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European Penetration into India: The Early European Settlements; The Portuguese and the Dutch; The English and the French East India Companies; Their struggle for supremacy; Carnatic Wars: Part III

European Penetration into India: The Early European Settlements; The Portuguese and the Dutch; The English and the French East India Companies; Their struggle for supremacy; Carnatic Wars: Part III

Situation at the eve of British-French struggle

  • Since the 15th century when Europeans first arrived in India the fight for supremacy between rival factions became a part of the Indian history.
    • But the Anglo-French struggles should get special mentions, as their role in shaping the course of modern India is far more important than that of any other contemporary struggles.
  • The actual onset of the struggles arose from Anglo-French commercial and political rivalry in India and political rivalry in Europe.
    • In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century the French stake in India was not great enough to be worth the despatch of an English armament.
    • The two companies therefore declared neutrality and went on trading.
  • The stake of both countries in India was now considerable.
    • Between 1720 and 1740 the French Company’s trade increased ten times in value until it was nearly half that of the old-established English company.
    • The British were deeply involved with indigo, saltpetre, cottons, silk, and spices; they had a growing, trade with China.
      • The value of the trade was more than ten per cent of the public revenue of Great Britain at that time.
  • The occasion for intervention arose with Frederick the Great of Prussia’s seizure of Silesia in 1740.
    • In the war of the Austrian Succession which followed (1740-48) Britain and France were on the opposite sides in the rival coalitions.
    • It is these wars, of wholly European origin, which provided the political turning-point in the history of modern India.
  • In the year 1740, six years before the outbreak of war between the English and French in India, these two nations alone, out of the four chief European nations, who had embarked in Eastern enterprise, continued to hold any considerable power.
    • The Portuguese — the first on the scene — had for a century maintained a complete monopoly of Eastern trade, but their glory had long ago departed.
      • The bigotry and intolerance and cruelty, which characterized the successors of d’Albuquerque (Portuguese Governor), had long ago met with their just reward.
    • The Dutch, who succeeded, in like manner failed to maintain the enormous power which they had once gained.
      • They brought about their own ruin by a flagrant abuse of the monopoly, which they had wrested from the Portuguese.
    • Next came the English, who, at this time, still continued to keep in their own hands the greater share of the traffic between Europe and India.
    • Some sixty years after the English, came the French whose commercial success, while not equaling that of the English, was still such as to make them formidable rivals.
  • Up to this time, English and French had existed side by side in India, without coming into serious collision, for more than seventy years, although England and France had been at war with each other for a considerable portion of that period.
    • The settlers of the two nations had hitherto pursued entirely independent courses.
    • The policy adopted by either side, towards the rules and inhabitants of the country, in which the settlements stood, was neither imitated from nor influenced by that pursued by the other, and the result of this was an important difference between the nature of English and French power and policy in India, which very greatly influenced the character of the subsequent struggle.
  • Political situation of India at this period:
    • Mahrathas:
      • A power which, from small beginnings, had grown until now, on the eve of the French and English struggle, it was feared more than any other power in India.
      • The Mahrattas had already more than once dictated terms to the Mughal Emperor of Delhi. They were one of the chief causes of the disintegration of once mighty the Mughal Empire.
    • Attacks such as Persian invasion under Nadir Shah in 1739,  affected central power of Mughal, and lessened its control over the subordinate powers.
    • Each of the chief subdivisions of the vast Mogul Empire constituted practically an independent power.
      • These principal subdivisions were called “subahs”, and their rulers “subahdars”.
      • Under the rule of the subahdars were included various subordinate powers.
      • When subahdars and other suboridnate powers felt themselves strong enough, threw off allegiance to the Emperor of Delhi, so did the nawabs and rajas, when an opportunity presented itself, throw off allegiance to their subahdars.
      • Of these minor subordinate powers, the one with whom we shall have most to do in British-French struggle is the nawabs of the Carnatic, in whose dominions by far the greater part of the struggle was fought out.
        • This nawab, too, was practically independent, and the post, which was theoretically in the gift of the subahdars of the Dekhan, had become hereditary.
    • Thus, at this period of Indian history, might was right.
      • The various subordinate powers were divided one against the other, and were unanimous only in rebellion against the supreme power.
      • Beyond this there was no common feeling of nationality, no common bond of religion.
      • It was only the existence of such a state of things which rendered possible the mighty empire which Europeans have established in India.

Nature of early French and British settlement:

  • Up to this time, however, neither French nor English had attained to any political power.
    • Their settlements were in no sense of the word political settlements.
    • They were the possessions not of the French or of the English crown, but of the French or of the English East India Company.
    • They held the land, on which their factories were built, either as tenants of the native powers, in consideration of the payment of an annual rent, or as their own property by gift or purchase.
    • In every case they were directly subject to the native prince, in whose territory such land was situated.
    • They were tolerated for the sole reason that their commerce brought an accession of wealth to the states in which they settled.
  • There would naturally exist a want of favor from the natives on the part of the Europeans; and the Europeans might either accept this want of sympathy as inevitable and as not to be overcome, or they might attempt to come to a better understanding with the natives by respecting native customs and prejudices.
    • As will be seen, the English, on the whole, followed the former course, and the French the latter.
    • The importance of this difference is seen from the fact that, on the eve of the struggle, the English still held aloof, as far as possible, from all intercourse with native princes, while the French had gained not only the friendship of the royal family, in whose territory their chief settlement, Pondichery, was situated, but also the respect of its foes.
  • The history of the English in India, from the incorporation of the East India Company, in the year 1600, until the outbreak of war with the French — a period of nearly a century and a half — is little more than the history of a mercantile body attempting to gain and hold a monopoly.
    • In this attempt they were brought into collision with both Portuguese and Dutch.
    • With the notable exception of a short period (in 1664 and 1690), they consistently followed, the advice given by Sir Thomas Roe, in the year 1615, “to seek their profit at sea and in quiet trade, and not to affect garrisons and land wars in India”.
    • The object which brought them to India was trade, and on this they concentrated all their energies.
    • For this reason they not only abstained from siding with any of the native parties in their struggles with one another, but they even submitted to much unjust treatment.
    • Their great wish was, indeed, to be allowed to go their own way in peace, but they showed again and again that there were limits to their endurance of unjust treatment.
      • That they were quite prepared to hold their own was shown in 1664, when the Mahratta general, Sivaji, attacked Surat.
      • On this occasion the natives fled in despair, and the only opposition offered to Sivaji was by the English at that place, who undertook to defend not only themselves but also the natives — a piece of bravery in gratitude for which the Emperor Aurangzeb remitted the greater portion of the duties, which he claimed on the English traffic.
    • At about 1685-90, a fit of ambition seized the directors of the Company at this time, and the English in India assumed an offensive attitude towards the native powers.
      • The pretext was the unjust and cruel conduct of the native powers towards the English in Bengal but it is certain that the expedition was prompted by an ambitious project of establishing an actual English power in Bengal itself.
      • The expedition failed entirely. The wrath of the Great Mughal, the Emperor Aurangzeb, was fully kindled, and the English were expelled from every part of India. They were permitted to return only by making the most abject submissions.
      • They had received a lesson, which they did not forget for very many years.
      • The English had been taught, by how precarious their existence in India was, and that they thought it necessary to possess some stronghold on the western coast, to which they might escape, if Madras were at any time attacked by an overwhelming force.
  • In the year 1674, ten years after the foundation of the French East India Company, the French bought from the Bijapur the land, on which the town of Pondichery stands.
    • Three years afterwards, Pondichery was threatened by the Maratha force under Sivaji, but was saved by the judicious measures adopted by the governor, Francois Martin.
    • The tact displayed by the French on this occasion gained for them the admiration and friendship of the ruler of Bijapur.
    • Not many years after this, the kingdom of Bijapur was incorporated with the Mughal Empire, and placed under the rule of the nawab of the Carnatic.
    • The first nawab of the Carnatic, who assumed independent power, was Sadat Alla Khan. With him the French established friendly relations, but it was with his nephew and successor, Dost Ali, and with his son-in-law, Chanda Saheb, that they established that firm alliance, which so greatly affected their future.
      • Chanda Saheb especially was an enthusiastic admirer of the French, and showed, by his subsequent conduct, that he both appreciated their good qualities and had, at the same time, detected their desire for power in India.
  • This policy, which the French adopted, of making native alliance was above all things unaggressive in character; and so it remained until the time of Dupleix.
    • Every fresh addition to the power of the French under Martin, Lenoir, and Dumas, was made without striking a blow, and, in the case of the two first, without making an enemy.
    • During the time that M. Benoit Dumas held the office of governor-general of the French settlements in India, he maintained a close friendship with Dost Ali, the nawab of the Carnatic, and continued to extend this friendship to his family after his death.
    • By means of this friendship he obtained from the Emperor of Delhi, Mohammed Shah, through the mediation of Dost Ali, the permission to coin money at Pondichery — an item of “no” small importance in the growth of French commerce in India.
    • During the struggle in 1738 for the sovereignty of Tanjore, Sahuji sent to implore the assistance of the French, offering to grant them, in return, the town of Karikal.
    • Dumas aided him with money and arms, and he was successful; but, Sahuji evaded the fulfillment of his promise.
    • Here was certainly a great temptation for the French to employ force; but their friendship with the family of Dost Ali saved them from the necessity.
    • Chanda Saheb, who was at this time the raja of Trichinopoly, came forward and offered to make Sahuji fulfill his promise and hand over Karikal to the French.
    • Early in 1739, Karikal became a French possession, without the French in India having struck a single blow to obtain it. Sahuji himself hastened to make friends with them.
    • Soon after this, Sahuji was driven from the throne by his brother, Pratab Sing, who likewise made a bid for the continuance of French favors, by adding to the territory given to them, and even advising them to fortify the towns in their new possessions.
  • The affair of Karikal is a good instance of the policy pursued by the French governors of this period.
    • They were keen enough to see that diplomacy was all that was needed to gain everything they could want, and they were prudent enough not  to let their anger at any time lead them to attack any of the native powers.
    • They clearly saw that it was their best policy to play a waiting game.
  • French had never of themselves attacked a native power, so they had hitherto remained free from actual attack by a native power.
    • They gained their first experience of this, just as the English had, at the hands of the Marathas.
    • These Marathas had made another incursion into the Carnatic, and had slain in battle the nawab and his second son.
    • The eldest son, Safder Ali, and the son-in-law of the nawab, Chanda Sahib, sought some place of refuge for their families and treasures. Pondichery occurred to both of them.
    • Dumas presented a bold front to the enemy, Marahtas raised the siege and withdrew.
    • This resistance of Dumas may be said to have created a prestige. The prestige, which the French had now gained, was, moreover, of no ordinary kind. They had run an enormous risk against a most formidable foe, not from any compulsion, but simply because they had determined to stand by their friends.
    • Henceforth the French occupy a distinctly higher status, and are by all recognized as the powers of India.
    • Valuable presents, came to the French from all the great native powers, the Emperor of Delhi himself conferred on the Governor of Pondichery and his successors the rank and title of nawab, and the high dignity of the command of 4500 horse.
  • Soon after this Dumas resigned, and left all the honors he had gained for his successor, Joseph François Dupleix, the Governor of Chandernagor, a man who possessed an equal knowledge of the state of native affairs, and joined to this an ambition even greater.
    • His promptitude and boldness formed a contrast to the cautious policy of Dumas.
    • The policy of Dumas had been essentially one of peace, of interference only when interference was safe, and of resistance only when the honor of the French name called for it.
    • Dupleix mingled more freely in the affairs of native princes, and tended more to take up an independent position.
    • The French had hitherto acted the role of humble allies of a native prince.
      • These positions were shortly to be completely reversed.
      • Dumas had laid the foundation of French power in India: it remained for Dupleix to raise the superstructure.
    • Dupleix was strongly convinced of the importance of gaining the sympathy of the natives, and took pains to impress upon them the fact that, in his capacity of nawab, he too was an officer of the Great Mughal.
    • He adopted the Eastern mode of life and paid and received visits among the native princes. In this way he learnt the real weakness of every native state.
    • By skillful and patient diplomacy, he gained a complete knowledge of every little move in the intricate game of intrigue, which was going on all around, and saw that it would be possible to take advantage of such a state of things for the purpose of founding a French empire in India.
    • In this work Dupleix found an enthusiastic assistant in his wife, whose intimate acquaintance with the native languages proved of the greatest service.
    • Hence, the positions of English and French in India, with reference to the native powers, though identical at first, had, in course of time, become as widely different as possible.
  • Besides this, there is one fact in connection with the foundation of the French East India Company by Colbert, in the year 1664, which distinguished them from the English. This was the proclamation of Louis XIV, to the effect that a man of noble birth suffered no degradation by engaging in the East Indian trade.
    • The primary motive for this proclamation was to encourage the noblesse to subscribe to the East India Company.
      • Also considering the state of the French nobility was at this time, the number of its members, its rigid exclusiveness, and the fact that for these reasons many of its members living lives of idleness and almost abject poverty, we can well understand that full advantage was taken of this outlet for its energies.
    • Many young scions of the nobility, who had no career to look forward to in France, proceeded to India in the service of the Company; and these men, who had been taught all their previous life to scorn the pursuits of commerce, and to look upon the career of a statesman as the ideal of life, help to explain the fact that the French had fully conceived the idea of political power at a very early period of their career in India.

The Anglo-French Struggle for Supremacy: the Carnatic Wars

  • In 1740, the political situation in south India was uncertain and confused.
    • Nizam Asaf Jah of Hyderabad was old and fully engaged in battling the Marathas in the western Deccan while his subordinates were speculating upon the consequences of his death.
    • To the south of his kingdom lay the Coromandel coast without any strong ruler to maintain a balance of power.
    • The decline of Hyderabad was the signal for the end of Muslim expansionism and the English adventurers got their plans ready.
  • Though the British and the French came to India for trading purposes, they were ultimately drawn into the politics of India. Both had visions of establishing political power over the region.
  • The Anglo-French rivalry in India reflected the traditional rivalry of England and France throughout their histories; it began with the outbreak of the Austrian War of Succession and ended with the conclusion of the Seven Years War.
  • The Carnatic Wars were a series of military conflicts in the middle of the 18th century on the Indian subcontinent.
    • The conflicts involved numerous nominally independent rulers and their vassals, struggles for succession and territory, and included a diplomatic and military struggle between the French East India Company and the British East India Company.
  • They were mainly fought on the territories in India which were dominated by the Nizam of Hyderabad up to the Godavari delta.
  • The scene of Carnatic Wars, during the first two wars, is the Carnatic, and, during the second war, it will be necessary also to take a glimpse at the progress of French power in the Deccan. In the third war, the scene shifts for a time to Bengal, and then returns to the Carnatic.
  • All this time the English traders viewed with extreme alarm the ambitious projects of the French, and many were the complaints on this subject which they made to their masters at home.
  • Numbers of fortunes were made by members of the companies; but neither of the companies themselves was, at this period, a great success.
    • Neither company had the insight to see that the remedy lay, for the most part, in its own hands.
    • Each attributed its failure in commerce to its inability to maintain a strict monopoly of the traffic between Europe and India.
    • The result was that, instead of reforming its own trade-system, each thought the great end to be obtained was the destruction of the commerce of its rival; and, to obtain this end.
    • Each held out rewards to the servants of the other to desert; and both were continually doing their best to persuade native powers to harass their rivals by unjust laws, or by exorbitant taxes, and so to make their position on the continent of India unendurable.
  • Such a state of feeling, existing on the eve of the struggle, no doubt increased the bitterness with which it was carried on; but was not in itself the direct cause of the war between English and French in India.
  • The direct cause was the outbreak of the Austrian war of succession, after the death of the Emperor Charles VI, in 1740.

First Carnatic War (1746-48):

  • Background:
    • Carnatic was the name given by the Europeans to the Coromandel coast and its hinterland.
    • The First Carnatic War (1746-1748) was the Indian theatre of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) (in Europe,  fought between the Kingdom of Prussia, Spain, France, and Bavaria, Sweden etc. on one side and Habsburg Monarchy, England, Dutch Republic, Russia on the other side).
    • The First Carnatic War was thus an extension of the Anglo-French War in Europe which was caused by the Austrian War of Succession.
    • Such an event would be cordially welcomed by the English in India, who saw in it the opportunity to make an attempt to put a stop to what they considered as French encroachment.
      • The French had not taken into their calculations the possibility of war with the English; and most of their possessions were inadequately defended.
      • Their chief settlement, Pondichery, remained ill fortified; and although Dupleix, immediately on his appointment as governor, had set himself energetically to remedy this defect, yet it was two years after the outbreak of the war before the fortifications he had planned were completed.
    • The French, moreover, had much to lose in case of a defeat.
      • They were in the course of raising an empire by other means.
      • They had long ago dreamed of the possibility of driving the English out of India altogether; but they had not proposed to effect this by an actual conflict with them.
      • Their grand idea was power by means of native alliance, of making France a great power in India. The extension of the European war to India simply upset all their calculation for the time.
  • Immediate Cause:
    • Although France, conscious of its relatively weaker position in India, did not favour an extension of hostilities to India, the English navy under Barnet seized some French ships to provoke France.
    • The First Carnatic war in India began with the appearing of a British Fleet on the Coromandel Coast in 1745.
    • France retaliated by seizing Madras in 1746 with the help of the fleet from Mauritius, the Isle of France, under Admiral La Bourdonnais, the French governor of the Isle of France (Mauritius). Thus began the first Carnatic War.
    • The Judicious French Governor Dupleix induced the Nawab of Arcot for intervention but the Nawab opted for an impartial policy.
  • Battle of Madras and Fall of Madras:
    • British initially captured a few French ships, the French called for backup from Mauritius.
    • In 1746 a French squadron arrived under the command of Bourdonnais.
    • In this conflict the British and French East India Companies vied with each other on land for control of their respective trading posts at Madras, Pondicherry, and Cuddalore, while naval forces of France and Britain engaged each other off the coast.
    • The absence of the English fleet from the Coromandel Coast gave the French, now that they had a fleet of their own, the very opportunity, for which they had been waiting, to attack Madras.
    • The town itself was almost entirely unprotected by fortifications, and the strength of Fort St. George, which had been designed as a defence to Madras, was insignificant.
    • In September 1746, the French captured the Madras almost without any opposition and the British were made prisoners of war. Robert Clive was also one of those Prisoners.
  • Later, French attack on Fort St. David had failed.
  • Quarrel between Dupleix and Bourdonnais:
    • After the capture of Madras occurred quarrel between Dupleix and de la Bourdonnais.
    • M. de la Bourdonnais wishing to allow the English to ransom the place (as Bourdonnais had accepted a bribe from the English East India Company), M. Dupleix vehemently opposing such a course.
    • This quarrel caused an antagonism between the two great French leaders, both of whom were men of boundless energy and boundless ambition in the cause of French empire in India. It eventually was the cause of the departure of  Bourdonnais from India.
  • The Battle of St. Thome or The Battle of Adyar (4 Nov. 1746):
    • Madras and Pondicherry. These bases were in the territory ruled by Anwar-ur-Din, the Nawab of the Carnatic, the Mughal governor in the area.
    • When fighting broke out between the British and the French, the Nawab declared his territory to be neutral and forbade the French and British from attacking each others possessions.
      • This enforced truce was broken by the French under Admiral La Bourdonnais, who in September 1746 besieged and captured Madras.
      • The Nawab was placated by the French governor, Marquis Joseph-François Dupleix, who promised to hand Madras over the Nawab once it had been captured. (Now were reaped the first fruits of that policy of friendly alliance which previous French governors had established with the nawabs of the Carnatic.)
    • For some time de la Bourdonnais remained in India, and in possession of Madras; and, meanwhile, Anwar-ud-din began to think it was time that Madras should be given up to him, as had been agreed.
    • Dupleix fully intended to do this, but with its fortifications razed.
    • To give over the place, while de la Bourdonnais remained in possession of it, was of course impossible; but Anwar-ud-din would not understand this, and surrounded the place soon after the departure of de la Bourdonnais, and before Dupleix had had time to destroy the fortifications.
    • To hand over the town, with its fortifications complete, was quite out of the question. Dupleix therefore decided to bear the brunt of Anwar-ud-din’s wrath; and the result was the celebrated victory of the French at St. Thome, on the banks of the Adyar.
    • Small French armies defeated the larger army of the Nawab of the Carnatic.
      • French force consisted of 250 Europeans and 700 Sepoys, recruited from the local populace, all under the command of a Swiss officer named Paradis. French force was outnumbered by ten-to-one.
  • Importance of the battle of St. Thome:
    • In the short term Dupleix declared Madras to be French by right of conquest, and appointed Paradis to command the city.
      • Madras remained in French hands until the end of the war, when it was returned to the British.
    • It was the first direct collision between a native and a European force.
      • The longer term impact was to make British and French generals realise that they now had a weapon that could defeat the massive Indian armies that had intimidated them until this point.
      • This discovery would soon help transform the balance of power in India.
  • Later Conflict and Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle:
    • Dupleix then launched an assault on Fort St. David.
    • Stung by his defeat at Adyar, Anwaruddin sent his son Muhammed Ali to assist the British in the defence of Cuddalore, and was instrumental in holding off a French attack in December 1746.
    • Over the next few months Anwaruddin and Dupleix had made peace.
    • The timely arrival of a British fleet from Bengal, however, turned the tables and prompted the French to withdraw to Pondicherry.
      • With the arrival of reinforcements from Europe, the British besieged Pondicherry in late 1748.
    • The siege was lifted in October 1748 with the arrival of the monsoons, and the First Carnatic War came to a conclusion with the arrival in December of news of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 which ended Austrian war of succession.
    • The articles in the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which related to India, were a direct attempt to place the English and French settlers once more on the footing which they had occupied there, before the outbreak of hostilities.
      • Under the terms of this treaty, Madras was handed back to the English, and the French, in turn, got their territories in North America.
  • Consequences:
    • The First Carnatic War is remembered for the Battle of St. Thome (in Madras) fought between the French forces and the forces of Anwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Carnatic, to whom the English appealed for help.
      • A small French army under Captain Paradise defeated the strong Indian army under Mahfuz Khan at St. Thome on the banks of the River Adyar.
      • This was an eye-opener for the Europeans in India: it revealed that even a small disciplined army could easily defeat a much larger Indian army.
    • The power of a small number of French troops over larger Indian formations made Joseph Dupleix to capitalise on this advantage to greatly expand French influence in south India.
      • In the Second Carnatic War (1748-1754) he took advantage of struggles for succession to the Nizam of Hyderabad and Nawab of the Carnatic to establish strong French influence over a number of states in south India.
    • The British East India Company, in contrast, did little to expand its own influence and only weakly attempted to oppose Dupleix’s expansive activities.
      • Robert Clive recognized that this threatened the entire livelihood of the Company in the area, and in 1751 engaged in a series of celebrated military exploits that cemented British control over Madras by the end of that conflict.
    • Further, this war adequately brought out the importance of naval force in the Anglo-French conflict in the Deccan.
    • During the late war, the native powers had had an opportunity of learning the vast superiority of European arms and of European discipline as compared with their own; and they now quite appreciated the advantages to be gained by an alliance with one or other of the European communities.
      • They consequently left no means untried, whereby they might attract Europeans to their side.
      • They offered large sums of money, accession of territory, and everything else, which could possibly tempt the settlers.
  • Why British-French fought later in spite of pledging peaceful commerce after First Carnatic War?
    • When once the English and French in India mixed in the disputes of different native princes, indirect collision with one another was certain to come sooner or later.
    • The great reason which rendered it so difficult for them to refuse the prizes held out as the reward of their assistance, was the great number of troops, which had been gathered together in India in the late struggle.
      • These were far more numerous than was necessary for their safety, and were, besides, the source of no inconsiderable expense.
    • Two important factors:
      • The accession of troops as supplying the power, and
      • the prestige they had gained in the mind of native rulers as supplying the inclination, to take part in the complicated game, which the native powers were playing. It resulted in further wars.

Second Carnatic War (1749-54):

  • Background:
    • The background for the Second Carnatic War was provided by rivalry in India.
    • The inducements to interfere in the concerns of native powers were too strong to be resisted by either French or English.
    • Dupleix, the French governor who had successfully led the French forces in the First Carnatic War, sought to increase his power and French political influence in southern India by interfering in local dynastic disputes to defeat the English.
  • Immediate Cause:
    • The opportunity was provided by the death of Nizam-ul-Mulk, the founder of the independent kingdom of Hyderabad, in 1748, and the release of Chanda Sahib, the son-in-law of Dost Ali, the Nawab of Carnatic, by the Marathas in the same year.
      • Struggle of Succession of Nizam-ul-Mulk of Hyderabad (Deccan):
        • After the death of the Nizam-ul-Mulk (Subedar) in 1748, the Nizam of Hyderabad, (Deccan) Asaf Jah I, a civil war for succession broke out between Nasir Jung, the son of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, and Muzaffar Jung, the grandson of Nizam-ul-Mulk.
        • The accession of Nasir Jang, the son of the Nizam, to the throne of Hyderabad was opposed by Muzaffar Jang, who laid claim to the throne saying that the Mughal Emperor had appointed him as the governor of the Carnatic.
        • At the time of the subahdar’s death, Muzaffar Jang was absent, while Nasir Jang possessed the great advantage of being on the spot.
      • Struggle for throne of Nawab of Arcot (Carnatic):
        • In the Carnatic, the appointment of Anwar-ud-din Khan as the Nawab was resented by Chanda Sahib.
        • Earlier, when Chanda Sahib was made prisoner by the Marathas, the nawáb of the Carnatic was his father-in-law, Safder Ali, who had since been assassinated; and, at the present time, another family under Anwar-ud-din Khan was ruling over the Carnatic.
    • The French supported the claims of Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib in the Deccan and Carnatic, respectively.
      • But soon the British intervened and to offset the French influence, they began supporting Nasir Jung and Muhammad Ali Khan Walajah (son of the deposed Nawab Anwar-ud-din of Arcot).
    • The combined armies of Muzaffar Jang, Chanda Sahib and the French defeated and killed Anwar-ud-din at the Battle of Ambur (near Vellore) in 1749.
      • Son of Anwaruddin, Mohammed Ali, saved himself by flight, and shut himself up in Trichinopoly.
  • Events:
    • Chanda Sahib was freed from all rivals; and at Arcot, soon after the battle, Muzaffar Jang proclaimed himself Nizam (subahdar) of the Deccan (Hyderabad), and confirmed Chanda Saheb, as his subordinate, in the office of nawab of the Carnatic.
    • Hence, Initially, the French succeeded in both states in defeating their opponents and placing their supporters on thrones in 1749.
    • But amidst all this plotting and counter-plotting, it was impossible that French and English could remain long, without coming into indirect conflict.
      • The difference between them was, that Dupleix, who professed to be no soldier himself, had at hand no generals who were competent to carry out his designs; while, on the other side, Saunders, the English Governor of Madras, could intrust his plans to great soldiers like Lawrence and Robert Clive, with the certainty that they would be fully carried out.
    • British allied with Muhammed Ali and by allying themselves with Mohammed Ali, the English had also allied themselves with Nasir Jang, the claimant to the subah of the Deccan, with whom Mohammed Ali had naturally made common cause.
    • We have then two triple alliances:
      • Mozaffer Jang, Chanda Sahib, and the French, on the one side, against
      • Nasir Jang, Mohammed Ali, and the English, on the other.
    • The most formidable member of this latter alliance was Nasir Jang.
      • The very news of the approach of his vast army had caused a panic among the French allies and they  had to retreat.
      • This event had consequences more important than a mere retreat of the French contingent.
      • Muzaffar Jang, in despair, decided to trust himself to the clemency of his uncle, Nasir Jang, and surrendered himself on condition that his life should be spared.
      • Chanda Saheb, on the contrary, decided to trust still in the French.
    • The recent retreat of the French had certainly inflicted considerable disaster on their plans; but Dupleix was too skillful a diplomatist.
      • He led a plot. This was a plot with the Patan nawabs, who commanded an important portion of forces of the subahdar.
      • These Patan nawabs now revolted; and, in the revolt, Nasir Jang was killed.
      • Muzaffar Jang was taken from captivity, and proclaimed subahdar.
        • The great French general, M. Bussy, accompanied the new subahdar to his capital, Golconda(Hyderabad).
      • Thus the diplomacy of Dupleix had once more made the French party triumphant.
    • Muzaffar Jang appointed Dupleix the governor over all the country south of the river Kistna as far as Cape Comorin.
    • Dupleix was one of the most consummate masters of intrigue. Knowing every little feeling of disaffection among the followers of the subahdar, he knew both how to repress and how to use such to his own ends.
      • After Muzaffar Jang was slain in another revolt of the Patan nawabs, M. Bussy released from captivity Salabat Jang, a brother of Nasir Jang, and made him subahdar.
    • All this time, the English held in the Carnatic only Madras, Fort St. David, and Davicottah; and their ally, Mohammed Ali, was determined to hold out to the last in Trichinopoly.
      • British listened to Mohammed Ali, and dispatched forces to aid Trichinopoly
      • And now comes the great achievement of Robert Clive, which made his name famous at once and for ever— the capture and subsequent defence of Arcot.
      • The allies of Mohammed Ali, in addition to the English, had been the rajas of Tanjore and Mysore.
    • The Siege of Arcot (1751):
      • In 1751, Robert Clive and Major Lawrence led British troops to capture Arcot from Chanda Saheb.
      • Whole French forces under General Law trapped in island of Seringam, and Chanda Saheb surrendered.
      • By the successful resistance of Trichinopoly, and by the successful military operations of the English and their allies, the aspect of affairs in the Carnatic was completely changed once more.
      • The French, before the siege, had been all-powerful. Now the claimant, whose cause they had advanced, was no more; and they themselves, after suffering defeat after defeat, were at last most seriously weakened by the capture of a great portion of their army by the enemy.
      • The Siege of Arcot (1751) was a heroic feat.
    • The blame lies with the leaders of the French forces at this time.
      • They had not one really first-class leader except Bussy, who was at the court of the subahdar, while the English had at least two, Lawrence and Clive.
      • The French had at their head in India (Depleix) one of the most far-seeing statesmen, and one of the most skillful diplomatists, that ever lived, but he did not combine, like Clive, the qualities which make a good soldier with these.
    • The result of the raising the siege of Trichinopoly was of the utmost importance to the English.
    • Clive’s success led to additional victories for the British and their Nizam and Arcot allies.
  • Treaty of Pondicherry (1754) and sacking of Dupleix and its effect:
    • The war ended with the Treaty of Pondicherry, signed in 1754. Muhammad Ali Khan Walajah was recognized as the Nawab of Arcot.
    • The English and the French agreed not to interfere in the quarrels of native princes.
    • The treaty, by its very nature, entailed a vastly greater sacrifice on the French than on the English.
    • Also, each party was left in possession of the territories actually occupied by them at the time of the treaty.
    • According to historians, the fear of serious repercussions in America prompted the French to suspend hostilities in India.
    • The French lost too much by this article to bear it patiently.
    • The position of the French at the court of the subahdar (Hyderabad) remained unaltered.
      • Had M. Bussy been suddenly withdrawn at this time, the result must have been most disastrous. The French power alone at the court of the subahdar prevented a general conflagration.
    • The French leader Dupleix was asked to return to France in 1754.
      • The directors of the French East India Company were dissatisfied with Dupleix’s political ambitions, which had led to immense financial loss.
      • Godeheu succeeded Dupleix as the French Governor-General in India in 1754.
        • Godeheu adopted a policy of negotiations with the English and concluded a treaty with them.
      • The French had hoped for great things from Dupleix, and for a great accession of wealth to the Company. At this period (during Dupleix), France was disgraced at home and all the world over except in India.  As long as they saw any prospect of this, they aided him.
      • They became impatient; and at length decided to abandon all such designs, and make an effort to return to a purely commercial status, uninterrupted by any further interference in native affairs.
    • The treaty of Pondichery, and the recall to France of M. Dupleix, who was doomed to suffer not only disappointment but insult, from the masters he had attempted to serve only too well, mark the end of a war.
  • Implications:
    • It marks the almost complete success, followed by the complete discomfiture, of the designs, which the French had persistently attempted to carry out for so many years.
    • On the other hand, it marks a distinct growth in the policy of the English.
    • It became evident that the countenance of Indian authority was no longer necessary for European success; rather Indian authority itself was becoming dependent on European support.

Third Carnatic War (1758-63):

  • Background:
    • New French governor, M. de Leyrit:
      • After the return of Godeheu to Europe, however, there came out to India, as French governor, M. de Leyrit, who was by no means so eager to carry on pacifist policy.
      • With the English openly disregarding the treaty of Pondicherry, he determined that the sacrifice, which the treaty demanded of French interests, was impossible.
    • In Europe, when Austria wanted to recover Silesia in 1756, the Seven Years War (1756-63) started. Britain and France were once again on opposite sides.
      • The outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in Europe led to open conflict between French and British forces in India.
  • The French position by now had been significantly weakened by financial difficulties, as even the soldiers remained unpaid for months.
    • The apathy of the French government was shaken at the outbreak of European hostilities and a strong force was dispatched under Count de Lally.
  • The Third Carnatic War spread beyond southern India and into Bengal where British forces captured the French settlement of Chandernagore (now Chandannagar) in 1757 just before Battle of Plassey.
    • By capture of Chandernagore, French power in Bengal was destroyed.
    • Circumstances had prevented Bussy from marching from the Deccan to its assistance.
    • A very short time after this, at the battle of Plassey, a little band of Frenchmen, had taken service with Suraj-ud-Dowlah but French power was no more.
  • In 1758, the French army under Count de Lally captured the English forts of St. David and Vizianagaram.
    • The proceeding of French General Lally was, for a time, like a triumphal procession. Fort St. David fell, and province after province became the property of the French.
      • The English were quite reduced to the possession of Madras; and, had the French succeeded in their attack on this place, English power in the Carnatic would have been a thing of the past.
      • The English forces were, however, concentrated here; and the conduct of the siege by the French was, for various reasons, feeble.
    • All this time Clive remained in Bengal. He, however, created a diversion by sending one of his best generals, Colonel Forde, to attack the French possessions in the Northern Circars.
      • This proved itself, a grand success.
      • Forde made a midnight attack upon Masulipatam, which fell, and with it 3000 Frenchmen as prisoners of war.
      • English had also inflicted heavy losses on the French fleet under Admiral D’Ache at Masulipatnam.
    • On his arrival at Pondichery, Count Lally had thought fit to withdraw Bussy from the court of the subahdar of the Deccan; (which was a mistake) and now the subahdar, Salabat Jang, deserting the French and made an agreement with Forde to expel the French altogether from the Deccan, and to grant certain districts, which had been in the possession of the French, to the English.
  • The French lost their positions in India one after another:
    • first fell Chandernagore in Bengal;
    • then when Bussy was recalled to help Lally in the Carnaric, the Northern Sarkars were exposed to an attack from Bengal.
    • The fall of the Sarkars together with that of two other old settlements of Masulipatam and Yanam ended French influence in the Deccan.
  • No treaty, such as the treaty of Pondichery, by which the one side gains everything, and the other side loses everything, can ever hold for a great length of time, unless the gaining side possesses power sufficient to keep the losers in absolute subjection.
  • Battle of Wandiwash:
    • The decisive battle of the Third Carnatic War was won by the English on January 22, 1760 at Wandiwash (or Vandavasi) in Tamil Nadu.
    • British commander Sir Eyre Coote decisively defeated the French under the Comte de Lally at the Battle of Wandiwash in 1760 and took Bussy as prisoner.
    • After Wandiwash, the French capital of Pondicherry fell to the British in 1761.
    • Pondicherry was gallantly defended by Lally for eight months before he surrendered on January 16, 1761. With the loss of Jinji and Mahe, the French power in India was reduced to its lowest.
    • The great battle of Wandewash, in comparison with which, all the previous battles in India appear insignificant, from the fact that so great a number of Europeans on each side here met in conflict. The result was a complete English victory.
    • Lally, after being taken as prisoner of war at London, returned to France where he was imprisoned and executed in 1766.
  • Treaty of Paris (1763):
    • The war along with Seven Year War concluded with the signing of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which returned Chandernagore and Pondichery to France, and allowed the French to have “factories” (trading posts) in India but forbade French traders from administering them.
    • The French agreed to support British client governments, thus ending French ambitions of an Indian empire and making the British the dominant foreign power in India.
  • Result and Significance:
    • The Third Carnatic War proved decisive. Although the Treaty of Peace of Paris (1763) restored to the French their factories in India, the French political influence disappeared after the war.
    • Thereafter, the French, like their Portuguese and Dutch counterparts in India, confined themselves to their small enclaves and to commerce.
    • The French East India Company  was finally wound up in 1769 and thus was eliminated English main European rival in India.
    • The English became the supreme European power in the Indian subcontinent, since the Dutch had already been defeated in the Battle of Bidara in 1759.
    • The Battle of Plassey, in 1757, is usually regarded by historians as the decisive event that brought about ultimate British rule over India.
      • However, one cannot quite ignore the view that the true turning point for control of the subcontinent was the victory of British forces over the French forces at Wandiwash in 1760.
      • The victory at Wandiwash left the English East India Company with no European rival in India. Thus they were ready to take over the rule of the entire country.
      • Significantly, in the Battle of Wandiwash, natives served in both the armies as sepoys. It makes one think: irrespective of which side won, there was an inevitability about the fall of India to European invaders. There was a lack of sensitivity to geopolitics of the day as well as a lack of foresight on the part of native rulers.
    • English was now also the de facto master of Carnatic, although the Treaty of Paris had assured the nawab his entire possessions.
      • Nawab’s nominal sovereignty was respected till 1801; then, after the death of the incumbent nawab, his territories were annexed and his heir was pensioned off.
    • Hyderabad too virtually became dependent on the English and the nizam in 1766 gave them the Northern Sarkars in return for military support against his overmighty neighbours.
    • The Anglo-French rivalry by bringing in Crown troops to India in significant numbers considerably enhanced the military power of the English East India Company vis-a-vis the other Indian states.
    • The balance of power in India had now begun to tilt decisively in English favour.

Causes of success of the British and French defeat:

  • Naval supremacy of the British:
    • British had full control over the sea route to India, which facilitated their swift movement to and from India.
    • This enabled British to receive man, money and provisions from Bengal and Britain, enabled transport and cover the operations of their forces, deprived French from their supplies, helped them to continue their trade.
    • The English navy helped to cut off the vital sea link between the French possessions in India and France.
    • As against this the French fleet was very weak and it was always a tedious process to bring a naval fleet from France.
  • The impact of European politics was quite obvious on the Anglo-French relations in India. In Europe the position of England was much more superior to France and they were achieving success everywhere.
  • The geographical position of England was too comparatively secured while France had to pay much more attention to its borders while at War.
  • The English had complete approval and confidence of their Home government whereas the French Home government never took any interest in Indian affairs.
    • Therefore, the French Company in India had to repeatedly look up to the Home government for all kinds of support including financial and military assistance.
    • French Company was department of State while English Company was independent commercial corporation with sound finance and less interference from British Government.
  • The English company was a private enterprise—this created a sense of enthusiasm and self-confidence among the people.
    • With less governmental control over it, this company could take instant decisions when needed without waiting for the approval of the government.
    • The French company, on the other hand, was a State concern. It was controlled and regulated by the French government and was hemmed in by government policies and delays in decision-making.
  • The financial position of the British was stronger.
    • In spite of their imperialistic motives, the British never neglected their commercial interests. So they always had the funds and the consequent sound financial condition to help them significantly in the wars against their rivals.
    • As opposed to this, the economic position of the French government in India was very frail. At times, they were not able to complete several plans because of lack of funds.
    • The French subordinated their commercial interest to territorial ambition, which made the French company short of funds.
  • The position of the British was strengthened by their conquest of Bengal in 1757. Bengal was one of the richest and most prosperous regions in those days.
    • The English occupation of Bengal in 1757 enabled them to use the inexhaustible source of wealth and material resources of Bengal for fighting against the French.
    • Bengal was rich due to fertile land and trade. Bengal was also strategically important. It gave the English a firm base of operation on the mainland.
    • Bengal had an excellent harbour which was useful in trade and military supply.
    • Ganges and its tributary in Bengal offered opportunity to the British to approach its remote parts by means of boats without any hazard.
    • They collected Bengal gold and sent its men continuously to fight their battle in Madras.
  • Apart from Bengal, the British also controlled important areas of Bombay and Madras, which were useful not only from the point of view of inland and foreign trade but also from the strategic angle.
  • The French on the other hand, only had small settlements at Pondicherry, Mahe and Chandarnagore.
    • French were facing great financial difficulties. The resources that French could get from the Deccan and Carnatic with Pondicherry as a base, were quite inadequate.
    • Deccan was less fertile than Bengal. It could finance neither wild political ambition of Dupleix nor the reckless military schemes of Lally.
    • French had a harbour and sea base at Mauritius, but it was distant and ill-equipped. Both for commercial purposes and for purposes of war the French seat of power was less advantageous compared to that of the English.
    • V.A. Smith said: “Neither Alexander the Great nor Napoleon could have won the empire of India by starting from Pondicherry as a base and contending with a power which held Bengal and command of the Sea.”
  • There was no coordination between the policy of Dupleix and the French Government.
    • Dupleix wanted to establish a French state in India, but the French Government was apparently not aware of it.
    • Above all it was not proper on the part of the French government to recall Dupleix all of a sudden.
  • Responsibility of Dupleix:
    • His complete absorption in political intrigues caused indifference towards trading and finance. He lacked coordination with the French Government.
  • Lally committed the gravest blunder by recalling Bussy from Hyderabad. This reduced the influence of the French government in the South.
  • Better English generals, greater cooperation amongst the English officials and minimum interference of the English government in the affairs of Company were also responsible for the success of the British.
    • A major factor in the success of the English in India was the superiority of the commanders in the British camp.
      • In comparison to the long list of leaders on the English side —Sir Eyre Coote, Major Stringer Lawrence, Robert Clive and many others—there was only Dupleix on the French side.
    • But, much as British owe to such men, it is impossible to conceal the fact that, to a very great extent indeed, the success of the English was due to the misfortunes of the French.
  • The foes of the French were, in very truth, those of their own household: they were the French government and the Directors of the French East India Company.
    • When every English place on the Coromandel Coast, with the exception of Fort St. David, was under French — the French government agreed to the terms of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which directed that a mutual restitution of all persons and places taken in the war should be made.
    • French influence in India was so great, that one Frenchman guided the counsels of subahdars and nawabs, and even influenced those of the Great Mogul himself but the French Company, sighing because of a diminished revenue, and the French government, abjectly cringing before the wrath of England, were ready to give up all their influence, and to recall and treat with contumely the Great Governor, Dupleix, who had spent life and wealth for the glory of France.
    • Against odds like these not even a Dupleix, a Bussy, or a Lally, could succeed. They had conceived a project too vast for the comprehension of either the debased government of Louis XV, or the Directors of the East India Company.
    • The most disastrous blow was therefore struck at French power at the conclusion of the second Carnatic war.
      • Previous to the Treaty of Pondichery, the chances of ultimate French success were overwhelming.
      • The grand outline was already sketched. The master-mind of Dupleix had every plan in mind. At a critical moment the master-mind was removed; the policy which had achieved such triumphs was abandoned.
    • For France it was unfortunate that a misfortune like that of the capture of Law’s army and the death of Chanda Saheb should have resulted in their abandonment.
      • The disaster, though severe, need not have been more than temporary. It most certainly had not proved the destruction of French hopes.
      • The English were still in a most perilous position.
      • From a French point of view, the great difficulty was still the status of Mohammed Ali; and Dupleix would have found some mode of settling this question. The whole state of India was, in fact, ripe for the exercise of that power in which he excelled; and it can scarcely be doubted that he would have taken advantage of Maratha and Mysorean affairs to establish French power more securely than ever.
      • The great victories of Dupleix were due to moral rather than to physical force; but it was precisely this fact that his masters at home were incapable of understanding.
    • The third period of the war was one, in which France possessed no advantage even in the Carnatic; and, even if Lally had proved completely victorious here, even if French power in the Deccan had been allowed to remain and to become consolidated, the English now possessed a stronghold in Bengal, (which generated a lot of revenue and trade in contrast to Deccan) from which it would have been difficult to expel them.

The Carnatic Wars proved boon for the British:

  • It may be said that the three Anglo-French Wars set the direction of the relationship of the three major forces present in the country: The Native Indian states, the British and the French.
  • During the course of these wars, the mutual rifts and military incapability of the south Indian kings and Nawabs came into open.
    • These wars proved to be boon for the British, who felt that the Indian soldiers were basically competent and only lacked training and knowledge of European arms and ammunitions.
    • During their battles in India, they also came to understand the importance of artillery and new methods of warfare.
  • The British made use of this experience to encourage the selfish interests of the Indian princes on the one hand and on the other hand trained the Indian soldiers in the European style and used them for their own political expansion in India.
    • But, at the same time care was taken not to appoint Indian soldiers on important military positions.
  • These wars proved to be curse for the French. The balance of power in India had by now decisively changed with the steady expansion of power of the English East India Company.
    • The French East India Company was finally wound up in 1769 and thus was eliminated British’s main European rival in India.
    • It was now also de facto master of Carnatic, although the Treaty of Paris had assured the nawabs his entire possessions.
    • His nominal sovereignty was respected till 1801; then, after the death of the incumbent nawab, his territories were annexed, and his heir was pensioned off. Hyderabad too virtually became dependent on the English and the Nizam in 1766 gave them to the Northern Sarkars in return for military support against neighbours.
  • The Anglo-French rivalry by bringing in Crown troops to India in significant numbers considerably enhanced the military power of the English East India Company vis-à-vis the other Indian states. The balance of power had now begun to tilt decisively in its favour.
  • The rivalry, in the form of three Carnatic wars, decided once for all that the English and not the French were to become masters of India.
Why the English Succeeded against Other European Powers?
  • Structure and Nature of the Trading Companies:
    • The English East India Company, formed through amalgamation of several rival companies at home, was controlled by a board of directors whose members were elected annually.
      • The shareholders of the company exercised considerable influence, as the votes could be bought and sold through purchase of shares.
    • The trading companies of France and Portugal were largely owned by the State and their nature was in many ways feudalistic.
      • In the French company, the monarch had more than 60 per cent share and, its directors were nominated by the monarch from the shareholders who were supposed to carry on the decisions of two high commissioners appointed by  the government.
      • The shareholders took very little interest in promoting the prosperity of the company, because the State guaranteed a dividend to the shareholders. The lack of public interest could be inferred from the fact that between 1725 and 1765, there was no meeting of the shareholders and the company was simply managed as a department of the State.
  • Naval Superiority:
    • The Royal Navy of Britain was not only the largest; it was most advanced of its times.
      • The British were able to defeat the Portuguese and the French due to strong and fast movement of the naval ships.
      • The English learnt from the Portuguese the importance of an efficient navy and improved their own fleet technologically.
  • Industrial Revolution:
    • The Industrial Revolution started in England in the early 18th century, with the invention of new machines like the spinning Jenny, steam engine, the power loom and several others.
      • These machines greatly improved production in the fields of textile, metallurgy, steam power and agriculture.
    • The industrial revolution reached other European nations late and this helped England to maintain its hegemony.
  • Military Skill and Discipline:
    • The British soldiers were a disciplined lot and well trained.
    • The British commanders were strategists who tried new tactics in warfare.
    • Technological developments equipped the military well.
    • All this combined to enable smaller groups of English fighters defeat larger armies.
  • Stable Government:
    • With the exception of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Britain witnessed stable government with efficient monarchs.
    • Other European nations like France witnessed violent revolution in 1789 and afterwards the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, significantly weakened France’s position and from then on it was forced to side with Britain.
    • The Dutch and Spain were also involved in the 80-years war in the 17th century which weakened Portuguese imperialism.
  • Lesser Zeal for Religion:
    • Britain was less zealous about religion and less interested in spreading Christianity, as compared to Spain, Portugal or Dutch. Thus, its rule was far more acceptable to the subjects than that of other colonial powers.
  • Use of Debt Market:
    • One of the major and innovative reasons why Britain succeeded between the mid-eighteenth century and the mid-nineteenth century, while other European nations fell, was that it used the debt markets to fund its wars.
    • The world’s first central bank—the Bank of England—was established to sell government debt to the money markets on the promise of a decent return on Britain’s defeating rival countries like France and Spain.
    • Britain was thus enabled to spend much more on its military than its rivals.
  • Other:
    • The soldiers fighting at the frontline for the Company’s army were better fed and regularly paid in contrast to those servicing the Mughal successor states.
    • The Indian bankers who controlled and transferred large sums of money through hundis, seemed to have been preferring the English Company as a more trustworthy creditor than the unstable Indian princes.
      • The English Company gradually reduced this dependence and turned it upside down by establishing control over the revenue resources, which became vital for financing trade as well as further conquests.

Q. “Compared to their English counterpart, the French East India Company enjoyed little discretionary power and had to always look up to Paris for all major decisions. This partly explains the failure of the French in India.” Evaluate Critically.

Ans:

Difference in nature of French East India Company and English East India Company

  • French Company was like a department of the State as the major share of the French East India Company was held by French monarch.
    • Naturally, the Company did not enjoy autonomy.
    • The English East India Company was independent commercial corporation with sound finance and less interference from the British Government.
    • It was a joint-stock company in whose fortune or misfortune a large section of the English nation was directly interested unlike French Company where major share was held by the monarch.
  • The English Company had complete approval and confidence of their Home government.
    • The British Government interfered in the affairs of the Company only when it was necessary to secure the interest of its shareholders.
    • The French East India company had to repeatedly look up to the Home government for all kinds of support including financial and military assistance.
  • While the English East India Company was an asset to the British Government, for the Government even received loans from it, the French East India Company was a liability to the home government.

How it partly explains failure of French in India?

  • Neglect by French Government
    • The French Company was guided more by the whims of the French ruler than by the exigency of the situation of India.
    • During Louis XIV’s life time, his finance minister Colbert had created a great enthusiasm in trade, commerce and industry and the French Company profited by the general enthusiasm.
    • But from the latter part of Louis XIV’s rule this enthusiasm was on the wane, enthusiasm was replaced by general neglect.
  • Decisions were based on politics and not commerce
    • Since the French government decided everything, decisions were taken in view of politics and not commerce.
    • This led to dwindling commercial profit forcing it to borrow or selling trading rights or begging the French government for grant.
  • Mistakes by French officers and financial problems
    • Officers of the French Company focused more on territorial expansion instead of commerce.
    • When their home government was not in position to subsidise them, they should have concentrated on consolidated their finances before entering into expensive political ventures.
    • This they did not do. The Governor of Pondicherry, who controlled the main French treasury was unable to finance operation.
    • The French troops suffered from the lack of provisions and there was no money to pay the soldiers and workmen.
  • The French Government at home or the Company, was not in a position to come out with the necessary financial help even at a time when Dupleix had succeeded in acquiring territories in India.
    • Dupleix spent his own fortunes to meet financial needs of the French Government in India, but this was too small in comparison to the task he had undertaken.
    • Poverty dogged the French in India even when they were at the zenith of their power in India.

But these factors were only partially responsible for the failure of French as several other factors were also responsible for it, such as: Naval superiority of English, capture of Bengal by English, strategic blunders by French officers, lack of appreciation by French government for the excellent service by its officers etc.

Q. “India was not lost by the French because Dupleix was recalled from India or Bussy was re­called from Hyderabad, or because La Bourbonnais left the coast at critical moments. It was through the short-sighted, ill-managed Eu­ropean policy of French Monarchy that France lost her Indian Settlements in the Seven Years’ War”. Discuss. Also examine the role of Dupleix failure in establishing French empire in India.

Ans:

  • French were the first one to conceive the idea of empire building in India. However French failed to carve out an empire in India while British achieved it.
    • Dupleix was the governor general of French East India company. He fought the first and second Anglo-French war on Indian soil.
    • Although in the first Carnatic war the French emerged victorious but they did not oust the British completely from India. In second and third Carnatic wars the French got defeated.
  • During the first Carnatic War, La Bourbonnais, the French Governor of Mauritius, was requested for help by Dupleix who helped in capturing Madras.
    • La Bourbonnais was bribed by the British and he restored Madras to the British. But still in the first Carnatic War, French were victorious.
  • Lally had committed the greatest blunder by recalling Bussy from Hyderabad. This reduced the influence of the French government in the south. It was said to be one of the reasons of French defeat in the third Carnatic War.
  • Dupleix’s recall proved ruinous for the cause of the French in India at a time when Dupleix, with his diplomatic skills, had detached from the English side all their allies, i.e., Marathas, Raja of Tanjore, rulers of Mysore.
  • But blaming the recall of Bussy or Dupleix for French defeat is not correct.  Even how the French government handled the state of affairs in India at that time needs an examination.

Role of French government:

  • French government in 18th century was monarchical. The policy of the Government  was mainly determined by the whims of the monarch.
    • The French government  did not give importance to its colonies overseas mainly America and India,  instead got her involved in the Continental War near her home which  precluded her from sending adequate help to her colonies abroad.
  • Louis XV did not have competent ministers to rely upon.
    • Policy of Louis XV, misguided by his  mistresses and by incompetent ministers, that France lost her Indian  Settlements in the Seven Years’ War
  • French government failed diplomatically to forge strong alliances to fight British while the  latter succeeded in doing so. England fought the war in the Continent with  the help of Prussia, a strong military power and employed much of her  strength and energy to fight the French in America, India and on the Seas.
  • French government never gave autonomy to the French East India Company vis-à-vis India.
    • The  moment there was no assistance to French EIC from the government, it  became incapable of standing on its own.
    • But the English East India  Company was a joint-stock company in whose fortune or misfortune a large  section of the English nation was directly interested.
    • English EIC had  more opportunity to take its own initiatives as British government  interfered only when necessary.

However, there were host of other factors as well behind the French failure in India. Let us analyse the role of Dupleix.

Dupleix failure was due to various factors

  • Lack of support from French government: Dupleix expansionist policy was proving to be very  costly for France. Further the domestic conditions were volatile. Thus  Dupleix was not given extra resources for the fight against British in
  • Dupleix further did not have cordial relationship with his counterparts. For e.g. La Bourbonnais.
    • During the second Carnatic war the French naval commander La Bourbonnais  left Saint David fort of Madras after Dupleix highhanded attitude.
    • Robert  Clive was quick to grab opportunity to defeat Dupleix.
  • Dupleix had resource scare Pondicherry as his base while English had resource rich Bengal as  their base.
  • His complete absorption in political intrigues caused indifference towards trading and  finance causing financial problem of the French company.
  • Further Dupleix had weak navy at his command as compared to the British who were the masters  of the sea.
  • He kept the French government and directors of the French East India Company uninformed of  the actual state of affairs in India, giving them only the news of his  success but not of failures.

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