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  • 04 July, 2021

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Advent of the Europeans in India

Advent of the Europeans in India

Why a Sea Route to India

    1. European economy growing rapidly, demand for luxury goods.
    2. Spirit of renaissance in the 15th-century Europe
    3. Capture of Constantinople in 1453, and Syria and Egypt later by the Ottoman Turks calling for a new route to reach India without dealing with Arabs and Turks.
    4. Venice and Genoa, too small to stand up to the Turks.
    5. Spain and Portugal aided with money and men by the North Europeans and by ships and technical knowledge by the Genoese.
    6. The Portuguese the pioneers followed by the Dutch, English, Danes and the French respectively to reach India.

The Portuguese

Vasco Da Gama discovered sea route to India in 1498. Second visit in 1502 led to the establishment of trading stations at Calicut, Cochin and Cannanore.

Francisco de Almeida (1505-09) First governor, initiated the blue water policy (cartaze system).

Alfonso de Albuquerque (1509-1515) Considered to be the founder of the Portuguese power in India:

  • captured Goa from Bijapur;
  • captured Bhatkal from Sri Krishna Deva Rai (1510) of Vijayanagara; and
  • initiated the policy of marrying with the natives of India and
  • banned the practice of sati in his area of influence.
  • persecution of muslims.

Nino da Cunha (1529-38) shifted the capital from Cochin to Goa in 1530. In his rule, Diu and Bassein came under the Portuguese occupation .

Factors for Decline of the Portuguese in India

    1. political fears aroused by the activities of Jesuit missionaries, and hatred of persecution (such as inquisition) that caused reaction against Portuguese spiritual pressure;
    2. Emergence of powerful dynasties in Egypt, Persia in north India and the appearance of the Marathas as neighbours;
    3. rise of the English and Dutch commercial ambitions challenging the Portuguese supremacy;
    4. rampant corruption, greed and selfishness along with piracy and clandestine trade practices of the Portuguese administration in India;
    5. diversion of Portuguese colonising ambitions towards the West due to the discovery of Brazil.

The Dutch

    1. The United East India Company of the Netherlands, formed in 1600s by Dutch Parliament, had the powers to wage wars, make treaty and build forts.
    2. Dutch Factories in India Masulipatnam(1605), Pulicat (1610), Surat (1616), Bimlipatam (1641), Karikal (1645),Chinsurah (1653), Cassimbazar (Kasimbazar), Baranagore, Patna, Balasore, Nagapatam (1658) and Cochin (1663).

Decline in India was due to the defeat of the Dutch in the Anglo-Dutch rivalry and the shifting of Dutch attention towards the Malay Archipelago.

Battle of Bidara (1759) The English defeated the Dutch.

The English

Factors for Foundation

  • Drake’s voyage round the world, and English victory over the mighty Spanish Armada leading to great ambitions.
  • English East India Company was formed on, 1600 by the charter issued by Queen Elizabeth I, which gave the company monopoly to trade in the East Indies for 15 years
    1. With Captain Thomas Roe’s victory over the Portuguese (1612), the English established their first factory at Surat (1613).
    2. Thomas Roe secured permission from Jehangir to establish factories at Agra, Ahmedabad and Broach. Bombay came under the control of the Company, with Charles II , leasing it out to the English Company.
    3. Madras with the Fort St. George replaced Masulipatnam as the English headquarters on the east coast, when the former was given by the Chandragiri chief to the English in 1639.
    4. The city of Calcutta grew from the development of three villages Sutanuti, Gobindapur and Kalikata secured from the Mughal governor of Bengal. The fortified settlement was named Fort William (1700) and it became the seat of British power in India till 1911.
  • Farrukhsiyar’s Farmans In 1717, called Magna Carta of the East India Company, gave significant privileges to the Company in Bengal, Gujarat and Hyderabad. Settlements in India

The French

In 1664, Colbert, a minister of Louis XIV, laid the foundations of Compagnie des Indes Orientales.

Pondicherry, developed as headquarters. Its Incorporated into Indian Union in 1954.

Anglo-French Rivalry in India

The Anglo-French rivalry in India coincided with the wars between the English and French in Europe.


  • For protection and expansion of commercial interests.
  • Political developments in the south India and Europe provided pretexts to contest their claims which culminated in three Carnatic wars.

First Carnatic War (1740-48)

It was an extension of the Anglo- French rivalry in Europe and ended in 1748 with the Treaty of Aix-La Chapelle.

Second Carnatic War (1749-54)

Although inconclusive, it undermined the French power in South India vis-à-vis the English.

Third Carnatic War (1758-63)

It’s a decisive war, known for the Battle of Wandiwash (1760-61). By the Treaty of Paris (1763), the French were allowed to use Indian settlements for commercial purposes only and fortification of settlements was banned.

Causes of the French Failure

  • Inadequate Military and Financial Support
  • Frances Involvement in Europe
  • Ill-managed Policy of Imperial France
  • Lack of Commercial Incentive to the French Company
  • Sound Commercial Base of the English Company

Previous Year Questions

1. With reference to Pondicherry (now Puducherry), consider the following statements:

  1. The first European power to occupy Pondicherry was the Portuguese.
  2. The second European power to occupy Pondicherry was the French.
  3. The 'English' never occupied Pondicherry.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (IAS 2010)

      1. I only
      2. 2 and 3 only
      3. 3 only
      4. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: a

2. With whose permission did the English set up their first factory in Surat? (IAS 2009)

  1. Akbar
  2. Jahangir
  3. Shahjahan
  4. Aurangzeb

Answer: b

3. Which one of the Following was the first fort constructed by the British in India? (IAS 2007)

  1. Fort William
  2. Fort St. George
  3. Fort St. David
  4. Fort St. Angelo

Answer: b

4. Consider the following statements:

  1. Robert Clive was the first Governor General of Bengal
  2. William Bentinck was the first Governor Generalof India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (IAS 2007)

  1. I only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither1 nor 2

Answer: b

5. Who among the following Europeans were the last to come to pre-independence India as traders? ( 2007)

  1. Dutch
  2. English
  3. French
  4. Portuguese

Answer: c

6. Which one of the following is the correct state ment?

  1. The modern Kochi was a Dutch colony till India's independence
  2. The Dutch defeated the Portuguese and built Fort Williams in the modern Kochi.
  3. The modern Kochi was first a Dutch colony before the Portuguese took over from them.
  4. The modern Kochi never became a part of the British colony.

Answer: b

7. Which one of the following is the correct chrono logical order of the battle fought in India in the 18th Century? (IAS 2005)

  1. Battle of Wandiwash - Battle of Buxar - Battle of Ambur-Battle of Plassey.
  2. Battle of Ambur - Battle of Plassey-Battle of Wandiwash - Battle of Buxar.
  3. Battle of Wandiwash - Battle of Plassey - Battle of Ambur- Battle of Buxar.
  4. Battle of Ambur - Battle of Buxar - Battle of Wandiwash - Battle of Plassey.

Answer: b

8. Consider the following Viceroys of India during the British rule:

  1. Lord Curzon
  2. Lord Chelmsford
  3. Lord Hardinge
  4. Lord Irwin

Which one of the following is the correct chronological order of their tenure? (2004)

  1. 1-3-2-4
  2. 2-4-1-3
  3. 1-4-2-3
  4. 2-3-1-4

Answer: b

9. In India, among the following locations, the Dutch established their earlier factory at(IAS 2003)

  1. Surat
  2. Pulicat
  3. Cochin
  4. Cassimbazar

Answer: b

10. With reference to the entry of European powers into India, which one of the following statements isNOT correct? (IAS 2003)

  1. The Portuguese captured Goa in 1499
  2. The English opened their first factory in SouthIndia at Masulipatam
  3. In Eastern India, the English Company opened itsfirst factory in Orissa in 1633
  4. Under the leadership of Duplex, the French oc cupied Madras in 1746

Answer: a

11. With which one of the following mountain tribes the British first come into contact with after the grant of Diwani in the year 1765? (IAS 2002)

  1. Garos
  2. Khasis
  3. Kukis
  4. Tipperahs

Answer: b

12. Who among the following was the first European to initiate the policy of taking part in the quarrels of Indian princes with a view to acquire territories? (IAS 1996)

  1. Clive
  2. Albuquerque
  3. Dupleix
  4. Warren Hastings

Answer: b

Source: Spectrum

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