Zafar and the Raj is a study of the formative phase of the history of colonial Delhi, a phase that from its duality, social and political, may be referred to as Anglo–Mughal. From 1803 onwards there were actually two centres of authority in the imperial city: the Residency and the Palace. The competing influence of the Palace determined the manner in which colonial authority was established in Delhi—and marked the limits of this authority. Simultaneously, the association of the Mughal emperor’s name with Delhi, combined with the participation in fin-de-siècle Mughal court
ritual by the East India Company’s officials, was to shape the colonial perception of Delhi as the premier imperial city of the subcontinent. Information available in the colonial archive about emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar (1775–1862; r. 1837–57), and his two immediate predecessors, is used to reconstruct the history of the city in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, focussing on the period c. 1803–1857.