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Expansion of British power in India

East India Company which was merely one of the European trading companies became the mighty political power by the end of 18th century. All the regional powers were gradually defeated by the British.




Annexation by British

Nawab of Bengal


Murshid Quli Jafar Khan

1765(Treaty of Allahabad)



Baji rao I

1801(Subsidiary Alliance)

Nawab of Carnatic


Saadatulla Khan

1801(Subsidiary Alliance)

Nawab of Awadh


Mir Muhammad Amin Saadat Khan

1801(Subsidiary Alliance), 1856 (Dalhousie)

Nizam of Hyderabad


Mir Qamruddin Chin Kilich Khan

1798 (Subsidiary Alliance)



Haidar Ali

1799 (Subsidiary Alliance)



Ranjit Singh

1849 (Dalhousie)

The Carnatic Wars

Carnatic use to be a subah under the Viceroy of Deccan. After the death of Aurangzeb, when the provincial Mughal viceroys declared their independence, Nizam of Hyderabad (viceroy of Deccan) too declared his independence. Subsequently the Nawab of Carnatic freed himself from the control of viceroy of Deccan and declared his independence.

Sadatullah Khan was the founder of the state of Carnatic with Arcot as its capital. Sadatullah Khan declared Dost Ali, his nephew, as his successor without the approval of the Viceroy of Deccan. The Viceroy of Deccan supported the other claimant as Nawab.  The French and English trading companies supported the rival factions which resulted in the wars. The other major cause of the Carnatic wars was political conditions prevailing in Europe.

  • First Carnatic war (1746-48):  Anawaruddin and Chanda Sahib claimed the throne of Carnatic and were supported by the rival European companies. Anwaruddin was appointed Nawab by the viceroy of Deccan. While Chanda Sahib was the son-in-law and heir of Dost Ali was supported by French. The French under Captain Paradise besieged Madras from Anawaruddin at the battle of St. Thome near river Aydar. The Treaty of Aix-La-Chappelle (1748) ended the war of Austrian succession and First Anglo-French war in India.
  • Second Carnatic war (1749-54): French governor Dupleix aligned with Muzaffar Jung (Hyderabad) and Chanda Sahib (Carnatic/Arcot). After initial reverses, Robert Clive emerged victorious. The treaty of Pondicherry by Godehu (new French governor in place of Duplex) ended the Second Anglo-French War.
  • Third Carnatic war (1758-63): French Count de Lally captured Fort St. David. French were defeated at Wandiwash (1760). It was a decisive defeat of French. The treaty of Paris (1763) ended the Third and Final Anglo-French war in India. Pondicherry was returned to French by this treaty.

The conquest over Bengal

With the disintegration of Mughal Empire after the death of Aurangzeb, the apex official of Mughal in Bengal declared its independence. The freeed themselves from the yoke of Mughal emipre and came to be known as "Nawab" of Bengal. The following is the list of Nawabs of Bengal

Murshil Quli Khan (1717-27)

Murshid Quli Khan was made Diwan of Bengal and Faujdar of Murshidabad in 1700 by Aurangzeb.

 In 1717, Murshid Quli Khan was appointed at Bengal’s Subedar i.e. governor by Mughal emperor Farrukh Siyar. He was also granted the Governorship of Orissa by Farrukh Siyar in 1719. He transferred the capital of Bengal from Dacca to Murshidabad. He tried to prevent the misuse of “dastak” by the servants of East India Company.

Shujauddin (1727-39)

He was the son-in-law of Murshid Quli Khan. He was granted the governorship of Bihar by Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah ‘Rangeela’ in 1733. He divided Bengal into four administrative units.

Sarfaraj Khan (1739-40)

 He was the son of Shujauddin and was murdered by Alivardi Khan, the Deputy Governor of Bihar, in 1740.

Alivardi Khan (1740-56)

He legalized his usurpation by receiving a farman from Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah ‘Rangeela’ after paying him Rs. 2 Crores. He was defeated by Raghuji Bhonsle and had to pay Rs 12 lakhs as war indemnity.

He prevented the English and the French from fortifying their factories at Calcutta and Chandranagore respectively.

Sirajuddaula: 1756-57

Alivardi Khan was succeeded by his grandson Sirajuddaula. Sirajudaula was opposed by his aunt Ghasiti Begam. The differences cropped up between Nawab and English over the following issues:

  • Misuse of Dastak by the servants of the company
  • Instead of paying taxes on their goods, English imposed heavy duties on the Indian goods entering Calcutta
  • English supported the claims of Ghasiti Begam
  • The main reason of differences was the fortification of Calcutta factory by English. Nawab ordered to stop the fortification which English declined.

Sirajuddaula seiged the English factory at Kasimbazar. On 20th June, 1756, Fort William surrendered but Robert Clive recovered Calcutta. On 2nd Jan. 1757, Treaty of Alinagar was signed, where by Siraj conceded practically all the demands. British then captured Chandranagore, the French settlement, on Marh 1757.

The Battle of Plassey ‘was fought on 23 June, 1757. Owing to the conspiracy, the Nawab was defeated. The following betrayed the Nawab:

  • Mir Jafar: Mir Bakshi                                                                
  • Manikchand : Officer in charge of Calcutta
  • Amichand : Rich Sikh merchant
  • Jagat Seth : Biggest banker of Bengal
  • Khadim Khan : Commanded a large number of Nawab’s troops
  • Nand Kumar: The faujdar at Hughl

Mir Jafar

He was army chief or Mir Bakshi under Siraj-ud-Daula who betrayed Nawab and sided with English in battle of Pallasey. After the defeat of Nawab he was installed as Nawab by the company. He was a titular Nawab who was controlled by the officials of the English Company.

The company was granted undisputed right to free trade in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It received the Zamindari of 24 Parganas. Mir Jafar, however, fell into arrears and was forced to abdicate in favor of his son-in-law Mir Qasim.

Mir Qasim : 1760-64

Mir Qasim ceded Burdwan, Midnapore and Chittagong. He shifted his capital from Murshidabad to Munger.Mir Qasim soon revolted as he was angry with the British for misusing the dastak (free duty passes).However, having been defeated by the British, he fled to Awadh, where he formed a confederacy with Awadh ruler Shujauddaula and Mughal emperor Shah Alam II.

The Battle of Buxar (1764): The three powers i.e. the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, Nawab of Awadh Suja-ud-daula and Nawab of Bengal Mir Qasim, were defeated by English under Munro. Mir Jafar was again placed on the throne.Clive concluded two separate treaties of Allahabad with Shah Alam II (12 Aug., 1765) and Shujauddaula (16 Aug., 1765).

The battles of Pallasey and Buxar changed the fate and nature of the English Company. From a mere trading entity it became a mighty political power in India. The vast resources of Bengal were now controlled by the company. This helped the company not only to eliminate its trading European rivals but also to establish a pan Indian Empire.  

Dual system of Government

After the Battle of Buxar, the Bengal underwent into a system of Dual government in 1765. This system was introduced by Clive. The Company acquired both Diwani (fiscal) and Nizamat (legal) rights.

The Empror Shah Alam II gave them Diwani rights by treaty of Allahabad and Nizam-ud-daula, the Nawab of Bengal surrendered the Nizamat rights after the defeat at Buxar.

However the company did not take over direct administration and revenue collection. As a result the company abstained itself from taking any responsibility. The Dual system was ended by Warren Hasting in 1772.

The conquest over Mysore

Mysore was one of the state which gave very tough resistance to the British power. Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan carried the series of battles against the expansion of British power. Mysore was one of the state which realized the importance of foreign relations and tried to form a alliance against the British.

Haidar Ali: 1761-82

Haider Ali was born in a poor family. Haidar Ali began his carrer as a soldier in the service of the Mysore state, later he became the faujdar of Dindigul. He established a modern arsnel in Dindigul with the help of French.

In 1759, he defended the capital of Mysore, Seringapatnam against Marathas. In 1761, he overthrew Nanjarajar (the powerful Prime Minister of Wodeyar king Krishraja I) and usurped power, though continuing to recognize Krishnraja I as the lawful ruler.

He checked the power of Poligars, the zamindars of Mysore. Haider Ali was defeated by Maratha in 1764, 1766 and 1771.

First Anglo-Mysore War (1766-69): Haider Ali defeated the British. The Treaty of Madras (1769) was signed on the basis of mutual restoration of each other’s territory.

Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84): The outbreak of the American War of Independence caused Warren Hastings to attack French port Mahe, which was in Haidar Ali’s territory. Haider Ali led a joint front with Nizam and Maratha and captured Arcot (Capital of Carnatic State). In 1781, Haidar Ali was defeated at Porto Novo by Eyrecoot. In 1782 Haider Ali defeated Captian Braithwate. Haider Ali died during the 2nd Anglo-Mysore war.

Tipu Sultan

Haidar Ali was succeeded by his son Tipu Sultan in 1782.He continued the Second Anglo-Mysore war till 1784. The Treaty of Mangalore (1784) was signed by Tipu Sultan which ended the Second Anglo-Mysore war.

 Third Anglo-Mysore war (1790-92) Cornwallis began the war as an ally of the Raja of Travancore. Maratha and Nizam aided the British, Cornwallis captured Bangalore in 1791. The Treaty of Seringapatnam (1792) was signed as a result of that Tipu ceded half of his territory and had to pay heavy war indemnity.

 Fourth Anglo-Mysore war (1799): Tipu entered into negotiations with Revolutionary France and send diplomatic mission to Arabia, Afghanistan and Turkey to forge an anti British front. Tipu planted a ‘tree of liberty’ at his capital Seringapatnam and became a member of Jacobian Club. Lord Welslley attacked Mysore and Tipu was killed defending Seringapatnam. 

Anglo-Maratha wars

 First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-82): Favoring the cause of Raghunath Rao (Raghoba) for Peshwaship, English (Hastings) came in conflict with the Marathas. On being defeated, the British had to sign the humiliating Convention of Wadgaon (1779).

 British later signed Treaty of Salbai (1782), renouncing the cause of Raghoba.

 Second Anglo-Maratha war (1803-06): The Maratha Peshwa signed the Subsidiary Alliance Treaty of Bassein (1802). The Maratha confederacy, which did not like the idea challenged the British       power but were defeated by the British.

Third Anglo-Maratha war (1817-18): Lord Hastings was determined to proclaim British paramountcy in India. Hastings moves against Pindaris which questioned the sovereignty of the Maratha chiefs and the war began. The Marathas were decisively defeated.

Anglo Sikh wars

After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh power got weakened.

First Anglo-Sikh war (1845-46): Sikhs were defeated in all the four battles at Mudki, Ferozshah, Aliwal and Sobraon. The Treaty of Lahore (1846) ended the war. Sir Henry Lawerence became the first resident.

Second Anglo-Sikh war (1848-49): Dalhousie annexed Punjab. Sir John Lawerence became the first chief commissioner of Punjab.

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