European Invasion of India
Portuguese in India :
- The Portuguese voyager Vasco da Gama reached Calicut on May 17, 1498. At that time Calicut was ruled by a king named Zamorin. Vasco da Gama’s voyage was successful in establishing a sea route from Europe to India that would permit trade with the Far East, without the use of the costly and unsafe Silk Road caravan routes, of the Middle East and Central Asia. In 1502, he established a factory at Cochin.
- The first Governor of Portuguese in India was Francisco Almeida.
- He was followed by Alfonso de Albuquerque in 1503. He gave them new heights. He captured Goa in 1510 from the Bijapur ruler. He also abolished Sati.
- Nino – da – Cunha transferred the Portuguese capital in India from Cochin to Goa in 1530 and acquired Diu (in 1535) and Daman (in 1559).
- Portuguese lost Hugly in 1631 during the reign of Shahjahan.
- In 1661, the Portuguese king gave Bombay to Charles II of England as dowry, for marrying his sister.
- Gradually, their Indian territories were taken away from them by various sources. The Dutch played an important role to oust them.
Dutch East India Company :
- Dutch East India Company was formed in 1602.
- They set – up their first factory at Masulipatnam in 1605. Their other factories were at Pulicat, Chinsura, Patna, Balasore, Nagapattanam, Cochin, Surat, Karikal, Kasimbazar.
English East India Company :
- The English East India Company was formed in 1599, and was given the royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600 to trade in the east.
- Captain William Hawkins stayed in Jahangir’s court from 1609 – 1611. But he failed to get the king’s permission to erect a factory at Surat. Captain Middleton succeeded in this effort in 1611.
- An imperial Farman allowed the Company to set up a permanent factory at Surat in 1613. Sir Thomas Roe played an important role in this.
- In 1616, the Company established its first factory in the south in Masulipatnam. In 1633, it established its first factory in east India in Hariharpur, Balasore (Orissa).
- The Company got the lease of Madras in 1639 and built Fort St. George in Madras, which acted as its headquarter on the Coromandal coast.
- Bombay was made the Company’s main settlement on the west coast in 1668.
- Aurangzeb gave the Company the Farman in 1667 to trade in Bengal. In 1690, a factory was set up at Sutanuti village. In Sutanati and nearby villages of Kalikata and Gobindpur, grew the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata). In 1696, the Company fortified the Calcutta factory into Fort William.
- In 1717, John Surman obtained a Farman from Farrukhsiyar which gave large concessions to the Company. This Farman is called the ‘Magna Carta’ of the Company.
- The Danish East India Company was formed in 1616.
- They established settlements at Serampur (Bengal) and Tranquebar (Tamil Nadu).
- The banes sold their settlements to the English in 1845.
French in India :
- The French East India Company was set in 1664, at the instance of a minister, Colbert, in the reign of Louis XIV.
- The French Company was created, financed and controlled by the State and it differed from the English Company which was a private commercial venture.
- They established their first factor)’ at Surat in 1668 and at Masulipatnam in 1669.
- The foundation of Pondicherry was laid in 1673 which, afterwards, became its capital. They also developed a factory in Chandernagar.
The British Conquest of Bengal :
- The Mughal governor of Bengal, Murshid Quli Khan, made Bengal virtually independent of the Mughal Empire during his reign (1717 – 1727).
- His son Shuja – ud – daulah succeeded him and ruled for 12 years.
- After his death, Alivardi Khan ruled till 1756.
- These three rulers gave Bengal a long reign of peace and orderly administration.
- They suppressed the East India Company, but never crushed it. On the other hand, the Company constantly increased its power taking advantage of the corrupt officers.
- The result was the defeat of Siraj – ud – daulah (grandson and successor of Alivardi Khan) in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. In this battle major part of the Nawab’s army (led by Mir Jafar and Rai Durlabh) didn’t take part in the battle. The Nawab was defeated and killed.
Robert Clive and Battle of Plassey :
Robert Clive is regarded as the true founder of British Political Dominion in India. He correctly read the intricacies of the political situation of the time and struck boldly and in the right direction. He outdid his French adversary Dupleix and achieved more permanent results. He was made the Governor of Bengal twice form 1757 – 60 and then from 1765 – 67. He administered Bengal under the Dual government.
With the resources of Bengal, the English conquered South India and routed their only political rival in India, the French. Above all, he transformed a mere trading body that the east India Company was into a territorial power with the role of king – maker in Bengal. On his return to England, he committed suicide in 1774.
- The Battle of Plassey had great political significance as it laid the foundation of the British Empire in India. It is regarded as the starting point of British Rule in India.
- A great transformation came about in the position of the English Company in Bengal. Before Plassey, the English Company was just one of the European companies trading in Bengal and suffering various extractions at the hands of Nawab’s officials. After Plassey the English Company virtually monopolized the trade and commerce of Bengal.
- The alleged Black Hole Tragedy happened during the reign of Siraj – ud – daulah in 1757.
- Mir Jafar was made the next Nawab of Bengal. The Company was granted undisputed right to free trade in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It received the Zamindari of 24 Parganas.
- Next came Mir Qasim. He revoked against the British as he was angry that the British were misusing the dastaks (free duty passes).
- The Battle of Buxar was fought in 1764 between the British forces (led by Major Munro) on one side, and the triple alliance of Nawab Mir Qasim of Bengal, Nawab Shuja – ud – Daula of Awadh and Mughal emperor Shah Alam, on the other side. But the triple – alliance was defeated. The importance of this battle lay in the fact that not only the Nawab of Bengal but the Emperor of India was also defeated.
- If the Battle of Plassey had made the English a powerful factor in the politics of Bengal, the victory of Buxar made them a great power of. North India and contenders for the supremacy of the whole country. The English now faced the Afghans and the Marathas as serious rivals in the final struggle for the Empire of Hindustan.
- The Treaty of Allahabad followed (August 1765) in which the English got the Diwani (or right to collect revenue) of Bengal and thus became the master of the whole of Bengal (i.e. Bengal, Bihar and Orissa). The Dual Government of Bengal system followed wherein the Company acquired the real power, while the responsibility of administration rested on the Nawab of Bengal.
- The Mughal emperor was virtually Company’s prisoner at Allahabad.
Raja Sawai Jai Singh ruled Amber from 1681 – 1743. He was the most outstanding Rajput king of this period. He built the city of Jaipur and set up observatories at Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi. He drew up a set of tables, titled Zij Muhammadshahi, for astronomical observations.