When the industrial revolution started in Europe, European states did not have sufficient raw materials for their industries, or markets for their finished goods. These countries now started looking for markets in Asia and Africa. England succeeded in controlling trade with India and established the East India Company in 1600.

This company was supported by the British government. With its help England was able to extend her territorial frontiers to the Indian subcontinent. The first factory was established at Surat in 1613. In 1615, Sir Thomas Roe got permission from the Mughal emperor Jahangir to open more factories at Agra, Ahmadabad and Broach.

Their most important settlement on the southern coast was Madras where they built a fortified factory called Fort St. George. This was the first proprietary holding acquired by the company on Indian soil.

Gradually the company expanded its trading network. By that time the company was well established in India. It had also succeeded in eliminating the other rival European powers from India. They also started interfering in the political affairs of the Indian rulers.

There were many big and small independent states in the 19th century India. These states had their own rulers, economy, language and culture. These states were constantly at war with each other. They fell an easy prey to the European powers especially the British.

It was the battles of Plassey (1757) and Buxar (1764) which provided the ground for the British success in India. Through these battles, a long era of British political control over India began.

The Battle of Plassey was won by the English in Bengal. The British made Mir Jafar, the new Nawab of Bengal, in return for which they receive an enormous sum of money as well as the territory of 24 Parganas from the Nawab. 

But Mir Jafar was not able to make further payments to them. As a result he was replaced by Mir Qasim who proved to be a strong ruler. Mir Qasim was not ready to meet their demands for more money or control. As a result, Mir Qasim was removed and Mir Jafar was made the Nawab again.

Mir Qasim then joined hands with the Nawab of Awadh, Shiraj-ud-daula and the Mughal emperor Shah Allam II in plotting against the British, the battle took place at a place called Buxar on 22 October 1764. Their defeat proved to be decisive. 

Though the British successfully gained control over Bengal, the imposition of British rule throughout India was not an easy task. A number of regional powers opposed them and tried to resist the efforts of territorial expansion of the British.