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chapter 4 Colonial Warfare in Bengal and Mysore After Aurungzeb’s death, the European powers began to compete openly for territory and concessions in India. Although not the first to make their presence felt in the region, by the end of the eighteenth century the British had become the dominant European power in the subcontinent. On 31 December 1600 Queen Elizabeth granted a charter to the ‘‘Governor and Company of the Merchants of London trading into the East Indies.’’1 The next year a 300ton -sail ship under Capt. William Hawkins reached Surat, where Hawkins established the company’s first Indian factory. From this minuscule beginning the company, better known as the East India Company, began to expand its foothold in India. In 1615 James I sent Sir Thomas Roe as ambassador to Emperor Jahangir in Agra, where he received a firman, or legal document, acknowledging the British presence in Surat.2 To the south Capt. Anthony Hippon founded a factory in Masulipatam, the port cityof the Muslim Deccan kingdom of Golconda, in 1611. However, Dutch pressure forced the British to evacuate it in 1628.They then secured rights from a petty Hindu raja to establish Fort Saint George some 230 miles south of Masulipatam.This post soon developed into the town of Madras and became the base of British operations in southern India.3 From this fort the British moved into the northeast in 1633, when an expedition established stations at Hariharpur in the Mahanadi delta and Balasore on the boundary between Bengal proper and Orissa.4 From the moment they set foot in India in 1612 the British became embroiled in conflicts with the other European powers in India – the Dutch, the French, and the Portuguese. Furthermore, they also fought local powers like the Marathas. Matters came to a head in 1744 with the declaration of war in Europe between England and France. The French, led by the energetic Joseph-François Dupleix, governor-general of all French possessions in India, seized Madras from the British in October 1746, only to return it in 1748 under the terms of the Aix-la-Chapelle treaty.5 At about the same time the French in India began to focus on local politics. When Nizam-ul-Mulk, 67 Colonial Warfare in Bengal and Mysore former Mughal viceroy of the Deccan and later an independent ruler, died in 1748, the French supported Muzaffar Jang, one of the claimants to the throne, and waged a successful campaign against the challenger, Anwar-udDin , the ruler of Karnatik. The French then turned their attention to the second challenger, Nazir Jang, the de facto ruler of the Deccan who had British support, led by Maj. Stringer Lawrence. Muzaffar Jang defeated and killed Nazir Jang, and the French then installed Muzaffar as the ruler of the Deccan in their stronghold of Pondicherry. A grateful Muzaffar Jang bestowed upon the French considerable territories in southern India.6 In 1751 the British, by then under the leadership of Robert Clive, struck back by installing their own puppet, Muhammad Ali, as the nawab of Karnatik .7 Although the French eventually managed to establish a firm presence in the court of Hyderabad, they found themselves on the defensive; Dupleix himself was recalled to France in 1754.8 But in 1756 the Seven Years’ War broke out in Europe, and the French renewed their efforts against the British in India under Thomas-Arthur de Lally, who had been sent to India in 1758. Unfortunately for the French, Lally’s campaigns were a series of disasters and blunders. His first mistake was to recall Gen. Charles de Bussy from Hyderabad just when the general had all but taken over this powerful kingdom. On the battlefield Lally suffered constant defeat at British hands, culminating in the disaster at Wandiwash in January 1760. The French navy too made little headway against a smaller British fleet and ultimately let the British capture Pondicherry in January 1761. With the fall of Pondicherry all French hopes for an Indian empire were dashed. The British were now the lone European power in the subcontinent.9 While the British fought the French in southern India, they also carried out a protracted campaign in Bengal to expand their territories and influence . Bengal was a province of the Mughal Empire, and an appointed military governor, or faujdar, oversaw its administration. After the fall of the Mughal Empire the governorof Bengal, Ali Vardi Khan...


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