Carnatic Wars

Carnatic Wars

The Carnatic Wars (also spelled Karnatic Wars) was a series of military contests during the 18th century between the British, the French, the Marathas, for control of the coastal strip of eastern India from Nellore (north of Madras) southward (the Tamil country). In the 18th century the coastal Carnatca was a dependency of Hyderabad, within the Mughal Empire. There were three Carnatic Wars between 1744 and 1763. Though the name originates with the local name for the region (Karnataka), then-current spelling let to conflation of the name with "carne", Spanish for "meat", leading at least one British general to jokingly term them the "Meat Wars."

The First Carnatic War (1744-1748)

The roots of the First Carnatic War can be traced back to the death of Aurangzeb (1707). Several erstwhile Mughal colonies revolted, among them Carnat and Hyderabad. Carnat was ruled by Nawab Dost Ali, despite being under the legal purview of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Dost Ali's death sparked a power struggle in between his son-in-law Chanda Saheb and the Nizam's nominee, Anwar-ud-Din. The British enlisted the help of Anwar-ud-Din to oust Dupleix and the French from Madras.

The Governor of the French East India Company, Dupleix, sought to establish a French colony in India. Immediately upon his arrival in India, he organized Indian recruits under French officers for the first time. The British and French went to war over the succession to the throne of Austria, as well as to expand their colonies in the Americas. Since Mughal power was in decline in India, it was also seen as a good opportunity to establish Indian trade.

After the British initially captured a few French ships, the French called for backup from as far afield as Mauritius, and on 21 September 1746, they captured the British -held city of Madras. Among the prisoners of war was Robert Clive.

With the termination of the War of Austrian Succession in Europe, the First Carnatic War also came to an end. In the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle (1748), Madras was given back to the British , in return for the French fortress of Louisbourg in North America, which the British had captured.

The Second Carnatic War (1748-1754)

After the death of the Nizam of Hyderabad, a civil war for succession broke out in south between Nasir Jung and Muzaffar Jung, son-in-law and grandson respectively of the Nizam-ul-Mulk. Also, Chanda Sahib began to conspire against the Nawab Anwar-ud-Din in Carnatic. Dupleix sided with Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jung to bring them into power in their respective states. But soon the English intervened. To offset the French influence, they began supporting Nasir Jang and Mohammad Ali (son of deposed Nawab Anwaruddin). This resulted in the Second Carnatic War broke out.

The war ended with the Treaty of Pondicherry, signed in 1754. Mohammad Ali was recognized as the Nawab of the Carnatic.

Dupleix was asked to return to France. He was allowed to die in poverty. The directors of the French East India company were dissatisfied with the political ambitions of Dupleix, which had lead to immense financial loss. In 1754, Godheu replaced Dupleix.

The Third Carnatic War (1756-1763)

The outbreak of the Seven Years' War in Europe resulted in renewed conflict between French and British forces in India. The Third Carnatic War spread beyond southern India and into Bengal where British forces captured the French settlement of Chandernagore (now Chandannagar) in 1757. However, the war was decided in the south, as British commander Sir Eyre Coote decisively defeated the French under the Comte de Lally at the Battle of Wandiwash in 1760. After Wandiwash, the French capital of Pondicherry fell to the British in 1761. The war concluded with the signing of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which returned Chandernagore and Pondicherry to France, and allowed the French to have "factories" (trading posts) in India but forbade French traders from administrating them. The French agreed to support British client governments, thus ending French ambitions of an Indian empire and making the British the dominant foreign power in India.

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