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Carnatic Wars

The Carnatic Wars (also spelled Karnatic Wars) were a series of military conflicts in the middle of the 18th century on the Indian subcontinent. The conflicts involved numerous nominally independent rulers and their vassals, struggles for succession and territory, and included a diplomatic and military struggle between the French East India Company and the British East India Company. They were mainly fought on the territories in India which were dominated by the Mughal Empire up to the Godavari delta. As a result of these military contests, the British East India Company established its dominance among the European trading companies within India. The French company was pushed to a corner and was confined primarily to Pondicherry. The British company's dominance eventually led to control by the United Kingdom over most of India and the establishment of the British Raj.

In the 18th century the coastal Carnatic region was a dependency of Hyderabad, the main remaining remnant of the Mughal Empire. Three Carnatic Wars were fought between 1744 and 1763.


First Carnatic War (1746 1748)

The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb died in 1707 AD. He was succeeded by Bahadur Shah I but there had been a general decline in central control over the empire during the tenure of Jahandar Shah and later Mughals. Several erstwhile Mughal colonies revolted. Carnatic was ruled by Nawab Dost Ali, despite being under the legal purview of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Dost Ali's death sparked a power struggle between his son-in-law Chanda Sahib and the Nizam's nominee, Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan. The British enlisted the help of Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan to oust the French under Joseph Fran ois Dupleix and capable Sepoys such as Hyder Ali from Madras.

Muzaffar Jung allied himself with Chanda Sahib, who aspired to become the next Nawab of the Carnatic, together they planned to gather their prowess in the south with the help of the Nawab of Kadapa and ally themselves with the French, their plans turned out to be successful in the short term particularly when Hindu Karnul's and Sanwar's allied with them.[1]

Dupleix]] meeting the Subedar of the Deccan, Muzaffar Jung.

The genesis of the Carnatic wars are generally attributed to ambition of Dupleix. As governor of the French East India Company, Dupleix sought to establish a French colony in India. Immediately upon his arrival in India, he organized Indian recruits under French officers for the first time. The British and French went to war over the succession to the throne of Austria in 1740. The trading companies of both countries maintained cordial relations among themselves in India while their parent countries were bitter enemies on the European continent. Dodwell writes, "Such were the friendly relations between the English and the French that the French sent their goods and merchandise from Pondicherry to Madras for safe custody."[2] The decline of Mughal power in India provided an opportunity for the contending European trading companies to venture out for brazen use of intrigues for obtaining hold over the land for the benefit of their respective companies. By that time, French and British trading companies had the largest presence among all the European companies trading in India, dominating in influence those of the Dutch Republic and Portugal.

After the British initially captured a few French ships, the French called for backup from as far afield as Mauritius, and on 21 September 1746, they captured the British city of Madras. Among the prisoners of war was Robert Clive.

With the termination of the War of Austrian Succession in Europe, the First Carnatic War also came to an end. In the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), Madras was given back to the British in exchange for the French fortress of Louisbourg in North America, which the British had captured.

Second Carnatic War (1749 1754)

French]] in 1749 (by Paul Philipoteaux).

After the death of the Nizam-ul-Mulk in 1748, the Nizam of Hyderabad, a civil war for succession, now known as the Second Carnatic War, broke out in the south between Mir Ahmad Ali Khan (Nasir Jung), the son of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, and Hidayat Muhi ud-Din Sa'adu'llah Khan (Muzaffar Jung), the grandson of Nizam-ul-Mulk.

This opened a window of opportunity for Chanda Sahib, who wanted to become Nawab of Arcot. He joined the cause of Muzaffar Jung and began to conspire against the Nawab Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan in Arcot. The French allied with Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jung to bring them into power in their respective states. But soon the British also intervened. To offset the French influence, they began supporting Nasir Jung and Muhammad Ali Khan Walajah (son of the deposed Nawab Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan of Arcot). Initially, the French succeeded in both states in defeating and murdering their opponents and placing their supporters on thrones in 1749. In 1751, however, Robert Clive led British troops to capture Arcot. Clive's success led to additional victories for the British and their Nizam and Arcot allies. The war ended with the Treaty of Pondicherry, signed in 1754. Muhammad Ali Khan Walajah was recognized as the Nawab of Arcot. The French leader Dupleix was asked to return to France. The directors of the French East India Company were dissatisfied with Dupleix's political ambitions, which had led to immense financial loss. In 1754, Charles Godeheu replaced Dupleix.

Third Carnatic War (1757 1763)

The outbreak in 1756 of the Seven Years' War in Europe resulted in renewed conflict between French and British forces in India. The Third Carnatic War spread beyond southern India and into Bengal where British forces captured the French settlement of Chandernagore (now Chandannagar) in 1757. However, the war was decided in the south, as British commander Sir Eyre Coote decisively defeated the French under the Comte de Lally at the Battle of Wandiwash in 1760. After Wandiwash, the French capital of Pondicherry fell to the British in 1761. The war concluded with the signing of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which returned Chandernagore and Pondicherry to France, and allowed the French to have "factories" (trading posts) in India but forbade French traders from administering them. The French agreed to support British client governments, thus ending French ambitions of an Indian empire and making the British the dominant foreign power in India.

See also

  • French India
  • Subedar of Deccan
  • Nawab
  • Hyder Ali
  • Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan


de:Karnatische Kriege es:Guerras de Carnatic fr:Guerre carnatique it:Guerre del Karnataka ja: nn:Dei karnatiske krigane pl:II wojna w Karnatace ta: te: zh:

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