Advent of Europeans in India UPSC: Chronological Order, Arrival of Europeans

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Advent of Europeans in India is the beginning of modern India’s history. Following Vasco da Gama’s 1498 discovery of a new maritime route to India via the Cape of Good Hope, trade increased, and numerous commercial enterprises arrived in India to set up trading hubs. The arrival of Europeans in India also marked the political rivalry between different groups as, with time, to safeguard their interests, Europeans started interfering in and dominating Indian politics.

The Dutch, English, French, Danish, and other modern European superpowers gradually built economic ties with the Indian Subcontinent. You will learn about the Advent of the European in India UPSC notes from this article, which will help you prepare for the IAS exam.

Advent of Europeans in India

Many locations in the Indian subcontinent were key trading centres during the ancient and medieval periods. Trade between India and European countries flourished even before the British established their formal rule in India. The Oxus Valley, Egypt, and Syria served as the routes for overland trade between India and Europe. Europe’s land and waterways were extensively explored throughout the 15th century.

Advent of European in India UPSC Notes PDF

Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, founded America in 1492, while Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, found a new maritime route connecting Europe and India in 1498. Following this discovery, numerous European trading firms moved to India and set up shop. The Europeans visited India in stages.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in India as traders, followed by the British, Dutch, Danes, and French, all of whom later formulated plans to rule India politically.

Advent of Europeans in India – New Routes

Due to the high demand for these European commodities, the goods from India had to go via numerous countries and hands. These imported items were then subject to tolls and charges imposed by Middle Eastern and North African rulers. Therefore, European trading companies sought to build their business hubs within India to increase earnings and sailed there directly, leading to the arrival of European companies in India.

However, maritime trade had many challenges, including piracy and natural disasters. When Arabs conquered these nations in the seventh century, the ancient trade routes through Egypt and the Persian Gulf through Syria were cut off. As a result, trade with India was monopolized, and goods from India were shipped to marketplaces in the Levant.

Additionally, the overland route was shut when the Turks took Constantinople in 1453. Venetian and Genoese businesspeople gained control of the trade between Europe and Asia. They refused to share it with the rising nation-states of Western Europe, particularly Spain and Portugal.

Advent of Europeans in India Chronological Order

As of 1498, the following is the timeline of the advent of the Europeans in India:

Event Year Place
Arrival of the Portuguese 1498 Calicut, Kerala
Arrival of the British 1600 Gujarat
Arrival of the Dutch 1602 Masulipatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Arrival of the Danes 1616 Tamil Nadu
Arrival of the French 1664 Pondicherry
Commencement of Formal British 1757

Advent of Europeans in India: Arrival of Portuguese

The Portuguese were the first to discover a direct path to India by sea, setting the foundation for the advent of Europeans in India. The Portuguese navigators began the European Age of Discovery when Prince Henry, the Navigator, established a nautical school in Portugal. Because Portugal developed the most cutting-edge ships, such as the Caravel, the Carrack, and the Galleon, maritime navigation became possible for the first time in history.

As a result of the Portuguese Empire, the Portuguese could chart and discover much of the world’s coastlines and maritime routes to the East and West. This led to incredible expeditions, such as the discovery of the sea route to India via the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama, who arrived in Calicut through the Cape of Good Hope in May 1498 and was warmly welcomed by the local ruler known as the Zamorin (Samoothiri), served as the leader of the first Portuguese mission. The Portuguese dispatched the second mission in 1500 under Pedro Alvares Cabral.

The Portuguese Enterprise established its commercial stations in India as the first European trading corporation. They established trading outposts at Cochin, Goa, Daman and Diu, Salsette and Bassein, and Bombay. The Cartaz System was developed by the Portuguese. The cartaz was a maritime trade license or permit granted by the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean during the sixteenth century (about 1502-1750) when the Portuguese empire was in charge.

The Portuguese used this strategy once they gained control of the export-import across the Indian Ocean. After the entrance of the Portuguese, tobacco cultivation, shipbuilding (in Gujarat and Calicut), and printing press use all started. Additionally, they helped to shape Gothic architecture in India.

The Decline of the Portuguese:

Portuguese trade with India became less influential at the start of the 18th century. Their decline was attributed to many factors, including their intolerance of other religions, excesses as sea pirates in the Bay of Bengal region, the weak successors to Albuquerque, the fall of the Vijayanagara empire, conflicts with Spain, and the arrival and expansion of the English and the Dutch in India, among others.

The Portuguese Empire in India eventually broke up due to the weak and ineffective leadership of the governors who replaced Afonso de Albuquerque. The Portuguese were intolerant and fanatic in religion, and the native people were coerced into accepting Christianity. People strongly disagreed with their approach in India, where religious tolerance was the norm.

Advent of Europeans in India: Arrival of British

The arrival of the British was a significant event in the history of the advent of Europeans in India. A group of British businessmen formed the “Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading to the East Indies” in 1599, specifically for the purpose of trading with India. On December 31, 1600, Queen Elizabeth I awarded this firm a royal charter allowing it to conduct business only with Eastern nations for 15 years.

James I of England despatched Captain William Hawkins to Jahangir’s court in 1608 to request permission to set up trading posts in India. He was the first British person to enter India by sea. The Portuguese and Surat local traders initially opposed the emperor, but the Portuguese naval contingent’s defeat by English captain Henry Middleton in the Battle of Bombay (1611) changed the emperor’s mind.

After that, in 1613, the Mughal emperor authorized the establishment of the East India Company’s factory at Surat with an imperial firman. However, the British were not happy and, in 1615, sent a second mission led by Sir Thomas Roe to request additional concessions. This time, Jahangir approved the construction of factories anywhere inside the Mughal Empire. As a result, the British built their plants in Bharuch, Ahmedabad, and Agra.

At Masulipattam in Southern India, the British built their first factory in 1611; Surat in 1613; Madras (1639) and Hooghly (1642) followed (1651). A factory was also built in Orissa’s Balasore in 1633 in eastern India. In exchange for a yearly payment of Rs 3000, the Company was granted the exclusive right to conduct business from Bengal without paying customs duties in 1691.

In exchange for a payment, the Subedar of Bengal, Azim Ush Shan, granted the British the zamindari rights to Sutanuti, Kalikata, and Gobindpur, where they built the present-day city of Calcutta and a fort known as Fort William. In the meantime, King Charles received Bombay as a dowry from the Portuguese in 1662. The King of England leased Bombay to the East India Company.

The firm received permission from the King of Chandragiri in 1639 to build a factory close to Madras, where the British had already built Fort St. George. In addition to confirming the company’s rights in 1717, Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar also granted the company several new privileges, such as the ability to trade from Bengal without paying tax in exchange for an annual payment of Rs 3,000. Additionally, he granted them the right to use the Bombay Mint to produce their coins. This list of rights has been referred to as “the Magna Carta of the East India Company.”

Advent of Europeans in India: Arrival of Dutch

Additionally, the Dutch developed their commercial hubs in India. The first Dutchman to enter India was Cornelis de Houtman. In 1602, the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC, often known as the Dutch East India Company, was established. They defeated the Portuguese and took control of the regions of India where spices were grown. Their trading posts were founded in Gujarat, Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa.

At Masulipattam, the first Dutch factory was founded in 1605. More significant factories were at Pulikat (1610), Surat (1616), Kasim Bazar, Patna, Balasore, Nagapattnam, and Cochin. At Peepli, the first Dutch factory in Bengal was founded in 1627. The Dutch traded mainly rice, opium, raw silk, indigo, and spices. Their major centre was Pulicat until Nagapattinam eventually took its place.

The Dutch company’s trading system was based on the cartel system. A dividend of 18% was given to shareholders by the Dutch corporation, which is considered a first in commercial history. The Travancore ruler Marthanda Verma soundly defeated them in the Battle of Colachel in 1741. The. Dutch were also defeated by Robert Clive’s British forces in the Battle of Bedara in 1759. The declining economy, high degree of centralization, dominance of the spice trade, the relative weakness of the Dutch navy compared to the British, etc., were the causes of the Dutch collapse.

The Decline of Dutch in India:

The Dutch ambitions in India were ended by the English reprisal, which resulted in the Dutch being crushed at the Battle of Hooghly (November 1759). The Dutch were more concerned with trade than with creating an empire in India. They made much money from the Indonesian Spice Islands, their principal commercial concern.

Advent of Europeans in India: Arrival of Danes

People from Denmark are referred to as Danish or Danes. For 225 years, Denmark controlled colonial territories in India. The settlements of Tranquebar (Tamil Nadu), Serampore (Bengal), and the Nicobar Islands were all part of the Danish possessions in India. Their Indian headquarters were in Serampore. Marcelis de Boshouwer, a Dutch explorer, catalyzed Danish involvement in the Indian subcontinent.

He asked for armed assistance against the Portuguese in return for the promise to hold a monopoly over all business dealings. He convinced Christian IV, King of Denmark-Norway, with his justification. He thus authorized the Danish East India Company to have a 12-year monopoly on trade between Denmark and Asia when he signed a charter in 1616.

In 1799 A.D., Danish missionaries founded Serampore Mission Press in Serampore. In the end, the Danes could not consolidate their position in India, and in 1845 they sold every outpost there to the British.

Advent of Europeans in India: Arrival of French

The French were the last Europeans to arrive in India and, thus also the last to feature on the list of the advent of Europeans in India. The French Trading Company was established in 1664 under Louis XIV, thanks to the efforts of his minister Colbert. Since the government started it, it also governed, provided funding, and exercised control over it. Francois Caron founded the first French factory in India in Surat in 1667.

Following this, Marcara opened a factory at Masulipattam in 1669 with approval from the Golkonda king. François Martin oversaw the establishment of Pondicherry in 1673. The Nawab of Bengal Shaista Khan designated a location for the trading post to be built in Chandranagar.

In 1690 CE, the French captured Chandranagore, close to Calcutta, from Governor Shaista Khan. The French built industries in Karaikal, Balasore, Mahe, and Qasim Bazar. The Anglo-French conflict began with the arrival of French administrator Joseph Francois Dupleix in India around 1742 CE, and it culminated in the Carnatic wars.

The Decline of French in India:

The French East India Company was reorganized in 1720 due to the decrease in French influence in India between 1706 and 1720. Between 1720 and 1742, governors Lenoir and Dumas restored French power in India. In 1725, they took control of Mahe in Malabar, Yanam in the Coromandel, and Karaikal in Tamil Nadu (1739). The Anglo-French battle (Carnatic wars), which led to their ultimate defeat in India, began in 1742 with the arrival of Dupleix as the French administrator in India.

Arrival of Europeans in India: Conclusion

Europeans came to India to trade, but they soon took over the country’s politics and administration. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to travel to India after Vasco da Gama established a direct maritime route in 1498. In 1600, Queen Elizabeth granted the English merchants who created the East India Company the sole right to trade in the East. As a result, India was dominated by the British for more than 200 years.

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