Anglo-French Struggle in South India

By the beginning of the eighteenth century only two European trading companies of the British and the French were left in India competing for the Indian resources.

The Anglo-French rivalry, taking the form of three Carnatic Wars constituted landmarks in the history of British conquest of south India in the eighteenth century. In order to establish their supremacy, it was necessary for the English East India Company to eliminate the French from this region.

As a result of Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) in Europe, the French and English settlements in India also became involved in open hostilities. In the third Carnatic war, the British East India Company defeated the French forces at the battle of Wandiwash ending almost a century of conflict over supremacy in India. This battle gave the British trading company a far superior position in India compared to the other Europeans.

The French were defeated by Sir Eyre Coote at Wandiwash in January, 1760, and Pondicherry capitulated a year later. The work of Dupleix and Bussy in the South was thus destroyed in 1760-1761; the French possessions in India were, however, restored by the treaty of Paris (1763). This conflict was resolved in the English East India Company’s favour because of its strong navy in India, its progressively increasing military strength and good leadership, the support they received from the Government in England, and the larger resources at its command in Bengal.

A part of the fallout of the events in the Carnatic cycle of wars that the weakness of the Indian regional powers (in particular their inability to make naval interventions and the ineffectiveness of large armies of some of their powers against smaller European forces) became manifest and this had grave implications in the political history of the rest of the eighteenth century.