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European Representations of India and Islam: The Jesuit mission at the Mughal court (1580-1773)

Final Report Summary - EURINDIS (European Representations of India and Islam: The Jesuit mission at the Mughal court (1580-1773))

The Jesuits missionaries stationed at the Mughal imperial court were one of the main contributors to early modern European perceptions of the Mughal Empire. The activities of the Jesuit missionaries generated an intensive correspondence and literary production in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, Latin and Persian, as well as several Mughal artistic works influenced by Christian art. The documents produced by the Jesuit missionaries became the main sources on Asian history, peoples and customs available to Europeans. Throughout the seventeenth century, and the first decades of the eighteenth century, the Jesuits were able to monopolize the European discourse about and Asia (especially India, China and Japan).

The mission is also regarded as one of the first attempts to establish a permanent dialogue between Christianity and Islam. Indeed, the contacts established by the missionaries with Mughal theologians and scholars, contributed to a better knowledge about Islam and its culture in Europe, as well as a better understanding of Catholicism in the Muslim world. This project explores how the Jesuit missionaries analysed and presented the Mughal Empire, how they collected information and produced knowledge of the Mughal social and religious world, as well as the reasons behind the discourses promoted by the Jesuit texts. This project therefore aims to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the ways Islam and the Mughal Empire were interpreted and represented in Europe between 1580 and 1773.

During the 48 months in which the researcher worked at Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the University of Liverpool his activities were devoted to archival research; participation in seminars, conferences and workshops; organization of an international conference; and to provide and publish results (following the project objectives). The researcher completed his archival research in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom. Due to time constraints and the researcher transfer from University Pompeu Fabra to the University of Liverpool, the research trip to India was postponed.

During the final 12 months of research at the University of Liverpool under the supervision of Prof. Nandini Das, the researcher undertook the last stages of the elaboration of the critical edition of Antoni Montserrat’s writings, continued the writing process for the monograph on the Jesuit mission at the Mughal court, and prepared a series of articles based on the previous months of archival research in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom. These outcomes will be published throughout 2018 and 2019.

The information collected by the researcher is still currently being analysed and will result on a series of publications which are planned to be published between 2018 and 2019. These publications include a critical edition of Antoni Montserrat’s Relaçam d’Equebar, Rey dos Mogores and Mongolicae Legationis Commentarius (which is currently in its last stages and will be published by the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies between 2018 and 2019). The editor of Jesuit Sources, Prof. Robert A. Maryks, also invited the researcher to organize two other critical editions of the letters written by the Jesuit missionaries stationed at the Mughal Empire between 1580 and 1773. The Institute of Jesuit Sources also invited the researcher to organize two other critical editions of the letters written by the Jesuit missionaries stationed at the Mughal Empire between 1580 and 1773, as well as of Father António Botelho’s account of the Mughal Empire during the reign of Shah Jahan. These critical editions of the main existing sources for the history of the Jesuit missions in Mughal India will be a new and relevant outcome of the project. By the end of 2017 the researcher will submit three articles based on the materials collected in different European archives. A monograph on the history of the Jesuit mission at the Mughal court is currently being written and the researcher has contacted Brill to publish this relevant outcome by the end of 2018.


Throughout the last 48 months, the researcher has presented his research findings at the 2014 GRIMSE Seminar Series (Barcelona, 4 June 2014), the 2014 Sixteenth Century Society Conference (New Orleans, 16-19 October 2014), the Sixty-First Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America (Berlin, 26-28 March 2015), Nas fronteiras do “Estado da Índia”: Guerra e diplomacia (Séculos XVI-XIX) (Lisbon, Centro de História d’Aquém e d’Além-Mar, Lisbon, 31 March 2016), the 2016 Sixteenth Century Society Conference (Bruges, 18-20 August 2016), Locality and Globality in Early Modern Cultural Encounters: A Comparative Analysis of Religious and Political Accommodation (Barcelona, 3-4 October 2016). An edited volume based on the papers presented at this conference will be published in 2018 (Brill and Ashgate have been approached to publish this work). The researcher will contribute with one chapter and is, together with Prof. Joan-Pau Rubiés, one of the editors. On March 2018, following an invitation by Prof. Eva Johanna Holmberg (Queen Mary’s, University of London; Academy of Finland), the researcher the will present a paper with the preliminary results of his research in the 64th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America which will take place in New Orleans between 22 and 24 March 2018.

Based on his archival research, the researcher has already written a series of papers which were presented at a GRIMSE seminar and five international conferences and seminars. The researcher has also used his findings to write three entries for the bibliographical history organised by the project Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1500-1900 (University of Birmingham, UK) on the Mughal emperor Akbar, the Farmans about Portuguese-Mughal relations and the letter written by Akbar to Philip II (Philip I of Portugal). These entries were recently published (Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1500-1900. Volume 11 eds. David Thomas and John Chatsworth (Leiden: Brill, 2016)).