British conquest of India

In the 18th century, the Indian subcontinent was divided into small states after the death of the Mughal emperor Aurangseb in 1707 and the power of the formerly dominant Mughals was limited to the area around Delhi. This was taken advantage of by the European powers, above all England and France, who established trading bases. The English were administered by the East India Company, which was also responsible for all matters in their sphere of influence, as well as for the military.


Karte Asien vom 16. bis 18. Jahrhundert

Map Asia from the 16th to the 18th century


This often led to conflicts with the French, especially when war between the two countries prevailed in Europe, which also extended to the respective colonies of the mother countries. India was no exception.

So the French governor Joseph Francois Dupleix tried from 1742 to expand the sphere of influence of the French and to displace the British from the subcontinent. In 1746 they were able to conquer the English base Madras, after the peace of the Austrian War of Succession to return back to the British. A new outbreak of hostilities followed in 1756 when the seven-year war broke out in Europe.

The beginning of the British conquest of India was marked by a defeat. The Nawab (ruler) Siraj ud-Daula of the Bengal allows the French and British companies in his area to establish trading branches. When the seven-year war broke out in Europe, the British were forced to expand their fortifications in Calcutta in preparation for a possible attack by the French. Siraj ud-Daula saw himself snubbed by this fortification and conquered the city with his troops.

The recapture by the British took place in early 1757, when Colonel Robert Clive sailed with a small force from Madras from the direction of Calcutta. The city was then occupied by around 1,000 British and 2,000 sepoys (indigenous Indian soldiers). The Nawab Siraj ud-Daula in turn set up a 50,000-strong army to again against the British to conquer and Calcutta. But the British had weakened the position of the Nawab in the run-up by bribing his officers and promising his rivals to rule Mir Jafar the throne. Thus, the force of the Nawab at the Battle of Plassey on June 23 was just around 5,000 men. The victory went to the British, who in turn conquered the Bengal territory and appointed Mir Jafar as puppet rulers.

In 1760, the greatest blow of the British against the French, as an infantry regiment under the leadership of Sir Eyre Coote beat the French Count de Lally and besieged the main French base Pondicherry. 1761 was the surrender of the base and the French were expelled from the subcontinent.




The beginning of the British conquests:

In 1761 there was a side-effect theater in northern India when Afghan Muslims invaded Ahmad Shah Durrani and fought against the Hindu Marathenes. Although this battle was undecided, but the ruler of Mysore Haidar Alis took advantage of the opportunity of the weakened Marathenes and built his position clearly. His promotion was favored by the support of the French, who trained his soldiers and supplied weapons. Ali's son Tipu Sultan then made some victories against the British, so in 1780 at Polliur and 1782 at Tanjore. It was not until 1799 that the British resorted to a counter-attack when Napoleon invaded Egypt and the British feared renewed intervention by the French in India. At the conquest of the mysoric capital Seringapatam Tipu was killed. Subsequently, the British turned to the Maratheners, who were weakened by their internal disagreement. 1803 were won some victories in the north against the Marathener, also in September succeeded in Central India to beat an army. In 1805, a peace was negotiated that brought the British large areas, but kept the Marathener their independence. Only in further conflicts in 1817 and 1818, the Marathener could be beaten and the British territory extended to the Punjab.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Sikhs in the north began to expand their territory. A meeting with the British came in 1840, when the East India Company wanted to extend their sphere of influence to the north of India. The decisive battle took place in 1846 at Sobraon, where the army of the Sikhs was destroyed.


Karte Asien im 18. Jahrhundert

Map Asia in the 18th century




The transformation to the Crown Colony:

After the Sepoy uprising, India's last mogul was banished and the East India Company dissolved. The possessions, property and administrative offices have now been transferred directly to the English Crown. India finally became a colony of the British Empire.






You can find the right literature here:


The Chaos of Empire: The British Raj and the Conquest of India

The Chaos of Empire: The British Raj and the Conquest of India Hardcover – October 25, 2016

The popular image of the British Raj—an era of efficient but officious governors, sycophantic local functionaries, doting amahs, blisteringly hot days and torrid nights—chronicled by Forster and Kipling is a glamorous, nostalgic, but entirely fictitious. In this dramatic revisionist history, Jon Wilson upends the carefully sanitized image of unity, order, and success to reveal an empire rooted far more in violence than in virtue, far more in chaos than in control.

Through the lives of administrators, soldiers, and subjects—both British and Indian—The Chaos of Empire traces Britain's imperial rule from the East India Company's first transactions in the 1600s to Indian Independence in 1947. The Raj was the most public demonstration of a state's ability to project power far from home, and its perceived success was used to justify interventions around the world in the years that followed. But the Raj's institutions—from law courts to railway lines—were designed to protect British power without benefiting the people they ruled. This self-serving and careless governance resulted in an impoverished people and a stifled society, not a glorious Indian empire.

Jon Wilson's new portrait of a much-mythologized era finally and convincingly proves that the story of benign British triumph was a carefully concocted fiction, here thoroughly and totally debunked.

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Raj; The Making And Unmaking Of British India

Raj; The Making And Unmaking Of British India Hardcover – December 1, 1998

Chronicles the history of India under British rule, from the eighteenth century to 1947, while exploring the various factors involved that led to the movement for India's independence and the struggles that followed to attain it

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A History of British India

A History of British India

The 200 years of Britain's colonial rule of India was a time of seminal transformation and change - for India, for Britain, and for the world. In A History of British India, explore how the British took power in India, built a massive economic machine, and ruled until India's 1947 independence. You'll relive a crucial era in international relations, one with deep and lasting implications.

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