged to the Sultan allotted to people for a certain period of time and, in many cases, suffered from a lack of proper upkeep during their transitory occupancy. Still, she challenged the pervasive view of Ottoman houses being ordinary if not shabby, and dwells on gardens, privacy for women and interior decorations undertaken aesthetically. She was enamoured of gardens, fountains, interior decorations with tiles, and Persian carpets. She found arches between windows in the houses being used for perfume containers and flower baskets: But what pleases me best is the fashion of having marble fountains in the lower part of the room, which throws up several spouts of water giving, at the same time, an agreeable coolness and a pleasant dashing sound, falling from one basin to another. Some of these fountains are very magnificent…

Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews  87 You will perhaps be surprised at an account so different from what you have been entertained with by the common voyage writers, who are very fond of speaking of what they don’t know. She liked the idea of kiosks in the centre of a back garden where women would congregate to relax and knit. Some richer dwellers would prefer fountains in the kiosk, itself enclosed with vines, jasmines, and honeysuckles, overlooked by tall trees and higher walls. Montagu claimed to have visited public gardens where she saw people partaking their meals, coffee and sherbet. She was quite impressed by the mosques located in the bazaar or in a han (serai): Their mosques are all of free stone, and the public hans or inns extremely magnificent, many of them taking up a large square built round with shops under stone arches, where poor artificers are lodged gratis. They have always a mosque joining to them, and the body of the han is a most noble hall, capable of holding three or four hundred persons, the court extreme spacious and cloisters round it that give it the air of our colleges.21 In fact, most mosques in the Muslim world, often built with charity donations, would retain seminaries and residential facilities for teachers and students, called madrassas or maktabs. Perhaps, Montagu did not know that the tradition of these residential seminaries preceded long before their Oxbridge counterparts.22 In a similar letter to Abbe Conti, the Venetian scholar and a friend of Isaac Newton,23 Montagu offered extensive details, among other subjects, of the architectural features of the Ottoman mosques. She certainly provided interesting searchlight on Sultan Selim’s Mosque in Adrianople, a marvel created by the famous architect, Mimar Senan (1489–1588), himself buried near Sulemaniya Mosque and Tombs in Istanbul. She visited the mosque in her Turkish habit and was “officiously” well received by the caretaker who took her around to see the premises. Passing through the first court with four doors and innermost with three, she saw herself “surrounded with cloisters with the marble pillars of the Ionic order, finely polished and of very lively colours, the whole pavement being white marble…” She noted the roof built in the design of a large dome with several cupolas, and the four marble fountains for decorative purposes. Marvelling at the immensely high dome, she identified it to be the “noblest building I ever saw.” She noticed two rows of marble galleries anchored on pillars and balustrades with the main floor covered under Persian carpets. She stated these details more enticing than the Catholic churches with their “tawdry images and pictures” and looking like “toyshops.” One wonders whether these observations about Catholic churches are out of exuberance, or a considered opinion by an Anglican! She wondered about the glazed walls, and on a closer examination found the veneer to be made of “japan china,” though in fact, these are well-known Iznik ceramic tiles. To her, the main chandelier was quite grand since it could hold 2,000 smaller lamps and noticed the raised altar (mihrab) “covered with gold brocade.” Talking about the exterior of Sultan Selim Mosque, Montagu focused on the height of its four external minarets, used for call for prayers, and in fact, explored one of them

88  Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews by climbing up all the way to the top while observing three parallel staircases. Behind the mosque, she saw a charity house housing several dervishes whose simple attires and conical woollen hats gave them a distinct appearance. They might have been whirling dervishes from the Mvelvi order of Maulana Rumi of Konya, or disciples of some other Sufi order. Subsequent upon the description of the mosque, Montagu returned to her special adulation for trees, gardens and fountains around the city, though not enamoured of the seraglio.24 Ambassador Wortley was recalled to London soon after completing only a year in Constantinople largely because of his sympathetic attitude towards Ottoman stance vis-à-vis the Austrians and also due to machinations of the English Ambassador in Vienna. Abraham Stanyan sought Wortley’s removal by convincing Lord Sunderland that the latter’s terms for peace between Constantinople and Vienna were unacceptable. The Austrian conquest of Belgrade led by Prince Eugene further made Wortley’s peace negotiations irrelevant and consequently, five hundred pounds were officially paid to the Levant Company as a compensation for his recall. The Admiralty deputed a ship to repatriate the Montagus and thus ended this sojourn rather too quickly with Lady Mary feeling somewhat mellow. In January 1718, she gave birth to a girl while on 18 March, their 4-year old son, Edward Wortley Montagu was inoculated in Constantinople followed by backhome journey on The Preston in July 1718. By that time, Montagu had already learnt the language and knew several members and families from among the Ottoman elite, as she penned in a letter to Conti in May: “I have not been yet a full year here and am on the point of removing; such is my rambling destiny. This will surprise you, and can surprise anybody so much as myself.”25 While they were preparing for their homeward voyage, Montagu was handling several financial matters including the return of £1,550 that she had lent her uncle, William Fielding, and which were brought to Turkey in March 1718, by The Greyhound, a ship operated by the Levant Company. In a letter to her husband who was away from Constantinople on his final diplomatic engagement, she explained how she was going to send money back to Britain in the care of the company’s executives.26 The Montagus, now four in number, left Constantinople on 6 June 1718 beginning their voyage back home and while passing through the Dardanelles, visited historic sites such as Abydos, Sigeum, Kadikoy, and Troy. It was from here that Montagu sent an exhaustive letter to Conti commenting on landmarks well known in Homer’s writings besides their linkages with the ancient Perso–Greek wars. Given Conti’s interest in classics and Montagu’s own penchant for Greek mythology, she visited the promontory of Sigeum, where per mythological narratives, Achilles had been buried “and where Alexander ran naked round his tomb in his honour.” Ambassador Wortley picked up a marble slab from the site, which on his return he donated to Trinity College, his alma mater in Cambridge, and presently lodges in its entrance. They also visited Lesbos that had resisted the Ottomans after their conquest of Constantinople and fell to them only in 1462, followed by visits to other islands including Scio (Chios) and Libadia before exploring Cape Colonna that once housed the Temple of Minerva. She reported on the Peloponnese not being a safe area for travel due to highwaymen though briefly mentioned the remains of the Apollo Temple near Corinth. Following a voyage around Sicily

Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews  89 and a short visit to a heavily fortified Malta, their ship landed at Tunis, where the local British consul, Richard Lawrence, took a curious Montagu on a nocturnal visit of the ruins of Carthage. Being a Ramadan night with full moon, Montagu was enchanted by the spectacle especially when she, like local people, munched on melons, figs, and dates. She returned from her exploratory tour only at daybreak and did not seem to like the treeless vistas featuring a sandy desert and her encounters with the natives. In her letter to the Venetian intellectual, while describing the features of the local inhabitants, she bordered on sheer racism, as Montagu noted rather bluntly: We saw under the trees in many places companies of the country people eating, singing and dancing to their wild music. They are not quite black, but all mulattoes, and the most frightful creatures they can appear in a human figure. However, during the day, she saw some urban women who, despite being covered in veil from head to toes, “mixed with a breed of renegades, are said to be … fair and handsome.” However, when she went out to see some more Roman ruins now used as granaries, a few peasant women flocked in to see her: Their posture in sitting, the colour of their skin, their lank black hair falling on each side their faces, their features and the shape of their limbs differ so little from their own country people, the baboons, ‘tis hard to fancy them a distinct race, and I could not help thinking here had been some ancient alliances between them.27 Another contemporary subject and quite worrisome for everyone was of plague and smallpox—two epidemics that would visit almost every community quite so often claiming millions of lives as did some other infections until our times when antibiotics made their entry.28 Called “the speckled monster,” smallpox was the deadliest on earth, eventually claiming more people than the Black Death. One in every four infected persons would die with the rest inflicted with life-long and deep-pitted scars. Montagu herself had been a sufferer of smallpox and, as mentioned earlier, lost her 20-year old brother to this epidemic, which being a periodic visitor like plague, would underpin discussion about possible treatment or preventive cures. Before the inoculation of her own son in Constantinople with the help of Charles Maitland, surgeon at the British embassy, Montagu herself studied the practice carefully.29 Back home the resistance to inoculation came from several opinion groups including physicians and the religious groups, who felt unnerved by her advocacy—the former out of their own professional reasons while the latter owing to their typical anti-Muslim animus. When smallpox epidemic returned in 1721, Montagu got her 3-year old daughter inoculated in London in the presence of royal physician with the procedure proving successful.30 While residing in Constantinople, Montagu had been asked about these diseases and their hazards for visitors like herself and, given the specific images about the Ottomans, some of her friends worried about her family’s health. As

90  Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews she explained in a letter written in April 1718 to Sarah Chiswell, a few next-door neighbours and even their own cook in Adrianople caught smallpox but she was not informed about it until after their recovery.31 She thought that the Ottoman people took plague in their own stride but to ward off smallpox they depended on inoculation conducted by traditional women mendicants. She saw many people escaping death since grafting smallpox infection into their veins would successfully trigger a stronger response from their immune system disallowing infection to germinate itself. While reassuring Chiswell of her own safety and of some other Europeans under the English protection, she informed her of such an operation and its healing properties, when she wrote: The smallpox, so fatal and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless by the invention of engrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women who make it their business to perform the operation. Every autumn in the month of September when the great heat is abated, people send one another to know if any of their family has a mind to have the smallpox. They make parties for this purpose and when they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together) the old woman comes with a nutshell full of the matter of the best sort of smallpox, and asks what veins you please to have opened. She immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle (which gives you no more pain than a common scratch) and puts into the vein as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell, and in this manner opens four or five veins. According to Montagu, the Greeks usually preferred to have grafts on their foreheads in the shape of a cross but would often end up with lifetime scars whereas others would have them on legs or arms. Following this operation, everybody will go back to their normal routine until a week later when they would develop fever that would keep them bed-bound for a few days. Recovery happened quickly though the cuts on their bodies would take time to heal and there was reportedly no example of any one that has died in it, and you may believe I am well satisfied of the safety of the experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son. I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England and I should not fail to write to some of our doctors very particularly about it if I knew anyone of them that I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch of their revenue for the good of mankind. However, initially, she was not hopeful of receiving support for this kind of inoculation back in England.32 In letters to her husband, while he was in Adrianople paying a farewell visit to the Court due to the premature recall, Montagu informed him of their son’s inoculation on 18 March 1718, and speedy recovery. On 23 March, she told her spouse of the younger Montagu “at this time singing and playing and very impatient for

Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews  91 supper…I cannot engraft the girl: her nurse has not had the smallpox.”33 Following this rather brief letter giving more space to financial matters than to children’s health, Montagu wrote another to her husband a week later, which ironically, had only a single opening line on their son, as she noted: “Your son is as well as can be expected, and I hope past all manner of danger.”34 On her return, Montagu tried to persuade her social circles and royalty for following the Ottoman practice of inoculation, at least among the younger people in England but faced fierce resistance including rebukes from the priests and scientists but she never gave up. Snuff-­taking Montagu’s stay in Twickenham reminded her of Belgrade village, away from Constantinople, though her relationship with Pope, who had written scores of letters to her, still varied between camaraderie and ambivalence. Her Italian friend, Conti, had already left London but she immersed herself in buying books and writing down her travel experiences, originally reflected in her letters. A smitten Pope encouraged Montagu in her literary pursuits besides commissioning Godfrey Kneller to make her a portrait wearing her modified Turkish habit in London. Amidst growing estrangement with Pope leading to acrimonious outbursts from the poet, Montagu became intensely engaged in the contemporary debate on smallpox already polarised between those who advocated prevention versus those who focused on its treatment. In an unusual warm winter of 1721, epidemic had returned to England with the fear of contagion totally freezing socialisation among the upper classes. Montagu asked Charles Maitland, the former embassy doctor now working in Hereford, to inoculate her daughter, who, given the contemporary criticism, involved three other physicians in the process and until younger Mary’s total recovery several people kept visiting her. Maitland’s successful procedures in front of his critical colleagues were able to persuade several other opinion makers though it was difficult to convince the royal family and parsons. Caroline, the Princess of Wales, whose father-in-law, King George I, asked for a prior experimental testing on some guinea pigs, had supported Montagu. Accordingly, six inmates—three men and three women— from Newgate prison were engrafted with infected fluids and within a few days, they all felt normal. King was still not yet satisfied to allow the same for his grandchildren so another experiment on eleven orphans took place with similar positive results. Consequently, Princess Caroline’s daughters were inoculated on 17 April 1721, making practice more acceptable within the society at large though the controversy in print media continued for some time with Mary Montagu herself contributing pieces under a pseudonym. It was a generation later that Edward Jenner (1749–1823) familiarised the method of injecting cowpox instead of more dangerous smallpox into human body, and the whole procedure came to be known as vaccination.35 Like many of her contemporaries, Mary Montagu might have personified some idiosyncrasies of her times and class, yet the fact remains that her innovative ideas, defiant and deviant views about the Ottoman societies especially their women, literary and cultural aesthetics, and certainly the traditional way of preventing smallpox earned her a unique position, which valorously went against the contemporary norms. Her untraditional life style, relationship with literary figures while keeping her own autonomy and her role in accepting and

92  Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews advocating inoculation put her centuries ahead of her time. As a symbol of several Enlightenment ideas along with reposing a more cosmopolitan bent of mind, she saw Muslim society without any preordained biases, irreverent to praise or fear. Montagu stood prominently in her own league as a feminist whose inspiration, other than her personal background, accrued from a substantial and unique encounter with the Ottoman Muslims.

Notes 1 Despite personally leading battles and gaining victories against the Holy Alliance, and also resisting the Russian onslaught in the north, Mustafa had to surrender Hungary to Austria in 1699 under the Treaty of Karlowitz. Faced with a military revolt, he left the throne for his brother in 1703 and was soon found dead in Topkapi palace. His rule lasted from 1696 until 1703. 2 “They were two diamonds shaped exactly like pears, as large as a big hazelnut. Round her talpack she had four strings of pearl, the whitest and most perfect in the work, at least enough to make four necklaces every one as large as the Duchess of Marlborough’s, and of the same size, fastened with two roses consisting of a large ruby for the middle stone and round them twenty drops of clean diamonds to each…. her whole dress must be worth above £100, 0000 sterling. This I am very sure of, that no European queen has half the quantity and the Empress’s jewels, though very fine, would look very mean near hers…I assured her that if all the Turkish ladies were like her, it was absolutely necessary to confine them from public view for the repose of mankind, and proceeded to tell her what a noise such a face as hers would make in London or Paris.” To Lady Mar, from Constantinople, 10 March 1718 in Mary Wortley Montagu, Life on the Golden Horn (London: Penguin, 2007). 3 While writing a letter in French to Madame dr Bonnac and published without her permission and translated by Halsband, Montagu humorously noted that since giving birth to her son in England, she had taken 4 years to bear a daughter: “Idleness is the mother of vices, as you know, and having nothing better to do, I have produced a daughter. I know you will tell me that I have done very badly, but if you had been in my place I believe, God forgive me, that you would have produced two or three…. The ladies of the country respect women only for the number of their offspring. I can hardly convince them that I have a legitimate excuse for being three months without pregnancy because my husband is a hundred leagues away from me.” To Madame…, April 1718 in Anita Desai and Malcolm Jack (eds.) The Turkish Embassy Letters (London: Virago, 1994). 4 To Abbe Conti from Constantinople, 29 May 1717, in Life on the Golden Horn. 5 Given the frequency of pandemics like plague and their impact on communal lives especially increased religiosity, medieval historians have produced some revealing searchlight where inter-faith activities overshadowed respective distinctions. See, Younus Mirza, “‘It was Memorable Day’: How the Black Death United the Population of Medieval Damascus,” Maidan, 30 March 2010 vide: https://themaydan. com/2020/03/it-was-a-memorable-day-how-the-black-death-united-the-populationof-medieval-damascus/?fbclid=IwAR0v5hgObDqosUeqSC3zkMQ3n2QmR16mnu3 4l9Mg3XsV_v6MXQP-SjgSfD4 6 To Anne Thistlethwayte from Constantinople, 4 January 1718 in Life on the Golden Horn. 7 To Lady Rich from Belgrade (Istanbul), 17 June 1717 in ibid. 8 To the Countess of—{Bristol!} from Pera, May 1718. 9 Ibid. 10 The Turkish Embassy Letter, 180 (Endnote, 253).

Montagu on Gender, Janissaries, Jews  93 11 The admiral was Ibrahim Pasha holding that office until 1718 when Suleiman Koca succeeded him. The Turkish Embassy Letters, 180 (endnote, 261). 12 She apportions greater amount of such malpractices to the Greeks and Armenians by highlighting the sense of generosity among many Turks. To the Countess of Bristol from Pera, May 1718 in Life on the Golden Horn. 13 To Abbe Conti from Constantinople, 29 May 1717. 14 To Lady Bristol from Constantinople, 10 April 1718. 15 Letter to Lady Bristol from Adrianople, I April 1717. In a letter to Abbe Conti, while reporting on the Ottoman forces on a march, she is impressed by the numbers of contingents with a cleric leading on his camel while reciting from the Quran and the last batch of men bleeding themselves in their eagerness to fight. Most were naked from their waist and had sharp arrows and knives sticking on their heads and skins—a spectacle that horrified her as she sought shelter inside the house of a deceased pasha. To Abbe Conti from Adrianople, 17 May 1718. 16 To Anne Thistlethwayte from Pera, 4 January 1718. 17 To the Countess of Bristol from Constantinople, May 1718. 18 To Abbe Conti from Adrianople, 17 May 1718. 19 Jean Dumont, Noveau Voyage au Levant (The Hague: Etienne Foulque, 1694). Dumont (1667–1727), a Frenchman, who after some soldiering in Germany, had taught in Holland before moving on to Austria. Here, Emperor Charles VI made him into an official historiographer, as Dumont published on several subjects including travels. 20 To Lady Rich from the village of Belgrade {outside Istanbul), 17 June 1717. She further observed: “The Turks are very proud and will not converse with a stranger they are not assured is considerable in his own country. I speak of the men of distinction, for as to the ordinary fellows, you may imagine what ideas their conversations can give of the general genius of the people.” 21 To Anne Thistlethwayte from Adrianople, 1 April 1718. 22 Some of these madrassas such as Karaouine in Fez, Nizammiyya in Baghdad, Madrasa-i-Arab in Bukhara, Sultan Ulugh Baig Madrassas in Bukhara and Samarkand, Kokaltash Madrassa in Tashkent, Farangi Mahal in Lucknow, and several others in Nishapur, Herat, Balkh, Merv, Lahore, Konya, and Isfahan have been quite well known though post-9/11 literature often tends to equate them with terror. 23 Antonio {Abbe} Conti was born in Venice in 1678 and with an ecclesiastic orientation, dwelt on philosophical themes making him one of the Enlightenment scholars. He wrote poems and plays and as a well-travelled literary figure, he developed close friendship with an otherwise reserved Newton. Belonging to Italian nobility, Conti passed away in 1749 with his collections of works published posthumously in two volumes in 1756. Montagu and Conti had met in London when he translated her poems into Italian and would subsequently receive several letters from her from Turkey. 24 To Abbe Conti, from Adrianople, 17 May 1718. 25 In the same letter, she laid out the administrative details of the Ottoman Empire where Grand Vizier sat at the pinnacle, followed by bergherbets—provincial chiefs—and the lower ranks of bureaucracy. She took issues with some other writers such as Paul Rycaut, who had pioneered works on the Ottomans, along with giving details on Turkish aesthetics as manifested in their canals, gardens and palaces. She wrote: “Thus you see, sir, these people are not so unpolished as we represent them. ‘Tis true their magnificence is of a different taste from ours, and perhaps of a better. I am almost of opinion they have a right notion of life; while they consume it in music, gardens, wine and delicate eating, while we are tormenting our brains with some scheme of politics or studying some science to which we can never attain, or if we do, cannot persuade people to set that value upon it we do ourselves.” She emphatically observed: “I allow you to laugh at me for the sensual declaration that I had rather be a rich effendi with all his ignorance than Sir Isaac Newton with all his knowledge.” To Abbe Conti from Pera, 19 May 1718. The earliest work in English on the Ottomans was by Richard

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26 27 28

29 30 31 32




Knolles, whose book, highlighting the contemporary Christian view of world history, sought a divine scheme behind the rise of the Turks. Unlike the past Latin works, this pioneer English volume showed Turks as superstitious infidels, who were able to exploit the weaknesses of the contemporary Christians. It underwent several printings and left its enduring imprints on parallel images of the Ottomans, rooted in the Renaissance era. See, Richard Knolles, The General Historie of the Turkes (London: Adam Islip, 1603). Also, Paul Rycaut, The History of the Turkish Empire, 1623 to the year 1677 (London: J. M. for John Starkey, 1680); and, Aaron Hill, A Full and Just Account of the Present State of the Ottoman Empire (London: John Mayo, 1709). To Ambassador Wortley, 23 March & 1 April 1718, in The Turkish Embassy Letters. To Abbe Conti from Tunis, 31 July 1718, ibid. In recent times, a British journalist, while writing about modernization in Turkey, Egypt and Persia during the monarchical period, has touched upon some of the traditional medical practices and precepts still practiced in the Middle East. See, Christopher De Bellaigue, The Islamic Enlightenment. The Modern Struggle between Faith and Reason (London: The Bodley Head, 2017). He was the first Englishman to undergo inoculation. “How one daring woman introduced the idea of smallpox inoculation to England?” Time, 5 March 2019. Her daughter, Mary Stuart escaped infection; enjoyed a healthy life eventually marrying a future British prime minister, and died in 1794 at the age of 76. In fact, one of her neighbours had died whereas her cook’s poor health was attributed to cold, so that Montagu with two young children should not panic. She continued: “But that distemper is too beneficial to them not to expose to all their resentment the hardy wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps, if I live to return, I may, however have courage to war with them.” To Sarah Chiswell, 1 April 1718. The Montagus did move out in the country during an epidemical phase, but according to Mary Montagu, people with prior inoculation were, more or less, out of danger unlike those who had not been “engrafted.” To Wortley, 23 March 1718. Given the nature of their marital relationship, the letter reads dryly and formulated in a rather impersonal way. Even a major family matter such as the inoculation of their son or reference to their newly born daughter remains cursory. The Turkish Embassy Letters, 123–4. Their daughter, Mary Stuart (1718–94), was titled as the Countess of Bute and is also known as Ist Baroness Mount Stuart. Mary Stuart’s relationship with her grandfather echoed a strong element of detachment that underwrote her mother’s relationship with him. She did not know her grandfather well and saw him only once in her entire life. Isobel Grundy, Lady Mary Montagu: Comet of the Enlightenment (Oxford: OUP, 1999), 180. To Wortley Montagu, 1 April 1718, in The Turkish Embassy Letters, 124. In these two letters, she talked about transferring money back to England through the Levant Company besides accusing Dutch Ambassador’s spouse of committing unsavoury activities. In her letter of 23 March, she was quite critical of Catharina de Bourg, the wife of Count Jacob Colyer (1657–1725), their counterparts in Constantinople: “The Dutch madam is a perfect mad woman… {who} cheats the Ambassador. Her own vanity caused the discovery of her secret, which I kept very faithfully, and now he is, I suppose, angry at her laying her money out in ornaments. She would make him believe she did it to oblige me and would seem glad to get rid of them, at the same time she won’t part with them.” A native of Gloucestershire, Jenner infected a young man with the bovine pus as a preventive measure that met a success. Amidst jokes and satirisation, he continued undertaking similar experiments including one on his own son in addition to publishing his research on immunization through vaccination—vacca being the Latin for cow. For more on this see, “Edward Jenner”, BBC History: history/historic_figures/jenner_edward.shtml

5 Bridging the gaps Fanny Parkes among the Indian Muslims

Areas like gender and the European empire(s) keep enriching historiography inducting new strands and knowledge about relationships between the imperial countries and women in the colonies. Here, themes like family, mixed marriages, temporary liaisons, prostitution, the role of missionaries, colonial chronicles on women’s education and civic rights, and certainly, the health or even marital traditions such as sati or widowhood underpin a complex and multi-dimensional interface. Notwithstanding the issues of segregation or absence of unhindered socialisation, the hitherto concept of an indifferent memsahib or an authoritarian woman imbued with socio-cultural self-righteousness—not totally untrue—may prove insufficient for calibrating a more holistic social history. In the same vein, the premise of a total rejection of “going native” by the colonial officials may not be fully judicious to understand this complex relationship, though for an individual male from the colonies, it was next to impossible to marry a European (British) woman—until recent times. However, some British women, including from the colonial households sought autonomy to meet men and women from across this significant divide anchored on religious, cultural, racial, class, and political factors.1 Coming from a distant yet growingly stronger Britain—as the power engine of one of the largest empires in human history—several British women have left us diaries, travelogues, and artefacts to gain a fuller and no less complex portrayal of understanding and even treading through the vistas of Muslim societies during the modern era. Almost following the footsteps of Mary Montagu, we find women such as Fanny Parkes, Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali (Biddy Timms), Gertrude Bell, Freya Stark, and Ellen Tanner leaving behind empirical evidence for the reconstruction of a reportage-like historiography on working or living with Muslims. In general, either British women were in colonies to join their spouses and relatives, or were travellers, teachers, or missionaries.2 There were very few cases of cross-ethnic marriages until very recent times and their numbers fluctuated depending upon the region and how long it had been under the colonial rule.3 Even within the colonies, cities would comparatively account for the largest number of Europeans including women whereas the civil and military servants in mofussil areas were often on their own retiring to their quiet bungalows after day’s work. The Frontier, unlike Northeastern India of tea plantations, would have very few British women residents and in the latter case, the temperate weather and a semi-permanent settlement of the planters had duly added to incentives. In India, summer

96  Bridging the gaps months also resulted into a big outflow to Shimla, Murree, Shillong, and other hilly spots and thus quite a bit of intra-European socialisation happened over drinks, dances, meals and at sports, hunts, theatres, and churches at these idyllic stations.4 However, given the lack of official duties, most of these women would interact only with fellow Europeans and their families while with the rest their contacts were limited to servants whose jobs and respective status were rigorously laid out lacking any iota of equality.5 Sometimes they were magnificent. Sometimes, on the other hand, they were awful, as only people who are frightened can be. When a conviction of superiority goes with the fear, then the arrogance is heightened and sharpened. The memsahib (roughly translated “the masters” women)—even those who know nothing of the history of the British in India have heard of them. They stride through that history in their voluminous clothes which denied the Indian climate, their only concession to the heat the graceless solar helmet, the topi, which protected their rosepetal cheeks from the alien sun. Thus begins Margaret MacMillan’s study of British women in India—their travails, hang-ups, achievements, and image making—all within the context of an ascendant empire. In general, colonial women kept themselves aloof from the locals since it could have led to self-questioning about the entire rationale for the imperial project that was inherently uneven. These memsahibs, often transported to India without any prior cross-cultural exposure, might have been quite weary of their existence in the colonies with no major preoccupation though the missionaries among them besides some with eagerness to write or paint have left us extensive archival material.6 As seen earlier, the British connections with the Near East, following the Crusades, were predominantly geared towards commerce along with a diplomatic presence in Constantinople and Aleppo, strictly for trade and diplomacy. The Levant Company was the forerunner of commercial cum diplomatic interface with the Ottomans until the foundation of the East India Company (EIC) in London—on the heels of Spanish defeats. The Levant Company paid for the British diplomats who served both their paymasters and the Crown back in London—a practice that continued in the case of the EIC as well until the Crown formally took over the charge of South Asia in 1858. Precursor of modern-day multi-nationals and motivated by profit through business and subsequently by dint of gunboat diplomacy, these companies proved pioneering architects of the British Empire in Asia.7 Soon after the arrival of early trader–ambassadors such as Thomas Roe and the rest, we start seeing British women in South Asia with a Mrs. Hudson and her house cleaner, Frances Webb in 1617, purported to accompany an India-born Armenian woman. The voyage from Britain to the Subcontinent took two months and was always replete with heroics and romantics giving enough time to acculturate with what lay ahead. It was only after 1869 that the voyage became more efficient by the opening of the Suez Canal though the steam ships were already in operation with the P&O offering better-organised passenger, goods, and mail services8 besides facilitating pilgrimage to the Hejaz for Muslims from across the Indian Ocean.9

Bridging the gaps  97 Most British passengers for India would disembark at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay following several stopovers and, after some acclimatisation, would embark for the interiors on horse drawn carriage or palakis unless there were some convenient waterways to let the Indian labourers sail them across the breadth and width of India. The initial impressions of India, other than heat and tropical insects, would be of mass of humanity whose complexions, languages, rituals, religions, clothes, and food habits left the newcomers often more confused or even frightened adding to estrangement: India was frightening, not just because it had so many people, but because there were so many different types and colours. In any of the big ports, one could see fierce Pathan horse-traders from the North-West Frontier, Bengali baboos (the clerks who kept the Raj running), Parsee businessmen, handsome Rajputs from the dry reaches of Rajasthan, Portuguese-speaking halfcastes from Goa, and yellow-skinned peoples from Nepal and the North-East with a Mongol tinge to their features. Indians from the North could be tall with pale skins and light eyes; from the South, they were often short and very dark. There were women in saris, women in trousers, women veiled from head to foot, men in yards of white muslins, men in skirts, men with brilliantly coloured turbans, men in skull caps.10 Supportive roles still carried authority and power over the natives even if many among these women might not have belonged to upper British strata.11 Conversely, the Indian nationalists generally viewed memsahibs as the beneficiaries of and apologists for colonialism and not that enamoured of grassroots; they instead preferred to stay aloof, as is noted by MacMillan: Most memsahibs did not have strong views on India; they simply ignored it where they could. Unthinkingly they echoed the prejudices of their community so vociferously that they became the symbol both to Indian nationalists and to critics of the Empire at Home of all that was wrong with the Raj. Without being mindful of exceptions, India and for that matter, Empire resulted into even more “idealised” nostalgia for home.12 Other than persuasion by the peers for segregation, contemporary guide books dissuaded British women from fraternising with South Asians and other colonised communities. Health, religion, sexuality, deception, and security underpinned these attitudes with Indians defined as the other, whose socio-religious customs, if not abominable, were at least not like worthy. Begging was another area that received some pronounced attention along with suspicions about servants not being fully trustworthy. In the same vein, caste system, general attitudes towards women, profusion of religious rituals, and vulnerability to diseases were also internalised to keep a distance from the grassroots. Sati or widow burning happened among certain Hindu communities though there are questions about the extent of its prevalence, and it certainly manifested women’s vulnerability in the name of culture though the reasons could have been property.13 The Indians, including doctors, were

98  Bridging the gaps suspected of being keenly interested in sex largely due to some presumed effect of their climate but interestingly even English-speaking servants were avoided for the fear of eavesdropping. Availability of cheap labour with all its apparent submissiveness was prevalent to a bizarre extent with Fanny Parkes herself lording over 57 servants; Annie Beveridge had 59 and Lady Lytten—the Vicereine in the 1870s—supervised 300 servants of whom 100 were cooks.14 The hierarchical distribution of jobs to these servants, often in consonance with their respective faith/caste backgrounds, also made this uneven relationship even more complex. While the Eurasians suffered their own kinds of separation from the British as well as the Indians, they predominantly tried to associate themselves with the ruling community and “Mother Country.” Overwhelmingly Christian with penchant for English and European mores, Eurasians, often called Anglo-Indians, still fell lower on the ladder in this hierarchical society. Most married British women in India were on their own since their children were routinely sent back to Britain in their infancy to spend their early years with grandparents or in private schools and it was largely due to fear of diseases plus vulnerability to Indian cultural influences. Thus, busy colonials and their lonely spouses either socialised at the local club or looked forward to resort towns where churches, tea parties, sports, and balls kept them occupied. The Revolt of 1857 and massacres of British women and children in Lucknow Residency as well as at Bibighar in Banaras multiplied existing fears and misimages leading to further distrust of the native population with the colonials even more keenly protective of womenfolk.15 Intermingling of colonial dominance and racial superiority, added with fear and suspicions of the local communities underwrote this considered and easily adopted social distancing though there were exceptions when some memsahibs like Parkes ventured on their own to explore South Asian terrains and cultures. According to MacMillan, British women in South Asia witnessed dwindling of social space over the three centuries with early decades allowing more interaction than the Victorian period and the posthumous. The print media both in India and Britain vocally frowned upon inter-ethnic alliances and “going native” became a prohibitive and invariably negative epithet—even more severe than going jungli—for women showing any deeper immersion in Indian faiths or males. Still, one could see a strong element of plurality among British women in the Empire though a vast majority of them were conformists, as desired by their peers and partners. Among them, we find writers, painters, travellers, linguists, converts, and even spouses of the local men. These “unconventional” and “restless women” included individuals like Emily Eden, Lady Falkland Honoraria Lawrence, Fanny Parkes, Biddy Timms, Annette Akroyd, Emma Roberts, Flora Anne Steele, Adela Cory, Annie Besant, and several others. Emily Eden accompanied her brother, Lord Auckland, the Governor-General during the 1830s, travelled across India, and wrote about people and places in her letters, which were soon published offering interesting observations on Indians and the British expatriates.16 She found Ranjit Singh profligate, fond of alcohol but quite just when it came to administration in Punjab. Her other sister, Fanny Auckland was not too enamoured of Fanny Parkes largely owing to class differences besides latter’s penchant for mingling with the local people and for being steeped in adoration for India, its climates, and cultures.

Bridging the gaps  99 Flora Steele, based with her husband near Lahore during the mid-nineteenth century, sat at local municipality meetings in Kasur and became an activist after becoming aware of fake degrees being sold in Punjab. Known for her preference for Muslims over Hindus, she still had many Hindu and Sikh friends and came back to India from England to write a book on 1857 and stayed with her local friends. Annette Akroyd (Beveridge) opened a school for Hindu girls in 1873 and campaigned against child marriage. Adela Cory was a poet who fell in love with Malcolm Nicolson, a colonel in the Bengal Cavalry and disguising herself as a Pashtun boy, followed him to the North-West Frontier. Publication of her collection made her a familiar literary figure in India but sadly, she took her life in 1904, shortly after her husband’s death.17 There were a few cases of Western women marrying local men or converting to Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism. Annie Besant, who had been an activist, had met Gandhi in London during his student days after his induction to Theosophy through Madame Helena Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Olcott, who claimed to have special relationship with the Tibetan Buddhists. The Theosophy Society decided to move to India in 1879 under the duo and 2 years after Blavatsky’s death in 1891, Besant assumed its leadership and moved to India. Her involvement in the Indian nationalist movement helped her become the first woman president of the Indian National Congress, much to the ire of many other British in India. As we will see in our next chapter, an English woman known as Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali (Biddy Timms) had met her Indian Muslim husband in England where he taught Hindustani between 1812 and 1816. They lived in India for 12 years before she returned to England and subsequently, worked as a matron of a boys’ school in England and left her extensive observations on the Indian Muslims.18 There is a story of a Scottish woman, Morag Murray, who met the son of a Pashtun chieftain after the First World War at the University of Glasgow where the latter was a student. Initially, both the families objected to their plans for marriage but then relented and the couple received a warm welcome in the Khyber Pass where formal ceremonies took place to celebrate this extra-ordinary event.19 Francis (Fanny) Parkes or Parks (1794–1875) was the Welsh wife of an EIC civil servant in mofussil area of today’s Uttar Pradesh (UP) who spent 24 years in India and authored two-volume memoirs of her life and travels across the Subcontinent. Exception among her compatriots at the time, when imperial self-righteousness mingled with missionary evangelism underwrote segregation as the core social norm in colonial life, Parkes moved beyond such stipulated boundaries. Writing “possibly the most enjoyable and exuberant book to come out of south Asia” in pre-1857 era, Parkes turned into an indophile the moment she landed in Calcutta to join her husband who supervised ice production in northern India.20 Reaching India in 1822 on a ship that took two months on its voyage, Parkes, herself a daughter of Captain William Archer—an old India hand—witnessed India and the Indians of diverse creeds and cultures until 1846 while maintaining her diaries that eventually helped her publish a two-volume work, entitled Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of Picturesque. In her autobiography, she offered a positive and no less-informed perspective on places she visited and people she interacted with—all characterised by a deep sense of exuberance. Living and

100  Bridging the gaps writing as an “indophile”—not common at the time—a “vagabondising” Parkes enjoyed local food, company, climate, and clothes though as a memsahib she had almost fifty servants to wait upon her. Herself being “colonised” by the colonised, Parkes commented on British philistinism in India and while airing her feminist opinions she found faults with some of the contemporary patriarchal views and practices held by both the Europeans and South Asians.21 Her lifestyle and views did not sit well with many of her compatriots, especially from the upper crust including Fanny Auckland, the sister of the Governor-General and of Emily Eden—virtually a first lady in South Asia: “We are rather oppressed just now by a lady, Mrs Parkes, who insists on belonging to our camp,” wrote Fanny Eden in January 1838. “She has a husband who always goes mad in the cold season, so she says it is her duty to herself to leave him and travel about. She has been a beauty and has remains of it, and is abundantly fat and lively. At Benares, where we fell in with her she informed us she was an Independent Woman.”22 Fanny Eden, like her sister, is a contemporary source on India and offers elitist views of pre-1857 Subcontinent and the Indians, quite opposed to a more informal and intimate account by Parkes. Her husband, vulnerable to bouts with depression, and she being a sociable person helped Parkes undertake longer journeys including detailed sessions with zenāna women from Mughal royalty in Delhi, Awadh Court in Lucknow, and Mahratta queen in Gwalior besides a vast array of Indians. Her conversations with the elite Muslim women, Colonel William Linnaeus Gardner and his Muslim wife and other members of extended family besides attending marriage parties in Khasganj and visits to Agra and Delhi allowed her a unique searchlight on India’s cultural labyrinths. Gardner was an American royalist who left his native land after its independence, and following education in Europe, decided to settle in India, where he fell in love with a Muslim princess from Cambay, followed by their marriage. His son, James, married the niece of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar Shah II, who, for a time had been kept by the Nawab of Awadh in his harem. Parkes became very close to the Gardners and often enjoyed their hospitality on their estate and attended the marriage ceremony of some of the younger members of this Anglo-Muslim family who shared common faith traditions and were certainly multilingual. Parkes was quite close to Gardner as she was to Baiza Bai, the Mahratta princess, much to the chagrin of colonial society, which by then, owing to visible evangelical motivation, imperial uprighteousness and a deeper sense of racial superiority derided such immersion. In 1822, after a voyage characterised by interaction with the military and civil employees of the Company and several short and longer stopovers and visits to the Indian Ocean islands Parkes reached Calcutta to be “charmed” by its “delicious” weather. She describes the architectural details of stuccoed houses for Company’s officials and the life of expatriates each with several servants, some merely to move pankha—the fan—while others tending to households, lawns and horses. Soon she was to witness Churuk Mela, a special puja fair at Kali Ghat where Hindu mendicants gathered affirming their devotion to Goddess Kali and

Bridging the gaps  101 Vishnu. Parkes described the rituals of the Sadhus with great interest mingled with horror, as she saw several of them swinging in the air tied to the raised posts with the ropes fastened to metallic hooks and dug into their flesh. Some had these nails dug into their hands while each one of them sported matted hair and covered in a small loin wrap-around. This was her first experience of seeing Hindu holy men and their self-effacing rituals but it failed to deter her from future visits to temples in Banaras and Hardwar in UP.23 In May 1823, Parkes went to a private party hosted by a “rich” affluent Bengali “Baboo” at his house furnished in a European style where lavish food accompanied dancing girls and performing jugglers. In fact, the host was Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772–1833), the founder of Brahmo Samaj and of the first modern newspaper who, later during his last voyage to England fell ill in Bristol and passed away in this port city. Roy, popular among his Christian friends and supporters, was buried in Bristol’s Arnos Vale Cemetery, since contemporary Britain did not retain cremation facilities.24 Roy had worked closely with the missionaries at Serampore, especially with William Carey, and as a pioneering reformer tried to abolish Sati, dowry, and child marriages along with the induction of monotheistic beliefs in Hinduism. Falling out with Carey and his Trinitarian Christianity brought him closer to the Unitarians, and in 1830, the Mughal Emperor, Akbar Shah II, deputed Roy as an official emissary to England. The Mughal king also titled him as Raja while sending him to London to the court of King William IV, since Roy was already a well-known reformer by having founded Brahmo Samaj in 1828 in collaboration with Devendranath Tagore. Parkes does not write in details about Roy’s multifarious services including his Persian work, Tuhfat-ul-Muwahideen, which was devoted to monotheism though she mentions receiving a gift from Tagore while in Calcutta yet unimpressed by the quality of its artwork. The Parkes, on their way to Allahabad passed through a multitude of towns and variegated weather zones besides receiving local hospitality from a variety of hosts including Jahangir Zaman Deen Mahmud who was a local notable in western Bengal. The couple, along with several servants, stayed at Barrackpore, the Governor-General’s country house outside Calcutta where they found a menagerie of several tigers and cheetahs, kept at a specially built facility. Fanny Parkes often uses the term Baboo for the Bengali bourgeoisie, and is familiar with the trading term, baniya. Mostly carried on palanquins or travelling on flat-bottomed Indian boats with a detailed crew, she also occasionally ventured on a horse, which she had recently acquired for 2,200 rupees and named it Arab. At Sehsaram, the historic city in Bihar, Kabir-ud-Din Ahmed served them with a wide variety of Indian dishes and sweets, called tiffin by our English narrator. She stayed on in Banaras while her husband continued towards Allahabad to assume his duties at the ice factory. She was enormously taken in by the tattooed Hindu jogis and the preeminent Brahmins, who received offerings from the Hindu pilgrims to this holy city. Some of these offerings included live bulls, called “Brahman bulls” which moved freely in the streets totally unmolested by residents and visitors. Finally, in January 1828, Fanny Parkes reached Allahabad that she alludes to as “Chota Jahanaum,” or a little hell, owing to its hot climate.25

102  Bridging the gaps An untiring Fanny Parkes soon geared up to participate in the coronation ceremonies of the King of Oude (the Nawab of Awadh), and offers interesting details about Nawab’s mother, her jewellery and the Africans, employed to serve in the harem. Nawab Naseer-ud-Din Haider (1803–37) had formally ascended to the throne in 1828 thanks to his mother, Padshah Begum, but died of poison in a short while. Fond of Astronomy and Astrology, the youthful Nawab had several marital liaisons but remained childless.26 Among Nawab’s known marriages, Parkes is more curious about the Mughal princess, the niece of the King Akbar, who seems to suffer confinement elsewhere—away from the main palace in Lucknow.27 Parkes received detailed information about the ruling family of Awadh from Colonel Linnaeus Gardner whose son, James Gardner had married the sister of the mentioned Mughal princess. Both these princesses were from among 52 children sired by Mirza Sulaiman Shikoh, King Akbar’s brother, who lived in Lucknow on a meagre fellowship of Rs. 5,000 from the Company. Always short of money but insistent upon living lavishly this Mughal household faced serious fiscal difficulties. Reportedly, Shikoh’s 17 daughters were married off to their suitors from Delhi on a single day. James Gardner’s own wife was previously married into Mughal nobility and had even given birth to some children but after falling in love with younger Gardner, she had moved to the estate of Khasganj. Thus, the ruling families of India, Cambay and Awadh shared matrimonial relationship with Colonel Gardner who lived like a Mughal prince on his farm and allowed his children to follow Islamic traditions. Colonel Gardner’s devotion to his adopted culture and family impressed Parkes as they developed a close relationship to the extent that the former would often call Parkes his beti (daughter), especially when he advised her to visit Agra. Gardner was a formidable guide for Parkes on matters pertaining to India’s ruling families, palatial houses in Lucknow and elsewhere. Following her visits to several mansions, Parkes found similarities between Awadh’s palaces and their Italian counterparts, as she observed: “It is curious circumstance that many of the palaces in Lucknow have fronts in imitation of the palaces in Naples and Rome; and the real native place is beyond an enclosed space.” It might have been her momentary impression, since even the stories of Taj Mahal’s Italian connections were also quite rife during the Late Mughal era somehow disallowing credit to the Indian architects. Moreover, it was inside the zenana that she found life quite stifling because the Nawab had five wives and still childless while the Mughal princess lived a miserable life. In the same vein, Colonel Gardner’s own wife had recently suffered the loss of a son, a daughter, and a granddaughter that kept her distraught. Even an otherwise a strong and “delightful” Colonel had resigned to fate: What a delightful companion is this Colonel Gardner! I have had most interesting conversation with him which has been interrupted by his being obliged to attend his poor sick wife, as he calls the begum. She is very ill, and her mind is as much affected as her body: he cannot persuade her to call in the aid of medicine. A short time ago she lost her son, Allan Gardner, aged twenty-nine years: then she lost a daughter and a grandson; afterwards a favourite daughter; and now another young grandson is dangerously ill.

Bridging the gaps  103 These misfortunes have broken her spirit and she refuses all medical aid. That dear old man has made me weep like a child. I could not bear the recital of his sorrows and sufferings. He said, “You often see me talking and apparently cheerful at the Resident’s table, when my heart is bleeding.”28 During her socialisation, Parkes met Nawab Mehdi Ali Khan, the Prime Minister of Awadh though was unimpressed given his alleged machinations to reach this senior position but subsequently, she seems to develop some respect and sympathy for the elderly man. In fact, Khan was reportedly instrumental in getting Munna Jan nominated as the successor to Nawab Naseer-ud-Din Haidar, though he was an adopted son from one of the Nawab’s five official wives. During the official visit by the Bentincks, elaborate arrangements were made interspersed with mutual visits, feasting, and hunting, and Parkes offers several details in this context. Fully briefed by Colonel Gardner, she was able to construct the lives of the royal women who otherwise could not venture out; spent time surrounded by servants often engaged in little intrigues and with a firm belief in witchcraft. They would mostly eat late at night; incessantly smoked huqqa, and frequently drank coffee. Despite problems at the top in Lucknow, most Awadhis seemed to have no appetite for Company’s rule. Possibly, it could be because the Company, after defeating Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula in 1764, was mainly interested in extracting more benefits from this north Indian princely state. Parkes was bold enough to note: “The subjects of his Majesty of Oude are by no means desirous of participating in the blessings of the British rule. They are richer, sleeker and merrier race than the natives in the territories of the Company.”29 After a professional interlude in Cawnpore (Kanpur), the Parkes moved back to Allahabad which receives extensive coverage in the memoirs and is now mentioned as one of the “gayest” and prettiest stations’ in India.30 In Kanpur, Parkes witnessed Diwali—the Hindu festival of earthen lamps—and throngs of pilgrims at the ghats by the Ganges, whose construction owed to charitable Hindus. Further on, she devotes extensive space to the hanging of 25 thugs in Jubbulpore since this was a major area of public interest at the time. She would have desired a detailed investigation of their cases but given the contemporary tempo, these people were quickly executed with ropes specially ordered from Bihar. Her description of the event is certainly revealing and no less poignant, as she observes: As it was, there was something dreadful in the thought that men who had so often imbued their hands in blood should meet their death with such carelessness. I believe they had previously requested to be allowed to fasten the cord around their necks with their own hands; certain it is that each individual, as soon as he had adjusted the noose, jumped off the beam and launched himself into eternity; and those who first mounted the ladder selected their ropes, rejecting such as did not please them. One of them, who had leaped off the beam and had been hanging for more than three seconds, put his hand up and pulled his cap over his face. This is the second execution of Thugs that has taken place here, but no accident happened this time, nor did a single rope break.31

104  Bridging the gaps Immediately after this narration, Parkes lists a table classifying servants in Awadh and around along with their average monthly salaries which even from contemporary standards appeared quite meagre. Except for Sai’s (the horse breeder), the rest were given between four and twelve rupees though their employers, adeptly, synchronised their creed and caste with their work at the household. While at Allahabad, Parkes was able to witness Muharram’s preparations and procession quite minutely and given the patronage from the Shia Nawabs, she noticed elaborate arrangements in place to commemorate the events of 680 CE involving the Prophet’s grandson. Writing about the Muharram of 1834, she is quite comfortable with the history, litany, and ritualistic details of the various traditions, as she notes: Although the taziya, the model of their Imām’s tomb at Karbala belongs, by right, only to the Shias, it is remarkable that many Sunis have taziyas, and also some Hindus. My cook, who was a Mug, used to expend sometimes as much as Rs 40 on a taziya of his own; and after having performed all the ceremonies like a good Musulmān returned to his original Hinduism, when he had placed his taziya in the burial-ground, accompanied by rice, corn, flowers, cups of water, etc.32 Parkes, in her fondness for India and the Indians, devotes extensive space to their religious rituals without shunning respect and genuine curiosity. For instance, she expresses her fascination of a giant and equally ancient peepal tree in Allahabad, where locals held their assemblies. However, she does not commend Company’s eagerness to seek money through selling marble slabs from Agra’s Moti Masjid and other Mughal monuments, as she reproduces a news report from Calcutta: From the Calcutta John Bull, July 26th, 1831: “The Governor-General has sold the beautiful piece of architecture, called the Mootee Masjid, at Agra, for Rs 125,000 (about £12,500), and it is now being pulled down! The Tāj has also been offered for sale! but the price required has not been obtained. Two lacs, however, have been offered for it. Should “the Tāj be pulled down, it is rumoured that disturbances may take place amongst the natives.” “If this be true, is it not shameful? The present king might as well sell the chapel of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey for the paltry sum of £12,500: for any sum the impropriety of the act would be the same. By what authority does the Governor-General offer the Tāj for sale? Has he any right to molest the dead? To sell the tomb raised over an empress, which from its extraordinary beauty is the wonder of the world? It is impossible the Court of Directors can sanction the sale of the tomb for the sake of its marble and gems. They say that a Hindu wishes to buy the Tāj to carry away the marble and erect a temple to his own idols at Bindrabund!”33 Parkes undertook a visit to Agra and Delhi largely on the advice of Colonel Gardner and offers comprehensive details on the river journey from Allahabad not forgetting the reportage on villages, boatmen, sand dunes, and crocodiles.

Bridging the gaps  105 While in Agra in January 1835, the Taj really impressed her with its elegance, extensive marble munificence, symmetrical design, and lustrous Quranic calligraphy, which she attributed to Shah Jahan’s devotion to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Mughal Emperor was married to Arjumand Bano, titled as Mumtaz Mahal or the light of the palace, and this favourite wife happened to be the daughter of his prime minister, Asaf Khan. Parkes is aware of the Mughal history and the influence wielded by the queens such as Noor Jahan (Mumtaz Mahal’s paternal aunt) and their aesthetic tastes. Parkes acquired a vintage point on the main entrance to this site to see the gardens, 84 fountains, tomb itself, minarets, and the adjacent mosque–all the vital components of this monumental Mughal edifice. Her 33rd chapter in the second volume begins with a rather literary description of the preeminent Mughal monument, as she notes: “I have seen the Tāj Mahul; but how shall describe its loveliness? its unearthly style of beauty! It is not its magnitude; but its elegance, its proportions, its exquisite workmanship, and the extreme delicacy of the whole, that render it the admiration of the world. The tomb, a fine building of white marble erected upwards of two centuries ago, is still in a most wonderful state of preservation, as pure and delicate as when first erected. The veins of grey in the marble give it a sort of pearl-like tint that adds to, rather than diminishes, its beauty. It stands on a square terrace of white marble, on each angle of which is a minaret of the same material. The whole is carved externally and internally, and inlaid with ornaments formed of blood-stones, agates, lapis lazuli, etc., representing natural flowers. The inscriptions over all the arches are in the Arabic character, in black marble, inlaid on white. The dome itself, the four smaller domes and the cupolas on the roof, are all of the same white marble carved beautifully and inlaid with flowers in coloured stones….” “The dome of the Tāj, like all domes erected by the Mohammedans, is eggshaped, a form greatly admired; the dome in Hindu architecture is always semicircular; and it is difficult to determine to which style of building should be awarded the palm of beauty.” “This magnificent monument was raised by Shāhjahān to the memory of his favourite Sultāna Arzumund Bānoo on whom, when he ascended the throne, he bestowed the title of Momtāza Zumāni (the Most Exalted of the age).”34 Parkes acknowledged the fact that despite its plunder by the Jats led by Sunder Mull, local Muslims and Mughal authorities tried to maintain the original majesty of the walls, screens, minarets, graves, and sarcophaguses besides servicing the numerous fountains in the foreground. From her vintage point on Kalan Darwaza (the main gate), she could see other Mughal tombs in the vicinity and elaborate aesthetic work displayed on the Taj, its domes and minarets as well as the mosque. She even identifies the sources of red stone and marble used so extensively in the complex besides the cost that this monument might have incurred. However, as per local narratives, she describes an erstwhile Muslim practice at the tomb, which may be a hearsay: It is customary with Musulmāns to erect the cenotaph in an apartment over the sarcophagus, as may be seen in all the tombs of their celebrated men. The Musulmāns who visit the Tāj lay offerings of money and flowers both on the

106  Bridging the gaps tombs below and the cenotaphs above; they also distribute money in charity, at the tomb, or at the gate, to the fakīrs.35 However, she felt aghast over the fact that the Taj Mahal, basically a cemetery, was being used for balls and dance parties by the Europeans, as she critiqued: A fair, the melā of the Eed, was held without the great gateway; crowds of gaily-dressed and most picturesque natives were seen in all directions passing through the avenue of fine trees and by the side of the fountains to the tomb: they added great beauty to the scene, whilst the eye of taste turned away pained and annoyed by the vile round hats and stiff attire of the European gentlemen, and the equally ugly bonnets and stiff and graceless dresses of the English ladies.36 She felt exalted by her detailed visits to the Taj, and the hospitality extended to her by the staff, as she noted: The erection of the Tāj was the most delicate and elegant tribute and the highest compliment ever paid to woman. And now adieu! – beautiful Tāj – adieu! In the far, far West I shall rejoice that I have gazed upon your beauty; nor will the memory depart until the lowly tomb of an English gentlewoman closes on my remains.37 Fanny Parkes undertook a detailed, guided tour of the Agra Fort where she was able to minutely study the various sections of the residential areas and the labyrinthine pathways and chambers underneath the royal dwellings, treasury, and bath houses. She might have been one of the few individuals, owing to her persistence and by virtue of being a European female guest, to dwell deeper into the recesses of this grand Mughal palace cum fort. She was impressed by Diwani-Khas, the royal court and its adjoining rooms where Shah Jahan had spent the last 7 years of his life as a prisoner, in the proximity of Noor Jahan Burj, an exquisitely beautiful residence, marred by subsequent misuse.38 Parkes reminds her readers of the abuse of some of these magnificent apartments by noting: Some wretches of European officers – to their disgrace be it said – made this beautiful room a cook-room! and the ceiling, the fine marbles and the inlaid work, are all one mass of blackness and defilement! Perhaps they cooked the sū’ar, the hog, the unclean beast, within the sleeping apartments of Noorjahān – the proud, the beautiful Sultana!39 She was quite thrilled to be inside the zenana in Shish Mahal and offers details on some of those dynamic women who lived here and prayed at women’s mosque. This place of worship itself “a gem of beauty, is a small mosque, sacred to the ladies of zenana of pure white marble beautifully carved with three domes of the same marble.” Then she moves into the basement of Shish Mahal used by the royal family during hot summer, and is told by her guide about a woman’s

Bridging the gaps  107 grave who might have been executed surreptitiously leading to all kinds of conjectures.40 After visiting the seat of the emperor made of black marble, affording him a view of lower compounds, Parkes describes a similar sitting place for the prime minister made of white marble. While venturing into baths of zenana occupants of the royal lineage she comes hard on Warren Hastings (1732–1818), the former EIC’s Governor-General, who had been irreverent to the beauty and history of these marble masterpieces: The baths in the apartments below the palace, which most probably belonged to the zenāna, were broken up by the Marquis of Hastings: he committed this sacrilege on the past to worship the rising sun; for he sent the most beautiful of the marble baths, with all its fretwork and inlaid flowers, to the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV.41 Having absorbed the majesty and tragedy of Muslim monuments in Agra, Parkes moved to Khasganj on a visit to Colonel Gardner to attend the wedding of his granddaughter, Susan Gardner, who was to marry a Mughal prince. As mentioned earlier, his son, James had been married to Mulka Begum, the daughter of Sulaiman Shikoh, who lived indolently consuming opium and smoking huqqa, though she very much desired to be out in the open.42 The Nawab of Awadh, already married to her sister, had fallen in love with Mulka Begum and kept her as captive in his palace in Lucknow. After her emancipation owing to Colonel Gardner’s efforts, she entered into a marital partnership with James Gardner, who was dazzled by her beauty despite the fact that his father did not approve of this wedding. Parkes is taken in by Nawab Mulka Begum’s graceful walk and her dress style, which she considers to be the normal “Musalman” dress for women consisting of angiya (bodice), kamis (sleeveless shirt), brocaded pajamas, and a dupatta. She noticed her husband’s fascination with her Timurid descent and loyalty to her religious traditions: “A Musulmān lady is a horror in an English dress; but an English woman is greatly improved by wearing a native one, the attire itself is so elegant, so feminine and so graceful.”43 At the various marital rituals out in the open and then in zenana, Parkes was able to observe the social standing of the Gardners, whose kinship was eagerly sought after by many single Englishmen affirming the fact that such liaisons had been seen successful besides ensuring higher status. With her husband gone back to Allahabad, Fanny Parkes spent more time with Colonel Gardner joining him on a hunt listening to his own life story all the way from Britain to India via the United States until the dashing Colonel met his future wife and settled down in Awadh. Parkes noticed the leading role played by Colonel’s wife in managing zenana and indirectly looking after the estates. “She is a clever woman and her word is regarded as law by her villagers and dependents.”44 It was only a year later that after this marriage event and detailed meetings with her host, Parkes heard of Colonel Gardner’s death feeling a great sense of loss for this father-like figure. Parkes was able to travel to Gwalior and Fatehgarh where she spent some time with the Mahratta dowager, Baiza Bai, the widow of Daulat Rai Scindia. This independent minded woman, used to horse riding, offered quite a contrast from

108  Bridging the gaps the restrictive life of Muslim royal women: “Her countenance is very mild and open; there is a freedom and independence in her air that I greatly admire – so unlike that of the sleeping, languid, opium-eating Musulmāns.”45 Given her proficiency in Hindustani, Parkes, subsequently, worked as a translator for the Eden Sisters in their meeting with Baiza Bai. After visiting Bai’s home in Banaras with its numerous chambers, Parkes went on a shikar in Bengal’s Sundarbans though was struck with the travesties of a horrid famine in Kannauj that had followed drought and locus attack. Before her travel to Delhi in February 1838, she visited Fatehgurh where many senior members of the Awadh’s elite as well as Nawab Mehdi Ali Khan lived. This being the month of Muharram with zenana in mourning, feasting and dances did not happen.46 In her visit to Delhi, Parkes was noticeably mindful of its historical monuments such as the Jamia Mosque that was visible from afar, yet her keen eyes did not fail to observe the enormity of historical ruins, left to decay contrasted with the fine sense of clothing among Delhi’s citizens. She visited the Humayun’s Tomb and offered some details on its splendid architecture, and in addition, viewed several other buildings dating from the times of the Delhi Sultans and Mughals: The drive is most interesting; you cannot turn your eye in any direction but you are surrounded by ruins of the most picturesque beauty. The tomb of Humaioon is a fine massive building, well worth visiting: it is kept in good repair. There are several monuments within the chambers of the mausoleum that are of carved white marble. The tomb of the Emperor is very plain and without any inscription. On the terrace is a very elegant white marble monument, richly carved, of peculiar construction, over the remains of a begum. The different and extensive views from the terrace over the ruins of old Delhi are very beautiful.47 She specially visited the Roashan-al-Daula Mosque, which reposed some tragic details from the time of Nadir Shah’s invasion of Delhi in 1739 and its gruesome destruction. She narrates information conveyed to her of Persian invader stationed in this mosque while his troops went on killing and looting sprees in the Mughal capital for three consecutive days. Finally, the Emperor and some other nobles came in to see Nadir Shah and the former laid his turban at his feet in this mosque seeking respite for his city.48 Parkes was duly impressed by the historicity of Mehrali, where some of the oldest Muslim monuments such as Qutb Minar and Masjid Quwwat-ul-Islam along with several tombs are situated revealing the historicity of this metropolis, now once again turning into a gloomy place. She was even more distressed when she visited the zenana in the Red Fort, where she saw poverty and dismay among the royals at their worst. The sister of the late Mughal king, Hayatun Nissa Begum sat on an ordinary cot (gaddi) mourning her late brother, Akbar Shah and, unlike the tradition in such cases, was not able to offer any worthy gift to her British guest. She only gave her a garland of jasmines while the maidservants brought in a tray of sweets. Her nephew and the son of the contemporary Emperor, Bahadur Shah, took her around through the residential quarters of other

Bridging the gaps  109 royal women, mostly looking glum and despondent. The prince volunteered to take Parkes to the Emperor but he had been asleep that time and she returned to her host, whose reference had been provided by the late Colonel Gardner. Parkes had taken off her shoes as per tradition, salaamed the princess, and had offered a gold coin (mohur) to the latter who tried to entertain her visitor in every possible way including a small dance repertoire by the servants. Parkes could not believe the fallen times for the descendants of Tamerlane and Babur as was evident even from the plain graves of the recently deceased three emperors unlike Emperor Akbar’s mausoleum at Fatehpur Sikri, Shah Jahan’s at Agra, and Humayun’s at Delhi. The emperors, Bahadur Shah, Shah Alam II, and Akbar Shah II were from among the Later Mughals whose reigns coincided with the consistent imperial decline, parallel with the rise of the Company, Mahrattas, and the Sikhs amidst a balkanisation of the empire. While leaving the royal palace in the Red Fort, she noted with a heavy heart: Look at the poverty, the wretched poverty of these descendants of the emperors! In former times strings of pearls and valuable jewels were placed on the necks of departing visitors. When the Princess Hyāt-ool-Nissa Begum in her fallen fortunes put the necklace of freshly-gathered white jasmine flowers over my head, I bowed with as much respect as if she had been the queen of the universe. Others may look upon these people with contempt, I cannot; look at what they are, at what they have been!49 Parkes was able to spend some leisure time in Simla, the summer capital and a resort town where, like India’s plurality, she saw a wide variety of British residents, pursuing well-chartered routine of an expatriate in urban centres. In many ways, she was herself a different kind of observer whose life straddled her own homeland and the adopted country that had mostly become a colony to a mighty commercial cum political conglomerate. In some ways, her life was typical of a colonial memsahib with an army of servants, unlimited privileges and a powerful status that her compatriots enjoyed in India. However, in other aspects, she was certainly unique who saw and experienced India on its own without falling into the usual trap of indignation, segregation, or patronisation. Her keen observations on the climate, cultures, and communities reveal a significant sense of original curiosity mingled with genuine interest and respect. She was certainly uneasy over sati, and knew that many Hindu women were compelled to go through it while relatives held the poor victims down on pyre with bamboo sticks. She equally wanted better judicial processes for thugs; avoided subscribing to their exaggerated presence; admired Indian women for their dynamism though often empathised with many of them for their dreary and confined lives. She found Indians quite respectful of a woman guest among them without “playing to the gallery” to appease a white European observer, nor does she mention a single event of verbal or physical assault in all those long decades and extensive travels across South Asia. However, she noticed small thefts by some servants but developed her own strategies to deal with such mishaps. She related with the royal women in Lucknow, Banaras, Fatehgarh, and Delhi and interacted with them on

110  Bridging the gaps their terms despite the obvious handicaps, and has left us her diary and two-volume study of India, which definitely go beyond the usual routine of a detached traveller.

Notes 1 Recent studies have attempted to reconstruct multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary interactions between Western women and South Asian males. For instance, basing her study on ethnographic research on Sikhs and 80 Western women including writers, missionaries, visitors, painters, and a spouse, Eleanor Nesbitt has woven a revealing portrait of this inter-cultural interface. Eleanor Nesbitt, Sikhs: Two Centuries of Western Women’s Art & Writings (London: Kashi House, 2019). Also, Andrew Whitehead, The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi (New Delhi: Speaking Tiger Books, 2019). 2 Margaret Balfour and Ruth Young, The Work of Medical Women in India (London: H. Milford, 1929). 3 William Dalrymple, while trying to repudiate “clash of cultures,” has tried to present the case study of British men such as James Kirkpatrick marrying Khair-un-Nissa in India during the late Eighteenth century until officially it was banned a generation later. However, certainly, views about non-White, non-Christian men did exist even at that stage and it is only the EIC’s men, as his own ancestor and others such as Sir William Ochterlony, who could marry Indian women to the extent of creating their own harems. See, William Dalrymple, “White Mischief”, The Guardian, 9 December 2002 vide 4 Joan Marie Mickelson, “British Women in India 1757–1857”, PhD thesis, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1978). 5 Kenneth Ballhatchet, Race, Sex and Class Under the Raj (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1980). 6 MacMillan is correct in suggesting that most of imperial historiography is still malecentric without comprehensively assessing the role these women played at varied levels. Margaret MacMillan, Women of the Raj (London: Thames and Hudson, 1996), 7–15. 7 For more on the EIC, see John Keay, The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company (London: HarperCollins, 1993); P. J. Marshall, “British Society in India under the East India Company”, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 39, 1, February 1997, 89–109; and, William Dalrymple, Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (London: Bloomsbury, 2019). 8 The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company began in 1834 as a modest Irish–Scottish venture soon to expand its leisure and commercial voyages across the seas. 9 The Nawab of Bhopal, Sikandar Jahan Begum, was one of the earliest Muslim woman pilgrims to write about her Hajj journey of 1863 and slightly before that, Richard Burton, a polymath, became the first ever European to perform the Hajj. See, Siobhan Lambert-Hurley (ed.) A Princess’s Pilgrimage: Nawab Sikandar Begum’s Pilgrimage (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2008); Richard Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimmage to El-Medinah and Meccah (London: Wentworth Press, 2019—reprint), and, Ziauddin Sardar, Mecca: The Sacred City (London: Bloomsbury, 2014). 10 MacMillan, Women of the Raj, 37. 11 For instance, at a time when even in Britain smoking by women was a taboo, there were their Indian counterparts, whose portraits show them smoking water pipe and reclining in their gardens without any purdah as such. In the late eighteenth-century northern India, Nawab Mairajun Nisa Begum is shown in such a posture in a portrait held at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Personally studied on 5 November 2019.

Bridging the gaps  111 Certainly, there were women like Fanny Parkes and Lillian Luker Ashby who interacted with a wide variety of people by travelling breadth and length of India and by participating in social and religious customs at places like Banaras and Lucknow. Ashby used to visit a Muslim woman friend in a distant area of Bihar and would share hookah and gossip with her host. Annette Beveridge was reported to have heard rude remarks about Indians at a party in Bengal, uttered by some British female expatriates in 1873. She herself was the earliest translator of Emperor Babur’s memoirs. Women of the Raj, 61–2. 12 Women of the Raj, 65. 13 Even at the death (1839) of Ranjit Singh, the Maharaja of Punjab and a Sikh ruler, four of his wives and seven concubines had to jump on his death pyre to commit sati. Ranjit Singh was viewed progressive by many contemporary East India Company officials. The Tribune (Chandigarh), 28 June 2015. 14 Ibid., 145–6. 15 In Britain, these events added to existing suspicions about the Indians since the Victorian press gave detailed and often exaggerated coverage of the murders of British women and children by the rebels. For further details on the revenge sprees, see John Newsinger, The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the Empire (London: Bookmark, 2013), and William Dalrymple, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 (London: Bloomsbury, 2006). 16 Emily Eden, Up the Country (London: Richard Bentley, 1867). 17 For further details on such “unconventional” memsahibs, see Women of the Raj, 200–20. 18 Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali, Observations on the Mussulmans of India edited by W. Crook (London: Oxford University Press, 1917). 19 Mirabhen or Madaleine Slad, the daughter of a British admiral, was a close disciple of Gandhi who burned all her Western dresses to wear cotton saris. Earlier, there was a Sister Nivedita, who was born Margaret Noble in 1867 but after a short interlude as a socialist, became a devout Buddhist. For further details on such “unconventional” memsahibs, see Women of the Raj, 200–20. Also: Freda Hauswirth, A Marriage to India (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1931); and Andrew Whitehead, The Lives of Freda. 20 William Dalrymple, “Lady of the Raj”, The Guardian, 9 June 2007. 21 Ibid. 22 Excerpted in William Dalrymple, “Introduction” in Fanny Parkes, Begums, Thugs and White Mughals (London: Erland {iBooks.}, 2007), 4. For the only and original edition, see Fanny Parkes, Wandering of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque During Four-And-Twenty Years in the East with Revelations of Life in the Zenana, 2 Volumes (London: Pehlan Richardson, 1850). (Page numbering varies between the first edition and 2012 edition and the latter’s electronic version. Here, unless specifically titled, we have mostly consulted the electronic version in its PDF format, as edited by William Dalrymple). 23 Parkes, (2012, PDF), 56, 62, 63–65. 24 Built of red stone, his prominent grave is topped by an Indian style canopy—Chattri— whereas the city council has erected his sculpture in the heart of Bristol as a homage to this Indian reformer. Parkes identifies Roy as a baniya who was certainly prosperous; had studied Arabic and Persian in his early years as these were the main literary and business languages of the time, and worked for East India Company. Parkes, 71. 25 Parkes, 93–95, & 113. 26 To Fanny Parkes, the polygamous nature of the Nawab’s household did not encourage Mrs. Bentinck to visit zenana though she had come to the region with her spouse, the Governor-General, when several presentations took place and gifts exchanged. Ibid., 186. 27 The new Nawab was notorious for his penchant for alcohol and sexual escapades. He was poisoned to death just at 28 owing to some palatial intrigues whereas the

112  Bridging the gaps succession became disputatious between the Begum and East India Company. Nawab Haider was issueless but Munna Jan, an adopted son from one of his partners was installed as his heir, though challenged by the Company. The latter put both Padshah Begum and Munna Jan in prison and instead enthroned the son of the Late Nawab Saadat Ali Khan (1752–1814). For buildings, largely owed to Nawab Khan, and the detailed Shia rituals at Lucknow, see Rosie Llewellyn-Jones (ed.) Lucknow: City of Illusion, The Alkazi Collection of Photography (London: Prestel, 2006); also, A Fatal Friendship: the Nawabs, the British and the City of Lucknow (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). 28 Parkes, (2012, PDF), 191. 29 Ibid. 30 Parkes, 229. 31 Parkes, 205–6. 32 Begums, Thugs and White Mughals, 259–60. Earlier, she offered details on Barra Mela (the big festival) , a periodic Hindu festival, where pilgrims, mendicants, snake charmers, jugglers, and the locals participated in a wide variety of devotional practices. The jogis seemed to enjoy extra privileges as they could enter private homes of the Hindus, uninterrupted: “Although the Hindus keep their women parda-nishīn, that is, veiled and secluded behind the curtain, the fakīrs have the privilege of entering any house they please and even of going into the zenāna; and so great is their influence over the natives that if a religious mendicant enters a habitation leaving his slippers at the door, the husband may not enter his own house. They have the character of being great libertines.” (Parkes. 241). She even witnessed a corpse floating down the Ganges mistaking it for a European though, as she came to know later, it was a half-burnt body of a Hindu whose skin had peeled off to give a rather pale reflection from afar. 33 Begums, Thugs and White Mughals, 120–1. For the original text from the first edition, see Wanderings of a Pilgrim, 220. 34 Parkes, 297–8. Certainly, her spellings of the Perso–Muslim names have issues at places but possibly that is how she transliterated them as she heard them being pronounced. However, her information about Aurangzeb being the grandson of Shah Jahan is not correct, as he was the third son of the latter and his successor following a civil war. For the original text, see Parkes, Wandering of a Pilgrim, 348–9. 35 Parkes, (2012, PDF), 299. 36 Ibid., 302. 37 Ibid., 305. 38 The present author was able to visit the Agra Fort and its royal chambers, following a visit to Taj Mahal, in 1997. The subsequent restorations have brought back some original majesty of the buildings though smog, industrial pollution and millions of tourists pose new and no less dire threat to these Mughal monuments. 39 Parkes, 306–7. 40 Ibid. One comes across such sensational stories often blemished with lurid details of Mughal tyranny such as the story of maidservants being bricked alive for falling in love with the princes. Other than such travel accounts or literary narratives, Bollywood movies equally dwell on such exotics. However, technical and historical interests in the Taj Mahal and such other Mughal monuments is a subject of major significance. For instance, Anu Kumar, “Why Curzon’s name is inscribed on a lamp that hangs inside the Taj Mahal?”: Ygk5FxwnGqi5jPDQzycUqxJGtnV882EtQXlVaKViZ4Xv4PvoLO4 41 “Having thus destroyed the beauty of the baths of the palace, the remaining marble was afterwards sold on account of Government; most happily, the auction brought so small a sum it put a stop to further depredations.” Parkes, 310. 42 She allows herself a bit of arrogance while suggesting that she might be the only European to be privileged with visits to zenanas of India’s illustrious families: “I know of no European lady but myself, with the exception of one, who has ever had an

Bridging the gaps  113 opportunity of becoming intimate with native ladies of rank; and as she had also an invitation to the wedding we agreed to go together.” Parkes, 311. 43 Ibid., 319–20. Parkes notices the presence of “slave” girls and how on such occasions they received special presents, though is also mindful of gossip and intrigues rife in the zenana. Parkes, finally, met up with Mrs. Gardner, the princess from Cambay, and noted down her impressions of this Muslim lady, who like other such mixed marriages, ensured the induction of Islamic ethos into her children: “The begum is a very lively little old woman; she was magnificently dressed in pearls, diamonds, and emeralds – as many as it was possible to put on her little body; she wore a peshwāz, or very short full gown, with a tight body, made of red and gold Benares tissue; this is a dress of state; pajāmās of silk; and, over all, a dupatta of red and gold Benares tissue which, as she sat, covered her entirely; and she looked more like a lump of glittering gold and crimson and pearls than a living woman. A golden huqqa, with four nā’echas (snakes) was placed before her on a huqqa carpet of raised flowers, curiously cut out in paper. The room was covered with a carpet, over which white cloths were spread after the usual fashion and the lamps all stood on the ground.” Ibid., 329. 44 Parkes, 364. 45 Ibid., 389. Given her early observations on Muslim women, this comment is rather abrupt though may carry some truth and pathos. 46 In this portion of her account Parkes shows some fondness and sympathy for the old Nawab whose first wife had earlier died with her body sent off to Mecca for burial. However, it went down the sea during the voyage and the Nawab remarried. In their recent encounter, the Nawab explained the historical background to the events of 680 CE when Prophet’s grandson was murdered by Umayyad forces leading to a number of mourning rituals by Shia Muslims. The jaloos (mourning procession), alam (banner) showing an open hand with five fingers symbolising the Prophet’s immediate family, and Duldul (the horse) memorialising Imam Husain’s horse in Karbala in 680 CE were explained to the English visitor who penned them down quite copiously. 47 Parkes, 478. Earlier, she had been to Jamia Mosque and Chandni Chowk and other landmarks in Shahjahanabad. 48 Rumour had gone around that some of Nadir Shah’s soldiers had been waylaid, to which this former shepherd and now the king of Persia and Afghanistan, ordered indiscriminate killing of Delhi’s residents irrespective of age, creed, gender, and class. According to Parkes, at least 100,000 lives were lost in the genocide, until the Mughal royals visited on the Shah: “At length the unfortunate Emperor of Delhi, attended by a number of his chief omrah, ventured before him with downcast eyes. The omrah, who preceded the king, bowed their foreheads to the ground. Nādir Shāh sternly asked them what they wanted? They cried out with one voice, ‘Spare the city.’ Mohammed said not a word, but the tears flowed fast from his eyes. The tyrant, for once touched with pity, sheathed his sword and said, ‘For the sake of the prince Mohammed I forgive.’ The massacre was instantly stopped”. Parkes, 479. 49 Ibid., 486–7.

6 Mapping Muslim communities Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali in India

This chapter is devoted to an English resident in India, who went there as the spouse of an Indian Muslim and lived a fulfilling life while recording the contemporary beliefs and rituals, especially of Shi’i Muslims in Awadh, presently called Uttar Pradesh (UP). We do not know much about Biddy Timms (Mrs.) Meer Hassan Ali (1781–1862), except for the fact that she married one of the earliest Muslim academics in Britain; came with him to South Asia in 1817; led quite a sociable life before returning to England in 1828 to devote herself to teaching and writing. Her account, quite extensive even from our contemporary standards, is of an intimate observer and not of a casual traveller, without featuring discretionary self-righteousness. Her personal details from her native Surrey and those of her immediate Syed family in India are almost non-existent but her immersion in Muslim practices, marital rituals, Muharram processions, and mourning sessions besides the sources of Islamic ethos make it into one of the earliest holistic study of its kind that is both historical and anthropological without becoming judgmental. Her information, along with her own observations, came from her knowledgeable and well-travelled father-in-law, who had been thrice to the Hejaz, and shrines in Najaf and Karbala, and thus was a Haji. Her extensive conversation with Mir Haji (Hadji} Mahmud Shah, with her husband, Meer/ Mir Hassan Ali, functioning as a translator featured a dialogue between her own Christian upbringing and Islamic beliefs of her in-laws and other hosts in India. There is an element of respect on all sides as conversations are rooted in a genuine quest to learn from each other instead of any attempt for conversion. Her own access to zenana and the senior hierarchy of Awadh all the way to the Nawab (king) and the Prime Minister evidence her rare first-hand experience and insight into the working of one of the last princely states in India before its annexation by the East India Company (EIC) in 1856. Hers is perhaps the first-ever study of Shi’i Islam in an Indian context sharing interface with West Asia, though, in general, she avoids talking about Hindus, Sunni Muslims, and the rest except for some infrequent references. In the same vein, Ali is reticent about her own life in England and the decision to marry her future spouse followed by a move to India for the next 12 years. Even after her return to England, she does not offer any autobiographical information about herself or her families in England and India. Published in 1832, her study is quite worthwhile, interesting and original as it displays a greater sense of authenticity and

Mapping Muslim communities  115 recourse to all the minute details on being a Muslim in the India of the early nineteenth century. Ali’s study is neither a typical travelogue nor a self-centred autobiography; instead, offers a comprehensive chronicle on Indian Muslims while living with her extended family and is certainly a rebuke to Orientalist caricatures of the time and their postscripts. It is vital for us to understand that Orientalism, like the imperial administration, was usually a masculine preoccupation that usually ignored women writers, observers, and commentators, who, in several cases, maintained their own respective views about societies such as India—beyond the power-based rubrics.1 Justifiably, academes such as Linda Colley and Margaret MacMillan refuse to accept a total conformity or even passivity on the part of colonial women—a position that might have denied them their own autonomous agency.2 It is probably owing to the fact that the male historians, themselves attuned to a single-factor masculinisation of imperialism, often ignored writings and even art works by women in the former colonies.3 Aware of differences of viewpoints among the British imperial women in India, Raza counsels against generalising and acknowledges the far-reaching impact of Ali’s writing on other compatriots: “Her work embodied a unique experience and, to considerable acclaim, became a long standing guide to both professionals in India, and the general reading public.”4 Largely basing our information on her book originally published in 1832, and later edited by William Crooke (1917), we will first try to ascertain the historical context of this large but ever shrinking state of Awadh and its rulers, who sought their origins from Persia and devotedly pursued Shi’i doctrines and rituals making Lucknow and Faizabad bastions of Shi’i Islam. Then we shall recount the biographical details of this Syed family—Ali’s in-laws—, followed by her own searchlight on people and places in the state and around. Dedicated to the Princess Augusta in Britain, Observations on the Mussalmauns of India is a journey across northern India where a series of Awadhi Nawabs, originally designated as Prime Ministers of Mughal India, negotiated a tough politics varying between competitive forces of the EIC, Marathas, and the Afghans. Seeking a recourse to Persian culture and Shia faith, these Nawabs ensured establishment of mosques, imambaras, and palatial houses besides a thorough celebration of Muharram mourning rituals that allocated Lucknow a preeminent role as a centre of unique Indo-Muslim culture. Persia and India had always enjoyed close relationship evident through political, intellectual, and literary traditions allowing the Subcontinent to be a major centre of what Marshall Hodgson called “Islamicate.”5 The Indo-Persian culture firmed up both under the Delhi Sultans and their successors—the Mughals—though even before the Muslim conquest of the Indus Valley in 711 CE, Indo-Persian mutualities had been historic with migrations, invasions, and religions playing significant roles all through history. The arrival of the Aryans in both the regions, establishment of dynastic orders especially under the Persians across the Indus Valley and popularisation of Zoroastrianism helped these regions integrate during the Achaemenid and Sassanid empires. India’s south—known as the Deccan—had lesser share of this plurality though both Judaism and Christianity were present

116  Mapping Muslim communities in coastal areas given the movement of people and goods across the Indian Ocean.6 A major push towards India by the Persian elite took place during the Safawid period (1501–1722) who had transformed Persia into a monocreedal {Shi’i} polity with many Zoroastrians and Sunni Muslims migrating to Mughal India. Already Deccanese kingdoms ruled by Muslim kings patronised Persian politicocultural traditions but their integration into Mughal empire made Agra, Delhi, Allahabad, Lahore, and Faizabad favourite destinations for Persian elite.7 During the reigns of Emperors Jahangir (1569–1627) and his son, Shah Jahan (1592–1664), some of the most important ministerial and palatial positions were held by these Persian families whose own mobility, Persian language, and loyalty to the Mughals,8 ensured their quicker integration in the Indian administration.9 Empress Noor Jahan (1577–1645) and her family virtually ruled India whereas her niece Mumtaz Mahal (1593–1631) became Shah Jahan’s favourite wife. The death of Aurangzeb in 1707 followed by internecine wars among his heirs allowed fissiparous forces to claim autonomy and pose a dire threat to the very core of the Mughal Empire.10 Delhi, the capital under the Later Mughals, lost its control over vital provinces such as Bengal, Deccan, Gujarat, Kabul, and Sindh to a whole set of claimants, who in many cases had been the former Mughal elite (mansabdars).11 By 1808, the Mughal emperor was just the nominal owner of the Red Fort with his control confined to Delhi amidst total dependence over a watchful East India Company. Earlier, it was the Marathas or capricious nawabs/ governors controlling the emperors whose own indolence multiplied following the invasions by Nadir Shah Afshar (1739) and Ahmed Shah Abdali (1764), which caused a serious incapacitation of Delhi’s writ. In view of the absence of new institutional reforms and unending wars of succession in a large and equally plural India, the central authority steadily dissipated and the province of Awadh, like Bengal and Hyderabad (Deccan), refused to supply revenue and the needed succour. The very mansabdari hierarchy that guaranteed loyalty, revenues and soldiery to the emperors,12 now allowed these elite to claim their own suzerainty only showing nominal submission to weakened rulers in Delhi until the EIC, following the Rebellion of 1857, banished King Bahadur Shah Zafar to an ignoble exile and demise in Rangoon.13 The founder of Awadh (Oudh) was Saadat Ali Khan (1680–1739), a Mughal noble of Persian/Khorasani origins who, following a military career in Aurangzeb’s Deccan campaigns rose to the post of Prime Minister in the Mughal Empire. Awadh emerged as a semi-autonomous state under his stewardship, especially from 1722 to 1739, and its separatism further grew under his successor and sonin-law, Muhammad Muqin titled as Safdar Jang. Threatened by neighbouring Pashtun states, he tried to consolidate his power in the capital, Faizabad and on his death in 1754 received burial in an elaborate mausoleum in Delhi. Like the first Nawab, he was an instrument and victim of palatial conspiracies in Delhi and tried to spend more time in Faizabad while harbouring ambition for an autonomous kingdom though some contemporary English writings occasionally called him the King of Oudh. Safdar Jang’s son, Jalal-ud-Din Haider ascended the throne in Faizabad titling himself as Shuja-ud-Daula who, helped by his capable wife, ensured beautification of his capital. He joined Nawab Mir Qasim of Bengal

Mapping Muslim communities  117 against the EIC in the Battle of Buxar in 1764 and suffered a defeat causing the loss of vital territories such as Ghazipur and Allahabad to the latter. In 1773, the EIC appointed its first resident in the state of Awadh to monitor and control the Nawab, who reluctantly accepted this imposition. Two years later, this ambitious Nawab died and was succeeded by Asaf-ud-Daula (d. 1798) who built some of the most impressive palaces, imambaras, gatehouses, and parks in Lucknow besides ensuring the prevalence of Shi’i theology. He had shifted the capital from Faizabad to Lucknow and like Emperor Shah Jahan ensured the beautification of his new metropolis. Following the fourth Nawab’s death in 1798, his son, Wazir Ali, earned the wrath of the EIC and some other influential courtiers who dismissed him within a year of ascension to be succeeded by Saadat Ali Khan (d. 1814), officially known as Yamin-ud-Daula. This Nawab carried on the architectural works of his father in Lucknow and built some prominent houses known as kothis but ceded half of his state to the EIC. On Saadat Ali Khan’s death in 1814, Ghazi-ud-Din Haider (d. 1827) took over the reign in Lucknow and continued with the religious, literary, and architectural activities of his predecessors. In fact, other than building new palatial houses in a unique Lucknawi style for his three wives including a European spouse, Haider built two shrines, replicating the tomb of Imam Ali in Najaf and of Imam Husain in Karbala. It was during his rule that Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali resided in the state and penned her accounts of this princely state as per its well-established Shi’i Muslim ethos. The Nawab passed away in 1827 and was buried at the Najaf Imambara near the resting places of his three wives, and was succeeded by his son, Nawab Nasir-ud-Din Haider (d. 1837) under whom the political economy of the state deteriorated quite radically. Mostly spending his time in zenana, the Nawab was notorious for all kinds of practices bordering on debauchery and the state’s administration was looked after for a time by Mahdi Ali Khan, the Prime Minister, who was subsequently quite close to Fanny Parkes (1794–1875), the long-time British resident in Awadh. Apparently issueless, the Nawab, on his death in 1837 was succeeded by Munu Jan, a minor from Padshah Begum, one of King’s consorts whose claims to the royal household were challenged both by the EIC and other members of the Nawab family. Padshah Begum and her son were soon imprisoned by the EIC, who enthroned a senior son of the late Nawab Saadat Ali Khan, titled as Muhammad Ali Shah. The new king was already 63 and more interested in building shrines and towers and died in 1842 within 5 years of his enthronement. The next Nawab to rule a truncated and almost bankrupt state was Ahmed Ali Shah, the son of Muhammad Ali Shah, an orthodox Muslim, whose death resulted into the enthronement of his son, Wajid Ali Shah, in 1847, the tenth and last ruling monarch. Lord Dalhousie annexed the state in 1856 for being allegedly corrupt, insolvent, and inept. The report to the effect was submitted by General William Sleeman and given the location and agrarian resources of this region known as Doaba (land between two rivers), it was forcibly annexed by the Company. Wajid Ali Shah, a poet, musician, and a dancer was responsible for reviving classical Indian dances including Kathak besides building a memorable palatial complex called Qaisarbagh. The deposed Nawab was exiled to Calcutta as a prisoner where he lived until his death in 1887 while missing his native Lucknow and its special evenings interspersed

118  Mapping Muslim communities with Urdu poetry recitals and musical performances. With his deportation, many artistes, litterateurs, and certainly the ruling elite felt abandoned. During the Rebellion of 1857, Wajid Ali Shah’s second wife, Begum Hazrat Mahal (1820– 1879) recruited and led a regiment of women, latterly finding herself as a hero in nationalist narratives. She, subsequently, fled to Nepal and lived as an exile until her death two decades later. Continuing with the Perso-Mughal traditions, the Awadhi nawabs ran the state in a monarchical way where the dynastic ruler was the sole source of power and given the plural nature of the populace, they would try to maintain communal harmony. Yet, emphasis on Shi’i rituals, patronage of holy places in Kufa and Najaf, and the construction of imambaras vocally exhibited a strong recourse to this doctrinal orientation. Awadh soon became the centre of Shi’i Islam where Urdu poets composed moving eulogies in praise of Imam Ali and his descendants, finding receptive monarchy and populace enthralled by such poetics. Lucknow and Faizabad attained fame for traditional mannerism and overtook Delhi as the centres of Urdu literature where poems especially elegies in praise of the Prophet’s family and long eulogies (qaseedas) about Karbala and other such subjects surpassed hitherto familiar Urdu genres. Despite great fondness for Persian statecraft and monarchical norms, Urdu became the court language in Awadh, symbolising a polite culture known as Lucknawi adab, which meant excellence in literature and ethics. Thus, other than monarchical regalia—some time criticised by the EIC officials as sheer decadence—Lucknawi culture came to symbolise a latter-day Indo-Islamic synergy known as Lucknawi sham (twilight). As mentioned above, Ali’s personal information remains scanty which, given her detailed and knowledgeable searchlight on Awadh, is surprising. She is either being objectively impersonal like a professional observer, or is simply unwilling to dwell on her own details. Her in-laws were originally from Ludhiana in Punjab, where Haji Mahmud Shah‘s father had once worked as a jurist (qazi), and feeling unsafe amidst the rising power of the Sikhs and Mahrattas, he decided to shift to some other region before embarking on three pilgrimages to Hejaz, Kufa, and Karbala. While in Arabia, he treated the long-suffering wife of a rich merchant who gave him enormous money leading him to marry an Arab woman, Fatima, before returning to Lucknow to work under the Shi’i Nawabs. Following an act of bravery in a hunt led by Shuja-ud-Daula, he was assigned a religious role in the household of a eunuch noble, Almas Ali Khan. Haji Shah’s son and author’s future husband, Mir Hassan Ali, following an altercation with his father left home for Calcutta to work for the EIC. After gaining a good grasp of English, he departed for England in 1810 to become an assistant for John Shakespear, the professor of Hindustani at Military College, Addiscombe. At this college, he worked for 6 years as a teacher of Arabic and Hindustani with the cadets under his care until he resigned to return to India on health grounds. He had met his future wife in Addiscombe in 1812 when they both worked together on some translation work. Wedding happened just before their departure for India in 1816. His teaching services at the college ensured handsome remuneration and comfortable pension from the Company. He received 1,000 guineas for his passage to India besides a gift of 50 pound for his translation of Gospel of St. Matthew.

Mapping Muslim communities  119 Other than paying him a 100 pound as travel subsistence, the EIC officials in London asked the Bengal government to pay him a monthly pension of 100 rupees, which, during that period was a handsome remuneration. Possibly, he might have been deputed to England by Awadhi Nawab to sort out his relations with the EIC headquarters in Leadenhall Street but given no documentary evidence this could be a plain supposition. In 1816, they both sailed for Calcutta and finally reached Lucknow via Patna where she lived for the next 12 years including 11 years that she spent at her father-in-law’s house. Her husband, for a time, worked for the Nawab as a senior revenue official but had to leave his job due to some dispute and retired to Farrukhabad. Later, he worked for Lucknow Residency besides receiving pension for his job in England. His relations with the Nawabs were often stormy though he lived in palatial houses. The couple were residing in a mansion in 1824 in Fatehgarh when Bishop Heber visited Lucknow on the invitation from the Nawab. During Ali’s stay in Awadh, her husband did not enter into any polygamous relationship though in her book, she did not find any issues with such marriages since wives, in their obedience and loyalty, would allow this liberty to their spouses. Hassan Ali was issueless from his English wife but sired three children from his native spouse—all three subsequently rose to good positions in the EIC. He died in India in 1863 whereas his wife had already departed for England in 1828 on health grounds and here engaged herself in teaching and writing. In his preface to Ali’s volume, Crooke notes the absence of biographical information about the author, as he observes: Little is known of the history of Mrs Mir Hassan ‘Ali after her arrival in England. It has been stated that she was attached in some capacity to the household of the Princess Augusta, who died unmarried on September 22, 1840 … She must have been in good repute among Anglo-Indians, because several well-known names appear in the list. These are the “old India hands” who repatriated home after their tenure in India with the EIC.14 Due to her marriage into the Syeds—the Muslim ashra’af—Ali was widely respected and enjoyed easy access into other Syed households though she avoids talking about the palatial intrigues during the contemporary reigns of Ghazi-udDin Haider and Nasir-ud-Din Haider. She had the unique privilege of visiting the Red Fort in Delhi featuring a rare audience with the Mughal Emperor, Akbar Shah II (1760–1837), and his Queen. The penultimate emperor ruled from 1806 until his death though his writ, like that of his father, Shah Alam II, remained confined to the Fort and the old city of Delhi amidst his dependence upon the EIC. She could not help notice the marginalisation of penury stricken royal family though it is not clear whether her husband had accompanied her during her sojourn to the Mughal capital. In her narrative, she consciously avoids writing about the suffocative nature of zenana life or such other rivalries among women and siblings, though Fanny Parkes was more forthright about such subjects. There is no denying the fact that the EIC officials had no such access to royal families and these two British women—Mrs. Ali and Mrs. Parkes—had the exceptional privilege of

120  Mapping Muslim communities seeing the Indian family life from intimate quarters. Designed as Letters, Ali’s 27 chapters, prefaced by an introduction, are quite thematic offering exhaustive details, all derived from her own first-hand observations along with what her husband and father-in-law shared with her. In her prefatory remarks, she introduces her narrative based on “twelve years of my life … passed on terms of intimacy and kindness” as the work being “designed merely for the perusal of private friends” who sought first-hand information on the creed and “domestic habits of the Mussulmaun community of Hindoostaun than any hitherto presented through other channels.” She is quite modest about her effort—“the humblest effort of a female pen”—and remains conscious of her own linguistic deficiencies while identifying the names of people and places, as she heard them from the others. Certainly, many of her proper names manifest such anomalies in spellings but any student of Indian history and societies can easily empathise with that lacuna.15 Ali’s first chapter focuses on etymological origins of the first month of lunar calendar, called Muharram, which for Shi’i Muslims is the month of mourning due to the martyrdom of Imam Husain in Karbala in 680 CE at the hands of his Umayyad opponents. Challenging the usual life of expatriate in a rather inclement weather of India, she builds up the case for engaging oneself to all kinds of work including immersion in the local mores such as the respect for elders that she finds quite remarkable: Here I find the master and mistress of a family receiving the utmost veneration from their slaves and domestics, while the latter are permitted to converse and give their opinions with a freedom (always respectful), that at the first view would lead a stranger to imagine there could be no greater inequality of station between the persons conversing … I consider them the most praiseworthy people existing. Other than respect for age, she commends charitable habits among Muslims who would never ignore any appeal for help “in the name of God.” However, while discussing the genealogy of the Syeds as descendants of the Prophet, she highlights their reluctance in accepting any charity unless in dire situation; otherwise as per Quranic instruction, they try to be self-sufficient. She is quite impressed by the tenacity of these Syeds in retaining “the purity of their race,” which would often result into Syed women remaining unmarried for want of Syed grooms, which sadly continues even today in most such cases including families in Diaspora. Her own three sisters-in-law were unmarried despite the fact they were beautiful, well tutored in Arabic and Persian besides being fully conversant with the household chores, yet the marital offers fell short of their capabilities and status.16 Then, our author mentions Husain’s cousins and sons who fought on his side until mercilessly martyred on the tenth of Muharram. She identifies Najaf as the resting place of Husain’s father, Ali, which, according to her received information, is also the mound on which Adam and Eve landed in their journey from heavens. She refers to a grave, believed to be that of Eve, which may be a hearsay and not a fact. The hill, reportedly, is also the site where Noah’s boat moored. In their

Mapping Muslim communities  121 veneration for this part of Iraq, certainly several narratives try to link it up with other Biblical and Quranic traditions. Notwithstanding the discrepancies in her spellings including those of Muhammad and a few other personages, there is no denying that Husain’s shrine in Karbala and Ali’s in Najaf have been the holiest centres after the Hejaz for most Muslims, especially the Shi’is. Resistance by Husain, his family and followers, the sublimity of his mission and the courageous fight against an army several times bigger and well supplied are the vital components of this Karbala narrative. These events and acts of bravery featured in rituals, sermons and mourning processions in Awadh, as witnessed by our author seem to acquire endurance over the successive decades. In her second chapter, Ali continues offering details on how the tazia processions are painlessly organised with special banners, flags, horses, and elephants, all bedecked with objects reminding people of seventh century Iraq amidst throngs of mourners clad in black. These processions were of Shi’i men heading towards places of worship called imambara/Imambargah with women often congregating in houses to observe the processions and then moving on to those communal places to hear emotional oratory on the pains and pangs of Husain and his family with the worshippers crying all the time: The Emaum-baarah is a sacred place, erected for the express purpose of commemorating Mahurrum, the founder not unfrequently intends this also as the mausoleum for himself and family. But we generally find Mukhburrahs (mausoleums) built in conspicuous situations, for the remains of kings, princes, nobles, and sainted persons.17 As we saw above, almost every nawab from the ten sovereigns of Awadh built such imambaras, some even replicating the shrines of Kufa and Karbala, and other than displaying exquisite beauty and sublimity, they are the cemeteries of Awadh’s ruling families. The Sunnis would not join rituals like chest beating or self-flagellating, and would avoid following a replica of Husain’s tomb and the horse called Duldul in memory of his stride, but they often distributed sherbet to the processionists, or stayed indoors offering quiet prayers. Ali was quite taken in by these ceremonies and especially by the elegies called marsiyas—in Urdu— making Awadh a major centre of such literary outpourings, often excelling Delhi and Hyderabad. She offers details on women assuming very simple life styles during the month of mourning by shunning make-up and jewellery and spending time in congregations paying tribute to Husain and his family especially Zaynab, his sister who was vocally defiant of the Damascene caliph. Ali considers Awadh’s Shi’i rituals, especially Tazia processions, to be a unique experience both for the Europeans and Muslims from elsewhere: Foreign Mussulmauns are equally surprised as Europeans, when they visit Hindoostaun, and first see the Tazia conveyed about in procession, which would be counted sacrilegious in Persia or Arabia; but here, the ceremony is not complete without a mixture of pageantry with, the deeply expressed and public exposure of their grief.

122  Mapping Muslim communities She herself is mesmerised by the “superb decoration” of imambara contrasted with “the remarkable plainness of the mosque.”18 The third chapter further dwells on rituals and beliefs shared by most Shi’i Muslims regarding sanctity of some places in Awadh, called Dargahs (lit: entrance) and attributed to some holy person, who made his presence in someone’s dream advising for the consecration of some specific site for pilgrimage. Such places may have an imambara or a tomb where all, including the notables such as Musa Ali Khan, Affrin Khan, and Almas Ali Khan—the influential eunuchs in the royal court and known to our author—would make their offerings.19 The royal processions were prepared quite meticulously with horses, elephants, slaves, courtiers, soldiers, and holy men among the devotional marchers, followed by special feasts at the shrine, all calibrated as per astrological instructions from the traditional experts. The fourth chapter too is devoted to Muharram, especially the ceremonies featuring music and poetry recitals on the way to imambaras, with processionists carrying replicas of shrines in Najaf and Karbala. Called Mehndi (henna) ceremony, this joyous occasion aimed at celebrating the engagement of Qasim, Husain’s younger son, to Sakina—his cousin.20 Her detailed information on these imambaras is replete with the lavish decoration of their cupolas, cornices, ceilings, and gateways with a generous application of gold, silver, gilt, and plaster. These shrines and royal mansions certainly exhibited devotional as well as mundane aspects of Lucknow’s Nawabi culture.21 At the elaborate engagement ceremony, the courtiers would bring trays of flowers and henna to the pulpit, itself made of silver and occupied by the king. The mehndi ceremony itself preambles marriages in South Asia especially among women participants and is quite elaborate and other than songs and dances, gifts, and money change hands. Our author was witness to these events among both men and zenana and while recognising the hierarchical order, is appreciative of the aspects of charity underpinning them. Held in the evenings, they resembled Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. At this particular ceremony described by Ali, Duldul was brought in to complete a circuit near the pulpit in imambara “without the slightest accident of confusion occurring.”22 Ali concludes this chapter by focusing on the wealth expended on ceremonies like Muharram that may evidence the apparent opulence of the princely state: The riches of a native city may be calculated by the immense sums expended at Mahurrum every year, and if no greater advantage be derived from the gorgeous display of the wealthy, than the stimulus to honest industry amongst the several trades, whose labour is brought into use on these occasions, there is enough in the result to excuse the expenditure of surplus cash in apparent trifles. This, however, is strictly the result, not the design, of those expensive displayers at Mahurrum, who are actuated solely by fervent zeal, in keeping a continued remembrance of the sufferings of their Emaums, and doing honour to their memory.23 It appears that the author was certainly aware of the huge expenses on such elaborate and time-consuming ceremonies but given her own ensconcement in a rather affluent family, she might have overlooked the cases of abject poverty in Awadh.

Mapping Muslim communities  123 In her next section, Ali offers first-hand information on Muslim households by detailing life-styles of women, their emphasis on cleanliness, and the entire regime of politeness that underpins relations among the class of people she had been living with. It appears that she is aware of contemporary Orientalist views held by some of the colonials in India and tries to challenge them by offering a first-hand searchlight on the family life, especially of Muslims. She acknowledges the aesthetic sense of womenfolk whose elaborate jewellery styles, silken clothes such as ungeeah (bodice), pyjamas, dupatta (wrap around), shoes with gold and silver strings, and multi-coloured beads witness a high level of urban sophistication. She underlines a pervasive sense of neatness among the local inhabitants, who in their own traditional ways ensure a good hygiene, as she narrates: It must not, however, be supposed that the Natives neglect their teeth; they are the most particular people living in this respect, as they never eat or drink without washing their mouths before and after meals; and as a substitute for our tooth-brush, they make a new one every day from the tender branch of a tree or shrub… Unlike, Fanny Parkes, she does not find women’s quarters reeking of stagnant life of boredom and inactivity: The ladies’s society is by no means insipid or without interest; they are naturally gifted with good sense and politeness, fond of conversation, shrewd in their remarks, and their language is both correct and refined. This, at first, was an enigma to me, considering that their lives are spent in seclusion, and that their education was not conducted on European principles; the mystery, however, has passed away upon an intimate acquaintance with the domestic habits of the people. The men with whom genteel women converse, are generally well educated, and from the naturally inquisitive disposition of the females, not a word escapes the lips of a father, husband, or brother, without an inquiry as to its meaning, which having once ascertained, is never forgotten, because their attention is not diverted by a variety of pursuits, or vain amusements. Ali’s information derives from an extensive living in that environment and did not emerge out of brief encounters or episodic narratives though one could say that her exposure was largely limited to elite women of Awadhi society but then 12 years is a long time for any such experience. She is appreciative of the camaraderie that the community shows over someone’s demise when for 40 days the bereaved family would not cook any food with the relatives and neighbours taking care of their domestics.24 She discusses Muslim beliefs in general with greater focus on Shi’i devotion to Prophetic family and accepts the fact that her in-laws largely derived it from Hayatul Qaloob, a Shi’i textbook authored by Muhammad Baqir. While discussing sectarianism in Islam she, unknowingly makes some mistakes especially when she views both Sunnis and Shi’i being equal in number which was not the

124  Mapping Muslim communities case as Sunnis had the preponderance. She makes certain mistakes while talking about the Pious Caliphs, who had succeeded Muhammad after his death in 632 CE to lead Muslims and were his close companions or even family members. Erroneously, she posits Caliph Omar to be the first among the four whereas he was the second, and defines Ali as Muhammad’s nephew while he was his cousin besides being his son-in-law. Omar is also accused of causing fire to Ali’s house, which is not true nor was he Muhammad’s father-in-law; in fact, it was Abu Bakr, the first caliph. This is not to suggest that she was intentionally misinformed by her father-in-law, who in fact occasionally asked her to recite the Bible for hours while her husband translated the gospels. In her seventh chapter, she focuses on prayers (namaz) including the Friday congregational prayer and is aware of minor denominational variations between the two major sects of Islam. In addition, she narrates the relationship among early Muslims, Jews and Christians including the time when Muslims, while praying faced towards Mecca. Earlier they would pray towards the direction of Jerusalem. The chapter also includes spiritual deeds by Shi’i imams besides Muslim veneration for Moses, Jesus, and Mary. In her detailed narrative of Muslim faith and culture as she observed first hand in Awadh, Ali discusses Ramadan, Eid, and Hajj in her next three chapters. The month of fasting is presented as a time of purification and charity with some pious Muslims fasting for even 40 days and daily praying five times besides conducting late night prayers. Even young children would fast, some breaking the fast by early afternoon while others would complete it even in scorching summer. However, she narrates the death of two siblings who expired due to dehydration. Ali’s information about pilgrimage often benefits from the three such visits by her father-in-law who had accompanied other pilgrims while encountering all kinds of people and experiences in Persia, Iraq, and Arabia including the hospitality of the Bedouin. This section includes stories of ascetic holy men as well as of ruffians who preyed on pilgrims. Our author devotes a large section on Eid, following pilgrimage that warrants animal sacrifices by Muslims in pursuance of an Abrahamic tradition. In Lucknow, she witnessed the annual celebration of this Eid as a royal gala when the Nawab would lead a procession of courtiers and soldiers to conduct a sacrifice amidst prayers and merry making. Often the British resident and his wife, dressed in formal costumes would accompany the procession where music, dancing by professionals and especially decorated elephants and horses would feature at this happy occasion. Traditionally, the Nawab would receive presents (nazrana) from his courtiers conferring special designations on them while gifting sashes and embroidered gowns called khalat. In the same vein, spring would be celebrated by holding two commemorative events: basant, a north Indian tradition featuring feasts and kite flying, and Nauroze or the first day of new Persian year. However, only the professionals engaged in dances and not the royal entourage who were often baffled by the European tradition of mixed dancing. The Awadhis felt quizzical about the way European men approached women asking them to dance, which the Indians viewed rather disrespectful. Commenting on women’s quarters and life within, our author is slightly uncomfortable on their inactivity bordering on confinement and wonders about segregation, lack of public exposure, and induction of several superstitions

Mapping Muslim communities  125 featuring many ceremonies including marriage. She describes the paraphernalia kept in a typical household including carpets, cots, blankets, and quilts whereas chairs, sofas, and tables would appear only if the guests happened to be Europeans. Barbers would prepare food for major festivities out in the open since kitchens were often quite small and strictly run by women. Houses were divided between the inner quarters meant for women and outer for men and their guests. In her discussion with her father-in-law and some Syed women, she found out that the veil and segregation among Muslims happened quite earlier on in Islamic history while blaming Ayesha for bringing it upon the rest. Ayesha, Abu Bakr’s daughter was Muhammad’s youngest wife, an eminent scholar and narrator of his sayings, but as per Shi’i viewpoint, since she battled against Ali, she lost favour among them. As per narratives, Ayesha had been once left behind while travelling raising all kinds of issues about her lifestyles and being exceptionally beautiful the Prophet slapped seclusion and veil on her and other women of his household.25 According to Ali, it was under Tamerlane that veiling and segregation of Muslim women happened more forcefully, since the Central Asian conqueror held preconceived notions of Hindus and wanted to keep his women insular from idolatry and the rest. Ali also talks about polygamy among wealthy Muslims and seeks its adjudication from Prophetic teachings but qualifies it with procreation and not for the sake of dissipation. Ali offers interesting details on the primacy of the first wife, when she delivers a baby boy though fellow wives continue to share the same compound. She refers to general preference for boys and without identifying any particular region in the state refers to the Nawab banning female infanticide, which, in her opinion came from Rajput traditions.26 Ali, in her middle chapters, goes into a great length on marital arrangements among Muslim elite where visitations by matchmakers or family friends will ensure proper scrutiny of a would-be bride. Elaborate marriage festivities also feature in this large section of her work where she focuses on mehndi tradition (henna), dowry items, alimony, nikah ceremony conducted by a cleric, baraat (marriage procession), and walima (communal feast) as vital components. She finds these rituals quite pervasive across the communal and doctrinal divides showing their cross-faith and inter-cultural hybridity. She finds weddings costing immensely to the families, especially those with limited means yet everyone would attempt to make them elaborate and lavish. At such joyous activities and festivities, other than food, paan (beetle leaf with condiments) and hookah (smoking pipe) were widely used affording greater socialisation among the participants. Ali also closely observes the rules and customs related to the birth and growth of children in Muslim families like hers along with the normal pastimes of people in Lucknow and around. Of course, she finds families quite jubilant over the birth of a son and especially when it is not too late in the marriage. Childbirth rituals like naming, cutting hair, offering a special herbal morsel soaked in honey called ghutti, and the first bath are described in fuller details until the boy is 7 when he undergoes circumcision amidst religious and feisty events. While women were not too active physically with a limited exposure outside their homes, younger men, however, attended arenas to build on their muscles or to practise with

126  Mapping Muslim communities swords and lances. She does not find many men of means displaying fondness for walking, as they preferred a horse ride or using an elephant that again symbolised their status. She witnesses many men going into forests for pigeon shooting while the affluent ones might own cheetahs and leopards as pets, though is not enamoured of cock-fights which involved some cruel spectacles besides gambling. While talking about legal system, Ali becomes aware of murderers being hanged or even forgiven by the near ones of the deceased, allowing judges (qazis) a choice. She notes: In cases of crime such as murder, the nearest relative surviving is appealed to by the court of justice; if he demands the culprit’s life, the court cannot save him from execution. But it is rarely demanded; they are by no means a revengeful people generally; there are ambitious, cruel tyrants to be found, but these individuals are exception to the mass of the people. Examples of mercy set by the King in all countries have an influence upon his subjects; and here the family of a murdered man, if poor, is maintained by the guilty party or else relieved by royal munificence, as the case may require.27 This is totally a different view than the pervasive colonial discourse of decadent rulers and victimised masses, especially of princely states such as Awadh, though she was aware of some rulers being capricious and cruel. Our author seems to know the bazaars as well as a wide variety of venders who would visit localities hawking their goods and seemed to know their customers—in several cases women from inside the zenana. Shops selling fruit and vegetables displayed seasonal greens whereas the naunbhai would bake all kinds of bread and sweets year round. Jewellers were known to the families, as were the sarafs, the moneychangers, who were mostly Hindus running their businesses not only within Awadh but also across India and Asia through the hondhi system. Mutual trust underpinned the system without involving banks whereby a moneychanger would receive the money and then his contact elsewhere will pay the equivalent to the recipient on the other end in local currency. In addition, sarafs would check the authenticity of coins and notes such as rupees besides lending money while charging their commission or interest. Among other vendors, Ali found nomadic mendicants—mostly women—with their leeches to draw stale blood from patients. In addition, there were physicians, trained in herbal medicines, who would treat patients and often happened to be quite literate. As a keen observer, Ali also encountered butchers, bird keepers, blacksmiths, cobblers, hookah makers, punkah (fan) makers, snake charmers, toy makers, astrologers and a whole spectrum of people who ran their businesses either through shops or by hawking around from one locality to the rest. She saw people making kabobs on the grills in bazaars and is all praise for mangoes and melons—two favourite summer fruit in India. She found Muslims fond of a variety of fish such as roh, which they would cook in a curry while avoiding shellfish as per their religious instructions. However, Ali herself avoided eating fish “since I knew the practice of the Hindoos of throwing their dead bodies into the rivers{,} the ideas of as an article of food was too revolting to my taste.”28

Mapping Muslim communities  127 Ali is well-versed with some local imposters who would make money while befooling some gullible residents. For instance, she devotes a major section of her 16th chapter on snake charmers who would visit streets promising to catch snakes from inside the houses while the men were away. Often they would have their tamed snakes, which they would secretly release in an unsuspecting house, and then by playing on their musical instrument made of gourd (been), they would entice reptiles back into their baskets claiming to have caught hidden snakes with their magical powers. It appears that other than knowing all the Urdu names for these hawkers, professionals, and shopkeepers and their commodities, Ali came to know their marketing skills and the entire gambit of local commerce. While often in praise of her Muslim relatives in Lucknow, Ali is quite aware of social contrasts in that class-based society where manners and relationships owed to one’s status, quite in consonance with a deeply ingrained sense of honour. Her 17th chapter presents those contrasts when she talks about the Queen (Padshah Begum) and slaves in Awadh. Padshah Begum was the first and the senior most wife of the Nawab and like other royal women of “superior classes” routinely spent her life indoors. However, while on her rare visit to a shrine, she passed through the neighbourhood of our author who was able to witness the extent and variety of the procession accompanying the royal personage. Herself being carried in a palanquin and hidden from the public sight procession was led and followed by the battalions of soldiers, servants, and savants. There were men and women in the rally meant to protect her, or serve on her whereas other elite women rode their own separate palanquins. The women servants (slaves) walked with her carriage since they were supposed to move her around inside the harem. Ali found this occasion quite rare since Muslim women of note were not allowed to venture out unless on a rare occasion and that too fully veiled and on palanquins: The strict seclusion which forms so conspicuous a feature in the female society of the Mussulmauns in India, renders the temporary migration of ladies from their domicile an event of great interest to each individual of zeenahna, whether the mistress or her many dependents be considered.29 Like Parkes, Ali mentions slaves—both men and women—though one wonders whether both these authors preferred this term over servants. This is not to deny that the Indian elite did not practise slavery. Certainly, African slaves had been brought into India for centuries as soldiers and servants and there were Turkish slaves serving on their Central Asian monarchs and some even forming a ruling dynasty as well. In the case of Awadh, we know that there were African and Indian slaves but their ratio among the servants in general is undocumented. Eunuchs and maidservants who spent lifetime with the royal women and did not have any family of their own, would perpetually serve on their employers. The Awadhi royal women used to have female companions, who, other than serving, would narrate them stories whereas men would have their male companions often serving on them or playing chess with them.

128  Mapping Muslim communities Ali, while resentful of human bondage, reassures her readers of the good treatment of slaves and servants by their overlords: The female slaves, although constantly required about the lady’s person, are nevertheless tenderly treated, and have every proper indulgence afforded them. They discharge in rotation the required duties of their stations, and appear as much the object of the lady’s care as any other people in her establishment. Slavery with them is without severity; and in the existing state of Mussulmaun society, they declare the women slaves to be necessary appendages to their rank and respectability.30 As hinted above, she is not happy with the institution as she finds it “degrading” but in India she, in general, does not encounter any examples of brutality found elsewhere.31 Certainly, she wrote on this subject at a time when abolitionists in Britain and the United States were divided between the moderate and radical constellations. These countries faced the moral dilemma of ending chattel slavery that was deeply ingrained in the socio-economic structures, backed up by racialised avowals. However, Ali is able to differentiate between the courtly attitudes towards slaves in India and those on the plantations in Western Hemisphere. Soon after discussing this delicate but quite a pertinent subject, she reverts to the literary taste of her interlocutors who deeply adored classical Persian authors such as Firdausi, Hafez and Saadi. Perhaps, after talking about slavery, she felt impelled to highlight the humanity of her hosts by enumerating their immersion in creativity. Nothing seems to escape the keen eyes of our narrator, who, with a deep sense of fondness for India and especially Muslims, ensures a complete picture of flora and fauna of her adopted country. She devotes an entire chapter to frogs, locusts, flies, mosquitoes, and white, red and black ants, all in human proximity. She also takes into account the changing seasons and in particular, the storms and showers during the rainy months often bringing havoc to human habitation. In the process, she also records the local treatment for cholera, malaria and such other periodic diseases where physicians would prescribe traditional herbal doses. She devotes an entire chapter to Kannauj, a city on the Ganges and reputedly once the capital of a Hindu empire, which, reportedly, had been destroyed by a deluge. Its more recent destruction occurred due to an earthquake though Ali’s informants were not sure about the time scale, yet it had left the city upturned with many persons stumbling upon jewellery, coins and items of valuable interest. She mentions living in its old but abandoned fort for 2 years with her husband enabling her to visit Kannauj’s temples, mosques, shrines, and bruised mansions, mostly built with sturdy bricks. Her visit to the tomb of a medieval saint, Makhdum Shaikh Jahanian and the adjacent mosque shares elaborate architectural details. In her wanderings and musings, she happens to see many Hindu idols who had suffered defacement from some Muslim zealots but still that does not diminish her respect for Muslim monotheism. She reproduces stories of mass conversion of the Brahmins largely owed to some Syed publicist who was able to perform specific deeds, sufficient enough to change the convictions of his Hindu neighbours.

Mapping Muslim communities  129 Most of all, Ali is able to walk long distances in and around Kannauj, away from the prying eyes of the populace in Lucknow, the city of her erstwhile abode: Here I could indulge in long walks without incurring the penalty of departure from established custom, which in most-populated parts of Hindoostaun restrains European ladies from the exercise so congenial for their health and cherished habits. Should any English-woman venture to walk abroad in the city of Lucknow, for instance, —to express their most liberal opinion of the act,—she would be judged by the Natives as a person careless of the world’s opinion.32 A very revealing and equally rare portion of Ali’s volume is about her visit to Delhi, where she waited on the Mughal King and his Queen enabling her to comment on their immense humanity and dire adversity. She had recently recovered from some illness in Lucknow but was still able to climb up the steps of Qutub Minar, the earliest Muslim monument in Delhi besides visiting several tombs and shrines in the capital. She was horrified to see Delhi which, to her, appeared as “one vast extent of ruins; abounding in mementos of departed worth, as well as in wrecks of greatness, ingenuity, and magnificence.” She is aware of the several cities built one upon the other in the past though the Mughal part—Shahjahanabad—is surrounded by walls and features solid houses and shrines made of red stone and bricks. She enters the Red Fort through its grand entrance and after passing through several “formidable barriers” and “splendid apartments” sees the royal court built in white marble, until she reaches the quarters where the monarchs are waiting for her. King Akbar Shah II, who ruled from 1806 to 1837, was known for his piety, and total dependence on the Company, which by now was the de facto ruler: I found on entrance the King seated in the open air in an arm chair enjoying hookah; the Queen’s musnud {raised platform} on the ground, close by the side of her venerable husband. Being accustomed to Native society, I knew how to render the respect due from an humble individual to personages of their exalted rank. She takes off her shoes and after a salaam, is invited to sit next to the Queen— “an honour I knew how to appreciate from my acquaintance with the etiquette observed on such occasions.” Soon, they engage in an “interesting conversation” that dilates on weather, life, and government in England, royal court in London and her husband’s travels in Britain. They are deeply respectful of Ali’s marriage into the Syeds, who given their descent from the Prophet, hold a special status. She is taken in by their humanity and simplicity in manners, which leaves an enduring impression on the English visitor: On taking leave his Majesty very cordially shook me by the hand and the Queen embraced me with warmth. Both appeared, and expressed themselves, highly gratified with the visit of an English lady who could explain herself in their language without embarrassment, or the assistance of an interpreter…

130  Mapping Muslim communities Ali is aware of the penury and helplessness of the House of Tamerlane and accepts Queen’s parting gift of an embroidered scarf, and a “small ring, of trifling value was then placed by the Queen on my finger, as she remarked, ‘to remind me of the giver’.” According to Ali, King Akbar’s countenance, dignified by age, possesses traces of extreme beauty; {and} he is much fairer than Asiatics usually are…{and} he leads a life of strict piety and temperance, equal to that of a durweish of his faith, whome he imitates in expending his income on others without indulging a single luxury himself. The amiable disposition of the Queen deeply impresses her, since the former is “gifted with intellectual endowments {and} genuine politeness.” Ali’s description of the royal couple is certainly different from the familiar stories of clueless and drifty monarchs whose dependence on the Company’s Resident in the court is limitless and smacks of typical Orientalist mockery. She then goes on to visit the tomb of the founder of Awadhi Nawab dynasty, which neighbours the tomb of Emperor Humayun. Mansur Ali Khan (1739–56), as mentioned earlier, was known by his title, Safdar Jang and held the designation of a prime minster at the Delhi court and was buried in the capital city. His mausoleum received care from his successor Nawabs in Awadh who, for a time, paid tribute to the imperial court until stopped a generation later. However, she saw Awadhi soldiers guarding this grand tomb, surrounded by Mughal-style courtyards and bordered with elaborate walls and a magnificent entrance. Located about three miles from the Red Fort, tomb still engaged clerics reciting Quran, and they like the guards, were Awadh’s employees. Our author, herself a family member of a Lucknawi elite family, devotes a major section of her narrative on her visits to Nizam-ud-Din shrine and Qutub Minar. Nizam-ud-Din (1236–1325) was a leading Sufi, greatly respected by the Muslim elite and laity, and remains a focal point for Muslim pilgrims even today. Surrounded by the graves of his early disciples, Sufis, members of Mughal royal families and poets, the tomb holds a special eminence in Delhi’s history and traditions. She finds the complex built in a traditional pre-Mughal Muslim style, square in design featuring a cupola, with an access path built in marble. Not far from this saint’s grave is the resting place of Emperor Alam II (1759–1808), whose own “plebeian” lifestyle is manifested through his “simple, unadorned grave; [with} no canopy of marble or decorated hall.” This allows Ali to reflect on life’s mortality as she acknowledges the late emperor’s closeness with his sister—in both life and death—and his reigning years of adversity and helplessness during the long imperial decline. Exhibiting a strong element of spirituality and applying an eloquent language she finds the royal grave to be a little masonry of brick and plaster {that} supports the mound of earth over his remains, on which I observed the grass was growing, apparently cultured by some friendly hand. At the period of my visit, the solitary ornament to this last terrestrial abode of a King was a luxuriant white jessamine tree, beautifully studded with blossoms, which scented the air around with a delightful

Mapping Muslim communities  131 fragrance, and scattered many a flower over the grave which it graced by its remarkable beauty, height, and luxuriance. The sole canopy that adorns Shah Allum’s grave is the rich sky, with all its resplendent orbs of day and night, or clouds teeming with beneficent showers. Who then could be ambitious, vain, or proud, after viewing this striking contrast to the grave of Shah Nizaam?33 Her visit to Qutub Minar, built by Sultan Qutub-ud-Din Aibak (1206–10), is also a joyous experience, as other than being impressed by the monument’s historicity, majesty, and Quranic calligraphy, she is able to climb up to its first circular gallery to absorb the panoramic view of its surroundings.34 This visit to the royal Delhi allows her to recap some of the Indian and Persian stories of certain kings known for dispensing justice, over and above class and caste considerations. Such fables were widely held in India and Persia, and rooted in public ethics were meant to let the rulers and laity follow those venerated examples. Ali devotes a whole chapter to identifying trees, flowers, and herbs of India recapping their nutritional and hygienic features since the traditional physicians often used rose, jasmine, or fruit such as guava, falsa, and berries to cure their patients. She shows her awareness of traditional tibb (medicine) seeking treatment from these essences while focusing on intestines given their centrality in such a treatment. She describes her own first-hand experience of seeing people cured of dysentery and cholera, caused by careless eating. From bamboos to mango trees and from neem to mulberry trees, she shows intimate knowledge of nutritional norms and medicinal prescriptions and thus goes beyond the normative narratives. In the same vein, she is fascinated by some animals in India, especially monkeys and snakes and how people viewed them in general and Hindus in particular. In her 23rd chapter, she offers commonly held opinions about monkeys from their being humans in their previous existence to voluntarily turning into animals without forsaking a great degree of intellect. She refers to Hindu veneration for Hanuman—the monkey god—who helped Rama in his fight against Ravan. Through a number of folk tales, she tries to show how monkeys are keen observers of human behaviour and when bothered could turn into predatory herds. However, female monkeys fascinate her the most because of their love for their little ones whom they keep close to their chests and in case of infant monkey’s death sit for days mourning over the dead body. She refers to tussle between the monkeys, snakes, and alligators where monkeys often succeed through their inventive wisdom and by seeking help from others. She finds monkeys quite hierarchical with the oldest commanding authority over the entire group and they all seem to be communicating with one another through special vibes even without uttering a single sound. In the remaining part of this chapter and the next, Ali offers a unique searchlight on Sufis, who, in most cases, are spiritual beings and through devotion to God and the Prophet acquire eminence. Excepting some “pretenders,” most Sufis are divided into two groups: saliks (practising ones) and majzoobs (those who seek pleasure and ecstasy without being very particular about rituals). To her, Saadi (1210–1291), the Persian sage and the author of two classics—Gulistan and Bustan—was a practising Sufi, who with a complete transformation in his

132  Mapping Muslim communities life became a devout Muslim and then through travels and hard work, attained superb wisdom. On the other hand, Hafez (1315–1390), also from Shiraz and an eminent classicist, is not too particular about religious rituals while being fond of wine and romance, and thus falls in the category of majzoob. Ali mentions Saadi’s hard life in Aleppo where he had been enslaved into drudgery until his old Jewish neighbour from Shiraz now living near Aleppo, manoeuvred his emancipation. This Jewish friend, reportedly, allowed pious Saadi’s wedding with his daughter—a rare case of inter-faith marriage—which sadly did not work. It is Saadi’s poetry and prose in his volumes that kept the Indian Muslim elite, like their counterparts in Persia and Central Asia, enchanted by the moralist. She notes: His wit, pleasing deportment, and polite manners, together with the amiable qualities of his heart, rendered him a general favourite, and they who could boast intimacy with Saadie, were the most honoured by the world; for, though but the poor Saadie, he shed a lustre over the assemblies of the great and noble in birth or station, by his brilliant mind. Her own husband and father-in-law seem to have initiated her into the life and works of this sage. Writing about Saadi’s poetry she comments: The simplicity, elegance, purity of style, and moral precepts conveyed in this work {Gulistan}, prove the author to have been worthy the respect with which his name has been reverenced through all ages, and to this day, by the virtuously disposed his work is read with unabated interest.35 Her next chapter is devoted to the lives and extraordinary attributes of the Sufis, which seems to be one of her favourite areas of interest. Here, Ali is guided, besides her in-laws, by Lucknow’s notables such as Mir Elahi Bakhsh, and through anecdotal evidence she tries to show that genuine Sufis would avoid a performative or ostentatious life and by dint of specific gestures help resolve individual predicament of ordinary people. To her, other than Nawabs and masses in Awadh, the Mughal emperor such as Shah Jahan, had been respectful of Sufis and sought their fellowship. She is certainly quite impressed by the piety as well as humanity of Muslims in India with both men and women exceling in charity and kindness. She shares the example of Wilayat Begum, the first wife of the Nawab of Farrukhabad, who would daily share her meal with several destitute people and in her will left all her wealth endowed for religious purposes. Ali’s summation about people in general, based on her personal experience and anecdotal evidence, is quite different from what the missionaries and colonials held about the Indian communities and their faiths: The anecdote I have now given will serve to illustrate the character of some good people of Hindoostaun of the present day; indeed, the veneration and respect paid by all classes to those men who lead religious lives, is but little changed from the earlier pages of the Mussulmaun history.36

Mapping Muslim communities  133 While Ali is living with and often writing about the Muslim elite in Awadh of Shi’i persuasion besides flora and fauna and cultural norms, she is equally wary of the popular myths and practices both among Hindus and Muslims—away from the high culture—though her emphasis remains on Muslims in particular. She finds many among them gullible when it comes to allocating superhuman powers to some people posing as dervishes, or the descendants of some past miracle makers. She sees men and women falling for such quacks and their sorcery, especially at times of adversity by seeking their intervention and talismans. Some of these people deceive them by asking them to offer nazar in the form of money or through special feasts in the belief that their personal adversity or ailments would disappear. She also talks about the ecstatic spells of people at special assemblies where mendicants, though songs and dance, will lead them into a trance. Visits to shrines and temples and offerings, both by the rich and poor, and equally unaudited by any authorities would routinely fleece many in the populace. She notes: All the natives of Hindoostaun appear to me to be, more or less, tinctured with superstitious notions, which in many instances, are so grafted in their nature as to resist every attempt to root out by arguments the folly of this great weakness.37 Ali finds her father-in-law exceptional in this mass of humanity where soothsayers, charlatans, magicians, and the sort play on human susceptibilities by posing to free them from demons and evil spirits. While living with the family for 12 years, Ali chanced to observe Haji Shah’s scholarship and piety, and devotes her last chapter sketching his deeds, late night dialogues on inter faith topics and his knowledge of Persian classics. She is reticent about her own family back in England as she is about her husband and his career except for very few passing references in her tome, yet is beholden to Mahmud Shah: The name of Meer Hadjee Shah has so often occurred in my Letters, that I feel persuaded a brief sketch of his life may be acceptable here, more particularly as that venerated man presented to my immediate observations a correct picture of the true Mussulmaun.38 Towards the closing pages of her book, she reaffirms herself as a practising Christian hoping that the Muslims might “be saved” by her Saviour but that wish does not overshadow her commendation for Muslims around her, as noted by Frances Pritchett. Pritchett has detected a sense of superiority within Ali, though it is not too obvious except when she prays for their conversion. Ali’s threefold sense of superiority—she is a European, a Christian, and a rational and educated person—is frequently on view. But it's balanced by two countervailing feelings. The first is her obviously genuine affection and respect for many of the people among whom she lived, especially her father-in-law. And the second is, piquantly enough, her sense of social class: she is a lady,

134  Mapping Muslim communities and “Native gentlemen” are gentlemen too, so that a sense of shared superiority often overrides religious and cultural differences.39 Senior in age and an active church goer back in England, Ali’s religiosity on her home soil does not lead to change her own positive study of India’s Muslims. Towards the end of her extensive volume, Ali observes: I must here draw my Letters to a conclusion, with many an anxious wish that my gleanings in the society of Mussulmauns of Hindoostaun may afford profitable amusements to my friends and to those persons who may honour my work with a perusal, humbly trusting that the people whose character, manners, habits, and religion, I have taken upon me to pourtray, may improve in their opinion by a more intimate acquaintance. She acknowledges the fact that her intimate knowledge about Muslims is “confined to the most worthy of their community; and that the character of a true Mussulmaun has been my aim in description.”40

Notes 1 For instance, see Thomas Trautmann, Aryans and British India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); and, Moses Mohandas, Dialogue of Civilizations: William Jones and the Orientalists (New Delhi: Aryan Books International, 2009). 2 Kumari Jayawardena, The White Woman's Other Burden: Western Women and South Asia during British Colonial Rule (New York: Routledge, 1995), and, Antoinette M. Burton, Burdens of History: British Feminists, Indian Women, and Imperial Culture, 1865–1915 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994). Also, Margaret MacMillan, Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives and Daughters of the British Empire in India (London: Thames and Hudson, 2018); Linda Colley, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History (London: Anchor Books, 2008) and, Katherine Blank, “British Women and Orientalism in the early Nineteenth Century: A Study of Mrs Meer Hassan Ali’s ‘Observations on the Mussulmauns of India’”, MA thesis, Louisiana State University, 2013. 3 For instance, Ronald Inden,"Orientalist Constructions of India," Modern Asian Studies, Vol. XX, No. 3, 1986: 401–6. 4 Rosemary Raza, “The Role of Early British Women Writers in Shaping Perspectives of India”, South Asian Review, Vol. 30, 2009, 196–216. 5 Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, Vol. 1: The Classical Age of Islam (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1977). 6 On early India and its integration to the west and south, see Andre Wink, Al-Hind. The Making of Indo-Islamic World, Vol. I: Early Medieval India, 7th–11th Century (Leiden: Brill, 1996). 7 Riazul Islam, Indo-Persian Relations: A Study of the Political and Diplomatic Relations between the Mughals and Iran (Tehran: Iranian Cultural Foundation, 1970). 8 For more on the Delhi Sultans and Great Mughals, see Richard M. Eaton, India in the Persianate Age: 1000 to 1765 (New York: Allen Lane, 2008). 9 Ishtiaq H. Qureshi, The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (610– 1947): A Brief Historical Analysis (S-Cravehage: Mouton and Co., 1962). 10 Aurangzeb remains the most maligned among all the Great Mughals though some recent works invite readers to ascertain a more balanced approach. See, Audrey

Mapping Muslim communities  135 Truschke, Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India’s Most Controversial King (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2017). 11 Mansabdars were the Mughal officials in a hierarchical way to realise revenue; provide a certain number of cavalrymen and serve at the pleasure of the king. They were identified on the basis of number of cavalry allocated to them. Emperor Akbar (1542–1605) introduced the system and it worked efficiently as long as Delhi was vigilant but during the period of decline, most of these officials became either autonomous or appropriated areas allocated to them. For more on this, see M. Athar Ali, The Apparatus of Empire: Awards of Ranks, Offices and Titles to the Mughal Nobility, 1574–1658 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985). 12 Irfan Habib, The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556–1707 (Delhi: Oxford University Pres, 2013). 13 For a sympathetic study of a literary King Zafar and his sardonic predicament, see William Dalrymple, The Last Mughal: The Fall of Delhi, 1857 (London: Bloomsbury, 2006). 14 This two-volume study first published by Parbury, Allen, and Co., of London in 1832, underwent several editions all the way until 1917 when William Crooke (1848–1923) published it with his preface and notes. In 1973, Oxford University Press, Karachi, published it in its Asia Historical Reprints from Pakistan. In our chapter, we have used the PDF version of 1917 volume, annotated by Crooke and thus the page numbers here differ from the early and subsequent printed editions. See, Mrs Meer Hassan Ali, Observations on the Mussalmauns of India by Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali (hereafter Observations}, edited by William Crooke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917), 10. Quotation is from the “Introduction” by the editor, William Crooke (p. 10). Frances Pritchett, following her brief introduction in 2005, made the 1917 edition available on-line: mrsmeerhassanali/index.html Following Echo Library’s edition brought out in 2006, Kessinger Publishing reprinted the volume in 2010, though for our study, we have depended upon the 1917 volume as available on-line, though the page numbering in all these versions poses some minor issues. 15 Ibid., 27–8. Even in her first chapter, she entreats the indulgence of her readers “to the weakness of a female pen” something that may look rather meek given the present gender debates yet reflects the contemporary gender imbalances in capacities and domains. (P. 29). 16 Observations, 30–4. 17 Ibid., 56. Tazia literally means grief while imambara/imambargah would mean Imam’s court and Ashura is specifically the tenth of Muharram, the day of Husain’s killing. Affluent Shi’i Muslims build imambaras as an act of charity and like mosques, these are usually square buildings featuring corridors and open compounds, and they come alive during the first 40 days of the Hijra/lunar year. Other than mourning, chest beating, and recitations of hymns and delivery of quite eloquent and impassioned sermons, communal cooking and celebrations of other holy days in the Shi’i calendar also take place here. 18 Ibid., 69. Several of these rituals came from Persia though India’s own influences especially from Hinduism are not discounted here. Arabia, excepting areas in Iraq and Syria, had been mostly Sunni unlike Persia and Awadh and here the Ottomans ensured pluralist coexistence. However, in the deserts of Najd, Wahhabis had begun to attack shrines and tombs across the peninsula until the Ottomans contained them. 19 Almas Ali Khan, known as Mian Almas, as per Ali had won praise from Sleeman who credited him for establishing peace and prosperity in Awadh for four decades, yielding a revenue of 8 million rupees per annum. Afrin Khan was another eunuch minister from the late eighteenth century, who worked as a go-between for the Nawab Asaf-udDaula and Warren Hastings. See endnotes 11 & 12, p. 89.

136  Mapping Muslim communities 20 Qasim was killed at Karbala and is remembered in elegies and through a host of ceremonies during Muharram. Perhaps, this mehndi ceremony in an Indian style was like a send-off to a month of mourning, prayers, and fasting. 21 In our times, several books, both in English and Urdu, have celebrated this period. The Urdu books are often celebratory of Sha’am-i-Lucknow or Awadhi culture whereas some narratives penned during the contemporary era were critical of what they viewed as decadence, especially under the latter Nawabs. For a variety of approaches, see Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, Lucknow: Then and Now (Bombay: The Marg, 2003); Stephen Markel, India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow (London: Prestel, 2010). Basing his book on numerous episodes and events, Ravi Bhatt views these nawabs idiosyncratic characters including a few who were “infamous” yet were able to make the city into a unique place of culture, literature and architecture. See Ravi Bhatt, The Life and Times of the Nawabs of Lucknow (Delhi: Rupa Publications, 2000); and, V. B. Varshney, Lucknow: The City of Heritage and Culture. A Walk Through History (Delhi: Niyogi Books, 2018); also, Aslam Mahmud and Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, Awadh Symphony: Notes on a Cultural Interlude (Delhi: Rupa Publications, 2017); Rama Amritmahal Laws, “Lucknow: Society and Politics, 1856–85”, doctoral thesis submitted at the University of South Wales, 1979. 22 Observations, 94. Procession included elephants besides a large number of soldiers, courtiers, clerics, musicians and servants featuring tazia, banners, mock tombs and a specially decorated Duldul, in memory of Husain’s stead. The British resident would accompany the king, though the latter would walk down bare-footed and bare headed out of veneration for the holy family and their tragedy at Karbala. 23 Ibid., 103. 24 Ibid., 114–21. 25 Surely, some Muslim scholars have challenged such narratives and seek deeper and gradual reasons behind the veil. For instance, Fatima Mernissi, Women and Islam; An Historical and Theological Study (Oxford: Blackwell. 1991). Salman Rushdie in his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, has also zeroed in on Ayesha’s separation for a while from the caravan raising all kinds of suspicions among the Prophet’s companions. See, The Satanic Verses (London: Random Books, 1988). 26 Observations, 299. 27 Ibid., 358. She certainly acknowledges lack of constitutional restraints on princes, or their prime ministers whose own personal mores and choices played a vital role in dispensing justice. 28 Ibid., 373. 29 “The superior classes seldom quit their habitation but on the most important occasions; they, therefore, make it a matter of necessity to move out in such a style as is most likely to proclaim their exalted station in life.” Ibid., 394–5. 30 She continues: “The liberal proprietors of slaves give them suitable matches in marriage when they have arrived at a proper age, and even foster their children with the greatest care; often granting them a salary, and sometime their freedom, if required to make them happy. Indeed, generally speaking the slaves in a Mussulmaun’s house must be vicious and unworthy, who are not considered members of the family.” “It is an indisputable fact that the welfare of their slaves is an object of unceasing interest with their owners, if they are really good Mussulmauns; indeed, it is second only to the regard which they manifest to their own children.” Observations, 401–2. 31 “I heartily trust there will be a time when this badge of disgrace shall be wiped away from every human being. He that made man, designed him for higher purposes than to be the slave of his fellow-mortal; but I should be unjust to the people of India, if I did not remark, that having the uncontrolled power in their hands, they abstain from the exercise of any such severity as has disgraced the owners of slaves in other places, where even the laws have failed to protect them from cruelty and oppression.” P. 402 32 Ibid., 449. 33 Ibid., 453–62.

Mapping Muslim communities  137 34 “I never remember to have seen so picturesque a panorama in any other place. Some of my party, better able to bear the fatigue, ascended the third and fourth gallery. From them I learned that the beauty and extent of the view progressively increased until they reached the summit, from whence the landscape which fell beneath the eye surpassed description.” P. 463. 35 Ibid., 525 & 529. 36 She writes this after narrating the piety of Wilayat Begum. Observations, 556. 37 She further notes: “It is lamentable to witness how powerful an ascendancy superstition sways over the minds of Asiatics generally. The very wisest, most learned, most religious, even, are more or less tinctured with this weakness; and, I may add, that I have hardly met with one person entirely free from the opinion that witchcraft and evil agency are in the hands of some, and often permitted to be exercised on their neighbours.” Observations, 592 & 597–8 38 Ibid., 609. Ali is aware of slavery in India though she does not offer many details on the ethnic origins of those slaves. It appears that, along with some Africans, most slaves were local or even lifelong servants though she does not use the terms such as “maids” or “servants.” She, however, finds their treatment quite humane with some benefitting from manumission. 39 Frances Pritchett, “Editor’s Note” (New York: Columbia University, 2005): http:// html 40 Observations, 639–41.

7 Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite Gertrude Bell among Muslims

Gertrude Margaret Lothian Bell (1868–1926),1 an intrepid traveller, an articulate writer, a linguist, practising archaeologist, a kingmaker, and certainly a supporter of the British Empire, remains known for her books, archaeological research, and immersion in Middle Eastern politics and tribal histories.2 A “phenomenal” personality and “one of the best-documented women of all time,” Bell was fond of traditional Arab chieftains and an architect of political connections between the British establishment and tribal heads in Syria, Nejd, and Iraq.3 As per Hitchens, Determined to disprove and outlast the Sykeses of the world, Bell made Baghdad her permanent home, helped to organize elections and write a constitution, drew some rather wobbly borders with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, founded the Iraq National Museum, and wrote a study, “A Review of the Civil Administration of Mesopotamia,” that compares well with the best of the Victorian “Blue Books.”4 She was a great supporter of a new post-Ottoman state of Iraq under the dual control of the British and the Hashemite princes whose doyen, Sharif Hussein bin Ali (1853–1931) had conspired with Britain on the eve of the Frist World War declaring himself the king of Arabia. As a reward to this former Ottoman ruler of Hejaz, the British, later on, variably designated Hussein’s sons, Amir Faisal (1885–1933) and Prince Abdullah (1882–1951), as the rulers of Syria, Iraq, and Transjordan to stem the nationalists besides ensuring their own imperial interests. In the Middle East, where religion, tribal loyalties, and sectarian affiliations—soon to be followed by oil politics—underpinned key developments, imperial mavericks like Lord Curzon, Gertrude Bell, Evelyn Baring (Cromer), Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Mark Sykes, TE Lawrence, Percy Cox, Leo Amery, A. T. Wilson, Henry Dobbs, Julian Bullard, St. John Philby, and their other Victoran+Edwardian colleagues ensured a continued British primacy. The post-Ottoman interventions and invasions by Britain, France, Zionists, Russia, and the United States have consistently tried to calibrate Middle East to their own respective whims and interests causing a continuum of conflicts, though the blame was often apportioned to the Turks, Arabs, and Persians for some inherent cultural deficit. Here, the location of the Suez Canal, oil resources and the overall strategic geographies, coupled with often ambitious but no less authoritarian

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  139 leaders have kept the populace turbulent if not in a state of active warfare. Bell, a member of a prosperous English family from the Northeast with her enviable academic calibre, extrovert disposition, and knowledge of several Middle Eastern languages worked as a valuable asset for her motherland while cultivating close relationship with the chieftains and sheikhs besides nudging the Colonial Office, India, and the Middle East on specific policies. She certainly had her own contradictions varying from Orientalism to an unquestionable belief in the pertinence of the British Empire presumably in the larger interests of the colonised, as was noted by a biographer: “Underneath the hard-core political opinions, Gertrude Bell’s ‘orientalist’ vision of the East emerges once again, rekindling mixed views and renewing debates.”5 Letters that she wrote with great regularity especially to her parents, siblings, and the Whitehall officials, and her diary and photographs, preserved at the universities in Newcastle and Durham retain detailed archives on her career.6 In addition, the colonial correspondence at the National Archives and collections at St. Antony’s College in Oxford offer substantive evidence on this pioneer woman-colonial and her observations on Turks, Arabs, Kurds, Jews, Christians, and the rest in the Middle East. Journeying into the interiors of Anatolia, Persia, Syria, Palestine, Arabian Peninsula, and Mesopotamia afforded her a unique amount of knowledge about the desert tribes and their genealogies, which added with archaeological studies, catapulted her into an early doyen of Middle Eastern studies. In addition, a steady stream of informants who visited her regularly at her home in Baghdad where she spent the last engaging 12 years of her life, kept her in close contact with the shifting nature of Mesopotamian politics. A founder of the Baghdad Museum, Bell,—often called Khatun (honourable lady) in Iraq—on her death in 1926 became a part of the soil destined to assume a contentious status in world politics. Biographies about her abound, as do her own writings in the form of books and correspondence besides some specific reports, where her often-contrasting role of an Arabist at the service of imperialism, posits her as an important architect and facilitator of British policies in the region.7 Her legacies reverberate in the volatile politics of Iraq following the coups, assassinations, three Gulf wars, sectarian conflicts, and the rise of DAESH: Seen through the experience of Iraq’s tumultuous recent past, the decisions made by Miss Bell, as she is still affectionately referred to by Iraqis, and others working for the British and French to reorder the Middle East after the Ottoman Empire collapsed nearly a century ago, hold cautionary lessons for those seeking to bring stability or seek advantage in the region now.8 Bell’s family background from England’s enterprising industrial class, education as a budding historian in Oxford, hospitality of family members holding important diplomatic positions, and most of all, a restless disposition help us reconstruct her interface with the Muslim societies and especially their power elite during the first quarter of the last century. That was the time when global politics underwent crucial changes due to the First World War and then the partisan decisions at the Paris Peace Conference very much at the expense of the right for

140  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite self-determination, initially chartered, among others, as the main rationale for the new world order. Gertrude Bell’s grandfather, Sir Isaac Lothian Bell, following his education in France and Denmark, established foundries and mining concerns near Newcastle and by the middle of the nineteenth century employed 48,000 workers, soon to supply one-third of the entire steel products and coal needed across the British Empire. A fellow of the Royal Academy, his mansion hosted scholars including Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley whose influence permeated in the upbringing of his son, Thomas Hugh Bell, who exhibited similar extrovert values while promoting his businesses. Hugh Bell married Mary Shields, the daughter of a well-known physician, who bore him two children—Gertrude and Maurice. Born in a very privileged family, imbued with strong Victorian mores and proud of Britain’s imperial enterprises, Gertrude was able to acquire higher education and an exceptionally visible public role, often not available or even allowed to most other British women of her times. Sadly, her mother died 2 years after her birth while bearing Maurice, and as a consequence, Gertrude became quite close to her father—a life-long proximity that never diminished. Six years later, Hugh Bell married playwright Florence Olliffe, the daughter of Sir Joseph Olliffe, who had grown up in France and like the Bells, her family circle included literati such as Charles Dickens and Henry James. Both Gertrude and Florence developed close associations, as is obvious from their correspondence. In fact, Florence Bell, through her letters ensured instilling of Victorian norms into Gertrude Bell besides checking on her grammar when the latter attended Queens College in London.9 Her meritorious performance in London led to her admission at Oxford, another rare occurrence for Victorian women. Her undergraduate years at Lady Margaret Hall were quite formative at a time when dons were often brazenly anti-women in their remarks and would keep the few girl students segregated from their male class fellows. However, in a record achievement, Gertrude Bell topped in History and finished her degree in 2 years instead of the usual 3. She was a confident and formidable young woman by then ready for exploring the world on her own though not averse to a possible marriage, yet not many suitors around to meet the tastes of a confident, well-educated, and outgoing woman. In 1888, she undertook a visit to France with Hugh Bell where she met her cousin, Billy Lascelles, to escort her to Budapest for vacationing. Sir Frank Lascelles served at the British Embassy in Romania as a minister and was married to Mary, Florence Bell’s sister. Here, Gertrude associated with a cosmopolitan jet set with discussion often focusing on the Ottoman Balkans and the Near East amidst the context of conflicting interests of imperial powers. In Romania, she met an interesting group of well-travelled people such as Valentine Chirol, a correspondent for The Times in India. Their encounter turned out to be a lifelong friendship besides igniting a more exploratory zeal in a young, independent woman reluctant to negotiate the rigmarole of a homemaker. Following her stay in Romania, we find Gertrude with Billy touring Constantinople that proved to be her initiation into a Muslim empire, which despite in its declining phase, embodied a continuum of multi-cultural traditions along with a spectrum of interesting demographics. There is no doubt that Charles Doughty’s classic book, Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888) greatly inspired T. E. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell and

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  141 a few others of that generation. Later on, Bell was to interact with the author’s nephew in Turkey where he served as a British Counsel and they both came quite close to each other.10 Gertrude Bell’s next extended visit to the Middle East in 1892 took her to Persia, where Frank Lascelles had been posted at the British Embassy, allowing her to see Eastern Mediterranean more closely besides traversing across a totally different kind of landscape. She was fascinated by the Iranian terrain and given her early exposure to Persian language began reading Hafez in the company of Henry Cadogan, the first secretary at the Embassy in Tehran and senior to her by a decade. Their travels, picnics, and deliberations over Persian literature resulted in mutual love and decision to marry conditional upon approval from Hugh Bell. Her ever-protective father vetoed the marriage owing to austere state of Cadogan’s finances and presumably his interest in gambling. She returned home heartbroken to immerse herself in writing a book based on her travels in Persia by highlighting country’s literature, landscape, gardens, deserts, bazaars, and the warm hospitality of its people. While writing her first book, Gertrude’s grief was further aggravated when in 1893 she received a telegramme informing her of Cadogan’s accidental death by drowning in a frozen river. Her Persian Pictures came out next year, consisting of 20 concise chapters on topics such as Tehran, gardens, ascetics, cholera epidemic, bazaars, and Anatolia, laid out in a personalised literary genre. Her language is florid but not hostile to her subject, as is evident from what she noted about the story of Imam Husain, martyred in Iraq in 680CE: The pitiful story has taken hold of the imagination of half the Mohammedan world. Many centuries, bringing with them their own dole of tragedy and sorrow, have not dimmed it, nor lessened the feeling which its recital creates, partly, no doubt, because of the fresh breeze of religious controversy which has swept the dust of time perpetually from it, but partly, too, because of its own poignant simplicity.11 This book displayed an anonymous author, though subsequent editions carried her own name while Prof. A. J. Arberry prefaced the third edition that appeared in 1947. Amidst this stormy period in her life, confronted with personal grief and peer pressure for marriage, she busied herself in translating Hafez’s poetry that came out in 1897, titled Poems from the Divan of Hafiz, eliciting several laudatory reviews. According to her commending biographer, Bell despite her often defiant postures, was a passionate person driven by urges at the various phases in her life and her stay in Persia, falling in love with Cadogan and then immersing in Hafez, followed by other attainments in life owed to this characteristic: All aspects of her life work were, in a sense, passionate responses: her travel books, her exploration, her archaeology; her learning, especially of languages; her mountaineering; her work for the British Empire; her ultimate wish to re-create an Arab civilization.12

142  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite Bell’s travels took her around the world visiting the Far East, Latin America, and the United States along with tours to Switzerland, Italy, Palestine, and Greece. In Greece, she joined David Hogarth, Janet Hogarth’s brother and Oxford-based archaeologist, who was conducting some excavations that, other than cementing their personal and professional ties, helped her hone in her own skills to undertake similar research in Turkey and Mesopotamia. In her interlude back home in England, Bell started taking formal lessons in Arabic, as she planned to venture across the Arabian deserts during her next sojourn. Bell’s extensive travels through Syria, Druze Mountains, and Jordan Valley documented in her The Desert and the Sown witness an unmarried English woman in her mid-30s travelling on horseback in the company of a few guides while conversing in classical Arabic with the Druze chieftains, Arab Sheikhs, and the Bedouins.13 Following her travels to the Levant and Anatolia, she spent 2 years in Yorkshire with her parents where she was able to complete The Desert and the Sown that proved a bestselling travel writing: “It was called ‘brilliant’ by The Times and ‘fascinating’ by The Times Literary Supplement, which noted: ‘Women perhaps make the best travellers, for when they have the true wanderer’s spirit they are more enduring and, strange to say, more indifferent to hardship and discomfort than men. They are unquestionably more observant of details and quicker to receive impressions. Their sympathies are more alert, and they get into touch with strangers more readily’.” The New York Times commented: “The ways of English women are strange. They are probably the greatest slaves to conventionality in the world, but when they break with it, they do it with a vengeance.”14 During her visit to Palestine in 1905, Bell met Mark Sykes, a British diplomat who some years later consummated the secret Sykes-Picot Pact stipulating the division of post-Ottoman Middle East over and above the heads of its inhabitants despite the pledges made by London with the various Arab leaders. It seemed that Gertrude Bell and Mark Sykes both shared several mutualities: well heeled, enthusiastic, and even impatient to achieve many objectives in their own discretionary ways. They both hailed from Yorkshire; had been to the best British academic institutions; were able to travel freely and both would bequeath legacies in the Middle East for generations to experience their ramifications. Although they both were highly opinionated and no less self-righteous, yet they were equally different in many areas: Gertrude was an atheist, Sykes a practicing Catholic; Gertrude had gone to Oxford, Sykes to Cambridge; Gertrude was opposed to her family using titles; Sykes was proud to use his; Gertrude was thirty-four, unmarried and not yet well known at home; Sykes was ten years younger, had already travelled throughout Asia and Turkey and had attracted much attention in England with his published accounts. Just as irritating to her, Sykes had only contempt for the people of the desert, while Gertrude held the Arabs in some esteem. A year earlier, in 1904, Sykes had pejoratively opined about the Arabs of Mosul and Damascus: “Eloquent, cunning, excitable and cowardly, they present to my mind the most deplorable pictures one can see in the East.” He called them

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  143 “diseased,” “contemptuous,” “idle beyond all hope, vicious as far as their feeble bodies will admit,” “insolent yet despicable.” Bell held her own view: The Oriental is like a very old child.… He is not practical in our acceptation of the word, any more than a child is practical, and his utility is not ours. On the other hand, his action is guided by traditions of conduct and morality that go back to the beginnings of civilisation, traditions unmodified as yet by any important change in the manner of life to which they apply and out of which they arose. These things apart, he is as we are; human nature does not undergo a complete change east of Suez, nor is it impossible to be on terms of friendship and sympathy with the dwellers in those regions. In some respects it is even easier than in Europe.15 Bell left the Sykes in Jerusalem with good impressions of the couple but Mark Sykes was haughtily critical of her and in a later letter to his wife used almost profane words about her person. As per her American biographer, Blaming Gertrude because the Turks tried to prevent him from traveling to the Druze, Sykes called her a “Bitch” and wished “10,000 of my worst bad words on the head of that damned fool.… Wherever she went,” he told his wife, she caused an “uproar” and was the “terror of the desert.” As brilliant as she was to some, to Sykes, Gertrude was a “silly chattering windbag of conceited, gushing, flat-chested, man-woman, globe-trotting, rump-wagging, blethering ass!”16 Retaining her Western dresses, camping paraphernalia, and furniture, Bell’s routine would include taking extensive pictures of the people and places besides writing her diary and letters to her parents, who financed her travels. While quite fond of deserts and sharing close interaction with the nomads and their chieftains, she still would insist on a proper afternoon tea in a regular china and an appropriately laid out supper using her English furniture. In other words, she never “went native” and instead persisted with the life style of an upper class Victorian exhibiting a sense of distinctness, if not sheer superiority. It appears as if for Bell life in England, after some time, would routinely become monotonous since she would soon start missing the desert and her Arab interlocutors, largely because of her disposition, the English weather and since she had forsaken the idea of getting married. The respect and status afforded her by traditional Muslim communities in the Middle East not only elevated her to an esteemed status, they also compensated her life as a bachelor. The Middle East, with its vastness, diversity, antiquity, river valleys, expansive deserts, and most of all, with its unstinted hospitality became her real home, and finally claimed her remains. Her forays and parleys, often on her own and away from the prying eyes of her compatriots, equally manifested the element of respect and genuine hospitality from her Arab counterparts, who, otherwise, were routinely orientalised by most Westerners. With her English costumes, accented Arabic and public persona among some of the most traditional societies must have been a novel encounter for the Arabs,

144  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite seeing a Western woman among them totally on her own. Despite being different in many ways, she developed a sense of belonging among these Muslim societies, irrespective of their ethnicities or denominational pluralities, and they, in a way, considered her to be one of their own calling her Khatun. In 1907, Bell was back in Anatolia working with William Ramsay, an archaeologist excavating the church ruins in Turkey. The joint finds resulted into their 1909 volume, The Thousand and One Churches, a curious but notable caption positing her as a serious scholar of antiquity of the Near East.17 While staying in Anatolia, Bell met Major Richard Doughty-Wylie, the British Counsel at Konya and the nephew of noted Arab explorer, Charles Doughty. Bell developed close associations with the Counsel and his wife, which, in subsequent years, became infatuation with the soldier–diplomat. After a short break in England, Bell was back in Damascus in 1909 to undertake a travel starting from Syria—known as the province of Shaam in the Ottoman Empire—to Mesopotamia that consisted of provinces (wilayas) of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. However, going towards lower Euphrates valley with her servants and guides, Bell struck upon a rare Sassanid archaeological site, Ukhaidir—an ancient palace right in the middle of the desert.18 In fact, David Hogarth had advised her to conduct research on the Hittites and here she discovered an ancient complex but the publication of Bell’s next work, Amurath to Amurath faced delay due to her travels in Arab and Kurdish regions before returning to Konya. This 506-page-long illustrated volume about her journeys and research in Syria, Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra, appeared in 1911 and while acknowledging David Hogarth for mentoring, it was Lord Cromer’s letter that prefaced it.19 On her return to England, Bell, the well-travelled and noted author, involved herself in women’s movement, but on the wrong side. She became the honorary secretary of Women’s Anti-suffrage League, and quite quizzically, like Cromer, she thought that the women activists were destabilising the socio-political contours of their country much to the peril of its national and imperial interests.20 Like Florence Nightingale, she was certainly out of step with the times despite being an independent person and more so since her years at Oxford. However, to Howell, she might have joined the League for some other reasons since in later life, she tried to undertake some work for the welfare of Iraqi women: “But she nonetheless betrays a lack of ‘mission’ in the affairs of the anti-suffrage movement that suggests she had taken on the work largely to please Florence.”21 In 1911, Bell was back in the Levant to undertake archaeological excavations around Ukhaidir and, in the process, met T. E. Lawrence, then working as a young archaeologist on a Hittite site. Despite her great desire to travel across the desert to Nejd to meet Ibn Rashid, she initially faced dissuasion for security reasons due to ongoing skirmishes between Ibn Rashid and Ibn Saud. However, she finally embarked on this exploratory visit to the southeast in 1913 in what later on became the heartland of Saudi Arabia. It is curious why she undertook this daredevil visit, as is noted by a historian: What had compelled her to start this voyage is not so clear. Many reasons combined: curiosity, a taste for challenge and adventure and a need to fly

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  145 away – to escape. And so Gertrude found herself heading for Ghadir and Qasr al-Burqa, the first stops on the south-eastern route to Ha’il, the Banu Rashid’s city-fortress in the midst of the barren desert.22 She was able to reach Ha’il but then Ibn Rashid was away and in his absence she faced house arrest though was finally able to assert her independence yet the venture made her the first-ever Western woman to reach the interiors in Peninsula. After visiting Ha’il, she journeyed to Karbala and then to Baghdad before returning to Constantinople. While travelling through Anatolia, she wrote to Chirol—commonly called Domnul—about the desert: You will find me a savage, for I have seen and heard strange things, and they colour the mind. You must try to civilise me a little, beloved Domnul. I think I am not altered for you, and I know that you will bear with me. But whether I can bear with England—come back to the same things and do them all over again—that is what I sometimes wonder. But they will not be quite the same, since I come back to them with a mind permanently altered. I have gained much, and I will not forget it. I don’t care to be in London much.… I like Baghdad, and I like Iraq. It’s the real East, and it is stirring; things are happening here, and the romance of it all touches me and absorbs me.23 Retrospectively, in 1908, the Young Turks had taken over the Caliphate, followed by another series of warfare when the Balkan states and Greece seeking their proverbial pound of flesh mounted assaults on the Ottoman Empire turning many more Balkan Muslims into refugees. The Caliphate was facing acute internal and external problems and disillusioned by imperial powers such as Britain, France, and Russia, it sought closer linkages with the Germans who had begun the Baghdad railways project besides training the Ottoman forces, something which did not go well in London and other Western metropolises.24 Concerned Muslims in India, aware of the serious threats to the Caliphate, sent aid and medical missions to Istanbul, soon to be followed by the pro-Caliphate India-wide movement to save this remaining Muslim polity at a time when almost every other Muslim region was under European tutelage.25 After having visited India that featured high-level meetings Bell knew India’s official interest in Persia and Mesopotamia which had become pronounced following the discovery of oil in Persia and the Royal Navy’s switchover from coal to oil for shipping in 1911. Bell, by now one of the leading experts on the Arab tribes, their territorial possessions and her own personal linkages with the Sunni and Shia chieftains of Mesopotamia, could offer vital assistance to her Mother country as war clouds appeared on Europe’s horizons. She wrote to Valentine Chirol in 1912: “I should not be surprised if we were to see, in the course of the next 10 years, the break-up of the empire in Asia also, the rise first of Arab autonomies.”26 He had retired from The Times by then. Just before the outbreak of the hostilities, her infatuation with Doughty-Wylie had assumed deeper intensity, as has been noted by one of her biographers:

146  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite The more she saw of him, the more attracted she was. No one she knew intrigued her like Doughty-Wylie. He was the consummate male of the British Empire, a decorated soldier-statesman, a sensitive, literate scholar who loved to quote poetry, a shrewd political analyst, a lustful man who roused her deepest desires.27 Their meetings in London in 1913 and then another rendezvous in 1915 brought them close, kindling passionate feelings for the second time in her life. Then the soldier–diplomat left for Gallipoli to fight the Turks, where along with thousands of other troops he lost his life, much to Bell’s gloom, who, once again, experienced another grievous loss. Already in her mid-40s and single, she sought some diversion by working for the Arab Bureau as a senior intelligence official along with Lawrence and Hogarth.28 It is interesting to note that the generation of David Hogarth, Gertrude Bell, and T. E. Lawrence with all three retaining a strong interest in archaeological research in the Middle East soon opted to work as intelligence officials for the British imperial interests in the region.29 In Egypt, they ran the Arab Bureau during the First World War offering reports, analysis and primary information on the tribes, their locales, leaderships, and linkages with the Ottomans besides their relevance or amenability for co-optation with the British geo-political and military interests. Founded in 1916, the Bureau was a hub of propaganda, based in posh locations and operated by academic-turned-spies under the leadership of David Hogarth, the Oxford don. Aided in part by her efforts, the bureau began to issue the Arab Bulletin in February 1916, a classified publication that eventually became a valuable source of information on the politics of the area during the war. Gradually, the Arab Bureau evolved into an axis of political activity and propaganda, and a place visited by all those involved in political activities in the Middle East. Attracted by its casual atmosphere, London’s politicians found the ambience in Cairo far more appealing than the constricted and dull atmosphere of Britain’s other intelligence offices around the world.30 Her entries in the Bulletin deal with the administrative and juridical operations of the Ottomans, tribes of Kuwait and the Peninsula, information on Ismael Bey, factional warfare in Oman, situation in Ha’il, and two pieces on Ibn Saud (1875– 1953) encompassing his career, ideology, physique and the impact of his possible visit to British-held Basra, as she noted: “Politician, ruler and raider, Ibn Saud illustrates a historic type. Such men as he are the exception in any community, but they are thrown up persistently by the Arab race in its own sphere, and in that sphere they meet its needs.”31 Winston Churchill and other senior British officials including Percy Cox valued her work, based on extensive travels, friendship with the local notables, and fluency in Arabic. In time, she came to know of the parallel British commitments to Sharif Hussein of Hejaz, the Zionists as well as the desert chieftains like Ibn Rashid and Ibn Saud, all co-opted to campaign against the Ottomans. The bifurcation of the Middle East, establishment of Israel and formation of

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  147 states such as Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan stemmed from those War-centred policies. At her insistence and upon the advice of others, the British put Ibn Saud on the payroll, at almost ten thousand pounds a month. By the end of the war he would defeat Ibn Rashid at Hayil, and by 1925 he would dethrone the Sharif Hussein and rule all of Arabia.32 Some chieftains heading tribes like the Shammar, Anazeh, and a few influential Baghdadi Sunnis were suspicious of British intentions as were some Kurdish notables in and around Mosul, but thanks to Bell, Cox, McMahon, and Lawrence, Britain could count on their anti-Ottoman collaboration. In 1915, she and Lawrence had another rendezvous with Sykes, deputed to the Near East for six months to suggest policy options. He was in the process of his espousal of the division of the entire region between the British and French over and above the heads of the local people. In 1916, following negotiations with the French, the Sykes-Picot Pact had been finalised in complete secrecy underpinning imperial division of the Middle East, with its unending ramifications for generations of Near Easterners. Despite her early differences with Mark Sykes during their previous rendezvous in Jerusalem, Bell now pushed by imperial imperatives agreed with Sykes in using the Arab and Kurdish chieftains in their country’s own interests to the extent of infantilising them. Toeing a fervent patronising line, in a message to Lord Roberts, she opined that “the Arabs can’t govern themselves {and} no one is more aware of it than I.”33 Operations geared towards intelligence gathering and establishing liaison with the Arab chieftains, largely conducted by the Arab Bureau in Cairo were not always smooth given the reservations from the Indian government that had its own strategic priorities in the region. Delhi wanted to govern Mesopotamia and Persia without making any commitment of hand-over to the locals; instead, its officials in Baghdad and Basra felt that with the Punjabi soldiers at their disposal they could run this region on their own. The spokesperson for this policy in Baghdad was Captain T. Wilson, who had recommended in November 1914 “that the Government of India would administer it, and gradually bring under cultivation its vast unpopulated desert plains, peopling them with martial races from the Punjab.”34 Unable to convince Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy in Delhi and Wilson for keeping regional administrations apart, Bell agreed to operate as a co-ordinator between Cairo, Baghdad, and Delhi along with liaising with the Sunni and Shia Sheikhs in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, and across the valleys and deserts. Still, her work in Baghdad did not please Wilson and their relationship declined to minimal courtesies Interestingly, Bell spent all her time with the Arab and Kurdish men without showing significant interest in their women and families, nor did she express any fondness for Islam, a point that Dorothy Ess, her American friend and the wife of a priest, John Van Ess, raised with her several times. This American missionary couple, like Bell, Hogarth, Lawrence, and other Western civilians, were operating as ears and eyes for the British forces in the Middle East and ironically shared

148  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite rather negative images of the Arabs and their culture. It is equally curious to know that these individuals based in lower Mesopotamia were not fully aware of the ongoing military campaigns where the Turkish troops were often putting up strong resistance against the British forces, or possibly, they preferred to downplay that. Bell and the missionary couple did not know about the humiliating defeat at Kut al-Amara in 1916 of the forces led by General Townshend until the arrival of Lawrence, who carried bribe money amounting to £2 million for Halil Pasha, the Turkish general, to wean him away from Constantinople. Thousands of British troops in their march to capture Baghdad in late 1915 fought the Ottoman troops near Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad, and following several frontal confrontations found besieged by the Ottomans. The British sought help from the Russians but to no avail and had to surrender to the Turks, who took many POWs to Aleppo. Thus, Kut, like Gallipoli, was another eye opener and it took many more troops and logistics that Baghdad finally fell to the Indian troops led by General Maude on 11 March 1917, with the officials from the Indian government and Gertrude Bell establishing their offices in the former Ottoman barracks and residences.35 Lawrence came down with the same motive but left, though he still carried a soft corner for Sharif Hussein, the leader of the Hejaz revolt. In the meantime, Bell’s reports would reach officials at the Colonial Office who did not know Arabic nor could name and spell the names properly, though Curzon and Cox persistently sought a more stable British presence in the Middle East. Bell’s own official designation within the colonial set-up was not clear and she had to seek funds from her father for sustenance initially in Basra and then in Baghdad. On her prodding with London, Bell obtained the post of a political officer—the Oriental Secretary—with the Indian expeditionary forces on a salary of 300 rupees per month—the only woman in the British administration with such an office in the Middle East. Percy Cox (1864–1937), a former Sandhurst cadet with a long-standing military service in India, Somalia and Muscat, had gradually built up British influence in the Persian Gulf by co-opting several chieftains in the coastal regions such as Bahrain and Kuwait. Unlike Mark Sykes and T. E. Lawrence, Cox had a soft corner for Ibn Saud.36 It was Cox, who would largely formulate the future political map of the Middle East, and Bell had known him since his assignment in Muscat, and often conferred with him whenever aggrieved by Wilson, especially when Cox held his assignment in Persia. Finally, his appointment as the first British High Commissioner in 1920 eased her operations in Baghdad without Wilson’s obstructions. Like Bell, Cox believed in maintaining close relations with Abdur Rahman al-Gaylani—the Sunni Neguib—, Syed Talib al-Naqib of Basra, Nuri al-Saeed and senior Shia clerics in Kufa and Karbala. In a letter to her father, Bell expressed her own scepticism about the Arabs ever being receptive to modernity: Men living in tents, or in reed huts almost as nomadic as the tent itself, men who have never known any control but the empty action of Turkish authority … men who have the tradition of a personal independence … ignorant of a world which lay outside their swamps and pasturages, and … indifferent to

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  149 its interests and to the opportunities it offers, will not in a day fall into step with European ambitions, nor welcome European methods. Nor can they be hastened. Whether that which we have to teach them will add to the sum of their happiness, or whether the learning or inevitable lessons will bring them the proverbial attitude of wisdom, that schooling must, if it is to be valuable, be long and slow.37 In another letter to her father, she appeared determined to espouse the case for Iraq consisting of Shia and Sunni Arabs along with the Kurds, possibly under Prince Faisal. She wrote: “You would thus get a loose Arab federation under our guidance and in broad outlines under a single law - a unified coinage, judicial system, educational system, customs administration and so forth.”38 During the early phase of the War, Sharif Hussein of Mecca (1853–1931), while on the British payroll, had attacked the Hejaz Railways and the Turkish contingents, much to consternation of Indian authorities but to the felicitation of Cairo’s Arab Bureau. After the Ottoman defeat, he envisioned Arab monarchy for himself and for a time even posed as a caliph for the entire Muslim world. His secret negotiations with Henry McMahon, the British Commissioner in Egypt, occurred through his ambitious son, Abdullah and for a time after Armistice, he presented himself as a king.39 His son, Faisal represented the father at the Paris Peace Conference and that is where Bell first met this Hashemite prince, and under Lawrence’s persuasion became his supporter. In the meantime, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud was gaining upper hand in the desert and had already recaptured Riyadh from Ibn Rashid, and planned to take over Hejaz from Hussein. During this warfare, Percy Cox and other British officials invited him to Basra where Bell took Ibn Saud around to dazzle him with the British war gadgets and weaponry. Ibn Saud had been a paid British ally since the early phase in the war as he had been fighting Ibn Rashid, the leader of the Rashidis and an Ottoman ally.40 Amidst these tribal rivalries and personal squabbles, Bell penned a report for the Colonial Office, where she noted that only the strong men could meet up the expectations of the Arab masses and could hold them together. The Arab Bulletin, an organ of the Arab Bureau with a small and select circulation issued her report. Supporting the case for Ibn Saud, she observed: “The ultimate source of power, here as in the whole course of Arab history, is the personality of the commander. Through him, whether he be an Abbasid Khalif or an Amir of Nejd, the political entity holds, and with his disappearance it breaks.”41 As mentioned earlier, following the conquest of Baghdad by General Maude, Cox and Bell moved into the city where she sped up her negotiations with the Arab chiefs to conjure up an anti-Ottoman coalition. She strove to get Fahad Bey on her side since he led the Anazeh, one of the most powerful pro-Turk tribes in Mesopotamia. Traditionally, Bey had been loyal to the Caliph and would evade earlier attempts to rebel against Constantinople—unlike Sharif Hussein and Ibn Saud—despite the fact that he had always been quite hospitable to Bell by offering generous hospitality during her previous visits. Her negotiations with the 75-year old Sheikh succeeded in winning him over in the summer of 1917, much to the pleasure of Cox and her other superiors.

150  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite The Sykes-Picot Pact of 1916 was apparently unknown to Bell for more than a year and it was in Paris in early 1917 that she found herself faced with the contradictory promises that Britain had made to the various stakeholders. Here, she met Faisal and was taken in by him, especially after his speech at the peace conference where Faisal had impressed President Woodrow Wilson, Prime Ministers Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and Orlando—all the big four. By that time, the British officials had become mistrustful of Lawrence who operated as Faisal’s translator and advisor, and during the conference, he found himself derisively relegated to an ordinary hotel. On the contrary, because of her espousal for an autonomous Mesopotamia under a British control, Lawrence now entertained a low opinion of Bell since she advised for negotiations between the French and Faisal over Syria. Lawrence was not in favour of showing any territorial concessions to the French. In the meantime, Sykes had died in Paris of epidemic but the French were not to let go of Syria due to the Sykes-Picot Pact and thus demanded a total control over Syria and Mosul. A whole generation of British planners and plotters including Curzon, Churchill, Balfour, Cox, M ­ cMahon, Sykes, Lawrence, and Bell, along with their French counterparts had delivered a post-Ottoman Middle East much to the chagrin of everyone including the Sunnis, Shi’is, Kurds, and the rest in this vast region of growing geo-political significance. It might have been the proverbial British moment in the region, but its costs remain persistent and quite debilitating.42 Geopolitical engineering undertaken during the early twentieth century lives through legacies even today and all the way from dictatorial regimes to numerous wars and from a continuum of instability to the more recent escapades with the ISIS and floods of refugees, those partisan expediencies keep bleeding millions in the Middle East. After spending some time with the family at Rounton, Bell returned to Cairo where she noticed seeds of nationalist sentiments with a growing anti-British tenor gaining more followers. There was a wide discontent across Mesopotamia where Shi’i, Sunni and Kurdish groups converged to decry British control of their lands, opposed to their own wishes and in contravention of the promises made with them. The costs of this revolt in both human lives and finances were stupendous raising all kinds of questions about the relationship between Iraq and Britain. Several articles published in the British print media analysed the colonial policies in Iraq and their costs with Lawrence delivering lectures on bequeathing greater responsibility to the Sharifian Arabs. Bell would not totally see eye to eye with him though officials like Wilson and Lord Hardinge felt that Iraq needed Indianisation. To them, Mesopotamia was not included in the secret promises made with the Arab chieftains and France, and Basra, in particular, was crucial to safeguard the Gulf and possessions in India. From Cairo, Bell ventured into Jerusalem, soon to become a League-validated British mandate and here she met Nasira Haddad, a Palestinian reformer advocating the abolition of veil. She is one of those few Arab women that she mentioned briefly in her correspondence. She also met Mufti Kamil Al-Husseini, an influential Palestinian with pro-Faisal leanings, who identified himself as a Syrian but, like many other Arabs, was critical of British secret and contradictory policies towards the

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  151 Arabs and Jews. Her summation after visits to Egypt and Palestine highlighted a pervasive critique of Zionism across the board. In a letter to her parents in October 1919, she observed: There is practically no question but Zionism in Jerusalem. All the Muslims are against it and furious with us for backing it and all the Jews are for it and equally furious with us for not backing it enough. Our attitude, meantime, is to halt between the two and wonder what to do for the best. Like the people in authority I feel a great deal of sympathy with both sides and I believe that if both would be responsible they would each of them have not very much to fear. But they won’t be reasonable and we are sowing the seeds of secular disturbance as far I can see.43 In Syria, she met Prince Zaid officiating in place of his brother King Faisal, beside a few other Iraqi notables such as Nuri al-Said and Ja’afar Pasha, both holding important positions under the new king. Al-Said (1888–1958), a former Ottoman official, was a Baghdadi Sunni Arab, who came close to Faisal and later negotiated the treaty with the British in 1930 that allowed limited autonomy to Iraq. Following the end of the mandate in 1932, Al-Said, allied to the British officials, held senior positions in Iraq until the coup of 1958, when along with the royal family, the rebels killed him. Ja’afar Pasha (1885–1936), a Kurdish leader, subsequently joined the Iraqi administration in 1923 as Prime Minister under King Faisal. In Damascus, the Arabs and some Kurds had already replaced Ottoman administrators—in most cases Iraqis and some Hejazis—along with their African eunuchs imported from Peninsula. In Baghdad, the British occupation had equally unleashed parallel trajectories varying from nationalist feelings to greater accommodation for newer ideas and institutions. In November 1919, following her visits and parleys in Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, Aleppo, and now in Baghdad, Bell submitted a detailed report to the Colonial Office analysing newer challenges and prospects, especially for the British in maintaining their primacy in the region. Unlike her previous view of Arabs lacking ruling capabilities, she suggested their co-optation and some semblance of autonomy under the British patronage in the larger interests of both, as she noted: An Arab State in Mesopotamia … within a short period of years is a possibility, and …the recognition or creation of a logical scheme of government on these lines, in supersession of those on which we are now working on Mesopotamia, would be practical and popular.44 Her advocacy for autonomy angered A. T. Wilson, who believed in a strong colonial control given the growing importance of oil and Iraq’s location as a strategic stronghold. He, unlike her, had failed to comprehend the nationalist murmurs in the Kurdish north and in the Arab south, both with a strong anti-British underlay. Interestingly, several urban Sunnis and Shia tribals, along with a large number of Kurds from Mosul shared such views within a kind of Pan-Islamic context. Her visits to Karbala, interview with Syed Hassan, a preeminent Mujtahid from the

152  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite Sadrs—a learned and widely respected Shi’i family—had further convinced her of the viability of her stance on Mesopotamian autonomy, instead of a unilateral control. 1920 tried to clarify the regional political map when at San Remo, the British and French, largely true to the spirit of Sykes-Picot Pact divided the post-­ Ottoman Middle East between them. Underwritten by a growing dependence on oil and global imperial prerogatives, France became the sole overlord of Syria, while Palestine and Iraq inclusive of Mosul became the British “mandatory” preserves. Lloyd George and Clemenceau had been able to acquire their “pound of flesh,” formally approved by the League of Nations. The British initially decided to appoint Abdullah, Hussein’s son and Faisal’s older brother, as the monarch of Mesopotamia, which only further incensed the populace. In a way, Bell’s position received approval, much to the consternation of her rivals such as Wilson, yet the public anger against the British continued to grow bringing Sunnis and Shias together to challenge the machinations of high politics. Bell’s own father had been to Iraq in March 1920 just before the augury of these vital political changes though she amply ensured his engaging hospitality involving tribal sheikhs, urban scholars, and influential financiers, much to his lavish comfort besides strengthening her own social status among the British and Iraqis in the region. Unrest in Iraq during the summer of 1920 owed to a greater sense of betrayal at the hands of the British who, despite erstwhile promises of self-government and the right of self-determination were instead consolidating their own hold. Wilson, as the political arm of the British government in India, and his military colleagues used force against the demonstrators causing 10,000 Iraqi fatalities along with the loss of several British troops, reminding all of the humiliation at Kut a few years back. In addition, it cost Britain to the volume of fifty million pounds in containing the widespread dissent leaving Bell in a quandary since she still believed that an Arab administration under the British guidance and control could prove a way out, while Wilson and his colleagues did not trust the Iraqis. Following Wilson’s departure, it became easier for her to espouse the case for Arab co-optation through people like Faisal earlier ousted by the French, and given the revolt in Iraq, might prove helpful in soothing down anti-British sentiments. Percy Cox, with his extensive experience of the Middle East helped ease Bell’s operations as she firmly established herself in Baghdad running several projects, which eventually led her to a strong advocacy for an Arab king for a new country—Iraq—supervised and guided by the British. 1920–21 had already been a testing time for the Middle East and for Britain since the Egyptians and Syrians demanded complete independence as promised them before and during the War. Given the presence of British troops in Iraq, amidst daily deaths and stupendous costs, the new Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill, was keen on some alternative policies. Here, Cox, Bell, and Lawrence were able to convince him of Faisal’s relevance in quashing the dissent besides cutting down the costs. In fact, just a few months before these deliberations, Bell had prepared a 147-page long report, Review of the Civil Administration in Mesopotamia underlining the need for inducting Arabs and Kurds in the new dispensation.45 The copies of the report found their way to Churchill, the House

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  153 of Commons and British print media to build a case for an Arab head of a new state in Mesopotamia. Churchill gathered his advisors and officials posted in the Middle East for a conference in Cairo in March 1921 participated by 40 individuals with only two Iraqis—Sasun Effendi and Ja’afar Pasha—while ignoring Syed Talib, the Shi’i leader. The conference resolved to bring in Faisal instead of Abdullah to Iraq as the new Emir and thus a new chapter in region’s history began.46 Abdullah was to head Trans-Jordan principality but given Faisal’s role in leading the so-called Arab revolt against the Turks and experience of having headed Syria, even though for just a few months, helped his candidacy much to the pleasure of Bell. In letters to her family, she was all praise for Churchill and Cox and downplayed the possible dissent from within Iraq. She also appeared hopeful of inducting Kurds in the proposed arrangement to balance out Shi’i majority vis-à-vis smaller Sunni population. This kind of arithmetical diplomacy, with all its hazards, was soon going to present a tough task given the parallel and even conflicting tribal, regional, and sectarian proclivities. Churchill could settle only for Basra, but given the oil resources, persuasion by Bell and Cox and prospects of more energy reserves in and around Mosul, he agreed to make Iraq into a new state, anchored on the demographics of the Shi’i and Sunni Arabs besides the Kurds.47 Curiously, all the three communities featured their own internal fissures and dissension, crisscrossed by doctrinal loyalties though Baghdadis of all persuasions supported this new arrangement. While Dobbs, Cox, Bell, and other British officials prepared for Faisal’s arrival in Iraq via Basra and Shi’i holy places, Baghdad began to witness late-night balls and parties, much to Bell’s consternation, who blamed the British wives for keeping their men busy drinking at an arduous time. She also accused them for not inducting themselves into local cultural and political realities instead of focusing on parties and joyous time. In a letter to her father, she was quite vocal: They dance at the Club four times a week. It’s accursed, I think. Men who are as hard worked as our officials can’t sit up till one or two in the morning and be in their office at seven or eight. It’s the wives that do it, confound them—they take no interest in what’s going on, know no Arabic and see no Arabs. They create an exclusive (it’s also a very second-rate) English society quite cut off from the life of the town. I now begin to understand why the British Government has come to grief in India, where our women do just the same thing.48 Her reservations against expatriate women revealed her own prejudices as well as class-based distinctness that had come out openly in her critique of suffragists. Bell soon busied herself to seek support for Faisal and called on her allies, the Arab Sheikhs such as the chieftains of Anazeh, Shammar, and Dailam tribes whereas Nuri al-Said, Ja’afar Pasha, and Sasun Effendi assumed ministerial positions. A 36-year old Faisal, new to Iraq and its tribal and denominational diversity, on his arrival in the summer of 1921, became dependent on the British administration led by Percy Cox but certainly more on Bell, herself identified in Western media as “the Desert Queen.”49 A vast majority of Iraqis voted for Faisal

154  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite in a referendum held in August 1921 though some Shi’i leaders like Sayyid Talib al-Naqib felt a sense of marginalisation harbouring suspicions about the plebiscite itself.50 Bell, gleeful of her acclaimed status, noted: “It’s not true that I’ve determined the fortunes of Iraq but it is true that with an Arab Government I’ve come into my own. It’s a delicate position to be so much in their confidence.”51 Despite the Anglo-Iraqi treaty of 1922, allowing limited powers to monarchy with Britain holding on to Iraq as a mandate, Faisal felt insecure in his new position simply because several forces such as the Iraqi nationalists and his own brothers—Abdullah and Ali—were making his tenure quite difficult. He, in his own way, espoused Arab nationalism, as did Syed Gaylani and several other Iraqi Arabs, who felt aggrieved over age-old Sunni-Shi’i proclivities. The Iraqi Constituent Assembly refused to ratify the treaty due to its reservation over the British control of defence and foreign policy and signed it in 1924 only after Henry Dobbs threatened to scrap the entire constitutional framework. Henry Dobbs (1871–1934), a former Indian Civil Servant and now the High Commissioner in Iraq with the longest tenure of this post ran Iraq from 1923 to 1929 mostly in a personal way. In addition, the steady rise of Ibn Saud in peninsula, his victory over Ibn Rashid and the conquest of Ha’il and containment of tribes such as the Shammar and even Anazeh made Faisal quite vulnerable. Ibn Saud, who had already gained support from some powerful British echelons including St. John Philby, threatened Faisal’s father, Sharif Hussein as well as his brother, Abdullah in Transjordan. Philby, after resigning from his post as Home Minister in Iraq in 1924, decided to join Ibn Saud, serving the founder of Saudi Arabia in several significant capacities.52 To add to the worries of the Hashemites, Ibn Saud captured the Hejaz in 1925, and formally announced the formation of kingdom of Saudi Arabia in September 1932. Amir Faisal’s advisors from his Syrian days such as Nuri al-Said and Ja’afar Pasha were not well rooted in the tribal matrix of Iraq where powerful men relying on patriarchy held sway all the way from home to the vast swaths of land. After the formation of Iraq following the Cairo Conference, the next major issue to confront the British officials was the delineation of its boundaries and here a number of agreements were reached with the tribes, Ibn Saud and the French to deliver the new nation-state. The Kurdish question kept raising hair since they had been divided into a number of states—Turkey, Syria, Persia, and now Iraq—and the British promises for a Kurdistan seemed to flounder. Mosul’s urban population was mainly Sunni Arab whereas Kurds, some Turkmens and Yazidis populated Kirkuk, Erbil, Salamaniya, and the countryside. Bell and Cox espoused Kurdish integration within Iraq by assuring some local autonomy and the arguments to the effect stemmed from region’s inadequacies in being exclusively viable. Turkey, under Mustafa Kemal (1881–1938), had expanded itself into eastern and southern regions and was eager to acquire Kirkuk and Mosul but several conferences in Sevres and then in Lausanne finally demarcated boundaries to the north permitting Turkey some royalty from the oil resources on the grounds that the oil would be pipelined through Anatolia. It was only in 1927, a

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  155 year after Bell’s death that oil was struck in Kirkuk ensuring Iraq’s emergence as one of the main oil suppliers in the region. It is not that Bell remained indifferent to Iraqi gender realities, but somehow she felt that a benevolent colonial control would bode well for everyone including Iraqi women who made an invisible mass. Commenting on Iraqi women in general, on 4 May 1918, she had noted: “They [the ladies of Baghdad] never see anything or go anywhere, think of it! Some of them remain quite human and cheerful but a great many are hysterical and nerve-ridden. They look like plants reared in a cellar”53. On another occasion, while talking about religious leaders, she observed on 14 March 1920: Their tenets forbid them to look upon an unveiled woman and my tenets don’t permit me to veil—I think I’m right there, for it would be a tacit admission of inferiority which would put our intercourse from the first out of focus. Nor is it any good trying to make friends through the women—if the women were allowed to see me they would veil before me as if I were a man. So you see I appear to be too female for one sex and too male for the other.54 In her weekly afternoon tea parties in Baghdad, she would often invite Arab women though like in the case of Faisal’s wife, communicating with them was a major issue.55 Her own fluency in Arabic would help but these women from powerful families shied away from talking about politics, or modern institutions. During her visit to Kurdish north, she met several women and wrote about them in her letters back home but still her socio-political dealings were mainly with the men. It is interesting to note that while enamoured of traditional tribal cultures of the Arabs, in her personal correspondence, she was critical of Islam, as she noted: “I am in the strong position of being a woman so that I can go and see the women and take their part. But how I do hate Islam!”56 Despite her affection for Iraq and proximity with Faisal, she was a committed patriot where her mother country’s imperial prerogative overwrote every other loyalty or commitment. Her American biographer opined quite clearly about it: As confidante of the King and close adviser to Cox, the Khatun was entrusted with the secrets of both. Nevertheless, when her love for Iraq clashed with her pride in the Empire, she remained on the side of her motherland, England. Despite her objections to the mandate, she recognized the need for British officials to toe the line.57 Bell’s interaction with the Muslim men in the Middle East and their colonial counterparts offers a very interesting case study—perhaps only of its kind— where a dynamic and independent-minded woman is able to make her own entry. She mainly faced rivalry from her fellow compatriots whereas the Turkish, Arab, and Kurdish men would afford her deference. Perhaps, in both the worlds, she was a loner with untiring energy but limited time.58

156  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite

Notes 1 -“I think there never were father and daughter who stood in such intimate relations as she and I did to one another.” Sir Hugh Bell at The Royal Geographical Society, 4 April 1927, in Janet Wallach, The Desert Queen: Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Advisor to Kings and Ally of Lawrence of Arabia (New York: Anchor Books), e-book, 22. 2 “She is a remarkably clever woman with the brains of a man.” Lord Hardinge to Percy Cox quoted in Ibid., 242. 3 Georgina Howell (ed.) Gertrude Bell: A Woman in Arabia. The Writings of the Queen of Desert (New York: Penguin, 2015), 10–12. 4 Christopher Hitchens, “The Woman Who Made Iraq”, The New Yorker, 1 June 2007. 5 “Her writing reflected a combative spirit but also great vulnerability, her views extending sometimes to subjects she did not always master in a strictly academic way.” Liora Likutz, A Quest in the Middle East. Gertrude Bell and the Making of Modern Iraq (London: I. B. Tauris, 2006), 4 & 8–9. 6 The earliest two collections of her selected 400 letters to her parents from London, Oxford, the Continent, and the Middle East were edited by her stepmother, Lady Florence Bell within a year of her death. Florence Bell (ed.) Letters of Gertrude Bell, vols. 1 and 2 (London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1927). Consisting of 736 pages including an introduction and some photographs, these two volumes titled, Letters from Baghdad are available in digital form in a single volume (e-book), released in 2017. They include a smaller portion of her correspondence that underwent a minute censorship by the family and Whitehall officials. Extracts in this chapter are mostly from Wallach’s biography of Gertrude Bell. But they can be found on the web site of the University of Newcastle: In addition, Virginia Howell has also compiled extracts of her letters and diary entries under different topics. See Reference iii. 7 The list may include: Elizabeth Burgoyne, Gertrude Bell, vols. 1 and 2 (London: Ernest Benn, 1961); Susan Goodman, Gertrude Bell (London: Berg Publishers, 1985); Josephine Kamm, Daughter of the Desert: The Story of Gertrude Bell (London: Bodley Head, 1956); Caroline Marshall, “Gertrude Bell: Her Work and Influence in the Near East 1914–192”, The University of Virginia Dissertation (unpublished), 1968; Elsa Richmond, (ed.) The Earlier Letters of Gertrude Bell (London: Benn, 1937); M. R. Ridley, Gertrude Bell (London: Blackie, 1941); H. V. Winstone, Gertrude Bell (New York: Quartet Books, 1978). 8 Tim Arango, “For the British Spy Affection is Strong but Legacy is Unfulfilled”, The New York Times, 26 June 2014. 9 For such details, see Heather L. Wagner, Gertrude Bell: Explorer of the Desert (Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004), 20–4. At Oxford, she developed lifelong friendship with some class fellows like Mary Talbot and Janet Hogarth. 10 This was the time when Arab societies attracted all kinds of people, especially Wilfrid S. Blunt and his wife who found a home and a stud in Egypt following their travels across North Africa and India. Blunt (1840–1922), an English aristocrat was married to Lord Byron’s granddaughter and in his writings was quite critical of British role in Egypt. Author of several books on Islam and the Middle East, Blunt appeared to be a forerunner of T. E. Lawrence. Lawrence (1888–1936), a student at Oxford and an archaeologist working at a Hittite site at Carchemish in Ottoman Syria with Leonard Woolley, joined the British forces when the First World War broke out. As an intelligence officer, he worked with Sharif Hussein, especially his son, Faisal, in the Arab Revolt of 1916 against the Ottomans. Despite enjoying Churchill’s nearness, Lawrence carried a sense of betrayal and like Bell had a special attachment with the desert Arabs. Author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1935), Lawrence served with the RAF as TE Shaw in India and died in Dorset following a motorbike accident. Lowell Thomas’s reports and then his book made him known in Britain whereas a subsequent

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  157 film turned him into a legendary figure. Bell had encouraged Lawrence to complete his book. See, T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (London: Wordsworth Edition, 1997). One of Bell’s biographers felt that her name has been eclipsed by a more “eccentric” and “exotic” friend—TE Lawrence. Susan Goodman, Gertrude Bell, 1. 11 Gertrude Bell, Persian Pictures: From the Mountain to the Sea (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014), 28. 12 Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 77–8. 13 Bell completed the book in England in 1906 while staying with her parents and on its publication, it elicited favourable reviews. 14 Wallach, 124. 15 Quoted in Wallach, 115–6. 16 Ibid., 116. 17 For her work on archaeological sites in the Ottoman regions, see Lisa Cooper, In Search of Kings and Conquerors: Gertrude Bell and the Archaeology of the Middle East (London: I. B. Tauris, 2016). 18 Some German archaeologists had conducted research at the site before her though her own findings met a delayed publication due to her travels and other engagements. See, Gertrude Bell, The Palace and Mosque at Ukhaidir (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1914). 19 Gertrude Bell, Amurath to Amurath (London: William Heinemann, 1911). She talks about the challenges for the Ottomans in Anatolia and their other provinces that she had visited and feels that the Young Turks could steer the country out of misgovernance only if they tended to needed prerogatives. Cromer, Curzon, Rhodes, Milner, BadenPowell, and Bell were definitely the great proponents of an imperial Britain and their generation felt that without its empire Britain would lose global pre-eminence along with running into numerous challenges from its other rivals. They also worried about the growing power of Germany and its interest in working with the Ottomans while viewing the Middle East as the prospective area to be under the British influence. Cromer, even before the War itself, had floated the idea of inciting Arabs and Kurds against the Ottomans. Roger Owen, Lord Cromer: Victorian Imperialist, Edwardian Proconsul (Oxford: OUP, 2004), 386–7. 20 She corresponded with Cromer on these issues; refused to accept women as a class, and even opposed the proposal for a women’s college in London. Her views were rooted in her own upbringing, as opined by Likutz: “By ignoring the possibility that women could be educated and then get married, Gertrude Bell showed little concern for women in general and for women of the lower classes in particular. Since she was also used to privilege in regard to education and did not have to make any effort to get into the right institutions, she underestimated the amount of effort required to raise lower- and middle-class women to the point where they could take advantage of modern education and participate in the debates and decisions of their time.” Likutz, 45. 21 Howell (2007), 91. 22 Likutz, 23. 23 Quoted in Wallach, 189. 24 For details, see Eugene Rogan, The Fall of the Ottomans (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2016). 25 M. Naeem Qureshi, Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics: A Study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918–1924 (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 1999). On the British and French intelligence gathering and secret overtures, see Roger Owen, “British and French Military Intelligence in Syria and Palestine, 1914–1918: Myths and Reality”, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, (April 2011), 38, 1, 1–6. 26 Wallach, 146. 27 Ibid., 147 28 “Gertrude shared with Lawrence an admiration amounting almost to an addiction for the Bedouin and their powerful mystique. Both admired independence, mobility, and

158  Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite resilience that made these nomads the aristocracy of the desert. Contained in this, perhaps for both of them, was a physical attraction to the type of a warrior ascetic.” Howell, 201. 29 David Hogarth (1862–1927), an Oxford archaeologist of the ancient Middle East, was a keeper at the Ashmolean Museum and headed the Arab Intelligence Bureau in Cairo. His sister, Janet had been Bell’s friend and contemporary at Oxford. 30 Likutz, 109. 31 Gertrude Bell, “Ibn Saud” in The Arab War: Reports reprinted from the secret Arab Bulletin (The Selwa Press, 2012), 30. 32 Wallach, 231 33 Ibid. 34 Quoted in ibid., 241. 35 For all these details on these stormy events, see ibid., 246–59. For the battle of Kut, often described as the most devastating defeat for the British troops, see Christopher Catherwood, The Battles of World War I (London: Allison & Busby, 2014 ), 51–2. 36 Bell’s reservations on the Balfour Declaration of 1917 promising British official support for a Jewish state in Palestine and the Sykes-Picot Treaty did not endear her with Sykes. Like T. E. Lawrence, she felt that the Arabs would feel double-crossed by the British and Prince Faisal, in fact, much to his consternation had been informed of the secret Sykes-Picot Pact. Colin Freeman, “How Bell Caused a Desert Storm”, The Daily Telegraph, 21 February 2014. 37 Wallach, 261 38 Gertrude Bell, Letter, 12 September 1920, to her father, Sir Hugh Bell, Gertrudebell. 39 Sharif Hussein soon faced Ibn Saud, who after defeating Ibn Rashid had been planning to invade the Hejaz itself. Sharif Hussein did style himself as a caliph when Mustafa Kemal dissolved the Ottoman caliphate in 1924, but Hussein’s “tenure” ended within a few month following his ouster by Ibn Saud. For more on his period, see Avi Shlaim, Lion of Jordan (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2008). 40 Robert Lacey, The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Sa’ud (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982). 41 Wallach, 275 42 This is a reference to a familiar work. See, Elizabeth Monroe, Britain’s Moment in the Middle East, 1914–1971 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1981). Britain’s lack of sensitivity towards the local long-term imperatives for the sake of her imperial, commercial, and political interests left their imprints on the regional politics. From an early interest to ensure pliability for global imperial interests such as India and control of the Suez were soon joined by calibrations to defeat the Ottomans, followed by sheer economic and strategic interests. The new documentary evidence such as the existence of the Protocol of Sevres and Prime Minister Eden’s own hitherto denied culpability in the invasion of Suez in 1956 led Monroe to undertake some revisions of her volume though the Arab voices still remained marginal in the second edition, as they were absent from the British (Western) policies in the Middle East all through the century. 43 Quoted in Wallach, 337. 44 Gertrude Bell, “Syria in 1919”, quoted in ibid., 347. 45 Gertrude Bell, “Review of the Civil Administration of Mesopotamia”, Cmd. 1061. HMS, 1920. 46 An important leader in Basra, Syed Talib al-Naqib (1868–1929) came from a prominent family that held prestigious positions under the Ottomans though he was not in favour of inducting Faisal as the king of Iraq. Under Syed Gaylani, he served as minister for interior in 1920–1 but was annoyed for being ignored at the Cairo Conference. He supported the old decentralised Ottoman system and criticised the mandatory arrangements under the British Administration. Following an afternoon tea session at Bell’s, under the orders from Percy Cox, Syed Talib was picked up by the colonial

Scholar, spy, and imperial socialite  159 police and sent off to Sri Lanka in exile. After his departure, St. John Philby took over the home department in Iraq. 47 The creation of Iraq and Faisal’s monarchy owed largely to Bell’s persistence, though slightly later, she might have had some reservations about Amir Faisal’s proclivities with some Iraqi nationalists. For more on this, see Adeed Dawisha, Iraq (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2013). 48 Quoted in Wallach, 439. 49 Myriam Yakoubi, “Gertrude Bell’s Perception of Faisal I of Iraq and the Anglo-Arab Romance” in Gertrude Bell and Iraq: A Life and Legacy (eds.) Paul Collins and Charles Tripp (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 119. 50 Eric Davis, Memories of State: Politics, History, and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 56. 51 Wallach, 463. 52 St. John Philby or Jack Philby or Shaikh Abdullah (1885–1960) was born in Sri Lanka on a tea plantation and studied at Cambridge before working for the British Raj in Lahore, where he learnt Urdu, Punjabi, and Balochi. He served in the Middle East in several capacities and received training of a successful intelligence agent from Gertrude Bell. Cox sought him out to safeguard oil installations in Basra besides ensuring closer alliances with the Arab chieftains to defeat the Ottomans. In due process, Philby came closer to Ibn Saud and distanced himself from Cox, Faisal, and Bell until he decided to resign in 1924. He turned into a close advisor for Ibn Saud; became a Muslim in 1931, and began negotiation with the Western oil companies for explorations in Peninsula. On behalf of Ibn Saud, he demarcated the Yemeni–Saudi borders, married a Saudi woman, and negotiated with the Zionists. During the Second World War he, along with his son, Kim Philby criticised the Allies and thus came under the cloud. During the 1956 Suez invasion, his sympathies were with the Arabs. After Ibn Saud’s death in 1953, he became a critic of Saudi monarchs and chose to live in Beirut where he died and received a burial in a Muslim cemetery. Author of several books on the Arab lands and flora and fauna, Philby in his times was one of the most well-known Arabists. For more on him, see Jack Philby, Heart of Arabia: A Record of Travel & Exploration (London: Constable, 1922); also, Forty Years in the Wilderness (London: R. Hale, 1957). His son, who initially worked for MI6, later defected to the Soviet Union. 53 Quoted in Howell, 74. 54 Ibid., 73. 55 On 23 December 1924, she observed about King Faisal’s wife: “Just think of the life they’ve all led, imprisoned in the Mecca palace with a pack of women and slaves! Just to sit on their balcony and see the Tigris flowing must be wonderful to them.” Quoted in Howells, 75. 56 Wallach, 468. 57 Ibid., 471. 58 She had an interesting French contemporary, Alexandra David, who left France and family life to spend her time in India and more so in Tibet, and like Bell, published extensively. See, G. R. H. Wright, "Two Unusual Orientalists: Women of Action", East and West, 53 (2003), 289–304.

8 Lone scholar and invisible sleuth Freya Stark and Muslims

Unfostered and unnoticed, the little flame so kindled fed secretly on dreams. Chance, such as the existence of a Syrian missionary near my home, nourished it; and Fate, with long months of illness and leisure, blew it to a blaze bright enough to light my way through labyrinths of Arabic, and eventually to land me on the coast of Syria at the end of 1927.1 That is how Freya Madeline Stark, a British traveller and author on the Muslim world prefaced her In the Valley of Assassins, one of many volumes based on her travels and observations of numerous societies. A curious but well-informed reporter on the labyrinthine historical details of the past and contemporary tribes across the Middle East—from the mountains in Lebanon to the former stronghold of the Assassins in Persia—she encountered their descendants in her extensive travels.2 An enigmatic person from a broken family lacking social privileges that Gertrude Bell and her class appropriated in the late Victorian era, Stark’s journeys across the Muslim regions were in fact voyages in quest of her own identity in a changing world.3 In June 1927, she wrote to her father then living in Canada of her decision to leave for Syria since she had met a Syrian Quaker who was going to find her a “cheap lodging in an Arab village where I shall meet no Europeans.”4 Assisted and guided by local chieftains and protected by the police escorts from the newly established states such as Lebanon, Yemen, Turkey, Iraq, and Persia, her accounts witness personal details on people with a major section devoted to local habitats and women. Her parents, Flora and Robert Stark, were artistes and first cousins who married in France and it was during their 13th year of wedding that Freya Stark was born in 1893. Freya’s maternal grandmother lived in Genoa and that is where, while in her 30s she developed acquaintance with the priest who, other than teaching her Arabic, kindled interest in the Near East. In 1901, the Starks visited Asolo in northern Italy where some English expatriates dwelt though Robert Stark had built four houses in Dartmoor and thus Freya often found herself travelling between England, France, and Italy. Following an estrangement between the Starks, Flora developed closer relationship with an Italian entrepreneur, Count Mario di Roascio, who operated textile looms in Piedmont when Flora along with her two daughters—Freya and Vera—moved in with him. It was here that a young Freya, while on a visit to the factory, got her hair tangled in the loom causing a severe accident, which acutely damaged her scalp

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  161 and face necessitating elaborate hospitalisation for the next 4 months. Her health was restored but the accident left its deep scars that, all through her life, made her wear specially designed hats and shawls to cover the affected side. Freya, from her rather unsettled childhood, sought company in books and taught herself Latin and French, and following a move to London in 1908, attended classes at Bedford College with a keen interest in literature and history. During the War, she went to Bologna to complete a course in nursing and rendered services in both England and Italy, while also fighting a severe bout with typhoid. Following dissension between her mother and the count, the family moved to Genoa where Freya’s exposure to the Middle East began. In December 1927, following the erstwhile example of Gertrude Bell, she found herself in a small village in Lebanon learning Arabic and reading classics.5 Accompanied by another English woman and three porters, Stark had ventured into Beirut from Damascus and while aiming for Druze territory, the French colonial officials arrested her. However, through her humour and some conversational skills, she was able to get herself free and allowed to proceed into Druze region. Her visit to Syria and Lebanon now under an extended French mandate yet facing defiance from the grassroots, prompted Stark to publish her first article, which described French control more imperialistic than its British counterpart.6 Freya Stark is often not a detached observer yet is eager to know about communities through acquisition of historical information and first-hand encounters at the grassroots away from colonial suburbia. For instance, in her first book, she offers a well-informed account of the origins of the Fatimid Empire that owed itself to Shi’i teachings and, at one stage, became the main proponent of Shi’i-­ Ismaili precepts across the Muslim lands.7 While tracing the history of the Assassins of Alamut, founded by Hassan ibn Sabbah, she noted: Egypt truly became for a short time the centre of civilization; and the Isma'ilian propagandist could be met with from Morocco to China. One such came into contact with a young Persian Shi'ite of Rei called Hasan-i-Sabbah, who joined the sect in the year A.D. 1071. He was to become the first Grand Master of the Assassins.8 Stark undertook two detailed visits to the valleys of Alamut, where once stood the castles built by the Assassins finally razed in 1256 by Hulago Khan before his assault on Baghdad 2 years later. While journeying in northwestern Iran in 1930, Stark consulted a detailed map from India; was escorted by her servants; conversed with the local influentials, and rented rooms on the way while her mules took her to the hilltops including Takhat-i-Suleiman (The Solomon Throne). Perhaps the first female European traveller her detailed accounts of these valleys, villages, rivers, and flora and fauna witness her knack for details and immersion in the local cultures while avoiding any cursory or rancorous comments. Her ventures in lower Iraq, Persia, and through the valleys south of the Caspian, with all their geographical and anthropological details were duly acknowledged by the Royal Geographical Society, which following the publication of The Valley of Assassins in 1934, awarded her the Burton Memorial Medal. Preceding that, in

162  Lone scholar and invisible sleuth 1932–3, she worked on the editorial board of The Baghdad Times while completing her other volume, Baghdad Sketches that underwent lateral printings. Her travels into Persia through lower Iraq and Luristan also won her Grant Award, before she left for Hadhramaut in southern Yemen. Hailed as the first-ever European woman to venture into southern Peninsula, her next book, Southern Gates of Arabia; Seen in the Hadhramaut appeared in 1938, followed by her A Winter in Arabia in 1940. The British controlled Aden since 1838 and in view of its geo-commercial significance gradually expanded their strategic and political influence in southern tracts. During the War, hired to work as a propagandist in a Victorian building, she did not receive any special hospitality by some of her compatriots in Aden and was a bit saddened given her previous familiarity with them. From her two earlier journeys in the Hadhramaut, Freya still had a number of friends in Aden. They did not give her quite the welcome she hoped for. Gertrude Caton Thompson, travelling back through the city at the end of their winter in Hureidha, had managed to add her own voice to an opinion gaining some ground that, though fascinating and full of charm, Freya as a traveller could be ruthless, too quick to use others and lazy in her gratitude.9 Her apparent detachment from imperial hegemony would not deter her from seeking its privileges and promotion, the way her own mingling with the ordinary Muslims underwrote her own independent credentials. Like her previous travels, Stark’s forays in southern Arabia reveal her keenness in archaeological and anthropological details and while not insisting on elaborate comforts, she would easily mingle with her escorts and hosts. In her first visit to Yemen to visit the recently excavated archaeological sites and idealistically inspired by Queen Sheba’s mythical stories, Stark was afflicted with measles and dysentery and could not make it to Shabwa, the presumed royal capital. Airlifted to Aden she convulsed in a British hospital. Her encounters with the Bedouins, exchanges with their womenfolk, hospitality by the local chieftains afforded her unique opportunities to gain closer knowledge about the Yemenis. Her journey was partly motivated to trace the ancient trade routes for frankincense all the way from North Africa to Mesopotamia with Yemen as focal point. Her second book, A Winter of Arabia was based on her diary notes that she penned while travelling, and was collectively sponsored by Viscount Wakefield of Hythe, the Royal Geographical Society along with the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Based on her traveling in 1938, the copyrighted book appeared in 1940 while she still served the British government during the war, and its 2002 American edition heralded the comment from The New Yorker calling Stark “one of the finest travel writers of our century.”10 By this time, Britain, with its enduring hold on Aden and primacy across the Indian Ocean operated as an arbiter among several Yemeni tribal factions. Diplomatic calibrations through political officials such as Harold Ingram accompanied strafing by the RAF on defiant tribes. Like in Iraq, Gulf, and the Hejaz, British diplomats routinely applied both coercion and financial temptations to engineer regional truces whereas scholar–sleuths such

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  163 as T. E. Lawrence, Gertrude Bell, and Freya Stark, cemented nearness with the Arab stakeholders. The Arabs were still viewed raw, traditional and hospitable who could benefit from the imperial British patronage through modernist edifices while securing British imperial interests in their regions. Very much like the Victorians a generation earlier, the Arabs were perceived both civic and barbarians, with whom the British sought proximity but on their own terms. “The perpetual charm of Arabia,” according to Stark, “is that the traveller finds his level there simply as a human being: the people’s directness, deadly to the sentimental or pedantic, likes the less complicated virtues; and the pleasantness of being liked for oneself might, I think, be added to the five reasons for travel given me by Sayyid Abdulla, the watch-maker: ‘to leave one’s troubles behind one; to earn a living; to acquire learning; to practise good manners; and to meet honourable men.’”11 One finds similar ethos underpinning travels and scholarly pursuits of India by the British visitors over the past few centuries, where other than professional reasons, personal keenness to discover the cultural other proved a core ingredient. In the company of Gertrude Thompson whom she calls “Archaeologist” and the cartographer, Elinor Gardner, surreptitiously identified as Alinur, Stark’s journeys around Mukalla and Hureidha, facilitated through Arab drivers and servants, elicited hospitality from the local tribal chieftains and Syed families. The three women often stayed with area’s notables or at rented places and widely interacted with the womenfolk of their host families providing Stark with extensive material to write about their socio-cultural pursuits such as literary sessions, musical evenings, and elaborate cookery. Often working as an arbiter she would negotiate with the local notables for seeking allowance to pursue archaeological diggings and other logistical arrangements though her own relationship with the fellow British colleagues often remained formal and occasionally less cordial. They excavated and mapped a number of forts, temples, and habitations dating from pre-Islamic periods whereas the guidance for the local flora and fauna besides provision of the mules, camels, and dwellings came from the Bedouins. The Bedouin ancestors had left their creedal marks on the rock sides and walls of the caves and temples, with continuous partake by the successive generations.12 While travelling from valley to valley in Southern Yemen, Stark reflects on nomadic Arabs and her own English ancestors, who, historically speaking, were migratory communities until the recent past: There are, I sometimes think, only two sorts of people in this world—the settled and the nomad—and there is a natural antipathy between them, whatever the land to which they may belong. Perhaps it is because we are comparatively recently barbarians, because the stone age lingered longer among us than on the Mediterranean coasts that the English have remained so frequently nomadic at heart.13 In the process of her travels across the deserts and hills, Stark often talks about her individual Arab companions, matriarchs, and brides whose traditional costumes, jewellery, and self-belief dazzle her.14 Her narrative does not exclude the

164  Lone scholar and invisible sleuth camels and donkeys that her squad often used for ride over a challenging terrain and thus mixes her travel accounts with some ethnographic and archaeological details.15 Like other Western travellers to Arabia, India, and Central Asia, camels fascinate her; she is amazed at their forbearance yet is a bit quizzical about their appearances. 16 Her companions may sound local in their outlook and mobility yet are the descendant of traders and warriors who, for millennia plied on the Frankincense routes with relatives living as far as Meshed, India and China. Her forays into the valleys and towns such as ‘Azzan remind her of the Quranic references of the past communities such as Thamud that lived here in pre-Islamic era. Stark is supportive of the military operations in Southern Yemen mounted by the RAF, justified in the name of order and safety for the traders and travellers, and downgrades criticism at home of these operations devised by colonial officials such as Harold Ingram. This kind of mantra finds her in the league of Gertrude Bell, T. E. Lawrence, David Hogarth, Ann Lambton, Robert Zahener, and the rest who had no qualms in supporting a paternal, self-righteous, and vocally interventionist form of coercive control. Therefore, like all other Arabists, she may have a soft corner for Arabs in general and Bedouins in particular, yet finds British forward policy a needed intervention with all its moral and cultural portents. It certainly appears a very Kiplingesque kind of perspective where these societies presumably required intervention including the usage of force to create territorial and loyal polities—all under a colonial panoply. While exhibiting a strong element of fascination for Bedouin men and women embodying rawness and freedom, she is aware of slavery in Yemen where even younger adolescents received African men and women as gifts to serve on them. As per her account, some of these slaves visited her seeking medicines besides affirming rumours that following aerial bombings by the British, slaves would acquire emancipation. According to a recent study of the British intelligence activities in the Middle East and especially Iraq during the Second World War, individuals like Stark were engaged in intelligence gathering, cartography and acquisition of first-hand data for perusal by the British security agencies. Adrian O’Sullivan’s The Baghdad Set: Iraq through the Eyes of British Intelligence, 1941–45 documents such activities and identifies officials running these organs across the Middle East. Detailed archival records, appended by O’Sullivan underline Stark’s close collaboration with the security and political officials, all the way from 1927 to 1943, which puts altogether different gloss over her travels and semi-academic activities.17 These official archives also identify academics such as David Hogarth, Anne “Nancy” Lambton, Robert Zahener, Terence Mitford, and other specialists working for British organisations, along with military personnel, civil servants from India, and personnel from M15, M16, and SAS.18 Kim Philby in London and John Glubb Pasha in Transjordan often provided guiding directives to the Baghdad Set whereas the Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941 inducted Glubb’s Arab Legion of the trained Bedouins to conduct subversive activities in Northern Iraq.19 The British agents not only monitored the domestic situation in Iraq they equally checked the traffic into and from Iraq including a stringent border scrutiny of the passengers travelling on Taurus Railways that connected Turkey, Syria, and Iraq.

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  165 Fears about the Arab nationalists and Axis agents along with worries about the Soviet propagandists lurked behind these security checks. Stark and Herbert “Adrian” Bishop, close associates in Baghdad, enjoyed proximity with the contemporary British literary and academic circles in London and Oxford with the latter serving in Iraq as the head of propaganda section of intelligence apparatus. Bishop (d. 1942), a former Etonian and one-time member of Nashdom Abbey and thus known as Brother Tom, was an Arabist like Stark and an open gay, whose friends included Maurice Bowra, the Master of Oxford’s Wadham College.20 It is quite interesting to notice that her three main biographers overlook Stark’s inter-war engagements with the security officials and instead focus on her scholarly and exploratory travels. Caroline Moorehead, Molly Izzard and Jane Geniesse avoid discussing Stark’s wartime relationship with the British intelligence. In Baghdad, Aden, and Egypt, she worked closely with Adrian Bishop, Nigel David Clive, Stewart Henry Perowne, Vyvyan Holt, and Kinahan Cornwallis. In addition, she socialised with several British female friends including Hermione Ranfurly, Pamela Hore-Ruthven, Stark’s assistant, and Margaret Stefana “Peggy” Drower—the archaeologist—who followed Pamela Hore-Ruthven. Even Stark’s godson and academe, Malise Ruthven, in his work based on her photographs and papers, did not mention her espionage and propaganda activities.21 Stark’s complex and apparently defiant relationship with the imperial officials becomes subtly apparent in her articles on Baghdad, the city she often used as a base for her forays into Persia, Kurdistan, Yemen, and India. Starting her journey from Beirut in a taxi with three other passengers, she had ventured into the city and rented a small place overlooking a bazaar in an underprivileged area. The deal had been facilitated by Nuri whose contact had been provided by a Syrian friend with the former ensuring a rather austere place next to a mosque. Her articles, mostly published in The Baghdad Times, where she had worked on her return from Luristan and Persia, offer an interesting searchlight on urban pluralities of Baghdad where she interacted with the Shi’i grocers, Sunni writers, Jewish financiers and Armenian house cleaners. Based on 31 short essays, Sketches: Journey Through Iraq, also known as Baghdad Sketches, includes subjects such as Ashura, Ramadhan, Kuwait, four holy cities of Iraq, the Armenian maidservant, and life in the slums.22 The British had long-time interest in the Gulf region, emanating from the times of the East India Company that had opened its offices in Basra and Baghdad in the 1790s though Mesopotamia including the Kurdish regions was an important Ottoman territory.23 The British captured Basra in 1914 and gained control of Baghdad in 1917, followed by imposition of a mandatory system, very much like in Palestine–Jordan region, in collaboration with the French and true to the spirit of the Sykes-Picot Pact.24 The British faced resistance in Iraq as did the French in Syria soon after the First World War and the allocation of mandatory control over these regions by a thumb stamping League of Nations only aggravated local defiance against the new colonial administrators. Given the unrest in both Iraq and Syria often turning into widely spread revolts and insurrections, France and Britain tried to develop power-sharing formulas such as the separation of Lebanon from Syria and of Trans-Jordan from Palestine/Syria.

166  Lone scholar and invisible sleuth Parallel commitments with the Arabs and Zionists further aggravated the situation, as did France’s support for the Maronite Christians in Lebanon. In Iraq, Kurds and Arabs—the latter of both Shi’i and Sunni persuasions—resented new masters eager to persist given the discovery of oil and vitality of the Gulf for larger imperial interests. Amir Faisal was not happy in the dual control of Iraq and following his ouster from Syria, sought total sovereignty for his new country that he had never visited until his arrival in 1923, as discussed in our previous chapter. Stark reached Baghdad during exacerbated tensions and witnessed pervasive Iraqi nationalist avowals in her daily interaction with her neighbours and contacts. Iraq and Syria were soon going to gain independence but the seeds of mistrust predated pushing the colonial officials and Iraqis further apart until at the beginning of the Second World War, Iraqis, in their contempt for British interventionism, even sought closer ties with Germany, much to the discomfort of Churchill and the Raj. Stark might have felt some civic discomfort in and around her abode in Baghdad but otherwise faced no problem with her neighbours or interlocutors and it was on the insistence of the British officials, that she moved to another accommodation as a tenant of an Iraqi Christian family in a comparatively upscale area by the Tigris. She might have had her own ways of dealing with the Iraqis, but certainly, did not approve of the colonial life styles of her compatriots in the country, which she often found “deplorable.”25 According to another review, Stark’s writing about Baghdad depicts the British ruling class as anachronistic imperialists with rigid social structures, in a traditional colonial society cantered on clubs and drawing rooms, and in particular she depicts the way this quasi-colonial society sought to curtail the mobility of European women.26 Initially, her being single and not belonging to the usual British ruling classes underpinned some exclusion in Baghdad by her own compatriots but her fame predated with In the Valley of Assassin, followed by the publication of The Southern Gates of Arabia in 1936. By that time, her London publisher, John Murray was receptive to the idea of publishing a new edition of Baghdad Sketches with the inclusion of eight additional articles based on her recent arrival in Iraq. Her publication, The Baghdad Years, as revisited in Beyond Euphrates (1951), is, in fact, the second volume of autobiography that includes her subsequent reflections and letters from her first stay of the 1930s. In 1975, Stark, through her The Open Door, 1930–35, consisting of the second volume of her letters, recounted her early years of residence in Iraq, while confirming her deeper immersion in the country. It is not to suggest that Stark would always keep her distance from the colonial officials in the Middle East since in Hadhramaut she enjoyed the hospitality and support from the Ingrams though some RAF officials in Yemen were not sure of the fieldwork undertaken by Stark, Thompson, and Elinur. Even in Baghdad, as is evident from her Beyond Euphrates, she had cherished memories of the time spent with Captain Vyvyan Holt and Sir Kinahan Cornwallis.

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  167 While Holt did not respond to her amorous interest in him; Cornwallis wrote a laudatory preface to A Winter in Arabia. In her writings, Stark seems to devote immense space to the lives and pursuits of the Middle Easterners and British expatriates in the region and often ends up on the quirkiness of their lifestyles as if two contrasting worlds happen to share the same territorial space but in their own distinct way. In particular, she was indignant of British women in Iraq for not immersing themselves outside their exclusive routines though some of them, while back home, had been quite active in public domain. Here, their seclusion from the socio-cultural realities of Iraq and restrictive mores, would disallow them close encounters and learning experiences in a society that was rapidly changing—at least in political and social realms. Perhaps, she entertained a significant sense of pride for being “different” through her own explorations in the labyrinths of this society where eagerness for modern means and a sovereign existence accompanied an ingrained revulsion at colonial machinations. Her forays into tribal hinterland or schools and seminaries in and around Baghdad, often wrapped in abba’a like other Iraqi women, afforded her a closer searchlight on life all around her. Following her sojourn across the Muslim neighbourhood during a Ramadan night in the company of her Iraqi female interlocutors, Stark witnessed the streets, bazaars, and the rooftops offering a different spectacle of socialising Iraqis. To her, “British residents, dining in their houses or dancing at the club, see little of this nocturnal liveliness.” Surprisingly, these exuberant activities in an otherwise “month of toil and abstentions” happened during the night witnessing an “extraordinary unity of Islam…” She found such an outing empowering as well as suspenseful since she went in a disguise without uttering a word so as not to invite any curious attention. This was quite exhilarating for her since earlier she had visited a girls school where pupils were being taught the laudatory stories of the past caliphs with scant focus on contemporary challenges. Most of the teachers happened to be Syrian expatriates since Iraq was yet to train its own pioneer generation of instructors. Stark’s rather wry observations on schooling could be slightly hasty at a time when her own efficiency in Arabic was even less self-assured despite taking lessons over the years. She felt it more acutely when going on nocturnal adventures or visiting Shi’i shrines where she could not follow the conversations among her companions. Interestingly, Stark is not impressed by the physical beauty of many Iraqi women including the younger groups unless they were ethnically Circassians or Turkish though finds senior matriarchs quite impressive: “The older ladies have charming faces, full of serenity and intelligence: perhaps the serenity of quiet uncrowded years of seclusion and intelligence of people who read less and notice more than we do.” 27 Like Gertrude Bell, she visited Sheikh Ajil, the chieftain of the Shammars following some hilarious driving experiences through the desert and across the river, where a traditional tribal hospitality awaited her. Here, following her encounter with the Sheikh’s wives, she reflected on the feudal nature of this tribal society now using cars and modern gadgetry and receiving dictation from intermediaries, called Effendis, who worked for the monarchy under the watchful eyes of their colonial superiors. One of the tribal youths was even named after Percy Cox

168  Lone scholar and invisible sleuth making her feel as if the Anglo–Saxons and these Arab tribals, in their own distinct ways, shared some aristocratic legacies, yet transformative decisions were being made by their technocrats. Her visit to Mosul and beyond into Kurdish regions allowed her to observe the Yazidi communities who opened up the sanctum of their holy site for her. Finding them closer to Kurds rather than Arabs, she learnt about their hierarchical structures, attributed to the early mentor, Sheikh Adi, who had preached an interesting combination of beliefs and rituals from Zoroastrianism and Islam with peacock assuming a preeminent status in Yazidi pantheon. As per their tradition, she visited the basement hall and the stream whose water was believed to originate from Zamzam, the spring at Makkah’s Kaaba. Even the hierarchical titles for the Yazidis such as Amir, Pir, Sheikh, and Fakirs had their origins in Sufi Islam. While in Baghdad, Stark undertook a visit to Kuwait, which she found small and frugal with its economy still dependent on pearls and trade with the interiors of Arabia. Compared to Baghdad, Basra, and certainly greener places such as Mosul, the coastal hamlet of Kuwait, did not possess orchards and fields and most of the labour including diving into the Gulf for pearls was performed by the Africans, whose ancestors had been brought as slaves though now with slave trade mostly gone, they performed all the menial jobs. She found their lives quite strenuous and underpaid. Guided by the local British consul, she went to a “Slaves Club” to witness some musical performance with tambura accompanied by communal dancing. Slaves were brought to the Middle East and South Asia across the Indian Ocean by the Arab and Gujarati slavers before the Europeans multiplied trans-Oceanic trade. The descendants of those slaves make sizeable proportions of the coastal population groups in Oman, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and India. Just in Iraq there are estimated two millions Iraqis of African ancestry, often living as underprivileged groups besides being stigmatised as slaves though their ancestors, in many cases, came during the Abbasid caliphate and thus have longterm claims on citizenship.28 Stark offers some details on the life style and beautification practices prevalent among the contemporary kohel-wearing Kuwaiti women yet, like her contacts in Iraq and elsewhere, she is weary of their lack of inventiveness, as she notes: But one cannot help wondering that the ladies of the East, having so very little to do otherwise, would not have made more progress in the arts of beauty. It is the busy West which has discovered most of the secrets…{compared} to her Eastern sister who sits, placidly immured and neglected, meeting old age without resistance.29 Given her earlier laudatory observations about senior Iraqi women, this comparison reveals an element of exasperation. Out of her usual curiosity, she visited Shi’i holy places in Samarra, Kufa, and Karbala where fatalism of the pilgrims touched her. She witnessed breast-thumping women during the Ashura rituals where men were bleeding themselves while chanting eulogies of Imam Husain, the grandson of the Prophet. Observing multitudes of women mourning grievously shocked her, as did the kissing of the tomb’s railings by the pilgrims at

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  169 Kadhimain, witnessing “the piteous faith of mankind.”30 However, in Najaf, during a visit to the shrine of Imam Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and the Fourth Caliph, she stayed in the town for a week observing pilgrims, seminaries and bazaars besides interviewing a senior Shi’i jurist, a vocal critic of the British policies in Palestine.31 More than an eccentric writer and intrepid academic, Stark finds no qualms in working for her country’s imperial interests in Iraq and around through intelligence gathering, influencing public opinion and sharing data with her country’s secret agencies. Her work on these lines with Stewart Perowne, a spy and her husband for a time, has unearthed her subtle and no less significant role as a sleuth and propagandist. She was one of the nineteen British women to live and work within the premises of the British Embassy during the coup of 1941 when a pro-Germany regime led by Rashid Ali Gaylani took over the control of Iraq. She had just returned from her visit to Persia and worked with a small team of officials at a time when the dependents of the British officials in Iraq were evacuated. O’Sullivan’s volume on British intelligence activities during the 1940s begins with an early portrait of Stark along with a quote from her, as he notes in his preface: “Consequently, Dame Freya is generally portrayed as having been nothing more than an eccentric wartime propagandist and traveller. And Perowne, who was briefly and unsuccessfully her husband after the war, is usually considered merely a run-of-the-mill, though flamboyant, senior diplomat. In fact, my research tells me that these two intrepid nomads had been spying professionally for the British government at least since the inception of Section D of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in 1938 and in Freya Stark’s case probably for at least ten years before that. Such clandestine activity partly explains how Stark, a lone female of diminutive stature in a predominantly male world, could have cultivated an extensive network of influential friends in high places before and during the war, while enjoying the total confidence of such brilliant military men as Archie Wavell and {General} Jumbo Wilson.”32 Stark’s role for security agencies became more important with the arrival of Mufti Amin al-Hussaini (1895–1974) in Iraq in 1939 following turmoil in Palestine, and then during and after the revolt by Rashid Ali al-Gaylani (1895–1962). Some Sunni Arab military officials, resentful of the British control of Iraq and its oil resources, had encouraged Al-Gaylani to take a stand against the British and Prince Abdullah, the uncle and regent of a six-year old crown prince, Faisal II (1935–58), the future head of Iraq following the death of his father, Amir Ghazi (1912–39), the only son and heir of Faisal I. Ghazi had been mysteriously killed in an automobile accident in 1939 and two years later, the rebellious military officers known as the Golden Square took up arms with the Regent fleeing to Jordan. Nevertheless, with the arrival of the British troops, mostly from India and the Levant, Iraq’s short-lived sovereignty gave way to direct British control, called the “Second British Occupation” of Iraq by some historians.33

170  Lone scholar and invisible sleuth Stark was in Aden in 1939–40 involved in propaganda efforts in collaboration with Stewart Perowne and then moved to Egypt for the same besides influencing many Italians in Egypt. Here, she worked under the watchful eyes of L. B. Rushbrook Williams of the Ministry of Information. During her stay of 8 months in Cairo, she helped establish a pro-British group of Egyptians called Ikhwan al-Hurriya (Brothers of Liberty) and then came back to Baghdad, which by then had come under the British control with Kinahan Cornwallis ensuring fuller entrenchment of British institutional control. Being the only woman among many male colleagues, Stark reactivated her old contacts besides the usual travels around the city. She notes: In the summer of 1940, I was interested in what is called “oral propaganda.” On hot afternoons, sailing with Stewart Perowne, my information officer, up and down the bay of Aden, beyond the reach of submarines or the monsoon, we worked out, as it were, a philosophy. And I put it into practice in Egypt and Iraq during the next two years. … We had the good fortune—in Aden, Cairo, and Baghdad—to work under imaginative chiefs. Even when they did not believe in our El Dorado, they encouraged us to seek it. It was the non-official latitude they gave to our amateur adventures which, more than any other factor, helped them to success. It is vital to note that Stark had visited the powerful Kurdish tribal chieftain, Sheikh Mahmud Barazani (1878–1956) to seek his alliance against any possible German venture in northern Iraq. The Sheikh’s apparent friendliness towards the British contrasted with his criticism of the Arabs including Gaylani and the Mufti. Certainly, Rashid Gaylani’s revolt of 1941, besides Regent’s flight, caused British loss of the control of Habbaniya air base, siege of the embassy in Baghdad and disruption of oil supplies from Kirkuk, and more so when the Golden Square sought aerial assistance from the Axis powers, though it did not materialise as such.34 The attack by German parachutes in December 1944 called Operation Tel Afar was too late and ineffective and caused no major worry at that stage among the British strategists. Amidst the growing resentment against the British control facilitated through the Regent, and the flight of Gaylani and the Mufti to Iran,35 Ambassador Kinahan Cornwallis and his security team inducted some Zionists to help in espionage and propaganda efforts in Iraq. By that time, Hitler’s anti-Semitic travesties had won over the Jewish support for Britain and thus the Middle Eastern Jews along with some expatriates were willing to cultivate a favourable opinion for Britain among the Arabs and Kurds in Iraq besides chasing up dissenters. Building on Adrian Bishop’s work with the Zionists in Palestine before his transfer to Baghdad, the security officials inducted Haganah to operate in Iraq, which must have come to the knowledge of some Iraqi nationalists causing anti-Jewish feelings in Baghdad.36 Ezno Sereni, a committed Zionist worked in Egypt sponsoring anti-Italian propaganda until he was invited to join the Baghdad group to cultivate Jewish opinion in favour of the Allies besides organising local Zionist groups. Earlier, in his office at the embassy, Bishop received assistance from Setan Lloyd, a

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  171 well-known archaeologist who spearheaded anti-Germany propaganda in Iraq while the former deputed six special agents to Kurdistan to ward off any pro-Axis feelings besides disbursing funds among the Arab and Kurdish contacts. Designation of Lloyd, Sereni, and Stark was of political assistants like other agents whose titles otherwise sounded routine diplomatic and administrative assignments. It was a shrewd move on the part of SOE to place one of their own, with unbreakable Jewish cover, in a position where he could control or at least heavily influence the recruitment, training, and movement of young Iraqi Zionists, not just in Jewish interests but also in the interest of British policy on Palestine. The details of Ezno Sereni’s cover show how cleverly embedded he was as the chief representative of the Solel Boneh, the construction company in Iraq, not just the Jewish organisation but a “heterogeneous” one under the British control, whose employees wore British army uniform, and whose contracts were exclusively with the British armed forces.37 Using different cover names, spies like Sereni worked for a few years and would move along to keep themselves undetected. Sereni played a vanguard role in recruiting Iraqi Jews in support of Zionism and led a group of Palestinian parachutes in northern Italy where Germans arrested him and, subsequently, the Nazis executed him at Dachau. It is interesting to note that despite working in the same office in South Gate, both Sereni and Stark never mentioned each other in their letters, reports, and papers. With German reversals in the war, some of these British spies turned their attention on a feared Soviet threat in the northern regions of Iraq and Iran with Kirkuk-based John Chapman, a senior Indian senior official and expert on tribal affairs, leading such campaigns. Here, like elsewhere in the Middle East, propaganda and bribes helped entice the Kurds, Turkmens, and Yazidis away from any possible proximity with the Germans or Soviets. Chapman had worked with Bishop, Lloyd, Sereni, and other spies from a rented plush Ottoman house in South Gate near the Tigris. With all the intense espionage and War-related activities, Baghdad was under a strong British control and the young king, Faisal II, stayed totally dependent on former’s goodwill amidst a whole contingent of British and Anglophile advisors. Simultaneously, most of the espionage in Iraq and the adjoining countries was conducted by the British and American secret services that included a fair number of area specialists. Maintaining their own unique lifestyles while keeping a distance from ordinary Middle Easterners, their interest focused on safeguarding Western political, military, and oil assets from the Nazis, Soviets, and Arab revolutionaries. The revolts of 1922 and 1941 in Iraq and Syria, along with the Palestinian unrest in pre-War years failed to weaken the Western grip on the Middle East whose diplomats and agents lived in metropolitan cities such as Baghdad, Jerusalem, and Cairo in the proverbial bubbles—quite removed from the realities of the people around them. Freya Stark, despite her isolated accommodation, was a regular participant in the endless rounds of cocktail parties and black-tie dinners where she thrived and relaxed with prominent friends such as Nuri al-Said, Jumbo Wilson, and Kinahan Cornwallis.

172  Lone scholar and invisible sleuth There were, of course, days and evenings spent at South Gate too, with morning rides before breakfast, picnics, swims in the Tigris, golf, tennis, and even the occasional meet of the Royal Haditha Hunt, with hounds supplied by Stewart Perowne.38 Stark was not quite fond of Zionist campaign for Israel and despite working with some of them in Iraq during the War, she held her own reservations about the Jews. During 1943, she visited British-controlled Palestine to witness first-hand skirmishes between the Palestinians and Jewish settlers and predicted turbulence ahead. Sark’s own views were not quite appreciative of Jews, as she had written to her father earlier from Haifa in 1931: I don’t think anyone but a Jew can really like the Jews: they so obviously have no use for anyone else. Their manners are horrid compared to the Arabs; and I felt, by the end of a day among them, that it is far better to be a Jew among the Philistines than an unlucky Philistine among the Jews.39 Her commissioned visit to the United States in 1943 purported to espouse British case for Palestine vis-à-vis the Zionists also met a cold response largely because by the1940s, the United States and its vocal Jewish Diaspora had become formidable supporters of a Jewish state. On her way to North America, she fell ill in Halifax with appendicitis and spent extended time in bed that delayed her meetings in New York and elsewhere to help cultivate a positive image of her country among the Americans, especially its Jewish community. Despite being hailed as “the female Lawrence of Arabia,” and a hero who kept “Rommel out of Cairo,” her speeches urging stringent quota on Jewish migrations into Palestine annoyed Jewish Americans. Though well received by her Jewish hosts, Americans, in general, found her views politically naïve, or worse. She was heckled and rebutted on a variety of issues from the Iraqi-Nazi accord and British rule in India to the British lust for oil. Yet, in spite of it all, her letters reveal that she took a liking to American women and—the irony was not lost on her—that “the really sympathique people I have met in this country are Jews.”40 However, her views on Palestine did not incur any warmth and in a meeting with Clare Luce, she heard strong repudiation of British colonial policies in Asia. Stark did not seem to be happy with her experiences in a snow-bound Chicago and in a letter to Sir Sydney Cockerell felt as if the United States is like the Balkans grown prosperous – square short females with furs and cordial voices telling everyone’s business in the lounge. It is immense fun – only appalling to think that these are the people who are to have a hand in the delicate and subtle East.41 Her last point about the growing American interest in the Middle East due to Zionist factor and oil was certainly poignant though avowedly negative about American culture. Based on that 6-month long tour, Stark published her account

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  173 as East is West, reversing Kiplingesque dictum. Following some organisational work in Cairo and Baghdad, we find Stark in India in February 1945 as a personal assistant to Lady Wavell, the Vicereine. This was her second visit to India following an earlier tour in 1943, and Stark’s acquaintance and work with Wavell during the War had resulted in her being commissioned for a special designation with the Viceroyalty allowing her to know a more plural and politicised place. Staying in India during the height of nationalist movements based on political defiance led by Gandhi, Nehru, and Jinnah, she still did not believe that most Indians were inherently against the Raj: “The history of the Indian Mutiny is illuminating in this matter, and one is inclined to forget that more than half of the Lucknow garrison were Indian soldiers who remained devoted to the British cause.”42 Stark’s travels and visits to the Levant and Iraq anchored the next series of her books including Ionia: A Quest; Alexander’s Path, and Rome on the Euphrates. She moaned the lack of attention given to Turkey’s west coast, which, other than its civilisational past, was a formative part of Alexander’s march against the Persians. Accompanied by Herodotus, Thucydides, Plutarch, and other classicists and eager to learn about the archaeological sites on Anatolia’s coast and the adjacent islands, Stark, in 1952, claimed to have visited 55 historic ruins on her own and like Bell, tried to collate the contemporary social realities, as she noted, … I am one of those who prefer neglected ruins, places untouched even by the archaeologists, where one's thoughts can build their own palaces, and the past, draped and veiled in its garment of earth, lies like the sleeping beauty undiscovered and undisturbed.43 While visiting these towns, islands and temples, she felt subdued by a past that had seen so many fluctuations and epochs, until the more recent times when Izmir and Western Thrace were integrated by two new nation states amidst the population transfers quarter of a century preceding her explorations.44 At the start of her third visit, while tracing the footsteps of the Macedonian conqueror, she observed: No part of the world can be more beautiful than the western and southern coasts of Turkey. Their remote valleys break from the treeless plateau, whose oozing snows feed them with harvests wherever the land is flat enough to grow wheat or barley; and to travel in and out of them is like the circumventing of an immense natural fortress, whose walls are precipices with a glacis of fertile stretches before them and whose bastions are toilsome capes that dip, one after another, to the sea.45 In her explorations, she crossed into northern Syria seeing the contrast between the Turkish women and their Arab counterparts, the latter being more secluded while the former often made to toil harder: But the Turks have a middle-class Victorian attitude to their harim and expect it to be there to serve them, with a constant feeling that women are not complete entities in themselves. The peasants make them work more heavily

174  Lone scholar and invisible sleuth than they do in Arabia, and civilization, which requires feminine time and attention, seems to suffer and decline where women work very hard.46 In this third visit to Anatolian coast, she mentioned her Turkish guides, hosts, drivers, farmers, and their families, but her main occupation remained Alexander. Perhaps, she identified herself with the Macedonian whose mystique remains universal in regions such as Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the Indus Valley where he vanquished his rivals to claim the status of a local hero. These societies, owing to their predominant Muslim heritage, might have perceived him as Iskandar Zulqarnain—Alexander with a twin-horned hat—but there have been thousands of men frequently named after the Macedonian and the tradition continues. So is Stark, when she wrote: As I sat in the stillness of the theatre of Oenoanda, where the spirit of Greece lived though probably no Greek had built it, I began to think of what can happen to change a lad of twenty-two who comes for the first time to Asia. Romance reaches the romantic—and Alexander was passionately romantic; and human sympathies come to the warm-hearted, and the Alexander saga could never have existed if his heart had not been warm.47 Her Turkish respondents and associates often happened to be peasants and proletariat whereas one misses any discussions or conversations with the literati or academes, as was the occasional case with Bell. Iraq and for that matter the entire Middle East went through a series of turmoil and violent upheavals, thanks to internal discords and external interventions, and retrospectively it appears that the post-Ottoman decades of Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Libya, and of the Kurdish regions have not been pleasant at all. The architects and implementers of the British policies including sleuths like Stark must have witnessed a sad story of massive dislocations and warfare costing millions of lives where oil, Zionism, Islamism, and ethnic nationalism all proving no less testing. The polarised Cold War years, Suez Crises, Gulf Wars, and revolts all happened intermittently though Britain was now largely replaced by the U.S.A. in the region as the most significant actor. However, almost all of Stark’s colleagues received special honours and she herself was declared a dame in 1972. Her final travel among the Muslims took her to Afghanistan in 1968 while she was 78, and resulted in her last travel book, The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion in Afghanistan. An avid letter writer, Stark had been penning down her own four-volume memoirs during the 1950s and 60s and undertook more visits to Asia Minor, while by the 1980s, she had been able to publish eight volumes of her correspondence. In between, while living in her native Asolo, she penned several reflective essays brooding upon topics such as the empire, religion, spiritualty, education, gender, old age and courage, and many more, bringing her travels, studies, archaeological finds, and written words all together. Stark passed away as a centenarian in northern Italy where she, along with her mother and sister had spent her adolescence. From a rather humble and even anguished childhood, this “passionate nomad” found herself among the rebellious Druze nomads in

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  175 the Lebanon, and for the next several decades kept travelling, writing, and commenting about the Middle East in her capacity as a well-established Arabist.48 Despite those early scars and a lonely, unloved life, an English–Italian woman had achieved a stature and recognition, as her long life ensured a rather detailed and fully documented historiography. Like Bell, she might have been briefly associated with the anti-suffragettes in England, but despite being “curious” about fellow British, Stark could empathise with Bedouins. Herself single most of her life like the aristocratic Gertrude Bell, she could be tolerant towards polygamous arrangements of her hosts and contacts and as a loner tried to find her own bearing amidst the various social settings: And as an unmarried female from the British tribes, whose trials in life included lack of wealth, beauty, and position, Stark had her own experience of social invisibility, which enabled her to see these women with compassion and, at times perhaps, a touch of envy, thus noted a sympathetic columnist in the New Yorker.49

Notes 1 Freya Stark, The Valleys of Assassins and Other Persian Travels (London: Modern Library Inc., 2001), 11. 2 -“…… I do like barbarians on the whole.” Freya Stark on Turkey’s Ionian regions, quoted in Caroline Moorehead, Freya Stark (London: Allison & Busby Books, 2014), 89. 3 “Stark remained a buttoned-up intelligence professional to the end. In fact, for someone so prolific (she published 22 books and 8 volumes of letters), and talkative (she was a chatterbox), there was ample opportunity to let something slip, but she never did.” Adrian O’Sullivan, The Baghdad Set: Iraq through the Eyes of British Intelligence, 1941–45 (London: Palgrave, 2019), 21. 4 Quoted in Moorehead, 27. 5 In Britain, St. Antony’s College, Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Library retain Stark’s papers, photos and other artefacts. Several drafts of her books and articles, correspondence and other personal acquisitions are housed at the Harry Ransom Center in Texas. See, “Freya Stark: An Inventory of Her Collection”: https://norman. 6 Claudia Roth Pierpont, “East is West: Freya Stark in Arabia”, The New Yorker, 11 April 2011. 7 The Ismailis, like other Shi’is, held the prophetic family to be the sole deserving of caliphate/immamat—the politico-spiritual leadership of the Muslims—though ­differed with the latter over the identity of their seventh imam and his progeny. In ­contrast, their other Shi’i counterparts believe only in twelve imams with the ­final gone into occultation until his expected reappearance on the day of judgement. The Ismailis adhere to the presence of a living imam, with Prince Karim Aga Khan as the current spiritual leader. All kinds of stories, often exaggerated, about their murdering campaigns against non-Ismaili elite, have led to a specific image of the Assassins. Marco Polo, before anybody else, introduced this group into Europe, followed by some works in recent times. For further details, see Bernard Lewis, The Assassins (London: Basic Books, 2002); on connections between the Knights Templar and the Assassins, see James Wasserman, The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven (London: Destiny Books, 2001); and for a creedal history of Ismaili Islam, see,

176  Lone scholar and invisible sleuth Farhad Daftary, The Isma’ilis: Their History and Doctrines (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 8 She continues: “But the voting Hasan did more than most of his kind for apparently out of his own inventiveness—he brought a new idea into the political science of his day and treated murder as the suffragette the hunger strike, turning it into an avowed political weapon. Even in his own lifetime it brought him power which spread from north Persia to the Mediterranean. The secret garden where he drugged and attached to himself his followers became known through the Crusaders' chronicles in Europe, giving us our word of Assassin, or Hashishin.” She found the Knights Templar seeking inspiration from the Assassins, which may be an interesting observation given the polarised nature of contemporary politics. Freya Stark, The Valleys of Assassins and Other Persian Travels, 185. 9 Moorehead, 51. (Page numbering from Moorhead’s volume is from the PDF version). 10 While staying with the Ingrams in southern Yemen after flying in from Aden, she reflected on the ancient past of Asia: “It is one of the greatest allurements of Asia that its nakedness is so clothed with the shreds of departed splendour; like a face lined with age, its joys and its sorrows are furrowed upon it, not so much in human ruins as in the very structure of the continent itself. Its vestiges of fertility, irrevocably lost, make it a world not only dead, but ruined. This must be so, of course, everywhere in some degree; but here the time is vaster, the contrast greater, and the drama of nature more obviously identical with the tragedy of man.” Freya Stark, A Winter in Arabia: A Journey through Yemen (New York: The Overlook Press, 2002), 14. 11 Ibid., 123. 12 “The houseless beduin live here and know the water holes. The ravines themselves hold in their sheltered hearts pleasant oases of high-growing trees. Long before the days of Islam, the forebears of these tribesmen must have known them, for their rough red ochre letters are painted with increasing frequency as one travels westward, on many a flat or overhanging surface of stone.” Ibid., 190. 13 Ibid., 194. 14 While visiting the household of the Sultan of ‘Azzan, she offers several details on how the women in “Harim” dressed themselves in their traditional way to receive this foreign visitor: “They wore the kadida of ’Amd, the coral head-dress with its crown of amulets and tinkling mane. The front of their heads were shaved, and the empty space decorated with a beading of black and scarlet lacquer, one line down nose and eyebrows (also shaved), and patterns on the temples, with a star made of sequins bought in Aden, or even a piece of tinfoil stuck in the middle of the forehead every day. The Sultan’s wife wore thirty necklaces from chin to waist, silver and amulets, with coral in between. Her forearms were hidden in bracelets, and the first joint of every finger was made immovable with rings. And on their heads they wore, above the coral and bells and the broad ribbon of silver that hung on each side of their face—a wide-meshed net of black stiffened with scarlet lacquer, charming to look at. Having so decorated themselves, they sat and made no other effort at conversation, while we sipped glasses of spiced tea, until I asked to see the babies, whose heads, completely shaved, give a wonderful scope for decorative zigzag patterns, red and black, with red nostrils and a star on their brows.” Ibid., 209. 15 Stark was quite alert to making her mark while visiting archaeological sites and tried to accredit herself by being the first or one of the earliest European travellers to these places. While talking about the expansive fortress of Naqb al Hajr with its ancient inscriptions—“the greatest of all pre-Islamic ruins”—she mentions the past European visitors to Wad Meifa’a such as Wellsted, Cruttenden, Miles, Count Landberg, and Colonel M. C. Lake. For an early work on some of these explorations and travels, see Norman Stone Pearn and Vincent Barlow, Quest for Sheba: In the Footsteps of the Arabian Queen {London: Routledge, 2009, {reprint of 1937 edition}). 16 “As we rode I watched the camel before me, admiring the perfection of its desert ways. Its ugliness is the ugliness of the east, that has some strange attraction; its colour

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  177 is the colour of desert dust, with the same innumerable, imperceptible variations; its tail, which looks like a dead palm frond, is merely ridiculous. But its feet are so strong that I have seen a camel, fully laden, raise itself up on a foot that was twisted beneath it, apparently without noticing, and so delicately made, with concertina-like springs at the heel, that they give themselves without shock to every inequality of ground.” Ibid., 202. 17 “Probably the most intelligent of intelligencers to work in Iraq during the Second World War were two close friends and former members of Section D of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)1: the celebrated travel writer and photographer Freya Madeline Stark (1893–1993) and her dear friend and frequent companion, the brilliant Anglo-Irishman, Old Etonian, and former Anglican monk, Herbert Francis ‘Adrian’ Bishop (1898–1942), known to his family as ‘Frank,’ to Freya Stark as ‘Bish,’ and to many of his Baghdad friends as ‘Brother Tom,’ on account of the fact that he had only recently left the cloisters of Nashdom Abbey, where his religious name had been Brother Thomas More.” Adrian O’Sullivan, The Baghdad Set, 1. This is the opening section of this study, devoted to investigate the role played by secret agents in Iraq whose number the author claims to be 25, working in close collaboration with the British Embassy in Baghdad, SAS, M15, M16, and the Indian Bureau besides the military commands in the Middle East overseen by people like Generals Wavell and Wilson. 18 MI5 was then called ISLD and MI6 was known as SIME. Abbreviations used in documents for these officials are as below: ADSO = assistant defence security officer; ALO = area liaison officer; APA = assistant political adviser; DAPA = deputy assistant political adviser; DSO = defence security officer; PA = political adviser; PSO = port security officer; SCOPG = security control officer Persian Gulf; SO = security officer; Basemap: Distribution of towns and cities in Iraq, Iraq and the Persian Gulf: September 1944, B.R. 524 (Restricted), Geographical Handbook Series (London: Naval Intelligence Division, 1944), 356: in Ibid., 270. The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) and the Security Service (MI5) worked often in collaboration with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). Needless to say that the OSS eventually emerged as the CIA. During that era, M16 in the Middle East was known as Security Intelligence Middle East (SIME) and MI5 was called the Inter-Services Liaison Department (ISLD) while the Indian administration had its officials from the Indian Bureau (IB) working in Iran and Iraq. The security apparatus in these two countries along with Turkey and Egypt, though often independently managed, was linked with the Cairo-based Middle East Command (MEC). bbm%3A978-3-030-15183-6%2F1.pdf 19 John Glubb Pasha (1897–1986) had a notable career in the Middle East first in Iraq and then in Transjordan where he maintained close relations with the King and the tribal chieftains. His services for Britain as well as warding off the security threat against the Hashemite kingdom turned him into a mythical figure. Despite his dismissal by King Hussein to affirm his leadership autonomous of the British writ, he maintained friendship with Glubb Pasha. For details on his military career in the region, see John Bagot Glubb, Britain and the Arabs: A Study of Fifty Years, 1908 to 1958 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1959). Kim Philby (1912–88), the son of St John Philby—an Arabist—was one of the Cambridge Five, who held Marxist leanings and opted to work for the Soviet intelligence in 1934. He held important positions during the War, joined M16 in 1940, and kept passing on vital secrets to the Soviets even when he held a senior diplomatic post at the British Embassy in Washington D.C. after the War. He was exonerated in 1955 but after his outing in 1963 by the Soviets, he sought exile in Russia, where he lived until his death. See, Kim Philby, My Silent War (London: Macgibbon & Kee Ltd, 1968); also, Tina Tamman, Portrait of a Secret Agent Who Knew Kim Philby (York: Thousand Eyes, 2014).

178  Lone scholar and invisible sleuth 20 “…both Stark and Bishop shared one great secret that was at the very core of their friendship: they were both spies, and they had both been spying for Britain during most of the interwar years—in one way or another.” The Baghdad Set, 2. 21 Malise Ruthven, ‘A Subversive Imperialist: Reappraising Freya Stark’, Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, 26, (2006): 147–67. 22 Freya Stark, Sketches: Journey through Iraq (London: John Murray, 1937, {reprinted by IB Tauris, 2011). 23 For Ottoman east and its fall, see Eugene Rogan, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914–1920 (London: Penguin, 2016). 24 Toby Dodge, Inventing Iraq: The Failure of Nation Building and A History Denied (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003); also, Michael Provence, The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 25 Stark, Sketches, 31. 26 Mary Henes, “Autobiography, Journalism, and Controversy: Freya Stark’s Baghdad Sketches”, Journeys, vol. xxvi, Issue 1, (2015), 100. 27 Stark, Sketches, 72–7. 28 Mena Aldroubi and Azhar Al-Rbaie, “Black Iraqis say George Floyd’s death sheds light on their own centuries-long plight”, The National, 18 June 2020: https://www. 29 Stark, Sketches, 158. 30 Ibid., 174. 31 Ibid., 196. 32 Adrian O’Sullivan, The Baghdad Set, xviii–ix. 33 Stefanie K. Wichhart, “Selling Democracy during the Second British Occupation of Iraq, 1941–5”, Journal of Contemporary History 48, no. 3 (July 2013). Also, Walid Hamdi, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and the Nationalist Movement in Iraq, 1939–1941: A Political and Military Study of the British Campaign in Iraq and the National Revolution of May 1941 (London: Darf, 1987). 34 Freya Stark, East Is West (London: John Murray, 1945), 184–6. 35 Mufti Amin al-Hussaini was disappointed with the British, Zionist, and French machinations in the Levant and especially in Palestine, and yearned for a nationalist government in any Arab country to help out the Palestinians. His support for Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and other coup leaders stemmed from that sentiment besides somehow inflated expectations of a possible support from Germany. The Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941 deflated such hopes and the Mufti, called “just-fallen Lucifer” by Stark had to flee Iraq. Freya Stark, Dust in the Lion’s Paw: Autobiography 1939–1946 (London: John Murray, 1962), 77. 36 Bishop died on 10 October 1942 in Northern Tehran in his hotel while coming down the stairs from his fourth floor room following a party with his colleagues. 37 Adrian O’Sullivan, The Baghdad Set, 81. 38 The Baghdad Set, 247. Needless to say, for our author these sleuths and other imperial apparatchiks are the heroes whose cultural distance, covert and overt pursuits, and imperial motivation were their heroic attainments in distant and dusty lands. 39 Quoted in Moorehead, 64. 40 Claudia Roth Pierpont, “East is West. 41 Quoted in Moorehead, 65. 42 Freya Stark, Perseus in the Wind (London: John Murray, 1963), 16. 43 Freya Stark, Ionia: A Quest (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1954), 17. (She claimed to have met only one other foreign visitor to these 55 sites and thus assumes a credit for being a pioneer in her explorations). 44 Ibid., 227.

Lone scholar and invisible sleuth  179 45 Freya Stark, Alexander’s Path: A Memoir (New York, The Overlook Press, 1988), xv. mode/2up 46 Ibid., 45. “Fond as he was of geography, Alexander, I thought, would like the ardour with which I was toiling in his footsteps, asking questions in a small way in a manner he would understand: for he cared for such things. It interested him that the Persian sea was only a gulf of ocean, and ‘when writing to Olympias about the country of India … he stated that he thought he had discovered the springs of the Nile; drawing a conclusion about matters of so much importance from very slender indications. But when he had more accurately investigated … he learned … that the Indus has nothing whatever to do with Egypt. On this he cancelled the part of the letter to his mother which dealt with the Nile’, being scrupulous as a good geographer should be. And when Aristander the seer, in whom he believed, could make no prediction, he ‘gave orders that the men acquainted with the country should be summoned’ and found out what he could.” Ibid., 181 (Her quotes are from Arrian’s accounts of Alexander’s journeys and campaigns). 47 Ibid., 202. She finishes this volume or a note, imbued with her personal obsession with the subject of finding traces of the Alexander’s route through western Anatolia when he was just 22: “Alexander’s vision ended and was lost for over two thousand years; and we, who are dreaming it again, look extremely like failure at the moment; but if two or three are gathered together, wherever they may be, in its own minute compass the dream and the brotherhood are true.” (P. 225.) 48 Jane Fletcher Geniesse, Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark (New York: Random House, 1999). 49 Claudia Pierpont, “East is East.”

Epilogue Sojourners and academes

It was during the second half of 2018 that the Georgian city of Bath in England’s West Country witnessed a first-ever exhibition of a personal collection by an otherwise unknown Victorian woman traveller and collector of the Persian arts and handicrafts. Ellen Georgiana Tanner (1846–1937), born in Frenchay near Bristol to an affluent lawyer with investments in shipping, finally received her overdue acclaim from the city’s eminent gallery. Following her mother’s early death, she looked after her father, and on his passing, Tanner inherited £18,000. Rather than spending this major sum on some consumerist ventures, Tanner, by then in her 40s, decided to undertake a solo travel to Mesopotamia and Persia in 1894, 2 years after Gertrude Bell’s visit to Tehran and slightly before Bell’s arrival in Mesopotamia. Coming from a prosperous middle class family with affluent means and some connections overseas, Tanner set on three journeys to the region at a time when not many women would venture on foreign travels on their own, and besides immersing herself in traditional arts and handicrafts, she kept a diary. Her voyage took her through the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and then into the Persian Gulf on a steamer until she reached Baghdad. When she first saw the skyline of this city, she felt quite exhilarated and wrote: “As we came in sight of Baghdad, it looked like a fairy city with the palm-fringed river, orange gardens, and the houses on the waterside like Venice, and all her mosques and minarets gleaming in the yellow evening sunlight.”1 Helped by two local guides, she travelled across into Persia on a horseback often staying in caravansaries thus mingling with other travellers, traders, and scholars. She carried two-volume George Curzon’s recently published Persia and the Persian Question (1892) as her main guide on Iran’s history and culture—the author being an MP at the time though with a long standing interest in antiquity and the British Empire.2 By visiting bazaars in Baghdad, Isfahan, Shiraz, Kashan, and Tehran, and sharing tea sessions with the local influentials, Tanner alerts us to her being a confident, knowledgeable and sociable person, who unlike many of her contemporaries was outgoing and meeting people on their terms. In Mesopotamia and Persia, she often donned local dresses with some head covering to avoid undue attention though as expected often it was impossible for her to hide her British identity in the bazaars.3 A globetrotting Tanner until this exhibition was an unknown sojourner to the Middle East though cities like Bristol, Bath, Exeter, and Cheltenham maintained

Epilogue  181 multiple relations with the Empire. Bristol was one of the earliest centres of trans-Atlantic slave trade with Bath trailing slightly behind while the colonials, following their retirement would often opt to live in Bath and Cheltenham given the urban quality of life. Bath being a spa city, and like Bristol featuring several landmark Georgian buildings was an eminent choice for people such as Robert Clive (1715–74)4 who lived in No.14 in the Circus, whereas the Beckford Family owned a major share of Lansdowne, up on the hills behind the city centre. The Beckfords operated slave-run plantations in the West Indies and, like the Methuens of Corsham Court, played a vital role in imperial affairs in India.5 Of course, Adelard (1080–1152) and Jane Austin (1775–1817) were two well-known Bathonians during the medieval and early modern phases, who held close relationship with Muslim regions beyond the Bosporus.6 Bath’s Holburne Museum,7 hemmed in between Pultney Street and Sidney Smith Gardens and one of this city’s premier buildings mounted Tanner’s collection on display, made possibly by crowd funding over the preceding months. The Museum itself is a bequeathment from Sir William Holburne (1793–1874) who had inherited Chinese porcelain and some classical paintings by Gainsborough, Stubbs, Guardi, Ramsay, and Zoffany along with other artefacts, and is credited as the World Heritage City’s first public gallery. Tanner, during her three visits to the Middle East, had bought several articles such as the book holders, leather cases, tiles, rose water sprinklers, penholders, textiles, and the metallic miniatures of two animals, which were put on the standard during Muharram, the month of mourning by Shi’i Muslims. In Kashan, Tanner had bought sets of china cups and vases made of glass and brass with arabesque style carvings and Quranic inscriptions along with embroidered bags and white muslin squares—the latter used for veil, or as bath wear. Some of the enamelled cups made of copper, like lacquers, displayed portraits of female figures painted on them with one embodying a mythical character—a young woman with wings—most probably in the image of an angel. Comparatively a small exhibit, it included a mirror case with the painting of a joyous female rider being escorted by her male companion. In addition, there were traditional shawls, knit wears of wool and silk with floral patterns, needle work box, a bikini top, sculptures, sherbet ladles, leather book cases, and a peacock and a hawk made of steel with in-laid gold and silver work, which were used as decoration pieces and most probably were carved in the nineteenth century. She confessed some pillage …from the ruined palace adjoining the Aineh-Khaneh, I abstracted three tiles from a small inner chamber leading into the bath. I was ashamed of myself for this act of vandalism, but it seemed to me, seeing how these beautiful tiles were suffered to fall off and lie neglected on the ground, that they would be better appreciated by me than the Persians. She was not enamoured of women’s dress styles inside their homes (andraun) exhibiting her own sense of self-righteousness but certainly appreciated their hospitality: “Never by any possibility could I experience greater or more delightful hospitality and kindness than I met with in Persia.” Tanner also became aware

182  Epilogue of the differences between Shi’is and Sunnis in Persia, where since the Safawid period, the former was the dominant strand of Islam: I am told it is far better to profess Christianity in Persia than to be a Suni Mahommedan, as the Persians are bigoted Shiahs, and regard the Sunis much as an extreme ritualist of the Anglican Church does an evangelical or a dissenter.8 Tanner lived in Bath from 1916 to 1937, where she passed away and buried in Landsdown Cemetery. Sixty-one specimens of Middle Eastern art with a clear majority from Persia were curated by seven experts for this exhibition, the first ever in Bath and owed to a woman voyager whose interest in Muslim art and people put her in a separate league of her contemporaries. According to Catrina Jones, a curator at the Holburne, Ellen Tanner is not well known as a woman traveller – unlike her contemporaries Gertrude Bell or Isabella Bird….Tanner’s story can tell us so much about our own troubled times: it’s a chance to celebrate a pioneering woman and the extraordinary artistic and cultural output of the Middle East, but also a salient reminder of Britain’s history of empire.9 It is not just India, Ottoman Turkey, Levant, Persia, and Iraq that have continued to attract British travellers of all varieties; Afghanistan is another case study in point. Seen both as a “medieval” land on the margins of a “civilised” nationhood and an eternally violence-prone society of a million mutinies, Southwest Asian land has been viewed as another yardstick to adjudge Orientalism, imperial rivalries {the Great Games!), international contestations and a formidable mentor for testing chivalry. From the earliest Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Kushans, and the Mongols to the Mughals, British, Russians, and the Americans, this land-locked country with a daring topography and traditional societal groups has been a constant source of mystical interest, allowing a constant outpouring of historiography. A tradition begun by the British in recent centuries and then continued by some other Westerners, writings on Afghanistan have definitely left enduring images and drivers for geo-political trajectories, not necessarily in the benefit of the Afghans: Travelogues about Afghanistan over the last couple of centuries have tended to present the country in terms of a particular set of physical and psychological challenges to the traveller. However, this has not necessarily diminished the repetitive and indeed predictable quality of the writing, which though perhaps less prone to cliché than some of its nineteenth- and twentieth-century Orientalist counterparts, still circles persistently around a series of readily identifiable images and tropes.10 Orientalist, security-based and “exoticised” writings on Afghanistan have tried to bridge diverse regions such as Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East in

Epilogue  183 one single Afghan landscape11 by considering it a vital link in the jigsaw puzzle of Islam that the writers all the way from Marco Polo to Eric Newby, Christina Lamb and Rory Stewart have attempted to portray. This transfusion of religio-ethnic themes, not shirking from othering, has been a constant feature of the early British writers such as Mountstuart Elphinstone, Alexander Burnes and Lady Sale, along with a host of writings on Pashtun tribals and Anglo-Afghan wars.12 Rudyard Kipling’s Kim certainly derived from such preceding writings on the trans-Indus regions, in particular from Lady Sale’s account of the aftermath of the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–43). The post-1947 writings by Olaf Caroe, James Spain, Louis Dupree, and other scholarly works are some of the earliest academic contributions on the Pashtuns, though novels such as Caravans still focused on the premodern exceptionalisation of the country.13 Sharing a keen interest in the architecture of Iran and Afghanistan, a wellheeled Oxford student decided to visit the region at a time when the imperial control faced challenges across Asia and Africa. A chance reading about the Minaret of Kaboos kindled his interest in exploring Muslim architecture in West Asia, resulting into a 10-month travel that engaged hired cars, camels, and horses taking him to Beirut, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Baghdad before landing in Persia. Robert Byron (1905–41), benefitting from the hospitality and facilitation from the British diplomats in Iran and Afghanistan was able to study the archaeological monuments in Isfahan, Yazd, Tabriz, Meshed, Balkh, Herat, and further up in Turkmenistan which he published in his celebratory volume, The Road to Transoxiana, called “a work of genius” by Bruce Chatwin.14 Born into an affluent English family with schooling at Eton and then Oxford, Byron was a young historian whose early study tours to Greece, Tibet, and China resulted into several works, receiving wider acclaim for the author who was still in his twenties and rather an eccentric person enjoying parties in London more than scholastic work at Oxford.15 A friend of the Mitford Sisters, Byron was never fond of fascism and unlike many of his contemporaries, felt aghast at Stalinist oppression while the British ostentatiousness in India was equally baffling for an otherwise avid defender of Lutyens in building Delhi. Byron died at 35 when his ship bound for Egypt was torpedoed near Scotland but his masterly description of Muslim architecture of historic buildings in Persia and Afghanistan with its Central Asian roots, proved a novel genre mixing history, personal details, and artistic nuances that a reader encounters in Colin Thubron and William Dalrymple. Carrying enormous money and in the company of Christian Sykes—the son of Mark Sykes of Sykes-Picot Pact—Byron’s journey started from Venice with a pause in Cyprus before taking him to Palestine. Not too enamoured of Jewish immigrants and neither happy with the Palestinian Arabs, he found Damascus equally exasperating: “Here is the East in its pristine confusion.”16 However, the ruins at Baalbek proved exhilarating following his haggle over hotel rent and a reduction in entry fee courtesy a call to the embassy in Syria. It was in Lebanon during a starry night that Byron reflected on Islam: “I felt the peace of Islam. And if I mention this commonplace experience, it is because in Egypt and Turkey that peace is now denied; while in India Islam appears, like everything else, uniquely and exclusively Indian.”17

184  Epilogue Based on diary notes, Byron’s book, in its initial section often appears sketchy and erratic but gradually attains an ebullient fluency especially when the author is keen on visiting medieval minarets, tombs and mosques, especially those built by Ilkhanis. Tabriz, Meshed and Tus were reached through hired means of transport including mules and lorries, and while sleeping in serais Byron often expressed discomfort at the surreal way Persians were being made to Westernise themselves by Reza Shah, called Marjoribanks in the volume. “Here at last is Asia without an inferiority complex,” an enthused Byron observed as he ventured into Afghanistan. On his entry into Herat, Byron witnessed a more traditional society, unlike Iran, and reflected on Afghans that he encountered in this frontier town: “Hawkeyed and eagle-beaked, the swarthy loose-knit men swing through the dark bazaar with a devil-may-care self-confidence. They carry rifles to go shopping as Londoners carry umbrellas.”18 Herat fascinated Byron by the heritage left behind by the descendants of Tamerlane whose otherwise lax statecraft contrasted with their immersion in arts, architecture, and literature. The Timurids brought on a different kind of Renaissance where faith mattered more than its counterpart in Italy did and from here it reached Persia and India—the latter especially under Emperor Babur and his descendants. Byron’s detailed descriptions of the Timurid monuments with their ribbed domes as in Tamerlane’s tomb in Samarqand, elegant minarets and floral patterns on the tiled walls reveal his adoration for the aesthetes of their builders, especially of Queen Gohar Shad (1374–1458), the wife of Shah Rukh and Tamerlane’s daughter-in-law: I feel some curiosity about Gohar Shad, not on account of her piety in endowing religious foundations, but as a woman of artistic instinct. Either she had that instinct, or she knew how to employ people who had it. This shows character. And besides this, she was rich. Taste, character, and riches mean power, and powerful women, apart from charmers, are not common in Mohammadan history.19 Following extensive study of other Timurid monuments in Herat such as the mosques, madrassas, and the tomb of the Queen herself, Byron visited the tomb of Khawaja Abdullah Ansari (d. 1088), the famous Sufi saint and the focus of several mystical parables.20 Despite a valiant effort to go north, illness and inclement weather brought him back to Herat and then to Meshed where he once again minutely studied the shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth Shi’i Imam, buried next to Caliph Harun Rashid. In addition, Byron also visited the mosque built by Gohar Shad in Meshed before returning to Tehran and, while travelling, witnessed numerous Russian Jews coming down from the Soviet Union via Afghanistan and Iran on their way to Palestine. Byron enjoyed meeting Sher Ali, the Afghan Ambassador to Iran, whose quips about Afghan–Persian sense of rivalry touching upon Sunni-Shi’i dissension and the level of political freedom in each country, are quite revealing. The explorations in Isfahan focus on the Maidan with its Shah’s Mosque, Lutfullah Mosque and Ali Kapu Palace which uniquely elevate this Safawid capital to an exceptional prominence though a historian in

Epilogue  185 him adores the older Friday Mosque: “Here, as in the same mosque at Herat, the whole history of the town is pictured in a single building and its restorations; the charm of Safavid colour, like that of Timurid, recedes before its venerable grandeur.” The Chihil Sutoon Palace and gardens and the covered Bazaar accentuate his admiration for Islamic art as he focuses on floral tiles, blue domes, slim pillars reflecting in the palatial water tank and certainly the profusion of minutely cared arches in all these monuments.21 The Armenian Church in Julfa, the Char Bagh—Shah Abbas Avenue—and several historic bridges over Zinda Ruud certainly allowed our author a closer look at this prized city. After his visits to Firuzabad, Naqsh-i-Rustam and Persepolis and a thorough study of the Sassanid monuments, Byron’s return to Isfahan allowed him to seek out the pre-Islamic and Central Asian origins of the historic buildings in the city that like Herat fully absorbed him. For him, this city deserved months to study its historic buildings since the elegance and “beauty of Isfahan steals on the mind unawares.” The Friday Mosque built by the Seljuks and still in use for prayers is one of the earliest specimens of Islamic art with visible Central Asian antecedents whereas Lutfullah Mosque, beside the Shah’s Mosque and facing the Kapu Palace is even more elaborate in its architectural munificence.22 Byron’s journey from Tehran to Peshawar via Afghanistan featured a long awaited visit to Gunbad-i-Kabus, a famous but lesser known monuments built during the medieval era that symbolises an entire family of such minarets on both sides of the Oxus.23 One of world’s most eminent edifices dating from the medieval era, the minaret is hollow within though once it held the body of Sultan Kabus (d. 1077) hanging in a glass coffin, and symbolises admixture of Zoroastrian and other Central Asian skills in using thin but sturdy bricks which, even after around 1,000 years, remain solid. Journey back to Herat in the company of Christopher Marks allowed our author to revisit Timurid buildings including the mosque and remains of the college built by Gohar Shad. Byron’s fascination with the Queen and her monumental achievements led him to narrate the internecine warfare among her descendants often featuring like fratricide where the Queen herself became a party and then mercilessly murdered at an advance age. Cohering the elements of tragedy, majesty, and nostalgic respect among the Heratis for the Queen and benefactors such as Sher Ali Navoi allowed Byron to relive that past which through these unique monuments connects Herat with Meshed, the city that too witnessed the royal munificence. Byron was keen to venture into Turkestan beyond the Oxus then designated as the Soviet republics and undertook visit to Mazar Sharif and Balkh, the cities populated mainly by Uzbeks and Turkmens along with a small smattering of Jewish population who had been left behind following the expulsions and migrations. In fact, following his earlier visits to Tibet, China and Russia before undertaking this extended tour of exploring Muslim architecture, he desired to visit Kashgar but official restrictions would not allow that nor would the Russian authorities let him venture into trans-Oxus territories. In Mazar Sharif, he enjoyed the hospitality of the Soviet diplomats yet they were unable to facilitate a visa to travel into Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to explore Western Turkestan. Mazar Sharif allowed him to

186  Epilogue recapitulate the history of the shrine attributed to Imam Ali, the fourth caliph, as did Balkh with its Mongol devastation, yet his keen desire even to see the Oxus from the Afghan side did not materialise due to Afghan restrictions. Not being able to see Tirmiz, even from the Afghan side of the river, Byron moved on to Kabul after travelling through Tashkurgan, Kunduz, and Charikar. Before entering the Subcontinent through the Khyber Pass, Byron was able to visit Ghazni, the capital of the Ghaznawid sultanate in the eleventh century. He minutely recorded the architectural and artistic details of the two minarets and Sultan Mahmud’s own grave with its unique calligraphic inscriptions on a translucent marble exterior. Here again, the Kufic script features in the tomb, which to him, was the most beautiful among all those that he had visited so far. After completing around a thousand miles from Herat to Peshawar, mostly on buses and taxis, Byron’s journey ended with his impressions of the British fortifications, military posts, railway infrastructure, and metalled roads through the Khyber Pass. Other than military-related works during and after the colonial times, post-colonial works on countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan have often pursued themes built up by early travel-writers such as Moorcroft,24 Vembrey,25 Bell, Stark, Byron, and Thesiger.26 Here issues of conflicting attitudes towards modernity, nation building, and the role of Islam in collective lives have been most familiar themes. In recent years, Emma Duncan, Christina Lamb, and William Dalrymple have offered interesting works combining travel, history, and personal observations. Duncan’s work was based on a whirlwind tour of Pakistan with access to a dozen powerful individuals from the various walks of Pakistan whereas Lamb, unexpectedly invited to Benazir Bhutto’s marriage in 1987 began to write on Pakistan and Afghanistan for British newspapers including the more recent biography of Malala Yousafzai.27 Often critical of Pakistani ruling classes and their manifold lives, she, at one stage, was quite enamoured of Hamid Karzai and understandably critical of the Afghan Taliban.28 William Dalrymple, a descendant of an East India Company’s official, is a well-known author and speaker at literary forums whose books challenging the premise of clash of cultures manifest a global readership reaching millions.29 But not all contemporary British authors have been mainly focused on less savoury lives in countries like Pakistan; instead have tried to focus on the resilience of its people and culture while faced with myriad of challenges.30 While the tumultuous developments in the Middle East and North Africa deterred works based on extended travels and stay among the local communities, the Coryatian genre itself refused to wither away.31 Writers belonging to post-independence generations from predominantly Muslim societies have emerged another powerful and enduring literary trajectory where English anchors fictional and academic works that more often resist objectification of these communities. Commonly classified as post-colonial studies, with a fair number of women writers, one notices a growing area of literary and scholarly works where the erstwhile worries about one-sidedness or dramatisation seem lessening, leaving that strand mainly to populist media.

Epilogue  187

Notes 1 Quoted in Richard Moss, “The forgotten Victorian Woman traveller and her collection of Middle Eastern art”, Museum Crush, 14 June 2018: the-forgotten-victorian-woman-traveller-and-her-collection-of-middle-eastern-art/ 2 George C. Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1892). 3 By putting “on my disguising Persian clothes, as I wanted to explore Yezdikhast without being crowded round by the curious inhabitants … doubtless the people perceived I was a Ferringhee—foreigner—from the walk, as I cannot attain to the Persian shuffle; but being veiled duly, and bundled up in the chador, and full baggy trousers all Persian women wear, I presented nothing to shock and astonish their eyes, and passed unimpeded on my way.” Quoted in Zoe Colvin, “Bath and Beyond” (blog): http:// 4 Clive was born in Shropshire and went to India to work for the East India Company. He rose in its rank by his sheer hard work and in 1757 defeated the Nawab of Bengal at the Battle of Plassey, formally establishing the British Empire in India. With the wealth brought in from India through all kinds of means, Clive bought a castle in Wales; purchased this landmark multi-storey house in Bath and eased himself into the House of Commons. Largely disillusioned with the media and British critics of his policies in India, he finally committed suicide. His statue guards the entry into Charles Street in Westminster, where the erstwhile Colonial Office renamed as Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) stands. 5 Madge Dresser, Slavery Obscured: The Social History of the Slave Trade in Bristol (Bristol: The Radcliffe Press, 2007). On Bath’s Beckfords, see John Milligan, Beckford's Tower, Bath: An Illustrated Guide (Bath: Preservation Trust, 2002); and on slave trade, Bath Preservation Trust’s site: Also: Amy Frost, “Big Spenders: The Beckfords and Slavery”, BBC, 13 November 2014: abbey_feature.shtml 6 We have devoted our first chapter to Adelard, one of the earliest intellectual links between the Muslims and England, whereas Austen’s aunt, Philadelphia, lived in India and often sent her niece presents from Bengal. Her aunt had close family relations with Warren Hastings, the second governor of Bengal and Austen stayed in close touch with her cousin, Elizabeth—Philadelphia’s daughter. Cartiona Luke, “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and India Connection”, Samaa TV, 27 February 2020: 7 “This jewel in Bath's crown was once the Georgian Sydney Hotel, whose glittering society Jane Austen watched from her house opposite. It displays the treasures collected by Sir William Holburne: superb English and continental silver, porcelain, maiolica, glass and Renaissance bronzes. The Picture Gallery contains works by Turner, Guardi, Stubbs”. From the publicity material on the Museum’s web page on Tanner’s exhibition (2018). 8 Quoted in Zoe Colvin. In our contemporary academic discourses, some of these comments might sound Orientalist but they are conjoined by her appreciation for the hospitality and common decency of the Persians. 9 Quoted in Richard Moss. 10 Graham Huggan,”A Beginning, Two Ends, and a Thickening Middle: Journeys in Afghanistan from Byron to Hosseini”, Journeys, 15, 1 (2014), 72–89. 11 These thematic issues underwent a critical appraisal in some recent works including Corinne Fowler, Chasing Tales: Travel Writing, Journalism and the History of British Ideas about Afghanistan, (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007). 12 Alexander Burnes, Travels into Bokhara: A Voyage Up the Indus to Lahore and a Journey to Cabool, Tartary and Persia (London: Eland, 2012); Mountstuart

188  Epilogue Elphinstone, An Account Of The Kingdom Of Caubul: And Its Dependencies In Persia, Tartary, And India (1815) (London: Kessinger, 2010); Florentine Sale, Lady Sale's Afghanistan: an Indomitable Victorian Lady's Account of the Retreat from Kabul During the First Afghan War (London: Leanor, 2009), and, Rory Stewart, The Places in Between (London: Picador, 2014). 13 I have discussed some of these themes in reference to Pashtun cultures and trajectories in my Pashtun Identity and Geopolitics in Southwest Asia: Pakistan and Afghanistan after 9/11 (London: Anthem, 2018). Afghan migratory Powindas/Kuchis have continued to fascinate anthropologists and novelists alike along with some periodic portrayals in The National Geographic. See, James A. Michener, Caravans (a novel) (New York, Random House, 2010). 14 Bruce Chatwin, “Introduction” in Robert Byron, The Road to Oxiana (London: Picador, 1981), xi. William Dalrymple, himself an eminent historian and travel writer, called Byron’s volume “the greatest of all pre-war travel books” in his review of James Knox’s biography of Byron. William Dalrymple, “The Road to Inspiration”, The Guardian, 9 November 2003: featuresreviews.guardianreview5 15 For a detailed reportage on his years at Oxford, see James Fox, Robert Byron: A Biography (London: John Murray, 2004). 16 Byron, The Road to Oxiana, 29. 17 Ibid., 37. 18 Ibid., 103–4.. 19 Ibid., p. 118. 20 A prominent Afghan–American writer, Tamim Ansary, whose home in Helmand was once visited by Arnold Toynbee, claims to be the descendant of the Afghan Sufi, See, Tamim Ansary, Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (New York; Public Affairs, 2009), xiii–xix. 21 Byron, The Road to Oxiana, 172.The Armenian Church in Julfa, the Char Bagh— Shah Abbas Avenue—and several historic bridges over Zinda Ruud certainly allowed our author a closer look at this prized city. 22 “If the outside is lyric, the inside is Augustan. Here a still shallower dome, about seventy feet in diameter, swims above a ring of sixteen windows. From the floor to the base of the windows rise eight main arches, four enclosing right-angles, four flat wall-space, so that the boundaries of the floor form a square.” (PP. 226 and 232). 23 “A tapering cylinder of cafe-au-lait brick springs from a round plinth to a pointed grey-green roof, which swallows it up like a candle extinguisher. The diameter at the plinth is fifty feet; the total height is about a hundred and fifty. Up the cylinder, between plinth and roof, rush ten triangular buttresses, which cut across two narrow garters of Kufic text, one at the top underneath the cornice, one at the bottom over the slender black entrance. The bricks are long and thin, and as sharp as when they left the kiln, thus dividing the shadow from the sunshine of each buttress with knife-like precision.” (P. 265). 24 William Moorcroft (1767–1825), born in Lancashire, was an employee of the East India Company who went scouting in Ladakh and Tibet before travelling to Afghanistan and Bokhara. Charles Metcalfe in Delhi sanctioned his intelligence-gathering mission and Moorcroft turned out to be the first European traveller into Bamiyan Valley, followed by his arrival in Bokhara in 1825. Author of several reports and works covering five volumes, he fell ill in Andkhoi in Afghanistan and died there. For more on him, see Garry Alder, Beyond Bokhara: The Life of William Moorcroft, Asian Explorer and Veterinary Surgeon, 1767–1825 (London: Century, 1985), and Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia (London: John Murray, 1990). 25 Ármin Vámbéry (1832–1913) was a Jewish Hungarian linguist who became a scholar of Ottoman history and culture and in the disguise of Rashid Effendi, he travelled to Khiva via Tehran in 1861 and returned to Constantinople 3 years later after travelling through Bokhara, Samarqand and Herat. An Anglophile, he published his Travels in

Epilogue  189


27 28




Central Asia, based on his travels in the company of Turkestani pilgrims. One of the earliest visitors to Khorezm, Vambery became a household name in London during the Great Game. Wilfred Thesiger (1910–2003), born in a nobility family in Addis Ababa, was a military man with extensive experience in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and Eastern Africa along with keen interest in photography and travel writings. He authored several volumes such as Arabian Sands, The Marsh Arabs, The Last Nomad, and My Kenya Days. He bequeathed thousands of the negatives of his photographs to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Emma Duncan has worked as a journalist with her more recent affiliation with The Economist. For her work on Pakistan, see Emma Duncan, Breaking the Curfew: A Political Journey through Pakistan (London: Michael Joseph, 1989). Christina Lamb, the author of several works on Afghanistan and Pakistan, has worked as a journalist for several British newspapers since the late 1980s. Among her works, one may mention Waiting for Allah: Pakistan’s Struggle for Democracy (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1991); The Sewing Circles of Herat: My Afghan Years (London: HarperCollins, 2003) and, I am Malala (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2013). Dalrymple’s most recent works focusing on the Rebellion of 1857 and the history of the East India Company are quite critical of the British policies in India. His early books traced the meeting grounds between the British and the Indians until a vocal policy of segregation was adopted by the colonial regimes. For example: Geoffrey Moorhouse, To the Frontier (London: Henry Holt, 1985); Kathleen Jamie, Among Muslims: Meeting at the Frontiers of Pakistan (London: Sort of Books, 2002); Anatol Lieven, Pakistan: A Hard Country (London: Penguin, 2012) and, Peter Oborne, Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015). For instance, a British politician, Rory Stewart walked across the breadth of Afghanistan soon after 9/11 and mostly benefitted from the local hospitality and by spending his nights in the mosques or as someone’s guest. While tracing the route of Emperor Babur, Stewart’s travel happened at a time when the United States and NATO had begun their invasion of the country.


Abaya A full-length Muslim women’s garment. Adab Ethics/politeness Angiya/Ungeeah Bodice Baraat Marriage procession Basant Start of spring Beti Daughter Caftan A long dress Dargah Shrine Diwali Hindu festival of lights Doloman A Turkish vest for women Effendi Turkish noble Eid Muslim festival Ferace Abaya-like women’s garment Ferengis Franks/foreigners Ghazal A lyrical poem Ghutti A mixture of honey and herbs given to newly born Hajj Annual pilgrimage Hallala Muslim way of remarriage Han Turkish serai Harim/Harem Women’s quarters Hijrat/Hijra Migration (of the Prophet) Huqqa Smoking pipe Imambargah/Emambara Shi’i place of commemorating Muharram Jharoka A royal balcony Kadhi/Kazi A Muslim judge Kalpak Turkish cap Kamis/Kameez A shirt Khalat Embroidered gown Khel A Pashtun tribe Kothi A mansion Ma’am sahib A European woman Madrassa A Muslim school Maktab School Marsiya Elegy in memory of Imam Husain

Glossary  191 Mehndi Mihrab Namaz Naanbhai/Naunbhai Nikah Paan Pankha Puja Sadhus Sai’s Saraf Sufis Tandur Taziya Tekke Tibb Walima Wilayas Yasmak Zenana Zij

Henna Imam’s praying chambers in the mosque Prayer A baker Marriage ceremony Beetle leaf A manual fan Hindu worship Hindu ascetics/holy men The horse breeder Goldsmith/money changer Muslim mystics Oven Replica of Husain’s coffin Sufi monastery Traditional medicine Marriage feast Provinces Turkish veil Women’s quarters Star table


Books and Journals Adamson, Peter, Philosophy in the Islamic World: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). Ahmed, Shahab, What is Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015). Alder, Garry, Beyond Bokhara: The Life of William Moorcroft, Asian Explorer and Veterinary Surgeon, 1767–1825 (London: Century, 1985). Al-Djazairi, S. E., Barbary Pirates: Myths, Lies, Propaganda (London: MSBN, 2017). Alfonso, Esperanza, Islamic Culture through Jewish Eyes: Al-Andalus from the Tenth to Twelfth Century (London: Routledge, 2008). Ali, Meer Hassan, (Biddy Timms), Observations on the Mussulmans of India, edited by W. Crook (London: Oxford University Press, 1917). Allen, Charles, Solider Sahibs: The Men Who Made the North-West Frontier (London: John Murray, 2012). Allen, Daniel, The Sky Above, the Kingdom Below. In the Footsteps of Thomas Coryate (London: Haus Publishing, 2008). Appadurai, Arjun, “The Nine Lives of Modernization Theory”, Los Angeles Review of Books, 26 June 2020. Asad, Talal, (ed.), Anthropology & the Colonial Encounters (Amherst: Humanity Books, 1998). Balfour, Margaret and Young, Ruth, The Work of Medical Women in India (London: H. Milford, 1929). Ballhatchet, Kenneth, Race, Sex and Class under the Raj (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1980). Begum, Nurjahan, “Exoticization of Everyday Life in Travel Writing: A Study of Maria Graham and Susan Ward”, Labyrinth, 6, 2, (2015), 87–94. Bell, Gertrude, A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2015). Bell, Gertrude, Persian Pictures: From the Mountain to the Sea (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014). Bell, Gertrude, The Palace and Mosque at Ukhaidir (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1914). Bell, Gertrude, Amurath to Amurath (London: William Heinemann, 1911). Bell, Florence, (ed.) Letters of Gertrude Bell, vols. 1 and 2 (London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1927). Burgoyne, Elizabeth, Gertrude Bell, vols. 1 and 2 (London: Ernest Benn, 1961). Burnett, Charles, Adelard of Bath, Conversations with His Nephew (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Bibliography  193 Burnett, Charles, (ed.) Adelard of Bath: An English Scientist and Arabist of the Early Twelfth Century (London: Warburg Institute, 1987). Burton, Richard, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimmage to El-Medinah and Meccah (London: Wentworth Press, 2019). Byron, Robert, The Road to Oxiana (London: Picador, 1981). Cochran, Louise, Adelard of Bath: The First English Scientist (Bath: Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 2013). Colley, Linda, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History (London: Anchor Books, 2008). Collins, Paul and Tripp, Charles (eds.) Gertrude Bell and Iraq: A Life and Legacy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). Cooper, Lisa, In Search of Kings and Conquerors: Gertrude Bell and the Archaeology of the Middle East (London: I. B. Tauris, 2016). Coryate, Tom, Coryats Crudities {1611}; reprinted in two volumes (Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1905). Coryate, Thomas and Coryate, George, Coryat’s Crudities [Volume 2]; Hastily gobbled up in Five Months Travells in France, Savoy, Italy, Rhetia commonly called the Grisons Country, Helvetia (Memphis: General Books, 2010, reprint of 1905 Macmillan edition). Craik, Katharine A., “Reading Coryats Crudities (1611)”, Studies in English Literature 1500–1900, 44, 1, (2004), 77–96. Curzon, George C., Persia and the Persian Question (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1892). Daftary, Farhad, The Isma’ilis: Their History and Doctrines (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). Dalrymple, William, The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (London: Bloomsbury 2019). Dalrymple, William, White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India (London: Penguin, 2003). Dalrymple, William, (ed.), Begums, Thugs & Englishmen, the Journals of Fanny Parkes (London: Sickle Moon Books, 2002). De Bellaigue, Christopher, The Islamic Enlightenment. The Modern Struggle between Faith and Reason (London: The Bodley Head, 2017). Daniel, Norman, Islam and the West. The Making of an Image, (Oxford: Oneworld, 1993). Darke, Diana, Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe? (London, Hurst, 2020). Degalle, Mahinda, “Śrī Pāda Sacred to Many: Sufi Mystics on Pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak,” Multiculturalism in Asia: Peace and Harmony, ed. Imtiyaz Yusuf (Bangkok: Mahidol University and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2018. Eaton, Richard M., India in the Persianate Age: 1000 to 1765 (New York: Allen Lane, 2008). Eden, Emily, Up the Country: Letters from India with an introduction by Elizabeth Claridge (London: Virago, 1983). Farogi, Suraiya, The Ottoman Empire and the World around It (London: I. B. Tauris, 2004). Fernea, Elizabeth Warnock, “An early Ethnographer of Middle Eastern Women: Lady May Wortley Montagu (1689–1762)”, The Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 40, 4, (1981), 329–38. Forbes, Geraldine, Women in India: The New Cambridge Study of India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

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Abbasids 30–1 Abdali, Ahmed Shah 116 Abdullah I 138, 152, 153 Abelard 18, 20 Adam’s Peak/Sri Pada 3 Adelard 1, 2, 18–35, 70, 181 Aden 162–3, 165, 170, 180 Afghanistan 27, 174, 182–6; contemporary British writers 183–6 Africa 3, 5, 6, 19, 62, 86, 182, 186; African slaves 127 Agra 52, 55, 102–7; Fort 106–7, 116 Ajmer 53–5 Akroyd, Annette 88, 98 Alamut (Assassins) 4, 161–2 Al-­Ansari, Abu Ayyub 3, 81 Al-­Beruni/Alberuni 4, 31 Al-­Farabi 4 Al-­Fihri, Fatima 6 Algarotti, Francesco 65 Al-­Gaylani/Al-­Gilani, Abdur Rahman 148, 154 Al-­Gaylani, Rashid Ali 169, 170 Al-­Hashmi, Hussein ibn Ali 3, 138; Hashemite family 138–55; Hejaz revolt 148, 149 Ali, Allama Yusuf 11 Al-­Idrisi, Al-­Sharif 32 Ali, Syed Ameer 11 Ali, (Mrs) Syed Meer Hassan (Biddy Timms) 1, 95, 99, 114–34 Al-­Khwarizmi, Muhammad Musa 2, 20–35 Al-­Saeed, Nuri 148, 151, 154, 171 Amari, Michele 34 Amery, Leopold 9, 138 Anatolia 22 Antioch 2, 3, 18–35 The Arab Bureau 146, 147–9

Arabs and Britain, 138–55 Archer, William 99 Armenia 73; Armenians 81, 84 Auckland, Fanny 98, 100 Austen, Jane 2, 18, 181 Austria 65–8, 88 Avicenna 31 Awadh: 1857 118; Nawabs and royal women 100–10, 114–34; Shi’i rituals 104, 115–33 Badakhshan 10 Baghdad 3, 31; The Baghdad Set, 164–75; Freya Stark in (and) Baghdad 161–75; and Gertrude Bell 139–55; Museum 139 Baiza Bai (Mahratta Queen) 100, 107–8 Balfour, Arthur 150 The Balfour Declaration 3 Balkans 5, 6, 63–92, 145 Barazani, Mahmud 170 Baring, Evelyn (Lord Cromer) 138, 144 Basra 146, 147, 148, 168 Basri, Rabia (the saint) 6 Bath 18–35, 41–55, 180–2; Holburne Museum 181–2; slave trade in West Country 181 The Battle of Buxar (1764) 116–7 Bell, Florence & Thomas Hugh 140 Bell, Gertrude 1, 7, 95, 138–55, 160, 161, 163, 167, 175, 180; on Hafez 141; on Iraqi women 155; in Konya 144; Women’s Anti-­Suffrage League 144 Besant, Annie 98, 99 Best, Thomas 53 Beveridge, Annie 97 Bishop, Herbert “Adrian” 164, 170–1 Bonn 11

Index  199 British Empire 1, 2, 5, 8; Intelligence gathering in the Middle East, 164–75; Navy, 47; travellers, women and writers, 39–55, 62–94, 95–110, 114–34, 138–55, 180; West Country, 180–2 Budapest 67, 140 Buddhism 3, 5, 99 Bukhara 4, 21, 23 Bullard, Julian 138 Burton, Richard 8 Byron, Robert 1, 183–6 Cabot, John 43 Cairo 21, 27, 31, 146, 147, 150, 153; Italians 170 Cambridge 6, 21, 87, 88, 162 Canada 160 Carey, William 101 Carthage 64, 65, 89 Central Asia(ns) 3, 4, 86, 127, 174, 182–6 Cervantes, Miguel de 47 China 3, 4, 5, 39, 164, 184; Chinese travellers 5 Chirol, Valentine 140, 145 Christianity 2, 3, 9, 18–35, 80–6, 87, 101, 115–16, 124, 133–4, 182; Saints 3, 28–9 Churchill, Winston 138, 146, 150, 152–3, 166 Circassians 83–6 Clive, Nigel David 165 Clive, Robert 181 Cochrane, Louise 18–35 Colley, Linda 2, 115 Columbus 43 Conti, Abbe Antonio 62–94 Cordova 4, 21, 31 Corinth 88 Cornwallis, Kinahan 165–7, 170, 171 Cory, Adela 98 Coryate, George 43 Coryate, Thomas 1, 2, 5, 39–55, 70, 186 Cox, Percy 138, 146, 147, 148, 150, 152, 154, 167 Crimean War 9 Crooke, William 115, 119 Crusades 2, 18–35, 96 Curzon, George 5, 138, 148, 150, 180 DAESH/ISIS 139, 150 Dalrymple, William 8, 183, 186 Damascus 4, 27, 30, 41, 48, 151, 183 Daniel, Norman 20–8 Darke, Diana 24

Davis, Michael 20 Deccan 115, 116 Delhi 55, 102–10, 147, 183; Sultans, Mughals and monuments 108–9, 116 Diversheme 73 The Divine Comedy 28 Diwali 103, 121 Dobbs, Henry 138, 153 Doughty, Charles 140–1, 144–6 Druze 142, 161 Dumont, Jean 85 Durham 24, 139 East Asia 6 East India Company (EIC) 6, 8, 35, 40–55, 95–134 Eden, Emily 2, 98, 100 Edessa 18 Effendi, Achmed 69, 73 Effendi, Sasun 153 Egypt 3, 4, 8, 151, 183 Emperor Akbar Shah II 119, 129–30 Emperor Akbar’s Tomb 109, 116 Emperor Aurengzeb 116 Emperor Babur 109 Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar 116 Emperor Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi 108, 109 Emperor Jahangir 7, 39–55, 116 Emperor Shah Jahan 105, 116, 117 Empress Arjumand Bano (Mumtaz Mahal) 105, 116 Empress Noor/Nur Jahan 6, 39–55, 105, 116 Ess, Dorothy & John Van 147–8 Ethiopia 6 Euclid 18, 23 Eurasians/Anglo-­Indians 97 Europe(ans) 2, 4, 5, 23, 39–40, 62–95, 145 Faisal I 138, 150–5, 166 Fariduddin Ganjshakar in Jerusalem 4 Faxian 5 Fes/Fez 21 Finch, William 52 First Anglo-­Afghan War 183 First World War and the Arabs 139–55 Florentine pirates 51 Foster, William 42 France 19–21, 23, 39, 41, 44, 64, 82, 138, 141; Paris Peace Conference 139–40, 150; Syria 165–66 Fyzee, Atiya 6

200  Index Gallipoli 146, 148 Gandhara Art 10–11 Gardner, William Linnaeus, and his family 100–7 George, Lloyd 138, 150, 152 Georgia 73, 85 Germany 41, 46, 65, 166, 169–71 Gilani, Abdul Qadir 3 Government College, Lahore 9–10 Greek(s) 46, 68–94, 141; philosophers & historians 3, 19–35, 173 Haddad, Nasira 150 Hakluyt, Richard 41–2 Hancock, Philadelphia 2 Hassan ibn Sabbah 161–2 Hastings, Warren 107 Hawkins, James 5, 7, 8, 40, 43, 53 Herat 6, 183–4 Hindus/Hinduism 3, 4, 5, 31, 96–110 Hodgson, Marshall 115 Hogarth, David 142, 144, 146, 164 Hogarth, Janet 142 Holt, Vyvyan 165–7 Hungary 66–8 Huntington, Samuel 2 Hyderabad 8, 116 Ibn al-­Athir 33 Ibn ‘Arabi, Mohy-­ud-­Din 4, 31 Ibn Battuta 5, 41 Ibn Fadlan 4 Ibn Jubayr 33, 34 Ibn Khaldun 33, 34, 41 Ibn Rushd (Averroes) 4, 31 Ibn Saud, Abdul Aziz 3, 144–9; Saudi Arabia, 147, 151, 154 India, 1, 3–6, 8, 23, 24, 39–55, 86, 95–110; 1857 97, 116, 165–75, 182; Indian Muslims, 99–110, 114–34; Khilafat Movement, 145, 148; Sufis, 128, 132; UP Shi’i Muslims 114–34 Indus Valley Civilisation 115, 174 Ingram, Harold 164–5 Iqbal, Muhammad 6 Iran 172, 180–2 Iraq 27, 31–4, 86, 124; British generals and the Ottomans 148; Gertrude Bell in Iraq 138–55; Shi’i holy places 116–32; Treaty of 1922 153 Irbil 154 Isfahan 48–50, 55, 180; historic monuments 184–5

Israel 39, 55, 146–7, 172 Italy (Asolo and Genoa) and Freya Stark 160–75 Izmir 173 Jerusalem 4, 18–35, 48, 53, 124, 147, 171 Jervas, Charles 71 Jews/Jewish 4, 31–2, 45–6, 47, 62, 72, 84, 124, 150–1, 170–2, 184; Judaism 115–6 Jinnah, M. A. 173 Jordan 147, 153 The Jordan River 48 Kabul 5, 116 Kandahar 50 Karaouine University, Fez/Fes 4 Kashmir 10, 11 Kazakhstan 4, 31 Kemal, Mustafa 154 Khasganj 102–7 Khayyam, Omar 23 Khyber Pass 5, 186 King Richard the Lionheart 4 Kipling, Rudyard 10, 164, 173, 183 Kirkuk 154, 155, 170 Knolles, Richard 40 Kurds/Kurdistan 3, 147, 149, 150, 154; Britain and Gertrude Bell 139–55 Kusam bin Abbas in Shah-­e-­Zinda 3 Kut al-­Amara, 1916 148, 152 Kuwait 146, 148, 168; slaves 168 Ladakh 10 Lahore 10–11, 51–2, 99, 116 Lambini 5 Lambton, Ann 164 Later Mughal Emperors 100–10 Lawrence, Falkland Honoraria 98 Lawrence, T. E. 9, 138, 140–1, 144, 146, 148, 152, 163, 164 Lebanon 147, 161, 165, 166, 175, 183 Leitner, Gottlieb 1, 9–11 The Levant Company 34–5, 40, 96 Libya 27 Lloyd, Setan 170–1 London 6, 40–55, 63–94; Gertrude Bell in London 140–55; Mermaid Club 46 Lucera 32–3 MacMillan, Margaret 2, 96–8, 115 Mahal, (Queen) Hazrat 6 Mahal, (Queen) Zeenat 6

Index  201 Mahatma Gandhi 7, 8, 99, 173 Maimonides 4, 32 Maldives 5 Mali 5 Mamimstra (Misis) Bridge 22–4 Marco Polo 4, 183 Mayo, Katherine 7, 8 McMahon, Henry 147, 149, 150 Mecca 9, 79, 86, 148–9 Mesopotamia 3, 138–55 Metcalfe, Alex 32–4 Middle East(ern) 1, 3, 4, 23–35, 138–55 Middleton, Richard 53 Mildenhall, John 7, 53 Military College, Addiscombe 118 Milton, John 70 Mitford, Terence 164 Mongols 4, 31, 161–2, 186 Montagu, Edward Wortley 63–94 Montagu, Mary 1, 2, 7, 8, 62–94; on epidemics and inoculation 88–92; on Ottoman women 70–4, 78–81 Mosul 147, 150, 152, 154 Mufti Amin Al-­Hussaini 169 Mufti Kamil Al-­Husseini 150–1 Mughals 6, 35, 39–55, 100–10, 116–34 Muharram processions and rituals in Awadh 114–34 Multan 51 Muscat 148 Muslim Spain 19–35, 43, 62; Muslim students in Britain 6 Nadir Shah’s invasion of Delhi 108, 116 Nalanda 5 Navoi, Sher Ali 184 The Nawab of Bhopal 10–11 Nejd 138, 144–5; Banu Rashid & Ha’il 144–7, 154 Newsinger, John 5 Nightingale, Florence 144 Nishapur 21 Normans in England and Sicily 19–35 Odcombe (Somerset) 40–55 Olcott, Henry 99 Oman 3, 146 O’Sullivan, Adrian, on the Baghdad Set 164–75 Ottoman Empire 1, 6, 34, 39–55, 62–92, 182; and the First World War 139–55; Jews 9 Oxfam 39

Oxford 9, 21, 41, 42, 43, 51–2, 87, 139, 140, 141, 146, 183; Ashmolean Museum 162 The Oxus 184 Pakistan 10, 26, 168, 186 Palermo 32 Palestine, Palestinians 3, 4, 139–55, 165–75, 183 Parkes/Parks, Fanny 1, 117, 119–20, 123, 127; on India 95–110; on Indian Muslims 95–110 Pasha, John Glubb 164 Pashtuns/Pakhtuns 50, 99 Perowne, Stewart Henry 165, 169 Persia/Persian 1, 4, 5, 47, 69, 87, 115, 120, 121, 124, 148, 180–2; classicists 128, 131–2; Stark on Persians/Assassins 160–1 Peterwardein (Novi Sad) 66–70, 82 Phelips, Thomas & Edward 42, 51, 53 Philby, St. John 138, 154 Pickthall, Muhammad Marmaduke 11 Plotinus 3 Pope, Alexander 62–94 Pope Urban II 19 Portuguese 53 Powell, Enoch 42 The Prophet 3, 27–9, 51, 52, 121, 124, 125, 168–9 Punjab 4, 99, 147–8; University 10–11 Purchas, Samuel 41, 47 Puritans at Plymouth 43 Quilliam, Abdullah 11 Raleigh, Walter 43 Raza, Rosemary 115 Roberts, Emma 98 Roe, Thomas 5, 7, 40–55, 96 The Royal Geographical Society 163 Roy, Raja Ram Mohan 101 Rumi, Maulana/Mevlana 87 Rushdie, Salman 27 Russia 138, 145, 184 Safawids of Persia 6, 34, 39–55, 116, 184–5 Said, Edward & Orientalism 1, 5, 26, 41, 115, 139, 143, 182 Salah ud Din, Sultan 32 Salamaniya 154

202  Index Salisbury 24 Samarqand/Samarkand 3, 54, 184 Sanskrit 32 The Second World War and the Middle East 160–75 Serbs/Serbia 65–8 Sereni, Ezno 170–1 Shad, Queen Gohar 6, 184 Sheikh Adi 168 Shirley Brothers 50 Sicily 18–35 Sikhs 99, 109, 118 The Silk Road 3, 4, 5, 23, 48 Sleeman, William 117 Smith, Captain John 5, 43 Somalia 148 Sri Lanka 3, 5 St. Antony’s College, Oxford 139 Stanyan, Abraham 65, 87 Stark, Freya 1, 7, 95, 160–75; on Arab and Turkish women 173–4; in London 161; Parents 160–3; Stark on Persia, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and India 160–75 Steele, Flora Anne 98, 99 Steele, Frances 7 Strachan, Michael 42 Suez Canal 96, 138–9 Suleiman/Suleyman the Magnificent 47, 67, 68 Sultana Hafise Kadinfendi 78–80 Sultan, Hurem (the Ottoman Queen) 6 Sultan Mahmud’s Tomb in Ghazni 186 Sultan Mustafa II 79 Sultan, Queen Razia 6 Sunder Mull Jat 105 Surat 53–5 Switzerland 41, 46, 142 Syed/Sayyid Talib al-­Naqib 148, 154 Syeds of Lucknow/Awadh 114–34 Sykes, Mark 138, 142–3, 147, 148, 183 The Sykes-­Picot Pact 3, 142–3, 148, 150, 152, 165, 183 Syria 3, 4, 22–35, 47–8, 86; Gertrude Bell and Syria 138–55; Stark and Syria 160–75

Taj Mahal 102, 104–7 Tamerlane 109, 184 Tangier 5 Tanner, Ellen 1, 7, 95, 180–2 Taurus Railways 164–5 Terry, Edward 42, 51–4 Theosophy Society 99 Thompson, Gertrude Caton 162, 163, 166 Timbuktu 31 Titian 70 Toledo 31 Tripoli 18, 22 Turkmenistan 183 Turkey 9, 21–35; Turks, 4, 62–94, 139–55, 164–75 Turkmens 154, 171, 184 Urdu 118, 127 USA 39, 40, 43, 138, 172, 182 USAID 39 Uzbekistan 184–5 Venice 42, 45–7, 180; Venetians 66 Vienna 65–68, 88 Vikings 4 Warburg Institute 19 Wilson, A. T. 138, 147, 148, 150, 151, 152 Wilson, Woodrow 150 Woking, Surrey 11 Yazidis 154, 168, 171 Yemen 3, 6, 162–3, 165 Young Turks 145 Yousafzai, Malala 186 Zafar, Emperor Bahadur Shah 6 Zahener, Robert 164 Zionists 138, 146–7, 150; in Iraq 165–76 Zoroastrians 31, 51, 115, 116, 169, 184