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Carnatic Wars

Read in detail about three Carnatic wars that occurred between English and French to establish their hegemony in India.

Though the British and the French came to India for trading, they slowly became involved in the politics of India. During that time, the entire south India was divided into minor Rajas, Nawabs and chieftains who fought with one another to maintain their supremacy. 

Both English and French wanted to exploit this situation and wanted to establish their hegemony. This led to Anglo-French rivalry in India.

Due to this rivalry, three Carnatic wars occurred between the English and French and finally the British emerged victorious and established their hegemony in India.

Following are the worth noting points about the three carnatic wars:

First Carnatic War (1744-48) : 

  • Carnatic was the name given by the Europeans to the Coromandel coast and its hinterland. Both British and French East India Companies had their important bases in south India, at Madras and Pondicherry. These bases were in the territory ruled by Anwar-ur-Din, the Nawab of the Carnatic, the Mughal governor in the area. 
  • The First Carnatic War started as an extension of the ‘Anglo-French War’ fought in Europe which was caused by the ‘Austrian War of Succession’. When fighting broke out between the British and the French, the Nawab declared his territory to be neutral and forbade the French and British from attacking each other. 
  • However, defying this truce, the French seized Madras in 1746. French forces also defeated the forces of Anwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Carnatic, to whom the English appealed for help.
  • This war concluded in 1748 with the treaty of ‘Aix-la-Chapelle’.
  • Under the terms of this treaty, Madras was given back to the British, and the French, in turn, got their territories in North America back.

Second Carnatic War (1749-54) :

  • Even after the First Carnatic War ended, a proxy war between the British and French continued in India.
  • A victory over the Indian Nawab in the first Carnatic war boosted the confidence of the French represented by Dupleix. As the succession dispute in Hyderabad and Arcot broke out, Both French and British got involved in that to maintain their influence in the region.
  • The French initially succeeded however it was the heroic Siege of Arcot  in 1751 by Robert Clive which proved to be the turning point of the war. After this, Dupleix was recalled to France and was replaced by Godehu.
  • Godehu signed a ‘Treaty of Pondicherry’ in 1755. As per the treaty, both countries agreed to not to interfere in the disputes of Indian princes. However, this treaty gave the British a strong position in Carnatic.

Third Carnatic War (1757-63) : 

  • The conflict between France and England reemerged 1756 in Europe and with this started the Seven Years War in Europe. As a result, the British and French started fighting in India also which culminated into the Third Carnatic War. 
  • The British Forces were able to capture the French Settlements at Chandranagar in 1757. The British forces under Sir Eyre Coote, defeated the French army under Count de Lally in the ‘Battle of Wandiwash’ in 1760 and besieged Pondicherry.
  • When the Seven Years war ended, it concluded the third Carnatic war also with the signing of Treaty of Paris in 1763.
  • As per the treaty, the Chandranagar and Pondicherry were returned to France however they could only do trading activities in them.

Reasons for Failure of France and Success of British in Carnatic Wars : 

The Third Carnatic War was a decisive war as it ended the French ambitions to create a colonial empire in India and the British became the supreme European power in India. Following were the main reasons for the failure of the French and Success of British in Carnatic wars : 

  • Private Nature of the English EIC – The British Company was a private enterprise and was less dependent and influenced by the British Government. However, the French EIC was completely dependent on the Government and needed French governments approvals for any major decisions. Also, Some directors of the East India Company were Members of Parliament who could exercise influence in Government and could swiftly get the favorable decisions for the company. 
  • Better Commercial and Financial Position of the British – The trade carried out by the British EIC(East India Company) was far greater than the French EIC due to which the British EIC was in a much better financial position. They could bear the cost of war however the same could not be done by the French EIC.
  • Naval Supremacy of the British East India Company – The British had naval supremacy and due to that they were able to send troops whenever required quickly.
  • Widespread Settlements of British – The British had their settlements in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras However only major French settlement was in Pondicherry. Thus, the British were in an advantageous position as they had more widespread presence and could arrange help and supplies quickly.
  • Recall of Dupleix – Recall of Dupleix by the French Government was a big mistake as . The vacuum created after his departure could not be filled by the persons who succeeded him.
  • Better leadership of the British – The British EIC was headed by Clive who was a great soldier as well as a statesman. Leadership of the French EIC was not as efficient and swift. After the recall of Dupleix, Count de Lally replaced him who lacked the foresight and statesmanship of Dupleix. 
  • Better cooperation and coordination in the British EIC – French lacked this.

We this, we conclude this topic here. 

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