rather than being dictated by legal or constitutional rules. Sovereignty
comprised honor and reverence expressed in public interactions by people.
Inscriptional transactions were mostly gifts, contracts and commitments that
individuals entered into the superior-subordinate relationships.
Expansive Dynastic Development
Early medieval rulers, like their later medieval successors, typically increased
their power not by deepening their direct control over local resources, but
rather by extending their domains to cover more localities and by propagating
more exalted titles for themselves in ceremonies in more distant places. Royal
domains also spread with agricultural colonisation. Although each dynasty
concentrated attention on its core territory, it could only grow by spreading
its canopy. Expansive dynastic development produced new small centers of
royal authority in new localities, more than it created big concentrations of
population in major urban centers, which is a logical trend in the sparsely
populated medieval landscape, which had lots of open land for making new
farms and new village settlements. Such expansion also increased the power
of local elites, who organised and controlled the expansion of village
agriculture. There are no large state-sponsored schemes of agricultural
colonisation recorded anywhere in medieval India. Local elites controlled the
expansion of farming and thus, had their hands on the resources that medieval
dynasties needed most immediately.
Kaleidoscopic Nature of Political Geography
Political geography is composed of localities where the inscriptions appear.
In these localities, multiple, layered sovereignties overlap spatially as local
rulers recognise dynasties whose royal canopies spread in various directions.
Large tracts with no inscriptions surround places with many. Dynastic
domains thus resemble shifting archipelagos of inscriptional sites rather than
fixed state territories with stable boundaries. Archipelagos overlap as islands
bowing to one king mix with those bowing to others. This spatial pattern of
sovereignty continued until the gradual onset of modern political institutions
that begins in the sixteenth and matures in the nineteenth century.