Sunday, November 29, 2009


. The discovery of the Cape of Good Hope route to India by the Portuguese navigator, Vasco-da-Gama, in 1498 led to a struggle among European nations for supremacy over trade with the East.
. Vasco-da-Gama's arrival at Calicut in 1498 was greeted by the local ruler, Zamorin.
. Francisco de Almeida was the first Portuguese governor in India. However, Alfonso de Albuquerque, who cap­tured Goa from Bijapur in 1510, was the real founder of the Portuguese rule in the East.
. The Dutch East India Company was formed in 1602. In India, Nagapattanam and Chinsura (Bengal) were the main strongholds of the Dutch.
. In 1600, the East India Company, an English company formed in 1599, was granted a royal charter by Queen Elizabeth I to trade in the East.
. William Hawkins, an ambassador of King James I, stayed in Jahangir's court from 1609 to 1611, while Sir Thomas Roe, another British ambassador, reached Jahangir's court in 1615.
. In 1662, King Charles II of England got Bombay from Portugal as dowry for marrying a Portuguese princess.
. In 1717, the East India Company (under the leadership of John Surman) secured from the Mughal emperor, Farrukhsiyar a Jarman to trade not only in, Bengal but also in Gujarat and Deccan. The Jarman thus obtained was regarded the Magna Carta of the company.
. The French East India Company was founded in 1664. The first French factory was established at Surat in 1668.
. The long Dutch-English struggle (1654-1667) was finally settled with English giving up claims to Spice Islands of Indonesia, Java and Sumatra (in the main Dutch
interests) and the Dutch agreeing to leave India for Britain.
. The English built Fort St. George in Madras in 1641. . British kings Charles II and James II made the East India Company's rights in India permanent.
. Before the establishment of the city of Calcutta Hoogly 1
was the largest English settlement in India. . Goa was the administrative base of the Portuguese. . The Portuguese were the first Europeans to set their foothold in India.
. Within the first decade of the seventeenth century, the Portuguese dominance in India was replaced by the Dutch.
. In 1606, the Dutch obtained a Jarman from the Golconda Sultan to set up a factory at Masulipatnam.
. In 1680, Aurangzeb levied jaziya on the East India Company and issued aJarman that the Company's trade would be customs-free everywhere save Surat. It is said that for achieving this Jarman the Company spent Rs 50,000 to bribe the Mughal officers.
. The Portuguese governor, Almeida, defeated the com­bined fleet of Egypt, Gujarat and Zamorin of Calicut in 1509.
. The Mughal army waged a disastrous war with the East India Company in Surat following the capture of several Mughal ships by the English interlopers-the individual English merchants independent of the Company's con­trol-in the Red Sea, in 1686.
. The Portuguese Estado da India, the name given to the Portuguese maritime empire, was seen as indulging in "a pirated and parasitic trade" because it believed in ruthless plunder of Asian ships and considered piracy and plunder more profitable than trade.



1600: The East India Company was established.

1608: William Hawkins arrived at Jahangir's court.

1611: Captain Middleton obtained the permission of the Mughal governor of Surat to trade at the place.

1613: A permanent factory of East India Company was established at Surat.

1615: Sir Thomas Roe, the ambassador of King James I, arrived at Jahangir's court. By 1618, the ambassador succeeded in obtaining two farmans (one each from the king and the prince Khurram) confirming free trade with exemption from inland tolls.

1616: The Company established its first factory in the south in Masulipatnam.

1632: The Company got the golden Jarman from the Sultan of Golconda which ensured safety and prosperity of their trade.

1633: The Company established its first factory in east India in Hariharpur, Balasore (Orissa).

1639: The Company got the lease of Madras from a local king. 1651: The Company was given permission to trade at Hooghly (Bengal).

1662: The British King, Charles n, was given Bombay as dowry for marrying a Portuguese princess (Catherine of Braganza).

1667: Aurangzeb gave the English a farman for trade m! Bengal.

1691: The Company got the imperial order to continue their trade in Bengal in lieu of payment of Rs 3,000 a year.

1717: The Mugh31 emperor Farrukhsiyar issued a farman, called Magna Carta of the Company, giving the com­ pany a large number of trade concessions.



1498: Arrival of Vasco-da-Gama at Calicut and his grand reception by the local king, Zamorin.

1503: Establishment of the first Portuguese fort at Cochin.

1505: Establishment of the second Portuguese fort at Cannanore.

1509: Defeat of the combined fleet of Gujarat, Egypt and Zamorin by the Portuguese governor Francisco Almeida.

1510: Alfonso Albuquerque, the Portuguese governor, cap­tures Goa from Bijapur.

1530: Declaration of Goa as the Portuguese capital.

1535: Subjugation of Diu.

1559: The Portuguese capture Daman.

1596: Ouster of the Portuguese by the Dutch from South-east Asia.

1612: Loss of Surat to the English.

1663: The Dutch win all Portuguese forts on the Malabar coast to oust the Portuguese from India.



The Compagnie des Indes Orientales was formed in France in
1664, at the instance of a well known minister, Colbert, in the reign of Louis XIV. The French Company was created, financed and controlled by the state and it differed from the English Company which was a private commercial venture. The first French factories were established at Surat in 1668 and at Masulipatnam in 1669. The foundation of Pondicherry was laid in 1673 which, afterwards, became its capital. A factory was also developed at Chandernagar between 1690 and 1692.


A Danish company was founded in 1616. They established factories at Tranquebar (1620) and at Serampore (1755). The Danes sold their settlements to the English in 1845. The merchants of Flanders organised the 'Ostend Company', in 1722. Further, in 1731, a Swedish East India Company was formed. However, they never rose to prominence.



Towards the close of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, English sailors and merchants became interested in voyages to the East because of its wealth. A group of merchants, organised as "The Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East India", was granted a charter by the Queen to trade in the East for a period of 15 yeal"s. Initially, the Company was active in the Spice Islands only. Its trading activities in India began at the port of Surat.

Wllliam Hawkins presented the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, a letter from James I and stayed at Jahangir's court from 1609 to 1611. But he failed to get the king's permission to erect a factory at Surat. Captain Middlet~n succeeded in this effort in 1611. The Company defeated the Portuguese on the sea of Surat in 1612 and thus revealed its strength. An imperial Jarman allowed the Company to set up a permanent factory at Surat in 1613. Two years later, Sir Thomas Roe James I's ambassador to the Mughal court, arrived at the court

Roe,who stayed at the court till 1618, managed to obtain rights to trade in Gujarat. In 1668, Bombay, which had been gifted to Charles IT by the King of Portugal, as dowry when he married Catherine was given over to the Company and, in 1687, it was Bombay, and not Surat, that was the Company's main settlement on the west coast of India.

The Company first set up factories at Masulipatnam and Armagaon in 1616 and 1626 respectively, on the east coast of India. By a golden farman issued in 1632, the Company was allowed trading rights in the kingdom of the Sultan of Golconda. The Company obtained the lease of Madras from the Raja of Chandragiri in 1639 and built the Fort St. George in Madras which took over from Masulipatnam the distinction of being the headquarters of the English on the Coromandel Coast. Soon, the Company set up factories in Orissa (Hiuiharpur and Balasore), West Bengal (Hooghly and Kasimbazar) and Bihar (Patna). Shuja, subahdar of Bengal, allowed the English to trade in Bengal in return for an annual payment of Rs. 3,000, in lieu of all duties. In 1690, a factory was set up at Sutanuti village by Job Charnock. In Sutanuti and nearby villages of Kalikata and Gobindpur, grew the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata).

In 1696, the Company fortified the factory into Fort William, citing a rebellion in the nearby areas as the cause behind the move. In 1698, the company acquired the right to collect revenue (zamindan) from three Bengal villages-Sutanuti, Govindpur and Kalikata. In 1700, the factories in Bengal were kept under a separate control of a president and council. In 1717, John Surman obtained a farman from Farrukhsiyar which gave large concessions to the Company. This farman has been called the 'Magna Carta' of the Company.

In 1708, all the rival companies were amalgamated into one body named 'The United Company of Merchants of England Trading with the East Indies'. It was this Company which was to establish the British Empire in India.



The first assault upon the Portuguese monopoly for the Eastern trade came from the Dutch. They formed the United East India Company of the Netherlands in 1602. The Company was granted the right not only to carry on trade but also to wage wars, conclude treaties, acquire territories and build fortresses. They first conquered Java in 1619 and then effectively checked the English competition in the Malay Archipelago in 1623 by the infamous massacre of Englishmen at Amboyna. In India, the main Dutch strong­holds were Nagapattanam and Chinsura (Bengal).



Vasco-da-Gama on his arrival at Calicut was well received by its ruler called Zamorin. In 1502, he established a factory ­at Cochin.. He was followed by Alfonso de Albuquerque in 1503. In 1505, the Portuguese decided to appoint a governor to look after their affairs in India. Francisco de Almeida was the first governor to be appointed. He built forts at Anjadiva, Cannanore and Cochin. AlfonSo de Albuquerque, who succeeded Almeida in 1509, was the real founder of the Portuguese empire in the East. His first act was to capture Goa in 1510 from the Bijapur ruler. He proved to be a. capable ruler. An interesting feature of his rule was the abolition of sati.
But the power of the Portuguese deQined as quickly as it had risen, the reason being: (I) there was no efficient person to carry on the work of Albuquerque;
(ii) the Portuguese administration had become corrupt;
(iii) their religious intolerance; (iv) and the rise of other European trading powers, namely the Dutch, French and the British.