20. Advent of the Europeans

India had commercial relations with the countries of the West from time immemorial. Vasco da Gama found out a new route to India and reached the famous port of Calicut on the 17th May, 1498.
The Portuguese
The discoveries of Vasco da Gama, who received friendly treatment from the Hindu ruler of Calicut brought the merchants of Portugal.
It was Alfonso de Albuquerque who laid the real foundation of Portuguese power in India. He first came to India in 1503 as the commander of a squadron, and was appointed Governor of Portuguese affairs in India in 1509. In November, 1510, he captured the rich port of Goa, then belonging to the Bijapur Sultanate. When he died in 1515 they were left as the strongest naval power in India with domination over the west coast.
A number of important Portuguese settlements were gradually established near the sea by the successors of Albuquerque. These were Diu, Daman, Salsetta, Bassein, Chaul and Bombay, San Thome near Madras and Hugli in Bengal. Their authority also extended over the major part of Ceylon. But in course of time they lost most of these places with the exception of Diu, Daman and Goa, which they retained until 1961.
The Dutch
With a view to getting direct access to the spice markets in South-East Asia, the Dutch undertook several voyages from 1596 and eventually formed the Dutch East India company in 1602.
Commercial interests drew the Dutch to India, where they established factories in Gujarat, on the Coromandel Coast and in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, entering deep into the interior of the lower Ganges valley. The more important of their factories in India were at Masulipatinam (1605), Pulicat (1610), Surat (1616), Bimlipatam (1641), Karikal (1645), Chinsura (1653), Casssimbazar, Baranagore, Patna, Balasore, Negapatanam (1658) and Cochin (1663). By supplanting the Portuguese, the Dutch practically maintained a monopoly of the spice trade in the East throughout the seventeenth century. They also became the carriers of trade between India and the islands of the Far East. The right of the English to the eastern trade was recognised by the Portuguese in a treaty, dated July, A.D. 1654; and another treaty, concluded in A.D. 1661, secured for the Portuguese from Charles II, who received Bombay as a part of the dowry the promise of English support against the Dutch in India.
The Dutch rivalry with the English, during the seventeenth century, was more bitter than that of the Portuguese. In Europe also the relations between England and Holland had been hostile.
During this period, the activities of the Dutch were mostly confined to Java and the Archipelago. However, they established themselves on the Coromandel Coast and fortified a factory at Pulicat. The years 1630-1658 formed a period of expansion for the Dutch on the Coromandel Coast and extension of their trade in other regions. During the years 1672-1674 the Dutch frequently obstructed communications between Surat and the new English settlement of Bombay and captured three English vessels in the Bay of Bengal.
The English East India Company
It was in 1608 that the first attempt was made to establish factories in India by the English East India company. The Company sent Captain Hawkins to India, and he reached the court of Jahangir in 1609. He was at first well received by the Mughul Emperor, who expressed his desire to permit the English to settle at Surat. But the hostile activities of the Portuguese, and the opposition of the Surat merchants, led him to refuse the English captain’s petition. In 1613 Jahangir permitting the English to establish a factory permanently at Surat. Soon the English Company sent an accredited ambassador of the King of England, James I, to the Mughul court. The person chosen was Sir Thomas Roe. Roe remained constantly at Jahangir’s court from the end of 1615 till the end of 1618. Before Roe left India in February, 1619, the English had establish factories at Surat, Agra, Ahmadabad and Broach. In 1668 Bombay was transferred to the East India Company by Charles II, who had got it from the Portuguese as a part of the dowry of his wife Catherine of Braganza, at an annual rental of $10. Bombay gradually grew more and more prosperous and became so important that in 1687 it superseded Surat as the chief settlement of the English on the west coast.
On the south-eastern coast the English had established a factory at Masulipatam, the principal port of the kingdom of Golkunda. In 1626 at Armagaon, a few miles north of the Dutch settlement of Pulicat.
In A.D. 1639 company obtained the lease of Madras from the ruler of Chandragiri, representative of the ruined Vijayanagar Empire, and built there a fortified factory which came to be known as Fort St. George. Fort St. George soon became the headquarters of the English settlements on the Coromandel coast.
For various reasons, the prospects of the Company’s trade at Madras and Surat were not very bright during the first half of the seventeenth century. But its misfortunes disappeared during the second half of that century, owing to changes in the policy of the home government.
The Company’s policy in India also changed during this period. A peaceful trading body was transformed into a power eager to establish its own position by territorial acquisitions, largely in view of the political disorders in the country.
In 1651 Sultan Shuja granting the Company the privilege of trading in return for a fixed annual payment of duties worth Rs. 3,000.
The expansion of the English East India Company’s trade and influence in India during the first forty years of the eighteenth century was quiet and gradual.
The French East India Company
They were the last of the European powers to compete for commercial gains in the East with the other European Companies. The first French factory in India was established at Surat in A.D. 1668, and another at Masulipatiam established in 1669. In 1672 the French seized San Thome, close to Madras, but in the next year they were defeated by a combined force of the Sultan of Golkunda and the Dutch and was forced to capitulate and surrender San Thome to the Dutch. Meanwhile, in 1673 few Portuguese obtained a little village from the Muslim governor of Valikondapuram. Thus the foundation of Pondicherry was laid in a modest manner. Francois Martin, who took charge of this settlement from A.D. 1674, developed it into an important place. Pondicherry was captured by the Dutch in 1693 but was handed back to the French in 1697. Martin, again placed in charge of this settlement, restored its propriety so that it came to have a population of about 40,000 at the time of his death in 1706 as compared with the 22,000 of Calcutta in the same year. But the French lost their influence in other places, and their factories at Bantam, Surat and Masulipatam were abandoned by the beginning of the eighteenth century. The resources of the French Company were practically exhausted by this time, and till 1720 it passed through very bad days.

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