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date: 25 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Sikh kingdom established by Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a transitional state formation without a historical successor. This article relies on contemporaneous accounts of Sikh rule in order to establish the conditions of possibility for Sikh rule on the dissolution of the Mughal Empire, the formation of the Sikh state, and its failure to cope with the fiscal onus of its military expansion in the decade before its formal annexation by the East India Company (EIC) in 1849. It argues furthermore that the socio-economic reforms instituted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which included opening up the Indus to English commerce, displacing feudal levies with a regular army, and generating a labour market for soldiers who collected a fixed wage based on state revenues farmed in cash, in substantial measure adumbrated authoritarian English rule in the Punjab.

Keywords: Maharaja Ranjit Singh, East India Company, Anglo-Sikh wars, annexation, custom

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