The Portuguese -1498 The English – 1600 The Dutch – 1602 The Danes – 1616 The French – 1664
ADVENT OF EUROPEANS INTO INDIA – A Brief
The city of Constantipole fell to the Ottoman- Turks in 1453, the Arabs came to dominate the land and sea routes in the middle eastern region.
Consequently, the Europeans were dependent on the Arab merchants who acted as intermediaries in connecting the markets of Europe & Asia.
These Arab merchants virtually monopolised the Red sea which connected the European markets with Asia.
In such a situation, the Europeans were eager to find an alternate route to India for eliminating their dependence on Arab merchants who were earning tremendous profits by monopolising these routes.
This led to the discovery of sea routes to Indian subcontinent, which was the first step towards the process of imperialism by Europeans in Asia.
The landing of Vasco da Gama at Calicut in 1498 with three ships is generally regarded as the beginning of new era in world history, especially in the relation between Asia and Europe.
The Portuguese came to India to establish trade ties and they wanted to take away the spice trade from the Arabs. They even resorted to piracy for its capture.
Francis de Almeida was the first Governor of the Portuguese in India. Later, in 1509 Albuquerque became the governor.
Albuquerque captured Goa from the ruler of Bijapur in 1510. Subsequently, Goa became the capital of the Portuguese settlements in India.
Their influence declined in India by the end of 16th century as naval and commercial powers of the France, English and Dutch had given a strong competition to Portuguese and Spanish trade monopoly.
Around 17th century, they had lost all their possessions in India except Goa, Diu and Daman. The Marathas had captured Salsette and Bassein in 1739.
Portuguese lived for temporary periods in these settlements and then returned to Portugal.
They were largely intolerant of India’s existing religions and tried to coerce conversions to Christianity.
British East India Company
The British East India Company sometimes also called John Company, was a Joint- Stock Company established in 1600, as The Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies.
William Hawkins stayed at the Court of Jahangir from 1608 to 1611.
The British Company gained foothold in India in 1612 when Mughal emperor Jahangir granted the rights to establish a factory in Surat to Sir Thomas Roe.|
The Court of directors were its supreme policy framing authority.
Move towards Colonization
In the first 50 years of its arrival, the Company had no interest in the development of colonies and only preferred trade engagements.
This policy saw a change by 1650 when the power of the old guard British royalist merchants was broken, and a new class of merchants now wrested control.
Later, they tried to establish some political power in order to compel the Mughals to allow them a free hand in trade and keep the other rival Europeans away.
In 1717, Farrukh Siyar confirmed the privileges granted in 1691 Farman and extended them to Deccan and Gujarat.
The Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was established in 1602.
Dutch established their settlements at Masulipattinam, Karaikal, Nagapattinam, Pulicat, Surat, Chinsura and Kasimbazar.
Dutch exported indigo, cotton textiles, saltpetre, raw silk, and opium from India.
It was the first company to issue Stock.
In the 17th century before the prominence of British, they emerged as the most dominant power in European trade in the East.
Main centre of Dutch in India was Pulicat, later replaced by Nagapattinam.
Indonesian Islands of Java, Sumatra, and the Spice Islands where spices were produced, were their main interest.
In 1667, Dutch agreed to leave alone the English settlements in India, while English gave up all their claims to Indonesia.
Their commercial activities started to decline by the beginning of 18th century and came to an end with the Battle of Bedera against the English in 1759.
Short sighted commercial policy which was mostly based on trade in spices was also a major cause of their decline.
The Danish East India Company
The Danish formed an East India Company and arrived in India in 1616.
Important Danish settlement in India was Serampore in Bengal, which also served as their headquarters in India.
Danish entrepreneurs established themselves at several ports on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts.
They could not establish their position in India and finally sold all their Indian settlements to the English in 1845.
They were more concerned with missionary activities.
French East India Company
French East India Company was established in 1664.
The first French factory in India was established at Surat.
The French company was created, financed and controlled by the State and it differed from the English company which was a private commercial venture.
Duplex was an important French governor in India (1742).
Duplex began the policy of extending territorial empire in India and started political occupations. It led to a series of conflicts with English in the form of Carnatic Wars.
Battle at Wandiwash against the East India Company in 1760 was the decisive battle for their existence after which they lost almost all of their possessions in India.
Conclusion for the advent of Europeans into India
During the second half of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century, a powerful national struggle against British imperialism developed in India. This struggle was the result of a clash of interests between those of the Indian people and that of the British rulers.
The very nature of the foreign rule aroused nationalistic sentiments amongst Indians and ripened the material, moral, intellectual and political conditions for the rise and development of a powerful national movement.
1. What were the factors that led to the advent of Europeans into India?
2. The Portuguese were the first European colonisers to come to India and the last to leave. Critically comment on the events that led to their expulsion from India and the reaction of superpowers of to this event in India’s post-independence history.