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The “English Trading Company” was formed by a group of merchants known as the ‘Merchant Adventures’ in 1599 AD. This company was granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I on 31" Dec. 1600 AD. ‘

The Governor and the Company of Merchants of London trading into East Indies’ was the name of English company. This company was given monopoly rights over eastern trade for fifteen years.

In 1608 AD Captain William Hawkins reached the court of Jahangir. Hawkins was the ambassador of King James I. He lived at the court for three years. He was given the title of English Khan and Mansab of 400 jats by Jahangir But because of Portuguese influence at the court, Hawkins failed to get permission to erect a factory at Surat.

In 1611 Capt. Middleton landed at Swally near Surat despite Portuguese opposition and got permission to trade from the Mughal governor. In 1612 AD Capt. Best defeated the Portuguese at Swally near Surat and this defeat broke their naval supremacy. Captain Best succeeded in getting a royal Farman to open factories within the West Coast, Surat, Cambay, Ahmadabad and Goa in 1613 AD. Sir Thomas Roe (1615–18) came to the court of Jahangir because the Royal ambassador of King James I and received permission to trade and establish factories in several parts of the empire.


The internal management of the English company was administered by a court of committees whose nomenclature later was changed to the court of directors. It consisted of a governor, a deputy governor, and 24 members to be elected annually by a general body of the merchants forming the corporate. Besides, there was a secretary and a treasurer. The company’s superior body court of directors was based in London while its subordinate body was in Asia. The Directors to be annually elected by the shareholders of the company. Each shareholder regardless of the worth of the share had just one vote. The membership of the company was not confined to shareholders only but it could be secured through inheritance or presentation by paying an entrance fee through apprenticeship, services etc. The company enjoyed extensive powers to issue orders and to make laws following the laws and customs of the realm. The company also possessed judicial powers to punish its servants for their offences by imprisonment or fine.

In India, each factory was administered by a Governor — in- council. The governor was the President of the council with no extra privileges. Everything was decided in the council by majority vote. The members of the council consisted of senior merchants of the corporate. The Court of Directors was the arbiter in framing policies for the corporate.

Queen Elizabeth was one among the shareholders of the corporate. After Queen Elizabeth’s death, James I renewed the charter though it might be revoked at any time at three-year notice. The company got the power to enforce the law to maintain discipline on long voyages. The Charter Act of 1683 AD gave the company full power to declare war and make peace with any power. Despite all opposition, English independent merchants, known as Interlopers continued to defy the monopoly of the company by indulging in the East Indian trade of their own. These Free Merchants tried to press their demands publicly also as in Parliament.

In 1694 AD the Parliament passed the resolution that each one the citizens of England had equal right to trade the East. In 1698 AD British Govt. sold the monopoly rights of Malay Archipelago trade to a replacement company named General Society. The London Company was given a notice of three to wind up the business. The Old Company refused to surrender their privileges. After long-drawn conflict both the companies agreed to join hands in 1702 AD. In 1708 AD a new company named ‘The United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies’ was formed by amalgamating both the companies.


The French were the last European traders to arrive in India. French Malay Archipelago Company was formed under state patronage by Colbert in 1664 AD. The French company was named the Compagnie Des Indes Orientals. In Dec 1667 AOthefirst French factory was set up at Surat by Francois Caron. In 1669 AD Marcara set up a factory at Masulipattnam by securing a patent from the Sultan of Golkunda. They also succeeded in getting a Farman from Aurangzeb in 1669 AD to open their factory at Surat. In 1673 AD the French (Francois Martin & Bellanger Dc Lespinary) acquired from the Muslim governor of Valikoindapuram Sher Khan Lodi a small village. This village developed into Pondichery and its first governor was Francois Martin. Fort Louis was established here. They acquired the site of Chandernagore in Bengal from the Mughal governor Shayista Khan in 1674 AD. French factory was established here in 1690 AD. Pondichery (Fort Louis) was made the headquarters of all the French settlements in India and Francois Martin became the governor-general of French affairs in India.

French commander Martin readily acknowledged the authority of Shivaji and agreed to pay him an amount rather than the license to trade his dominions. The French got the permission to fortify Pondichery in 1689 from Sambhaji. The duplex was the foremost important French Governor in India.

The supreme body of the French Company was referred to as the superior council of West Indies and headed by a Director-General. The Supreme Council composed of five members was presided over by the governor. French Malay Archipelago Company was a state-controlled organization and thus differed from the Chartered Companies of England and therefore the Netherlands. It was highly dependent on the French government for its grants, subsidies, loans etc.

The French maintained close ties with Dost-all the Nawab of Carnatic. Based on a robust recommendation by Dost -Ali the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah issued a Farman granting permission to the French to mint and issue gold and silver currency bearing the stamp of the Mughal emperor and the name of the place of minting.

The Dutch blocked the French commercial activities at Hugh. They seized San Thome near Madras in 1672 but were soon defeated by combined forces of Sultan of Golkunda and therefore the Dutch Later Dutch established their control over San Thome. In the Dutch-French rivalry, the Dutch were always supported by English . The Dutch captured Pondichery in 1692 AD from the French but later gave back in 1697 by the Treaty of Ryswick.

Treaty of Ryswick

After 1742, the political motives began to overshadow commercial gains. The French governor Duplex began the policy of extending the territorial empire in India. This led to a series of conflict will English . The French fought three Carnatic wars with English . During the third Carnatic War, the French lost badly within the battle of Wandiwash in 1760 AD. With this defeat, the French lost most their possessions in India.

The battle ended by the Treaty of Paris in 1763 AD. Pondichery and a few other French settlements were returned to the French but they weren’t allowed to fortify their settlements. The French continued to exist in India but they were no more a challenge to English hegemony.



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