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Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (2018)

by Ruby Lal

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1303211,641 (3.6)8
In 1611, thirty-four-year-old Nur Jahan, daughter of a Persian noble and widow of a subversive official, became the twentieth and most cherished wife of the Emperor Jahangir. While other wives were secluded behind walls, Nur ruled the vast Mughal Empire alongside her husband, and governed in his stead as his health failed and his attentions wandered from matters of state. Lal uncovers the rich life of Nur Jahan, giving new insight into the lives of women and girls in the Mughal Empire. -- adapted from jacket.… (more)
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This book is an excellent biography of Nur Jahan, one of the most remarkable women in India's history. Ruby Lal starts with the journey her parents made to Al-Hind (there was no India then), their accession to the court, her murder and her marriage to Jahangir.
I think there are some points of query. At one point, she called Jahangir's mother by the name, Jodha Bai when her real name is Harkha Bai. She also mentioned that Nur Jahan was the first woman to issue farmans, whereas other authors mention that Hamdeh Banu Begum also issued farmans.

While she has done an excellent job in explaining her undoubted qualities, she downplays the obvious scheming Nur Jahan did to gain power and to attempt to keep it after Jahangir's death.

However, overall I say this is an excellent book on a worthy Queen about whom we know little. ( )
  RajivC | Jan 26, 2024 |
Shahajahan's step-mom/
mother-in-law lived an
adventurous life for sure ( )
  paarth7 | May 6, 2023 |
I first encountered Nur Jahan, a seventeenth-century Mughal empress, in historical novels, which either portrayed her as a romantic figure or as a female villain who usurped male power. This biography dispels some these myths and presents a more balanced and nuanced woman, albeit still an incredible woman. The author opens this book with a scene drawn from historical sources of Nur Jahan carrying a musket and killing a tiger while her emperor and husband watches at her side. It's a scene which marks Nur Jahan as a powerful woman and one who came close to fully embodying the role of a monarch. Furthermore, Nur Jahan's journey to becoming the powerful wife of a Mughal emperor is fascinating and tied to the story of her family, which remained influential even after her fall from power. The insights offered in this book peaked my curiosity, and I hope to discover more about Nur Jahan and the other woman of her era. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Sep 9, 2021 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ruby Lalprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lai, Chin-YeeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Welch, ChrisDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the Ancestors of India's Women

And to Our Plural Heritage
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In the autumn of 1619, when the days were clear and cool, perfect for travel, the royal cavalcade of Emperor Jahangir and Empress Nur Jahan, his twentieth and favorite wife, set out from Agra, the capital of the Mughal Dynasty, headed for the Himalayan foothills. (Introduction)
When a large comet passed startlingly close to Earth in the autumn and winter of 1577, astronomers, astrologers, philosophers, and monarchs all over Europe and Asia, including the Mughal Emperor Akbar, were spellbound.
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In 1611, thirty-four-year-old Nur Jahan, daughter of a Persian noble and widow of a subversive official, became the twentieth and most cherished wife of the Emperor Jahangir. While other wives were secluded behind walls, Nur ruled the vast Mughal Empire alongside her husband, and governed in his stead as his health failed and his attentions wandered from matters of state. Lal uncovers the rich life of Nur Jahan, giving new insight into the lives of women and girls in the Mughal Empire. -- adapted from jacket.

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Contents: Note on transliteration and terminology -- Dramatis personae -- Queen of queens, an introduction -- Miracle girl -- Al-hind -- The cupolas of chastity and the perfect man -- The wak-wak tree -- The mirror of happiness -- Grave matters -- A key for closed doors -- Ascent -- Wonder of the age -- Veils of light -- The light-scattering garden -- Fitna -- The rescue -- Angel of death -- Beyond 1627, an epilogue
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