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The Advent of Europeans

India had commercial contacts with western countries since ages. By the seventh century, the Arabs established their monopoly in trade and commerce, especially in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. From Arabs, the Italian merchants of Venice and Genoa bought Indian goods. In 1453, the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and closed the land route between India and the Western countries.The Europeans, thus, started geographical discoveries. The first among the Europeans to reach India were the Portuguese. Later on, the Dutch, the British and the French came to India.

The Prince of Portugal, Henry, who is popularly known as ‘the Navigator’, encouraged the sailors to find out new sea-routes. Vasco-da-Gama, a Portuguese sailor reached Calicut (Kozhikode) in 1498. He was welcomed by the ruler Zamorin.

Francisco de Almeida was the first viceroy of the Portuguese power in India. Alfanso-de-Albuquerque succeeded Almeida in 1509. He captured Goa from the Sultan of Bijapur in 1510. Goa became the headquarters of Portuguese power in India. The Portuguese were able to capture Diu, Daman, Salsette, Bassein, Chaul, Bombay, St.Thome, and Hughli. In the seventeenth century, the Portuguese began to lose their settlements one after another to the Dutch. Goa was the only territory which remained with the Portuguese. In 1961, Goa became a part of India.

The Dutch East India Company was established in 1602. They set up trading centres in Surat, Broach, Cambay, Ahmedabad, Cochin, Nagapattnam, Masulipattinam, and Chinsura. The Dutch and the English fought over monopoly to trade with India. The Dutch could not compete with the English.

The English East India Company was established in 1600. Captain Hawkins was sent to the court of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir to get permission to settle down at Surat. Sir Thomas Roe, the British ambassador, visited the court of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir to secure better concessions to trade with India. The trading centres of the English were Patna, Kasim Bazaar, Orissa, Surat, Calcutta and Bombay. The English built forts—Fort William at Calcutta and Fort St. George at Madras. The French established their company in 1664 under the leadership of Colbert and Louis XIVFrancis Martin was the first Viceroy of the French in India.The main settlements of the French in India were Machilipatnam, Nagapatinam, Chandranagore, Calicut, Mahe and Karaikal. Pondicherry was the capital of the French power in India. It became a part of India in 1954.

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