FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1618 (a) [to 1619]: south parts of Mughal Empire; Coromandel|
|Documented causes: drought|
|Documented effects: epidemic; voluntary slavery|
|Edward Terry "A voyage to East-India" (1777, from the first printed edition of 1655, expanded from a manuscript prepared in 1622)|
|p393: "In the year 1618, when we lived at that court [i.e. the Emperor's], there appeared at once, in the month of November, in their hemisphere, two great blazing stars, the one of them north, the other south ... his astrologers told him, that he needed not trouble himself with the thought thereof, for it concerned other places and people, not him or his. But not long after this, their season of rain ... which was never known to fail 'till then, failed them, and this caused such a famine and mortality in the south parts of his empire, that it did very much unpeople it …"|
p226 (year apparently 1618): ... sometimes they are visited with an inflamation, or an extreme burning, such as is spoken of in Deut. xxviii. 22. or rather with a most grievous pestilence, which on a sudden sweeps away many thousands when it comes into great populous cities. This pestilence makes the bodies of men there which are visited with is, like a house, which on a sudden is covered all over with fire at once. The city Amadavar, (at our being there with the King) was visited with this pestilence, in the month of May, and our family was not exempted from that most uncomfortable visitation; for within the space of nine dayes seven persons that were English of our family were taken away by it; and none of those which dyed lay sick above twenty houres, and the major part well, and sick, and dead in twelve houres. As our surgeon (who was there all the physician we had) and he led the way, falling sick at mid-day, and the following midnight dead. And there were three more that followed him, one immediately after the other, who made as much haste to the grave as he had done; and the rest went after them, within that space of time I named before. And, as I before observed, all those that died in our family of this pestilence had their bodies set all on fire by it, so soon as they were first visited, and when they were dying, and dead, broad spots of a black and blue colour appeared on their brests; and their flesh was made so extreme hot by their most high distemper that we who survived could scarce endure to keep our hands upon it. ...
All our family (my Lord Ambassador only excepted) were visited with this sickness and we all, who through Gods help and goodness outlived it, had many great blisters, fill'd with a thick yellow watry substance, that arose upon many parts of our bodyes, which, when they brake, did even burn and corrode our skins, as it ran down upon them. ...
There are very few English which come thither, but have some violent sickness, which if they escape, and live temperately, they usually enjoy very much health afterward. But death made many breaches into my Lord Ambassador's family; for of four and twenty waiters, besides his secretary and myself, there was not above the fourth man returned home; and he himself, by violent fluxes, was twice brought even to the very brink of the grave.
p390: ... the Mogul in his far extended monarchy, allows yearly pay for one million of horse, and for every horse and man about eighteen pounds sterling per annum, which is exactly paid every year, raised by land, and other commodities which that empire affords, and are appointed for that purpose. ...
There are many private men in cities and towns, who are merchants, or tradesmen, that are very rich; but it is not safe for them that are so, so to appear, lest that they should be used as fill'd sponges.
But there is never a subject in that empire, who hath land of inheritance which he may call his own; but they are tenants at the will of their King, having no other title to that they enjoy, besides the King's favour, which is by far more easily lost than gotten. ... this their necessary dependance on their King, binds them to such base subjection, as that they will yield readiness unto any of his unreasonable and wilful commands ... And this tie of theirs (I say) upon the King's favour, makes all his subjects most servile flatterers; for they will commend any of his actions, though they be nothing but cruelty; so any of his speeches, though nothing but folly. ...
|W.H. Moreland, "From Akbar to Aurangzeb: A study in Indian economic history" (1923)|
|p207: "Writing from Masulipatam in 1622, a Dutch factor accounted for his small purchases of slaves by the comparative prosperity of the times, saying that, according to his information, the large supplies obtained four years previously were due to the extreme dearth and famine in Pulicat and the vicinity, when many hundreds of deaths occurred ; but conditions had changed, supplies of rice were ample, and at the moment no large number of slaves could be procured. This information points to a severe famine on the Coromandel coast in 1618 or 1619."|
[Source: "Hague Transcripts, I. 162" meaning item 162 in the first series, titled "Letters from the East," of "Transcripts from Archives at the Hague" made for the India Office of the UK government- since made available on microfilm and online]
|1618-ish (b) [to c1622]: Vijayanagara Empire|
|Documented causes: war|
|Documented effects: migration; voluntary slavery|
|William Methold [or Methwold], "Relations of the Kingdome of Golchonda …" (in "Purchas his Pilgrimage, or Relations of the world …," 1626)|
|pp993-4: [written c1625, but partly based on personal experiences c1618-22]: "The first Kingdome upon the Mayne is that ancient one of Bisnagar, rent at this time into severall Provinces or Governments held by the Naickes of that Countrey in their owne right; for since the last King (who deceased about fiftene yeeres since [Methwold's guesstimate is wrong- the king referred to would have to be Venkata II, who ruled from 1586 to his death in October 1614]) there have arisen severall Competitors for the Crowne, unto whom the Naickes have adhered according to their factions, or affections; from whence hath followed a continuall Civill Warre in some parts of the Countrey, and such extreame want and famine in most of it, that Parents have brought thousands of their young children to the Sea side, selling there a child for five Fanums worth of Rice, transported from thence into other parts of India, and sold againe to good advantage, if the gaines be good that ariseth from the sale of Soules."|