THE EUROPEANS in India for all SSC & RRB Exams


In 1498, Portuguese traders became the first to discover the sea route to India when a Portuguese voyager arrived at Calicut (modern Kozhikode, Kerala) on the western coast of India.

The Dutch followed them in 1595, the English in 1600, and at last, the French in 1664. All these Europeans came to India for free trade.

The Europeans nations established various commercial companies, such as the East India Company in England founded in 1600 and Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie – the United East India Company in the Netherlands – founded in 1602.

These companies were formed to capture the spice trade by breaking the monopoly of Portuguese in Asia.

Rise of Autonomous States:
In the eighteenth century, when the Mughal Empire declined, various autonomous states were established such as in Bengal (under Murshid Quli Khan), Oudh or Awadh (under Sadat Khan Burhan-ul-Mulk), Hyderabad (under Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah), Carnatic (under Churaman and Surajmal) and the Sikhs (under Ranjit Singh).

In 1498, Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese voyager, became the first European to discover the sea route to India.

He arrived at Calicut on 27 May 1498.

After Vasco da Gama, Captain General Alfonso de Albuquerque captured Goa in 1510 and made Goa as the centre of their commercial and political power.

Goa was under their control for about four and a half centuries.

Afonso de Albuquerque was the second governor of the Portuguese India and is known as founder of Portuguese colonial empire in India. (Albuquerque is also known to have abolished the practice of Sati in Goa.)

The first Dutch fleet reached India in the year 1595.

They formed Dutch East India Company in 1602, but they could not maintain their influence for very long period.

They established their first factory in Masulipatnam (1605), followed by factories in Pulicat (1610), Surat (1616), Bimlipatnam (1641), Karaikal (1645), Chinsura (1653), Kasimbazar (1658), Baranagore (1658), Patna and Balasore (both 1658) and Cochin (1663).

These became the centres of international trade in spices, cotton, sugar raw silk, calico and indigo.

In 1619, they were granted permission by the Mughal emperor Jahangir to trade at Surat on the west coast and Hoogly in the east.

The Dutch supremacy ended with their defeat at the hands of the English in the Battle of Bedera in 1759.


In 1600, the English East India Company was established through a charter signed by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600.  The charter granted the company permission to trade with India.

In 1608, Captain Hawkins visited the court of Jahangir but he was denied any trading rights.

In 1619, when Sir Thomas Roe visited the court, they were allowed to set up their first factory in Surat(authorised factory).

Gradually, the company was successful in setting up its factories at other places also such as Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

The English set up their factories in Masulipatnam (1611), Agra, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Broach (1619), Armagaon near Pulicat (1626), Hariharpur and Balasore (1633), Patna, Dakha, Kasimbazar (1835), Fort St George in Chennai (1639), Hoogli (1651), settlements in Bihar, Bengal and Orissa (1658), Mumbai (1668) and Sutanuti (1690), Kalikota and Govindpur (1698).

Later they founded the city of Kolkata which included the regions of Sutanuti, Kalikota and Govindpur.

In 1700, they fortified the factory at Sutanati and named it Fort William.

In 1686, the English fought the war against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

They lost all their control over the settlements and factories in India to the Mughals.

They were pardoned when they surrendered in 1690.

In 1691, they were granted a Farman by the Mughal emperor.

They exempted from paying customs duties in Bengal through this Farman.

In 1717, the Mughal emperor, Farukhsiyar (1713 – 1719), granted the British another Farman, thus extending the privilege to British in Gujarat and Deccan.

As the Dutch and the French, the British also brought silver bullion and copper to pay for transactions, helping the smooth functioning of the Mughal revenue system and increasing the benefits of local artisans and traders.

The fortified warehouses of the British brought extraterritorial status, which enabled them to administer their own civil and criminal laws and offered numerous employment opportunities as well as an asylum to foreigners and Indians.

The original clusters of fishing villages (Chennai and Kolkata) and the series of islands (Mumbai) became the headquarters of the British administrative zones or presidencies as they generally came to be known.

The factories and their immediate environs, known as the white town, represented the actual and symbolic pre-eminence of the British is terms of their political power as well as their cultural values and social practices.

Meanwhile, their Indian collaborators lived in the ‘black town’ separated from the factories by several kilometres.

Spread of British on East and West Coast of India during the seventeenth century:

Anglo-Dutch hostilities from 1652 to 1654 drew the English and the Portuguese closer on the western coast of India.

According to a secret article in the marriage treaty of 1661 with Portugal, the Portuguese possessions in the East were guaranteed by England against the Dutch, and the island of Mumbai was included as a part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, the new queen of Charles II.

In 1668, Charles II transferred Mumbai to the East India Company on an annual payment of 10 pounds.

Mumbai gradually rose to prosperity during the administration of sir George Oxenden (1662 – 1669), Gerald Aungier (1669 – 1677), and Sir John Child (1682 – 1690).

In 1687, the seat of the western Presidency was shifted from Surat to Mumbai.

In 1611, the English started a factory in the south-east at Masulipatnam.

In 1632, they obtained Golden Farman from Sultan of Golconda and in 1639 were permitted to build a fortified factory in Chennai, known as Fort St George, which later superseded Masulipatnam as the headquarters of the English in the East coast.

Important facts:

In 1608, First British ship Hector reached India.

In 1611, Captain Middleton was able to get permission to start a factory in Surat from the local Mughal governors.

Under him, the British defeated Portuguese in 1611 in the Battle of Bombay.

First English factory in Bengal was established at Hoogly 1651, with the permission of Shahsuja and they were also granted Privileges of free trade for a payment of Rs 3000


The French commercial interest – Compagnie des Indes Orientales (East India Company, founded in 1664).

They founded their enclave at Pondicherry (Puducherry) on the Coromandel Coast.

In 1664, they set up centres near Chennai and Chandernagore on the Hoogly to trade with India.

They also established naval bases in the islands of Bourbon and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

Initially, they flourished till 1706 but afterward declined until 1720.

After 1720, it was because of Governors Lenoir and Dumas that the French regrouped in India.

However, during 1742, the French Governor Dupleix started repulsing English power, which resulted in the Carnatic wars and eventually the defeat of the French.


In 1616, the East India Company of Denmark reached Indian coasts and established settlements in Tranquebar in Tamil Nadu (1620) and Serampore in Bengal (1676).

Danish entrepreneurs established themselves at several ports on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts, in the vicinity of Kolkata and inland at Patna, between 1695 and 1740.

Austrian enterprises were set up in the 1720s in the vicinity of Surat, in southeastern Gujarat.

As with the other non-British enterprises, the Danish and Austrian enclaves were taken over by the British between 1765 and 1815.

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