British and French Invasions in India

British Period

1600: Hector, the first ship of the East India Company, landed in Surat in Gujarat on 24th August, with Captain Lancaster in charge. It was in September 1599 that 24 merchants met in London to start a new company for business with India, with a total share capital of 30,133 pound sterling. It was called the Company for East India or East India Company, though it was registered as East India Company only in 1833.

The East India Company obtained land for English settlements for the first time in 1611 at Masulipatam (in modern- day Andhra Pradesh) and Petapuli. In 1640, the Company was permitted to establish a business centre at Madras, which was then called Sri Rangarajapatnam. The first business settlement at Hooghly came up in 1650, and near modern Calcutta in 1680. The Company began to trade in tea in 1668. In 1674 the British East India Company signed a friendship treaty with Shivaji and was allowed to establish factories at Hubli and Rajapur.

1612: The East India Company formed an independent navy and based it at Swally near Surat. As it grew, the navy changed its name several times-from Bombay Marine (1686) to His Majesty’s Indian Marine, the Royal Indian Marine and the Royal Indian Navy. In 1948 it was renamed as the Indian Navy.

1626: The East India Company established their first fortified settlement in India at Aramgaon. In 1640 a fort was set up at Madras called Fort St. George. Fort St. William near Calcutta was set up in 1696.

1655: Job Charnock, later renowned as the founder of Calcutta, arrived to take up employment with the British East India Company. The foundations of modern Calcutta were laid in 1690 at Sutanati. Later, the British purchased Govindpur and Kalikata from the landed family of the Sabarna Chaudhuris in 1698 for just Rs 12,000.

These three formed the nucleus of the city. In 1661 Britain’s King Charles II was given Bombay on his marriage to Catherine de Braganza of Portugal as part of her dowry. He leased it out to the Company.

1668: The First British European Regiment was formed.

1674: A group of British armed forces mutinied and were suppressed.

1676: The East India Company was given permission by the British King to mint coins. These were called rupee and pice after the coinage of Sher Shah who ruled Bengal from 1539-45. In 1686 King James II established a mint at Madras.

1682: On 14th July 1682 Bengal was made into a Presidency administered by the East India Company. The original order was issued on 14th November, 1681. In 1683 the British king invested full power in the Company to make war or peace treaties with any nations in Asia and recruit such military forces as necessary. The same year, the Company enrolled two companies of Rajput soldiers – the foundations of the British army in India.

1744: Robert Clive entered the services of East India Company. In 1757 he became governor of Bengal for the first time. He left India in 1760 and was succeeded by Hollwell and Vansittart as governors of Bengal, but took up the post again in 1765. (Alprazolam In 1767 he returned to Britain. In 1774 he committed suicide.

1750: Warren Hastings landed in India as a civil servant of the East India Company.

1767: The combined forces of Hyder Ali of Mysore and the Nizam of Hyderabad met and were defeated by the British at Changma. However, a running war continued between Mysore and the British though the Nizam independently entered into a treaty, accepting British supremacy, in his domain.

1768-1769: East India Company imposed various restrictions on the weavers of Bengal to destroy the indigenous cottage industry and assure that the competition to the nascent British textile industry was curtailed.

1769: Hyder Ali forced the British to sign a treaty (in Madras) whereby all lands were restored to the status on the eve of the war in 1767.

1770: First financial bank set up by Europeans, the Bank of Hindustan, established in Calcutta by Alexander and Company.

1809 saw the Presidency Bank and 1840 the Bank of Bombay. All three were commonly called Presidency Banks.

1772: The court of directors of the East India Company appointed Warren Hastings as the president of the Bengal Council. In 1774 he became Governor of Bengal and continued till 1785 .

1772: The British East India Company set up its first Court of Ad judicature in India.

1672: In 1674 it was ruled that the death penalty would be imposed for theft. In 1726 King George I of England empowered the Company to establish municipal corporations and Mayor’s Courts in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. In 1774 the Mayor’s Court in Calcutta was replaced by a Supreme Court which functioned till 1862.

1779: Mysore under Hyder Ali, the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad formed a short -lived confederacy for the expulsion of the British from India.

1782: With Hyder Ali’s death, his son, Tipu became King of Mysore. The French came forward to aid Mysore in its fight against the British. In 1783 Tipu Sultan regained Mangalore.

1784: The Asiatic Society was founded in Calcutta by Sir William Jones to track and preserve all kinds of documents relating to Asia. Jones was helped by the then Governor General of the East India Company, Warren Hastings. In 1935 the Society became the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal and after Independence in 1947, it was called the Asiatic Society. It published Asiatic research documents from 1788 to 1839 and its journal has been published since 1832.

Asiatic Society of Bombay – a spin-off from the Literary Society of Bombay, founded in 1804 by Sir James Macintosh, recorder of Bombay. In 1829, it became a branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. The first Indian elected to it was Maneckji Cur-setji in 1840. The Society’s journal has been published since 1841. It became the Asiatic Society of Bombay after Independence.

1789: The British signed a treaty with the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Maratha Peshwa to join forces against Tipu Sultan with the promise that Mysore would be equally divided among the three. In 1790 the joint forces captured Dindigul and Palghat. The war ended in the Treaty of Srirangapatnam in 1792, by which Tipu had to surrender half his territory.

1793Permanent Settlement – Promulgated in Bengal and Bihar by Lord Cornwallis, it fixed the revenue amounts to be paid by Zamindars annually.

1794The Vizianagaram revolt – Viziaram Rauze, king of Vizianagaram on the east coast revolted against British authority and was killed in battle. His successors Biradhadra Rauze 0830-33) and Jagannath Rauze 0832-34) also fought the British.

1799The second war between Mysore and the British – The British laid siege to Srirangapatnam in April. Tipu was killed in battle in Mayand was cremated with the honour due to a Sultan – rare for an Indian ruler who opposed the traders – turned – rulers from England.

1799: Wazir Ali, Nawab of Oudhr Avadh, forced by the British to abdicate his throne.

1837: The first modern Indian political association was set up with the formation of the Zamindari Association of Calcutta. A body of landlords, it changed its name in 1838 to Landholders’ Association. It ceased to function in 1851.

1839: Ranjit Singh the ‘Lion of Punjab’ and a shrewd diplomat who even managed to secure the Kohinoor diamond from Shah Shuja the Afghan and with whom the British signed the Tripartite Treaty died.

1855: Armed rebellion by the Santhals of Bengal began in Bhognadighi. The rebellion was sustained for over six months. After the British suppressed it, a separate administrative unit was set up for a new district called the Santhal Parganas.

1858: On 2nd August the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act whereby all Indian territories of the East India Company were transferred to the British Crown. On 1st November India became part of the British Empire and the then governor general, Lord Canning, became Governor General and Viceroy.

1885: Indian National Congress (INC) founded by A.O. Hume and W.C. Bonnerji with 72 delegates from all over India.

1913: The GADR Party was founded in San Francisco, USA in 1913. It was an organization of militant Indians living abroad. In 1914 the Party sent arms to their comrades in India on the ship, Komagata Maru, which was attacked by the British as it attempted to dock at Calcutta. In 1930, the Party founded Desh Darpan, a revolutionary magazine.

1916: Gandhi joined the Home Rule League founded by Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

1917: Gandhi launched the Satyagraha movement in Champa, protesting the indigo policy of the British in 1917. South Indian Liberal Federation, popularly known as the Justice Party, inaugurated in Madras in 1917. It was mainly aimed at fighting Brahminism.

1918: Rowlatt Report submitted in 1918, proposing more rigorous controls in administration.

The following year saw a Satyagraha movement against the Rowlatt Report. But before the movement could start (it was postponed twice) the proposals were accepted by a legislation.

1919: The unjust Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place, in which nearly 400 were killed and over 1,000 injured when British forces led by General Dyer opened fire on unarmed Satyagrahis protesting the Rowlatt measures.

1920: Gandhiji’s slogans of ‘Swaraj within one year’ and ‘Non-cooperation movement.’ Later that year he started the movement against untouchability. The same year the Communist Party of India (CPI was founded in Tashkent with seven members, including M.N. Roy.)

1921: Gandhi burned foreign goods in August to launch the Swadeshi movement. That year also saw the first all India political strike – when the Prince of Wales arrived in Bombay on 21st November. The following year Gandhi announced Civil Disobedience and withdrew it after the Chauri Chaura events in which agitators killed 22 policemen. Gandhiji was arrested for the first time.

1928: The visit of the Simon Commission, which had been organised by Lord Irwin who had met with Gandhi and INC President S. Srinivasa Iyengar in November 1927 in preparation. The Commission was studying the British administration in India and was to propose reforms within it. The INC launched a series of protests against it when John Simon landed with his team. Following a lathi-charge against one such protest in Lahore, Lala Lajpat Rai died of injuries sustained in the skirmish. The Simon Commissions’ Report was published in 1930.

1929: Gandhi called for ‘Purna Swaraj’ (total freedom). The same year saw the Bardoli movement of peasants against higher taxes. Vallabhai Patel was one of the leaders.

1930: Gandhi initiated the Civil Disobedience Movement by a refusal to pay taxes. He launched this with the Dandi March on 12th March, which defied the salt tax. 1930 saw the Chittagong armoury raid by the Indian Republican Army lead by Surya Sen, in which 62 revolutionaries participated. This helped to accelerate the process of granting independence to India from British rule.

1931: Gandhi- Irwin Pact was signed on 5th March whereby Gandhi pledged that the Civil Disobedience Movement would be called off and that the INC would attend the next British Commonwealth Round Table Conference. Irwin promised to release political prisoners. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Sivaram Rajguru were executed by hanging on March 23,1931, less than a month after the death of nationalist Azad on Feb 27.

1933: A separate Muslim state, to be called ‘Pakistan’ was first propounded this year. This proposal was made by Chaudhuri Rahmat Ali, an Indian graduate in Cambridge, Britain, on January 28.

1934: Surya Sen and his comrade Tarakeswar Dastidar were hanged in January. The same year, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan launched the Red Shirt movement in the North-west Frontier Province in support of the INC movement.

1935: Gandhi retired from active political life, to devote himself to the Harijan (deprived people) movement, khadi and village welfare. The same year the new Government of India Act was passed. It became effective only in April, 1937 and following this, the INC participated for the first time in provincial and central legislatures.

1938: The first Planning Commission was constituted on the initiative of Subhash Chandra Bose who was Congress president at the time. It was suspended when World War II broke out and was resumed only in 1951.

1940: The ‘Pakistan’ Resolution was adopted by the Muslim League in March 1940. In 1934, the Congress Socialist Party was formed by Jai Prakash Narain.

1942: Stafford Cripps led the Cripps Mission a delegation to India in March to work out a political means for transfer of power to Indians, but the INC rejected its proposals presented in April the same year.

1946: Clement Attlee surmounted Jawaharlal Nehru, Baldev Singh, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaqat Ali for an extraordinary conference.

1946: Start of the Telangana struggle which lasted till 1952. On 2nd June the following year, Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy, announced the partition of India, saying it was a decision taken in London earlier. On 3rd June various Indian leaders announced their acceptance of the proposal. In February the same year, Attlee had announced that it had been decided that the British would leave India before June 1948.

The India Independence Act was placed before the British Parliament on 5th July and passed on 18th July and received royal assent immediately. On 14th August India was divided and Pakistan created with full independence. On 15th August (after partition) India was declared Independent.


1611: The United French East India Company was formed. Pondicherry was founded in 1673 by Francois Martin and ultimately became the capital of the French settlements in India. In 1688 it was given a charter by Aurangzeb to establish a settlement at Chandernagore in Bengal. In 1746 De La Bourdonnais of France captured Madras from the British. The war over this region, begun in 1740, was concluded finally in 1748 after a peace treaty was drawn up between the two kings in Europe, restoring all lands to the original holders at the start of the war.

Editor: Editor

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