At the end of the 16th century, efforts were made in England to establish trade relations with India. There were three reasons why England turned its attention to India.
First, the Portuguese traders made a lot of profit in the trade with India, just as the Portugues, the British came to India to make a profit.
Second, the goods obtained from direct trade with India were much cheaper than those obtained from European countries.
Third, meanwhile, the British defeated the Spanish army and became Queen of the Sea. By following the sea route shown by the Portuguese, England dared to dominate the sea.
Establishment of East India Company in India
In 1599, a group of English merchants, led by Lord Mayo of London, decided to set up a company to trade directly with India, with a view to making trade very profitable. They named the company as East India Company.
They succeeded in this endeavor, and on 31 December 1600, Queen Elizabeth I of England granted a direct trade agreement to East India Company with all the countries in the region of the Cape of Good Hope and the Strait of Magellan (a navigable sea route to chile).
The charter was originally for 15 years and had a notice period of 2 years.
The East India Company launched its first naval expedition to India under the leadership of Hawkins.
Hawkins reached Surat (Gujrat) with his fleet in 1608.
The then Mughal emperor Jahangir was the king. Hawkins submitted a request to Emperor Jahangir for some concessions in trade. But Hawkins got nothing because of the Portuguese influence on the Mughal emperor.
Then in 1612, England defeated the Portuguese. This allowed the British to set up their trading warehouse in Surat. This was the first victory of the British over India.
James I, who ascended the throne of England in 1615, sent Sir Thomas Roe as his ambassador to the court of Jahangir. Thomas Roe obtained some more trade concessions from the emperor Jahangir, including free trade, allowing the British to trade at Ahmedabad, Bhadoch, and Agra.
In 1688, on the occasion of the marriage of Charles II, King of England, the Portuguese leased Mumbai to the East India Company for a nominal rent of 10 Pound a year.
In a few days, Mumbai became the big trading center of the British and Mumbai gained importance as the largest trading colony of the British on the west coast.
Meanwhile, the East India Company also set up commercial warehouses on the east coast of India. The company’s colony began to grow. The company’s authority also began to grow.
The company authorized its employees to be punished for crimes, to be executed for serious crimes (1623), to raise troops to defend its warehouses (1661). The right to raise an army in 1683.
The company received important administrative powers from the Government of England. This right allowed the company to free itself from British domination and establish power independently. This also increased the reputation of the company.
Merchant Competition for Trade-in India
East India Company and French Trading Company kept trying to get the more trade in India. There was real competition between these two companies. Both the companies were doing strong business in India.
Both companies’ colonies and warehouses were on the west coast. The two had a lot of ammunition due to trade competition.
These found the cause of the Austrian Succession war in Europe. There England and France were fighting against each other. As a result, the Carnatic War broke out in India.
First Carnatic War
The First Carnatic War between France and the British in 1746-1748. The main reason for this war was the ongoing competition between the two companies
They were squabbling over each other, trying to drive each other out of the business world and into the political arena. In the First Carnatic War, French Governor Dupleix conquered Madras from the British.
Meanwhile, the Austrian War in Europe ended and the Aix-la-chappel treaty 1748 was signed. According to this treaty, the French would have to give the state of Madras to the British.
The First Carnatic War did not bring much regional change. But this war was important in India. Because the kings in India knew how powerful the British and France were.
Second Carnatic War
The second Carnatic war fought between 1748 to 1754.
The First Carnatic War did not bring about any regional change but bitterness between the English and the French.
In the first war, both sides had greatly increased their troop numbers. It was not possible to reduce this number after the end of the war, so the use of force began to be lent to the post-Mughal empire. They were lending their army to other kingdoms in India.
As a result, such kingdoms began to fight among themselves and use their armies. For example, after the death of Nizam of Hyderabad in 1748, his successor started the war.
At that time, the French Dupleix supported Muzaffarjang, an heir, and the British gave full support to Nasir Jang, the second heir. Initially, the French won but a few days later the British won and Nasir Jung became the heir.
Dupleix then tried again but lost again and returned to his homeland.
After Dupleix’s, French Governor Charles Godeheu made a treaty with the British on the Pondicherry question in 1755. According to that treaty, both the parties agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Indian kings, but to return each other’s conquered territory.
The British benefited the most from this treaty.
Third Carnatic War
The Third Carnatic war fought between 1758 to 1763. The Treaty of Pondicherry reduced the feud between the French and the English. At the same time, the Seven-year war between England and France began in Europe.
In India, there were signs of conflict on both sides. Because the French government sent a large army to India under the leadership of Compte de Lally. As soon as Lally arrived (April 1758), he has attacked the British fort St. David’s in Madras and won.
He later conquered the region near Madras. Then Lally made a mistake. De Bussy, the French governor of Hyderabad, was summoned to Madras. The British then took advantage of the fact that there was no governor in Hyderabad and won that part.
The British then defeated the French at the Battle of Wandivash and captured Bussy. In 1760, the British captured the fort of Jinji and took control of Pondicherry.
In 1763 the Seven Years’ War ended, and the Treaty of Paris was signed. So the battle between the English and the French also stopped in India.
The French were well defeated in the Battle of Wandivash and had to withdraw.
The French remained traders in India and the British came to power in South India.
The Historian P. E. Roberts said about French,” The fall of Pondicherry sounded the knell of French dominion in India.”
Reasons for British victory
- The English were superior to the French in terms of trade and economy.
- The British placed more emphasis on trade, keeping regional gains secondary.
- As a prosperous region like Bengal was under the control of the British, they were getting all kinds of help during the Karnataka war.
- The English fleet was more efficient than the French fleet.
- The British army was well trained and disciplined.
- The French army could not survive on Indian soil as it was not of the standard of the British army.
- For a number of reasons, British Karnataka won the war and thwarted the French’s ambition to gain political advantage.
This is the beginning of British rule in India.