A Forgotten Empire: Vijayanagar
by Robert Sewell
In preperation for my Hampi visit I decided to read a historical account of the Vijayanagar empire. My last history class was seven years ago, so this was a new first lesson.
I was excited after reading the introduction. The city seemed grand and rich in culture but I became uninterested as the book became a chronological documentation from one war to the next. I enjoyed the few breaks that were taken to talk about the architecture and the lives of the common people and wished there were more. The academic tone didn’t bother me and was I amazed when the author himself was doubtful about the certainty of some facts. He had strung together centuries of history by interpreting the chronicles of Fernão Nunes and Abd-al-Razzāq, and the scriptures that were being discovered during the time. He was clear in his distinction between facts and speculations. In contrast, Domingo Paes’ observations were direct, he wrote of what he was shown by the King, and what he was told by his fellows. He even logged details like the prices of common fruits and vegetables. It read like an out of date WikiVoyage entry.
Reading this book made me wonder about the accuracy of my school books. Or of any history books. I can never be sure if what is being written is fact, or worse, if its tainted by personal beliefs and propaganda. Amber consoled my skepticism and suggested I read What is History? by E.H. Carr. More books on my reading list, answers to all questions of life soon!