Haidar Ali and Mysore

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Article Sub-Category: THE BRITISH OR ANGLO-INDIAN PERIOD

Title: Haidar Ali and Mysore
 
Transitional period: conflict of the French and English in Southern India; Dupliex and others; Haidar Ali and Mysore


The epoch of 1761.  The selection by historians of the years 1761 as marking the dividing line between the Mogul and British periods does not rest solely upon the occurence of the battle of Panipat in that year. Four years earlier, in 1757,
Clive's victory at Plassey had laid  Bengal and its dependencies at the feet of the East India Company, the military position of which was secured in 1764 by the battle of Buxar, and legalized in 1765 by the grant under imperial seal to the Company of the Diwani,
or revenue jurisdiction over the province.  In the year of Panipat, the fall of Pondicherry, the capital of the French possessions, completed the ruin of the French, who had been routed at Wandiwash in the preceding year.  In june 1761, Haidar Ali made himself master of Mysore, and so founded
a power which lasted until the close of the eighteenth century, while in 1764 the Sikhs occupied Lahore, and became independent.  Thus, from every point of view, we may take 1761, or, more precisely, the years 1760-5, as the end of the old and the begining of the new era.

    Nominal survival of the Mogul empire.  The Mogul empire continued to exist as the shadow of a great name until 1858, when the last titular emperor was exiled as the penalty for his share in the Mutiny.  But all the princes who bore the imperial titles during the century extending from 1759 to 1858
were equally insignificant, and the course of events was in no way affected by the succession of one nonentity to another.'  The real power was in the hands of the Marathas, the British, the Sikhs, and the Mohammedan states of Oudh, Bengal, and the Deccan.  India continued to be a mass of conflicting, unstable
states until 1818, when settlement made by the Marques of Hastings definitely established the British Government of the East India Company as the supreme, controlling power.  But it is true to affirm that from 1761 the Company was the most important and influential authority in India.
  
    The transitional period.  In the following pages we shall trace in outline the process by which the dominion over India passed from the hands of the Hindu and Mohammedan powers to those of the East India Company, and thence to the Crown.  In order to make the subject intelligence we must depart from strict chronological order and go back for some years, dealing
first with the south, where the growing strength of the European settlers first made itself distinctly felt.  The history of this period of transition cannot be presented in a single continuous narrative, because India in those days was merely a geographical expression and had no unity within herself.

    Conflict between the French and English.  The competition between the French and English settlements on the Madras coasts for the control of the sea-borne trade developed into a struggle for political mastery, in which the native powers allied with one side or the other played only a secondary parts.
(Their names are: Shah Allam II, December 1759 to November 1806, Akbar II, November 1806 to october 1837; and Bahadur Shah II December 1758, Shah Alam at the time of his predecessor's murder was a fugitive, ubder the protection of the Nawab-Vazir of Oudh.  He tried, unsuccessfully, to establish himself in Bihar, and from 1765 to 1771 was the dependant of the English at Allahabad.  From 1771 to 1803 he was generally under the control of Maratha chiefs.  In 1788 he was cruelly plinded by an Afghan ruffian named Ghulam Kadir.  From the time of Lord Lake's entry into Delhi in 1803 he became simply a pensioner of the British Government, and his successors occupied the same position.)
    In that struggle the naval superiorty of England was the decisive factor.  From Madras, where he had already done much for his country.  Robert Clive transferred the conflict to Bengal, and there too was victorious by the aid of sea power.  On the Bombay side the Marathas were too strong to allow the European settlements much scope for expansion.  The British empire in India was founded in Madras and Bengal, the English traders being first forced into political action by French rivalry in the south.

    Pondicherry;  Governors Dumas and Dupleix.  The French settlement of Pondicherry, about a hundred miles to the south of Madras, founded in 1674 was greatly developed under the government of M.Dumas (1735-41), who won a high reputation by his repulse of a large Maratha force.  His successor, M.Dupleix, who had already distinguished himself as head of the Chandernagore settlement near Calcutta, found in the south a larger field for the exercise of his abilities, and devised an ambitious policy based on interference in the affairs of the native states and aimed at the destruction of the English settlements. 

    First Anglo-French war.  In 1744, war was declared between France and England on account of the disputed succession to the throne of Austria and in 1746 a fleet from the island of Mauritius (then a French colony), in the Indian Ocean, captured Madras.  It was held by France until 1749, when it was restored to England under the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748.  During the interval the English possessions in the south were reduced to the one small fort of St David, near Cuddalore.
 
    Origin of the second Anglo-French war.  The second war between the French and English settlers arose out of disputed successions to the thrones of two Indian princes, the Subadar or Nizam of the Deccan at Hyderabad, and his vassal, the Nawab of the Carnatic, at Arcot.
    Disputed succession in the Deccan.  As far back as 1724, Asaf Jah, Subadar of the Deccan, had ceased to pay allegiance to the emperor at Delhi, and had become practically an independent king.  When he died at a great age in 1748 he left six sons.  The eldest, who was employed at Delhi as prime minister, did not trouble about his father's dominions.  Nasir Jang, the second son, claimed the throne of the Deccan, and was opposed by his nephew, Muzaffar Jang, son of a daughter of old Asaf Jah.  War ensued between the rival claimants, with the result that within about three years (1751) both Nasir Jang and Muzaffar Jang had been killed.  Salabat Jang, third son of Asaf Jah, then became Nizam and retained his position for eleven years.  He was deposed in 1762 by his nest brother, Asaf Jah's fourth son, Nizam Ali, theancestor of the present Nizam of Hyderabad.
    So much account of the disputes concerning the throne of the Deccan may suffice.
    Disputed succession in  the Carnatic. The business was complicated by another quarrel concerning the succession to Anwar-ud-din Khan, Nawab of the Carnatic, who had been appointed by Asaf Jah in 1744 and had been killed in 1749.  The claimants to the succession were Mohammed Ali, son of Anwar-ud-din, and Chanda Sahib (Hussain Dost Khan), son-in-law of a former Nawab.
    French and English take sides.  The French, for reasons of their own, backed Muzaffar Jang in his claim to be Nizam, and Chanda Sahib in his claim to be Nawab, while the English supported the respective rival claimants, Nasir Jang and Mohammed Ali.  The quarrels between these two sets of claimants are not of the slightest interest or importance in themselves.  Their only right to remembrance is that they served as the occasion for the French and English to fight out their struggle for the empire of India.  The French, as we know, were beaten, and the English were victorious.  In that way the disputes between the claimants to the South Indian thrones may be said to have brought about the foundation of the British empire in India.
    Ambition of Dupleix.  Dupleix, the able head of the French settlement at Pondicherry, aimed definitely at the total expulsion of the English and the establishment of French rule.  His intrigues and alliances with native claimants or states were all directed to those ends.  The English naturally objected to being driven out, and necessarily sided with the princes opposed to the friends of Dupleix.
    Unofficial war.  The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 having established formal peace between France and England, and Madras having been restored accordingly to the English in the following year, the officials of the French and English rival Companies had no business to mix themselves up with then quarrels of Indian princes and go to war with each other.  But they paid no heed to the treaty made in Europe, and were guided solely by the needs of the local situation in India, which seemed to require fighting.
    Trichinopoly.  The first conflict in the unofficial war occured in 1751 at Trichinopoly, where Mohammed Ali and his English allies were besieged by Chanda Sahib and the French.  At the moment it seemed that the French would succeed in driving out the English.  Muzaffar Jang had become Nizam and had appointed Dupleix to be governor of the peninsula from the Kistna (Krishna) river to Cape Comorin.  The resources of Madras did not suffice to effect directly the relief of distant Trichinopoly.
    Capture and defence of Arcot.  Robert Clive, a young 'write' in the Company's service, who had recently accepted a commision as captain in the army under his old friend Major Stringer LAwrence, saw that the proper way to relive Trichinopoly was to attack Arcot, the capital of the Carnatic, and so force Chanda Sahib to withdraw troops from the siege of the southern town.'  He persuaded his superiors to allow him to make the attack with an absurdly small force, comprising only 200 British soldiers,
300 sepoys, and 3 small field-pieces.  Clive being, as Pitt called him, 'a heaven-born general', succeeded not only in taking Arcot, but in holding it for 54 days against 3,000 of Chanda Sahib's best troops aided by 150 Frenchmen.  Thus Trichinopoly was relieved indirectly, and the fame of the British arms was spread throughout India.  The sepoys showed the utmost devotion to CLive as their leader, and generaously offered the scanty supply of rice to their British comrades, saying that the water in which it was boiled would suffice for themselves.
The French and their allies finally victories at Kaveripak, to the cast of Arcot, and certain other places resulted in the driving out of Chanda Sahib.  Mohammed ali rank to the end of his long and worthless life in 1795.  Clive was thus free to return to England for rest in 1753.
    Ruin of Dupleix.  The career of Dupleix and all his schemes of lofty ambition were ruined by the victories of Clive and Stringer Lawrence in the unofficial war.  The Governments of England and France disapproved of their subjects' fighting in India while the nations were officially at peace in Europe.  An envoy sent from France superseded Dupleix, who was recalled and allowed to die in poverty.  His claim tht his large private fortune had been expended in financing the expansion of French power was disallowed by the Government of France as being unfounded.

    De Lally; battle of Wandiwash; fall of Pondicherry.  In 1756 the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in Europe set the French and English in Southern India fighting again, this time with official authority.  The French Government appointed as their governor and commander-in-chief a distinguished officer, Count de Lally.  voyages in those days being slow, he did not arrive in India until April 1758.  At first he gained some small successes, notably the capture of Fort St. David, but the English fleet protected Madras and forced him to retire to Pondicherry in 1760.  On land the French forces were routed by Sir Eyre Coote at Wandiwash in that year.  In January 1761, Pondicherry surrendered after a gallant defence for nine months.  De Lally was taken prisoner, and later some years'
imprisonment, he was executed in 1766 on conviction for having 'betrayed the interest of the [French] king and the India company, for abuse of authority and exactions against the subjects of the king and the foreign residents of Pondicherry'.  Although de Lally was a foolish and illtempered man he was not a traitor to his king, and ought not to have been executed.  After some years the sentence was annulled, and his estates were restored to his son.
    Ruin of the French.  The Seven Year's War was ended in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris.  In Inida the result of the operations was ruinous to the French, who were left without any regular military force, or any local possessions, except their factories of Calicut and Surat , which were mere trading stations.  The fortifications of Pondicherry and the buildings within them were destroyed, so that, as Orme puts it, 'not a roof was left standing in this once fair and flourishing city' The town was rebuilt subsequently.
    De Bussy and the 'Northern Circars'.  Whende Lally arrived in India in India, a countryman of his, M.de Bussy, controlled the Nizam's court at Hyderabad, and had taken possession of the districts then known as the 'Northern Circars' (Sarkara).'  Colonel Forde, marching from Bengal, turned the French out of those districts in 1758 and 1759, while de Lally's ill-judged interference destroyed de Bussy's influence in the Deccan, so that the Nizam was brought over to the English side.  Meantime the battle of Plassey had been fought, and the English had become masters of Bengal, as will be narrated in the next chapter.
    Summary.  The outline of the leading events in the three Anglo-French wars waged in the south of India may be conveniently summarized in the following statement, which makes no mention of the contemporary events in Bengal and elsewhere:  
                                     The Anglo-French Wars in the South
    I     War of the Austrian Succession
              Declaration of war by France against England         1744
              Capture of Madras by the French against England      1746
              Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle                             1748
              Restoration of Madras to the English                 1749

    II    Unofficial War 
              Siege of Trichinopoly by Chanda Sahib and the
              French : capture and defence of Arcot by Clive       1751
              Surrender of Trichinopoly by the French:
                other British successes                            1752
              Return of Clive to England                           1753
              Recall of Dupleix                                    1754
    III   The Seven Years' War
              War begun                                            1756
          The 'Northern Circars' held by de Bussy                  1757
          Arrival of Count de Lally ; the French capture
            Fort St David and attack Madras; Colonel
            Forde occupies the 'Northern Circars'                  1758-9
          BAttle of Wandiwash                                      1760
          Fall of Pondicherry                        January       1761
          Treaty of Paris, end of the Seven YEars' War             1763
          In 1782-3 Admiral de Suffern fought actions with a British fleet off the Madras coast, which may be called a fourth Anglo-French war.  Those actions were indecisive, and operations were stopped by the Treaty of Versailes in 1783.  The armies in Hindustan, led by French officers, were destroyed by Lord Lake in 1803.

          Effect of sea power.  The French ill success in these wars was partly due to the imcompetence of Count de Lally, the capacity of Major Stringer Lawrence, and the genius of Robert Clive;  but those personal accidents are not the whole explanation. 
 
          The most essential element in the French failure and the British victory was, as already observed, ten superior English naval power.  The small land forces of the Madras authorities were well supported by the British fleet, which, as a rule, was able to beat the French squadrons.  Pondicherry might have held out against the land forces alone, but it could not resist them and the navy together.  The ambitions schemes of Dupleix really never had a chance of lasting success, because he lacked the support of men and stores, while preventing the English from receiving, as they did, such supplies in abundance.
          The kingdom of Mysore.  When the kingdom of Vijayanagar was broken up after the battle of Talikota in 1565 (ante, p.138), its component parts passed under the rule of various chieftains.  One of those parts-the province of Mysore, varying in extent from time to time-continued to be governed by a dynasty of Hindu Rajas who had been feudatories of the Vijayanagar kings.
          Haidar also becomes master of Mysore.  I  1749 Haidar Ali, then twenty-seven years of age, joined as a volunteer horseman the corps under the command of his elder brother Shahbaz, an officer in the service of the Mysore Raja.  The young man, having attracted notice during the defence of a fort, was appointed to the command of a small force with the rank of Nayak; and in due course was promoted to be Faujdar of Dindigal.  He used his authority to raise a large body of organized plunderers, and thus became a power in the state.  A treacherous palace intrigue drove him from office, but by various stratagems he recovered his position, and in June 1761 had made himself
practically master of both the Raja and Mysore.  The weakness of the Marathas after the battle of Panipat in that year gave him his opportunity, and the capture of Bednore with treasure perhaps too highly valued at twelve sterling supplied him with funds.

          First Mysore war.  The Marathas could not willingly brook the rise of a new and aggressive power.  In 1765 they inflicted a severe defeat on Haidar Ali and compelled him to pay a heavy indemnity.  Next year he compensated himself by the conquest of Malabar.  The Nizam, who at first had opposed Haidar Ali, now joined him against the English, but the allies were defeated Madras and frightened the incomponent local Government into making a treaty with him, on the basis of Mutual restitution of conquests, exchange of prisoners, and reciprocal assistance in defensive war.  The conflict thus ended is known as the first Mysore war.  Three years later the Marathas again proved themselves too strong for him and forced him to buy them off at a high price.
 












 
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