FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1614 (a) [to 1616]: Punjab to Agra / Doab|
|Documented causes: drought|
|Documented effects: devastating epidemic|
|"The history of India : as told by its own historians. The Muhammadan period" (vol. VI, 1877)|
|p346: Emperor Jahangir "Wakiat-i Jahangiri": ELEVENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN [1616-7 AD; looking back to 1614-6]|
"In this year, or rather in the tenth year of my reign, a dreadful plague (wabá) broke out in many parts of Hindustan. It first appeared in the districts of the Panjab, and gradually came to Lahore. It destroyed the lives of many Muhammadans and Hindus. It spread through Sirhind and the Doab to Delhi and its dependent districts, and reduced them and the villages to a miserable condition. Now it has wholly subsided. It is said by old men, and it is also clear from the histories of former times, that this disease had never appeared before in this country. I asked the physicians and learned men what was the cause of it, as for two years in succession the country had suffered from famine, and there had been deficiency of rain. Some said that it was to be attributed to the impurity of the air arising from drought and scarcity; but some ascribed it to other causes."
|Thomas Roe, "The embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of the Great Mogul, 1615-1619" (vol. 2, 1899)|
|p307: [journal entry for 29 Oct 1616] I receiued News of a great Plauge at Agra; so that I iudgd it dangerous to send up the goodes into an infected Place from whence No Comodytye could bee suffered to Passe, and to engage the Companyes servantes; wherupon I persuaded the factors to remoove the Cloth within the walls of the Towne, and that I would desire of the king some secure Place for their rest untill his Maiestie were settled. This Course will save much mony and more trouble. The brokar offered us a sufficient roome, without danger, The king leaving a good guard for defence of such as Could not remoove; soe I resolved upon yt.|
p352: [journal entry for 25 Nov 1616] Hither Came Master Crowther from the Caravan despeeded from Agra, of whom I received that the Plauge was violent ...
p364: [letter to Surat from Roe, who has just left Agra with the royal court, 12 Dec 1616] The Plauge is at Agra in extreame violence, and this Iourny a worse Plauge to mee, who, weakened by many Crosses, decay in my strength and am by fluxes unfitt for travell or the feildes; and, which is yet more troublesome, am sicker in mynd.
p366: [journal entry for 15 Dec 1616] Master Fettiplace arrived at the leskar from Agra, beeing out of busines and leaving Master Shallbanck with the goodes, who determined to lock up the house and to remoove to Fettipore for the vehement rage of the Plauge. ...
p367: [journal entry for 23 Dec 1616] Being short about 3 Courses of a Citty called Rantepoore, wher it was supposed the king would rest, and consult what way to take, hee suddenly turned toward Mandoa, but without declaration of any resolution; in my Iudgment rather sent that way by feare of the Plauge in Agra, then any desire of approaching the warr, for wee marched every other day only about 4 Courses ...
p375: [journal entry for 14 Jan 1617] I received from Agra that the Plauge was fallen to 100 a day, and great hope of the Clearing of the Towne ...
|"Letters received by the East India Company from its servants in the East: Vol. 5, 1617 (January to June)" (1901)|
|p104: [letter from Surat, 26 Feb 1617] ... Through the manifold inconveniencies depending on your affairs by our want of means to prepare returns in convenient time before the fleet's arrival, when all commodities are cheaper and time permits us more leisure to prevent the innate deceits of these people, we considered on some course for the present sales of your commodities and, in regard of the quantities, ordered first the landing of such part of each as we conceived necessary (by concealing the rest) might give edge to their desires for present buying; wherein, though our utmost endeavours have been employed, yet the present small use of these commodities and want of recourse of merchants from further parts (occasioned by a late very great plague and mortality in the countries of Lahore and Agra) have prevented our said endeavours.|
|"Letters received by the East India Company from its servants in the East: Vol. 6, 1617 (July to December)" (1902)|
|p198: [report by Joseph Salbank from Agra, 22 Nov 1617] ... One thing more will I add to this precedent treatise, concerning a great danger I sustained in the city of Agra for your sakes since my last arrival here, even in the year 1616, for that very year it happened that a wonderful great plague raging in the foresaid city for the space of three months, in which there sometimes died no less than a thousand people a day, which was the greatest mortality that ever I knew in all my life in any city where I have been resident. During the same even then I only [remained?] in the city to guard your goods, all the rest of our nation being gone for their security ; where I was daily [afraid?] of throat-cutting by reason of the licentiousness of certain impious villains that, after people were gone [away from?] their houses to sundry places of the country for the saving of their lives, did not stick to break up the [same?] and carry all such movable goods as they there found.|
This they did not only in houses where all the p[eople] were fled, but also in other houses where few were left to defend their goods. I can assure you, if I had [gone] away leaving your goods (which were to the value of six or seven thousand pounds) undefended, as others of our co[mpany] did, I believe they would have been as subject to ransacking as the goods of other men in the neighbour hou[ses]. I for my part was content to endure the extremest brunt of the sickness, by referring myself to the merc[iful] providence of God, even almost to the temptation of His divine Majesty, as my Lord Ambassador wrote [unto me], advising me to depart out of the town with speed for the safety of my life; when people died on ev[ery side of] me in houses joining to ours, and when I daily heard most hideous and mournful vociferations of men, women [and children?] deploring their deceased friends.
|1614-ish (b): Mewar|
|Documented causes: war (invasion)|
|Documented effects: government collapse|
|Sir T.W. Haig et al. "The Cambridge Shorter History of India" (vol. 2, 1935)|
|p389 (c1614, Khurram's campaign to conquer Mewar): "Khurram proceeded successfully with the campaign, the open country was devastated and laid waste, and supplies were cut off from the gallant Rajputs in their strongholds in the hills. This method of conducting the war produced famine. Amar Singh saw his subjects dying of hunger; he was deserted by many of his followers; and at length his spirit was broken."|