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British India

Robert Clive meeting with the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II in 1765. The emperor is handing a scroll to Clive, the governor of...Read More >>Robert Clive meeting with the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II in 1765. The emperor is handing a scroll to Clive, the governor of Bengal, which transferred tax collecting rights in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the British East India Company.The British East India Company was set up in 1600 to trade with South and Southeast Asia. In 1617 it was given permission by the Mughal emperor Jahangir to trade in India itself. The Company acquired trading bases in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta and slowly extended its control. Under Robert Clive (1725–74), British troops drove out the French from India, then defeated the Nawab of Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, a victory that gave the British control over Bengal. Clive was appointed by the Company to be its first Governor of Bengal later that year. Over the following decades, the East India Company became the most important political force in India, ruling many Indian kingdoms and influencing others from its capital in Calcutta (known today as Kolkata).



The Battle of Assaye was a major battle of the Second Anglo-Maratha War, fought between the Maratha Empire and the British East...Read More >>The Battle of Assaye was a major battle of the Second Anglo-Maratha War, fought between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company on 23rd September 1803. A combined Indian and British force under the command of Major General Arthur Wellesley (later, the Duke of Wellington), pictured on the left of this picture, defeated a Maratha army.
The Siege of Arcot (1751) was a major battle of the Carnatic Wars. It was fought between Robert Clive and the combined forces of...Read More >>The Siege of Arcot (1751) was a major battle of the Carnatic Wars. It was fought between Robert Clive and the combined forces of the Mughal Empire's Nawab of the Carnatic, Chanda Sahib, aided by troops from the French East India Company. In the 18th century, the coastal Carnatic region in southern India was a dependency of Hyderabad.

British expansion

Following victory in the three Carnatic Wars, fought between 1744 and 1763, the East India Company gained control over southern India. The Company also expanded its territories around its bases in Bombay and Madras, while victory in the Anglo-Mysore Wars (1766–99) and later the Anglo-Maratha Wars (1772–1818) led to control of vast regions of India. The Ahom Kingdom of northeastern India fell to the British in 1826. Punjab, the Northwest Frontier Province and Kashmir were annexed in 1849. Other territory came under Company influence through alliances with local rulers, creating the “princely states” of the Hindu maharajas and the Muslim nawabs (Kashmir was sold to the Dogra Dynasty of Jammu and became a princely state). By the 1850s, the Company controlled most of the subcontinent. 

Indians overseas

Unhappy with the British East India Company's interference in the affairs of his province, the Nawab of Bengal laid siege to Fort William, the Company’s stronghold in Calcutta (now Kolkata). The fort was captured and the British prisoners-of-war, some 146 men, were packed into the fort’s tiny prison, measuring around 4 x 5.5 m (14 x 18 ft), overnight on 20th June 1756. By morning, only 23 had survived, the rest dying from thirst, trampling or suffocation. The prison became known as the Black Hole of Calcutta.

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