UPSC EPFO – Modern History European Era

Modern History European Era

Modern History European Era: In this article, we will see how European discovered India and how Britishers struggle to establish themselves as the supreme power of India. This article is useful for all State PCS Exams, UPSC (Pre + Mains), SSC (CHSL, CGL), EPFO (AO and EO). At last of this article, we provided the MCQ-based important questions for your practice.


Modern History European Era

Before the collapse of the Roman Empire into two parts eastern roman empire and, western roman empire. All the trade activities between Indian and Europe happened through Silk Road. In 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. Ottoman soon conquered the large area around the Mediterranean Sea. In these circumstances, the Europeans were keen to find a direct sea route to India to import spices and other commodities. So there are many attempts were taken by different people to find the new sea route to India but Vasco De Gama was the first person who discovered a new sea route to India in 1498 AD via the Cape of good hope. He arrived at Calicut and welcomed by Hindu ruler Zamorin.

Vasco De Gama stayed in India for three months. When he returned to Portugal, he carried back with him a rich cargo and sold the merchandise in the European market at a huge profit and the Europeans were also getting the merchandise at a lower cost. Because earlier in the silk route they had to pay various taxes to different empires.

Portugal in India

After getting the huge profit from India. In 1505, the king of Portugal appointed a governor in India.

Vasco de Gama Route to India
  • Francisco De Almeida was the first Portuguese governor in India.
  • Alfonso De Albuquerque was the next Portuguese governor in India.
    • He was the real founder of the Portuguese power in the east.
    • He built a strong navy and established bases overlooking all the entrances to the sea.
    • He acquired Goa from the Sultan of Bijapur in 1510.
    • Encouraged Portuguese to marry Hindu girls.
    • In Goa and the Province of the North, he established themselves as village landlords, often building new roads and irrigation works, introducing new crops like tobacco, cashew and, pineapple.
    • The exploitation of Muslims was one of the most serious drawbacks of Albuquerque’s policy.
    • Portuguese captured Daman, Diu, Salsette, Hooghly, Bassein.

Favorable Conditions for Portuguese

  • In India, except Gujrat, all the northern part was much divided among many small powers. In the Deccan, the Bahmani Kingdom was breaking up into smaller kingdoms.
  • Portuguese has strong navy.
  • Due to the strong navy, many of the coastal parts of India had come under Portuguese power within fifty years of Vasco De Gama’s arrival.
  • In west from Mumbai to Deccan and Diu, all came under Portuguese.
  • In the south, they had under them a chain of seaport fortresses and trading posts like Mangalore, Cannanore, Cochin, and Calicut.
  • In the east coast at San Thome (Chennai) and Nagapatnam (Andhra).
  • Towards the end of the sixteenth century, a wealthy settlement had grown at Hooghly in West Bengal.

Significance of the Portuguese

  • Initiated the European era.
  • The emergence of strong naval power.
  • Portuguese showed military innovations.
  • The Portuguese were masters of improved techniques at sea.
  • Introduced European arts to India and build churches.
  • The art of the silversmith and goldsmith flourished in Goa.
  • Portuguese made a good impact on Indian Agriculture in that era. They introduced many crops in India and their cultivation becomes very popular, the main crops they introduced to us were Tobacco, Spices like Black Pepper, Pineapple, Papaya, and Cashew nuts.

Decline of Portuguese

  • Struggle with English, Dutch, and Maratha.
  • They involved in Piracy and robbery.
  • Antagonism for the Muslims.
  • Portuguese policy of conversion to Christianity made Hindus also resentful.
  • The discovery of Brazil diverted colonizing activities of Portugal to the West.

Dutch in India

  • The Dutch East India Company was established in 1602 AD.
  • Founded their first factory in Masulipatnam (Andhra) in 1605.
  • They Established their other settlements at Pulicut, Surat, Karaikal, Nagapattinam.
  • In the early and middle 17th century they dominated the Portuguese and emerged as the most dominant power.
  • Pulicut and Nagapattinam were the main centers of the Dutch.
  • Capital of Dutch Pulicat (1610–1690; 1781–1795) Nagapattinam (1690–1781) Sadras (1818–1825).
  • The Dutch lost their settlements to the British one by one in the late 17th century Dominated Southeast Asia spice trade.
  • The most important Indian commodities the Dutch traded in were silk, indigo, rice and, opium.
  • Rivalry with English.
  • Ultimately, defeated by the English (Battle of Hooghly, 1759), and they declined.
  • The Dutch were not much interested in empire-building in India, their concerns were trade.

The English in India

  • After getting the Charter of Queen Elizabeth I Britishers came to India.
  • Queen Elizabeth issued a charter with rights of exclusive trading to the East India Company.
  • Captain Hawkins arrived in the court of Jahangir in 1609. But the mission to establish a factory at Surat did not succeed due to opposition from the Portuguese.
  • In 1611, the English had started trading at Masulipatnam on the south-eastern coast of India and later established a factory there in 1616.
  • Established factory at Surat in 1613. Later established factories at other places also.
  • Goldern Farmaan issued to the company by the Sultan of Golconda in 1632. On payment of 500 pagodas a year, they earned the privilege of trading freely in the ports of Golconda.
  • In 1639, English got the permission to build a fortified factory at Madras which later became Fort St. George.
  • King Charles II got Bombay as dowry from the Portuguese. He gave it to East India Company. (With fixed annual payments.)
  • Fort William – Calcutta (became the seat of the eastern presidency)
  • The Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar issued a Farman giving of trade concessions.
  • The company’s imports and exports were exempted from additional customs duties excepting an annual payment of 3,000 rupees as settled earlier.
  • The company was permitted to issue dastaks (passes) for the transportation of such goods.

French in India

  • According to some books, the French were the last European who arrived in India.
  • French East India Company was founded in 1664 (in which the king also took a deep interest and he had the majority of the share of the company).
  • Established first factory at Surat (1667).
  • Established factory at Masulipatnam (1669).
  • Pondicherry was founded in 1674 by Francois Martin.
  • Dutch captured Pondicherry in 1693. But the Treaty of Ryswick concluded in September 1697 restored Pondicherry to the French.
  • Rivalry with English.

The Anglo-French Struggle For Supremacy: The Carnatic Wars

  • Carnatic was the name given by the Europeans to the Coromandel coast.
  • In 1740, the political situation in South India was uncertain and confused.
  • The decline of Hyderabad was the signal for the end of Muslim expansionism and the English adventurers got their plans ready.

First Carnatic War (1746-48)

  • Background- The First Carnatic War was an extension of the Anglo-French War in Europe which was caused by the Austrian War of Succession.
  • Immediate Cause- The English navy under Barnet seized some French ships to provoke France. France retaliated by seizing Madras.
  • The First Carnatic War is remembered for the Battle of St. Thome (in Madras) fought between French forces and the forces of Anwar-Ud-din, the Nawab of Carnatic, to whom the English appealed for help. A small French army under Captain Paradise defeated the strong Indian army under Mahfuz Khan at St. Thome on the banks of the River Adyar.
  • Result of First Carnatic War: The First Carnatic War ended in 1748 when the Treaty of Aix-La Chapelle was signed bringing the Austrian War of Succession to a conclusion. Under the terms of this treaty, Madras was handed back to the English, and the French, in turn, got their territories in North America.

Second Carnatic War (1749-54)

  • Background- French political influence in southern India by interfering in local dynastic disputes to defeat the English.
  • Immediate Cause- After the death of Hyderbad Nizam Asaf Jah, son Nasir Jung took the throne but Nephew Muzaffar Jung opposed Nasir Jung. In the Carnatic, the appointment of Anwar-Ud-Din khan as the Nawab was resented by Chanda Sahib.
  • The French supported the claims of Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib in the Deccan and Carnatic, respectively, while the English sided with Nasir Jang and Anwar-Ud-Din.
  • The combined armies of Muzaffar Jang, Chanda Sahib, and the French (Dupleix) defeated and killed Anwar-Ud-Din at the Battle of Ambur (near Vellore) in 1749.
  • Nasir Jang was murdered by a Noble.
  • Dupleix was appointed governor of all the Mughal territories to the south of the River Krishna.
  • Now, Muzaffar Jung became Nizam of Hyderabad and Chanda Sahib became Nawab of Arcot.
  • The power of Dupleix was on Zenith.
  • In 1751 with only a force of 210 men Robert Clive attacked and captured Arcot.
  • French were defeated.
  • Result:
    • The French authorities, annoyed at the heavy financial losses that Dupleix’s policy involved, decided to recall him in 1754.
    • Treaty of Pondicherry- The English and the French agreed not to interfere in the quarrels of native princes and each party left in possession of the territories actually occupied by them at the time of the treaty.

Third Carnatic War (1758-63)

  • Background- In Europe, when Austria wanted to recover Silesia in 1756, the Seven Years War (1756-63) started Britain and France were once again on opposite sides.
  • Immediate Cause- In 1758, the French army under Count De Lally captured the English forts of St. David and Vizianagram (1758).
  • Battle of Wandiwash- General Eyre Coote of the English defeated the French army under Count Thomas Arthur De Lally.
  • Treaty of Peach of Paris (1763)
    • French were allowed to retain their factories.
    • No Military expansion of french in India.
    • French political influence disappeared after the war.
    • The English became the supreme European power in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Causes of french failure-
    • Inadequate Military and Financial support (weak navy).
    • The ill-managed policy of Imperial France.
    • Lack of Commercial Incentive to the French Company.
    • Sound Commercial Base of the English Company.

Why the English Succeeded against Other European Powers

  • Structure and nature of the Trading Companies.
  • Naval Superiority.
  • Industrial Revolution.
  • Military Skill and Discipline.
  • Stable Government.
  • Lesser Zeal for Religion.

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