Organized Panel Session
The multi-party treaties signed in Allahabad in 1765 laid the foundations for the colonial political order in North India. Famously, the East India Company (EIC) received from Mughal emperor Shah Alam a permanent grant of the Bengal diwānī, thus establishing a “constitutional” basis for the Company state in eastern India. As significantly, the EIC also signed a treaty with Nawab Shuja-ud-daula (r. 1754-75), governor of neighboring Awadh, from which the nawab received not only military support, but also formal recognition of his family’s hereditary sovereignty over their de facto dominions in Awadh. In the decade following the treaty of Allahabad, Shuja-ud-daula leveraged the EIC’s support and its recognition of his sovereign authority to refashion the Awadh regime and its relationship to the North Indian economy. This paper examines the ways in which Awadh’s transformation was shaped by both the post-Allahabad political order and the opportunities and complications of early modern commercialization. In particular, it considers the consolidation of the regime around household establishments headed by the nawab, his widowed mother, and his chief consort; the emergence of a gendered division of intra-dynastic finance and entrepreneurship; and new tensions within Awadh’s ruling family over individual and sovereign property rights. In so doing, the paper demonstrates how treaty regimes and commercialization not only bolstered eighteenth-century state formation but also how they remade the conceptual language of late-Mughal politics and created dynastic fissures to be exploited by the EIC in the decades to come.