Arrival of Europeans - Modern India KAS Study Materials

Arrival of Europeans Important years, Forts Wars and more study Materials for Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) Exam

Arrival of Europeans in India Modern India

Arrival of Europeans Important years, Forts Wars and more study Materials for Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) Exam.
India’s trade relations with Europe go back to ancient times. There were various trade routes to India both through sea and water. The goods passes through several states and hands and when crossing each state, heavy duties are to be paid by the merchants. Even though the duty was high, each merchants earned huge profit in trade due to the high demand of spices in Europe.
The main reasons for the interest of Europeans in India were
1. European food is very spicy and they need to store salted and peppered meat for future use. Higher demand for spices in Europe led to huge profit in trade with India.
2. Huge wealth of India and shortage of gold in Europe. Europeans needed gold as an exchange medium for uninterrupted trade and which was available in India abundantly.

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The trade routes between India and other parts of the world during 15th century was shown in the
figure. The blue lines indicate sea route and the red line indicates the land route which is called as Silk Route.
European trade Route

In 1453, Turkish Ottoman Empire captured the Constantinople and the Silk route was blocked. This
event is famously known as Fall of Constantinople. When the silk route was blocked, European nations were not able to trade with India and they initiated steps to find new sea route to India. European nations like Portugal and Spain started voyages by the end of 15th century.

  • In 1492, Columbus of Spain set out to reach India and discovered America
  • In 1498, Vasco da Gama of Portugal discovered the new sea route to India. He reached Kappadu beach in Calicut, Kerala and went to meet Samudiri (Zamorin) King of Calicut.

Discovery of new sea route to India by Vasco de Gama led to flow of European merchants to India
through sea. Gama visited India 3 three times and in his second visit he reached Goa coast and he
built fort at Kannur. The exploration route of Vasco da Gama is shown on the diagram below.

exploration route of Vasco da Gama
Exploration route of Vasco da Gama

The huge profit earned by the merchants through the sea route captured the interest of other Europeans and the Dutch (Netherlands), Danes (Denmark) and French (France) established their own sea route to India.

Arrival of Britain

British merchants were looking for a trade route to route to India but the British naval power of was weak compared to Portugal and Spain. In 1588, Britain defeated Spanish ships and established their own sea route to India. The British merchants looked greedily on Asian Trade. Private Traders of Britain grouped together to trade with Eastern world, they were called Merchant Adventures. In 1600, they obtained an exclusive privilege or Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth to have monopolistic trade with eastern world. This led to the formation of British East India Company or British EIC. They started their voyage in 1601 and later trade with India.
In 1608, British East India Company decided to open a trading post/factory at Surat, Gujarat coast and Captain Hawkins visited the Mughal court of Jahangir to get royal favors. Portuguese merchants were the main traders during that time and they were offering military support to the Mughals. Thus due to the pressure from Portuguese merchants, Jahangir denied the request of Captain Hawkins. Later in 1611, British started their first factory at the Eastern coast at Masulipatanam, Andhra Pradesh.
British EIC knew that, to get favors from Mughal court they have to establish their military presence in the Western coast of India. Thus they started fighting against the Portuguese military and defeated their naval ships in 1612 and 1614. This established the strong British presence in the Western coast. Consequently British EIC was given permission to open factories at western coast of India. British was not satisfied with that and they sent their Ambassador Sir Thomas Roe to the Mughal court and obtained royal farman in 1615.

European Trading Centers in India

The battle between Portuguese and British army continued till the Portuguese were remained only in Goa, Daman and Diu. By 1623, British EIC established factories at Surat, Broach, Ahmedabad, Agra and Masulipatanam. The locations of various factories are shown in the map above.
British EIC expanded their trade and territorial extend through their military force and they made three main forts in India and ensured strong military presence.

  • In 1639, they build their first fort at Madras and called it as Fort St. George
  • In 1668, They made their second fort at Bombay
  • In 1698, they build Fort William at Bengal

In 1717, they obtained a Royal Farman from Mughal Emperor Farukhsiyar to have duty free trade in Bengal, Gujarat and Deccan area for an annual return of Rs.3000 per annum to the Emperor. These concessions led to more than thrice increase in companies trade with India in next 30 years. French were the last European traders to arrive in India and British EIC fought battles with French merchants to acquire their trade areas. They fought three wars in India and called them as Carnatic Wars. In third Carnatic war, at Wandiwash, Tamilnadu French military was defeated by the British army and they lost all French possessions in India. This battle is famously called Battle of Wandiwash (1760).

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Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) Online Class Study Notes Tests | KAS Insights: Arrival of Europeans - Modern India KAS Study Materials
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