The first regular contact between Ranjit Singh and the British seems to have been made in 1800.The occasion was when India was threatened by an invasion of Zaman Shah, the Afghan ruler who had been invited by Tipu Sultan a bitter enemy of the British. As a precautionary measure, the British sent Munshi Yusuf Ali to the court of Ranjit Singh with rich presents to win the Maharaja over the British side. Soon however he learnt that the danger of Zaman Shah’s invasion receded and Yusuf Ali was recalled.
The contact was made in 1805 when the Maratha chief Holkar entered Punjab for help him from Ranjit Singh. But he refused Holkar to help him against the British. In 1806 Ranjit Singh signed a treaty of friendship with General Lake agreeing to force Jaswant Rao Holkar to leave Amritsar. General Lake in turn promised that the English would never form any plans for the seizure of Ranjit Singh’s Possessions and property.As the danger of French invasion on India became remote the English adopted a stern policy towards Ranjit Singh. He was given a note of the Governor-General by Metcalfe.Ranjit Singh was asked to restore all the places, he has taken possession since 1806 to the former possessors which will confine his army right to the bank of Sutlej.Ranjit Singh was not ready to accept the demand. However he withdrew his troops from Ambala and Saniwal but continued to retain Faridkot.Ranjit Singh fortified the fort to Govindgarh.But in the last stage Ranjit Singh changed his mind and agreed to sign the Treaty of Amritsar in 1809.
First Anglo – Sikh War (1845-1846)
The first battle between the Sikhs and the English was fought at Mudki on December 18, 1845.The Sikhs were defeated. The English again won the battle at Firozpur on December 21.The Sikhs under Ranjit Singh Majithia however defeated the English at Buddwal in 1846.But the Sikhs were again defeated at Aliwal .The decisive battle was fought at Sobraon in 1846 and Sikhs were routed. The English then crossed the Sutlej and captured the capital of Lahore.
The war came to an end by the treaty of Lahore which was signed in 1846. This treaty left the Sikhs with no capacity for resisting the English. Another treaty was made with Sikhs in 1846 this treaty is known as Second treaty of Lahore or the treaty of Bhairowal.
Second Anglo – Sikh War (1848-1849)
The Sikhs considered their defeat in the first Sikh War a great humiliation. They had been accustomed to victories in the time of Ranjit Singh and this defeat gave a rude shock to their pride. The Sikhs wanted to restore the fallen fortunes of their kingdom. Lord Gough the British Commander in Chief reached Lahore with the grand army of Punjab. Multan surrendered in 1849 and the Sikhs suffered a defeat at Chillianwala a few weeks later. The final and decisive battle was won by the English at Gujarat and the whole of Punjab surrendered.