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The Shadow Sultan: Succession and Imposture in the Mughal Empire, 1628-1640

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This essay explores the problem of imposture in the Mughal empire, through the case of Sultan Dawar Bakhsh, or Bulaqi, who ruled briefly in the late 1620s. Though official Mughal histories had it that he was executed in January 1628 along with several other princes, various persons claiming his identity surfaced, first in India and then in Iran. We examine the views of Mughal, Portuguese, Iranian and other sources on these claimants, and also explore what forms of proof were sought by different early modern agents in order to satisfy themselves of the identity of a returning prince. Cette contribution examine le problème de l'imposture dans l'Empire moghol en étudiant le cas du Sultan Dawar Bakhsh ou Bulaqi, qui a régné pendant quelques mois en 1627-28. Selon les chroniques mogholes de l'époque, Bulaqi aurait été exécuté en janvier 1628 avec plusieurs autres princes. Mais l'on sait que pendant la décennie suivante, plusieurs personnages se sont manifestés, tout d'abord en Inde et ensuite en Iran, prétendant être le sultan disparu. En croisant les informations fournies par les textes et des documents d'archives assez variés, en provenance de l'Etat portugais des Indes, de l'Empire moghol et de l'Etat safavide, l'analyse suit pas à pas le parcours de ce Martin Guerre moghol pour apprécier les preuves apportées sur son identité.


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