So in 1687 the court of directors asked its servants at Madras to establish such a Civil and Military power as may be the foundation of a large well grounded, secure English dominion in India for all time to come.
In 1688 the English blockaded the Mughal port on the west coast, cut off the pilgrimage traffic to Macca and tried to seize Chittagong. But weakness of the Mughal Government in Bengal provided an opportunity for constructing Fort William at Calcutta in 1669.
A wall was built round Bombay and the company’s armed fleet was strengthened two decade later. The French also found it necessary to put their factories in a more or less fortified position and enlisted troops.
The First Carnatic War (1746-48):
The first carnatic war was an extension of the conflict between England and France in Europe which is known as war of Austrian succession.
Though the outbreak of the war of Austrian succession placed the English and France companies in India technically in a state of war, yet the French in India under the leadership of Duplex started diplomatic effort with the English authority in India.
But the English failed to give any guarantee regarding neutrality in the war because they did not enjoy and control over English ships. So Duplex appealed to Anwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Carnatic to advice the British to desist from hostile action.
Apart from this, to meet the emergency situation arising out any possible threat from Duplex appealed to La Bourdonnais, the French Governor of Mauritius, to send a squadrun to help the French. In 1746, the Fleet of La Boundonnais had reached the Coromandal coast. Duplex had planned a joint attack upon Madras.
The English ship retired to Hugli after some resistance. This created opportunity for French and they occupied Madras. The Nawab of Carnatic objected to the hostile attitude of French but the French silenced Nawab by offering to handover Madras.
So Madras was surrendered to French in September 1746. Difference developed between Duplex and La Bounbonnais. The latter accepted a bribe of one lakh pagodas and restored Madras to the English ? 40,000.
Duplex repudiated the action of La Boundonnais and recaptured Madras. When Anwar-ud-Din asked for restoration of Madras to him, Duplex refused to do so, consequently, the Nawab sent an army to fight against the French. The army was defeated in the battle of St. Thomas or the battle of Adyar.
In the battle the French were successful and the Nawab army was defeated. The battle of Adyar was an event of great significance in so far “it brought into view, silently but surely, the possibility of the conquest of India by one or others of the two European powers on the Coromandal Coast.” The battle of Adyar is regarded to be one of the decessive battles of India. It demonstrated the superiority of disciplined infantry supported by artillery over cavalry.
After the occupation of Madras, Duplex encouraged to occupy other English settlements. So he tried to capture Fort. St. David located sixteen miles south of Pondichery. The fort was bravely defended by Stinger Lawrence.
In the meantime, an English squadron appeared on the scene and besieged Pondichery. However, the French defended the place so valiantly that the English were forced to retreat with heavy losses.
In the meantime Austrian war of secession came to an end by the treaty of Aix-La-Chapplle in 1748. Under this treaty the English and French agreed to stop their hostility in India. The French also agreed to stop their hostility in India.
The French also agreed to return Madras to the British in return for Louisbarg in North America. Although the treaty did not bring any changes. Yet the treaty marks an epoch in Indian history.
1. It demonstrated the overwhelming influence of sea power. It displaged the superiority of European Methods of War over those followed by Indian armies, and it revealed the political decay that had eaten into the heart of the Indian state.
2. Secondly, though the French had to surrender all gains made by them during the war, they earned reputation as great fighters.
3. The bitterness which was created between the English and French companies did not end after the termination of hostilities.
4. It convinced the Europeans that they could capture political power from the Indians in the absence of any strong empire. The myth of oriental military power was demolished and the feeling of awe which prevailed amongst the Europeans disappeared.
The Second Carmatic War 1748-54:
Though the first Carnatic war ended in peace, circumstances and rival ambitions soon found them opposing each other on the plains of the Carnatic, not directly, but as allies of rival Nawabs fighting for their throne. Chronologically the policy of aiding rivals in return for concessions dated from 1738 when Governor Dumas of Pondichery aided a claimant to the ‘gaddi’ of Tanjore and received in return Karikal.
The seizure of Karikal rankled in the mind of the English at Madras to counter-balance which the Governor took up in 1749 the cause of Shahji against Pratap Singh the defacto ruler of Tanjore in returning for the cession of Devi Kattai.
In June 1749 Major Lawrence captured Devi Kattai. Pratap Singh came to terms with the English who without any remorse threw Shahji over board having obtained Devi Kattai.
With the death of Asaf Jah Nizam-Ul-Mulk, another new drama opened in South India. In May 1748 Asaf Jah Nizam-Ul-Mulk died. His second son Nazir Jung and his grandson Muzaffar Jung made common cause with Chanda Sahib, who aspired for the Nawab Arcot, theoretically, subordinate to the subedar of the Deccan, at that time held by Anwaruddin. Chanda Saheb opened negotiations with Duplex.
The latter immediately grasped at the idea of placing his own nominees upon the masnads of the Deccan and the Carnatic, calculating the political advantages that would accrue from such a move. Terms were speedly concluded and Chanda Saheb aided by Muzaffar Jung and the French defeated Anwaruddin at the battle of Amber (August, 1749). Anwaruddin was killed.
His son Muhammad Ali fled and shut himself up in the fort of Trichinopoly and the rest of the Carnatic passed into the hands of Chanda Saheb who in all gratitude to the French rewarded them with a grant of territories.
The English as a counterstroke took possession of St. Thome in the name of Muhammad Ali, little heeding Duplex’s assertion that it belonged to Chanda Saheb.
The fact was that St. Thome was barely four miles away from Madras and hence it was important that it should not fail into the hands of the French or their portage Chanda Saheb.
The English made no doubts as to the real designs of Duplex to which they took up the cause of Muhammad Ali and began sending him help at Trichinopoly. Duplex on the other hand has no doubts as to the necessity of removing Muhammad Ali from the scene and urged prompt action on Chanda Saheb.
But Chanda Saheb hesitated and when he did proceed to Trichinopoly, he wasted much time and power in and an unsuccessful attack upon Tanjore which gave Muhammad Ali time to prepare himself.
In the meantime Nazir Jung who had secured the Subedarship of the Deccan after the death of Asaf Jah appeared on the scene in 1750, to measure swords with his rival Muzaffar Jung. Ever since the battle of Amber the English had been instigating Nazir Jung to invade the Carnatic and assert his overlordship over the Carnatic promising their support.
His appearance aided by an English contigent compelled Chanda Saheb to give up the siege of Tanjore and retire to Pondichery. Duplex sent a force to oppose Nazir Jung.
The two armies faced each other at Valudavor, when suddenly due to the desertion of thirteen French generals, dissatisfied for lack of pay, the French withdrew. Muzaffar Jung surrendered to his uncle Nazir Jung. Fortune seemed to have left him.
In the most difficult circumstances he recovered the French position with astonishing rapidity. He reorganised his forces and captured Masulipatam and certain other places, while Nazir Jung remained inactive at Arcot.
The capture of Jinji by bussy stirred Nazir Jung to action but by that time Duplex’s intrigue had worked its way. A night attack by the French under La Touche spelled confusion in the camp of Nazir Jung made worse by the desertions of his nobles who had been won over by Duplex. Nazir Jung, deserted by his troops, was slain and Muzaffar Jung, the erstwhile prisoner, was immediately recognised as the subedar of the Deccan.
Once again Duplex was the master of the situation, Muzaffar Jung in return conferred large territories upon the French, made Duplex the Governor of the country lying south of the river Krishna upto Cape comorin and in addition bestowed upon him a jagir worth ? 10,000 a year. Chanda Saheb was recognised as the Nawab of Arcot under the authority of Duplex.
The English under Governor Saunders refused to recognise ail the transactions by which Duplex had become governor and Chanda Saheb was recognised as the Nawab. Saunders clearly saw the dangers threatening the English and encouraged Muhammad Ali with the promise of support to hold out against Duplex.
Duplex had after the departure of Muzaffar Jung, entered into negotiations with Muhammad Ali protected the negotiations to gain time for his allies the English.
Trichinopoly once again became the scene of action round whose fort the French and the English fought for the mastery of the Carnatic. The English sent a force in May, 1751 to help Muhammad Ali while Duplex despatched a contigent in support of Chanda Saheb. Muhammad Ali was further joined by the Rajas of Mysore and Tanjore while the Marathas under Morari Rao fished in troubled waters to gain advantage for themselves.
At this stage appeared Robert Clive whom destiny had chosen to be the architect of the British Empire in India. At an early age he entered the service of the company and came out to India as a writer attached to the Madras establishment.
To a daring genious he added an originality of conception equalled perhaps only by Wellesley and Lord Moira. The fall of Trichinopoly seemed imminent when Clive as a diversion suggested the siege of Arcot, the Capital of Carnatic, Saunders the Governor, fell in with the plan and Clive set out with a small force of 200 Europeans and 200 sepoys and besieged Arcot.
The garrison at Arcot could not hold out and Clive took possession of the forts. The expected them happened; Chanda Saheb despite the remonstrances of Duplex sent half of his forces under his son Reza Khan for the relief of Arcot, thus diminishing the pressure on Trichinopoly. Clive heroically held on to Arcot for 53 long days against superior numbers and when he left Arcot, the whole situation had changed.
The siege of Arcot created a profound impression. Major Lawrence and Clive gave short shrift to their opponents and Duplex’s reinforcement proved at no avail. The French general Law surrendered, panic stricken and leaving Trichinopoly took refuge in the island of Sriranjan. At the same time Chanda Sahed was assassinated. Fortune had once again turned sides.
Duplex did his best to retrieve the lost position but in vain. Several victories were obtained by the English. Another attempt on Trichinopoly was made under Mainville in November 1753 but it failed and negotiations for peace began.
Duplex tried to recover his position, but could not. Victory after victory was won by the English against French. A conference was held between the English and French commissioners. However if failed to produce desired results, soon after the conference, the war restarted. Before much could be alone, Duplex was recalled in 1757.
Duplex was succeeded by Godeheu:
The later arranged terms of peace with England. By the new treaty both the nations agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Indian state. Both the French and English retained their lost positions.
However, the English got a town in Northern Circars. Bussy remained in the Deccan and continued to exercise his influence.
It has been pointed out that the treaty of 1755 Godeheu sacrificed everything for which Duplex had fought. Godeheu had signed the ruin of the country and the dishonour of the nation.
The French agreed to give away all that they had captured so far. The treaty was wise or not, one thing is certain. It made the English stronger. It also gave them much needed rest before embarking upon the third Carnatic war.
The Third Carnatic War (1756-63):
The third phase of the Anglo-French struggle in India was a consequence of the seven years war in Europe. When the news of European War reached India Clive and Admiral Watson captured Chandernagar, a French settlement in Bengal.
Even since the end of second Carnatic War, the English had greatly increased their power in India. They had not only overthrown the Nawab of Bengal but also established their supremacy after the battle of Plassy in June 1757.
This victory placed the rich resources of Bengal at the disposal of the English. Bussy’s pre-occupation in the Northern Circars prevented him from coming to Bengal in 1757.
The unfortunate Nawab, a hesitant friend of French, received no help from them in his hour of crises. The destiny of French sank in the Bengal.
In 1758 an English fleet commanded by Pocke arrived from Europe under the leadership of Comte de Lally who was invested with full powers as governors and Commander-in-Chief.
It may be noted that, though Lally was very energetic and talented, he lacked diplomacy and statesmanship. So soon after landing on the Indian soil, Lally marched against Fort St. Davide and captured it without much difficulty.
Then he turned towards Madras. Further, Clive sent Colonel Forde from Calcutta who drove out the French from Northern Sircars. In the meanwhile the English captured Maslipatam after a feeble resistance.
This was followed by a treaty with the Nizam which offered very favourable terms to the English. After that the offensive rested with the English and Lally was generally on the defensive.
The difficulties of Lally were aggravated by the lack of finance and growing discontent among the soldiers. Ultimately in 1760 the English commander Colonel Cotte inflicted a crushing defeat on the French at Wardiwash in 1760. A year later Pondichery surrendered to the English after a siege (1761). The Victors destroyed the city. This was followed by the surrender of Jenji and Mahe.
Hostilities were ended in Europe by the place of Paris 1763.
The French possessions were restored, but without fortifications. The French dream of empire in India was shattered, but the alarming prospect of the revival of French power contained to disturb the English rulers of Indian territories till the Napoleonic Age.