Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

South Asia Regional Studies

First Advisor

Daud Ali


The Hoysaḷa family ruled in southern India, in the present-day state of Karnataka from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries. Previous studies of this family and other contemporary royal households have primarily focused on establishing a chronology for the lineage and demonstrating how kingship and administration were mutually constituted. This dissertation expands the scope of study for royal households by examining how the marriage and kinship functioned as essential components of political hierarchy, and by de-centering the role of the king and kinship, examine how royal families functioned as dynamic, unstable, and constantly shifting entities. The constant conflict that occurred between smaller, successor states after the fall of the relatively large, centralized Cōḷa and Cāḷukya states collapsed has generally been characterized in a negative light, but as the dissertation reveals, this conflict was not regarded in the light of a problem to be solved but actually constituted the nature of polity in this period. In the absence of reliable consanguinal bonds, it was important for a claimant to the throne or an aspiring lord to cultivate a network of support — allies who could be called to arms in the event that claims to sovereignty were challenged. The source material for this dissertation is drawn primarily from stone and copper-plate inscriptions as well as some court poetry. While intended to record the establishment of and donation to temples and other religious institutions, they often contain the praise of the donor (praśasti) and their genealogy (vamśa praśasti), from which family trees are reconstructed and contradictory or conflicting claims which belie the totalizing rhetoric employed in the text itself are highlighted.

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