Rise of the French East India Company:

The French formed a French East India Company in 1664 AD to trade in the East. Its company's first name was Indeseorientales. Louis XIV's minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, played an important role in the formation of the company. The company was drafted by Ptist Colbert, Emperor Louis granted a charter to the company. According to which the company got the monopoly of trade from Madagascar to India before 50 years. Madagascar and adjacent islands were also awarded to the company. The company was founded by the efforts of the French minister Colbert.

A committee of 21 directors was constituted as managers. In order to strengthen the financial position of the company, Louis provided 30,00,000 livers free of interest to the company, from which the company could be deducted any loss in 10 years. Members of the royal family, ministers and merchants were encouraged to invest money in the company.

Louis granted wide powers to the company. He assured that he would send his fighter ships to protect the company's ships and also ordered the company to fly the French state flag on its ships. The Company was ordered to appoint a Governor-General to oversee the administration of its lands and was awarded the title of lieutenant general to the king. A council of 7 members was formed to assist him. This council was first established in Madagascar.

It was moved to Surat in 1671 and to Pondicherry in 1701. Thus Pondicherry became the main center of the former French.

Establishment of French Factory in Surat:

At that time Surat was the famous port of the Mughal Empire and the main trading center of the world. In 1612 AD and 1618 AD, English and Dutch factories were established here. Even before the arrival of the French, complete information about the Mughal Empire and its port Surat had been received by the missionaries, travelers and merchants. And this information was given by Thebonite, Bernier and Tavernier who were French citizens.

Impressed by this information, the French company decided to set up its factory in Surat, for this it sent two representatives who reached Surat in March 1666 AD. The Surat governor welcomed these delegates, but the workers of the previously established English and Dutch factories did not like the arrival of a new competitor.

These representatives reached Agra from Surat, they gave the personal letter of Louis XIV to Aurangzeb and they got permission to set up a factory in Surat. The company sent Keron to Surat and thus in 1661 AD the first French factory was established in place of Surat in India.

Beginning of Business Conflict:

There was heavy trade hostility among European companies. Just as these companies wanted to have a trading monopoly in their own country and they had been given a monopoly to trade from the East by charter, similarly the companies wanted to get a commercial monopoly over India and other regions of the Far East. These companies did not believe in the principle of live and let live.

Due to this there was a trade war between these companies. In the seventeenth century this conflict had become three-sided. Anglo-Portuguese-Conflict, Dutch-Portuguese Conflict and Anglo-Dutch Conflict. And later in the eighteenth century, this confrontation took place between the British and the French.

Anglo-Portuguese and Dutch-Portuguese Confrontation:

Vasco da Gama discovered a new sea route to India in 1498 AD. On the basis of this discovery, the Portuguese monopolized the trade of the East for almost a century. This monopoly of the Portuguese was challenged by the British and the Dutch in the early seventeenth century. The Dutch proved to be a stronger enemy of the Portuguese than the British, and the Dutch expelled the Portuguese from the eastern islands, Lanka and the Malabar coast, the major territories of obtaining spices.

Similarly, when the East India Company tried to set up its factory in Surat, Hawkins could not succeed in its objective due to the influence and mischief of the Portuguese. In 1612 AD, the ships of Thomas West were attacked by the Portuguese fleet. In this sea battle which was fought at the mouth of Suali (Surat), the Portuguese were defeated. This victory increased the prestige of the British.

Anglo-Dutch War:

The Anglo-Portuguese conflict lasted for some time. But a common enemy, the Dutch, brought the two closer to each other. The Portuguese were deeply troubled by the Dutch and considered their interest in befriending the British. Similarly, the British were also keen on the friendship of the Portuguese because this friendship facilitated the trade of spices on the Malabar Coast. Due to this, a treaty was signed between the Portuguese Governor of Goa and the British President of Surat in 1635 AD.

This friendship was further cemented by the marriage of the Portuguese Princess Catherine to Emperor Charles II of England. As a result of this marriage, Charles II received the island of Bombay in dowry, which he gave to the company at an annual rent of 10 pounds.

Anglo-Dutch Confrontation:

The Dutch citizens proved to be more rivals of the British than the Portuguese. Factories of both the British and the Dutch were established in Surat. The British and the Dutch clashed over the monopoly of the spice trade. The Dutch wanted to establish a monopoly on the spice trade which was challenged by the British.

The Dutch made agreements with the kings for the Malabar Coast, according to which pepper could be sold only to the Dutch. As a result of this agreement, the Dutch obtained black pepper at a lower price, although a higher price could be obtained by selling it freely. The Dutch used to obstruct in every way in the way of the English Company's purchase of black pepper from the Malabar Coast.

The ships which carried pepper for the English Company were captured. Despite all these obstacles, the English Company was successful in buying large quantities of black pepper from the Malabar coast and sending it to England. Although both England and Holland were Protestant countries, due to their hostility due to trade enmity, they had three fierce wars in 1652–54 AD, 1665–66 AD and 1672–74 AD. The British Parliament passed the Shipping Law (Navigation Law) in 1651 AD for the commercial interest of its country. The shipping laws were not in the commercial interest of the Dutch and they refused to obey them. When the news of the First Anglo-Dutch War reached Surat in March 1635, the British became very worried and requested the Mughal Subedars of Surat to protect them from Dutch attacks.

From this it appears that the Dutch were more powerful than the British at that time in the East. As soon as the news of the war was received, a powerful ship reached Suali (Surat). Due to the alertness of the Mughal officials, the Dutch did not attack the English factory at Surat. Although there was no conflict on land, there were many battles at sea between the British and the Dutch. English ships were captured by the Dutch and trade was damaged. Trade also suffered in the other two wars (1665-67 AD and 1672-74 AD). Like before, at the time of these wars also, the British prayed for protection from the Mughal-Government.

There was no battle on the ground, but the Dutch captured English ships at sea. With the glorious revolution of 1688 AD, in which William became the King of England, the English-Dutch relations improved.

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  Last update :  Fri 7 Oct 2022
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