The punjab and the central ganges valley leaving only

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the Punjab and the central Ganges Valley, leaving only a remnant of the former empire around Delhi and Agra. Unfortunately, this did not bring peace, and most of the rest of India continued to be torn by factional fighting, civil war, local banditry, and widespread raiding by Maratha cavalry all over the Deccan, along the east coast, and into the north. Aurangzeb’s immediate successors had accepted reality by officially recognizing the Maratha confederacy (so called, although it never really achieved unity) and its extensive conquests in Mysore and on the southeast coast. The Marathas were made nominally tributary allies of the Mughals but controlled their own growing territories and large revenues. They were in effect given both the means and the license to extend their raids or conquests into still more of central, southern, and eastern India, whose revenues could further augment their power. They continued to nibble away at the remaining shreds of Mughal authority in the north and Hindustan, ultimately raiding even as far as Agra and Delhi itself as well as deep into Bengal and as far as Calcutta, though English defenses kept them out of the city. For a time, it looked as if the Marathas might inherit the former Mughal position, but they proved bitterly and incurably divided into contending factions, and outstanding leader emerged who might have welded them into a coalition. The Maratha cavalry operated more and more authority, at least ritually. Even the British followed suit well until into the nineteenth century. But after 1739, few people in India or elsewhere took the Mughals seriously. This was the harvest of Aurangzeb’s cruel reign, which had condemned most of India to chronic civil war, local disorder, and impoverishment. Unfortunately, Rajputs, Marathas, Sikhs, Gujaratis, Bengalis, and other regional groups who had fought against the Mughals saw each other as rivals and indeed as enemies rather than as joint Indian inheritors of power. Their languages, though related like those of Europe, were different, and they differed culturally as well. They were comparable to the separate European cultures and states in size as well. Their divisions now made it possible for the first time for the Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French to make a place for themselves and increase their leverage. Westerners in India The story of the Portuguese arrival in India and the establishment of their major base at Goa on the west coast has been briefly told in Chapter 13. For about a century after Vasco da Gama’s voyage to Calicut in 1498 the Portuguese dominated Western trade with India, as well as with South- east Asia, China, and Japan. In India they competed with Indian and Arab traders and, increasingly after the end of the sixteenth century, with Dutch and English merchants and their ships. But no Westerners even thought about contending for political power in India until the latter half of the eighteenth century. Although the Portuguese arrived well before the

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