Anglo French rivalry and Carnatic Wars

Carnatic Wars

Political Situation in India on the eve of British-French Rivalry

  • Since the 15th century when Europeans first arrived in India the fight for supremacy between rival factions became a part of the Indian history. But the Anglo-French struggles should get special mentions, as their role in shaping the course of modern India is far more important than that of any other contemporary struggles.
  • The actual onset of the struggles arose from Anglo-French commercial and political rivalry in India and political rivalry in Europe. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century the French stake in India was not great enough to be worth the despatch of an English armament. The two companies therefore declared neutrality and went on trading. But between 1720 and 1740 the French Company’s trade increased ten times in value until it was nearly half that of the old-established English company.
  • The stake of both countries in India was now considerable. The British were deeply involved with indigo, saltpetre, cottons, silk, and spices; they had a growing, trade with China. The value of the trade was more than ten per cent of the public revenue of Great Britain at that time.
  • The occasion for intervention arose with Frederick the Great of Prussia’s seizure of Silesia in 1740. In the war of the Austrian Succession which followed (1740-48) Britain and France were on the opposite sides in the rival coalitions. It is these wars, of wholly European origin, which provided the political turning-point in the history of modern India.
  • In the year 1740, six years before the outbreak of war between the English and French in India, these two nations alone, out of the four chief European nations, who had embarked in Eastern enterprise, continued to hold any considerable power. The Portuguese — the first on the scene — had for a century maintained a complete monopoly of Eastern trade, but their glory had long ago departed. The bigotry and intolerance and cruelty, which characterized the successors of d’Albuquerque (Portuguese Governor), had long ago met with their just reward. The Dutch, who succeeded, in like manner failed to maintain the enormous power which they had once gained. They brought about their own ruin by a flagrant abuse of the monopoly, which they had wrested from the Portuguese. Next came the English, who, at this time, still continued to keep in their own hands the greater share of the traffic between Europe and India; and, some sixty years after the English, came the French whose commercial success, while not equaling that of the English, was still such as to make them formidable rivals.
  • Up to this time, English and French had existed side by side in India, without coming into serious collision, for more than seventy years, although England and France had been at war with each other for a considerable portion of that period. The settlers of the two nations had hitherto pursued entirely independent courses. The policy adopted by either side, towards the rules and inhabitants of the country, in which the settlements stood, was neither imitated from nor influenced by that pursued by the other, and the result of this was an important difference between the nature of English and French power and policy in India, which very greatly influenced the character of the subsequent struggle.
  • It will be necessary to gain a general idea, first, of the political state of India at this period, and, secondly, of the history of English and French in India up to this date.
  • Mahrathas, a power which, from small beginnings, had grown until now, on the eve of the French and English struggle, it was feared more than any other power in India. The Mahrattas had already more than once dictated terms to the Mughal Emperor of Delhi. They were one of the chief causes of the disintegration of once mighty the Mughal Empire. The other chief cause was the Persian invasion under Nadir Shah in 1739, during which the Persian troops had occupied and devastated Delhi, and taken the Emperor, Mohammed Shah, prisoner. Nadir Shah retired only through the persuasion of an enormous bribe. Such attacks affected central power of Mughal, and lessened its control over the subordinate powers.
  • Each of the chief subdivisions of the vast Mogul Empire constituted practically an independent power. These principal subdivisions were called “subahs”, and their rulers “subahdars”.  Under the rule of the subahdars were included various subordinate powers, called by different names in different parts of India; and, just as the subahdars, when they felt themselves strong enough, threw off allegiance to the Emperor of Delhi, so did the nawabs and rajas, when an opportunity presented itself, throw off allegiance to their subahdars. Of these minor subordinate powers, the one with whom we shall have most to do in British-French struggle is the nawabs of the Carnatic, in whose dominions by far the greater part of the struggle was fought out. This nawab, too, was practically independent, and the post, which was theoretically in the gift of the subahdars of the Dekhan, had become hereditary.
  • Thus, at this period of Indian history, might was right. The various subordinate powers were divided one against the other, and were unanimous only in rebellion against the supreme power. Beyond this there was no common feeling of nationality, no common bond of religion.It was only the existence of such a state of things which rendered possible the mighty empire which Europeans have established in India.

Difference between nature of early French and British settlement:

  • Up to this time, however, neither French nor English had attained to any political power. Their settlements were in no sense of the word political settlements. They were the possessions not of the French or of the English crown, but of the French or of the English East India Company.They held the land, on which their factories were built, either as tenants of the native powers, in consideration of the payment of an annual rent, or as their own property by gift or purchase. In every case they were directly subject to the native prince, in whose territory such land was situated. They were tolerated for the sole reason that their commerce brought an accession of wealth to the states in which they settled.
  • There would naturally exist a want of favor from the natives on the part of the Europeans; and the Europeans might either accept this want of sympathy as inevitable and as not to be overcome, or they might attempt to come to a better understanding with the natives by respecting native customs and prejudices. As will be seen, the English, on the whole, followed the former course, and the French the latter; and the importance of this difference is seen from the fact that, on the eve of the struggle, the English still held aloof, as far as possible, from all intercourse with native princes, while the French had gained not only the friendship of the royal family, in whose territory their chief settlement, Pondichery, was situated, but also the respect of its foes.
  • The history of the English in India, from the incorporation of the East India Company, in the year 1600, until the outbreak of war with the French — a period of nearly a century and a half — is little more than the history of a mercantile body attempting to gain and hold a monopoly. In this attempt they were brought into collision with both Portuguese and Dutch. With the notable exception of a short period (in 1664 and 1690), they consistently followed, the advice given by Sir Thomas Roe, in the year 1615, “to seek their profit at sea and in quiet trade, and not to affect garrisons and land wars in India”. The object which brought them to India was trade, and on this they concentrated all their energies. For this reason they not only abstained from siding with any of the native parties in their struggles with one another, but they even submitted to much unjust treatment. Their great wish was, indeed, to be allowed to go their own way in peace, but they showed again and again that there were limits to their endurance of unjust treatment even to secure this. That they were quite prepared to hold their own was shown in 1664, when the Mahratta general, Sivaji, attacked Surat. On this occasion the natives fled in despair, and the only opposition offered to Sivaji was by the English at that place, who undertook to defend not only themselves but also the natives — a piece of bravery in gratitude for which the Emperor Aurangzeb remitted the greater portion of the duties, which he claimed on the English traffic.
  • At about 1685-90, a fit of ambition seized the directors of the Company at this time, and the English in India assumed an offensive attitude towards the native powers.The pretext was the unjust and cruel conduct of the native powers towards the English in Bengal but it is equally certain that the expedition was prompted by an ambitious project of establishing an actual English power in Bengal itself. The expedition failed entirely. The wrath of the Great Mughal, the Emperor Aurangzeb, was fully kindled, and the English were expelled from every part of India. They were permitted to return only by making the most abject submissions. They had received a lesson, which they did not forget for very many years. The English had been taught, by how precarious their existence in India was, and that they thought it necessary to possess some stronghold on the western coast, to which they might escape, if Madras were at any time attacked by an overwhelming force.
  • In the year 1674, ten years after the foundation of the French East India Company, the French bought from the Bijapur the land, on which the town of Pondichery stands. Three years afterwards, Pondichery was threatened by the Maratha force under Sivaji, but was saved by the judicious measures adopted by the governor, François Martin. The tact displayed by the French on this occasion gained for them the admiration and friendship of the ruler of Bijapur. Not many years after this, the kingdom of Bijapur was incorporated with the Mogul Empire, and placed under the rule of the nawáb of the Carnatic. The first nawáb of the Carnatic, who assumed independent power, was Sadat Alla Khan. With him the French established friendly relations, but it was with his nephew and successor, Dost Alí, and with his son-in-law, Chandá Sahéb, that they established that firm alliance, which so greatly affected their future. Chandá Sahéb especially was an enthusiastic admirer of the French, and showed, by his subsequent conduct, that he both appreciated their good qualities and had, at the same time, detected their desire for power in India.
  • This policy, which the French adopted, of making native alliance the means by which they might ultimately gain their ends, was above all things unaggressive in character; and so it remained until the time of Dupleix. Every fresh addition to the power of the French under Martin, Lenoir, and Dumas, was made without striking a blow, and, in the case of the two first, without making an enemy. During the time that M. Benoit Dumas held the office of governor-general of the French settlements in India, he maintained a close friendship with Dost Alí, the nawáb of the Carnatic, and continued to extend this friendship to his family after his death. By means of this friendship he obtained from the Emperor of Delhi, Mohammed Shah, through the mediation of Dost Alí, the permission to coin money at Pondichery — an item of “no” small importance in the growth of French commerce in India.
  • During the struggle in 1738 for the sovereignty of Tanjore, Sahuji sent to implore the assistance of the French, offering to grant them, in return, the town of Karikal. Dumas aided him with money and arms, and he was successful; but, Sahuji evaded the fulfillment of his promise. Here was certainly a great temptation for the French to employ force; but their friendship with the family of Dost Alí saved them from the necessity. Chandá Sahéb, who was at this time the raja of Trichinopoly, came forward and offered to make Sahuji fulfill his promise and hand over Karikal to the French. Early in 1739, Karikal became a French possession, without the French in India having struck a single blow to obtain it. Sahújí himself hastened to make friends with them, Soon after this, Sahújí was driven from the throne by his brother, Pratap Singh, who likewise made a bid for the continuance of French favors, by adding to the territory given to them, and even advising them to fortify the towns in their new possessions.
  • The affair of Karikal is a good instance of the policy pursued by the French governors of this period. They were keen enough to see that diplomacy was all that was needed to gain everything they could want, and they were prudent enough not to let their anger at any time lead them to attack any of the native powers. They clearly saw that it was their best policy to play a waiting game.
  • French had never of themselves attacked a native power, so they had hitherto remained free from actual attack by a native power. They gained their first experience of this, just as the English had, at the hands of the Marathas. These Mahrattas had made another incursion into the Carnatic, and had slain in battle the nawáb and his second son. The eldest son, Safder Alí, and the son-in-law of the nawáb, Chandá Sahéb, sought some place of refuge for their families and treasures. Pondichery occurred to both of them. Dumas presented a bold front to the enemy. Mahrattas raised the siege and withdrew. This resistance of Dumas may be said to have created a prestige, without the aid of which the glorious career of the French subsequently would scarcely have been possible. The prestige, which the French had now gained, was, moreover, of no ordinary kind. They had run an enormous risk against a most formidable foe, not from any compulsion, but simply because they had determined to stand by their friends.
  • Henceforth the French occupy a distinctly higher status, and are by all recognized as by no means the least of the powers of India. Thanks, accompanied by the most valuable presents, came to the French from all the great native powers, and, what is most significant as indicating the relation of the French to the native powers, the Emperor of Delhi himself conferred on the Governor of Pondichery and his successors the rank and title of nawáb, and the high dignity of the command of 4500 horse.
  • Soon after this Dumas resigned, and left all the honors he had gained for his successor, Joseph François Dupleix, the Governor of Chandernagor, a man who possessed an equal knowledge of the state of native affairs, and joined to this an ambition even greater. His promptitude and boldness formed a contrast to the cautious policy of Dumas. The policy of Dumas had been essentially one of peace, of interference only when interference was safe, and of resistance only when the honor of the French name called for it. Dupleix mingled more freely in the affairs of native princes, and tended more to take up an independent position. The French had hitherto acted the rôle of humble allies of a native prince. These positions were shortly to be completely reversed. Dumas had laid the foundation of French power in India: it remained for Dupleix to raise the superstructure.
  • Dupleix was strongly convinced of the importance of gaining the sympathy of the natives, and took pains to impress upon them the fact that, in his capacity of nawáb, he too was an officer of the Great Mogul. He adopted the Eastern mode of life and paid and received visits among the native princes.In this way he learnt the real weakness of every native state. By skillful and patient diplomacy, he gained a complete knowledge of every little move in the intricate game of intrigue, which was going on all around, and saw that it would be possible to take advantage of such a state of things for the purpose of founding a French empire in India. In this work Dupleix found an enthusiastic assistant in his wife, whose intimate acquaintance with the native languages proved of the greatest service.
  • Hence, the positions of English and French in India, with reference to the native powers, though identical at first, had, in course of time, become as widely different as possible.
  • Besides this, there is one fact in connection with the foundation of the French East India Company by Colbert, in the year 1664, which distinguished them from the English. This was the proclamation of Louis XIV, to the effect that a man of noble birth suffered no degradation by engaging in the East Indian trade. The primary motive for this proclamation was to encourage the noblesse to subscribe to the East India Company; but may it not also have produced another effect? When we consider what the state of the French nobility was at this time, the number of its members, its rigid exclusiveness, and the fact that for these reasons many of its members were doomed to lives of idleness and, at the same time, of almost abject poverty, we can well understand that full advantage was taken of this outlet for its energies. Many young scions of the nobility, who had no career to look forward to in France, proceeded to India in the service of the Company; and may not this sprinkling of men, who had been taught all their previous life to scorn the pursuits of commerce, and to look upon the career of a statesman as the ideal of life, help to explain the fact that the French had fully conceived the idea of political power at a very early period of their career in India.

Carnatic Wars:

  • The Carnatic 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 Nizam of Hyderabad up to the Godavari delta. It lasted only about fifteen years—from 1746 till 1761. By the fall of Pondichery in this last year, French power in India was completely overthrown, and the question of supremacy may be said to have been settled once for all. British East India Company established its dominance among the European trading companies within India.
  • The scene of Carnatic Wars, during the first two wars, is the Carnatic, and, during the second war, it will be necessary also to take a glimpse at the progress of French power in the Deccan. This, although really outside the struggle, is important, as being the most extensive development of French power in India. In the third war, the scene shifts for a time to Bengal, and then returns to the Carnatic.
  • All this time the English in India had remained stationary, steadily plodding on, wholly intent on fortune-making. It may well be supposed that these peaceful traders viewed with extreme alarm the ambitious projects of the French, and many were the complaints on this subject which they made to their masters at home.
  • Numbers of fortunes were made by members of the companies; but neither of the companies themselves was, at this period, a great success. Neither company had the insight to see that the remedy lay, for the most part, in its own hands. Each attributed its failure in commerce to its inability to maintain a strict monopoly of the traffic between Europe and India. The result was that, instead of reforming its own trade-system, each thought the great end to be obtained was the destruction of the commerce of its rival; and, to obtain this end. Each held out rewards to the servants of the other to desert; and both were continually doing their best to persuade native powers to harass their rivals by unjust laws, or by exorbitant taxes, and so to make their position on the continent of India unendurable.
  • Such a state of feeling, existing on the eve of the struggle, no doubt increased the bitterness with which it was carried on; but was not in itself the direct cause of the war between English and French in India.
  • The direct cause was the outbreak of the Austrian war of succession, after the death of the Emperor Charles VI, in 1740. In this war the English and French first took part as auxiliaries on opposite sides, but eventually became the principals in the war. Such an event would be cordially welcomed by the English in India, who saw in it the opportunity, for which they longed, to make an attempt to put a stop to what they considered as French encroachment. The French dreaded nothing more at this time. Until recently they had not taken into their calculations the possibility of war with the English; and most of their possessions were inadequately defended. Their chief settlement, Pondichery, remained ill fortified; and although Dupleix, immediately on his appointment as governor, had set himself energetically to remedy this defect, yet it was two years after the outbreak of the war before the fortifications he had planned were completed.
  • The French, moreover, had much to lose in case of a defeat. They were in the course of raising an empire by other means. They had long ago dreamed of the possibility of driving the English out of India altogether; but they had not proposed to affect this by an actual conflict with them, at all events until their own power was such as to leave the English little chance of successful resistance. Their grand idea was power by means of native alliance, of making France a great power in India. The extension of the European war to India simply upset all their calculation for the time.
  • Having failed to obtain a treaty of neutrality with the English, the French in India, with their chief settlement ill fortified, found themselves in extreme peril. The English fleet under Barnet was on its way, and it was well known that its instructions were, if possible, to annihilate French commerce. The French government had indeed ordered M. de la Bourdonnais, the governor of the Isle of France, to proceed with a fleet to the assistance of Pondichery; but, almost at the last moment, news was brought to Dupleix that de la Bourdonnais had received instructions to send all his fleet home to France. With this news, the last shadow of hope seemed to have fled.
  • But now were reaped the first fruits of that policy of friendly alliance which previous French governors had established with the nawabs of the Carnatic. At the present time the nawáb was Anwar-ud-din, and to him the French appealed, as feudal lord of both English and French in the Carnatic, to prohibit the English from attacking their settlements.He followed it promising that French will also not attack British.The enormous disadvantage, at which the English had placed themselves by their utter ignorance of native affairs could be seen at this instance

(1)First Carnatic War(1746-1748):

  • The First Carnatic War (1746-1748) was the Indian theatre of the War of the Austrian Succession(1740-1748)( in Europe, fought between the Kingdom of Prussia, Spain, France, and Bavaria, Sweden etc. on one side and Habsburg Monarchy, England, Dutch Republic, Russia on the other side). and the first of a series of Carnatic Wars that established early British dominance on the east coast of the Indian subcontinent.
  • The First Carnatic war in India began with the appearing of a British Fleet on the Coromandel Coast. in 1745. The Judicious French Governor Dupleix induced the Nawab of Arcot for intervention but the Nawab opted for an impartial policy.

Battle of Madras and Fall of Madras:

  • British initially captured a few French ships, the French called for backup from Mauritius. In 1746 a French squadron arrived under the command of Bertrand François Mahe de la Bourdonnais.The French governor of the Isle of France(Mauritius), M. de la Bourdonnais was a man of infinite resource, and altogether one of the most remarkable men who took part in the war. Some years before, when the rumor of a probable war in India was first spread abroad, he had impressed on the French government the importance of providing a strong fleet to protect Pondichery, in case of an English attack.
  • In this conflict the British and French East India Companies vied with each other on land for control of their respective trading posts at Madras,Pondicherry, and Cuddalore, while naval forces of France and Britain engaged each other off the coast.
  • An action took place between the two fleets in July 1746 off the coast of Negapatam, a Dutch settlement to the south of Fort St. David. The action was indecisive in itself, but it had the important effect of leaving the Coromandel Coast clear of the English fleet.The absence of the English fleet from the Coromandel Coast gave the French, now that they had a fleet of their own, the very opportunity, for which they had been waiting, to attack Madras.The town itself was almost entirely unprotected by fortifications, and the strength of Fort St. George, which had been designed as a defence to Madras, was insignificant.The English had preferred to build Fort St. David, as a stronghold, further down the Coromandel Coast, rather than make Madras itself secure. In September 1746, the French captured the Madras almost without any opposition and the British were made prisoners of war. Robert Clive was also one of those Prisoners.
  • Later, French attack on Fort St. David had failed

Quarrel between Dupleix and Bourdonnais:

  • After the capture of Madras occurred that celebrated quarrel between Dupleix and de la Bourdonnais. M. de la Bourdonnais wishing to allow the English to ransom the place( as Bourdonnais had accepted a bribe from the English East India Company), M. Dupleix vehemently opposing such a course.
  • The results of this quarrel were most important in so far as they affected the interests of English and French in India. It caused an antagonism between the two great French leaders, both of whom were men of boundless energy and boundless ambition in the cause of French empire in India. It eventually was the cause of the departure of Bourdonnais from India.

The Battle of St. Thome or The Battle of Adyar(4 Nov. 1746):

  • For some time de la Bourdonnais remained in India, and in possession of Madras; and, meanwhile, Anwar-ud-din began to think it was time that Madras should be given up to him, as had been agreed.
  • Dupleix fully intended to do this, but with its fortifications razed. To give over the place, while de la Bourdonnais remained in possession of it, was of course impossible; but Anwar-ud-din would not understand this, and surrounded the place soon after the departure of de la Bourdonnais, and before Dupleix had had time to destroy the fortifications.
  • To hand over the town, with its fortifications complete, was quite out of the question. Dupleix therefore decided to bear the brunt of Anwar-ud-din’s wrath; and the result was the celebrated victory of the French at St. Thomé, on the banks of the Adyar. Small French armies defeated the larger army of the Nawab of the Carnatic
  • Importance of the battle of St. Thomé:
  1. In the short term Dupleix declared Madras to be French by right of conquest, and appointed Paradis to command the city. Madras remained in French hands until the end of the war, when it was returned to the British.
  2. It was the first direct collision between a native and a European force. The longer term impact was to make British and French generals realise that they now had a weapon that could defeat the massive Indian armies that had intimidated them until this point. This discovery would soon help transform the balance of power in India.

Later Conflict and Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle:

  • Dupleix then launched an assault on Fort St. David. Stung by his defeat at Adyar, Anwaruddin sent his son Muhammed Ali to assist the British in the defence of Cuddalore, and was instrumental in holding off a French attack in December 1746. Over the next few months Anwaruddin and Dupleix had made peace,
  • The timely arrival of a British fleet from Bengal, however, turned the tables and prompted the French to withdraw to Pondicherry. With the arrival of reinforcements from Europe, the British besieged Pondicherryin late 1748.
  • The siege was lifted in October 1748 with the arrival of the monsoons, and the war came to a conclusion with the arrival in December of news of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle which ended Austrian war of succession.
  • The articles in the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which related to India, were a direct attempt to place the English and French settlers once more on the footing which they had occupied there, before the outbreak of hostilities. Under its terms Madras was returned to British control.


  • The power of a small number of French troops over larger Indian formations made Joseph Dupleix to capitalise on this advantage to greatly expand French influence in south India. In the Second Carnatic War (1748-1754) he took advantage of struggles for succession to the Nizam of Hyderabad and Nawab of the Carnatic to establish strong French influence over a number of states in south India.
  • The British East India Company, in contrast, did little to expand its own influence and only weakly attempted to oppose Dupleix’s expansive activities. Robert Clive recognized that this threatened the entire livelihood of the Company in the area, and in 1751 engaged in a series of celebrated military exploits that cemented British control over Madras by the end of that conflict.
  • During the late war, the native powers had had an opportunity of learning the vast superiority of European arms and of European discipline as compared with their own; and they now quite appreciated the advantages to be gained by an alliance with one or other of the European communities. They consequently left no means untried, whereby they might attract Europeans to their side. They offered large sums of money, accession of territory, and everything else, which could possibly tempt the settlers.

Why British-French fought later in spite of pledging peaceful commerce after First Carnatic War?

  • Even if the English and French in India had been really anxious for a lasting peace, it would, under the circumstances, have been an act of great restraint, to refuse to take any part in native affairs; and, when once they mixed in the disputes of different native princes, indirect collision with one another was certain to come sooner or later. But it does not appear that any such eager desire for peace possessed them.
  • The great reason, however, which rendered it so difficult for them to refuse the prizes held out as the reward of their assistance, was the great number of troops, which had been gathered together in India in the late struggle. These were far more numerous than was necessary for their safety, and were, besides, the source of no inconsiderable expense.
  • Two important factors: (1) The accession of troops as supplying the power, and (2) The prestige they had gained in the mind of native rulers as supplying the inclination, to take part in the complicated game, which the native powers were playing. It resulted in further wars.

(2)Second Carnatic War (1749–1754):

  • The inducements to interfere in the concerns of native powers were too strong to be resisted by either French or English.
  • The first English interference was for the sole purpose of gaining a convenient harbour; the first French interference was for the sole purpose of placing over the subah of the Deccan, and its subordinate division the Carnatic, two claimants, who should be indebted for their success to French arms, and who should consequently become puppets in the hands of French diplomacy.
  • It was only at a later stage, when their interests clashed, that they consistently took opposite sides in every struggle. It was still later, when war broke out once more in Europe, that they threw off all disguise, and fought openly as principals.
  • The English were the first to act. Sahuji, who having been driven from his throne of Tanjore, by his brother Pratab Sing, now offered the town and the splendid harbour of Devicottah to the English if they would assist him in the recovery of his throne. The English captured Dévicottáh, without the performance of their part of the bargain. Never perhaps has every idea of justice been more completely set aside for interest.

Struggle of Succession of Nizam-ul-Mulk of Hyderabad(Deccan) and Stuggle for throne of Nawab of Arcot(Crnatic) :

  • After the death of the Nizam-ul-Mulk(Subedar) in 1748, the Nizam of Hyderabad, (Deccan) Asaf Jah I a civil war for succession, now known as the Second Carnatic War, broke out between Nasir Jung, the son of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, and Muzaffar Jung, the grandson of Nizam-ul-Mulk.. At the time of the súbahdár’s death, Muzaffar Jang was absent, while Nasir Jang possessed the great advantage of being on the spot.
  • Muzaffar Jang’s first thought was of the Marahtas, and he went to Satara to negotiate with them, with the object of gaining their assistance in his contest with his uncle, Nasir Jang. At Satara, Mozaffer Jang met Chandá Sahéb, member of the royal family of the Carnatic. Chandá Sahéb was at the present time living at Satara as a prisoner of the Mahrattas, who, in 1741, had invaded the Carnatic and taken the town of Trichinopoly, of which he was raja. At the time when Chandá Sahéb was made prisoner by the Mahrattas, the nawáb of the Carnatic was his father-in-law, Safder Alí, who had since been assassinated; and, at the present time, another family was ruling over the Carnatic. This opened a window of opportunity for Chanda Sahib, who wanted to become Nawab of Arcot(Carnatic). 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).
  • Muzaffar Jang, Chandá Sahéb, and their French allies first set about the conquest of the Carnatic, and in one battle there fell the nawáb, Anwar-ud-din, and his eldest son, while the younger son, Mohammed Alí, saved himself by flight, and shut himself up in Trichinopoly. Thus,Chandá Sahéb was freed from all rivals; and at Arcot, soon after the battle, Mozaffer Jang proclaimed himself Nizam(subahdar) of the Deccan(Hyderabad), and confirmed Chanda Saheb, as his subordinate, in the office of nawab of the Carnatic. Hence, Initially, the French succeeded in both states in defeating their opponents and placing their supporters on thrones in 1749.
  • But amidst all this plotting and counter-plotting, it was impossible that French and English could remain long, without coming into indirect conflict. The difference between them was, that Dupleix,who professed to be no soldier himself, had at hand no generals who were competent to carry out his designs; while, on the other side, Saunders, the English Governor of Madras, could intrust his plans to great soldiers like Lawrence and Clive, with the certainty that they would be fully carried out.
  • British allied with Muhammed Ali and by allying themselves with Mohammed Ali, the English had also allied themselves with Nasir Jang, the claimant to the subah of the Deccan, with whom Mohammed Ali had naturally made common cause. We have then two triple alliances: Mozaffer Jang, Chandá Sahéb, and the French, on the one side, against Nasir Jang, Mohammed Alí, and the English, on the other.
  • The most formidable member of this latter alliance was Nasir Jang. The very news of the approach of his vast army had caused a panic among the French allies and they had to retreat. This event had consequences more important than a mere retreat of the French contingent. Muzaffar Jang, in despair, decided to trust himself to the clemency of his uncle, Nasir Jang, and surrendered himself on condition that his life should be spared. Chanda Saheb, on the contrary, decided to trust still in the French.
  • The recent retreat of the French had certainly inflicted considerable disaster on their plans; but Dupleix was too skillful a diplomatist to let the enemy see his weakness. He led a plot. This was a plot with the Patan nawábs, who commanded an important portion of forces of the súbahdár. These Patan nawábs now revolted; and, in the revolt, Nasir Jang was shot through the heart. Muzaffar Jang was taken from captivity, and proclaimed súbahdár in his stead. Thus the diplomacy of Dupleix had once more made the French party triumphant.
  • Mozaffer Jang was installed as subahdar of the Deccan, and Dupleix himself was appointed, by the subahdar, governor over all the country south of the river Kistna as far as Cape Comorin. The gift of the nawab-ship to Dupleix was nothing but a gift to the giver, for it was to Dupleix that Muzaffar Jang owed his subah.The great French general, M. Bussy, accompanied the new subahdar to his capital, Golconda(Hyderabad).
  • Dupleix was one of the most consummate masters of intrigue that ever lived, and prepared himself beforehand for every event, which the future might bring forth. Knowing every little feeling of disaffection among the followers of the súbahdár, he knew both how to repress and how to use such to his own ends.
  • After Mozaffer Jang was slain in another revolt of the Patan nawabs, M. Bussy released from captivity Salabat Jang, a brother of Nasir Jang, and made him subahdár, with the usual result of a fresh and more emphatic confirmation of all the French powers and privileges.
  • All this time, the English held in the Carnatic only Madras, Fort St. David, and Davicottah; and their ally, Mohammed Ali, was on the point of surrendering to the French.He, however, kept adding one stipulation after another to the proposals for surrender: and, when these at last obtained the consent of the French, and had been ratified by the subahdar, he changed his mind, broke off the negotiations, and determined to hold out to the last in Trichinopoly. Nothing in the history of the struggle of French and English for supremacy in India can be more important than this decision of Mohammed Alí.
  • British listened to Mohammed Alí, and dispatched forces to aid Trichinopoly. And now comes the great achievement of Robert Clive, which made his name famous at once and for ever— the capture and subsequent defence of Arcot.The allies of Mohammed Ali, in addition to the English, had been the rajas of Tanjore and Mysore.

The Siege of Arcot (1751):

  • In 1751, Robert Clive and Major Lawrence led British troops to capture Arcot from Chanda Saheb.Whole French forces under General Law trapped in island of Seringam, and Chanda Saheb surrendered. By the successful resistance of Trichinopoly, and by the successful military operations of the English and their allies, the aspect of affairs in the Carnatic was completely changed once more. The French, before the siege, had been all-powerful. Now the claimant, whose cause they had advanced, was no more; and they themselves, after suffering defeat after defeat, were at last most seriously weakened by the capture of a great portion of their army by the enemy.
  • The Siege of Arcot (1751) was a heroic feat, more important than the Battle of Plessey.
  • The blame of all this lies with the leaders of the French forces at this time. They had not one really first-class leader except Bussy, who was at the court of the súbahdár, while the English had at least two, Lawrence and Clive. The French had at their head in India (Depleix) one of the most far-seeing statesmen, and one of the most skillful diplomatists, that ever lived, but he did not combine, like Clive, the qualities which make a good soldier with these.
  • The result of the raising the siege of Trichinopoly was of the utmost importance to the English. Clive’s success led to additional victories for the British and their Nizam and Arcot allies.

Treaty of Pondicherry(1754) and sacking of Dupleix and its effect:

  • The war ended with the Treaty of Pondicherry, signed in 1754. Muhammad Ali Khan Walajah was recognized as the Nawab of Arcot.
  • It laid down emphatically, that the two companies should “renounce for ever all Mogul dignities and governments, and should never interfere in the differences that might arise among the princes of the country.
  • The treaty, by its very nature, entailed a vastly greater sacrifice on the French than on the English.The real grievance in the treaty was the proposal to arrange the possessions of the two communities on the principle of equality. This was quite unnecessary, and proved one of the chief means to defeat the end of the treaty. The French lost too much by this article to bear it patiently.
  • The position of the French at the court of the subahdar(Hyderabad )remained unaltered. Had M. Bussy been suddenly withdrawn at this time, the result must have been most disastrous. The French power alone at the court of the subahdar prevented a general conflagration.
  • The French leader Dupleix was asked to return to France. The directors of the French East India Company were dissatisfied with Dupleix’s political ambitions, which had led to immense financial loss. In 1754, Charles Godeheu replaced Dupleix.
  • The French had hoped for great things from Dupleix, and for a great accession of wealth to the Company. It has been truly said that, at this period (during Dupleix), France was disgraced at home and all the world over except in India. As long as they saw any prospect of this, they aided him. They became impatient; and at length decided to abandon all such designs, and make an effort to return to a purely commercial status, uninterrupted by any further interference in native affairs. When the English agitated for his recall, it was agreed to without much difficulty.
  • The treaty of Pondichery, and the recall to France of M. Dupleix, who was doomed to suffer not only disappointment but insult, from the masters he had attempted to serve only too well, mark the end of a war which is in most respects by far the most important, and the most interesting of the three carnatic wars. It marks the almost complete success, followed by the complete discomfiture, of the designs, which the French had persistently attempted to carry out for so many years. On the other hand, it marks a distinct growth in the policy of the English.

(3)Third Carnatic War (1757–1763):

  • No treaty, such as the treaty of Pondichery, by which the one side gains everything, and the other side loses everything, can ever hold for a great length of time, unless the gaining side possesses power sufficient to keep the losers in absolute subjection.

New French governor, M. de Leyrit:

  • After the return of Godeheu to Europe, however, there came out to India, as French governor, M. de Leyrit, who was by no means so eager to carry on pacifist policy. With the English openly disregarding the treaty of Pondicherry, he determined that the sacrifice, which the treaty demanded of French interests, was impossible.

Outbreak of Seven Years’ War in Europe:

  • The outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in Europe led to open 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 just before Battle of Plassey. By capture of Chandernagore, French power in Bengal was destroyed. Circumstances had prevented Bussy from marching from the Deccan to its assistance. A very short time after this, at the battle of Plassey, a little band of Frenchmen, had taken service with Suraj-ud-Dowlah but French power was no more.
  • Battle of Plassey, from which the origin of our Empire in India is usually dated. It was, first of all, a struggle between the English and the ruling native power. It is true that, in the course of this struggle, the French power in Bengal, which, was never of great importance, was utterly swept away; but the destruction of the French power was not the primary object of the English attack.After the defeat of the subahdar, Suraj-ud-Dowla, the English nominated and set up in his place a súbahdár of their own; and, as was inevitable, the supremacy of this subahdar was equivalent to the supremacy of the English, just as we have seen that, in the Deccan, the supremacy of Salabat Jang was equivalent to French supremacy.
  • Here in south, Still, with everything against him, the proceeding of French General Lally was, for a time, like a triumphal procession. Fort St. David fell, and province after province became the property of the French. The English were quite reduced to the possession of Madras; and, had the French succeeded in their attack on this place, English power in the Carnatic would have been a thing of the past. The English forces were, however, concentrated here; and the conduct of the siege by the French was, for various reasons, feeble.
  • All this time Clive remained in Bengal. The state of that province was as yet too unsettled to allow of his leaving. He, however, created a diversion by send­ing one of his best generals, Colonel Forde, to attack the French possessions in the Northern Circars. This proved itself, a grand success. Forde made a midnight attack upon Masulipatam, which fell, and with it 3000 Frenchmen as prisoners of war. Such an event had the usual effect on the native allies. On his arrival at Pondichery, Count Lally had thought fit to withdraw Bussy from the court of the subahdar of the Deccan;(which was a mistake) and now the subahdar, Salabat Jang, deserting the French and made an agreement with Forde to expel the French altogether from the Deccan, and to grant certain districts, which had been in the possession of the French, to the English.

Battle of Wandiwash(1760):

  • 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. The great battle of Wandewash, in comparison with which, all the previous battles in India appear insignificant, from the fact that so great a number of Europeans on each side here met in conflict. The result was a complete English victory
  • After Wandiwash, the French capital of Pondicherry fell to the British in 1761.
  • While in most respects, the powers, which the two nations had, were not dissimilar in point of strength, there was one weapon, which, for the greater part of the struggle, the French used with great effect, and which the English precluded from using at all. This was the knowledge of all the arcana of native politics, which brought to its possessors the power of pitting one native prince against another to their own advantage. Even had the English acquired this knowledge, the putting of it into practice could only have been brought about by a determination to gain political and territorial power for themselves, as the French had determined.

Treaty of Paris(1763):

  • The war along with Seven Year War concluded with the signing of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which returned Chandernagore and Pondichéry to France, and allowed the French to have “factories” (trading posts) in India but forbade French traders from administering them.
  • The French agreed to support British client governments, thus ending French ambitions of an Indian empire and making the British the dominant foreign power in India.

Reasons for defeat of French:

  • Certainly, on the English side, great men like Lawrence, Clive, Eorde, Coote, and Saunders. But, much as British owe to such men, it is impossible to conceal the fact that, to a very great extent indeed, the success of the English was due to the misfortunes of the French. The foes of the French were, in very truth, those of their own household: they were the French government and the Directors of the French East India Company.
  • When every English place on the Coromandel Coast, with the exception of Fort St. David, was under French — the French government agreed to the terms of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which directed that a mutual restitution of all persons and places taken in the war should be made.
  • French influence in India was so great, that one Frenchman guided the counsels of subahdars and nawabs, and even influenced those of the Great Mogul himself but the French Company, sighing because of a diminished revenue, and the French government, abjectly cringing before the wrath of England, were ready to give up all their influence, and to recall and treat with contumely the Great Governor, Dupleix, who had spent life and wealth for the glory of France.
  • Against odds like these not even a Dupleix, a Bussy, or a Lally, could succeed. They had conceived a project too vast for the comprehension of either the debased government of Louis XV, or the Directors of the East Iindia Company.
  • The most disastrous blow was therefore struck at French power at the conclusion of the second Carnatic war. Previous to the Treaty of Pondichery, the chances of ultimate French success were overwhelming. The grand outline was already sketched. The master-mind of Dupleix had every plan in miind. At a critical moment the master-mind was removed; the policy which had achieved such triumphs was abandoned.
  • For France it was unfortunate that a misfortune like that of the capture of Law’s army and the death of Chanda Saheb should have resulted in their abandonment. The disaster, though severe, need not have been more than temporary. It most certainly had not proved the destruction of French hopes, The English were still in a most perilous position. From a French point of view, the great difficulty was still the status of Mohammed Alí; and Dupleix would have found some mode of settling this question. The whole state of India was, in fact, ripe for the exercise of that power in which he excelled; and it can scarcely be doubted that he would have taken advantage of Maratha and Mysorean affairs to establish French power more securely than ever. The great victories of Dupleix were due to moral rather than to physical force; but it was precisely this fact that his masters at home were incapable of understanding.
  • The third period of the war was one, in which France possessed no advantage even in the Carnatic; and, even if Lally had proved completely victorious here, even if French power in the Deccan had been allowed to remain and to become consolidated, the English now possessed a stronghold in Bengal,(which generated a lot of revenue and trade in contrast to Deccan) from which it would have been difficult to expel them.
  • As time went on, the question of French or English supremacy in India was limited to an ever-decreasing area. Certainly, the Carnatic still continued to be debatable ground; but the struggle, during the third war, was one of union(Britain) against division(French), and its result was such as might natu­rally have been anticipated.


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