Modern History Simplified: Advent of the English in India 17th century

Advent of the English in India 17th century
  1. In 1599, a group of English merchants calling themselves the ‘Merchant Adventurers’ formed a company called East India Company. 
  2. In 1600, a charter was issued by Queen Elizabeth I of England which gave trade monopoly for 15 years. In 1609 the monopoly was extended indefinitely.
  3. Captain Hawkins of England arrived at the royal court of Jahangir in 1609 seeking permission to establish the England trade center at Surat, but was refused by Jahangir due to Portuguese pressure.
  4. West (Foothold in Surat and Bombay)
    1. It was in 1612 that Captain Thomas Best defeated the Portuguese in the sea off Surat; an impressed Jahangir granted permission to the English in early 1613 to establish a factory at Surat.
    2. Bombay had been gifted to King Charles II by the King of Portugal as dowry when Charles married the Portuguese princess Catherine in 1662. Bombay was given over to the East India Company on an annual payment of ten pounds only in 1668.
    3. Later Bombay was made the headquarters by shifting the seat of the Western Presidency from Surat to Bombay.
  5. South (Foothold in Masulipatnam and Madras)
    1. The English established a factory at Masulipatnam in 1616. Later they got permission to build a fortified factory at Madras which later became Fort St. George replaced Masulipatnam as the headquarters of the English settlements in south India.
  6. East (Foothold in Bengal)
    1. Shah Shuja, the subahdar (or governor) of Bengal in 1651, allowed the English to trade in Bengal in return for an annual payment of Rs 3,000.
    2. In 1698, the English succeeded in getting the permission to buy the zamindari of the three villages and a settlement was made in this area which later came to be known as Fort William. This  became the seat of the eastern presidency (Calcutta) with Sir Charles Eyre as its first president.
  7. Farrukhsiyar’s Farman (1715): Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar secured three famous farmans, giving the Company many valuable privileges in Bengal, Gujarat and Hyderabad. The farmans thus obtained were regarded the Magna Carta of the Company.
Why were the English so successful against the other European nations?

1. Structure and Nature of the Trading Companies: English East India Company, formed through amalgamation of several rival companies at home, was controlled by a board of directors whose members were elected annually.
2. Naval Superiority: Royal Navy of Britain was not only the largest; it was the most advanced of its times.
3. Industrial Revolution: The industrial revolution reached other European nations late and this helped England to maintain its hegemony. The Industrial Revolution started in England in the early 18th century.
4. Military Skill and Discipline: The British soldiers were a disciplined lot and well trained. The British commanders were strategists who tried new tactics in warfare.
5. Stable Government: Britain witnessed a stable government with efficient monarchs.
6. Lesser Zeal for Religion: Britain was less zealous about religion and less interested in spreading Christianity, as compared to Spain, Portugal or the Dutch.
7. Use of Debt Market: Britain used the debt markets to fund its wars.

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