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date: 21 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter will build on recent insights into the social history of peasant-soldiers in the Mughal province of Punjab to examine why Punjab became a center for military entrepreneurship by the mid-eighteenth century. Although Sikhs and Afghans were the most visible and enduring of these new warrior groups in Punjab, the presence of other clusters suggests that relationships forged in rural revenue collection, access to kinship networks, and the vast demand for military talent throughout the Mughal period created a nexus of opportunities for military entrepreneurs in eighteenth-century Punjab. This chapter will show why factors such as the embrace of new martial skills or ideologies cannot explain by themselves, the efflorescence of warrior groups that emerged in eighteenth-century Punjab. The dramatic changes wrought on rural Punjabi society by an expanding economy in the seventeenth century, along with the emerging cross-caste and cross-regional alliances that nourished political collaborations between groups, fostered new forms of military entrepreneurship.

Keywords: Sikhs, Punjab, Afghan, military entrepreneur, warrior, rural, Zamindar

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