Wars against major Indian powers

Battle of Plassey

TheBattle of Plassey was a battle that took place on June 23, 1757, on the banks of the Bhagirathi River, about 150 km north of Calcutta. It is near Murshidabad, then the capital of the Nawab of Bengal in India. Pâlāshir, an extravagant red flowering tree known as “Flame of the forest,” gives its name to a small village near the battlefield. A phonetically accurate romanizing of the Bengali name would be Battle of Palashi, but the spelling “Plassey” is now conventional.

The battle was between Siraj Ud Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, and the forces of the British East India Company. Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army commander had defected to the British, causing his army to collapse. After this defeat, the entire province of Bengal passed to the Company, and this battle is today seen as one of the pivotal battles leading to the British Empire in India.

The enormous wealth gained from the Bengal treasury after its victory in the battle allowed the Company to significantly strengthen its military might.

The battle was waged during the period when the British and French governments were fighting the Seven Years’ War in Europe (1756–1763). The French East India Company (La Compagnie des Indes Orientales) sent a small contingent to fight against the British East India Company. The British victory both eliminated French competition in India and resulted in a treaty arrangement with the Moghul Empire that left the East India Company de facto ruler of the province of Bengal. From this base, the Company set about extending effective rule over the whole of the Indian Sub-Continent.

The Battle of Plassey was one of the major steps that brought England to dominate and conquer India. It was not only a battle with local authorities but part of the rivalry with France over available markets. However, European colonial expansion was a part of an even bigger phenomenon that would bind the peoples and cultures of the world together through dissemination of technology and sharing among cultures. In years to come it would bring the Western colonialists to some awareness of their spiritual responsibility for other nations—for example, no matter how wide was the gap between the rich and poor in the West, in the East it was even wider. In this respect, the Battle of Plassey can be seen as one step in a sad but necessary process. However, the method of colonial conquest cannot be accepted in this age, when the peoples of the world recognize their interdependence and the need to establish a world of mutual prosperity and shared values, by peaceful means.

Background

The ostensible reason for the battle was Siraj-ud-Daulah’s earlier attack and capture of Fort William, Calcutta (which he renamed to Alinagar) during June 1756, but the battle is today seen as part of the geopolitical ambition of the East India Company and the larger dynamics of colonial conquest.

This conflict was precipitated by a number of disputes:[1]:

  • The illegal use of Mughal Imperial export trade permits (dastaks) granted to the British in 1717, for engaging in internal trade within India. The British cited this permit as their excuse for not paying taxes to the Bengal Nawab.
  • British interference in the Nawab’s court, and particularly their support for one of his aunts, Ghaseti Begum. The son of Ghaseti’s treasurer had sought refuge in Fort William and Siraj demanded his return.
  • Additional fortifications with mounted guns had been placed on Fort William without the consent of the Nawab
  • Their policy of favoring Hindu Marwari merchants such as Jagat Sheth

During this capture of Fort William, of June 1756, an event occurred that came to be known as the Black Hole of Calcutta. A narrative by one John Zephaniah Holwell, plus the testimony of another survivor, Cooke, to a select committee of the House of Commons, coupled with subsequent verification by Robert Orme, placed 146 British prisoners into a room measuring 18 by 15 feet with only 23 surviving the night. The story was amplified in colonial literature, but the facts are widely disputed. In any event, the Black Hole incident, which is often cited as a reason for the Battle at Plassey, was not widely known until James Mill’s History of India (1858), after which it became the grist of student texts on India.

As the forces for the battle were building up, the British settlement at Fort William sought assistance from Presidency of Fort St. George at Madras, which sent Colonel Robert Clive and Admiral Charles Watson. They recaptured Calcutta on January 2, 1757, but the Nawab marched again on Calcutta on February 5, 1757, and were surprised by a dawn attack by the British, resulting in the Treaty of Alinagar.[3]

Growing French influence

Growing on the sidelines was the French influence, at the urging of the enterprising French Governor-General Joseph François Dupleix, at the court of the Nawab. This was resulting in increasing French trade in Bengal. They lent the Nawab some French soldiers to operate heavy artillery pieces.

Ahmad Shah Abdali

At the same time, Siraj Ud Daulah was facing conflicts on two fronts. On his Western border was the advancing army of the Afghan, Ahmad Shah Abdali who had captured and looted Delhi in 1756.

So although he was humiliated by the Treaty, Siraj Ud Daulah sent the better part of his troops west under the command of his general, Raja Ram Narain.

Court intrigue

In the midst of all of this, there was an ongoing court intrigue at Siraj Ud Daulah’s court at Murshidabad. Siraj was not a particularly well-loved ruler. Young (he succeeded his father in April, 1756 at age 27) and impetuous, he was prone to quickly make enemies. The most dangerous of these was his wealthy and influential aunt, Ghaseti Begum (Meherun-Nisa), who wanted another nephew, Shawkat Jang, installed as Nawab.

Mir Jafar, commander-in-chief of the army, was also uneasy with Siraj, and was courted assiduously by Ghaseti. Eventually, through the connivance of traders such as Amichand (who had suffered as a result of the siege of Calcutta), and William Watts, Mir Jafar was brought into the British fold.

Company policy

The Company had long decided that a change of regime would be conducive to their interests in Bengal. In 1752, Robert Orme, in a letter to Clive, noted that the company would have to remove Siraj’s grandfather, Alivardi Khan, in order to prosper

After the premature death of Alivardi Khan in April 1756, his nominated successor was Siraj-ud-Daulah, a grandson whom Alivardi had adopted. The circumstances of this transition gave rise to considerable controversy and the British began supporting the intrigues of Alivardi’s eldest daughter, Ghaseti Begum against that of his grandson, Siraj.

Instructions dated October 13, 1756, from Fort St. George instructed Robert Clive, “to effect a junction with any powers in the province of Bengal that might be dissatisfied with the violence of the Nawab’s government or that might have pretensions to the Nawabship.” Accordingly, Robert was negotiating with two potential contenders, one of Siraj’s generals, Yar Latif Khan, and Siraj’s grand-uncle and army chief, Mir Jafar Ali Khan, through William Watts, chief of the Kasimbazar factory of the Company, who was proficient in Bengali, and Persian languages.

On April 23, 1757, the Select Committee of the Board of Directors of the British East India Company approved Coup d’état as its policy in Bengal.

Mir Jafar, negotiating through an Armenian merchant, Khwaja Petruse, was the Company’s final choice. Finally, on June 5, 1757, a written agreement was signed between the Company, represented by Clive, and Mir Jafar, ensuring that Mir Jafar would be appointed Nawab of Bengal, once Siraj Ud Daulah was deposed.

Troops

The British army was vastly outnumbered, consisting of 2,200 Europeans and 800 native Indians and a small number of guns. The Nawab had an army of about 50,000 with some heavy artillery operated by about 40 French soldiers sent by the French East India Company.

Principal officers—British

  • Major Killpatrick
  • Major Grant
  • Then Major Eyre Coote, later Lieutenant-General, and then Sir Eyre Coote
  • Captain Gaupp
  • Captain Richard Knox, 1st CO of the 1st Bengal Native Infantry

Principal officers—Nawab

  • Mir Jafar Ali Khan—commanding 16,000 cavalry
  • Mir Madan
  • Manik Chand
  • Rai Durlabh
  • Monsieur Sinfray—French artillery officer

British East India Company Regiments

  • 39th (Dorsetshire) Regiment of Foot]], 1st Battalion
  • 1st Bombay European Fusiliers, also known as 103rd Regiment of Foot
  • Royal Madras Fusiliers, also known as 102nd Regiment of Foot
  • Royal Bengal Fusiliers, also known as 101st Regiment of Foot
  • Bengal Native Infantry (BNI), also known as the Lal Paltan (Hindi for Red Platoon)
  • 9th Battery, 12th Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 50 naval ratings from HMS Tyger

Battle Details

On 12th June 1757 the remaining troops at Calcutta with 150 sailors from Admiral Watson’s squadron marched to join Clive’s force at Chandranagar. Clive now had 950 European Troops (including 250 men from His Majesty’s 39th Foot), 2,100 sepoys, 100 artillerymen, 60 sailors and eight 6 pounder guns and 2 howitzers.

Clive marched out of Chandranagar on 13th June 1757, leaving a garrison of 100 men. Arriving on 16th June at Palti, Clive sent Major Eyre Coote of the 39th Foot with a small force to take the post of Katwa, containing a native garrison and a considerable quantity of supplies. The garrison surrendered to Coote after a token resistance.

As Clive and his army approached Siraj-ud-Daulah’s camp, the correspondence with Mir Jafar Khan became less than satisfactory, leaving Clive to wonder whether Mir Jafar Khan would in fact comply with the obligations set out in the secret treaty and betray Siraj-ud-Daulah. If he did not, the likelihood was that Clive’s army would be overwhelmed in a battle.

Clive halted the advance at Katwa and wrote to the Committee in Calcutta asking for their advice as to whether to proceed with the advance. This was an unusual show of hesitation in Clive, normally impetuous to the point of rashness. That evening, after writing to the Rajah of Burdwan asking him to join his army with a thousand horsemen, Clive held a Council of War with all his officers. The question discussed and put to the council for a vote was whether the army should continue to advance or stay at Katwah, until the intentions of the traitors in Siraj-ud-Daulah ‘s camp became clearer.

The majority of the officers were for staying put. Major Eyre Coote, the hotheaded Queen’s officer of the 39th Foot, and a minority of the younger officers were for pressing ahead with the attack. Clive voted with those advocating caution. Coote urged that a delay would enable Monsieur Law to join Siraj-ud-Daulah from Bhagalpur with his French troops, known to have been urgently summoned by Siraj-ud-Daulah. The presence of Monsieur Law’s force in the opposing army, in addition to strengthening it significantly, was likely to cause the many Frenchmen serving in the East India Company army to desert to their own side.

On hearing that Clive was halted at Katwah, Siraj-ud-Daulah rushed his force forward to occupy the camp at Plassey, an established post for his army.

After the Council of War, a further letter reached Clive from Mir Jafar Khan, confirming that in the event of battle he would join the English against Siraj-ud-Daulah. Clive immediately changed his mind and the army marched.

At 6 am on 22nd June 1757, the army crossed the Bhagirathi River to the east bank, using the accompanying flotilla of boats which carried the supplies. The crossing took most of the day and brought the army within 15 miles of Plassey.

Clive’s army marched again at sunset on 22nd June 1757. It was now raining heavily, the earliest onset of the annual monsoon weather, and in places the river overflowed its banks, forcing the soldiers to march in water that reached up to their waists.

At 1 am on 23rd June 1757, the army reached Plassey, a small village with a hunting lodge owned by the Nawab, Siraj-ud-Daulah. The army bivouacked in a mango grove beyond the village, placing vedettes around the grove.

The Company’s troops could hear distant military music. The camp of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s large army was within earshot, about a mile up the river. Clive sent a party to occupy the hunting lodge.

The mango grove, in which the English army encamped, was 800 yards long and 300 yards wide, and comprised regular rows of mango trees. Around the grove was a ditch and an embankment.

Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army comprised 35,000 foot soldiers, most poorly armed and lacking formal discipline. His cavalry was around 15,000 horsemen, mostly Pathans from the North-West, well mounted, armed with swords and spears. All skilled and experienced riders.

Siraj-ud-Daulah’s artillery comprised 53 cannon, all of heavy calibre; 32, 24 and 18 pounders. Guns of this size, more usually deployed in fixed position siege work, were not ideal for use on the battlefield, being cumbrous, slow to load and difficult to move. The heavy ammunition could not be easily carried with the guns in sufficient quantity for a battle. Siraj-ud-Daulah’s gunners attempted to deal with these various problems by carrying the guns on enormous wooden trucks towed by oxen and pushed by elephants. The guns were apparently fired from these platforms. It is likely that the rate of fire will have been even slower than on the ground, with each discharge and heavy recoil damaging the wooden structures and terrifying the animals, particularly the elephants, animals notoriously unreliable in battle and dangerous to their own side.

On the battlefield, a ball from a 32 pounder gun would do little more damage than one from a 6 pounder. Indian gunners were not well drilled and produced a slow rate of fire, taking, according to Malleson, around fifteen minutes to fire each round, as against 2 or 3 rounds a minute for European gunners (this is partly explained by the disparity in the size of the guns that each side deployed).

Locally manufactured, the Indian guns lacked modern refinements such as elevating screws, making it near impossible to aim the guns with any accuracy from the wooden trucks.

In spite of the large number of guns, it seems likely that Siraj-ud-Daulah’s artillery was of little assistance to his army. They seem to have inflicted few casualties on Clive’s army.

The illustration by Richard Caton Woodville, at the head of the site, while giving an idea of how the arrangements for Siraj-ud-Daulah’s cannon may have been made, is incorrect in that the guns shown are of the 6 pounder size.

Supervising the Indian gunners and working a few smaller calibre field guns themselves (see the illustration of a captured French gun) were 40 or 50 Frenchmen, retained from Monsieur Law’s force, all deeply resentful at the destruction of the French settlement at Chandranagar, and commanded by Monsieur St Frais.

Siraj-ud-Daulah’s Plassey camp was covered by entrenched works, stretching for 200 yards away from the river and then for about 3 miles towards the north. At the corner stood a redoubt.

800 yards to the east of the redoubt stood a hillock covered with jungle. Between the two armies, and nearer to the mango grove occupied by Clive’s force, was a tank or pond and beyond it a larger tank, both surrounded by high mounds of earth.

At daybreak on 23rd June 1757, Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army marched out of the Plassey encampment and took up battle positions in a rough quarter circle around the English army.

The French troops with 4 cannon occupied the mound around the larger tank, about half a mile from the English army. Between the larger tank and the river were 2 heavy guns manned by Indian gunners. Behind these guns stood Mir Madan Khan, described as Siraj-ud-Daulah’s sole faithful commander, with 5,000 cavalry and 7,000 foot soldiers, all described as the pick of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army.

The rest of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army formed in a crescent facing the river, from the jungle covered hillock round to a point behind the mango grove. The commanders were, from the hillock, Raja Durlabh Ram, Yar Lutf Khan, and, on the left, Mir Jafar Khan, the principal traitor. The numbers in this crescent line were 45,000 infantry and cavalry with numerous guns. Clive’s force was effectively surrounded and pinned against the river. His survival and success depended upon the treachery of Mir Jafar Khan and the other Indian commanders.

Clive watched the deployment of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s troops from the roof of the Plassey hunting lodge. As Mir Jafar Khan’s troops extended around the mango grove, outflanking his troops and finally threatening their rear, he must have wondered what would happen if the traitors betrayed him instead of their Nawab.

Contrary to the usual Indian practice of placing artillery together, Siraj-ud-Daulah’s guns were dispersed along his line in twos and threes.

In accordance with his usual tactic of showing a bold front Clive ordered his troops out of the grove to form a line, the left resting on the hunting lodge. The European troops were placed in the centre in 4 divisions, commanded by Major Kilpatrick, Major Grant, Major Coote and Captain Gaupp, with 3 of the 6 pounders on each side, and a division of the native troops on each flank.

Clive sent forward a party with 2 of the 6 pounders and 2 howitzers to occupy a group of brick kilns, 200 yards in front of the left flank.

Both armies were in place by 8am. The French, under St Frais, fired the first gun, which acted as a signal for the opening of a heavy bombardment all along the line of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army. The Indian line was enveloped in a cloud of powder smoke. The English guns returned the fire and inflicted considerable damage on Siraj-ud-Daulah’s troops.

Clive could not afford even the few casualties caused by the French and Indian gunfire.  At the end of half an hour and with 30 casualties Clive pulled his line back behind the mound along the perimeter of the mango grove. The troops and guns posted in the brick kiln and the men in the hunting lodge remained in position.

Encouraged by the English withdrawal, Siraj-ud-Daulah’s guns moved nearer and continued their fire.

Clive’s men were now in cover. They dug embrasures in the mango grove mound for their guns to fire through, while Siraj-ud-Daulah’s cannon caused havoc only among the mango trees, firing over the heads of the English soldiers concealed behind the mound.

Clive’s guns resumed their fire with considerable effect, killing Indian gunners and causing supplies of their ammunition to explode, generating panic among the draft animals and clouds of powder smoke.

This cannonade continued for three hours, but without any decisive effect. Siraj-ud-Daulah’s guns maintained their fire and there was no sign of any of his commanders deserting him.

At 11am Clive called his senior commanders to a council to decide what to do. It was resolved to continue the battle until nightfall and then attack Siraj-ud-Daulah’s camp.

Soon after the council ended a heavy rainstorm came on, continuing for an hour. The English troops were used to campaigning in a country where the monsoon had such an impact. They produced tarpaulins and covered the artillery ammunition to keep it dry. Siraj-ud-Daulah’s artillery did not have tarpaulins and much of their powder was ruined by the rain and rendered unusable. Their fire fell away.

Mir Madan Khan, Siraj-ud-Daulah’s one reliable commander, commanding on the right wing by the river, assumed that the English artillery must have suffered the same catastrophe as his own and launched an attack with his cavalry. They were met with a devastating discharge of grape at short range, which decimated and repelled the charging cavalry and mortally wounded Mir Madan Khan. The dying commander was brought to Siraj-ud-Daulah.

This was the crisis of the battle. While Mir Madan Khan lived and commanded in the key part of the battlefield, it was possible for Siraj-ud-Daulah to win the battle. Without that capable and faithful commander he was at the mercy of the other three commanders, all disloyal.

Siraj-ud-Daulah sent for Mir Jafar Khan, threw his turban on the ground and begged Mir Jafar to protect him. Mir Jafar promised to defend him to the utmost, then rode back to his wing of the army and sent a letter to Clive informing him of the death of Mir Madan Khan and urging him to attack without delay. This letter did not reach Clive during the battle.

Siraj-ud-Daulah then spoke to his other two commanders. Raja Durlabh Ram urged Siraj-ud-Daulah to order his army to return to the camp and leave the camp himself. Siraj-ud-Daulah adopted this advice and left on a camel for his capital, Murshidabad, with an escort of 2,000 horsemen.

The three treacherous generals began the withdrawal to the camp, the artillery leading the column. They were constrained in their treachery in that theirs was a personal contract with the English, while the rest of the army was generally still faithful to their Nawab, Siraj-ud-Daulah.

In any case, the French commander, St Frais, refused to retreat and continued to fight from the large tank, although the soldiers of the now deceased Mir Madan Khan joined the withdrawal to the camp.

On the English side, once the down pour of rain finished, Clive withdrew into the Plassey Hunting Lodge to put on dry clothes. He left instructions to be told if anything changed in the form of the battle.

On the left of the line, Major Kilpatrick saw the beginning of the withdrawal of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s troops and that the French were being left isolated at the large tank. Kilpatrick took it on himself to order forward his contingent of 250 European troops and 2 of the 6 pounders. He sent an officer to inform Clive of his actions.

Clive’s reaction to the news that Kilpatrick was advancing was fury. He rushed out of the lodge, intending to put Kilpatrick in arrest, but, seeing the general withdrawal of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army, confirmed Kilpatrick’s decision and ordered the rest of the English line to join the advance.

When Mir Jafar Khan reached the point opposite the western end of the mango grove, his troops left the column and wheeled towards the English positions. Mir Jafar Khan’s intentions were still unclear and Clive was uncertain whether the troops approaching his line were Mir Jafar’s. A small English detachment with a field gun was given the task of halting this approach, which it did.

St Frais, to avoid being overwhelmed, withdrew to the redoubt on the corner of the entrenchments, as the long column of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army made its way into the camp.

Clive moved his force forward to the tank abandoned by St Frais and began a bombardment of the Plassey camp. The reaction from Siraj-ud-Daulah’s thousands of soldiers who were not part of the conspiracy against him was to turn back, march out of the camp and resume the battle, which now became intense.

Clive moved his force nearer to the camp in three detachments. one, comprising nearly half his force, moved to the mound by the smaller of the two tanks, while the other half advanced to the higher ground between the tank and the river.  A further party of some 160 men from the grenadier company of the 39th Foot and a sepoy grenadier company moved even closer, occupying another tank. All the English troops and guns opened a general fire on Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army.

Siraj-ud-Daulah’s soldiers fought hard, but were leaderless and without direction, other than St Frais’ Frenchmen. The cannon and musket fire from Clive’s positions inflicted great loss on Siraj-ud-Daulah’s troops and the oxen towing the platforms for the heavy guns.

It became clear to Clive that the substantial Indian force, motionless but in a position that appeared to threaten his right flank, must be the troops of Mir Jafar Khan. Free from anxiety of an assault by this force, Clive launched attacks on the hill to the left of the French redoubt and, once that was successful, on St Frais’ men in the redoubt itself. Isolated and outnumbered, St Frais retired from the redoubt.

From then on, resistance by Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army ebbed away and, by 5pm the English were in possession of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s camp and the battle was over.

The pursuit of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s fleeing army was pressed for 6 miles to Dudpore, where it was abandoned with the fall of night.

 

 

Casualties at the Battle of Plassey:

Clive’s army suffered casualties of 23 dead and 49 wounded. The casualties of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army were around 500 dead and many wounded. The English captured horses, elephants, and all of the 53 guns brought against them.

Battle Honour and Campaign Medal for the Battle of Plassey:

The Battle Honour ‘Plassey’ was awarded to the 39th Foot (later the Dorsetshire Regiment), the 1st Madras Europeans (later the Royal Dublin Fusiliers), and the 1st Bengal Europeans (later the Royal Munster Fusiliers).

No campaign medal was issued.

Follow-up to the Battle of Plassey:

Following the Battle of Plassey, in accordance with the treaty he had signed with Clive and the East India Company Committee in Calcutta, Mir Jafa Khan entered Murshidabad with Clive and became Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It was however largely an empty honour as the real power in Eastern India was now the English East India Company. Under the treaty, Mir Jafa Khan was compelled to pay substantial sums of money to the East India Company and also to Clive and the Company and Royal officers of his army and the Royal Navy squadron of Vice Admiral Watson that supported the land operations. All these men were enriched by these payments. Those who survived to return to England, Watson and Kilpatrick, and the several others who died soon after Plassey from infectious disease brought on by the oppressive climate became known as ‘Nabobs’ from their India derived wealth.

Malleson asserts that the Battle of Plassey set the course for the establishment of the British Empire in India and the Far East.

Siraj-ud-Daulah fell into the hands of the new Nawab, Mir Jafar Khan and was murdered.

Rewards

As per their agreement, Clive collected £2.5 million for the company, and £234,000 for himself from the Nawab’s treasury. In addition, Watts collected £114,000 for his efforts. The annual rent of £30,000 payable by the Company for use of the land around Fort William was also transferred to Clive for life. To put this wealth in context, an average British nobleman could live a life of luxury on an annual income of £800.

Robert Clive was appointed Governor of Bengal in 1765, for his efforts. William Watts was appointed Governor of Fort William on June 22, 1758. But he later resigned in favour of Robert Clive, who was also later appointed Baron of Plassey in 1762. Clive later committed suicide in 1774, after being addicted to opium.

Terms of agreement

These were the terms agreed between the new Nawab and the Company:

  1. Confirmation of the mint, and all other grants and privileges in the Alinagar treaty with the late Nawab.
  2. An alliance, offensive and defensive, against all enemies whatever.
  3. The French factories and effects to be delivered up, and they never permitted to resettle in any of the three provinces.
  4. 100 lacs of rupees to be paid to the Company, in consideration of their losses at Calcutta and the expenses of the campaign.
  5. 50 lacs to be given to the British sufferers at the loss of Calcutta
  6. 20 lacs to Gentoos, Moors, & black sufferers at the loss of Calcutta.
  7. 7 lacs to the Armenian sufferers. These three last donations to be distributed at the pleasure of the Admiral and gentlemen of Council.
  8. The entire property of all lands within the Mahratta ditch, which runs round Calcutta, to be vested in the Company: Also, six hundred yards, all round, without, the said ditch.
  9. The Company to have the zemindary of the country to the south of Calcutta, lying between the lake and river, and reaching as far as Culpee, they paying the customary rents paid by the former zemindars to the government.
  10. Whenever the assistance of the British troops shall be wanted, their extraordinary charges to be paid by the Nawab.
  11. No forts to be erected by the Nawab’s government on the river side, from Hooghley downwards.

Quotes

  • “He (Robert Clive) won it by promoting treason and forgery”—First Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India
  • “British rule in India had an unsavory beginning and something of that bitter taste has clung to it ever since.”—First Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India
  • “A great prince was dependent on my pleasure, an opulent city lay at my mercy; its richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles; I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels! Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation”—Baron Robert Clive commenting on accusations of looting the Bengal treasury after Plassey, at his impeachment trial in 1773
  • “Heaven-born general”—British Prime Minister William Pitt “The Elder,” Earl of Chatham referring to Robert Clive
  • “It is possible to mention men who have owed great worldly prosperity to breaches of private faith; but we doubt whether it is possible to mention a state which has on the whole been a gainer by a breach of public faith.”—Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay, later British Secretary at War, who condemned Clive’s actions

After battle of Plassey, East India company got diwani rights. The rich revenues of Bengal enabled company to organise large army and could meet the cost of conquest of rest of India. Mir jafar was seated at the throne who was puppet in the hands of EIC. The EIC also came to know after the war that there is no unity among Indians and it is easy to divide them

Battle of Buxar is more significant than Plassey. In this battle three major Indians power had been defeated. After  this influence of company reached upto Avadh. In a way we can say that Buxar confirmed the decision of Plassey. Now Delhi the centre for political events for the last 1000 years was under the control of Britishers. It was easy for now EIC to make way for British empire.

The important outcome of the Battle of Buxar was the Treaty of Allahabad signed on 16 August 1765 between Lord Clive and Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, who had submitted to the British in the battle. As per this treaty:

  • Mughal Emperor granted Fiscal Rights (Diwani)or right to administer the territory and collect taxes to the East India Company at Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Thus the British became the masters of fate of the people of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa and now they would collect the revenue.
  • In lieu of this Right, the Company gave an annual tribute of 26 Lakh Rupees to the Mughals
  • The districts of Kora and Allahabad were returned to Mughal Emperor.
  • Awadh was returned to Shuja-ud-Daulah but Allahabad and Kora was taken from him.
  • The Nawab of Awadh paid 53 Lakhs rupees of war indemnity to the British.

Thus Clive, in person settled the fate of almost half of the Northern India. The fiscal administration of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa and the territorial jurisdiction of the Northern Circars is called the Dual System of Government.

Safdar Jung was succeeded by his son, Shuja – Ud – Daula, who stayed mostly at Faizabad but was always eager to extend his dominion up to Bihar. He made several efforts to this end, by supporting Shah Alam II, and subsequently Mir Kasim but was defeated in the battle by the English at Buxar in 1764. The defeat compelled him to enter into a treaty with the East India Company. The agreement not only paved the way for British advent on the soils of Awadh but also their gradual ascendancy to real power. The Nawab first gave up the fort of Chunar, and then ceded the Banaras region and the revenues of Ghazipur in 1775. Safdarjang was a restless, ambitious and impulsive ruler who was engaged in violent disturbances which brought momentous vicissitudes for his reign ( 1754 – 1775 ). Shuja-Ud-Daula died early in January 1775 and was laid at his mausoleum at Gulab-Bari, Faizabad.

Carnatic Wars

Political Situation in India on the eve of British-French Rivalry

  • 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. But 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 stake of both countries in India was now considerable. 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; and, 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.
  • It will be necessary to gain a general idea, first, of the political state of India at this period, and, secondly, of the history of English and French in India up to this date.
  • 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. The other chief cause was the Persian invasion under Nadir Shah in 1739, during which the Persian troops had occupied and devastated Delhi, and taken the Emperor, Mohammed Shah, prisoner. Nadir Shah retired only through the persuasion of an enormous bribe. Such attacks 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, called by different names in different parts of India; and, just as the subahdars, when they 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.

Difference between 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; and 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 even to secure this. 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 equally 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, François 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 Mogul Empire, and placed under the rule of the nawáb of the Carnatic. The first nawáb 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 Alí, and with his son-in-law, Chandá Sahéb, that they established that firm alliance, which so greatly affected their future. Chandá Sahéb 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 the means by which they might ultimately gain their ends, 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 Alí, the nawáb 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 Alí, 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 Alí saved them from the necessity. Chandá Sahéb, 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. Sahújí himself hastened to make friends with them, Soon after this, Sahújí was driven from the throne by his brother, Pratap Singh, 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 Mahrattas had made another incursion into the Carnatic, and had slain in battle the nawáb and his second son. The eldest son, Safder Alí, and the son-in-law of the nawáb, Chandá Sahéb, sought some place of refuge for their families and treasures. Pondichery occurred to both of them. Dumas presented a bold front to the enemy. Mahrattas raised the siege and withdrew. This resistance of Dumas may be said to have created a prestige, without the aid of which the glorious career of the French subsequently would scarcely have been possible. 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 by no means the least of the powers of India. Thanks, accompanied by the most valuable presents, came to the French from all the great native powers, and, what is most significant as indicating the relation of the French to the native powers, the Emperor of Delhi himself conferred on the Governor of Pondichery and his successors the rank and title of nawáb, 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 rôle 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 nawáb, he too was an officer of the Great Mogul. 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; but may it not also have produced another effect? When we consider what 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 were doomed to lives of idleness and, at the same time, of 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 may not this sprinkling of 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.

Carnatic Wars:

  • 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. It lasted only about fifteen years—from 1746 till 1761. By the fall of Pondichery in this last year, French power in India was completely overthrown, and the question of supremacy may be said to have been settled once for all. British East India Company established its dominance among the European trading companies within India.
  • 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. This, although really outside the struggle, is important, as being the most extensive development of French power in India. In the third war, the scene shifts for a time to Bengal, and then returns to the Carnatic.
  • All this time the English in India had remained stationary, steadily plodding on, wholly intent on fortune-making. It may well be supposed that these peaceful 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. In this war the English and French first took part as auxiliaries on opposite sides, but eventually became the principals in the war. Such an event would be cordially welcomed by the English in India, who saw in it the opportunity, for which they longed, to make an attempt to put a stop to what they considered as French encroachment. The French dreaded nothing more at this time. Until recently they 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 affect this by an actual conflict with them, at all events until their own power was such as to leave the English little chance of successful resistance. 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.
  • Having failed to obtain a treaty of neutrality with the English, the French in India, with their chief settlement ill fortified, found themselves in extreme peril. The English fleet under Barnet was on its way, and it was well known that its instructions were, if possible, to annihilate French commerce. The French government had indeed ordered M. de la Bourdonnais, the governor of the Isle of France, to proceed with a fleet to the assistance of Pondichery; but, almost at the last moment, news was brought to Dupleix that de la Bourdonnais had received instructions to send all his fleet home to France. With this news, the last shadow of hope seemed to have fled.
  • But now were reaped the first fruits of that policy of friendly alliance which previous French governors had established with the nawabs of the Carnatic. At the present time the nawáb was Anwar-ud-din, and to him the French appealed, as feudal lord of both English and French in the Carnatic, to prohibit the English from attacking their settlements.He followed it promising that French will also not attack British.The enormous disadvantage, at which the English had placed themselves by their utter ignorance of native affairs could be seen at this instance

(1)First Carnatic War(1746-1748):

  • 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). and the first of a series of Carnatic Wars that established early British dominance on the east coast of the Indian subcontinent.
  • The First Carnatic war in India began with the appearing of a British Fleet on the Coromandel Coast. in 1745. 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 Bertrand François Mahe de la Bourdonnais.The French governor of the Isle of France(Mauritius), M. de la Bourdonnais was a man of infinite resource, and altogether one of the most remarkable men who took part in the war. Some years before, when the rumor of a probable war in India was first spread abroad, he had impressed on the French government the importance of providing a strong fleet to protect Pondichery, in case of an English attack.
  • 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.
  • An action took place between the two fleets in July 1746 off the coast of Negapatam, a Dutch settlement to the south of Fort St. David. The action was indecisive in itself, but it had the important effect of leaving the Coromandel Coast clear of the English fleet.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.The English had preferred to build Fort St. David, as a stronghold, further down the Coromandel Coast, rather than make Madras itself secure. 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 that celebrated 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.
  • The results of this quarrel were most important in so far as they affected the interests of English and French in India. It 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):

  • 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. Thomé, on the banks of the Adyar. Small French armies defeated the larger army of the Nawab of the Carnatic
  • Importance of the battle of St. Thomé:
  1. 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.
  2. 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 Pondicherryin late 1748.
  • The siege was lifted in October 1748 with the arrival of the monsoons, and the war came to a conclusion with the arrival in December of news of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle 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 its terms Madras was returned to British control.

Consequences:

  • 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.
  • 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?

  • Even if the English and French in India had been really anxious for a lasting peace, it would, under the circumstances, have been an act of great restraint, to refuse to take any part in native affairs; and, when once they mixed in the disputes of different native princes, indirect collision with one another was certain to come sooner or later. But it does not appear that any such eager desire for peace possessed them.
  • The great reason, however, 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: (1) The accession of troops as supplying the power, and (2) 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.

(2)Second Carnatic War (1749–1754):

  • The inducements to interfere in the concerns of native powers were too strong to be resisted by either French or English.
  • The first English interference was for the sole purpose of gaining a convenient harbour; the first French interference was for the sole purpose of placing over the subah of the Deccan, and its subordinate division the Carnatic, two claimants, who should be indebted for their success to French arms, and who should consequently become puppets in the hands of French diplomacy.
  • It was only at a later stage, when their interests clashed, that they consistently took opposite sides in every struggle. It was still later, when war broke out once more in Europe, that they threw off all disguise, and fought openly as principals.
  • The English were the first to act. Sahuji, who having been driven from his throne of Tanjore, by his brother Pratab Sing, now offered the town and the splendid harbour of Devicottah to the English if they would assist him in the recovery of his throne. The English captured Dévicottáh, without the performance of their part of the bargain. Never perhaps has every idea of justice been more completely set aside for interest.

Struggle of Succession of Nizam-ul-Mulk of Hyderabad(Deccan) and Stuggle for throne of Nawab of Arcot(Crnatic) :

  • After the death of the Nizam-ul-Mulk(Subedar) in 1748, the Nizam of Hyderabad, (Deccan) Asaf Jah I a civil war for succession, now known as the Second Carnatic War, broke out between Nasir Jung, the son of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, and Muzaffar Jung, the grandson of Nizam-ul-Mulk.. At the time of the súbahdár’s death, Muzaffar Jang was absent, while Nasir Jang possessed the great advantage of being on the spot.
  • Muzaffar Jang’s first thought was of the Marahtas, and he went to Satara to negotiate with them, with the object of gaining their assistance in his contest with his uncle, Nasir Jang. At Satara, Mozaffer Jang met Chandá Sahéb, member of the royal family of the Carnatic. Chandá Sahéb was at the present time living at Satara as a prisoner of the Mahrattas, who, in 1741, had invaded the Carnatic and taken the town of Trichinopoly, of which he was raja. At the time when Chandá Sahéb was made prisoner by the Mahrattas, the nawáb of the Carnatic was his father-in-law, Safder Alí, who had since been assassinated; and, at the present time, another family was ruling over the Carnatic. This opened a window of opportunity for Chanda Sahib, who wanted to become Nawab of Arcot(Carnatic). He joined the cause of Muzaffar Jung and began to conspire against the Nawab Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan in Arcot.
  • The French allied with Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jung to bring them into power in their respective states. But soon the British also intervened. To offset the French influence, they began supporting Nasir Jung and Muhammad Ali Khan Walajah (son of the deposed Nawab Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan of Arcot).
  • Muzaffar Jang, Chandá Sahéb, and their French allies first set about the conquest of the Carnatic, and in one battle there fell the nawáb, Anwar-ud-din, and his eldest son, while the younger son, Mohammed Alí, saved himself by flight, and shut himself up in Trichinopoly. Thus,Chandá Sahéb was freed from all rivals; and at Arcot, soon after the battle, Mozaffer 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 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, Chandá Sahéb, and the French, on the one side, against Nasir Jang, Mohammed Alí, 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 to let the enemy see his weakness. He led a plot. This was a plot with the Patan nawábs, who commanded an important portion of forces of the súbahdár. These Patan nawábs now revolted; and, in the revolt, Nasir Jang was shot through the heart. Muzaffar Jang was taken from captivity, and proclaimed súbahdár in his stead. Thus the diplomacy of Dupleix had once more made the French party triumphant.
  • Mozaffer Jang was installed as subahdar of the Deccan, and Dupleix himself was appointed, by the subahdar, governor over all the country south of the river Kistna as far as Cape Comorin. The gift of the nawab-ship to Dupleix was nothing but a gift to the giver, for it was to Dupleix that Muzaffar Jang owed his subah.The great French general, M. Bussy, accompanied the new subahdar to his capital, Golconda(Hyderabad).
  • Dupleix was one of the most consummate masters of intrigue that ever lived, and prepared himself beforehand for every event, which the future might bring forth. Knowing every little feeling of disaffection among the followers of the súbahdár, he knew both how to repress and how to use such to his own ends.
  • After Mozaffer 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 subahdár, with the usual result of a fresh and more emphatic confirmation of all the French powers and privileges.
  • All this time, the English held in the Carnatic only Madras, Fort St. David, and Davicottah; and their ally, Mohammed Ali, was on the point of surrendering to the French.He, however, kept adding one stipulation after another to the proposals for surrender: and, when these at last obtained the consent of the French, and had been ratified by the subahdar, he changed his mind, broke off the negotiations, and determined to hold out to the last in Trichinopoly. Nothing in the history of the struggle of French and English for supremacy in India can be more important than this decision of Mohammed Alí.
  • British listened to Mohammed Alí, 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, more important than the Battle of Plessey.
  • The blame of all this 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 súbahdár, 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.
  • It laid down emphatically, that the two companies should “renounce for ever all Mogul dignities and governments, and should never interfere in the differences that might arise among the princes of the country.
  • The treaty, by its very nature, entailed a vastly greater sacrifice on the French than on the English.The real grievance in the treaty was the proposal to arrange the possessions of the two communities on the principle of equality. This was quite unnecessary, and proved one of the chief means to defeat the end of the treaty. 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. The directors of the French East India Company were dissatisfied with Dupleix’s political ambitions, which had led to immense financial loss. In 1754, Charles Godeheu replaced Dupleix.
  • The French had hoped for great things from Dupleix, and for a great accession of wealth to the Company. It has been truly said that, 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. When the English agitated for his recall, it was agreed to without much difficulty.
  • 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 which is in most respects by far the most important, and the most interesting of the three carnatic wars. 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.

(3)Third Carnatic War (1757–1763):

  • 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.

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.

Outbreak of Seven Years’ War in Europe:

  • The outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in Europe led to open conflict between French and British forces in India.
  • 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.
  • Battle of Plassey, from which the origin of our Empire in India is usually dated. It was, first of all, a struggle between the English and the ruling native power. It is true that, in the course of this struggle, the French power in Bengal, which, was never of great importance, was utterly swept away; but the destruction of the French power was not the primary object of the English attack.After the defeat of the subahdar, Suraj-ud-Dowla, the English nominated and set up in his place a súbahdár of their own; and, as was inevitable, the supremacy of this subahdar was equivalent to the supremacy of the English, just as we have seen that, in the Deccan, the supremacy of Salabat Jang was equivalent to French supremacy.
  • Here in south, Still, with everything against him, 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. The state of that province was as yet too unsettled to allow of his leaving. 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. Such an event had the usual effect on the native allies. 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.

Battle of Wandiwash(1760):

  • The war was decided in the south, as British commander Sir Eyre Coote decisively defeated the French under the Comte de Lally at the Battle of Wandiwash in 1760. 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
  • After Wandiwash, the French capital of Pondicherry fell to the British in 1761.
  • While in most respects, the powers, which the two nations had, were not dissimilar in point of strength, there was one weapon, which, for the greater part of the struggle, the French used with great effect, and which the English precluded from using at all. This was the knowledge of all the arcana of native politics, which brought to its possessors the power of pitting one native prince against another to their own advantage. Even had the English acquired this knowledge, the putting of it into practice could only have been brought about by a determination to gain political and territorial power for themselves, as the French had determined.

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 Pondichéry 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.

Reasons for defeat of French:

  • Certainly, on the English side, great men like Lawrence, Clive, Eorde, Coote, and Saunders. 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 Iindia 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 miind. 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 Alí; 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.
  • As time went on, the question of French or English supremacy in India was limited to an ever-decreasing area. Certainly, the Carnatic still continued to be debatable ground; but the struggle, during the third war, was one of union(Britain) against division(French), and its result was such as might natu­rally have been anticipated.

Anglo –Mysore Wars

The Anglo–Mysore Wars were a series of wars fought in over the last three decades of the 18th century between the Kingdom of Mysore on the one hand, and the British East India Company (represented chiefly by the Madras Presidency), and Maratha Confederacy and the Nizam of Hyderabad on the other. Hyder Ali and his successor Tipu Sultan fought a war on four fronts with the British attacking from the west, south and east, while the Marathas and the Nizam’s forces attacked from the north. The fourth war resulted in the overthrow of the house of Hyder Ali and Tipu (who was killed in the final war, in 1799), and the dismantlement of Mysore to the benefit of the East India Company, which won and took control of much of India.

First Mysore War

In 1766, the Marathas under Madhav Rao declared war against the Hyder. The Peshwa got the possession of Sira which was then held by Mir Ali Raza Khan, the brother-in-law of Hyder, who treacherously gave it up in return for Gurramkonda.

Hyder made peace with Madhav Rao by paying 35 lac of rupees. Half of this amount was paid immediately and for the rest, the Kolar region was given as security. Shortly afterwards the amount was paid, Madhav Rao returned to Pune in Mar 1767.

General Calliaud concluded a treaty with Nizam Ali on 12 Nov 1766 with the object of plundering Mysore. The Nizam invaded Mysore accompanied by the British troops under Colonel Joseph Smith and advanced upto Bangalore. But Hyder secretly negotiated with the Nizam and bought him off. Nizam Ali joined Hyder and together they attacked the Carnatic in August 1767.

The British took possession of Tiruppattur, Kaveripatnam and Vaniambadi, which belonged to Hyder. In September, Colonel Smith defeated the confederates at Changama and then at Tiruvannamalai. In the same month, Hyder and the Nizam attacked Colonel Smith at Trichinopoly and recaptured Tiruppattur and Vaniambadi. Hyder laid siege to Ambur (10 Nov-7 Dec 1767) but the garrison was gallantly defended by Captain Calvert. At Singarapettai, Hyder attacked the British, in which he lost several of his officers. When the British under Colonel Peach attacked Hyderabad, Nizam Ali deserted Hyder and a new treaty was concluded on 23 Feb, 1768, between the British and Nizam Ali, proclaiming Hyder Ali a rebel and usurper.

Hyder reached Bangalore and moved towards Gurramkonda. He succeeded in inducing his brother-in-law Mir Ali Raza Khan to return to his allegiance. Thus reinforced, he entered Baramahal and passed onto Coimbatore, while he sent his general Fazl Ulla Khan towards Srirangapatna with a large force to reduce the smaller posts held by the British.

Hyder seized Karur, marched towards Erode and took Kaveripuram. He thus re-conquered all the districts of the ghats which had been wrested from him by the British and marched towards Madras, which was the Company’s headquarters. He suddenly appeared at the gates of Madras and dictated his terms to the British. The Madras government dispatched Captain Brooke to offer terms of peace.

The Treaty of Madras was signed on Apr 2nd, 1769. As per the treaty, both sides agreed to return the prisoners and places. Both sides also agreed to help each other if there is any foreign invasion.

 

 

The Second Mysore War

The Second Anglo-Mysore war started when Hyder Ali invaded the Carnatic in Jul 1780. General Sir Hector Munro assumed the command of the British forces and marched to Kanchipuram. Hyder detached Tipu Sultan with 40,000 men to intercept Colonel Baillie, who was on his way to join Munro.

In this battle, on 10 September 1780, Tipu Sultan defeated Colonel Baillie’s forces. On hearing this news Sir Hector Munro threw off all his guns into the tank of Kanchipuram and retreated to Madras. And according to historical records, the defeat of Baillie was the severest blow that the British ever sustained in India.

After Baillie’s defeat, Hyder recommenced the siege of Arcot and took the fort by November. On 1 July, 1781, General Sir Eyre Coote defeated Hyder’s forces at the Battle of Porto Novo. Tipu who was investing Wandiwash, was recalled to join his father at Arcot. However, Hyder was again defeated at Pollilur on 27th Aug 1781, and then at Sholinghur on 27 September, 1781. In February, 1782, Tipu inflicted a crushing defeat on Colonel Braithwaite at Tanjore.

In August, the British under Colonel Humberstone seized Calicut and advanced towards Palakkad. Hyder dispatched Tipu to oppose them and the British retreated to Ponnani.

Tipu, with the assistance of the French resisted the British forces who were preparing for the siege of Palakkad. He made a vigorous attack at Ponnani but was compelled to retreat. Hyder had for a long time suffered from a cancer on his back and he died on 7th December, 1782 at the age of sixty. Tipu succeeded his father on 29 December, 1782 under the title of Nawab Tipu Sultan Bahadur.

Tipu Sultan continued the war and defeated the British at Wandiwash in 1783. General Matthews captured Bednore, Honavar and Mangalore. Tipu divided his army into two columns, with one retook Hydernagar and Kavale-durga and with the other Anantpur. Bednore was plundered and Mangalore was retaken from the British.

Meanwhile, the French withdrew their support for Tipu following the Treaty of Paris in July 1783. As soon as Tipu left the Carnatic, General Stuart captured Wandiwash, Karunguli, Vellore and Cuddalore. After capturing Palakkad and Coimbatore, Colonel Fullerton made preparations to advance against Srirangapatna.

The second Mysore war came to an end with the Treaty of Mangalore signed between Tipu Sultan and the British East India Company. Under the terms of the treaty both sides once again returned the conquered territories as well as the prisoners.

 

 

The Third Mysore War

The Treaty of Mangalore carried the seeds of strife with the Marathas, because they were disappointed in their expectation of acting as the mediators and of recovering their losses in the North of Mysore.

Tipu had emerged with enhanced prestige, and even the mighty English could not humble him. This excited the jealousy of both the Marathas and the Nizam who fought a war with him for two years between 1785 to 1787. The Nizam was also not friendly towards Mysore ever since he had come to power in 1761. He regarded himself as the overlord of the entire south, and expected Haidar and Tipu to be his tributaries. As he was military imbecile, he allied either with the Marathas or the English to distress the Mysore rulers. There was always a pro-British party at Hyderabad which dissuaded the Nizam from being cordial with Tipu.

In the war that followed, Tipu had the upper hand despite the alliance of his two neighbors. It came to an end by the Treaty of Gajendragadh, by which he ceded Badami to the Marathas hoping to win their support against the English. Tipu was disappointed in his expectations. Far from joining him to remove the English from India, both the Marathas and the Nizam joined the English in a powerful confederacy against Tipu in the Third Mysore war. The allies struggled hard for nearly two years from 1790 to 1792. Lord Cornwallis who had surrendered to the Americans at Saratoga in the new world assumed the command, and with great difficulty he was successful in a surprise night attack to enter into the island of Srirangapatna on 6th February, 1792.

Tipu was made to make peace by surrendering half of his kingdom and paying three crores has indemnity, apart from sending two of his sons as hostages to Madras. This was a serious blow to him.

Fourth Anglo Mysore War

The fourth Anglo-Mysore War was of a very short duration, and very decisive. Tipu was defeated by Stuart, at Sedaseer on March 5, 1799 and by General Harris at Malvelly on March 27. He then retired to Seringapatnam which was captured on May 4, 1799. Tipu was killed fighting bravely. Members of Tipu’s family were interned at Vellore.

The English annexed Kanara, Coimbatore, Wynad, Dharpouram besides the entire sea coast of Mysore. The Nizams received some land which they handed over again to the Company for the support of the British troops.

Thus the fourth Mysore war destroyed the whole state of Mysore. The British also offered some territories to the Peshwas, which they did not accept. Mysore was restored to the Hindu royal family after signing a subsidiary alliance. The Governor-General could interfere in the administration. As a result of this war, the British got complete power of South India

 

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