From Trade To Territory (Class 8 History Chapter 2 Notes)

India (1857)/Wikimedia
Aurangzeb was the last powerful Mughal emperor. After his death in 1707, many mughal subadars and zamindars broke away and established their own kingdom. By the mid of the 18th century, British filled this power gap quickly and gradually established themselves as overlords of the subcontinent.

East India Company
  1. In 1600, the East India Company acquired the royal charter from the England ruler Queen Elizabeth I granting sole right to trade with the East.
  2. However, it was Portuguese who had already established their presence and had their base in Goa. It was, in fact, Vasco de Gama, a Portuguese explorer who discovered the sea route to India in 1498.
  3. By the early 17th century, Dutch and French East India Companies entered in the scene.
  4. The main problem was that all companies were interested in buying same commodity: cotton, silk, pepper, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. The competition rose the buying price and reducing the net profit. This led to fierce battles between companies in order to eliminate the competition.
  5. Meanwhile, trade could not be carried on without arms. Moreover, trading posts were fortified. The fortification led to intense conflict with local ruler, which eventually led to rise of the political powers of the East India Companies.

East India Company begins trade in Bengal
  1. In 1651, the British East India Company (EIC) eastablished its first factory on the banks of river Hugli. As the trade grew, it attracted a range of merchants and traders to live nearby its premises.
  2. By 1696, the factory was fortified and two years later, Company got zamindari rights of three villages by bribing the Mughal officials.
  3. Kalikata was one of these villages, which later became modern Culcutta or Kolkata.
  4. The company also persuaded the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb to issue a farman granting duty free trade.

How trade led to battles
  1. After the death of Aurangzeb, the Nawabs of Bengal grabbed the power and denied any concession to the Company. They also stopped the fortification work and banned the Company from minting coins. On the other side, the Company declared that the demand of higher duty fee and ban on minting coins were unjust.
  2. The above two factors led to conforntation between Nawabs and the Company, which ultimately led to the Battle of Plassey.

The Battle of Plassey
  1. After the death of Alivardi Khan, Sirajuddaulah became the nawab of Bengal in 1756.
  2. On another side, Company saw this event as an opportunity and unsuccessfuly tried to topple the new Nawab, which eventually led to capturing of Kasimbazar factory and fall of Culcutta fort by Sirajuddaulah.
  3. Later, Company sensing the complete seizure of their trading activities tried to negotiate with Sirajuddaulah, but negotiation failed. And this eventually led to the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
  4. Robert Clive led the Company's army and defeated the Nawab. One of the major reason behind this defeat was backing down of Mir Jafar, Sirajuddaulah's commander on the very last moment. British gained his support on the promise of position of Nawab.
  5. After the Battle of Plassey, Sirajuddaulah was assassinated and Mir Jafar made the nawab. However, after the death of Mir Jafar, the Company decided to took over the administration. Eventually, the Company was appointed as the Diwan of Bengal Province by the Mughals.
  6. The Diwani of Bengal allowed the Company to better manage their finances and allowed them to expand freely. This also completely stopped the outflow of gold from Britain.

Company officials become “nabobs”
  1. After the Battle of Plassey, the actual Nawabs were forced to give lands and money as gifts to the Company officials. Officials like Robert Clive made the riches from this opportunity.
  2. However, not everyone was lucky and several company official died in India due to war and disease.
  3. The lucky few who returned to the Britain led a flashy lives and flaunted their wealth. They were seen as social climbers. Mockingly called "Nabobs" by their counterparts.

Company Rule
  1. The Company barely launched any direct attack on any unknown territory. Instead, they used a variety of tactics to extend their influence before annexing an Indian Kingdom.
  2. After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the Company appointed several Residents in Indian states. Through these Residents, they meddled in the internal affairs of these states.
  3. The Company also forced these states into Subsidary Alliance, in which they promised to provide military protection in exchange of a heavy fee. On failing to pay this fee, they annexed parts of the state. They annexed part of Awadh and Hyderabad through this policy.

Tipu Sultan – The “Tiger of Mysore”
  1. The Company launched direct military attack when it saw a threat to its interests such in the case of Mysore.
  2. Mysore had grown into a significant power under the leadership of Haidar Ali (1761-1782) and his son Tipu Sultan (1782-1799). They controlled the profitable trade of Malabar coast.
  3. After initial skirmishes, Tipu Sultan stopped the trade with the Company in 1785. He also established the relationship with the French Company and modernized his army with their help.
  4. The above step made the British furious and they saw this as a challenge to their sovereignity. This led to four Anglo-Mysore Wars (1767-69, 1780-84, 1790-92 and 1799). In 1799, the last Battle of Seringapatam, Tipu Sultan was killed defending his capital.
  5. Mysore was placed under former ruling dynasty Wodeyars and subsidary alliance was imposed.

  1. In the late 18th century, the Company started their mission against Maraths and eventually destroy Maratha power.
  2. In 1761, they shattered the dream of Marathas ruling Delhi by defeating them in Battle of Panipat.
  3. The Maratha state was a confederacy of smaller states under different chiefs such as Sindhias, Holkar, Gaikwad and Bhonsle, and commonly led by the Peshwa, who ruled from Pune. Mahadji Sindhia and Nana Phadnis were two last significant Maratha statesmen from the late 18th century.
  4. There were three wars fought between Marathas and English Company.
  5. The first Anglo-Maratha war ended up with the Treaty of Salbai in 1782 with no clear victor.
  6. In Second Anglo-Maratha war (1803-05), British won the territories of Odisha and Yamuna region between Delhi and Agra.
  7. In Third Anglo-Maratha war (1817-1819), British completely crushed Marathas and Peshwa was sent to Bithpur with a monthly pension.

The Claim To Paramountacy

  1. Under the Governor-General of India Lord Hasting (1813-1823), the British pursued the policy of paramountacy. In order to protect their rights, they forced the Indian Kingdoms subsume their authority.
  2. They annexed small states like Kitoor at their will. Though met with resistance, but resistive powers were no match to the British.
  3. They established their indirect rule on Afghanistan after a prolonged war between 1838 and 1842.
  4. In 1849, following death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1839), they annexed Punjab after a series of wars.

The Doctrine of Lapse

  1. The final wave of annexation happened under the rule of Governor General of India Lord Dalhousie (1848-1856) through Doctrine of Lapse.
  2. The doctrine declared that if a ruler died without a male heir his kingdom would become the part of Company territory. By this doctrine, they annexed Satara (1848), Sambalpur (1850), Udaipur (1852), Nagpur (1853) and Jhansi (1854).
  3. In 1856, they annexed Awadh sighting the cruelty and mismanagement of Nawab.

Setting up a New Administration

  1. Warren Hastings played a significant role in the expansion of Company power. He divided British territories into administrative units called Presidencies. There were three Presidencies: Bengal, Madras and Bombay.
  2. Each Presidency was ruled by a Governor and they were headed by the Governor-General office.
  3. From 1772, they setup a new court system. Each district has two courts - a criminal court (faujdari adalat) and civil court (diwani adalat).
  4. Several Maulvis and Pandits were appointed to aid the Briish judge and intrepret the Indian laws.
  5. Under the Regulating Act of 1773, a new Supreme Court was established at Kolkata.
  6. The Collector was made the head of the district level administration. He was aided by the judges, police officers and darogas.

The Company Army
  1. Unlike Mughals, the Company less dependent on the Cavalry, but on foot soldiers. The soldiers trained with muskets and matchlocks, instead of swords and other archaic weapons.
  2. They developed a uniform military culture. Soldiers were subjected to European-style training, drill and discipline that brought much needed regulation.


By 1857 the Company came to exercise direct rule over about 63% of the territory and 78% of the population of the Indian subcontinent.
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