ABSTRACT

On a cold and wet day in November 1766, the stagecoach from London came to a halt in Oxford’s Market Square. The banal happening would have gone unnoticed, had it not been for the fact that there emerged from the coach a passenger not quite like the others. Sporting a long, dense black beard and draped in a long blue robe with a vermillion sash, a multi-colored turban and a fine cashmere shawl, this man was Mirza Shaikh I’tesam ud-Din (c.1730–c.1800), envoy of the Mughal emperor, Shah Alam II (r.1759–1806). He had been sent to George III of Great Britain and Ireland to protest the exactions of the employees of the English East India Company in the conquest of the erstwhile Mughal provinces of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa in 1757 (at the start of the Seven Years War) and to request that he send his troops in order to re-establish law and order.