Struggle among Europeans

Anglo-French Rivalry:

The Anglo-French struggle lasted in India for nearly 20 years and this ultimately gave way to the establishment of British power in India. In the Carnatic region and Bengal, the Anglo-French rivalry was much evident. In Bengal, their hostility had been contained by the effective intervention of Alivardi Khan. But in the south, the French position was reinforced due to the arrival of a fleet from Mauritius and this resulted in an attack by French on the English position in Madras.

Anglo-French wars in India:

First Carnatic War (1746-1748)

  • English navy under Barnett captured some French ships. The French governor of Pondicherry, Dupleix attacked the English in retaliation in 1746 and this led to the beginning of first Carnatic War.
  • English appealed to the Nawab of Carnatic for protection.
  • Battle of St. Thome was fought between the French and Mahfuz Khan, commander of Anwar-Uddin (the Nawab of Carnatic). In this battle, French emerged as winners.
  • Treaty of Aix-La-Chappelle brought an end to the first round of Anglo-French conflicts in India as well. The English possessions in India were returned, while the French got back their North American possessions. (Madras was returned back to the English East India Company in exchange of Louisburg in North America to France.)
  • The First Carnatic war also demonstrated the importance of Naval Power.

Second Carnatic War (1749-1754)

  • Anglo-French rivalry, continued in India although it had ended in Europe.
  • In 1748, Nizam of Hyderabad Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah died, which resulted in a war of succession. Muzaffar Jang, who aspired to become the Nizam of Hyderabad and Chanda Sahib, a candidate for the throne of Arcot was supported by French Governor
  • After Victory in Battle of Ambur in 1749, Muzaffar Jung became the Nizam and Chanda Sahib the Nawab of Muhammad Ali, (son of Anwar Uddin) who was supported by British escaped to Tiruchirappalli.
  • In 1751 the British commander Robert Clive captured Arcot, i.e. the capital of the Carnatic.
  • Chanda Sahib was treacherously murdered by the Raja of Tanjore. Later, Duplex was recalled.
  • The war concluded by the Treaty of Pondicherry in 1755. According to this treaty each party was left in possession of the territories that it occupied at the time of the treaty.

Third Carnatic War (1758-1763)

  • The outbreak of the Seven Years War (1756-1763) in Europe was the cause of the Third Carnatic War (1758-1763).
  • The British General Sir Eyre Coote defeated, Count de Lally (the commander of the French troops) at Wandiwash in 1760. Battle of Wandiwash ended almost a century of conflict over supremacy in India and availed the British East India Company a far superior position in India compared to the other European traders.
  • The Seven Years War concluded by the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and this also led to the ending of Third Carnatic War. The French got Pondicherry, Karaikkal, Mahe and Yenam but condition applied was these were to be never fortified.

Reasons for the French failure in India:

  • The English East India Company was the wealthier of the two due to its superiority in trade.
  • EIC possessed superior naval strength. They could bring in soldiers from Europe and also provide supplies from Bengal. The French did not have any such avenue to replenish resources.
  • Its possessions in India had been held longer and were better fortified and more prosperous.
  • The French Company was heavily dependent on the French Government.
  • Dupleix’s Mistakes: Dupleix did not pay attention towards improving the finances of the company and did not concentrate his efforts only atone place; and sought no support from the French government for executing his plans.
  • English had three important ports i.e. Calcutta, Bombay and Madras which provided them superiority in almost every angle be it trade or Naval Power, but French had only one port i.e. Pondicherry.
  • The victory at the Battle of Plassey opened up the British to a rich area, namely Bengal.
  • The British had many capable and able soldiers like Robert Clive, Stringer Lawrence and Sir Eyre Coote.

With the treaty of Paris, Chandernagar and Pondicherry were returned to France but they were barred from fortifying them or having troops in them. They could only have trading activities. French hopes of building an empire in India were completely dashed. The French agreed to support British client governments making the British a dominant foreign power in India.