The Portuguese lost their hold in India and the Dutch mostly concentrated their efforts in south-east Asia. It was left for the English and the French to contest among themselves for the control of trade and political power in India. The contest between the two began in Karnataka and it resulted in three Carnatic wars. In this contest, finally, the English emerged victorious. Today we will start with the First Carnatic War and its causes and results.
Causes of the First Carnatic War
The disintegration of the Mughal Empire, the growing trade rivalry and political ambitions of the English and the French and disturbed state of affairs in Karnataka, of course, emboldened the English and the French to settle their scores with each other. But, none of them constituted the cause of the first Carnatic War.
The real cause of the war was the beginning of the war of Austrian succession in 1740 in Europe in which England and France found themselves in opposite camps. When the war began in Europe the English and the French companies sued for peace in India and requested their respective home governments accordingly. The French government agreed but the British government paid no heed to the request of its company. It dispatched a naval fleet with a view to destroying the French trade in India. The fleet succeeded in destroying some French ships in the Indian ocean. One of the destroyed ships belonged to Dupleix, the governor of the French company who was enraged and decided to fight back the English. The first Carnatic war, therefore, started in 1746.
Dupleix sought the support of La Bourdonnais, the French naval commander at Mauritius. La Bourdonnais attacked Madras and captured it. He, however, refused to hand over Madras to Dupleix, took rupees sixty thousand as bribe from the English governor and went back. Dupleix then attacked Madras and captured it. The English, in desperation, sought protection from Anwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Karnataka. The Nawab remained silent till he left assured that Dupleix would give him share in the booty. But, when he realised that Dupleix was not going to oblige him, he despatched an army under the command of his son to capture Madras. The Nawab’s army met the French contingent at St. Thome on the banks of the river Adyar and was completely routed. Dupleix attempted to capture the English fort of St. David but failed even after a siege of eighteen months. In August 1748, an English fleet besieged Pondicherry but failed to capture it.
Results of the First Karnataka War
- Britain and France signed the treaty of Aix la Chapelle in 1748 and therefore, peace was restored in India as well.
- By the treaty, Madras was handed over to the English in exchange of Lubar in America to France much against the wishes of Dupleix. Thus ended the first Carnatic war between the English and the French.
- It was neither a decisive war nor it brought about any change in the territorial possessions of either party. Yet it was important in some other respects.
- The English and the French came to know the geographical features of the territories extending over nearly one hundred miles around the centers of their power.
- It also exposed to them the military weakness of the Indian rulers.
- It brought into focus the importance of the Navy as an effective instrument of war.
- This Carnatic war also aroused the cupidity of the English and the French companies for territorial expansion in India. Dodwell commented : “It set the stage for the experiments of Dupleix and accomplishment of Clive.”
Discuss the causes and results of the first Carnatic war.
Source used : NCERT, Tamil Nadu Board, IGNOU Modern History, NIOS textbooks.
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