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The East India Company

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The East India Company - Lesson Summary

In 1858, the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Indian states got transferred to the British Crown.

The English East India Company was set up in 1600 when Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter giving the company sole rights in England to establish trade relations with the East. The Portuguese, Dutch and French were trading with India much before the British.

India was famous for its great riches - silk, cotton and spices and there was stiff competition amongst various European companies for these products. This led to many fierce battles between the trading companies. However, trading by fortifying settlements led to conflicts among the local rulers.

In 1651, the first English factory was established on the banks of river Hugli in West Bengal.  As trade expanded, they started building a fort around the factory and eventually bribed the Mughals to give the Company zamindari rights over three surrounding villages.

In 1717, the Company convinced Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to grant a royal order or farman for duty free trade.

Nawabs Murshid Quli Khan, Alivardi Khan and Sirajuddaulah were against the Company acquiring territories and expanding its trade in Bengal. The nawabs demanded huge tributes from the Company to continue trading and prevented it from minting coins and extending its fortifications.

All these conflicts between the nawabs and the Company eventually resulted in the famous Battle of Plassey, which marked the start of the Company rule in India.

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