Patrimonial politics and administration in princely India from the middle of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century are the subjects of this essay. The bureaucratic lineage, exemplified here by three related families, is our unit of analysis for understanding elite formation and conflict. The period of the lineage's historical ascendency, a century spanning four generations, is sufficiently long to capture processes of conflict and change as well as more visible and easily accessible features of integration and stability.

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