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Establishment of British Rule in India

The British and the French East India Companies had established their factories in different parts of India. They competed against each other to establish their supremacy in India. They also interfered in the internal affairs of the native rulers. The three wars fought between the English and the French in India are popularly known as Carnatic Wars.

The First Carnatic War (1746–1748 AD) It was fought because of the Austrian war of succession in Europe between the French and the English. It spread to India and soon an armed fight ensued between the English and the French. The French under Dupleix was able to defeat the English and captured Madras. Meanwhile, the war in Europe ended and both the countries signed the Treaty of Aix-la—Chapelle in 1748.

The Second Carnatic War (1749–1754) It was in fact the continuation of the First Carnatic War. The main cause was the fight for the throne in Carnatic and Hyderabad by the native rulers; both French and English interfered in the war. In Carnatic, the French supported Chanda Sahib and the English supported Anwaruddin and his son Mohammed Ali. In the Deccan or Hyderabad, the French supported Muzzafar Jung and the English supported Nasir Jung. The French under Dupleix was defeated by the English led by Robert Clive. The war came to an end with the Treaty of Pondicherry in 1754. Mohammed Ali was made the Nawab of Carnatic. Both the countries agreed that they will not interfere in the internal affairs of the native rulers.

The Third Carnatic War (1756–1763) It was fought because of the Seven Years’ War that was fought in Europe between the French and the English. The war broke out even in India. The main event of the war was the decisive defeat of the French in the Battle of Wandiwash in 1760. Within a year, the French lost all their possessions in India. The Treaty of Paris was signed after this war. According to this, Pondicherry, Karaikal, and Mahe were restored to the French under the protection of the English.

The British Conquest of Bengal

The beginning of British political domination over India may be traced to the British conquest of Bengal. The Bengal province included Bihar and Orissa and was the most fertile and the richest of India’s provinces. Siraj-ud-daulah, the Nawab of Bengal, wanted to drive out the English from India. The main reason for his contention was that the English misused the trading privileges, and they started fortification without his permission in Calcutta. Siraj-ud-daulah fought against the British in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Mir Jaffer, the commander of Siraj-ud-daulah, became a traitor and supported the English. The English led by Robert Clive defeated Siraj-ud-daulah.

After Siraj-ud-daulah’s defeat, Mir Jaffer became the Nawab of Bengal. He was not an efficient administrator; hence the British decided to depose him. Mir Kasim was made the Nawab of Bengal. He was a very ambitious ruler and wanted to put an end to the English power in India. Mir Kasim joined hands with Shuja-ud-daulah, the Nawab of Oudh and the Mughal emperor Shah Alam. The three combined forces fought against the British in the battle of Buxar in 1764. The British defeated the combined forces and the Treaty of Allahabad was signed. According to this, the English secured the Diwani right of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The Battle of Buxar has been regarded as more important as it led to the firm establishment of British power in India.

The Anglo-Mysore Wars

Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan ruled the Hindu Kingdom of Mysore. They came to power on their own strength and expanded their boundaries of the Mysore Kingdom. Both fought against the British throughout their career. Four Anglo-Mysore wars were fought between Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan against the British.

The First Anglo-Mysore War (1767–1769) It was fought between Hyder Ali and the British because of the expansionist policy of Hyder Ali. Hyder Ali maintained friendly relations with the English and the French. The English were apprehensive about the influence of the French in Hyder Ali’s court. The English concluded a treaty with the Nizam of Hyderabad and Marathas. The British under Colonel Smith fought against Hyder Ali. The English were unable to face the forces of Hyder Ali and Tipu; both marched to the gates of Madras. The English were alarmed and sued peace. The Treaty of Madras was signed between them in 1769.

The Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780–1784) In 1770, Mysore was attacked by Peshwa Madhav Rao. The British did not help Hyder Ali although it had been decided by the Treaty of Madras that mutual help should be given in times of danger. Hyder Ali felt that the treaty was violated. He took the help of the French, trained his army and made quadruple alliances with the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Poona government and Bhonsle of Nagpur. The allies deserted Hyder Ali in the war; Sir Eyre Coote, the British commander, inflicted a crushing defeat on Hyder Ali at Porto Novo. Hyder Ali died suffering from cancer in 1782. The war was continued by Tipu and the Treaty of Mangalore was signed in 1784.

The Third Anglo Mysore War (1790–1792) The main cause for the outbreak of the Third Anglo-Mysore War was Tipu, who attacked the Raja of Travancore, an ally of the British. Lord Cornwallis led the campaign against Tipu. Cornwallis occupied the hill forts along the path of Srirangapatna. Tipu sued for peace and signed the Treaty of Srirangapatna. According to this,Tipu surrendered half of his territories and had to pay a heavy war indemnity. When he was unable to pay this amount, he kept his two sons as hostages in the English camp.

The Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799) The main cause for the war was Lord Wellesley who forced Tipu Sultan to sign the Subsidiary Alliance. Tipu refused to sign; Lord Wellesley declared war on Tipu Sultan. The British army captured the Srirangapatna fort. Tipu mounted on his horse with a few attendants, tried to defend the fort. Spates of bullets were shot and Tipu fell on a heap of dead bodies and passed away. After the death of Tipu Sultan, Mysore was restored to the Wodeyars.

Anglo Maratha Wars

Three wars were fought between the British and the Marathas to establish their supremacy.

The First Anglo Maratha War (1778–1782) After the death of Madhav Rao, Narayan Rao became the Peshwa in 1772, but he was murdered by Raghoba who wanted to be the Peshwa. Nana Phadnavis supported Narayan Rao’s son. Raghob sought the help of British and signed the Treaty of Surat. The Governor General of Bengal did not accept it and concluded the Treaty of Purandar in 1776 with Nana Phadnavis (Marathas). Meanwhile, the directors of the company approved the Treaty of Surat. Thus, the war with the Marathas was continued by the English. The Marathas were defeated and the Treaty of Salbai was signed in 1772.

The Second Anglo-Maratha War (1800–1802) Nana Phadnavis died in 1800 AD. Both Holkar of Indore and Sindhia of Gwalior tried to establish their control over Peshwa, Bajirao II. In 1802, Holkar defeated the army of the Peshwa and Sindhia near Poona. Peshwa Bajirao II accepted the Subsidiary Alliance in 1802, through the Treaty of Bassein. This angered Holkar and Sindhia; they declared war against the English. The English defeated them, and finally both accepted the Subisidiary Alliance.

The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818 AD) The Governor General of British, Lord Hastings, determined to establish the supremacy of the British in India. By carefully-calculated moves, the English forces humiliating treaties on the Raja of Nagpur, the Peshwa and the Sindhias. This angered the Peshwas; they made the last bid to throw off the British yoke. Daulat Rao Sindhia, Appa Sahib of Nagpur, Malhar Rao Holkar II also rose in arms. The Peshwas were defeated, the conquered territories of the Peshwas merged with the Bombay Presidency.

The Anglo-Sikh Wars

Ranjit Singh was the famous ruler of the Sikhs. He was known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’. He clashed with the British when they conquered the region till the Sutlej in the east, but later he signed the Treaty of Amritsar in 1809. He remained friendly with the English. After his death, Duleep Singh became the ruler and Lal Singh became his prime minister.

The First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–1846) The army of the Sikh community, the ‘Khalsa’, was won over by Lal Singh. In 1845, he declared war against the English. But the Sikhs lost the battle and the Lahore Treaty was signed between the Sikhs and the English.

The Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848–1849) Though the whole of Punjab came under the control of the British, they did not rule the whole territory. Duleep Singh was asked to administer the territory. They kept a section of their army in Punjab. This angered the Sikh leaders in the Khalsa. There were uprisings in Punjab, one of the revolts was led by Mulraj of Multan. The English East India Company sent an army led by Napier who defeated the Sikhs at Jallianwalla in 1849. Thus, the rule of the Sikhs came to an end. With this war, the English rule came to be established in the whole of India.

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