French Colonialism in India

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 14, 2022, 9:51

The seeds of French Colonialism in India were sown in the practices of French trading and commerce. Despite the fact that French voyages to India were launched for the first time in the 16th century to pursue commercial goals, many of them remained unsuccessful.

Origin of French Colonialism in India

During Louis XIV's presidency, the famed minister Colbert formed the Compagnie des Indes Orientales (French East India Company) in 1664. The Monarch was also quite interested in this subject and was anxious to expand trade in India's territory.

French Governor Francois Caron led the first trip to India, and successfully landed in Surat in 1667. In 1669, they also made an effort to establish a trading port in Surat.

French Colonialism in India Expansion

  • The French authorities subsequently spread its industrial territory by establishing a new factory in Masulipatam in 1669.
  • In 1673, the French proceeded forward and built Chandernagore, a township near Calcutta.
  • By overthrowing the Sultan of Bijapur in 1673, Francois Martin, the French governor, was able to rule over Pondicherry.

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How did the French Colonialism in India End?

The French had their establishments intact in Pondicherry, Chandernagore, Karaikal, Mahe, Yanam, and the lodges at Machilipatnam, Kozhikode, and Surat even after the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1816. However, the territories had lost their splendour due to the endless conflicts between the British and the French.

France's government chose to cede their colonial territories in India after India acquired independence from the British government.

In October 1947, the lodges in Machilipatnam, Kozhikode, and Surat were returned to the Indian government, followed by the surrender of the Chandernagore territory to West Bengal, India on October 2nd, 1954. In 1954, the remaining French colonial holdings in India, including Pondicherry, Yanam, Mahe, and Karaikal, were turned over to the Indian government.

Finally, the Indian government and the French government signed a pact that authorised the Indian government to reign in the territories belonging to the French authorities. This treaty put an end to French Colonialism in India.

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Significance of French Colonialism in India

In terms of land area, the French colonies in India were by far the tiniest of the European territories. Despite the fact that French colonisation was defeated by the British, they were instrumental in hastening the invasion of the Indian subcontinent. The latest Europeans to arrive in India were the French.

The French landed in India with the sole interest of trading and commerce. However, in order to boost business, their sole focus of trade and commerce shifted to the political protection of Indian territories. From 1674 to 1954, the French had a long presence in India, spanning nearly three centuries.

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FAQs on French Colonialism in India

Q1. How widespread was French Colonialism in India?

French Colonialism in India was vast, encompassing Pondicherry, Karaikal in Tamil Nadu, Chandernagore in West Bengal, Mahe in Kerala on the Malabar Coast, and Yanaon in Andhra Pradesh on the Coromandel Coast. Tourists from all over the world come to learn a lot about the French colony of Pondicherry. Other portions of the colony, on the other hand, are less well-known.

Q2. How did French Colonialism in India happen?

The French landed in India to expand their trade and commerce. Their sole goal in India was to maintain business goals till 1741 AD. However, by taking Yanam in 1723 AD, they were able to gain a political foothold in India. The East India Company was also influential in the conquest of additional regions, such as Mahe on the Malabar Coast in 1725 AD and Karaikal in 1739 AD. This was the beginning of French Colonialism in India.

Q3. Why did French Colonialism in India fail to expand?

The British were France's principal adversary in expanding French Colonialism in India. The British had a far superior naval force and were able to repel the French in their attempt to expand further into India. The ground forces were used more by the French army, whilst strong naval and marine forces were needed to ensure colonial growth in India.

Q4. Where is the first French factory located that was a descendent of French Colonialism in India?

The first factory that was a descendent of French Colonialism in India is located in Surat, Gujrat. It was established in the year 1668.