Rise of East India Company

Historical importance of Battle of Plassey

The Battle of Plassey was a war fought between the British East India Company and the Nawab of Bengal and his close allies, who were mainly the French troops. The battle was won on June 23, 1757, leading to the consolidation of the British in Bengal and later expanding other territories of India.

The Battle of Plassey was fought at Palashi, on the banks of the Bhagirathi River near Calcutta and Murshidabad which was the public capital of Bengal. It was more of skirmishes than a battle according to some historians, who were part of the seven years’ war fought in India by the British.


  • The Company had a strong presence in India and were located in three main stations; Fort St. George, Fort William, and Bombay Castle.
  • The British allied themselves with the Nawabs and princes in exchange for security against rebels and any form of external and internal attack.
  • The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748 stopped the direct hostility between the British and the French powers. The treaty did not last long before the two powers were again involved in indirect hostilities.
  • When Alvardi Khan who was the Nawab of Bengal died in April 1756, his son Siraj-Ud-daula succeeded him. The young Nawab immediately laid siege to Calcutta, capturing it and imprisoning several British officials in June 1756.
  • Clive concluded that the only way to secure the interest of the Company was to replace Siraj with a friendly Nawab. General Mir Jafar was found as a possible replacement. And a secret agreement was passed to Mir Jafar’s residence.

The beginnings of British political sway over India may be traced back to the battle of Plassey in 1757, when the English East India Company’s forces defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal. The significance of battle of Plassey can be studied under the following consequences:

Financial and Political consequences

  • The Company was granted undisputed right to free trade in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
  • It also received the Zamindari of the 24 Parganas near Calcutta.
  • The new Nawab, Mir Jaffar, was dependent on the British for the maintenance of his position in Bengal. An English army of 6000 troops was maintained in Bengal.
  • The wealth paid to British immediately after Plassey was a sum of £800,000
  • Mir Jaffar regretted the deal that he struck with British later when he was reduced to a puppet leader only.
  • Prior to 1757 the English trade in Bengal was largely financed through import of bullion from England; but after that year not only bullion import stopped, but bullion was exported from Bengal to China and other parts of India, which gave a competitive advantage to the English Company over its European rivals.

Position of British after the Battle

  • The battle of Plassey was of immense historical importance. It paved way for British Mastery of Bengal and eventually the whole of India.
  • It boosted British prestige and at a single stroke raised them to the status of major contender for the Indian Empire. Before the battle, it was only just another European company trading in Bengal. But after Plassey they monopolized trade of Bengal.
  • Plassey had brought about a gradual transformation in the character of the Company. In the context of the then politics, military control was synonymous with political body. Thus, the Company played a role of commercial-cum-military-cum- political body.
  • The rich revenues of Bengal enabled them to organize a strong army and meet the cost of conquest of the rest of the country.
  • Control over Bengal played a decisive role in the Anglo French struggle where British were finally victorious.
  • The victory of Plassey enabled the Company with its servants to amass untold wealth at the cost of helpless people of Bengal.
  • The conflict at Plassey was also crucial for the East India company’s triumph over its French rivals.

Robert Clive became the Baron of Plassey. Affairs that occurred after the victory at the Battle of Plassey had changed the British East India Company from a trading company to a central power. Thus, the Battle of Plassey marked the beginning of political supremacy of the English East India Company in India.

Battle of Buxar:

The Battles of Plassey (1757) and Buxar (1764) are watershed moments in Modern Indian history as they marked the beginning on the rise of British colonial rule in India. They had far-reaching implications in the consolidation of the British Empire in India. It influenced the politico-economic conditions of Bengal in particular and of India in general.

Background to Buxar

  • The Battle of Plassey resulted at the end of the French forces and was a major turning point in modern Indian history that led to the consolidation of the British rule in India.
  • The British became the paramount European power in Bengal.

Battle of Buxar: Consequences

  • The defeat of the Great Mughal House was very significant and it stamped the British troops as one of the potent forces of the Indian subcontinent.
  • The Treaty of Allahabad formally gave the British East India Company the right to exact revenue from the eastern province of Bengal which turned the economic fortune of the company.
    • Robert Clive set up the infamous dual system of administration in Bengal wherein the Company acquired the real power, while the responsibility of administration rested on the Nawab of Bengal.
    • Under the ‘dual’ or double government system, the Company got both the Diwani (revenue) and nizamat (civil administration) functions of Bengal.
    • Thus, virtual power went into the hands of Britishers without any responsibility which created confusions, anarchy and economic loot of India began.
  • The British victory at Buxar ensured that there were no significant forces left to challenge its position in the eastern part of the subcontinent.
  • The defeat of the Nawab of Awadh created a buffer state which effectively created a wall between the Britishers and the notorious Marathas.
  • Through the Residents, the Company officials began interfering in the internal affairs of Indian states.

If the Battle of Plassey had made the English a powerful factor in the politics of Bengal, the victory of Buxar made them a great power of North India and contenders for the supremacy of the whole country. The Buxar battle resulted in strong foothold of British as not only economic power but also political power in India.