Carnatic Wars also spelled Karnatic Wars



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  • East India Company and Carnatic War

The Carnatic Wars (also spelled Karnatic Wars) were a series of military conflicts in the middle of the 18th century on the Indian subcontinent. The conflicts involved numerous nominally independent rulers and their vassals, struggles for succession and territory, and included a diplomatic and military struggle between the French East India Company and the British East India Company. They were mainly fought on the territories in India which were dominated by the Mughal Empire up to the Godavari delta. As a result of these military contests, the British East India Company established its dominance among the European trading companies within India. The French company was pushed to a corner and was confined primarily to Pondicherry. The British company's dominance eventually led to control by the United Kingdom over most of India and the establishment of the British Raj.


In the 18th century the coastal Carnatic region was a dependency of Hyderabad, the main remaining remnant of the Mughal Empire. Three Carnatic Wars were fought between 1744 and 1763.
First Carnatic War
Carnatic was ruled by Nawab Dost Ali, despite being under the legal purview of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Dost Ali's death sparked a power struggle between his son-in-law Chanda Sahib and the Nizam's nominee, Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan. The British enlisted the help of Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan to oust the French under Joseph François Dupleix and capable Sepoys such as Hyder Ali from Madras.
Muzaffar Jung allied himself with Chanda Sahib, who aspired to become the next Nawab of the Carnatic, together they planned to gather their prowess in the south with the help of the Nawab of Kadapa and ally themselves with the French, their plans turned out to be successful in the short term.

After the British initially captured a few French ships, the French called for backup from as far afield as Mauritius, and on 21 September 1746, they captured the British city of Madras. Among the prisoners of war was Robert Clive.

With the termination of the War of Austrian Succession in Europe, the First Carnatic War also came to an end. In the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), Madras was given back to the British in exchange for the French fortress of Louisbourg in North America, which the British had captured.

Second Carnatic War (1749–1754)

After the death of the Nizam-ul-Mulk in 1748, the Nizam of Hyderabad, a civil war for succession, now known as the Second Carnatic War, broke out in the south between Mir Ahmad Ali Khan (Nasir Jung), the son of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, and Hidayat Muhi ud-Din Sa'adu'llah Khan (Muzaffar Jung), the grandson of Nizam-ul-Mulk.


This opened a window of opportunity for Chanda Sahib, who wanted to become Nawab of Arcot. He joined the cause of Muzaffar Jung and began to conspire against the Nawab Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan in Arcot.

The French allied with Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jung to bring them into power in their respective states. But soon the British also intervened. To offset the French influence, they began supporting Nasir Jung and Muhammad Ali Khan Walajah (son of the deposed Nawab Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan of Arcot). Initially, the French succeeded in both states in defeating and murdering their opponents and placing their supporters on thrones in 1749. In 1751, however, Robert Clive led British troops to capture Arcot. Clive's success led to additional victories for the British and their Nizam and Arcot allies. The war ended with the Treaty of Pondicherry, signed in 1754. Muhammad Ali Khan Walajah was recognized as the Nawab of Arcot. The French leader Dupleix was asked to return to France.



Third Carnatic War (1757–1763)

The outbreak in 1756 of the Seven Years' War in Europe resulted in renewed conflict between French and British forces in India. The Third Carnatic War spread beyond southern India and into Bengal where British forces captured the French settlement of Chandernagore (now Chandannagar) in 1757. However, the war was decided in the south, as British commander Sir Eyre Coote decisively defeated the French under the Comte de Lally at the Battle of Wandiwash in 1760. After Wandiwash, the French capital of Pondicherry fell to the British in 1761. The war concluded with the signing of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which returned Chandernagore and Pondicherry to France, and allowed the French to have "factories" (trading posts) in India but forbade French traders from administering them.



The First Anglo-Mysore War (1766-1769) saw Hyder Ali gain some measure of success against the British but suffering heavy defeats at the hands of the Marathas. Hyder Ali's alliance with the Nizam of Hyderabad against the British too was a failure owing to defeats of their combined power against the British and later the spread of mutual suspicion between the two Islamic powers. The Kingdom of Mysore regained some of its lost lands and had to relinquish many territories to the south of Mysore to the British.

The Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-1784) witnessed bloodier battles with fortunes fluctuating between the contesting powers. This war saw the rise of Sir Eyre Coote, the British commander who repeatedly defeated Hyder Ali and his superior army. The war ended in 1784 with the Treaty of Mangalore, at which both sides agreed to restore the others' lands to the status quo ante bellum.

Hyder Ali died in 1786 and Mysore was taken over by his son Tipu Sultan. Tipu, who gained control of Mysore after his father's death in December 1782, maintained an implacable hatred of the British, and declared not long after signing the 1784 treaty that he intended to continue battle with them given the opportunity.[1] He refused to free British prisoners taken during the war, one of the conditions of the treaty. Tipu Sultan further strengthened his alliances with Ali Raja Bibi Junumabe II and the Muslim Mappila community, thus expanding the Sultanate of Mysore's sphere of influence. British General Earl Cornwallis became the Governor-General of India and Commander-in-Chief for the British East India Company in 1786. While he formally abrogated agreements with the Mahrattas and Hyderabad that violated terms of the 1784 treaty,[1] he sought informally to gain their support and that of the Nizam of Hyderabad, or at least their neutrality, in the event of conflict with Mysore.


In 1788 the company gained control of the Circar of Guntur, the southernmost of the Northern Circars, which the company had acquired under earlier agreements with the Nizam. In exchange, the company provided the Nizam with two battalions of company troops.Both of these acts placed British troops closer to Mysore, but also guaranteed the Nizam would support the British in the event of conflict.
The kingdom of Travancore had been a target of Tipu for acquisition or conquest since the end of the previous war. Indirect attempts to take over the kingdom had failed in 1788, and Campbell, the Madras president at the time, had warned Tipu that an attack on Travancore would be treated as a declaration of war on the company. The rajah of Travancore also angered Tipu by extending fortifications along the border with Mysore into territory claimed by Mysore, and by purchasing from the Dutch East India Company two forts in the Kingdom of Cochin, a state paying tribute to Tipu Sultan.
Immediately after his coronation as the ruler of the Sultanate of Mysore, Tipu Sultan sought the investiture of the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. Tipu Sultan began to establish contacts with other Muslim rulers of that period to gain momentum against British. In the year 1787, the bold and ambitious Tipu Sultan sent an embassy to the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, to the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid I requesting urgent assistance against the British East India Company and had proposed an offensive and defensive consortium. Tipu Sultan then sought an alliance with Napoleon and particularly the French, supposedly aimed at achieving this goal by driving his main rivals, the British East India Company out of the subcontinent.
In the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1789-1792), Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore and an ally of France, invaded the nearby state of Travancore in 1789, which was a British ally. The resultant war lasted three years and was a resounding defeat for Mysore. The war ended after the 1792 siege of Seringapatam and the signing of the Treaty of Seringapatam according to which Tipu had to surrender half of his kingdom to the British East India Company and its allies.
The Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799) saw the defeat of Tipu Sultan and further reductions in Mysorean territory. Mysore's alliance with the French was seen as a threat to the East India Company and Mysore was attacked from all four sides. Tipu's troops were outnumbered 4:1 in this war. Mysore had only 35,000 soldiers, whereas the British commanded 60,000 troops. The Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas launched an invasion from the north. The British won a decisive victory at the Battle of Seringapatam in 1799. Tipu was killed during the defence of the city. Much of the remaining Mysorean territory was annexed by the British, the Nizam and the Marathas.



  • Reasons behind French Failure in India

After the Carnatic war English forces had now dominated the Carnatic and after battle of Plassey they have acquired Bengal which proved for them great source of revenue and strategic coloney. At the end of October, the able General Coote arrived in Madras with his troops and the English resumed the offensive. Coote followed up his success by reducing the minor French possessions in the Carnatic. In course of three months the French lost everything in the Carnatic save Jinji and Pondicherry. The English then laid siege to Pondicherry (May, 1760).


Reduced to the last desperate strait, Lally hoped to retrieve the French position by an alliance with Hyder ‘Ali, then at the helm of affairs in Mysore. The idea was well conceived but led to no practical result. Hyder sent a contingent to the aid of the French, but the allies were not able to concert any military plan which held out a chance of success against the English. Thereupon Hyder’s contingent returned to Mysore, leaving Lally to his fate. In 1761, Pondicherry made an unconditional surrender. The French thus lost all their possessions in India, but these were restored to them by the Treaty of Paris (1763).

The causes of the failure of Lally axe not far to seek and some of them have been discussed in connection with the failure of Dupleix. Both suffered equally from the insufficient supply from home, which was due partly to the defective Organisation of the Company as a minor branch of the Government, and partly to the failure of the home Authorities to recognize the importance of securing political power in India. The inferiority of the French at sea and the discord between commanders of land and sea forces were again common handicaps to both, though they operated more decisively against the French in the Third Carnatic War. In addition, the possession of the military and financial resources to Bengal gave the English a decisive advantage over Lally. From this secure base they could send a constant supply of men and money to Madras, and create a diversion in its favour by attacking the French in the Northern Sarkars. Although it was not fully recognised at the time, the position of the English in Bengal made the struggle of the French a hopeless one from the very beginning of the Third Carnatic War. The battle of Plassey may be truly said to have decided the fate of the French in India.

The character and conduct of Lally also contributed not a little to the disastrous results. He had military skill and displayed bravery and energy but possessed neither the tact of a leader nor the wisdom of a statesmen. Ms end was tragic indeed. He was detained in England as a prisoner of war for two years, and allowed to return to France in 1763 at the end of the Seven Years’ War. But a worse fate awaited him there. He was imprisoned in the Bastille for more than two years and afterwards executed with ignominy and insult.

In spite of Lally’s undoubted failings and shortcomings, it is only fair to remember that the difficulties confronting him were really insurmountable, and that the French had no real chance of success against the English even under the best of leaders. There is a large element of truth in the remark of a historian, that “neither Alexander the- Great nor Napoleon could have won the empire of India by starting from Pondicherry as a base and contending with the power which held Bengal and command of the sea “.




  • Maratha Wars

The Anglo-Maratha Wars were three wars fought in India between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company:



  • First Anglo-Maratha War (1777-1783)

The First Anglo-Maratha War (1775–1782) was the first of three Anglo-Maratha wars fought between the British East India Company and Maratha Empire in India. The war began with the Treaty of Surat and ended with the Treaty of Salbai.

After the death of Madhavrao Peshwa in 1772, his brother Narayanrao became Peshwa of the Maratha Empire. However, Raghunathrao, Narayanrao's uncle, had his nephew assassinated in a palace conspiracy that resulted in Raghunathrao becoming Peshwa, although he was not the legal heir.

Narayanrao's widow, Gangabai, gave birth to a posthumous son, who was legal heir to the throne. The newborn infant was named 'Sawai' Madhavrao (Sawai means “One and a Quarter”). Twelve Maratha chiefs, led by Nana Phadnavis directed an effort to name the infant as the new Peshwa and rule under him as regents.

Raghunathrao, unwilling to give up his position of power, sought help from the British at Bombay and signed the Treaty of Surat on 1775. According to the treaty, Raghunathrao ceded the territories of Salsette and Bassein to the British, along with part of the revenues from Surat and Bharuch districts. In return, the British promised to provide Raghunathrao with 2,500 soldiers.

The British Calcutta Council condemned the Treaty of Surat, sending army to Pune to annul it and make a new treaty with the regency. The Treaty of Purandhar (1 March 1776) annulled that of Surat, Raghunathrao was pensioned and his cause abandoned, but the revenues of Salsette and Broach districts were retained by the British. The Bombay government rejected this new treaty and gave refuge to Raghunathrao. In 1777 Nana Phadnavis violated the treaty with the Calcutta Council by granting the French a port on the west coast. The British replied by sending a force towards Pune. However British were made signed the Treaty of Wadgaon that forced the Bombay government to relinquish all territories acquired by the Bombay office of the East India Company since 1773.

In February 1781 the British beat Shinde to the town of Sipri. After the defeat, Shinde proposed a new treaty between the Peshwa and the British that would recognize the young Madhavrao as the Peshwa and grant Raghunathrao a pension. This treaty, known as the Treaty of Salbai, was signed on 17 May 1782, and was ratified by Hastings in June 1782 and by Phadnis in February 1783. The treaty also returned to Shinde all his territories west of the Yamuna. It also guaranteed peace between the two sides for twenty years, thus ending the war.



  • Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-1805)

In October 1802, Peshwa Baji Rao II (Raghunath Rao’s Son) was defeated by Yashwantrao Holkar, ruler of Indore, at the Battle of Poona. He fled to British protection, and in December the same year concluded the Treaty of Bassein with the British East India Company, ceding territory for the maintenance of a subsidiary force and agreeing to treaty with no other power. The British also had to check the French influence in India.

The Treaty of Bassein (Now called Vasai) was a pact signed on December 31, 1802 between the British East India Company and Baji Rao II, the Maratha peshwa of Pune (Poona) in India after the Battle of Poona. The treaty was a decisive step in the dissolution of the Maratha Confederacy, which led to the East India Company's usurpation of the peshwa's territories in western India in 1818.

On May 13, 1803, Baji Rao II was restored to Peshwarship under the protection of the East India Company and the leading Maratha state had thus become a client of the British. The treaty led to expansion of the sway and influence of the East India Company over the Indian subcontinent. However, the treaty was not acceptable to all Marathas chieftains, and resulted in the Second Anglo-Maratha War.

This act on the part of the Peshwa, their nominal overlord, horrified and disgusted the Maratha chieftains; in particular, the Holker of Indore, the Scindia rulers of Gwalior and the Bhonsle rulers of Nagpur and Berar – main chieftains of Maratha confederation - contested the agreement. In 1803, Scindia forces lost to Lord Gerard Lake at Delhi and to Lord Arthur Wellesley at Assaye. A few months later in November, Lake defeated another Scindia force at Laswari, followed by Wellesley's victory over Bhonsle forces at Argaon (now Adgaon) on 29 November. On 30 December 1803, the Daulat Scindia signed the Treaty of Surji-Anjangaon with the British after the Battle of Assaye and Battle of Argaon and ceded to the British Ganges-Jumna Doab, the Delhi-Agra region, parts of Bundelkhand, Broach, some districts of Gujarat, fort of Ahmmadnagar.

The Holkar rulers of Indore belatedly joined the fray and compelled the British to make peace. Yashwantrao Holkar, however began hostilities with the British by securing the alliance of the Raja of Bharatpur. By the Treaty of Rajghat, Holkar got back most of his territories. The Holkar Maharajas retained control and overlordship over much of Rajasthan.


The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818) was the final and decisive conflict between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire in India. The war left the Company in control of most of India. It began with an invasion of Maratha territory by 110,400 British East India Company troops,[1] the largest such British controlled force amassed in India. The troops were led by the Governor General Hastings. The operations began with action against Pindaris, a band of Muslim and Maratha robbers from central India.

The Peshwa Baji Rao II's forces, followed by those of Mudhoji II Bhonsle of Nagpur and Malharrao Holkar III of Indore, rose against the British company. Pressure and diplomacy convinced the fourth major Maratha leader, Daulatrao Shinde of Gwalior, to remain neutral even though he lost control of Rajasthan. British victories were swift, resulting in the breakup of the Maratha Empire and the loss of Maratha independence. The Peshwa was defeated in the battles of Khadki and Koregaon and he was forced to flee. Several minor battles were fought by the Peshwa's forces to prevent his capture.


The Peshwa was eventually captured and placed on a small estate at Bithur, near Kanpur. Most of his territory was annexed and became part of the Bombay Presidency. The Maharaja of Satara was restored as the ruler of his territory as a princely state. In 1848 this territory was also annexed by the Bombay Presidency under the doctrine of lapse policy of Lord Dalhousie. Bhonsle was defeated in the battle of Sitabaldi and Holkar in the battle of Mahidpur. The northern portion of Bhonsle's dominions in and around Nagpur, together with the Peshwa's territories in Bundelkhand, were annexed by British India as the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories. The defeat of the Bhonsle and Holkar also resulted in the acquisition of the Maratha kingdoms of Nagpur and Indore by the British. Along with Gwalior from Shinde and Jhansi from the Peshwa, all of these territories became princely states acknowledging British control. The British proficiency in Indian war-making was demonstrated through their rapid victories in Khadki, Sitabardi, Mahidpur, Koregaon, and Satara.

With the English East India Company rising to such heights of power, considerable interest began to build up back in Britain. The English East India Company not only had the complete monopoly over trade in the east, they also controlled an economically important region. Rival trading companies wished to enter the region, as did manufacturers keen to flood the market with their goods. The British government was also keen to tap into the considerable wealth of India, to further develop the British economy. Soon such forces began questioning the company's rule and its policies. The English East India Company was after all a trading company headquartered in Britain, that was holding political power over millions of people in a foreign country. Important issues on what the relation between the British government and the English East India Company should be came up. In 1767 the British parliament passed a law which required the English East India Company to pay an annual tribute of 470,000 thousands a year to the government of Britain. Meanwhile due to the corruption of its employees the English East India Company began making substantial losses and soon requested the government for a loan. The British parliament used this situation to negotiate greater power in the administration of India.




  • Structure of the British raj up to 1857 (including the Acts of 1773 and 1784 and administrative organisation)


East India Company Act 1773

By the Regulating Act of 1773 (later known as the East India Company Act 1772), the Parliament of Great Britain imposed a series of administrative and economic reforms and by doing so clearly established its sovereignty and ultimate control over the Company. The Act recognised the Company's political functions and clearly established that the "acquisition of sovereignty by the subjects of the Crown is on behalf of the Crown and not in its own right."

Despite stiff resistance from the East India lobby in parliament and from the Company's shareholders the Act was passed. It introduced substantial governmental control and allowed the land to be formally under the control of the Crown, but leased to the Company at £40,000 (Also known as tribute) for two years. Under this provision governor of Bengal Warren Hastings became the first Governor-General of Bengal, and had administrative powers over all of British India. It provided that his nomination, though made by a court of directors, should in future be subject to the approval of a Council of Four appointed by the Crown - namely Lt. General Sir John Clavering, The Honourable Sir George Monson, Sir Richard Barwell, and Sir Philip Francis.[21]

Hastings was entrusted with the power of peace and war. British judicial personnel would also be sent to India to administer the British legal system. The Governor General and the council would have complete legislative powers. The company was allowed to maintain its virtual monopoly over trade in exchange for the biennial sum and was obligated to export a minimum quantity of goods yearly to Britain. The costs of administration were to be met by the company. These provisions were initially welcomed by the Company, but with the annual burden of the payment to be met, its finances continued steadily to decline.




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