Modern India

Carnatic Wars

The French and the English Companies fought the three Carnatic Wars in the Deccan. These wars sealed the fate of the French in the Deccan.

First Carnatic War (1749 – 1754)

The First Carnatic War was the extension of the Anglo- French War in Europe. The Austrian Wars of Succession broke out in 1740 as a result hostilities also broke out in India in 1746.The English navy under Barnett took the offensive when it captured some French ships.Dupleix the French Governor General of Pondicherry sent an urgent appeal for help to La Bourdonnais the French governor of Mauritus.The result was that La Bourdonnais hastened to India with a fleet and reached the Coromondal Coast in 1746.The French and British squadrons faced each other for some time but the English squadrons left for Ceylon after some time. Dupleix asked La Bourdonnais to siege Madras.

In the ensuing battle the English fleet was defeated and Madras was captured by the French. The First Carnatic War is memorable for the battle of St Thome fought between the French and the Indian forces of Anwaruddin and the Nawab of Carnatic.The French won the battle with their superior general ship of Dupleix. The First Carnatic War came to an end with the end of hostilities in Europe.

The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle brought the Austrian war of succession to an end. Under the terms of the treaty Madras was handed back to the English. Dupleix had proved his superiority in skill and diplomacy. The English had failed to defend Madras and unsuccessfully conducted the land cum sea operations against Pondicherry. This war had adequately brought out the importance of naval power as an important factor in Anglo-French conflict in the Deccan.

Second Carnatic War (1749 – 1754)

French Governor Dupleix began to increase his power by interfering in local dynastic politics in South India. He got the opportunity in the dynastic disputes in Hyderabad and Carnatic.The establishment of Chanda Sahib an ally of French on the throne of Carnatic was bound to have adverse effect on English trade since the hinterland of Madras would be in the hands of their enemies. Governor Saunder sent Robert Clive with 200 European and 300 Indian soldiers to capture the capital of Carnatic, Arcot.

Chanda Sahib sent about half of his army under his son Raja Sahib to take back Arcot and Clive was besieged there. The timely arrival of Muran Rao a Maratha Chief enabled Clive to defeat Chanda Sahib. Chanda Sahib was forced to raise the siege of Trichinapally.

He was put to death by Raja of Tanjore. Thus Mohammad Ali became the nawab of Carnatic. Dupleix tried to recover his position but couldn’t do anything. He was recalled in 1754. Thus the French disaster at Trinchinapally sealed the fate of Dupleix. In 1754 Godeheu replaced him as the governor general. He began the negotiations for peaceful relations with the English and ended warfare with them in 1754 and signed the Treaty of Pondicherry.

Treaty of Pondicherry

    1. Both the companies promised that they would not interfere in the internal matters of the Indian rulers.
    2. Bussy’s stay at Hyderabad was accepted by both the sides.
    3. Both the companies promised to give up all the posts and privileges granted to them by the Indian rulers.
    4. Both the parties returned the conquered parts of each other and they were left with those portions alone which were with them before the beginning of the hostilities.
    5. It was also agreed between the companies that this treaty might be considered temporary until approved by their respective governments at home.

The third Anglo-French conflict proved to be decisive. The French factories in India were restored but they could no longer be fortified or even garrisoned with troops. They could serve only as centres of trade and now the French lived in India under British protection. The English ruled the Indian sea. Freed of all European rivals they could now set about the task of conquering India.

Third Carnatic War (1758 – 1763)

The peace between the French and the English in India proved to be short lived. In 1756 there broke out Seven Years War in Europe and before long the two nations began to fight in India also.

The French govt sent a powerful army under the command of Count de Lally to fight the British in India. He captured Fort St George and decided to attack Madras. But he failed in his attempt. He was forced to retire to Pondicherry and was defeated by Sir Eyre Coote in the battle of Wandiwash in 1760.This battle sealed the fate of the French.Bussy was taken prisoner.Mahi and Jinji were lost by the French in quick succession. The French lost all their possessions in India. The war ended in 1763 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

The third Anglo-French conflict proved to be decisive. The French factories in India were restored but they could no longer be fortified or even garrisoned with troops. They could serve only as centres of trade and now the French lived in India under British protection. The English ruled the Indian sea. Freed of all European rivals they could now set about the task of conquering India.

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