British Conquest of Bengal

British Conquest of Bengal – In the eighteenth century, Bengal was a rich province. It also flourished well in trade and commerce. The English had established their first factory in Bengal in 1651, by the permission of Sultan Shah Shuja, then Subedar of Bengal. Further, the British got the zamindari of three villages – Sutanuti, Kalikata and Govindpur.

British Conquest of Bengal

in 1698 from Subedar Azim-us-Shan. In 1717, the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar granted several trading privileges to the East India Company. The company now became entitled to buy and sell anything from Bengal paying without custom duties. It also became free to carry goods to and from Bengal.

Alivardi Khan was the ruler of Bengal. He kept a close watch over the activities of the Company and how the English were misusing the power granted to them .

British Conquest of Bengal

Alivardi Khan died in 1756. He was succeeded by his grandson, Siraj-ud-daula who was young and inexperienced. He was also short tempered. Thus, his succession led to court intrigues. The British considered it the right time to interfere in the politics of Bengal. They began to fortify Fort William at Calcutta and mounted guns on the walls of the fort.

Aware of the company’s political desires, Siraj ud – daula asked the English to immediately stop fortifications and pay revenues. When the English refused to obey, the Nawab marched with an army of 30,000 soldiers and laid the siege of Calcutta. He captured the Company’s officials, disarmed the English soldiers and blockaded English ships Siraj-ud-daula placed Calcutta under the charge of Manik Chand and returned to Murshidabad .

Battle of Plassey

Battle of Plassey, British Conquest of Bengal
Battle of Plassey

Alarmed by the fall of Fort William, the Company officials in Madras immediately sent forces under Robert Clive and Admiral Watson to Calcutta.

After his arrival in Calcutta, Clive succeeded in securing the support of Manik Chand, the Nawab’s officer-in-charge of Calcutta, Mir Jafar, the Commander-in-Chief of Nawab’s army, Jagat Seth, an influential banker and Om Chand, an intermediary. All of them joined hands together to depose Siraj-ud-daula.

The armies of the Nawab and the British faced each other at Plassey (a mango grove, 22 miles south of Murshidabad) on 23rd June 1757. A large section of the Nawab’s army did not take part in the battle. Siraj – ud – doula was captured and killed. Mir Jafar was proclaimed the new Nawab of Bengal. Jafar rewarded the British by granting them the zamindari of 24 districts of Bengal. British Conquest of Bengal, All French settlements in Bengal were also daula surrendered to the English.

Battle of Buxar

Though a puppet Nawab, Mir Jafar failed to comply with the ever-increasing demands of the English. Consequently, he too, was replaced by Mir Qasim as the Nawab of Bengal. Mir Qasim was the son – in – law of Mir Jafar. Mir Qasim, in turn, granted the zamindari rights of Burdwan , Midnapur and Chittagong districts to the English.

He also promised to help the Company financially in its Southern expeditions. Mir Qasim transferred his capital from Murshidabad to Monghyr in order to avoid the Company’s interference in his policies. He made efforts to train his army in the modern European techniques. He also imposed restrictions on the internal trade of the Company in Bengal.

He abolished all duties on internal trade to provide equal opportunities to both the English and the Indians for trade.
The English were both surprised and alarmed by these moves of Mir Qasim. Mir Qasim was defeated by the English in several encounters and forced to flee to Oudh. There he formed an alliance with Shuja – ud – doula, the Nawab of Oudh and Shah Alam II, the Mughal emperor in order to expel the English from Bengal.

The combined armies of these three rulers met the English forces under Major Munro at Buxar, on 22 October 1764. The Indian army was defeated. Mir Qasim was expelled from Bengal. Mir Jafar was reinstalled as the Nawab of Bengal. He promised to pay Rs 500,000 to the Company every month.
The Battle of Buxar clearly displayed the superior military power of the English. The whole of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was now at their feet. The entire territory until Allahabad, now, came under their control. The English geared themselves to check the increasing power of the Marathas.

In 1765, by a royal verdict of the Mughal Emperor, the Company became the Diwan of the provinces of Bengal. This meant that the revenue from India could now finance the Company expenses. Some are

  • purchase of cotton and silk textiles,
  • maintenance of the company’s vast troops
  • making costly building of company’s offices and forts at Calcutta.

Thus, while on one hand , the entire power and finances came under the control of the Company with no responsibility , the Nawab of Bengal had to run the entire administration without any finance, This form of governance was known as the Dual system of Administration.

British Empire Expansion

After establishing their stronghold over Bengal, the English now turned their attention towards the acquisition of more territories. They focused on the acquisition of Mysore which was being ruled by Haider Ali.
The Marathas, the Nizam of Hyderabad, the English and the French,
all wanted to establish their control over Mysore and waged conflicts against one another.

These conflicts led to three Anglo – Mysore Wars (1767-1799). (British Conquest of Bengal)

The First Anglo – Mysore War (1767-69)

The Nizam, the Marathas and the Nawab of Carnatic united against Haider Ali. Haider, in turn, bought both the Nizam and the Marathas to his side by promising them territorial gains. He launched an attack on Arcot and reached till Madras. The English were forced to conclude a treaty with them for mutual restitution of each other’s territories. The English also promised to help Haider if he was ever Coins of Haider Ali attacked by another power.

The Second Anglo – Mysore War (1780-84)

  • The British violated the terms of the treaty of 1969 and did not help Haider when the Marathas attacked Mysore in 1771.
  • The English also attempted to capture Mahe which was under Haider’s jurisdiction.
  • Consequently, Haider joined hands again with the Nizam and the Marathas and defeated the English twice in 1780 and 1782.
  • Haider died in December 1782 and was succeeded by his son, Tipu Sultan. (British Conquest of Bengal)
  • Tipu concluded the long wars with the English by the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784 Both sides agreed to show mutual respect to each other’s territories.
  • Tipu was called the ‘ Tiger of Mysore ‘ os he once killed a tiger who had attacked him in a forest. He also had an image of a tiger in his flag.

The Third Anglo – Mysore War (1790-92)

The English entered into an alliance with the Nizam and the Marathas and marched towards Seringapatam, the capital of Tipu Sultan. Though Tipu fought bravely, he had to satisfy himself by the Treaty of Seringapatam in 1792. Tipu lost nearly half of his territory in Mysore to the allies and also had to pay a war indemnity of over three crores of rupees. British Conquest of Bengal

The Fourth Anglo – Mysore War ( 1799 )

In order to completely deprive Tipu of his territories, the British again marched against him in April 1799. In this war, Tipu died after showing tough resistance and Seringapatam was captured by the English. They also annexed the territories of Kanara, Coimbatore, Dharpuram and the entire sea – coast of Mysore. British Conquest of Bengal

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