The Third Carnatic War (1758-63) – Causes and Results

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We already read about first and second Carnatic wars. In this article we will discuss about the Anglo-French conflict in third Carnatic war and its causes and results.

Causes of the Third Carnatic War

In 1756, the Seven Years’ War started in Europe and Britain and France again found themselves in opposite camps. That led to the Third Carnatic War in India between the English and the French. But no engagement took place between the two in 1756. They started attacking each other’s possessions in 1757. The French succeeded in capturing larger part of Karnataka though they failed to capture the strongholds of the English like Trichinopoly, Arcot, Madras, St. David etc. The English gained more success in the North. They captured all the important places of the French in Bengal and Bihar.

third carnatic war

Count de Lally – Picture source : Wikipedia

The major engagements between the two Companies, in fact, started in 1758 when Count de Lally came to India as the commander of the French forces as well as the governor of the Company. Lally was a capable and daring commander. But he was haughty in his temperament and an idealist by nature. Therefore having succeeded initially he failed ultimately. He captured St. David immediately after his arrival in India. He next planned to attack Madras but the governor at Pondicherry showed his inability to finance the attack and Count de Ache refused to make a naval attack on Madras. Lally then attacked Tanjore to get some booty but had to withdraw because of the arrival of the English force to oppose him. Meanwhile de Ache was defeated by the English on the sea and was forced to withdraw to Mauritius with his ships much against the wishes of Lally. Yet, Lally besieged Madras in 1758. He recalled Bussy from Hyderabad for his help. But, he failed to gain any success. The French influence in Hyderabad disappeared with the departure of Bussy from there. The English received reinforcement from Bengal. Lally was forced to raise the siege of Madras in 1759.

Results of the Third War in Karnataka

The war continued but the French were mostly on the defensive. On January 22, 1760, the battle of Wandiwash took place. The French were defeated decisively and Bussy was taken prisoner. This battle sealed the fate of the French in India. Malleson comments : “It shattered to the grounds the mighty fabric which Martin, Dumas and Dupleix had contributed to erect; it dissipated all the hopes of Lally; it sealed the fate of Pondicherry.” Lally entered into a treaty with Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore, to strengthen his position and, certainly, received some military support. But nothing could save the position of the French. Pondicherry was besieged by the English and Lally was forced to surrender after some months on March 16, 1761. After the fall of Pondicherry, the English easily captured the rest of the French cities like Jinji, Mahe etc. The defeat of the French was complete.

The Seven Years’ War ended in 1763 and the Peace of Paris was signed. By this treaty, the French were given back some of their cities in India, like Chandranagar and Pondicherry. But they were not allowed to raise any fortifications there. Thus, the third Carnatic War Sealed the fate of the French in India for ever and, among European powers, Britain alone was left to contest the native rulers of the sovereignty of India.

Brief Story of all First, Second and Third Carnatic Wars

  • The ambition of controlling the trade and political power in India were the primary causes of the contest between the French and the English which resulted in three Carnatic wars.
  • The immediate cause of the first Carnatic war was the beginning of the war of Austrian succession in Europe in which Britain and France fought with each other.
  • The war started in India in 1746 when the British navy destroyed some French ships with a view to destroying French trade in India.
  • La Bourdonnais, the French naval commander at Mauritius captured Madras but, instead of handling it over to the governor Dupleix, took bribe from the English and turned back.
  • Dupleix then captured Madras.
  • Andwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Karnataka desired Madras for himself and, when Dupleix refused to oblige, sent an army to capture it.
  • The French defeated the army of the Nawab at St. Thome.
  • The French failed to capture the English fort of St. David while the English failed to capture Pondicherry.
  • The treaty of Aix la Chapelle, signed between France and Britain in 1748, restored peace in India, and Madras was returned to the English in exchange of Lubar in America to France.
  • Though the war brought no material gains either to the French or the English, yet, both came to know the geographical features of the territories around the centres of their power and also the military weakness of the Indian rulers which aroused their cupidity for territorial expansion.
  • The second Carnatic war began in 1749 when the British and the French interfered in the wars of succession in Karnataka and Hyderabad.
  • The French supported Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib to capture the throne of Hyderabad and Karnataka respectively while the English, in turn, supported Nasir Jang and Muhammad Ali.
  • Initially, Nasir Jang succeeded in Hyderabad and Chanda Sahib in Karnataka.
  • But in 1750, Nasir Jang was murdered by his nobles and Muzaffar Jang became the Nizam of Hyderabad.
  • Muzaffar Jang accepted Chanda Sahib as the Nawab of Karnataka and the French officer, Bussy, as his adviser at Hyderabad.
  • The English, under the command of Clive, captured Arcot, the capital of Karnataka, in 1751 and then defeated it also for 53 days against the French.
  • That saved Muhammad Ali who was besieged by the French at Trichinopoly.
  • Finally, Chanda Sahib fled to Tanjore where he was murdered and Muhammad Ali was accepted as the Nawab of Karnataka after the recall of Dupleix in 1754.
  • The peace was signed between the two in 1754 and left the English and the French influential in Karnataka and Hyderabad respectively.
  • When the Seven Years’ War started in Europe in 1756, England and France again started fighting with each other and that resulted in the third Carnatic War in 1758.
  • Cound de Lally, the French governor, captured the fort of St. David, called Bussy from Hyderabad but failed to capture Madras.
  • The French were defeated decisively at the battle of Wandiwash in January, 1760.
  • Finally, the British captured Pondicherry in March 1761 and imprisoned Lally.
  • When Peace of Paris was signed in Europe in 1763, Chandranagar and Pondicherry were returned to the French but they were not allowed to raise fortifications there.
  • The third Carnatic war left the British alone, among European powers, to contest the native rulers for the sovereignty of India.

Source used : NCERT, Tamil Nadu Board, IGNOU Modern History, NIOS textbooks. Wikipedia.

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