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In the 18th century, three Carnatic wars were fought between various Indian rulers, British and French East Indian Company on either side. Traditionally, Britain and France were rival countries in Europe. Their rivalry continued in India over trade and territories. It resulted in a series of military conflicts in the south known as the Carnatic wars which spanned from 1746 to 1763. These wars resulted in establishment of political supremacy of British East Indian Company.
First Carnatic war (1746 - 48)
On the outbreak of the Austrian war of succession in Europe the English and the French were on opposite camps increased the hostility between these two forces. The echo of this war was felt in India.
Battle of Adayar (1746)
The First Carnatic War is remembered for the battle of Santhome (Madras) fought between the French forces and the forces of Anwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Carnatic, who appealed the British for help. A small French army under Captain Paradise defeated the strong Indian army under Mahfuz Khan at Santhome on the banks of the River Adayar. This was the first occasion when the superiority of the well-trained and well-equipped European army over the Indian army was proved beyond doubt.
Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)
The war was ended by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle which brought the Austrian War of Succession to an end. Under the terms of this treaty, Madras was returned back to the English, and the French, in turn, got their territories in North America.
Second Carnatic War (1749 - 54)
The main cause of this war was the issue of succession in Carnatic and Hyderabad. Anwaruddin Khan and Chanda Sahib were the two claimants to the throne of Carnatic, whereas Nasir Jang and Muzaffar Jang were claimants to the throne of Hyderabad. The French supported Chanda sahib and Muzaffar Jang, while the British supported the other claimants with the objective of keeping their interest and influence in the entire Deccan region.
Battle of Ambur (1749)
Finally Dupleix, Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jang formed a grand alliance and defeated and killed Anwar-ud-din Khan, the Nawab of Carnatic, on 3 August 1749 in the Battle of Ambur. Muhammad Ali, the son of Anwar-ud-din, fled to Trichinopoly (Trichirappalli). Chanda Sahib became the Nawab of Carnatic and rewarded the French with the grant of 80 villages around Pondicherry.
In the Deccan, too, the French defeated and killed Nasir Jang and made Muzaffar Jang as the Nizam. The new Nizam gave ample rewards to the French. He appointed Dupleix as the governor of all the territories in south of the river Krishna. Muzaffar Jang was assassinated by his own people in 1751. Salabat Jang, brother of Nasir Jang was raised to the throne by Bussy. Salabat Jang granted the Northern Circars excluding the Guntur District to the French. Dupleix’s power was at its zenith by that time.
Battle of Arcot (1751)
In the meantime, Dupleix sent forces to besiege the fort of Trichy where Muhammad Ali had taken shelter. Chanda Sahib also joined with the French in their efforts to besiege Trichy. Robert Clive’s proposal was accepted by the British governor, Saunders, and with only 200 English and 300 Indian soldiers, Clive was entrusted the task of capturing Arcot. His attack proved successful.
Robert Clive defeated the French at Arni and Kaveripak. With the assistance of Major General Stringer Lawrence, Chanda Sahib was killed in Trichy. Muhammad Ali was made the Nawab of Arcot under British protection. The French Government recalled Dupleix to Paris.
Treaty of Pondicherry (1755)
Dupleix was succeeded by Godeheu who agreed the treaty of Pondicherry. According to it, both the powers agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of the native states. They were to retain their old positions. New forts should not be built by either power. The treaty made the British stronger.
The second Carnatic war also proved inconclusive. The English proved their superiority on land by appointing Mohammad Ali as the Nawab of Carnatic. The French were still very powerful in Hyderabad. However, the predominant position of the French in the Deccan peninsula was definitely undermined in this war.
Third Carnatic War (1756 - 63)
The outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in Europe led to the third Carnatic war in India. By this time, Robert Clive established the British power in Bengal by the Battle of Plassey which provided them with the necessary finance for the third Carnatic war.
Count de Lally was deputed from France to conduct the war from the French side. He easily captured Fort St. David. He ordered Bussy to come down to the Carnatic with his army, to make a united effort to push the British out of the Carnatic. Taking advantage of Bussy’s departure, Robert Clive sent Colonel Forde from Bengal to occupy the Northern Circars (parts of Andhra Pradesh and Odhisha).
Battle of Wandiwash (1760)
The decisive battle of the third Carnatic war was fought on January 22, 1760. The English army under General Eyre Coote totally routed the French army under Lally. Within a year the French had lost all their possessions in India. Lally returned to France where he was imprisoned and executed.
Treaty of Paris (1763)
The Seven Years’ War was concluded by the treaty of Paris. The French settlements including Pondicherry were given back to the French. But they were forbidden from fortifying those places. They were not allowed to gather armies. The French dominance in India practically came to an end.
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