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Battle of Plassey

Read in detail about the Battle of Plassey, its reasons, result and its significance in modern Indian History.

During the Mughal Period, Bengal was the most fertile and the richest province of the Mughal Empire. It also included present day Bangladesh and states of Bihar and Odisha.

Background of Battle of Plassey/Palashi: 

  • The East India Company  carried on profitable trade with Bengal. Exports from Bengal to Europe consisted of saltpeter, rice, indigo, pepper, sugar, silk, cotton textiles, handicrafts, etc. 
  • By the year 1690, the East India Company purchased three villages namely, Sutanuti, Govindpur and Kalikatta, which later grew into the city of Calcutta.
  • The British built Fort William in Kolkata to protect the East India Company’s trade in the city of Calcutta, the principal city of the Bengal Presidency.
  • The administrative power of the Bengal province was in the hands of the Nawab (Governor). The Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daulah succeeded his grandfather Alavardi Khan after his death.

Reason for the Battle of Plassey/Palashi: 

  • In July 1717 the emperor issued a farman (a royal order) whereby the British were allowed duty free trade in Bengal in lieu of Rs. 3000 per annum. The company was also allowed to mint their own coins and use it throughout India.
  • The special privileges enjoyed by the British East India Company was strongly opposed by the Nawabs of Bengal as it meant a huge loss to the Bengal provincial exchequer. This became the prime reason for the conflict between the two.
  • Moreover, the officials of the Company misused their trade privileges that adversely affected the nawab’s finances.
  • In 1756 India, there existed the possibility of a battle between the British East India Company military forces of the French East India Company, so both British and French started to fortify their settlements.
  • Siraj ud-Daulah ordered the fortification construction to be stopped by both the French and British. In response to this, the French compiled while the British did not.
  • In consequence of British indifference to his authority, Siraj ud-Daulah organized his army and laid siege to Fort William. 
  • Siraj ud-Daulah imprisoned 146 British prisoners in a small room in Calcutta, out of which 123 prisoners died of suffocation and heat. This event was infamously known as the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’.
  • This event infuriated the British and became an immediate cause for the Battle of Plassey. 

The Battle of Plassey/Palashi : 

  • After news of Calcutta’s capture was received by the British in Madras in August 1756, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Clive was sent to retaliate against the Nawab. 
  • The nawab’s army of 50,000 soldiers outnumbered Clive’s force of just 3000, However, the secret alliance of the British with the conspirators strengthened the British foothold in the battle. 
  • The discontented followers of the Nawab, such as Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh, Jagat Seth and other Bengali generals, were bribed to forge an alliance with the British.
  • Mir Jafar, with around one-third of the Bengali army, did not join the battle as he was promised the throne in return for supporting the British.
  • The Battle of Plassey took place on  23rd June 1757 in the Palashi region of Bengal.
  • With his troops and local Indian allies, Robert Clive recaptured Calcutta in January 1757, and defeated Siraj ud-Daulah at the Battle of Plassey.

The Result and the aftermath of Battle of Plassey:

  • The Battle of Plassey resulted in Siraj-ud-Daulah being overthrown as Nawab of Bengal and executed.
  • After the Battle of Plassey Clive proclaimed Mir Jafar as the Nawab of Bengal and placed him on the throne of Murshidabad.
  • Mir Jafar in order to satisfy the British as per the agreement gave the Zamindari of 24 Parganas (group of villages) of Bengal to the company.

Significance of of Battle of Plassey: 

  • The Battle of Plassey is regarded as a historic turning point for the British in India. It established the political and military supremacy of the British in Bengal. 
  • Company virtually monopolized the trade and commerce in Bengal as French never recovered their lost position in Bengal and the Dutch made a last attempt, but were defeated in the Battle of Bedara in 1759.
  • It gave the British access to the rich resources of Bengal. These were used to win the wars in Deccan with other Indian rulers, defeating the French in the third Carnatic war and to extend influence in Northern India.
  • From a commercial entity, the British East India Company proceeded to become a political power in Bengal.

We this, we conclude this topic here. 

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