Chapter 3: ENTRY OF EUROPEANS IN INDIA
Trade routes to India
was famous for spices which were in high demand in
European cuisine. The three prominent trade routes till
the 15th century were through central Asia,
through red sea and then Egypt and Europe via
Mediterranean sea and Persian gulf by sea and then through
Iraq and turkey and again by sea through Venice and Genoa.
The Turkish lands were captured by Ottomans and the trade
routes were affected. The renaissance had led to the quest
for discovery of newer routes through sea to India.
Finally Vasco da Gama found an all sea route to India via
Cape of Good Hope.
opening of trade routes to India and America were hailed
as very important. The American islands were rich in
precious minerals and soon they became consumers of
European manufactured goods. The Atlantic became a zone of
high trade activity. The Portuguese to were the first to
enter into Africa and they became the pioneers of slave
trade. The slaves were bought for manufactured European
goods and sold in West Indies and American lands for sugar
and cotton which were exchanged for manufactured goods in
Europe. This triangular trade was dominated by
Portuguese along with the eastern trade with India.
the Portuguese were ruthless and religious intolerant
they lost their monopoly in later part of 16th century
to the English, Dutch and French. The English due
to their naval power and industrial revolution became the
superpower of the world and had colonies in Africa,
America and East Asia. The English though initially weak
were by the end of the 16th century dominant in
English East India Company:
English East Indian Company was formed and given a charter
to trade in the east by Queen Elizabeth. The
English Company was led by Captain Hawkins and
received by Emperor Jahangir. Though initially they
were well received by due to Portuguese influence they
were expelled. The British realized that Portuguese
influence had to be reduced in order to convince the
Mughals. In the naval battle the Portuguese were defeated
and so the Mughal emperor thought that in order to counter
the supremacy of Portuguese in sea, friendship with the
English is important.
Mughal Farman gave them permission to open factories on
the west coast. Thomas roe wasn’t satisfied with
this and bargained for more concessions. The British also
started harassing hajj pilgrims and Indian merchants
taking advantage of its naval power. Finally the Mughals
relented and gave them permission to open factories
throughout the Mughal territory.
Portuguese were angered by this and in the naval battles
the English won. Hostilities were ended by giving the
island of Bombay to British for marrying a
Portuguese princess in 1662. Soon the Portuguese lost all
their Indian possession to English, Marathas and Dutch
except Daman Diu and Goa.
conflict between Dutch and English too was intense but
resulted in a stale mate. The English couldn’t remove the
Dutch from their stronghold in Indonesia and the spice
trade. But Dutch too couldn’t match the English might in
India. Finally English decided to leave the Indonesian
trade and focus on India only. And similarly the Dutch too
left the Indian trade except for a few factories in the
east coast. These too were lost to the English by 1795.
English east India Company:
Surat the English power grew in India. When the tried to
fortify their factory in Surat
they were arrested by the local authorities
working for the Mughals. Similarly when the Company’s
rivals attacked the Mughal shipping the Mughal forces
arrested the Company officials till the ransom was paid.
The south India was more favorable to them as no strong
government existed there. The first factory in the south
was opened in Masullipatinam and then in madras.
The raja gave them permission to fortify the madras
factory and the Englishman Francis day built there
madras the island of Bombay came under British occupation.
It too was fortified as the Surat area was under threat
from the increasing Maratha power. The English now moved
their sights on the east coast and opened factories in
Orissa and Hugli. They wanted an independent fortified
factory for Bengal. They had now become ambitious and
wanted to capture India and turn it into a British colony.
For this they challenged the mighty Aurangzeb but
his force was great and the British lost all factories on
the east coast and even their fort in Bombay was besieged.
They gave up hope and resorted to flattery and forgiveness
and asked for return to trade.
permitted this as he felt that foreign traders couldn’t
harm him. But the revenue they brought from trade
increased the state treasury. Also the British naval might
was great enough to ruin Indian trade with west. The
British now fortified the few villages on the east coast
in Bengal and it became Calcutta. Job
carnock built the fort William there. But due to
strong Nawabs in Bengal the east India Company was
merely a zamindar.
British had high hopes in south India as no strong kingdom
existed there but it had to face competition from the
French. The French east India Company was government
controlled but had caught up with the English company in
terms of trade and had factories in Bengal and
Pondicherry. The Anglo French conflicts in the south and
east lasted for a period of 20 years and ended with
English supremacy. The French now lived under English
protection in India. They were permitted to keep
Pondicherry with condition that no fortification be
English were now the mightiest power in India. The war
had taught them a few lessons. In absence of modern
nationalism in India they could be setup against each
other easily. The western trained Indian soldiers were
as good as Europeans. The absence of nationalism and
respect of salt in the Indian mind made him a good and
loyal soldier. Thus the British went on to rule India
with an army officer-ed by British but with Indian
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