After examining the account of the political structure of India after the collapse of Gupta rule in Traditions & Encounters, by Bentley and Ziegler, what role did Harsha play during this period?

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The Gupta Dynasty controlled an empire in India that lasted for over two hundred years.  The dynasty came to power in the 300s BCE.  It began to get weaker in the mid-400s.  The decline of the Gupta Empire was brought about by invasions from outside of India.  In 451, Huns from Central Asia started to invade India.  The Guptas fought them, but their empire was weakened.  By the mid-sixth century, their empire had collapsed.  This was the end of effective centralized rule in India for centuries.

However, people still held to the idea that India could be controlled by a central government.  This is where Harsha comes in.  Harsha was a strong ruler in northern India who reigned from 606 to 648.  He was able to take control of most of northern India.  He also tried to conquer other parts of India.  His idea was to take control of all of India and recreate a unified state.

Harsha was successful for a time, but only for a short time.  The local rulers had, according to Bentley and Ziegler, become too powerful.  It was too hard to keep control over all of them.  Harsha was eventually killed by an assassin and his empire fell apart immediately. 

Thus, the role that Harsha played as the role of a person who was trying to put the Gupta Empire together again.  He was trying to remake a unified India, but he was not successful for very long.

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