Beginning of European settlements:Formation and growth of East India Company; Consolidation of British power in India : Battles of Plassey and Buxar; Control over Mysore; Subsidiary Alliance; Doctrine of Lapse; Doctrine of Escheat

Beginning of European settlements:Formation and growth of East India Company; 

Luxury goods produced in east asian countries such as pepper, spices such as cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, silks, cottons, tea and coffee were in great demand in Europe.These luxury goods from the East Indies came to Europe in small quantities via complex trade routes. Several of the European nations were anxious to find direct routes to this treasure house of expensive trade goods.

The East India Company was established in 1600 to challenge the Dutch-Portuguese monopoly of the spice trade. Queen Elizabeth granted the company monopoly rights to bring goods from India. With the approval of local Indian rulers, the East India Company (EIC) established trading posts in Bengal and Madras, trading in cottons, silks, indigo, saltpetre, tea and spices. Spices were valuable for use as a preservative (for otherwise inedible meat) and in medicines. Nutmeg was much sought after for the treatment of rheumatism and cloves for toothache.

After the downfall of Vijaynagra kingdom, southern India provided ample opportunities for the growth of East India Company in the southern India.

In 1634, the Emperor Shah Jahan’s firman granted the Company permission to establish factories
in Bengal with a fort at Piplee. In 1640, the Company acquired on very favorable terms, the concession of Madras which became the first independent position of the English in India. Permission was also obtained to build a fort the Fort of St.George and this was the origin of the Madras Presidency. -the Fort of St.George and this was the origin of the Madras Presidency.


Consolidation of British power in India : Battles of Plassey and Buxar;

According to this Imperial farman,the Company had to pay Rs. 3000 a year and in return could carry on trade duty- free in Bengal. The Company’s servants extended this privilege to their own coastal trade,inter- Asian trade and finally the inland trade.Sirajuddaulah asked the Company to stop meddling in the political affairs of his dominion, stop fortification, and pay the revenues. After negotiations failed, theNawab marched with 30,000 soldiers to the English factory at Kassimbazar, captured the Company officials, locked the warehouse, disarmed all Englishmen, and blockaded English ships.

The British retaliation started with hatching a conspiracy against the nawab in alliance with his officers like Rai Durlabh, Ami Chand, Mir Jafar and Jagat Seth.

The battle took place at Palashi on the banks of the Bhagirathi River. The belligerents were the Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, and the British East India Company. Siraj-ud-daulah had become the Nawab of Bengal the year before, and he ordered the English to stop the extension of their fortification. Robert Clive bribed Mir Jafar, the commander in chief of the Nawab’s army, and also promised him to make him Nawab of Bengal. He defeated the Nawab at Plassey in 1757 and captured Calcutta.

Mir Jafar, The commander-in-chief of the Nawab was made the Nawab by Clive for his support to the English.
Mir Jafar responded by paying a sum of Rs.One Crore and Seventy Seven lakhs (17,700,000) to the Company and large sums to the Company officers as bribe. But Mir Jafar could not support the ever increasing demands of the English who werealso suspicious about his collaboration with the Dutch Trading Company. Mir Jafar,who was made nawab after the battle of Plassey, was deposed in 1760. Mir Qasim was placed on the throne by the British in the hope that he would be able to meet their financial demands.

In June 1763 under Major Adams British army defeated Mir Qasim the Nawab of Bengal. Mir Qasim fled to Patna and took help from Emperor Shah Alam II and Shujaud-Daula. On October 22-23, 1764, the decisive Battle of Buxar was fought. The belligerents were the East India Company on one side and combined forces of Mir Kasim, Shah Aalam II and Shuja-ud-Daula. The combined forces had 40000 soldiers and the British Forces had 18000 forces.

Nawab of Awadh becoming a grateful subordinate. Mughal emperor became a pensioner of Company.  Nawabs of Bengal and Awadh did not challenge the superior position of the Company again.

By the Treaty of Allahabad (1765), Nawab of Awadh Shuja-ud-Daula was confirmed in his
possessions on the following conditions:

  • Surrendering Allahabad and Kora to Mughal emperor Shah Alam
  • Rs 5o lakhs were paid to Company as war indemnity
  • Balwant Singh, zamindar of Benaras was confirmed in full possession of his estate.

Control over Mysore;

  • Haidar Ali, in 1761, overthrew Nanjaraj and established his own authority over Mysore
  • 1755: Established a modern arsenal at Dindigal with the help of French experts
  • Conquered Bidnur, Sunda, Sera, Canara and Malabar
  • He conquered Malabar because he wanted access to the Indian Ocean
  • First and Second Anglo-Mysore War
  • 1782: Succeeded by Tipu Sultan
  • Tipu Sultan was an innovator. Introduced a new calendar, a new system of coinage and new scales of weights and measures.
  • Keen interest in French Revolution
    • Planted a ‘tree of liberty’ at Srirangapatnam and became a member of the Jacobin Club
  • Made efforts to build a modern navy
  • Mysore flourished economically under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan
  • Sent missions to France, Turkey, Iran and Pegu Myanmar to develop foreign trade
  • Some historians say that Tipu was a religious fanatic. But facts don’t support this assertion.

Haidar Ali was in command of the army in Mysore from 1749; he became the ruler of the state in 1761. Until his defeat by Sir Eyre Coote in 1781 Haidar Ali continued his struggle against the Company. Mysore finally fell to the Company forces in 1799, with the slaying of Tipu Sultan in 1799.

Subsidiary Alliance;

The Subsidiary Alliances system was introduced by Lord Wellesley in and after 1798. The British, under the subsidiary alliance system, agreed to protect the Indian rulers against external threats and internal disorder but, in return, the Indian rulers who accepted the Subsidiary Alliance system were to agree to the stationing of British contingent for whose maintenance they would pay a subsidy to the British. The ruler under the system of alliance could neither enter into alliance with any other power nor fight a war without prior permission from the British. A British resident was stationed at these ruling states that had the authority to interfere in state politics.

Doctrine of Lapse and Doctrine of Escheat ;

The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy devised by Lord Dalhousie, who was the Governor General of India between 1848 and 1856. There was a widespread custom of adoption among the Indian kings to secure an heir in the absence of a natural successor i.e. son. But as per the doctrine of lapse any Indian state created by or under the direct influence (paramount) of the British East India Company , as a vassal state under the British Subsidiary System, would automatically “lapse” or annexed by the British if the ruler was either incompetent or died without a natural male heir.By applying the doctrine of lapse, Dalhousie annexed the States of Satara (1848 A.D.), Jaipur (1849 A.D.), Sambhalpur (1849 A.D.), Bahat (1850 A.D.), Udaipur (1852 A.D.), Jhansi (1853 A.D.), and Nagpur (1854 A.D.).

Escheat is a common law doctrine that transfers the property of a person who died without heirs to the crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in “limbo” without recognized ownership

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