Nandini Das: The first English embassy to India (1616)

The relationship between England and India is a deep and complex one. In this episode the academic and author of Courting India, Nandini Das, takes us back to a significant moment at the very beginning of this relationship. She tells us all about Sir Thomas Roe, the courtier who led the first English embassy to India. Roe's mission was an exciting and a daunting one. Stories about the riches of India had long been exchanged in England and, when he stepped ashore in Surat in 1615, he was able to see the might of the great Mughal Empire for himself. In contrast, England was regarded by many as an island of little consequence. But, as Das explains, there was one figure that Roe was desperate to impress. This was the richest man in the world, the fourth Mughal emperor, Jahangir. In early 1616, after arriving in Ajmer, he would get his chance. Nandini Das is professor of Early Modern Literature and Culture in the English faculty at the University of Oxford. Brought up in India, she was educated at the Jadavpur University in Kolkata, before moving to England for further study. Her book, Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire is out this week. For more, as ever, visit our website: Show notes Scene One: 10 January 1616, Mughal imperial court (durbar), Ajmer. The first meeting between Roe and the emperor, Jahangir. Scene Two: 24 May 1616, imperial private audience chambers, Ajmer. Roe desperately clings on to his English identity and has a problem with a runaway Englishman who wants to enter Mughal service. Scene Three: 18 December 1616. In the Mughal imperial procession (lashkar) across Rajasthan, following the emperor Jahangir. Roe Memento: A miniature portrait, belonging to Thomas Roe. People/Social Presenter: Peter Moore Guest: Nandini Das Production: Maria Nolan Podcast partner: Ace Cultural Tours Theme music: ‘Love Token’ from the album ‘This Is Us’ By Slava and Leonard Grigoryan Follow us on Twitter: @tttpodcast_ See where 1616 fits on our Timeline

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In each episode we ask a leading historian, novelist or public figure the tantalising question, "If you could travel back through time, which year would you visit?" Once they have made their choice, then they guide us through that year in three telling scenes. We have visited Pompeii in 79AD, Jerusalem in 1187, the Tower of London in 1483, Colonial America in 1776, 10 Downing Street in 1940 and the Moon in 1969. Chosen as one of the Evening Standard's Best History Podcasts of 2020. Presented weekly by Sunday Times bestselling writer Peter Moore, award-winning historian Violet Moller and Artemis Irvine.